Saturday, October 01, 2005

Feeling good

There’s an old sick joke that goes:

Joe is taking an evening stroll in his neighborhood when he comes upon Dave, his odd-duck neighbor. Dave is standing on his front lawn and hitting himself on the head with a hammer, again and again.

Joe exclaims, “My god, Dave,” and runs up to grab the hammer.

Having secured the hammer, Joe looks warily at Dave and asks, “Why were you doing that?

Dave replies, “Because it feels so good when someone stops me.”


This piece of blogging by Zombie Time (via Power Line ) reminded me of that joke.

If the altruism that many journalists profess is real, then crap like that uncovered by Zombie Time has got to gnaw at their deep-seeded sense of right and wrong, it has to hurt. I’ve always wondered if those reporters feel good when the ones tainting their profession are exposed.

As for those Machiavellian types in the mainstream media (MSM), its time to take a breath and a hard look around; the blogosphere is encamped on the source side of your news filters and that encampment is growing, exponentially.

Cause and effect

The Washington Times’ Jerry Seper brings this:
Civilian monitors on both borders

More than 4,000 civilian volunteers are expected to man observation posts beginning today on the Mexican border from Texas to California and in states along the Canadian border in a new Minuteman protest of immigration-enforcement policies they consider lax….

Participants will report to the U.S. Border Patrol but will not detain those attempting to illegally cross into the United States. They will be deployed in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, as well as border regions of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Washington, Idaho, Montana and North Dakota.

[The] founder of the Civil Homeland Defense Corps in Arizona, coordinated the "Minuteman Project" border vigil that is credited with shutting down a 23-mile stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border to illegal immigration in April.

In Arizona, 850 volunteers stood watch near Naco to reduce the flow of illegal aliens in one of the nation's most-traveled immigration corridors. Their goal was to show that increased manpower on the border would effectively deter illegal immigration. During the 30-day vigil, apprehensions by Border Patrol agents in the targeted area dropped from more than 500 a day to fewer than 15.

Although Department of Homeland Security and Border Patrol supervisors in Arizona discounted the Minuteman efforts, saying apprehension totals declined because the Mexican government deployed military and police south of the targeted area, field agents said the volunteers cut the flow of illegal aliens.

Before the April vigil, Minuteman critics contended the group consisted of anti-immigration racists who would violently confront border crossers. That did not occur.

You may recall that the mainstream media (MSM) gave their pens and microphones to those Minuteman critics before and during the April vigil and then waited, like circling vultures, for the first casualty. Ironically, the incessant coverage actually worked against the MSM’s agenda, for it created an atmosphere of uncertainty south of our border with Mexico. Heretofore, the Mexican government, the coyotes (people smugglers), and of course the illegals themselves could count on what awaited them on the other side: A chance of apprehension (and if that happened, a good chance of being released with a court date that would never be kept), then traveling the underground railroad to an employer who would also violate the law and hire the illegal, looking past the bogus ID that the illegal purchased en route. In other words, once you managed to cross that border, it was a done deal (the Mexican government was actually providing a how-to manual to their citizens contemplating the crime).

But in April, along that “23-mile stretch of border,” all bets were off and the flow of illegals went from a torrent (15,000) to a leak (450). Why? Because the criminal act of illegally crossing the border might now have real consequences, and, if the MSM were to be believed, those consequences might even be deadly.

The only thing that had changed was the presence of the Minuteman; yet the Department of Homeland Security discounted that presence.

“Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped.”
- Elbert Hubbard

Friday, September 30, 2005

The headline sets the tone and a verb betrays the reporter

Mr. Bradley S. Klapper, a reporter for the Associated Press(AP) in Geneva, filed this [Ed- these are excepts, the whole report is here ]:

U.S. insists on keeping control of Web

SEP. 29 10:35 A.M. ET - A senior U.S. official rejected calls on Thursday for a U.N. body to take over control of the main computers that direct traffic on the Internet, reiterating U.S. intentions to keep its historical role as the medium's principal overseer.

"We will not agree to the U.N. taking over the management of the Internet," said Ambassador David Gross, the U.S. coordinator for international communications and information policy at the State Department. "Some countries want that. We think that's unacceptable."

