Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Religion of Peace update: Amidst the wall-to-wall coverage of the discovery of the missing UW-Madison coed this afternoon, there was little mention of the attack on U.S. contractors in the Iraqi city of Fallujah. According to the Washington Post, recovering the mens' bodies for their families may be tough.
Crowds carried the bodies of two victims to the nearby Euphrates River and hung the corpses from one of two bridges that span the waterway. Hours later, the bodies were cut down, tossed onto a pile of tires and set afire.
The bodies were then dragged behind a donkey cart to Fallujah's municipal building and dumped there, only to be tied to the bumper of a car and dragged away to an unknown location.
Also according to the post, the town's residents had been warned ahead of time not to be in the area because an attack was planned on the Americans. It is unclear if anyone bothered to warn the Americans of the impending attack.
I was ticked off earlier when I heard what had been done to these Americans who were helping to guard a food convoy.
When I read the Post article I was infuriated.
Fallujah has long been a focal point for the Baathist insurgency with the privileged Sunni muslims angered at their diminished influence now that Saddam is out of power.
It's tempting to just evacuate the entire town and carpetbomb it into a very nice parking lot. Some would say that that would just feed their anger. I'm not sure that they can be made any more angry -- but a horrific display of American firepower would certainly make them afraid.
I'm not sure what the answer is, other than to make it very unpleasant to be opposed to the United States.
Suggestions are welcome.
Kerry on gas prices: Democrat presidential nominee John Kerry was in San Diego yesterday railing against high gas prices.
Taking a page from his former opponent Howard Dean, Kerry has taken to referring to the higher gas prices as the "Bush Gas Tax Hike." The "logic" of this phraseology seems to be that if the price of some item rises during a president's term, then that is a tax.
By that lame logic, since the price of homes here in San Diego has shot through the roof, then that too has been a Bush "tax." Let's ignore the endless environmental regulations, governmental red tape, etc., that contribute to those high prices -- it's all a Bush "tax."
Kerry suggests that Bush has not sufficiently, unilaterally, threatened OPEC producers, including Saudi Arabia, to boost production. The "thinking" here is that Bush, in the midst of a re-election battle in a closely divided nation, wants his oil buddies to make their money quickly before he loses and Kerry takes over. Yeah, right.
Among Kerry's suggestions:
End Closed-Door Policies Written by and for Big Oil. Dick Cheney’s energy task force that met with energy industry officials in closed meetings led to the administration’s energy policy – a virtual smorgasbord of benefits for the oil, gas, electricity, and nuclear power industries that threatens the environment and takes us backward by increasing our dependence on polluting sources of energy.
Which spawned this joke by Conan O'Brien:
John Kerry made a speech announcing a plan to control gas prices. After hearing this, President Bush said, "That's crazy. Only Dick Cheney can control gas prices."
Now, there's some truth in this. If gas prices could be lowered by jawboning OPEC and oil companies, who would have more pull, John Kerry or George W. Bush and Dick Cheney?
If Kerry wants to know, there are three reasons that gas prices are high here in San Diego:
1.) Wholesale prices
2.) Lack of refinery capacity
3.) Summer fuel blends
Kerry pays lip service in his proposal to the first and third items, but ignores the second -- and that's perhaps the most critical. Anytime a refinery goes down for maintenance, gas prices go up. We can't import additional gas from Arizona or Nevada or Oregon, because the federal government has set special rules for the formulation of gasoline for California.
Patchwork Regulations Reduce Flexibility and Drive Up Price. There are more than 300 local and state fuel regulations in the U.S. These regulations result in a patchwork of gasoline zones across the country where only certain fuels can be sold, creating price disparities across the country. The large number of fuel types also limits flexibility in product distribution, particularly if a disruption occurs. Consumers pay for that lack of flexibility whenever there is a price spike.
Streamline Fuels to Reduce Costs and Increase Flexibility. Action must be taken to reduce the proliferation of boutique fuels. This is necessary if we are to increase the ability to provide an adequate supply of gasoline and other fuels in times of disruption or in tight markets, such as those we will see this summer. A Kerry Administration will work with States to develop rational fuel policies that ensure local air quality is protected while reducing market problems that result from the number of boutique fuels used around the country. Gasoline needs to be more fungible from region to region in order to prevent regional or localized price spikes and volatility. This will restore the market flexibility that is necessary to protect consumers.
Kerry's got this right, and a Kerry administration might actually try to accomplish this. When President Bush attempts to do it, the media, noting that Bush is a Republican, go into attack-dog mode.
Bush To Roll Back Pollution Rules
WASHINGTON, March 16, 2001
(CBS) - The Bush administration said Friday it would relax federal pollution rules for blending ethanol into gasoline for the Chicago and Milwaukee markets to avoid a spike in fuel prices during the summer driving season.
Environmentalists, still upset by the president's recent reversal of a campaign promise to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electric power plants, aren't buying the assertion that the new gas formula won't pollute.
"This has a health impact, and I think the people who live in Wisconsin and Illinois who will be breathing this air that's less healthy now would think that this is a significant impact," said Deb Callahan of the League of Conservation Voters.
Kerry's identification of the overregulation that results in so-called botique fuel blends as a problem is an honest first step in easing the pain caused every spring as California's refineries switch over to the summer blends. It would be nice, however, if Kerry's environmental supporters wouldn't demonize Republicans when they attempt to do what Kerry suggests.
Dan Brown's books: I just finished reading Dan Brown's "Deception Point" last night. Brown is most famous for his book "The DaVinci Code," which spawned some controversy by suggesting that Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene had a child together. The claim is laughable -- Elaine Pagels says so. (And you know if Pagels thinks it's nuts, then it must be way out there.)
In a Richard Clarke-ian effort to sell his already popular book, Brown also played a prominent role in an ABC "News" special looking into his thesis. Despite all of the controversy, Brown's books are real page-turning mystery/suspense stories.
Brown's "Deception Point" and "Digital Fortress" don't even have any religious themes in them. Brown really knows how to tell a story, and all of his books grab you quickly and drag you by the throat until the very end.
One minor complaint that Brown would be advised to consider as he writes his next novel: Every one of his books has a man and woman who are thrust together in the beginning of the novel and run through Brown's gantlet. At the end of the novel, they fall in love.
It might be an effective storytelling tool -- if it wasn't so predictable because it happens every time. So, I've ruined a little of Brown's books, but it's very little, and they're still worth a read.
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
Don't see this often: San Diego Union-Tribune cartoonist Steve Breen on the abortion issue.
Dream job: I'm not talking about the ESPN show of the same name. Nope, I'm talking about my dream job -- getting paid for doing this. Writing about what I want. Maybe publishing two columns a week for a major newspaper. I hope that this is training for that eventual day.
That being said, when your job is to write two columns a week, you'd think that there woudl be plenty of time to broaden your mind, learn a little about American history, check your facts.
Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman's latest piece is a case study in what can happen when you have someone who would be lauged at on "Street Smarts" writing columns.
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said, "there are so many references to God in the daily lives of this country" that the words in the pledge have no more religious meaning than the words on the coin. Maybe so. But remember that adding "In God We Trust" was also a political sop to opponents after Lincoln rejected their proposal to insert Jesus Christ into the preamble of the Constitution.
Heck, it would've been easier if Lincoln could've convinced the other representatives at the Constitutional Convention to do away with those slavery clauses -- then he wouldn't have had to be president more than 70 years later when the Civil War was fought.
Where was the copy editor?
How exactly do you explain this in a correction? "Our columnist couldn't pass a junior high American history class. We apologize for the error."
*UPDATE* Tuesday's "Best of the Web Today" (scroll down about 3/4 of the way) notes that there was an effort to have the preamble amended.
However, Goodman still needs some editing, because, as I've mentioned before, the President has no role in the process for amending the Constitution. Therefore Lincoln couldn't have "rejected" their proposal.
Monday, March 29, 2004
Bork, then Bainbridge: Sen. Tom Daschle, irked that President Bush would use the recess appointment power that is only to be used by Democrat presidents, has ordered a halt to approval of all federal judicial nominees.
It's not a new suggestion, but it is one that is increasingly being considered -- put conservative and libertarian legal minds that are either too old, too young, too inexperienced or too anti-"liberal" on the bench as recess appointments. The, all of the sudden, Bush's regular nominees don't look so extreme.
Prof. Bainbridge has volunteered to serve for a few semesters.
President Bush should take him up on his offer.
Clarke on Russert: Bestselling liar Richard Clarke appeared Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." Most of host Tim Russert's questioning wasn't much different than what Clarke faced before the 9/11 commission. Russert's questioning was largely disappointing. He was much tougher on former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean when he appeared on the program.
