The Independent: Greatest Threat to Journalism Since Polio

The Independent has a profile of Eminem’s publicity for his upcoming new album which include this claim,

As his fame grew, Eminem became a magnet for controversy. He was accused of glorifying misogyny, homophobia, bad language and violence. He was arrested on gun charges. On one occasion, George Bush, upset by his lack of respect for the forces of conservatism, labelled him: “The greatest threat to America’s children since polio.”

How stupid is the reporter who wrote that? That has urban legend written all over it. And, per Snopes,

Given that:

  • None of these articles [from 2001 when the quote first appears] contains any details about when (or where, or under what circumstances) President Bush allegedly described Eminem as “the most dangerous threat to American children since polio.”
  • All of the articles containing this putative quote come from newspapers published in the UK.
  • We haven’t yet turned up even a single article from a U.S. newspaper which includes this quote (other than brief references to its having been mentioned in British newspapers), even though President Bush and Eminem are both Americans and major media figures.

We’re guessing that this was a spurious “quote” fabricated by someone for publicity purposes (nothing piques curiosity about a person more than the President’s declaring him to be a dangerous enemy), or to poke fun at President Bush. Since no one else has been able to verify the authenticity of this quote, we’re assigning it a “False” rating.

Many of us who live in the United States can remember the withering criticism directed at George H. Bush for his moronic statements about The Simpsons. If George W. Bush had really said something as stupid as that, it would have been major news in the United States.

Peter Singer vs. George Bush? No Contest When It Comes to Ethics

This weekend, the Guardian published this op-ed by philosopher Peter Singer that takes George W. Bush to task over the president’s pro-life views. Singer attempts to show that Bush is not worthy of being called pro-life, writing,

Last month, the military forces that this same president commands aimed a missile at a house in Damadola, a Pakistani village near the Afghan border. Eighteen people were killed, including five children. The target of the attack, al-Qaeda’s No 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was not among the dead, although lesser figures in the terrorist organisation reportedly were. Bush did not apologise for the attack, nor did he reprimand those who ordered it. Apparently, he believes that the chance of killing an important terrorist leader is sufficient justification for firing a missile that will almost certainly kill innocent human beings.

Frankly, though, if I have to choose between the ethics of Peter Singer and that of George W. Bush I’ll take Bush in a landslide any day. Bush, whether directly or indirectly, supported the attack on this village that ended up killing 18 people and did not get its main target. Were 18 lives worth the chance of getting Al-Zawahiri?

I don’t know. But certainly that is a much better tradeoff than Singer offers when in 2001, for example, Singer said it was okay to kill babies simply because they might be wheelchair bound.

First, Singer established that he had changed his views slightly since saying in 1995 that infants under 28 days old were not really self-aware persons and could be killed,

Frolke: Most proponents of the right to die would agree with your ideas about euthanasia. But you lose them when you suggest that it’s OK to kill a baby before it’s 28 days old, because until that time, it is not self-aware and “doesn’t have the same right to life as others.”

Singer: I wrote that in 1995. I have changed my position. Now I believe you should look at every individual case.

Then Singer gives an example criteria of a case where it might be better to kill new

[Viktor] Frolke: Maybe you’re not saying that the lives of disabled people are not worth living, but on a scale they’re closer to that point than you are.

Singer: There are so many more factors important to the quality of life. Maybe the life of a disabled person is much more worth living than mine. All I’m saying is that at birth you can’t tell that. It’s reasonable to say that a life with a serious disability has the expectation of turning out less well than a life without disabilities. And I’m not talking about intellectual disabilities. I can imagine that parents of a newborn that is paralyzed, that’s always going to be in a wheelchair, might decide that they don’t want that child and that they are going to have another one. That’s a decision I can understand.

Singer is one ethicist who has no business lecturing anybody about respect for human life.


Not terribly pro-life, is it Mr President?. Peter Singer, The Guardian, February 18, 2006.

Can Bush Win Michigan?

If you’d asked me a few months ago, I’d have said that Bush’s chances of winning Michigan were about the same as the Detroit Lion’s winning three straight road games this season. Ooops.

National Review notes that Kerry is going to be campaigning here on Sunday or Monday. National Review quotes a Bush campaign volunteer as saying internal polls show Bush ahead in Michigan, which they pretty much were guaranteed to say regardless, but Kerry making a last minute stop here is a bit odd given that it should be a shoo-in for Kerry.

Or to put it another way, if Kerry can’t win Michigan he has little chance of capturing the presidency. This is a state that has lost thousands of manufacturing jobs, is heavily union and has a substantial urban minority population. If Kerry can’t win in this state, he’s going to have a horrible election night.