Many countries, particularly developing ones, have become increasingly concerned about the U.S. control, which stems from the country's role in creating the Internet as a Pentagon project and funding much of its early development…

One proposal that countries have been discussing would wrest control of domain names from the U.S.-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, and place it with an intergovernmental group, possibly under the United Nations…

After reading the whole thing, with all of its assertions, one is struck by the fact that there is not a single quote from anyone on the pro-side of turning over control and management of the Internet to the United Nations, while con-side quotes from US Ambassador David Gross are in good supply.

Do you suppose reporter Klapper, or perhaps the AP, has an agenda?

UPDATE

My apologies to Mr. Klapper. It’s the AP with an agenda. In another report by Aoife White, an AP “business writer,” with a dateline of Fri, Sep 30, 2:57 PM ET comes this:
EU Wants Shared Control of Internet

BRUSSELS, Belgium – The European Union insisted Friday that governments and the private sector must share the responsibility of overseeing the Internet, setting the stage for a showdown with the United States on the future of Internet governance....
[Ed. - more than 50% of the remainder of White’s report is a word-for-word duplication of Klapper”s report]
Interestingly, one concern of the AP [Ed.- both reports make mention of it without attribution] is that the US will capriciously shut down Internet pornography.
Policy decisions could at a stroke make all Web sites ending in a specific suffix essentially unreachable. Other decisions could affect the availability of domain names in non-English characters or ones dedicated to special interests such as pornography.

A federal plantation

From today's Washington Times:
A Bush Cabinet officer predicted this week that New Orleans likely will never again be a majority black city, and several black officials are outraged.
Alphonso R. Jackson, secretary of housing and urban development, during a visit with hurricane victims in Houston, said New Orleans would not reach its pre-Katrina population of "500,000 people for a long time," and "it's not going to be as black as it was for a long time, if ever again…."

Mr. Jackson[Ed. - Secretary Jackson is black], a former developer and longtime government housing official, said the history of urban reconstruction projects shows that most blacks will not return and others who want to might not have the means or opportunity. His agency will play a critical role in the city's redevelopment through various grant programs, including those for damaged or destroyed properties…

In the storm's aftermath, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat, charged that relocating evacuees across the country was "racist" and designed to move black people, who overwhelmingly vote Democratic, out of Louisiana. The state elected its first Republican senator, David Vitter, in nearly a century in 2004.
Both the preacher and the congresswoman suggested that the residents be housed at the closed England Air Force Base at Alexandria, La., to keep them closer to home[Ed. Alexandria is 100 miles from New Orleans]
Read those last two paragraphs again, looking beyond the racial distemper. Jackson and Waters are arguing for the creation of, what amounts to, a federal plantation where handing out Louisiana voter registration cards is the first order of business.

Contrast Jackson and Waters' maintaining-a-black-voting-block plan with President Bush’s Katrina disaster recovery plan. Here are some of the hightlights of Bush's plan:
Communities Will Be Rebuilt Even Better And Stronger Than Before. The Gulf Coast has some of the most beautiful and historic places in our country, as well as some deep and persistent poverty, rooted in racial discrimination and opportunity denied. Now is the time to rise above this legacy of inequality. As the Gulf Coast rebuilds, evacuees should come home to the place they love with a chance at a better life.

The GO Zone Will Provide Tax Relief And Loans For Businesses And Entrepreneurs To Invest In The Region And Create Jobs. The GO Zone will double small business expensing from $100,000 to $200,000 for investments in new equipment, provide a 50 percent bonus depreciation for all businesses, and extend tax relief to the building of new structures. The GO Zone will also make available loans and loan guarantees for small businesses, including minority-owned enterprises, to get them up and running again. It is this entrepreneurship that will create jobs and opportunity and help break the cycle of poverty.