Setting that aside, when Clarke left government, he was the special advisor to the president for cybersecurity. He was the government's top man on issues regarding computers, the Internet and the nation's information infrastructure. Yet, with that background, he made the following comment:
MR. RUSSERT: But to be clear, Mr. Clarke, you would urge Congress, the intelligence committees, to declassify your sworn testimony before the congressional inquiry two years ago as well as your testimony before the September 11th Commission?
MR. CLARKE: Yes, and those documents I just referred to and Dr. Rice's testimony before the 9-11 Commission because the victims' families have no idea what Dr. Rice has said. There weren't in those closed hearings where she testified before the 9-11 Commission. They want to know. So let's take her testimony before the 9-11 Commission and make it part of the package of what gets declassified along with the national security decision directive of September 4 and along with my memo of January 25.
In fact, Tim, let's go further. The White House is selectively now finding my e-mails, which I would have assumed were covered by some privacy regulations, and selectively leaking them to the press. Let's take all of my e-mails and all of the memos that I've sent to the national security adviser and her deputy from January 20 to September 11 and let's declassify all of it. [emphasis added]
Let's get this right. Clarke believes e-mails that he wrote, on government computers, at government facilities, while on the government payroll are somehow private?
For those of you who used to be in charge of cybersecurity for the federal government, the current state of case law can be found here.
Is electronic mail private? What about voice mail?
In most cases, no. If an electronic mail (e-mail) system is used at a company, the employer owns it and is allowed to review its contents. Messages sent within the company as well as those that are sent from your terminal to another company or from another company to you can be subject to monitoring by your employer. This includes web-based email accounts such as Yahoo and Hotmail as well as instant messages. The same holds true for voice mail systems. In general, employees should not assume that these activities are not being monitored and are private. Several workplace privacy court cases have been decided in the employer’s favor.
Welcome to the 21st Century Mr. Clarke.
Sunday, March 28, 2004
Need for Speed: This is just cool. NASA's scramjet hits more than 5,000 mph.
Christians in the newsroom: LAObserved has extended the story regarding the bogus brouhaha when it was revealed that former USA Today reporter/fabricator Jack Kelley was *gasp* a Christian.
One target of the not-so-tolerant left's shotgun-style attack was Los Angeles Times reporter Roy Rivenburg, who had the bad luck to be identified as a World Journalism Institute lecturer and be easily googled.
In an e-mail response to LAObserved, Rivenburg, a Catholic, explains how he became involved with teaching for the WJI and reveals that they allow him to teach even though he doesn't agree with much of their philosophy.
But the real story here is the vitiriolic hatred aimed at Rivenburg specifically, and all Christian journalists in general, in the comments section.
Teaching journalists to do a good job is generally a good thing. However, if you're good at teaching journalism, you should do it someplace else. Doing it for the WJI means that you're giving skills to students who want to go out and lie to their readers. Go teach someplace where the students aren't self-selected for bullshit.
I will say one more time that I think any discussion of the validity of the religion in question is irrelevant to this discussion. The question is, as I understand it, is it unethical for a school to teach journalism with a particular religious emphasis?
On the contrary. The despicable nature of religion in general is the core of the problem here. If someone were running a school to teach scientific attitudes to journalists, that'd be great. The difference is that science encourages skeptical thinking, and religion suppresses it. People whose minds are in chains are not qualified to be reporters.
-- "Captain Nemo"
if you reject evolution, then you are ipso facto un-qualified to be a journalist at a mainstream newspaper. in rejecting evolution, you reject all modern science. if your "journalism school" espouses expressly anti-modernist pro-Theocratic tenets as its worldview, please remain unsurprised when non-millenialists and modernists (e.g. people who recognize that the earth is, like, round, and stuff) are freaked out.
-- Robert Green
Liberals are all for diversity -- in newsrooms, at colleges -- but, once again, it's only skin deep.
Friday, March 26, 2004
Video game blurb: So I"m reading Xbox Nation magazine and I come across a brief news item regarding and upcoming game from LucasArts.
A third-person action game, Mercenaries (its working title) seems to be an ultraviolent third-person explosion fest. Mercs can pick and choose sides, working for either the North Koreans, Chinese, Russian Mafia or United Nations.
So, you can't fight for the good guys?
Richard Clarke Pt. Deux: National Review's Rich Lowry has an excellent piece the former counterterrorism czar's "self-immolation."
Along the same lines, Time magazine has an atypical article taking on Clark over his dishonesty and what it does to the debate regarding the important issue of dealing with terrorism.
Covering for Krugman: New York Times Paul Krugman's latest column was published today and there's no note of his malicious misquote of former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.
Apparently Fleischer's letter to the editor will be the closest the Times' comes to really correcting the record.
It's curious though that today's op-ed page does contain a correction and an editor's note -- both of them prompted by relatively minor issues. Unfortunately, the willful, malicious, misquote by the Times' favorite demogogue does merit the same scruitiny.
If a reporter took the same liberties with a quote in a news story, they would, at the very least, be suspended -- and if they did it again, they'd be fired. Jayson Blair's journalistic crimes at the Times were small potatoes compared to what the likes of Krugman and Maureen Dowd do on the editorial pages.
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
The 9/11 commission: Probably the only way to make this thing non-partisan and not a political cudgel to be wielded by one faction or another is to wait until George W. Bush is out of office. Right now you've got Republicans blaming Clinton and Democrats blaming Bush. The truth is that the roots of this go back at least to President Reagan and the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut. That pull-out, the pull-out after our noses were bloodied in Somalia, our refusal to even consider putting troops into Kosovo should the bombing prove unsuccessful ... all of these things gave terrorists -- including Osama bin Laden -- the false impression that we would be unwilling to sacrifice any treasure (read human lives) to avenge an attack.
I've been watching Richard Clarke's testimony before the committee -- and he puts on a good show, if that's all you're paying attention to.
Frankly, the joke going around the blogosphere is that Clarke is a Karl Rove plant, designed to blow-up and inoculate Bush from any criticism regarding his handling of terrorism.
Fox News today released a transcript of a background briefing given by Clarke to various members of the media in August 2002. Former Sen. Bob Kerrey lashed out at Fox News for doing it, but Kerrey's anger is misplaced. The right to confidentiality of the background briefing by an administration official is reserved by the administration, no the official. Fox News got an OK from the White House to use it -- and once the White House has waived confidentiality, that's all there is to it.
In his testimony to the 9/11 commission today, Clarke, confronted with the background briefing, said that he had not lied to the press in that briefing, but merely that he had tried to put the best face possible on the administration's handling of the issue.
Frankly, after reading the 2002 press briefing and today's testimony, it is abundantly clear that Mr. Clarke is a disgruntled former employee who is trying to sell a book. To put it simply, the man is a liar. You can say he's lying now, or you could say he was lying in 2002 and earlier, but despite his best efforts, both things cannot be true.
Today's storyline, as propounded by Clarke, was that the Clinton administration worked hard to fight al Qaeda, but Bush wasn't as interested in it.
Democrats teed up easy questions for him. Commissioner Timothy J. Roemer got Clarke, who served in four administrations, to say that there was "no higher" priority than terrorism under President Bill Clinton, but the Bush administration "either didn't believe me that there was an urgent problem or was unprepared to act as though there were an urgent problem."
No higher priority? To quote Bubba: "That dog won't hunt." The USS Cole was bombed in October 2000, and Clinton did nothing. Clarke and others claimed they weren't sure it was al Qaeda until about the time Bush came into office. Well, if there was no higher priority, maybe the would've found out sooner. Clarke's claimed knowledge of Clinton's priorities aren't believeable. In the closing days of his administration Clinton was focused on two things: the Arab-Israeli conflict and granting enough pardons so that he wouldn't look a stingy bastard next to Bush 41 and Reagan.
It's interesting that the New York Times in its Clarke story doesn't include his claim of "no higher" priority -- maybe because that puts the lie to line that he is honest.
From that press background briefing:
Second point is that the Clinton administration had a strategy in place, effectively dating from 1998. And there were a number of issues on the table since 1998. And they remained on the table when that administration went out of office — issues like aiding the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, changing our Pakistan policy -- uh, changing our policy toward Uzbekistan. And in January 2001, the incoming Bush administration was briefed on the existing strategy. They were also briefed on these series of issues that had not been decided on in a couple of years.
"No higher priority" and some issues hadn't been decided on in a "couple of years"?
And what about the difference in attitude towards terrorist attacks on our country?
And then changed the (Clinton) strategy from one of rollback with Al Qaeda over the course of five years, which it had been, to a new strategy that called for the rapid elimination of Al Qaeda. That is in fact the timeline.