Kerry’s probably coming here late to try to boost turnout. Bottom line — if he can get heavy turnout in Wayne County (Detroit), Kerry’s going to win. If people think he’s faltering or don’t find him that compelling and don’t turn out, he’s going to lose.

And unlike the 2000 election, there isn’t any major contentious statewide ballot issue to drive voter turnout (in 2000 there was hotly disputed school choice proposal). This year the only major statewide ballots are related to gambling and gay marriage, neither of which has caused anywhere near the level of controversy that the school choice measure did.

More Boing! Boing! Anti-Bush Knee Jerk Reflexology

Yet another example of Boing! Boing! letting its anti-Bush knee jerk reaction get the better of it. Bush is scheduled on Wednesday to give what his campaign calls a major speech. The Bush campaign is making much of the fact that Bush was going to talk about medical liability but is now going to talk about terrorism and the economy.

Boing! Boing!’s Mark Frauenfelder goes nuts with this extremely bizarre post,

Will Kerry get equal time to respond to President Bush’s last-minute speech

In an effort to halt his deteriorating ratings, President Bush has announced that’ll he’ll be giving a major speech on Wednesday. “The president is said to be eager to rebut Kerry’s attacks on [the] issues.” I’m imagine he is, since Kerry won’t be able to respond. Will Kerry be given equal time on the networks?

What the hell does that mean? Kerry won’t be able to respond? What, is Bush going to have Dick Cheney sit on Kerry to prevent him from responding? Of course Kerry will be able to respond, and you’ll likely see dueling soundbites on the 6:30 p.m. news on Wednesday or Thursday.

Fraunfelder seems under the false impression that broadcast networks will carry Bush’s speech live just because he calls it a “major speech.” Give me a f—ing break — the broadcast media never runs campaign speeches live.

Kids, this is your brain. And, this is your brain on reflexive Bush bashing.


Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one watching television instead of blogging. A lot has been made of the fact that two cable news channels — CNN and MSNBC — chose to run Bush’s speech live (I’m sure all 12 people watching MSNBC in the middle of the day were thrilled by that decision).

Big deal — cable news channels regularly run live feeds of campaign speeches by Kerry or Bush, and if you bill the appearance as a “major speech” that is not just a standard recapitulation of the stump speech, one or more of the cable news channels will probably run the whole damn thing live as long as it’s a slow news day. On September 20, for example, CNN ran a major Kerry speech on foreign policy live beginning at 10 a.m. Similarly, a number of the cable channels ran Kerry’s midnight speech on the last day of the Republican National Convention.

What would have been inappropriate, would have been if CBS, ABC or NBC had interrupted their daytime broadcasts to air Bush’s campaign speech live, since they don’t usually run campaign speeches from either candidate live. And, of course, they didn’t because they can’t build an audience based on the half dozen cats whose owners accidentally leave the television on and tuned to MSNBC during the day.

And, of course, the Kerry campaign did have a chance to respond to Bush’s speech. The broadcast networks featured reports with excerpts from Bush’s speech and from a speech that John Edwards gave the same day. In fact, the coverage on most of the networks was overwhelmingly negative (as it should be) toward Bush due to testimony about the CIA report finding that Saddam Hussein’s WMD program had ended several years after the end of the first Persian Gulf War.

Back to a Dead Heat?

A new Newsweek poll has George W. Bush and John Kerry essentially tied after Bush’s poor debate performance.

I bet the Bush folks really regret agreeing to three debates now.

But, of course, the important polls are those in the a handful of states that are actually going to be competitive. It’ll be interesting to see how polls in Florida and Ohio look at the end of the week.

Kerry vs. Bush Debate

Hugh Hewitt writes of tonight’s debate,

Overall: Bush gets a big win, by hiting all his messages over and over again. He wins on substance. Biggest mistake by Kerry: “The Global Test.” Sorry, the American voters aren’t interested in passing any global tests. Bush stresses steadfastness and resolve. Kerry firmed up the hard-left vote, but you can’t win on this.

Was Hewitt watching the same debate I was? Kerry came across as very strong — he’s obviously very comfortable in a debate format. Bush, on the other hand, continues to prove that he is a horrible, horrible public speaker.

Remember the Democratic strategy before Kerry’s implosion in August — highlight the things that Bush has done wrong (in their view) and present Kerry as presidential and, therefore, a credible alternative. Kerry accomplished all of that and more tonight, in my opinion (and I can’t stand the guy even after the debate).

Bush is still very beatable, and if Kerry performs as well in the next two debates Bush is going to be in serious trouble.