The President Proposed Worker Recovery Accounts To Help Those Who Need Extra Help Finding A Job. These new Worker Recovery Accounts will provide targeted assistance for those victims of Hurricane Katrina who need extra help finding work. While victims who have lost their jobs are already eligible to receive state unemployment benefits or Disaster Unemployment Assistance for up to 26 weeks, some need more help in their job search. Worker Recovery Accounts will reward work, eliminate red tape, and promote individual choice to help people find work quickly. We also must ensure that as many of the rebuilding jobs as possible go to the people of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

Workers Will Receive Flexible Assistance To Aid In Their Job Search Or To Pay For Retraining. These Accounts, which states will have flexibility to design, will provide up to $5,000 to certain job seekers to allow them to purchase the training or supportive services, such as child care or transportation, they need to get back to work. In addition to whatever services they select, workers will still be able to receive basic employment services from states and One Stop Career Centers. If workers find a job within 13 weeks after starting Unemployment Insurance benefits or Disaster Unemployment Assistance, they may keep the money remaining in their account as an employment bonus.

The President Proposed An Urban Homesteading Initiative To Provide A New Beginning For Lower-Income Evacuees. Homesteading will allow evacuees to occupy a government-owned home at a favorable mortgage rate, in exchange for their personal investment of sweat equity in the property. Under this approach, we will identify property in the region owned by the Federal government, and provide building sites to low-income citizens free of charge, through a lottery. In return, they would pledge to build on the lot, with either a mortgage or help from a charitable organization like Habitat for Humanity. The Department of Housing and Urban Development, in cooperation with other Federal agencies, local governments, and public housing authorities, will support the development of homes on Federal property in New Orleans and cities across the region, and will encourage nonprofit organizations to commit properties as well. Homeownership is one of the great strengths of any community, and it must be a central part of our vision for the revival of this region.

Now tell me again. Who are the racists? Who want to oppress poor black people?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

She loved him, she loved him not. Well, maybe...
Nah, he really broke her heart.


This is a bit strange. Initially, I thought Ms. Ephron was just trying to be clever because no one could really relate to politics this way. And then I found this:
"So many of the conscious and unconscious ways men and women treat each other have to do with romantic and sexual fantasies that are deeply ingrained, not just in society but in literature. The women's movement may manage to clean up the mess in society, but I don't know whether it can ever clean up the mess in our minds."
--Nora Ephron

Through the looking-glass

Associated Press writer Amy Westfeldt must be desperate to overturn New York Gov. George Pataki’s decision to kill the International Freedom Center(IFC) "museum".

Why? Because her report Museum Dropped From WTC Site for Now is so slanted it is almost comical. Here are the salient passages from Westfeldt’s Alice-in-Wonderland piece:
NEW YORK (AP) -- Bowing to pressure from Sept. 11 families, Gov. George Pataki on Wednesday removed a proposed freedom center from the space reserved for it near the planned World Trade Center memorial, saying the museum project had aroused "too much opposition, too much controversy."

Pataki initially said the state would help the International Freedom Center find another home, but center officials said they weren't interested and considered the project dead....

The decision followed months of acrimony, with some Sept. 11 families and politicians saying the freedom center would overshadow and take space from the separate memorial devoted to the 2,749 World Trade Center dead and would dishonor them by fostering debate about the attacks and other world events....

The campaign by Sept. 11 families to oust [Ed. a word no doubt carefully chosen; oust – “to use force to remove somebody from a place”] the freedom center had grown to include four police and fire unions, an online petition with more than 40,000 signatures, and several politicians including Giuliani and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton....

The IFC proposed a museum that celebrated American ideals of freedom and tolerance, with exhibits on such leaders as Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as documents like the Declaration of Independence and the South African constitution.

The museum was also to have a section on the world's response to the Sept. 11 attacks.

Some families opposed the museum as much for its location as its content; they said it would sit in a prominent location that would obscure the memorial....

So, summarizing: A small cabal of special interest groups put focused pressure on the right set of politicians to kill a wonderful ancillary exhibit space that “celebrated American ideals of freedom and tolerance” at Ground Zero. And a major reason this cabal opposed the IFC was that it would “obscure” their pet project.

Folks, is there anyone, regardless of your political persuasion, who believes that a savvy politician like Hillary Rodham Clinton would oppose a museum that "celebrated American ideals of freedom and tolerance, with exhibits on such leaders as Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr.?"

Give me a break!

Westfeldt’s report distorts the facts. So much so, it could easily be labeled propaganda.