The Clarke story is effectively over with his testimony today. The long-term impact of what he says -- both in his commission testimony and his book -- is zilch. The strength of Clarke's testimony wouldn't be enough to convict someone of jaywalking.
For those who are interested, Tom Maguire has a good round-up of various links regarding Clarke here. If you've been hiding under a rock, they provide a pretty good primer on the subject.
Covering gay marriage: As a follow-up to Sunday's post on pressure groups striving to "educate" journalists, the Union-Tribune published this story on a county employee who "married" her partner and was turned-down for marriage benefits. The article includes a picture of the "newlyweds" and is largely sympathetic. It contains no opposing point of view on gay marriage -- simply a county employee saying that they are bound by state law (unlike San Francisco) and cannot extend marriage benefits to gays unless the law is changed -- either by the state Supreme Court or the legislature.
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Stealth correction?: If you click on the link in the item below, you'll find that New York Times columnist Paul Krugman maliciously and deceptively misquoted former presidential press secretary Ari Fleischer. Krugman turned comments chiding a Republican congressman for a bigoted comment against Sikhs and Bill Maher's infamous characterizations of the 9/11 hijackers as brave and Americans as cowardly, into an attempt to stifle free expression.
There's no correction in Tuesday's Times, but there is a prominent letter to the editor from Fleischer setting the record straight. It's a correction that's not labeled as a correction.
A real correction should be made -- probably at the bottom of Krugman's next column -- but I'm not holding my breath for it.
Mr. Okrent, your column on corrections on the op-ed page is anxiously awaited.
Who Krugman trusts: For today's fisking of the latest Krugman screed, check out Luskin.
I do find it curious however that the only former administration officials Krugman seems to trust are ones who share Krugman's preconcieved opinion of the president.
Monday, March 22, 2004
More fabricated journalism: I was going to write about this last Friday, but my work schedule was rejiggered and college basketball was on. USA Today reporter Jack Kelley is the latest member of the journalism fraternity to have his fabrications detailed and put right. Kelley's fabrications go back at least seven (and possibly 11) years.
That Kelley's behavior was wrong isn't in dispute. That USA Today -- and all newspapers -- need to keep closer watch on their reporters is also not in dispute. Deadline and competitive pressures are not excuses for plagiarism or fabrication.
That being said, it appears that another one of Kelley's attributes is providing grist for the some on the left -- you see, Kelley is an evangelical Christian.
I don't often read his site, but one link led to another last Friday and I came across Atrios' comments regarding Kelley here and here.
The thing about the Jasyon [sic] Blair story was that it didn't matter. Sure it was egg on face of the New York Times, but his fabrications were almost entirely harmless and trivial. Kelley's fabrications were frequently inflammatory pieces on inflammatory issues. And, while Blair's agenda was just preserving his career, Kelley possibly had a much larger one though I haven't read much analysis of his fabrications in that context.
When the Blair scandal came out there were endless ruminations about the poisonous impact of affirmative action on the newsroom, and many many people who declared solemnly that "of course" his race was a factor. People like the brothers Hack, Crazy Andy, etc...
What's their explanation for this guy, who got away with the journalistic equivalent of murder for years? We'll never know, because as a quick glance at their site shows - they don't care a bit.
First, I'd like to point out that I'm disappointed that Atrios didn't include me among those who were critical of Jayson Blair and who hadn't written a word about Kelley.
Second, Atrios suggests that Kelley's sins are worse because the issues he lied about were more meaningful than those Blair lied about. That's something that can be debated endlessly -- but it's also irrelevant. The lying and fabrications were wrong. Period. It doesn't matter if it was a fabricated quote at a local utility board meeting or a meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It's all equally wrong. We shouldn't even go down the path of equivocation on the subject.
Third, with regard to the impact of affirmative action in the newsroom: Unless I've missed it, no affirmative action programs are currently in place, or have been in the past, for white evangelical Christian males. Jayson Blair's race was not immediately known to me when the scandal regarding his reporting first came out. But once that was known, I was one of many who decried what affirmative action had wrought in this case. Back in May 2003 I wrote:
The unfortunate fact of the matter is that Blair's ethical disaster will tarnish good, talented and honest minority journalists at the Times and other papers. Now, in an ideal world, this sort of scandal would just sully journalism in general -- certainly if Blair were white and middle-aged that would be the case. But because he's a young black man who got the job at the Times largely because he is a young black man it raises a question about the competency of other young minority journalists. Are the minority intern program's chosen few under undue pressure to perform and succeed -- with journalistic ethics on the back burner (or completely off the stove)? That's really the most insidious thing about affirmative action and diversity programs -- that the exceptions that are made in the hiring and promotion of minorities can come back to haunt the program when something goes wrong.
If Jayson Blair had come to the Times after working for ten years at a variety of newspapers then his race wouldn't even been raised by Kurtz -- or anyone else for that matter. He would have been just another cautionary tale of journalism gone wrong. But the fact is that the color of Blair's skin opened doors for him that would have been closed to white journalists.
Hopefully if Blair's story teaches newspapers one thing it will be that skin color, ethnicity or national origin isn't the most important thing when it comes to hiring a reporter -- professionalism is. For major papers like the Times, you're not going to find that in a student straight out of college, no matter how talented they are.
The Kelley case has proven my point, here's a white, middle-aged man who has sullied journalism in general -- but Atrios would like to make his religion a contributing factor. If Atrios can provide a sliver of evidence that Kelley got special treatment because he's a Christian then I'll consider his point. But I suspect that all Atrios would like to do (as is his modus operandi) is hurl mud at perceived conservatives. Evangelical Christianity is not necessarily synonymous with Republican.
Later Friday, Atrios discovers that Kelley isn't the only Christian in the news business -- and is horrified.
The source of Atrios' concern is the World Journalism Institute. I must confess I'd never heard of the group until Atrios pointed them out. Atrios highlights the group's mission statement, which reveals it to be *gasp* Christian. And then points out some objectionable articles some of the faculty members have written -- like one reporting the fact (as opposed to fabrication) that people exist who oppose gay marriage. Why would a newspaper ever want to report on those people? Fairness? Balance? Getting more than one side of an issue?
Of course, the point isn't that I think all journalists need to be secular. But, this is an organization dedicated to training journalists to push a particular conservative Christian agenda from within mainstream news organizations, and many of their people are covering religion and social issues in top organizations. Including that liberal NPR. From my first pass look at some of the kinds of stories these people crank out, it seems they're quite good at creating fairly innocuous pieces which aren't obviously slanted propaganda, but which inevitably do push the position and emphasize the things you would expect.
It's a relief that Atrios doesn't want me fired because I'm a Christian. What a load off of my back. But Atrios' concern that groups like the World Journalism Institute exist is laughable. Why? Because every group does something similar. For example, for more than two weeks, the following flyer could be found on bulletin boards throughout the Union-Tribune newsroom -- and I suspect the same was done at local TV and radio stations and other newspapers.
A larger version of the flyer can be found here. Unfortunately, I could not attend the forum because of my work schedule. But do you think Atrios would be alarmed at the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association holding a pro-gay-marriage forum in the first floor auditorium at the Union-Tribune?
Frankly, this forum is more disturbing to me than the WJI -- and not just because the WJI appears to share my views. The WJI appears to be trying to get Christians to become journalists -- and that's about it.
Q: Is there a theological litmus test at the World Journalism Institute?
A: There is no theological litmus test or template set for the students or the faculty. While the administration of WJI is Reformed and would look to historic Presbyterianism for its theological understanding, the faculty and students represent all the perspectives of historic, orthodox Christianity.
Q: Are students from all Christian denominations and traditions welcome at the World Journalism Institute?
A: Yes. All that is required on the statement of faith portion of the course/workshop application is a brief written profession of faith in Jesus Christ as one's lord and savior.
Q: Is there a political litmus test at the World Journalism Institute?
A: There is no political litmus test or template set for the students or the faculty. While the administration of WJI is conservative in its politics and would embrace smaller government, strong foreign defense and Biblical virtues in one's personal life, the faculty and students are not examined as to what their political philosophy is. There is, however, the expectation that all faculty will embrace a biblical view of personal and professional ethics.
The NGLJA is trying to inform and form journalists' coverage of the gay marriage issue. Of the listed panel members, only SDSU religion professor Rebecca Moore's position on the issue of gay marriage cannot be determined from a quick Web search -- but even if she is opposed to gay marriage, the composition of the panel is hardly balanced. This isn't an effort to inform on both sides of the debate.
So, if Atrios is concerned about pressure groups trying to influence journalists, he's got a lot to worry about.
