Wednesday, November 28, 2007

From: Richard Stengel

Sent: Tuesday, November 27, 2007 4:24 PM
To: Paul Dirks
Subject: Re: Joe Klein and FISA

Thank you for your email, I appreciate your comments.

TIME Columnist Joe Klein made a reporting error, which he swiftly addressed in his blog postings on In addition, TIME will run a correction in his column in this week's issue of the magazine.

Thank you very much,

Richard Stengel
Managing Editor

I respond again:

I appreciate your reply. I probably don’t need to mention that many of the people unhappy with the original reporting are also dissatisfied with the manner it has been addressed to date at Swampland. I sincerely hope that the print edition doesn’t leave a similar cold feeling. As I said in my original letter, this is indeed a serious issue and this incident is only a more egregious example of an ongoing pattern. I could spend several exciting hours documenting instances where the desired story-structure has guided the fact-seeking of Time reporters rather than the reverse. It is a practice which leaves one particularly open to this sort of error.


Paul H. Dirks

On 11/27/07 12:43 PM, "Paul Dirks" wrote:

Richard Stengel
Managing Editor
Time Magazine

While I am hopeful that this is only one among many letters encouraging you to look into the false premises that underlie the latest offering from Joe Klein headlined “The Tone Deaf Democrats”, I nevertheless hope that you will take this issue seriously. After all, fitting facts around a pre-existing story-line has proven to be a fatal practice in the not-so-distant past.

In light of the fact that the details of the FISA bill are incorrectly described in the story, I find their use to support the following statements offensive to say the least:

The Democratic strategy on the FISA legislation in the House is equally foolish.

In the lethal shorthand of political advertising, it would give terrorists the same legal protections as Americans. That is well beyond stupid.

As Dodd said, when the President takes the oath of office, he (or she) promises two things: to protect the Constitution and to protect the nation against enemies, foreign and domestic.

The fact that the President’s oath of office doesn’t include “protect the nation against enemies, foreign and domestic.” should have been the first hint that the article had some factual shortcomings.

While the particulars of the errors have been documented thoroughly by others, I wish to add my voice if only to stress that this is not a trivial matter. Stories are the currency of thought, and the act of furthering the story that Democrats are confused about National Security by spreading disinformation and confusion about their actual position does nothing but harm Time’s reputation as a source of news.


Paul H. Dirks

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A comment worth preserving:


Joe's heart leapt at the words, and tears formed in his eyes. The news from Iraq was good, but the sinking meant that at last, the war he'd been waiting for was on. Soldiers marched across the screens, and his grateful tears dripped into his non-fat decaf vanilla soy double mocachinetto. As the President addressed the press in the Rose Garden, he finally knew what what he had been fighting to realise for so many years: he loved Big Dubya.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Spine......aka Leadership

Without even bothering to mention Joe Klein or David Broder, the broader point, that Americans admire people who will stand up on principles and fight against the tide needs to be stressed repeatedly. Our culture, beginning with that American Revolution itself and continuing throughout the process of settling the West is infused with the story line.

We certainly don't need to be reminded of the power of "flip-flop" to know that capitulation to RW talking points is significantly MORE harmful to one's National Security cred than standing and fighting for what is clearly and demonstrably the right thing to do. Who after all, wants to be defended against terrorists by a capitulating weakling.

Joe Klein is indeed a symptom of the illness which infects this country. But I can't help rememeber a few months ago when everyone was lamenting Obama's naivety and inexperience becuase he had the audacity to mention that it might become necessary to intervene in Pakistan.

Apparently stupidity sells.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I write the United States Bridge Federation

I read with interest the New York Times story detailing potential sanctions against the women who held up the sign at the awards ceremony in China. I must say that I found this quote contained in the story particularly disturbing. “While I believe in the right to free speech, to me that doesn’t give anyone the right to criticize one’s leader at a foreign venue in a totally nonpolitical event,”

The reason this sounds sour to my ear is simply this:

If you can’t criticize your leader then why bother having free speech in the first place.

The whole point of the American experiment is the idea that we are all created equal and share in the responsibility of governing the country. If we can’t be free to criticize our leaders, then how can we possibly expect our leaders to represent our interests? I realize that yours is not a political organization and that this is a potential source of embarrassment but I would suggest that you view it as an opportunity to express your pride in being an American and supporting the great American tradition of free speech enshrined in the 1st Amendment to our constitution.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I write to AP:

Reid Threatens War Money By ANNE FLAHERTY

The story referred to in the subject line contains a sentence which is severely misleading although unfortunately quite common.

Similar legislation has routinely fallen short of the 60 votes needed to overcome procedural hurdles in the Senate.

The “procedural hurdles” referred to in the article is in fact the announcement by Republicans of their intent to filibuster the bill. The fact that the Democrats in the Senate never in fact require the Republicans to filibuster is unfortunate. The fact that the AP routinely obscures this fact in its reporting is unconscionable. A little honesty on the subject would go a long way toward educating the public on what actually goes on in the Senate.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Re: Glenn Greenwald

What happened to the Senate's "60-vote requirement"?

Glenn's post refers to the process of providing lip-service to opposing torture without having to actually address it. Well that happens to be the exact point of the exercise. Everybody wants to be "on record" as opposing waterboarding but to actually take the position that it was illegal when performed requires that the AG then prosecute those responsible. That it the one outcome that no one, Democrat OR Republican actually wants to see happen. The fact that our administration has engaged in unfortunate and/or incompetent behavior is something everyone can nod their heads in agreement over. The fact that they are an ongoing criminal enterprise on the other hand, needs to stay under wraps. If Scooter Libby proves anything its that no one is going to jail no mattter what!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Re: Ron Paul

The thing I find interesting about libertarians is they start with an immovable principle and then shoehorn all their particular views on individual issues into the mold thus defined. This is of course in contrast to most people (particularly politicians) who start with a laundry list of opinions on particular issues and then try to assemble them into a coherent whole (Hint: most people hold incoherent views.)

I find the popularity of Ron Paul refreshing if only because it suggests that even hardcore Conservatives are sick of what this country is becoming. I regard that as good news.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The best line I've read

Concerning progress in Iraq

To me, the issue is this: We keep talking about whether the glass if half full or half empty. But since the liquid in the glass is gasoline, the real question is, who's holding the match?

Turning Point For Iraq

This is notable too because (appearing on AmericaBlog) it helps dilute the slander that liberals don't desire success in Iraq.

Ron Paul

Ron Paul for Republicans represents having your cake and eating it too. Supporting him is the easiest way to repudiate BuschCo, endless aggressive war, torture, and warrantless wiretapping without having to hold your nose and vote for Universal health care and Gun control.