Here is a different perspective on why the IFC was controversial and was ultimately killed. It had a lot to do with Ms. Westfeldt' s allusion to "fostering debate about the attacks and other world events."

Dan, Dan, Dan

Marvin Kalb “interviewed” Dan Rather at the National Press Club. The meeting was lengthy and incredibly inane. What follows is a transcript of an excerpt of C-SPAN’s September 26, 2005 broadcast of the meeting. The subject was the infamous CBS 60 Minutes II report on George W. Bush’s service with the Texan Air National Guard.
Dan Rather: I believed in the story, the facts of the story were correct. One supporting pillar of the story, albeit an important one, but one supporting pillar was brought into question. To this day, no one has proven whether it was… ah… what it purported to be or not…[Ed. he ends with some drivel about his not giving up on his people].”

Marvin Kalb: Dan, thank you... (short audience applause)... You said, I believe you just said that… um… your think the story is accurate.

DR: Well, the story is accurate.
Let’s analyze this exchange between the two “veteran journalists.”

DR: “I believed in the story”

Dan, as a person, you can believe in the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, or any other thing that suits your fancy. But, as a reporter/journalist, you don’t “believe” in a story. You break a story; you follow a story; you report on a story; you debunk a story. Stories cannot be articles of faith for a reporter.

DR: “the facts of the story were correct”

Dan, by definition a fact is correct because a fact is something that can be shown to be true, to exist, or to have happened. And after years of digging, you didn’t have that. What you did have was an unbridled craving that some or all of that pile of gossip, hearsay, and conjecture, that CBS had accumulated on George W. Bush's miltiary service, be true.

DR:“One supporting pillar of the story, albeit an important one, but one supporting pillar was brought into question.”

Dan, you make it sound like the story was supported by more than one pillar. This was a one-pillar story and the pillar was the documents. It was the only “proof” you had. So, yes it was a very important pillar, however it was made of Jell-O.

DR: “To this day, no one has proven whether it was… ah… what it purported to be or not"

Dan, to this day, neither you, nor Mary Mapes, nor CBS has proven that those documents are authentic. On the other, there is exhaustive evidence that those documents cannot be what they seem to be.

MK: “You said, I believe you just said that… um… your think the story is accurate."

Marvin, the word “accurate” never left Dan’s lips. Weren’t you listening? And what’s with this “I believe you just said?” What does faith have to do with it? Sure is a lot of that going around in this interview.

DR: “Well, the story is accurate.”

“Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.”
-John Wooden

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Ms. Mapes, it’s proportional spacing, PRO POR TION AL

Mary Mapes, Dan Rather’s producer for the infamous George Bush & Texas Air National Guard report on CBS’ 60 Minutes II, has written a book about the deception. The excerpts below are from the book’s first chapter that can be found on Amazon.com.
All these Web sites had extensive write-ups on the documents: on typeface, font style, and peripheral spacing, material that seemed to spring up overnight. It was phenomenal. It had taken our analysts hours of careful work to make comparisons.
[Ed. – comparisons to what?]
It seemed that these analysts or commentators---or whatever they were---were coming up with long treatises in minutes
[Ed. – turn on your computer, use Microsoft Word with its default settings and key what you see in the memo supposedly created in the early seventies. You get an exact duplicate. Trouble is you’re using word processing software and an inkjet printer and neither existed on the day the memo was dated]

The woman (and her editor(s) and proofreaders) had how many months to research and debunk her critics’ primary assertions? And, incredibly, they use “peripheral spacing” thrice in the first chapter. Why not just write: we were ignorant then, we’re still ignorant, and we intend to remain that way.
There was no analysis of what the documents actually said, no work done to look at the content, no comparison with the official record, no phone calls made to check the facts of the story, nothing beyond a cursory and politically motivated examination of the typeface. That was all they had to attack, but that was enough…

Why wouldn’t incontrovertible evidence that the documents were preposterous fakes be enough?