Sunday, March 21, 2004
Another terror leader dead: Hamas "spiritual" leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was killed in Gaza by an Israeli missile strike on Monday. Good riddance. This man and followers are responsible for the murders of hundreds of Israeli men, women and children over the years. Hamas' goal was the destruction of Israel. He has reaped what he has sown.
Don't be surprised if, in the coming days, this action is decried by Europeans and the "enlightened" editorialists for setting back the "roadmap."
Yassin was an obstacle to peace. This assassination may have short term impacts to Israel's security, but in the long run, Yassin's death was necessary.
If this prompts like-minded Palestinian terrorists to attack Israel, then it simply makes it that much easier to kill them.
No one in their right mind begrudges the United States' right to turn Osama bin Laden into red streak for the 9/11 attacks. Likewise Israel has every right to attack and kill Hamas' leader.
An exercise in contrasts: On Saturday, thirteen Methodist clergy declared came to the conclusion that the Bible is merely a list of suggestions that you don't really have to follow if you don't feel like it.
Following in the footsteps of the Episcopal Church, which recently made a practicing homosexual a bishop, the Methodists have said there's nothing wrong with being a practicing lesbian.
I confess that I'm one of those benighted neanderthals who believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. When God directs Paul to write Romans or lays down all of the rules in Leviticus, I'm predisposed to believe that God means it.
I was listening briefly to the Michael Medved show last week and he had on a clergyman (of which denomination I didn't catch) who was a homosexual. When Medved asked him to identify Biblical verses that said homosexuality was acceptable behavior, the clergyman said something about having a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies and that he didn't want to get into quoting verses -- so he didn't.
Regarding Karen T. Dammann, the lesbian Methodist "reverend," I found a couple of quotes in the story that I felt needed some comment.
Ms. Dammann did not testify. But at the news conference on Thursday, she said, "God called me into ordained ministry and I just can't believe that God would make a mistake."
There's another alternative: maybe God didn't call you into ordained ministry? When conservatives like Pat Robertson claim "God has told me George W. Bush will win in a landslide," he's derided as some sort of kook. (And in this case, the liberal media may be right.) But when Ms. Dammann makes a similar claim, well that's just more evidence that God is on her side.
Not in the New York Times story, but in an earlier AP dispatch, was a brief excerpt of the defense's closing argument.
In closing arguments Friday, her church counsel, the Rev. Robert C. Ward, asked jurors to adhere to church principles on inclusiveness and justice, not to the letter of church rules.
"We need to be careful about creating rules that exclude people," Ward said. "You are faced with a choice to make love practical, to make love plain, and to do what is right."
Translation: "That Bible thing, not important. We don't want you to come back here and say that anything anyone wants to do is wrong. That would be bad. God's not about right and wrong. He's all about you being happy doing whatever you want to do."
If you want that to be your theological basis, fine, but don't call your church Christian. Oh, and you need to use an abridged version of that Bible-thing.
This entire issue about dealing with sin in church leadership really got me this week because earlier in the week I'd received a letter from my church. (Names have been redacted because they're irrelevant)
If you've ever taken my Pastor's Class, you know our commitment to being a church without "secrets." So today I'm writing to share with you some sad news that came to light last week that you need to hear from me firsthand and not through the rumor mill.
[Blank], our pastor to [blank group] and [blank group], has been involved in an ongoing emotional and physically inappropriate relationship with a woman from the San Francisco Bay area. Prior to that revelation, [Blank's] wife, [Mrs. Blank] had moved out over the previous weekend and informed him of her intention to file for divorce.
[Blank] has obviously been relieved from his pastoral duties here at [name of church]. He has expressed great sorrow for his choices and the pain that this has caused the body. We are in daily contact with [Blank] as we seek God's healing in this situation.
Please pray for [Blank], [Mrs. Blank], and their boys.
The letter continues, but note the difference in the way the churches handle sinful conduct. In the Episcopal Church, a man who left his wife and children to shack up with another man was recently made a bishop. Here, a man who's (apparently) cheated on his wife has been relieved of his duties and his behavior has been judged as incompatible with Christian ministry.
It's possible that someday [Blank] will return to pastoral duties, but there's a recognition that his behavior was wrong. There's no whitewashing going on.
No Christian is perfect. But it's wrong to ignore or justify sinful behavior. A church that says nothing is wrong isn't a church at all.
Saturday, March 20, 2004
Seen on slashdot: For the past couple of months I've been checking out the goings-on over at the blog for geeks, aka slashdot.org. If having barely-informed teen-aged salesperson bugging you at an actual store isn't annonying enough, well at least one Web sitewould like for them to annoy you while surfing the Web.
According to Rackspace's co-chairman, one-third of users approached via chat engage in conversation with a salesperson, and half of those take the discussion to the next level.
Just what is the "next level?" I mean, I know what it means when a woman says it to me, but in this context I must confess I'm at a loss -- and a little weirded out.
Who's supporting whom?: You can find out who your neighbors are contributing to in the presidential race -- or the who's who in your town.
The Bush campaign, however, may want to get in touch with this guy to campaign for them.
Who would've guessed?
Disdain for the "little people": Democrat presidential nominee Sen John Kerry, skiing on the Utah slopes, fell after he ran into a member of his Secret Service detail when the agent inadvertantly strayed into his path.
Kerry's defender-of-the-common-man response:
When asked a moment later about the incident by a reporter on the ski run, Kerry said sharply, "I don't fall down," the "son of a b*tch knocked me over."
If some madman were to shoot Kerry, that "son of a b*tch" is supposed to take a bullet for him. You'd think that Kerry would appreciate that fact and be a little less arrogant when it comes to the people who are tasked with protecting his life.
There have been numerous stories over the past few months of how Kerry treats people when he's not in front of a television camera.
Of course, in 1993 he was between his first and second heiresses - a time he now calls "the wandering years," although an equally apt description might be "the freeloading years."
For some of the time, he was, for all practical purposes, homeless. His friends allowed him into a real-estate deal in which he flipped a condo for quick resale, netting a $21,000 profit on a cash investment of exactly nothing. For months he rode around in a new car supplied by a shady local Buick dealer. When the dealer's ties to a congressman who was later indicted for racketeering were exposed, Kerry quickly explained that the non-payment was a mere oversight, and wrote out a check.
In the Senate, his record of his constituent services has been lackluster, and most of his colleagues, despite their public support, are hard-pressed to list an accomplishment. Just last fall, a Boston TV reporter ambushed three congressmen with the question, name something John Kerry has accomplished in Congress. After a few nervous giggles, two could think of nothing, and a third mentioned a baseball field, and then misidentified Kerry as "Sen. Kennedy."
Many of his constituents see him in person only when he is cutting them in line - at an airport, a clam shack or the Registry of Motor Vehicles. One talk-show caller a few weeks back recalled standing behind a police barricade in 2002 as the Rolling Stones played the Orpheum Theater, a short limousine ride from Kerry's Louisburg Square mansion.
The caller, Jay, said he began heckling Kerry and his wife as they attempted to enter the theater. Finally, he said, the senator turned to him and asked him the eternal question.
"Do you know who I am?"
"Yeah," said Jay. "You're a gold-digger."
There's a disconnect between what Kerry pretends to be on stage and how he behaves off it. Kerry pretends to be a champion of the downtrodden, yet he lives lavishly. The aforelinked article also mentioned that in 1993 Kerry only gave $135 to charity -- out of a salary of more than $100,000.
This disparity between his public and private faces is not a new one for prominent Democrats in recent years. President Clinton, the man from a poor upbringing in Hope, Ark., received a $200 haircut on Air Force One on the tarmac at Los Angeles International -- causing flight delays.
Former Vice President Al Gore, who campaigned on a populist platform in 2000, came under fire in 1998 after giving just $353 to charity -- on an annual income of $197,729.
Rep. Patrick Kennedy got into trouble after he tried to muscle past an airport security guard with a carry-on bag that too large.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee received some media scruitiny of her commuting habits when they appeared to violate House ethics rules. Jackson Lee also routinely harangued airline employees and other "common people." (Lee reportedly yelled at one of her own aides: "You don't understand. I am a queen, and I demand to be treated like a queen.")
These sorts of incidents might be expected to be commonplace for the party that's perceived to be that of the rich, special interests -- but instead it too often seems to be the one that, in public, professes their concern for the common people.
Friday, March 19, 2004
Isn't it a little late for this?: According to a blurb on the Drudge Report Sen. John Kerry doesn't want foreign leaders to endorse him.
