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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

I'm coo-coo for Cocco puffs! (And so's CBS News!)

While drafting (pun recognized but not intended) and following up on my post below about CBS News' scandalous broadcasts intended to create fear among voters over the return of conscription, I stumbled upon an interesting chronologic sequence, prompted by Rathergate.com's reprint of a September 9th letter to the editor from CBS News' star draft-fearful soccer-mom, Ms. Beverly Cocco of Walton Park, PA, to the Northeast Times, which appears to be a Philadelphia News-owned local-events supplement (proudly serving "Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery Counties and the Main Line").  Of that September 9th letter to the editor, more later. 

But as it turns out, there's an earlier letter from Ms. Cocco there too, from way back on June 17th (boldface added):

Put the chill on the draft bill

Just this week I received an e-mail so upsetting that I forwarded it to all my friends, who then forwarded it to all their friends. We are now a good size group.

The e-mail concerned Bill S89 and HR 163. The bill is about reinstating the draft, beginning in the spring of 2005. The draftees will be all males and females between the ages of 18 and 26. There will be no deferments; seniors will be allowed to finish the year, and underclassmen will only be allowed to finish the semester. There is already a document signed between the U.S. and Canada, the "Smart Border Declaration," which will prevent crossing the border.

Since this is a federal bill, I was advised to contact Sen. Specter, Sen. Santorum and Congressman Joe Hoeffel. Sen. Specter’s office said that these bills are a "secret."  [Yeah, that's why they're given code-numbers and hidden away in the Congressional Record, in print and online — to keep them "secret." — Beldar]

When I told him that the cat was out of the bag, he offered to connect me with the Washington office. That office assured me that the senator was against this bill. I am still waiting for Sen. Santorum to respond, but Congressman Hoeffel is undecided. His office is sending me a letter detailing his thoughts.

We are now in the process of collecting as much information as possible about this bill and the candidates.

We keep getting told that there are no sponsors for this bill and not to worry about it. But why did South Carolina Sen. Ernest Hollings draft this bill, and why is it sitting in the Senate? We think that it is important to find out before the election.

Meanwhile, we are starting an organization called Parents Against the Draft (PAD).  For more information, call me at [deleted — Beldar].

Beverly Cocco
Walton Park

The proposed new law in question, by the way, the "Universal National Service Act of 2003," was introduced in identical form in both chambers — in the House as HR163, and in the Senate as SR89 — way back on January 7, 2003, by Congressmen Rangel, McDermott, Conyers, Lewis (of Georgia), Stark, and Abercrombie, and by Senator Hollings, all hard-left Democrats.  [Update: Both bills were promptly referred to the appropriate committes, whence, as best I can tell, they've neither stirred nor come up for any discussion or vote ever since.  Yet there are unconfirmed reports that from the darkness surrounding them has occasionally been heard a hiss — "My preciousssss!" — with an odd Massachusetts accent.]

The above-referenced Pennsylvania Democratic congressman (and senate candidate), Joseph M. Hoeffel, in fact published a follow-up letter to the editor of his own on July 1st, stating that he opposes HR163, and concluding that by "enhancing incentives and increasing possibilities for engaging in volunteer service, we can improve our armed forces without reinstating the military draft." 

And by the time of Ms. Cocco's September 9 letter, it sounded like she'd been cured of her barking moonbatism after speaking with Pennsylvania Republican Senator Arlen Specter at a town meeting (boldface added):

Thank you, Sen. Specter

I had the opportunity to speak to U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter at his recent town meeting in Northeast Philadelphia. During the question-and-answer section, I identified myself along with my friend, Cookie Catinella, as officers of Parents Against the Draft.

I asked the senator about the prospect of a draft in the future. He was adamant that there will be no draft and eloquently explained to everyone why it was important that we finish up in Iraq, what our future plans are, and why there will be no draft or any need for one.

We found Sen. Specter very knowledgeable and want to thank him for addressing and explaining this very complicated and troubling issue.

But someone, we wonder who, somehow managed to get Ms. Cocco properly fearful again just in time for CBS News' broadcast.  Now I wonder who that could have been?

Meanwhile, here, by the way, are Lexis-Nexis transcripts of the CBS News broadcasts as they aired on Tuesday night's evening program and this morning's CBS News broadcast.  No mention there about corresponding with congressmen or cross-examining senators, nosireebob.

Finally, I wonder if Newsday columnist Marie Cocco — author of this August 2nd piece headlined "Kerry eyes disillusioned GOPers: The Democratic nominee hopes to find support among Republicans upset with Bush" (reprinted in WaPo on August 4th), a bunch of other anti-Dubya op-eds (including one from April 27th that accused Bush, pre-SwiftVets, of "smearing Kerry's war record"), and who's also flacked for John Kerry's claims about the so-called "back-door draft" on Chris Matthews' Hardball — might be related to Ms. Beverly Cocco?  [Update: Apparently there's no relation; see update below. — Beldar.]