Ms. Mapes, do you think it’s possible that a person who fabricates an official government document might be trying to deceive?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

All about image

I had never heard of Andy Borowitz until I read Bush Happy with Rita Photo Ops

Which opened with this:
Sept. 27, 2005 - In a televised speech to the nation last night, President George W. Bush praised the Federal government for responding swiftly to Hurricane Rita with well-crafted, high-quality photo opportunities showing him looking concerned. But he said that the government needs to create the impression of concern even faster in the future.
At first I thought Borowitz might be a Maureen Dowd acolyte who’d been given his own column space but as I continued reading I realized the piece was an attempt, albeit sophomoric, at humor.

I confess, I initially missed the “Satire/The Borowitz Report” banner at the top left of the page. Regardless, the "picture" of the columnist should have been a clue that sarcasm was the order of the day.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift says Supreme Court nominee John Roberts “is a bland careerist with a fine legal mind… [who] has led such a charmed life that heading the Supreme Court may not be the end of the road for him.”

So what will be the end of the road for Roberts? Why, President of the United States, of course. And what insight has Clift to this eventuality? It seems that “Sid Davis, former Washington bureau chief for NBC news, has a recurring dream that Roberts will become president someday.”

Let’s recap.

Charmed - to affect by or as if by magic

Roberts graduated summa cum laude from Harvard in three years, and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he became the managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. Something tells me it was intelligence and hard work in play there, not incantations.

Bland – not irritating, stimulating, or invigorating

Roberts bested every Democratic Senator on the Judiciary Committee, that’s got to be irritating.

Careerist - one who makes a policy or practice of advancing one's career often at the cost of one's integrity

Here’s his career. The Democrats dug for dirt for months, as did every left-wing interest group in the country. They came up with nothing.

While we’re on words, what would you call a reporter whose political insight hinges on the bedtime dreams of another reporter?

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Beatty rips Schwarzenegger at nurses' convention
[Actor Warren] Beatty, a Democrat and longtime political activist who has been mentioned as a possible challenger to Schwarzenegger next year… used most of his address to rail against the Republican governor's "year of reform" ballot initiatives in the Nov. 8 special election. Schwarzenegger is pushing several measures that would curb the power of the Democrat-controlled Legislature and the state's powerful public employee unions.
Perhaps Schwarzenegger is recalling Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address: ”Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth."
Beatty, who has criticized the governor several times this year, called the initiatives "union busting" and "fascist."

"I believe if a private citizen is able to affect public opinion in a constructive way he doesn't have to be an elected public servant to perform a public service," Beatty said.
"It is a besetting vice of democracies to substitute public opinion for law.”
-James Fenimore Cooper

A statewide Field Poll taken in June showed that just 24% of California voters would be inclined to elect Beatty governor, while 53% said they weren't inclined and 23% had no opinion.
And does Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Margita Thompson refer reporters to that voters poll? Of course not, and why?
"[W]e don't care that much about Warren Beatty, and based on his ticket sales from the past generation, I doubt anyone else does either, " says she.
Moviegoers, that’s the bellwether for the executive branch of California.

Were I Governor Schwarzenegger’s opposition, I’d go silent and make sure Ms. Thompson also had a microphone.

AP: Corporal Punishment Up in N.Y. Schools
ALBANY, N.Y. - Formal complaints of corporal punishment in New York classrooms more than doubled over the past five years, with 4,223 accusations reported in 2004, according to records obtained by The Associated Press.

The Education Department's analysis of just last year's reported cases found as many as 65 percent of the allegations couldn't be verified by the school, or the district provided insufficient information to support the allegation. The data showed 54 percent of the incidents were physical, 17 percent were verbal, 8 percent were both, and 21 percent were categorized as "other."[Ed: i.e., neither physical or verbal – perhaps someone made a nasty face]
From www.britannica.com:
Corporal Punishment - the infliction of physical pain upon a person's body as punishment for a crime or infraction. Corporal punishments include flogging, beating, branding, mutilation, blinding, and the use of the stock and pillory. In a broad sense, the term also denotes the physical disciplining of children in the schools and at home.
I suppose if “disrespect” can be a verb and “niggardly” can have racial overtones then certainly an action that isn't physical or disciplinary can be “corporal punishment.”
"Even if you do learn to speak correct English, whom are you going to speak it to?" - Clarence Darrow