KERRY: NO FOREIGN ENDORSEMENTS, PLEASE... Kerry Foreign Policy Advisor Rand Beers issued the following statement today: '...It is simply not appropriate for any foreign leader to endorse a candidate in America's presidential election. John Kerry does not seek, and will not accept, any such endorsements'...
Isn't this an isolationist and unilateral attitude? Kerry is just pushing potential allies away with this arrogant attitude. Kerry has repeatedly said that he will reach out to other nations -- but not now.
Perhaps Kerry is just afraid of what impact Kim Jong Il's endorsement might have on his campaign.
Thursday, March 18, 2004
What global warming?: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that this past winter was "average."
Getting back at your ex-boss: The Donald is looking to trademark the phrase "You're Fired." So, in the future if you are let go by your boss with the famous phrase, you can report your boss to Trump who can take legal action.
"Distracted?" No: If it's true, it's great news -- al Qaeda's No. 2 man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, may be cornered near the Pakistan/Afghanistan border.
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Kerry and Gore: Former Vice President Al Gore made a name for himself in the 2000 election as a teller of tall tales. It looks like Sen. John Kerry is following in his footsteps.
So Iraq is part of the war on terror: Former Vermont Gov. Howard "Yaaaargh!" Dean says that last Friday's Madrid bombings are President Bush's fault. No, Dean is not (quite) blaming Bush for actually planting the bombs -- Bush was in the United States at the time -- but that the war to topple Saddam Hussein (and Spain's support of that war) was the primary factor in the terrorist attack.
Sen. John Kerry, who gave an inane and deceitful speech today, said that he doesn't share Dean's view that President Bush is responsible for the Madrid bombings.
Why? Well, because al Qaeda and its supporters are sending forces into Iraq to fight the Americans. If the certain members of the Democrat Party believe the war in Iraq was part and parcel of the war on terrorism -- al Qaeda obviously disagrees.
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
More stifling of dissent: A pro-lifer goes to a campaign event for Sen. John Kerry with a sign reading simply: "My abortion hurt me."
In response, a Kerry staffer grabs the sign and tears it to pieces.
Beautiful, but dumb: Singer Jessica Simpson, more famous for her incredible stupidity (So, is Chicken of the Sea chicken or tuna?) than her singing ability has done it again.
Simpson, whose verbal gaffes are also legendary, pulled another one Sunday visiting the White House, our sources say. The singer was introduced to Interior Secretary Gale Norton and gushed: "You've done a nice job decorating the White House."
Flip-flop fun: A certain Hoystory reader who shall remain named my father, has, in seeming defense of John "Flipper" Kerry, asked if there are any issues on which President Bush has flip-flopped. The answer, of course, is yes -- probably most notably the imposition of those horrible steel tariffs. But there are many issues on which Bush has been constant -- most importantly on prosecuting the war on terror.
Instead, I ask my readers to step up to the plate and take a few swings at this: Post a comment detailing which issues/stands presidential contender Kerry hasn't taken both sides of.
I will take away the most obvious one by posting it first: John Kerry has been consistent in his criticism of President Bush, never giving him credit for any work well-done.
Good riddance: Terrorist "martyr" Rachel Corrie died one year ago today. To see what lessons have been learned from her death, check this out.
Liberal "Play of the Week": Last week the Bush administration put out some positive ads which included brief glimpses of ground zero and 9/11.
Unsurprisingly, some families of 9/11 victims screamed bloody murder at President Bush using images "for political gain."
Well, it turns out that these individuals were part of a coordinated campaign by a liberal anti-war group. It was all over the blogosphere and certain talk radio shows, but the big three networks and CNN had their story and they were sticking to it. (A good backgrounder on this whole subject can be found here.)
By the end of the week, the story had mostly died down -- because Bush came out with some negative ads -- and those on the right weren't buying it. They'd gotten all the mileage out of it they could.
Then along came Bill Schneider, CNN's senior political analyst with his "Political Play of the Week."
No mention is made of these individuals' anti-war ties (the group which they represented had even opposed military action in Afghanistana), or the fact that later in the week, other family members had come out to support the president.
Nope, they get praised on CNN's flagship political program.
That liberal media.
Monday, March 15, 2004
That liberal media: This isn't from the conservative Media Research Center (though I've never heard it charged that they fudge their data -- really, there's no need), so maybe Eric Alterman will consider MediaChannel.org's finding that the three major networks have been bashing President Bush and cheerleading for Sen. John "Flipper" Kerry.
Mainstream news organizations may "filter" the news, as President George W. Bush claimed late last year, but not to omit good stories from their Iraq coverage, but to broadcast more negative news about the president himself, according to a report released today by MediaChannel.org and Media Tenor.
The report reveals a strong negative cast to ABC, CBS and NBC news coverage of the president thus far in 2004. Meanwhile, Senator John Kerry, Bush's certain opponent for November, has received more positive coverage by the same three networks.
According to data compiled for MediaChannel.org by international media monitoring firm Media Tenor, network news broadcasts in January and February contained on average nearly three times more negative news statements about President Bush than about Senator John Kerry.
Nah, Alterman doesn't need to be bothered with those pesky little things called...facts.
Where Rall goes, Krugman follows: Last year, nutjob wacko "columnist"/"cartoonist" Ted Rall wrote that it was likely that dictator-for-life George W. Bush would cancel this year's general election.
Considering the fact that the United States even managed to have a presidential election at the height of the Civil War, Rall's lame charge was tantamount to saying that President Bush would commit treason.
Well, it took a few months, but New York Times columnist Paul Krugman revealed that he believes the same thing. Tim Blair highlighted Krugman's comments on Australia's "Lateline" program.
On Australia’s Lateline program, Paul Krugman speaks his mind:
There was actually a kind of revealing moment recently - Bush gave an interview, was more or less dragooned into an interview on Meet The Press and the interviewer said: "Well, what if you lose the election?" And he said: "I'm not going to lose the election."
And the interviewer said: "But what if you do lose?" He said: "I'm not going lose the election." The possibility that they just would not regard it as a legitimate thing if someone else were to take power.
Krugman looked almost as paranoid as he sounded. Here’s the actual exchange between George W. Bush and Meet the Press host Tim Russert:
Russert: Are you prepared to lose?
President Bush: No, I'm not going to lose.
Russert: If you did, what would you do?
President Bush: Well, I don't plan on losing. I’ve got a vision for what I want to do for the country. See, I know exactly where I want to lead. I want to lead us — I want to lead this world toward more peace and freedom. I want to lead this great country to work with others to change the world in positive ways, particularly as we fight the war on terror, and we got changing times here in America, too.
What did Krugman expect Bush to say? “I am fully prepared to lose, and if I do, I expect I’ll be sent into exile on the island of Elba”?
My suggestion is for the Times to allow Krugman to write a column expounding on this theory so that he may be mocked all across America.
Saturday, March 13, 2004
Bwahahahahahaha: The New York Times' lone conservative columnist, David Brooks, has an excellent column today on "The Boston Fog Machine."
[T]he 1990's were a confusing decade. The certainties of the cold war were gone and new threats appeared. It fell to one man, John Kerry, the Human Nebula, to bring fog out of the darkness, opacity out of the confusion, bewilderment out of the void.
Kerry established himself early as the senator most likely to pierce through the superficial clarity and embrace the miasma. The gulf war had just ended. It was time to look back for lessons learned. "There are those trying to say somehow that Democrats should be admitting they were wrong" in opposing the gulf war resolution, Kerry noted in one Senate floor speech. But he added, "There is not a right or wrong here. There was a correctness in the president's judgment about timing. But that does not mean there was an incorrectness in the judgment other people made about timing."
For you see, Kerry continued, "Again and again and again in the debate, it was made clear that the vote of the U.S. Senate and the House on the authorization of immediate use of force on Jan. 12 was not a vote as to whether or not force should be used."
In laying out the Kerry Doctrine — that in voting on a use-of-force resolution that is not a use-of-force resolution, the opposite of the correct answer is also the correct answer — Kerry was venturing off into the realm of Post-Cartesian Multivariate Co-Directionality that would mark so many of his major foreign policy statements.
And the hits just keep on coming.
If you can't fool a kid: From the Chicago Sun-Times on kids covering John "Flipper" Kerry:
As part of a nationwide team covering the presidential race for kid-oriented Scholastic News, 11-year-old Mitchel Hochberg of Northbrook queried John Kerry at an Evanston senior center this week.
Hochberg, a fifth-grader, noted that President Bush and Kerry have exchanged unusually aggressive barbs for so early in a presidential contest. Does that help Kerry or hurt him? Hochberg wondered.
Kerry responded by talking about prescription drugs.