Update (Wed Sep 29 @11:50pm): In an earlier version of this post that was only up for a few minutes while I was fixing broken links, proof-reading, and such, I quoted from some Congressional Record pages that I thought were Rep. Hoeffel's statements on the House floor, raising the likelihood of the return of conscription, because I'd seen them posted on his congressional website.  After studying those quotes more carefully from the full .pdf files from the Congressional Record, however, I've concluded that although Rep. Hoeffel spoke during the same sessions in July and September, and has elsewhere, like Sen. Kerry, spoken out against the so-called "back-door draft," the particular lines I originally quoted were instead from Rep. Ted Strickland (D-OH), so I've removed those quotations from the post.  Mea culpa; I hope Rep. Hoeffel will stick with his position as of his July 1 letter to the editor, and I encourage him to discourage his colleagues like Mr. Strickland from threatening/promising the return of the draft if Dubya's re-elected.

Update (Thu Sep 30 @ 3:55am): Turns out that Rep. Hoeffel's anti-draft position hasn't made much of a splash since July 1st.  Libertarian Party nominee Elisabeth "Betsy" Summers announced her bid for Sen. Specter's seat on August 17th, and claims that she's the "only anti-war anti-draft candidate running." 

Gosh, perhaps Rep. Hoeffel should respond immediately and forcefully to this!  Maybe he oughta reprint his July 1 letter to the editor on his campaign website, since it turns up zero Google search hits for "draft," "conscription," or "163," and all the references to "draft" on his congressional website were made by other Democratic congressmen!  Unless — oh double-gosh, you don't suppose he'd rather (yes, pun intended) just let the fear-mongering run amok?  Geepers-golly, that would be sorta cynical, wouldn't it? When grilled by Ms. Summers at one of his own rallies, Rep. Hoeffel was quoted as saying "You're smart, because you're using my event to get some publicity." But Rep. Hoeffel said he would support Ms. Summers' "participation in any debates leading up to the Nov. 2 election."  So in this merry dance involving Ms. Cocco, Rep. Hoeffel, and Ms. Summers, who exactly is using whom?

Update (Thu Sep 30 @ 4:50am and I'm gonna pay for this tomorrow): Blogger Bill from INDC Journal has a fabulous bit of investigative reporting on the not-so-investigative reporting done by CBS News — an interview with CBS correspondent Richard Schlesinger.  Regarding the whole subject of the draft, Schlesinger admits:

Whether or not there’s any reality to there being a draft, is almost besides the point. Do I think there’s going to be a draft? No. But it's an issue that people are talking about.

Regarding how they found Ms. Cucco:

Long story short, she’s a Republican. When we put the story together, I went looking for a Republican. We worked backwards from the e-mail, that’s how we found her. She told me that she was going to vote for Bush, though she said she may flip-flop.

Sucker (at best)!  But wait, there's more:  Bill also interviews CBS News spokesperson Sandra Genelius, who's typically clueless, and CBS News segment producer Linda Karas, who has this bit of damning idiocy (ellipsis in original from INDC Journal; boldface mine):

I know that she’s affiliated with the group, and what her views are on the draft, and that’s what I was interested in. I was looking for a character that has a personal story that might be affected by the issue. And to be honest, I was looking for a Republican. I e-mailed several groups that deal with this issue, and she was the woman who responded that fit the profile and was the most interesting voice, because this is a woman with two sons ... and she is concerned about the issue. If I had some rampant leftist on there, what would you say?

I'd say she's at best a kook and more likely a political activist, of whatever political stripe, whose activism CBS News knowingly concealed.  Suh-weet!  From their own mouths, the admission that they were on notice — and hence not acting in good faith — yet again.  Read the whole beautifully ugly thing!

Update (Thu Sep 30 @ 5:15am):  A quick note of caution:  In reading some of the stuff that's ricocheting through the blogosphere right now, I'm seeing all sorts of takes on Ms. Cocco, ranging from (my paraphrases) "she's a stalwart Republican and CBS News made it look like she has doubts about Bush that she really doesn't have" to "her name's listed on a website that is linked to the Communist Party of the USA."  To be absolutely clear:  I don't know what to believe about Ms. Cocco, but assuming that the letters to the editor quoted above are actually from her, that's enough to show that she's no naive soccer-mom; and with what Karas admits in the quotes above, CBS News knew that and concealed it.  As to the CPUSA stuff — whoa, Nellie, be careful there; and make sure you haven't blurred "People Against the Draft" with "Parents Against the Draft" — the former being, apparently, a much larger group that listed Ms. Cocco's contact info on their webpage as "Philadelphia Lancaster/Bucks County affiliate: Parents Against the Draft." 

