Slight majority believe it was an accident

· Edgewise, Paleoblogs, The O'Reilly Sphincter

I was listening to one of those right-wing blowhards on KSFO (560) in my car driving home last night and whoever it was cited a Rassmussen poll claiming that a whopping 57% of respondents believed that Dick Cheney shot his friend acquaintance by accident. He was triumphant about this number and mocked the 38% who believed there was more to the story.
Personally, I think of course that it was an accident, if a foolish one possibly indicative of a pattern of reckless behavior. But I’m more amazed that the mini-Rush wannabe I was listening to was trying to spin it as a good thing that *only* 57% of people polled were willing to accept that it was simply an accident.
Cheney’s credibility in general must be incredibly weak if that few people are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Swift Boats for Me, Me, Me!!

· The O'Reilly Sphincter

It was nice of Bill O’Reilly to criticize the Swift Boat ads as deplorable. But, as he quickly notes, these sorts of smear ads have been coming from both sides, apparently, equally. In fact, last night he started his “talking points” discussion of the issue by focusing on the democratic side and how they are by no means above reproach. He makes it sound like they somehow started it. Proof: well, he was himself the target of such smear tactics, so there’s the proof in the pudding. (He later had a nice, casual interview with Travis Tritt about his new song “What Say You,” one of O’Reilly’s catch phrases, in which virtually every question or comment was self referential.)
But anyway, I’m still waiting for that shining example to hold up against the Kerry/McCain/Richards smears of mean-spirited innuendo based on nothing. Sure, I’ve seen anti-Bush ads. They tend to deplore his policies and say so, which I believe is totally fair. When the democrats start accusing him of having illegitimate children, or start making accusations that directly contradict clearly recorded evidence to the contrary, then wake me. Not one talking head or newspaper has mentioned a single democratic ad in direct comparison to this swift boat vets campaign.
Can someone please mention one for me? And I mean that seriously. I don’t see much because I don’t watch much network TV and I’m in California anyway, which means nobody is bothering to spend money here. I want to see those democratic smears.
Not even Bill came up with a specific smear on his character. It’s just, “blah, blah Soros! blah, blah Smalley! blah blah Moore!”
But still, Bill thinks he made his fair and balanced assessment of the situation and it goes as follows: Lefties can’t get too upset about the Swift Boats people going after Kerry because liberal media folks say bad things about O’Reilly. Well, that pretty much evens up the score on the presidential campaign commercial deal.
What say you??

This is my show, so shut up!

· The O'Reilly Sphincter

Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrook was on Hannity & Colmes Laugh-In last night, and provided for us a classic Hannity moment. I forget exactly what point was being made, but Holbrook was questioning something about Bush’s speech and policy and of course, midway through making a salient point, Sean tried to shut him up before he could get any further. Holbrook held fast and insisted on continuing to speak, saying things like, “You invited my on the program so let me finish making my point.” Sean answered, “No, I’m not going to let you do that.” In an attempt to get Sean to understand why he should be heard, Holbrook started making the point, “You asked me to come on this show. I was an ambassador to the UN….”
Sean: “That’s too bad.”
Holbrook was visibly taken aback by this rudeness.
Earlier in the day, on the Radio Factor, Bill O’Reilly had just finished going off on the ACLU for not wanting to allow any prisoner abuse, including sleep deprivation. He then introduced a guest to take the other side. The guest made a tactical mistake when he started out by questioning O’Reilly’s bias, calling it propaganda. He didn’t make it fifteen seconds before O’Reilly gave the order to cut his mic and announce that the man will not be on his show ever again. I forget who the guest was and the audio isn’t available on O’Reilly’s web site yet. But Bill, showing that tough love, voiced his regret that he was forced to ban this guy who he respected. He didn’t want to have to do it, but he stands by his principles. Very admirable, Bill.
These people sure have thin skin these days. I wonder if it has anything to do with the frustration of having to defend an increasingly untenable position. I’m trying to have faith in the American public to think beyond what these bullies are ramming into their minds. I guess the polls show that some people are beginning to get it. Half full, baby, Half full!

The O’Reilly Sphincter

· The O'Reilly Sphincter

As my first post to this blog, I must go to the first in no doubt a series of observations about one of my favorite analysts – Bill O’Reilly. The Bill O’Reilly Sphincter is big and scary, and a place from which many comically distorted facts and shameless self-promotions are pulled. I love Bill O’Reilly. He makes me laugh, he makes me pull out my hair. Anyway, I digress…
Fun with quotes
On yesterday’s Factor, he pulled some outragous-sounding quotes from lefty publications and pronouncements of the day. One, I believe an editorial making a point about the irony that the US military, which doesn’t want gays in the military, is using sodomy and all sorts of nasty sexually humiliating techniques. The second quote made a connection between the human rights movement in context of the war. I’m just pulling this from memory so I forget the details. His point was that the left is so ridiculously extreme that they are equating the human rights movement and gay rights to war and atrocities, thus showing they are so far out there that they completely lack credibility.
Of course, he is completely leaving out the context. Two other major news events of the day were 50th anniversary of the human rights movement, and the MA gay marriage story. So maybe, just maybe a couple people attempted to make clever metaphorical connections between a couple major news stories of the day. We don’t even know if these excerpts represent the key points of the article or statement. But that would be too fair and balanced.
Fun with Statistics
People love misrepresenting surveys. On the Factor, Bill gives the results of a poll showing that 19% of Americans call themselves “Liberals.” So you see, 19% of the country is responsible for pulling the rest way so far to the left that the American way of life is being threatened by a small minority.
Of course, there is more than one question on the typical survey. I presume this survey at the very least also provided options for “moderate” and “conservative”. He somehow didn’t provide this information so I have to use my impressive statistics skills here. What if, for example, 19% also called themselves “conservative” on the same scale? I’m no expert but what this would suggest statistically is what’s called a bell-shaped standard population distribution. I may be wrong, but I wonder why those other numbers were not relevant. Would he have left out the conservative number if it were, say, 50%? An honest assessment of the survey would have given the other numbers. But that would be too fair and balanced.
Fun with self
Another fun thing to do with the O’Reilly Factor is to count the references to himself. They happen in every show. In fact, one of the best segments is the “Most Ridiculous Item of the Day,” segment. It took some exposure to the show for me to realize that what is so ridiculous about the item is that it very frequently is about himself in some way – and I mean directly. I didn’t see last night’s, but here’s an oldie but a goodie: The most ridiculous item one day was that he was about to be interviewed on CNN. That’s it! Ridiculous news item, or ridiculous self-promotion. As they say on Fox: You decide.