"It was an interesting experience,'' Hochberg said after the event. But, he lamented, Kerry's response "wasn't a full answer.''
Welcome to the club, kid.
The truth is that all politicians do this, but Kerry does it more often, and more clumsily, than others.
Friday, March 12, 2004
Should know better: Tech Central Station's James Glassman has an excellent article on Benedict Arnold politicians who attempt to hurt the U.S. economy for short-term political gain.
Democrat Presidential hopeful John "Flipper" Kerry, who was forced to co-opt every single one of his opponents' positions because he had none of his own, has been promising to "review" all of America's trade agreements.
The truth of the matter is that Kerry isn't going to do a thing about existing trade agreements. His comments are designed to comfort the economically ignorant.
President Bush and his surrogates should begin pressuring Kerry on this subject. Kerry's already taken positions on these trade agreements -- they're treaties that must be approved by the Senate. If some of them are bad, in Kerry's opinion, then he should be forced to name them -- there's no need to "review" them.
Thursday, March 11, 2004
Al Qaeda or ETA?: The Basque separatist group known by the acronym ETA is being blamed for today's train bombings in Spain.
Investigators have now reportedly found eight detonators and an audiotape of Koranic teachings in a van near a station on the same rail line where the bombings occurred.
The UPI has an informative article that outlines some of the reasons why this attack is more likely al Qaeda than ETA.
While all fingers in Spain are pointing at the Basque separatist movement ETA as the perpetrators of Thursday's atrocious train bombings that left some 186 dead and 600 wounded, the attacks carry all the markings of al-Qaida and its jihadi affiliates.
For starters the Brussels-based World Observatory of Terrorism, an independent think tank affiliated with the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center, points to five major reasons that cast doubt on the involvement of ETA.
First, ETA generally warns Spanish authorities moments before launching their attacks in which civilians are likely to be harmed. This, obviously, was not the case on Thursday.
Second, ETA traditionally targets representatives of the government or the administration, such as policemen, the military, magistrates or even journalists who oppose them.
Third, ETA customarily selects "symbolic" targets, such as military barracks and administrative buildings. Although ETA's largest attack to date was in 1987 against a supermarket in Barcelona that killed 21 people, this was the exception rather than the norm.
Fourth, ETA always claims its attacks. Following any ETA bombing, ETA militants call in a claim to Spanish authorities. This failed to happen this time.
Fifth, ETA has never in the past carried out multiple attacks. According to some sources, at least 10 bombs were detonated almost simultaneously on Thursday.
So the attacks are not typical of ETA's modus operandi. In fact, if this bombing had occurred anywhere in the world but Spain (or maybe Northern Ireland), al Qaeda would immediately be the main suspects.
The UPI article also notes that this sort of attack is against ETA's own best interests -- and they know it.
Another reason why it does not appear to make sense that ETA would be behind these attacks is that the Basque separatist movement already suffers from a lack of popular sympathy. If proof of these murderous killings were to be tied to ETA, the group would stand to loose even more support, without which it would have a hard time sustaining itself politically. Even the Basque population would reject such thoughtless killings and would begin to distance themselves from the group. Of this, the ETA leadership is well aware.
The investigation will continue, but don't be surprised if al Qaeda is ultimately to blame.
Spying for Iraq: A former reporter and congressional aide has been arrested for allegedly spying for Iraq.
Of course, if you can't remember doing anything wrong, then obviously you've never done anything wrong. In that spirit, former senator and presidential hopeful Carol Moseley-Braun, who employed Susan Lindauer as her press secretary, now "doesn't remember" Lindauer.
In this political season where charges of "questioning" your opponent's patriotism are thrown with reckless abandon, one has to be careful when any charge is made.
With that in mind, I'm officially questioning Lindauer's patriotism.
Politically chicken: Sen. John Kerry, at a campaign event in Chicago yesterday, raised the level of the debate by refusing to discuss issues, instead calling Republicans "the most crooked, you know, lying group of people I've ever seen."
This seems difficult to believe, seeing as how Kerry has served in the Senate with Ted Kennedy and Robert Torricelli. Then there was that guy with the hair, Rep. James Traficant.
When the press asked a Kerry spokesman if he would name specific Republicans who were "crooked," he demurred.
(Campaign official David) Wade emphasized that Kerry was not calling Bush crooked.
"We are going to make it very clear that he's a Democrat who punches back," Wade said of Kerry.
Wade didn't pinpoint when the Bush campaign had referred to Kerry as "crooked" or made any other ad hominem attack.
This campaign is going to be ugly, but only because the Democrats can't help themselves.
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
Yes, and you've got to be kidding: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia gives a speech in Louisiana and two things about the report are notable.
First, an illustration of what New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and his ilk have done to the judicial nomination process.
He decried what he said he thinks is a politicizing of the judiciary.
"Eighteen years ago I was confirmed 98-0," Scalia said. "I was considered a good lawyer and an honest man. Those qualities carried the day. No more. Now it's impossible to get Miguel Estrada confirmed to the court of appeals," he said, referring to the recent defeat of a conservative Bush nominee, strongly opposed by liberals in the Senate, who withdrew. [emphasis added]
Today Scalia would likely be filibustered. Also note the italics that I added in the transitional paragraph. The AP writer's use of "he thinks" clearly indicates that the writer doesn't concur with that assesment. That's editorializing in a news story -- unfortunate.
The second thing is a bit more editorializing in the form of scare quotes.
Scalia also criticized court rulings that legalize abortion and what he called "homosexual sodomy."
If Lawrence v. Texas didn't legalize homosexual sodomy then what was it all about? What else would you call that in polite company?
Yeah, that liberal media.
You've got to be kidding: I suppose this would be OK if they were required to vote Republican.
Abortion and the law: Last Friday, a federal judge in San Francisco (surprise!) rejected a Justice Department request for edited medical records as they attempt to defend the Partial Birth Abortion Ban that was passed by Congress last year.
As I mentioned last month, the point of the records request is to prove that partial-birth abortion is never medically necessary.
If these records showed medical necessity, then you can bet that Planned Parenthood would be pushing to use them (with names and other identifying information removed) in the lawsuit.
Instead, it appears as though Planned Parenthood is going to put on abortionists who will testify that it is medically necessary. The government will put on doctors who will testify that it is never medically necessary.
In short, it will be a "who do you trust?" case.
If Planned Parenthood has evidence (i.e. the medical files) that is relevant to the case, then the government's interest in defending the law should trump any privacy concerns -- especially with identifying information removed.
Let's flip this around.
Some abortion opponents have posited that there is a connection between abortion and increased incidence of breast cancer.
Does anyone think that a San Francisco judge or Planned Parenthood lawyers would be denied if, in the context of a lawsuit, they demanded access to the medical data that supports their hypotheses?
Increasing efficiency: Illustrating the amazing gains in productivity in the American economy through increased efficiency, New York Times "columnist" Paul Krugman's latest effort is a milestone. Time and time again, Krugman has simply recycled columns with the same sorry attacks on President Bush. Today Krugman's "column" consists of a graphic and three explanatory attack paragraphs.
When I first saw the column, I kept on waiting for the rest of it to be put up -- then I realized there is no "rest of it."
Never has someone been paid so much for so little.
Monday, March 08, 2004
Home-schooled kids -- The Horror: The New York Times has an interesting article about small Patrick Henry College, which was founded eight years ago to serve mainly evangelical Christian home-schoolers.
Patrick Henry's purpose is to turn studentes into political leaders -- much the same as many Ivy League schools. However, these political leaders would be Christians first, and politicians second, a horrifying possibility.
"(Patrick Henry College President) Mike Farris is trying to train young people to get on a very right-wing political agenda," said Nancy Keenan, the education policy director at People for the American Way, a liberal advocacy group, and a former Montana state superintendent of public education. The number of Patrick Henry interns in the White House "scares me to death," she said. "It tells us a little bit more about the White House than it does about the kids."
Oh, those scary Christians! Boo!
Maybe there is some truth to the old adage that those icky liberals are more afraid of you than you are of them.
Government censors: As I mentioned before, I've been reading Rick Atkinson's "An Army at Dawn." One anecdote that Atkinson relates is how government censors edited letters home from the troops. Journalists and other liberal conspiracy theorists who regularly decry government limitations on media reporting from the battlefield during Operation Iraqi Freedom should look at just how far we've come.
Draconian censorship was soon imposed, with correspondents advised that no dispatches would be allowed that made people at home feel unhappy. Equally rigorous censorship of letters home inspired one soldier to write his parents:
After leaving where we were before we left for here, not knowing we were coming here from there, we couldn't tell whether we had arrived here or not. Nevertheless, we now are here and not there. The weather here is just as it always is at this season. The people here are just like they look.