Update (Thu Sep 30 @ 8:22am): The Ratherbiased.com folks, temporarily blogging courtesy of Rathergate.com, have screenshots proving the "nacht und nebel"/stealth addition to the CBS News website of a disclosure regarding Ms. Cocco's affiliation with "People Against the Draft."  As noted above, I'm not sure whether that's a fair way to describe Ms. Cocco's connection; she does seem to be affiliated with "Parents Against the Draft," and indeed its co-founder.  But whether she and her fellow members of "Parents" knew of possibly unsavory connections that the "People" group may have, or even authorized her name to be listed on the "People" website, hasn't yet been established.  Regardless, the fact that she is an active participant in some sort of grass-roots activist organization clearly was known to CBS News before they ran their broadcast portraying her as an average (Republican) soccer mom, and the stealth edit to their webpage is both a tacit admission that they should have disclosed that critical contextual information to begin with, and further evidence in itself of CBS News' utter lack of candor, good faith, and respect for journalistic ethics.

Update (Thu Sep 30 @ 10:20am): Via a very polite and prompt email reply to my inquiry, columnist Marie Cocco advises that she's not, to her knowledge, related to Beverly Cocco.  Some odd coincidences really are just odd coincidences.

Posted by Beldar at 10:55 PM in Mainstream Media, Politics (2006 & earlier) | Permalink

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Comments

(1) Kathy made the following comment | Sep 29, 2004 11:36:31 PM | Permalink

It just keeps getting better and better for CBS. What is it that they don't understand about blogs and the blogosphere? Their arrogance will be their undoing, and it can't happen soon enough.

Nice job on the research.

(2) MaDr made the following comment | Sep 30, 2004 10:11:31 AM | Permalink

I think we're overlooking the obvious. CBS has already noted that the viewing public is migrating to "sources" that reflect their own political beliefs/biases. CBS has already chosen which niche it plans to fill, even though they aren't ready to come out of the closet yet, and announce their allegiance to the world.

(3) A.R.Yngve made the following comment | Sep 30, 2004 11:05:07 AM | Permalink

This "secret draft" story has a hole in it the size of a Mack truck.

Said "hole" being: If an American politician REALLY were trying to revive the draft behind the backs of his voters, why on Earth would they EVER vote for him again?

No democratically elected official is that eager to kill his career. End of story. (Of course logic or common sense doesn't matter in the current climate of paranoia and hysteria.)

Is there a real need for the draft? It would require an enemy army so large, coordinated --and undeterred by nuclear weapons -- that world peace was in danger. Where is that enemy? (No, a few scattered terrorist groups don't qualify.)

America, I weep for thee...

-A.R.Yngve
http://yngve.bravehost.com

(4) theecmo made the following comment | Sep 30, 2004 11:37:56 AM | Permalink

What amazes me is reading some of the blogs on the left that still consider CBS to be part of the vast right wing conspiracy. They even think CNN has taken a hard turn to the right in the last year or so. They seem to think people like Begala and Carville are moderates or centrists. Of course with that thinking I guess Jaques Chirac is a neo-con. Sigh, when did the American public get so blind?

(5) Jim Patrick made the following comment | Sep 30, 2004 3:04:43 PM | Permalink

In a world where war is peace, black is white, and some pigs are better than others we find theBlatantTruth still claiming that everyone from 18-34 will get drafted.... unless Kerry gets in. Of course these are the same people that claim the 911 attacks were by a vast right-wing conspiracy.... but if it can't be proved, it's because the vast right-wing conspiracy covered it up!

(6) seapadre made the following comment | Sep 30, 2004 11:30:39 PM | Permalink

As part of a group stung by distorted reporting at CBS, I appreciate the work you are doing to expose CBS bias.

http://www.geocities.com/seapadre_1999/rathergate.html

(7) ColumbusOhio made the following comment | Oct 2, 2004 7:46:24 PM | Permalink

10-1-2004

CONSUMER ALERT: Know of a scam that needs investigating? Tell us about it! Email us at scams@cbsnews.com

Dear CBS -

Yes, I know of a scam.

There is a national television network that just aired a story about re-instating the draft, that failed to note that the person being interviewed was an active member of an anti-draft action group, and that failed to note that proposed legislation to re-establish the draft has been introduced into Congress by members of the Democrat party.

If you can find out which network aired this program, you could probably do your viewers a true service by exposing this scam.

Maybe if this type of reporting is brought to light, that network would start including all relevant facts in its stories.

At least one could hope....

Thank you.

Columbus, Ohio

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