On this page a censor scribbled simply, "Amen."
I almost fell out of my chair laughing when I read that.
Sunday, March 07, 2004
Those mean Republicans: More evidence (as if it was necesssary) that Hollywood isn't that thrilled about Republicans. The Wall Street Journal ran an article (link for subscribers only) about the Academy Award-nominated Best Foreign Film "Osama," about a girl who poses as a boy to support her family under Taliban rule.
A film about Osama arrived at the White House a few weeks ago, and President Bush has been raving about it ever since. He told cabinet members they should each get a copy and watch it for themselves. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Labor Secretary Elaine Chao agreed it was one of the more important videos they had ever seen, too. First Lady Laura Bush even invited some friends, including the wife of the Afghan ambassador, for a White House private screening.
So what are all the raves about? A low-budget drama, "Osama," is the first movie to be made in post-Taliban Afghanistan, the story of a 12-year old girl who must disguise herself as a boy named Osama to support her family after her father and brother have died. Under Taliban rule, women and girls couldn't leave home unless escorted by a male relative.
You'd think the movie's distributor would be running with the endorsement, which became part of a recent speech by Mr. Bush in which he used "Osama" to justify foreign policy. But the endorsement is a "double-edged sword," says Danny Rosett, executive vice president of the distributor, MGM unit United Artists. Furthermore, Mr. Bush's use of "Osama" is even making some members of the American-Muslim and Afghan community uncomfortable.
On the one hand, notes Mr. Rosett, it's a "good thing" that the movie is acclaimed by both the right and left as worth seeing. On the other, "I don't think it should be used to justify foreign policy one way or the other." UA bought the U.S. distribution rights at last year's Cannes Film Festival. "We all realized it was a timely message without making a political statement one way or the other. We didn't see it as something the right would embrace," says Mr. Rosett. Despite the White House publicity, he doesn't expect box office to hit $1 million.
While Muslim groups generally praise the film, others are uneasy about the White House's active support. "I think it was unwise on the administration's part," says Nader Elmakawi, an outreach coordinator with the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a humanitarian group that promotes Islamic values. He adds that while the movie accurately depicts what life under the Taliban was like, the president's praise leaves unsaid just how violent and unstable Afghanistan remains in the wake of the war. Suraya Sadeed, founder of Help the Afghan Children Inc., says she has "mixed" feelings about Mr. Bush's embrace of the film, too. "It all depends on how we define 'liberation.' What bothers me at this point is that the people of Afghanistan still cannot make decisions for themselves. It's not a democracy."
While Afghanistan is certainly no liberal democracy, it is infinitely better than it was under Taliban rule -- for both the Afghan people and the people who were threatened by the Taliban-harbored al Qaeda.
It would be amusing if it weren't so sad. Hollywood-types are so disgusted by "right-wingers" that they "worry" that some of them might be inspired by a film describing the horrors of what was once one of the world's most repressive regimes.
Friday, March 05, 2004
Suckering Abby: You won't see it on March 15, but the original Dear Abby column sent over the wires for that date contained this letter:
WIFE MEETS PERFECT MATCH AFTER HUSBAND STRIKES OUT
DEAR ABBY: I am 34 and have three children. My husband, "Gene," and I have been married for 10 years. He is greedy, selfish, inconsiderate and rude. I don't know why I married him, nor why our marriage has lasted this long.
Gene put off getting me a birthday gift for as long as he could; then he bought me a bowling ball. It was the last straw. Not only do I not bowl - he had the holes drilled for his fingers and his name was on it.
The next day I went to the bowling alley determined to keep the ball and learn to bowl. It was there that I met "Franco." Franco is kind, considerate and loving - the polar opposite of Gene.
Franco and I began bowling together, and he bought me a glove in my size with my name on it. Shortly thereafter, our affair began. (I didn't mention that I was married.)
When Gene saw the bowling glove on our dresser, he became depressed because he realized that I'd met someone. I feel sorry for Gene, but the last time I saw Franco, he proposed.
I no longer love Gene. I want to divorce him and marry Franco. At the same time, I'm worried that Gene won't be able to move on with his life. I also think our kids would be devastated. What should I do? - STUCK IN A LOVE TRIANGLE
DEAR STUCK: You are not "stuck" in a love triangle. You deliberately put yourself into one by not being honest with Franco. Before you get in any deeper, put your house in order and tell your husband why you strayed. He may not realize how selfish, greedy, inconsiderate and rude you think he is. To save the marriage, he might be willing to change back to the man who bowled you over in the first place.
Next, apologize to Franco for not informing him of the fact that you are already married. He has a right to know the score - and after that, que sera sera.
Well, someone in some newsroom saw this and it rang a bell.
The Simpsons "Life on the Fast Lane" (aka Jacques to Be Wild), Season 1, Episode 9, first aired March 18, 1990.
It's Marge's 34th birthday and Homer carelessly gets her a bowling ball for a present, but it's really just for himself. Upset with Homer, for the first time in her life Marge actually goes bowling, but she really sucks at it. A man in the lane next to her approaches and introduces himself as Jacques and he invites her over for special bowling lessons. Marge seemingly falls in love with Jacques. Jacques and Marge are sort of on a date at a dinner, when Helen Lovejoy (the Reverend's gossipy wife, seen her for the first time) approaches threatening to tell everyone. Jacques convinces Helen that they are just doing a bowling lesson, when Helen leaves they continue and then Jacques invites Marge over to his place. Marge soon realizes that she is doing something bad and she stops her relationship.
So today, the following message came over the wires:
Editors: We are offering substitute copy for the March 15 release of Dear Abby. We were informed that the original first letter was suspiciously close to a synopsis of a "Simpsons" episode. The enclosed copy contains a new first letter. The second and third items stay the same. - UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE
To whomever pulled this one, congratulations, it almost worked.
*UPDATE* Inspired by this story, there is now a contest where you too can try to pass off a sitcom, movie or book as a "letter" to Abby. Check it out.
The lies continue: I'd love to get a job where I can just recycle old blog posts over and over and over ad infinitum. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman (whose Nobel Prize in economics is never going to come if he's really this stupid) has trotted out another column -- a virtual carbon copy of one nearly a year earlier -- claiming that Social Security isn't in any real trouble -- at least not for a few decades in the future, so don't worry about it.
In fact, it would take only modest injections of money to maintain that system's current benefit levels for at least the next 75 years. Other reports, however, appear to portray a system in deep financial trouble. For example, a 2002 Treasury study, described on Tuesday in The New York Times, claims that Social Security and Medicare are $44 trillion in the red. What's the truth?
Here's a hint: while even right-wing politicians insist in public that they want to save Social Security, the ideologues shaping their views are itching for an excuse to dismantle the system. So you have to read alarming reports generated by people who work at ideologically driven institutions — a list that now, alas, includes the U.S. Treasury — with great care.
First, two words — "and Medicare" — make a huge difference. According to the Treasury study, only 16 percent of that $44 trillion shortfall comes from Social Security. Second, the supposed shortfall in both programs comes mainly from projections about the distant future; 62 percent of the combined shortfall comes after 2077.
Read this and this. Krugman is correct when he says Social Security has a demographic problem. In fact, it's that very fact that puts the lie to Krugman's whitewashing of the problem.
Earlier this week, the Washington Post's George Will had an excellent column that provided some solid numbers showing the dramatic change in the nation's demographic picture since Social Security was first created.
Today life expectancy at birth is 76, which is troublesome enough, but additional expectancy at 65 is 17 years -- and growing. For about 150 years the longest life expectancies have advanced about 2.5 years per decade. Most people start collecting Social Security at 62, so the year 2019 will be especially challenging, because more American babies were born in 1957 -- 4.3 million in a population of 172 million -- than in any other year in American history.
Today there are more than 100 million additional Americans, but there were fewer than 4 million newborns per year throughout the 1990s. In the 1950s the median age for women's first marriages was 20.3. By 2000 it was 25.1. This has meant a decline in fecundity, which affects the wager we have made on Social Security as an intergenerational compact -- children being able and willing to support the elderly.
On Jan. 31, 1940, a check, number 00-000-001, for $22.54 was issued to Ida May Fuller of Ludlow, Vt., making her the first recipient of recurring monthly Social Security payments. Then, in an act of dubious citizenship, she lived to 100, dying in January 1975, having received $22,000 in benefits. That did not matter because in 1940 there were 42 workers for every retiree. Today there are 3.2 to 1. In 2030 there will be 2.2 to 1.
Modest infusions of cash and the repeal of the Bush tax cuts can't overcome Social Security's structural flaws. Krugman's contention that they can is a serious disservice to the American people.
(For the record: I don't think Krugman is stupid. I think he's a liar.)
9/11 and the 2004 election: President Bush has unveiled his first television ads of the 2004 campaign (you can see them here). Two of the three ads show some a couple of seconds of extremely tame 9/11 images. Predictably, Bush opponents -- including some who are relatives of 9/11 victims -- have come out decrying the ads as insensitive.
Get a grip.
As Lt. Smash has noted, the people screaming the loudest have less-than-pure motives.
Rumor has it that Sen. John Kerry served honorably in Vietnam. His Web site even contains photographs and video of him from his time in Vietnam. More than 50,000 American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines lost their lives in Vietnam. John Kerry's use of images from that war for political advantage must be beyond the pale too. Right?
Yeah, that only works one way.
Not a complete answer, but it'll have to do: New York Times Public Editor, responding to e-mail criticisms of an incident last month where a quote was recycled and the individuals party affiliation changed, has addressed the issue on his blog-type thingy.
Birds hit with this single stone included the acknowledgment that both quotes came from one interview; that the two articles were about two different subjects (the Feb. 22 piece concerned Republicans disenchanted with President Bush); and the implicit presumption that there was nothing wrong with this efficient recycling.
I would have liked to have seen a less artful and more complete mea culpa. The subject of the correction was Mr. Meagher's political affiliation, but the larger issues were the propriety of using the same quote twice; using it in two different contexts; using it in two different versions (look at the phrases preceding "when I think about 500 people killed" ); and, most of all, not addressing the appropriateness of a single one of these points.
This was a correction written on the head of the pin. Readers have reason to expect The Times to be a little less defensive, a little more forthcoming, and a little more reflective.
At the time, I noted that man-on-the-street interviews aren't the type you recycle repeatedly. Okrent notes that the Times editors seem unconcerned with the reuse of the quote. Okrent doesn't take a position on that practice, though the way he phrases his response, I suspect that he disapproves.
Thursday, March 04, 2004
More on the Catholic Charities case: National Review Online published a couple of excellent pieces on the California Supreme Court's decision in the Catholic Charities case.
Wednesday, March 03, 2004
And they say journalism classes are easy: Well, they were pretty easy for me, but former Georgia Bulldogs assistant coach Jim Harrick Jr. makes j-school exams look like particle physics.
Here's Harrick Jr.'s Final Exam for his "Coaching Principles and Strategies of Basketball" course in the fall of 2001:
1. How many goals are on a basketball court?
2. How many players are allowed to play at one time on any
one team in a regulation game?
3. In what league to [sic] the Georgia Bulldogs compete?
b. Big Ten
d. Pac 10
4. What is the name of the coliseum where the Georgia
a. Cameron Indoor Arena
b. Stegeman Coliseum
c. Carrier Dome
d. Pauley Pavilion
5. How many halves are in a college basketball game?
6. How many quarters are in a high school basketball game?
7. How many points does one field goal account for in a
8. How many points does a 3-point field goal account for in
a Basketball Game?
9. How many officials referee a college basketball game?
10. How many teams are in the NCAA Men's Basketball National
11. What is the name of the exam which all high school
seniors in the State of Georgia must pass?
a. Eye Exam
b. How Do The Grits Taste Exam
c. Bug Control Exam
d. Georgia Exit Exam
12. What basic color are the uniforms the Georgia Bulldogs
wear in home games?
3. What basic color are the uniforms the Georgia Bulldogs
wear in away games?
14. How many minutes are played in a college basketball
15. How many minutes are played in a high school basketball
16. Diagram the 3-point line.
17. Diagram the half-court line.
18. How many fouls is a player allowed to have in one
Basketball game before fouling out in that game?
19. If you go on to become a huge coaching success, to whom
will you tribute [sic] the credit?
a. Mike Krzyzewski
b. Bobby Knight
c. John Wooden
d. Jim Harrick Jr.
20. In your opinion, who is the best Division I assistant
coach in the country?
a. Ron Jursa [sic]
b. John Pelphrey
c. Jim Harrick Jr.
d. Steve Wojciechowski
I could've used a class like that to pad my GPA.
Bwahahahahahaha!: So I'm looking at my referrer logs and one thing leads to another which leads to this. I must confess that I don't often venture into the far left side of the blogosphere because there is a plague of Bush Derangement Syndrome which is not conducive to rational thought.
That having been said, Sean023's (why don't these people use their real names?) analysis of the reason behind California's financial crisis is hilarious.
The most depressing news of the night is that Proposition 56 in California is apparently going down to a resounding defeat. The proposition would have decreased the majority required in the legislature to pass a budget from 66% to 55%. Democrats were pushing for the proposition because the Republicans' refusal to accede to any type of tax increase is one of the primary causes of California's massive fiscal crisis.
That's right, California's budget troubles are because the GOP refuses to raise taxes. It has absolutely nothing to do with spending. As the tech boom filled the state's coffers, the Democrat-controlled legislature threw money around like, to use a favorite of Sen. John McCain, a drunken sailor on leave. When the bubble burst, instead of cutting back on their spending, the Democrats decided to raise taxes. The Republicans held out for spending cuts. Since all spending is good, then anyone who opposes them must be bad.
I am extremely disconcerted about the performance of proposition 56. It seems to me that its rejection was an indication that Southern California suburban voters are very susceptible to the irrational anti-tax arguments that Republicans like to throw around. The anger in California about these fiscal issues does not auger well for Bush's chances in the state because of his fiscal profligacy.
This is the liberal-elite view of the world: If you don't let us raise your taxes you're "irrational."
The other amusing "analysis" here has some basis in truth, but doesn't really work. Yes, fiscal conservatives certainly have a bone to pick with President Bush. He hasn't vetoed a single bill, even though some of them were absolutely begging for it (e.g. the farm bill). The problem is, Bush is going to be running against Sen. John Kerry, who is also not a fiscal conservative. In fact, as the Washington Post has pointed out, not even Kerry's theoretical plan adds up -- let alone what it will look like after the Congress gets through with it.
To summarize the major candidates on fiscal responsibility: Bush bad; Kerry worse.
Super Tuesday: I had no problem voting early Tuesday afternoon using the new touch screen machines. I talked with the poll workers, and my precinct was one of several across the county that had problems with the new machines. Unlike some others that were delayed by several hours, my Escondido polling site was able to get the machine working within about 15 minutes. However, they needed some more instruction on setting up the machines. I'm 6' 1" and I had to bend over to be able to read the screen. It wasn't until I saw some photos in the newsroom that I realized the machines could be tilted upward.
Anyway, the most interesting result of the night was California's Prop. 56, which would have lowered the percent needed to pass the state budget from two-thirds to just 55 percent. Supporters ran television ads touting some of the proposition's positives -- namely the withholding of legislators pay if they fail to pass a budget on time. Opponents advertised the fact that the 55 percent threshold would have made it much easier to raise taxes.
Low and behold, what happened? The measure was trounced -- statewide. Only one county, San Francisco, (surprise!) went for the measure.
This may be something that Republicans can run on in the General Election in November. At least in California (not so much in Washington, D.C., unfortunately), the Republican party is the party of fiscal responsibility and spending restraint.
Even with the passage of Propositions 57 and 58 -- which turn the state's short-term budget deficit into long-term debt and create a rainy-day fund -- are only the first steps. California still has structural budget problems that will require future budget cuts or tax hikes. Republicans have a case to make that they would be more fiscally responsible than the Democrat majority that got the state into this situation in the first place.
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
Religious or not?: The California State Supreme Court ruled today that Catholic Charities of Sacramento must provide coverage for contraceptives, despite the Catholic Church's prohibition on their use.
The state supreme court said the charity, incorporated separately from the church, was not a "religious employer" exempt from legislation mandating such coverage.
While affiliated with the Catholic Church, the charity's purpose is not to inculcate religious values, a majority of justices noted.
So, Catholic Charities of Sacramento is deemed not a religious group, yet a federal judge here in San Diego has found that the Boy Scouts of America are a religious group and therefore should be banned from leasing public land in Balboa Park.
U.S. District Judge Napoleon Jones Jr. said the Scouts' lease of the 18-acre Camp Balboa in Balboa Park violates provisions in the U.S. and state constitutions governing the separation of church and state.
Jones said the Boy Scouts are a religious organization because the Scouts require members to profess a belief in God.
What do these seemingly opposing rulings have in common?
In both cases groups with religious foundations are forced to either cave in to the prevailing political correctness ideology or suffer for staying true to their beliefs.
Join this with last week's Davey decision and there's a troubling pattern of hostility toward religion in the court system.