Monday, January 31, 2005

Insurgents as Kamikazes

Some blowhard Friday evening was arguing on PBS' Washington Week that the increase in attacks in Iraq recently showed that the "insurgents" (otherwise known as terrorists) were getting stronger. During WW II, the Japanese stepped up the number of Kamikaze suicide strikes as we got closer to Japan. They weren't gettting stronger.

The telling point here is not the liberal bias, or even the liberal partisanship of PBS. It is the distressing lack of logic.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Partisan News Media II

Here's a particularly egregious example from the Tennessean. A week before election day in 1992, the paper ran a picture of Republican legislator, Beth Halteman, on the front page above the fold. In a tight head shot, she had her mouth stretched wide-open as if she were screaming at the top of her lungs. Next to the photo was a headline with the word "Abortion" prominently included (I can't remember the precise headline, but it made clear that Halteman's position on abortion was unacceptable). The clear message to anyone walking past a paper box or picking up their paper over breakfast was that this woman was a wild, screaming bitch over the issue of abortion.

The story itself was difficult to figure out. The gist of it jumped back in the middle of the paper. Apparently, some special interest group that no one had ever heard of had sent out a press release criticizing Halteman. [They were probably two people with a fax machine who were working closely with the Democratic candidate and the Tennessean reporter.] While her opponent's position on abortion was straight down the line with Planned Parenthood -- abortion on demand at any time, Halteman's was actually to the left of most Republicans in that she didn't favor repeal of Roe v. Wade. The story, however, was so disjointed that readers could make little sense of it.

The Halteman campaign was really puzzled. Coverage of legislative races never makes the front page. Abortion hadn't even been an issue in the campaign. Who was this special interest group that no one had ever heard of? Why did their press release on this race merit a front page headline and picture? And where did they get that picture?

They had been warned to expect something, but they hadn't expected this. The Tennessean reporter covering the race had been seen by a local politician soliciting campaign contributions for the Democratic candidate. The prior coverage had been slanted the way they had come to expect from the paper.

Halteman won the election despite the embarassing photo and headline. The paper was flooded with calls complaining that the picture wasn't fair to her. The Tennessean's Reader Advocate devoted his column to the story and the picture. In essence, he reported that the photo editor was asked to provide a picture for the story and Halteman's file happened to contain two shots -- the typical head shot provided by the government and the shot which was used by the paper. The choice of the screaming head shot was justified on the basis of being more interesting. There was no effort to try to explain why an obscure race for a house seat in the legislature demanded front page treatment above the fold.

Not surprisingly, the explanation provided by the Reader Advocate failed to tell the truth. After all, this is a newspaper. It turned out that the picture came from an election night celebration four years earlier when Halteman was first elected. A photographer had snapped a photo of Beth and several dozen supporters at the moment they let out a huge cheer upon hearing one of the TV stations project that she had won. That huge group celebration photo had run deep inside the paper as part of the election coverage.

Once you see the photo of the group celebrating, what had really happened is obvious. Someone had noticed that the photo of the celebration showed a Republican politician with her mouth open in mid-cheer. They greatly enlarged the photo and cropped out everything, but her head. All that was left was the face of a woman who looked like she was screaming at the top of her lungs. To get it on the front page, all they needed was to create a special interest group to draft a press release and the approval of all the editors who make the decisions on what deserves front page coverage.

It took the approval of a whole lot of senior people on the paper to run that picture on the front page. People who knew the press release was a sham and knew where the picture really came from. What I have been curious about was the Reader Advocate. Was he in on the lie when he wrote the story? Or was he just a fool that the others in the paper knew would swallow a lie.

Corrupt or incompetent? The question seems to come up all the time about the news media.

Power(?) of Big Business

I enjoyed watching parts of the History Channel's series on the Presidents last weekend, but wanted to comment on something a wingnut said. At the beginning of the segment on Teddy Roosevelt, one of historians said that Roosevelt's time was just like that of George W. Bush because a lot of people were concerned that big business had far too much power.

First, you would think the editors at the History Channel would have more sense than include stupid references to contemporary politics. They are only going to irritate half the audience and the references don't add anything to the narrative. It would have been very easy to simply discuss the power of the Trusts and the conditions which gave rise to the Sherman Act and Roosevelt's involvement in labor issues. No need to drag in someone's fevered left-wing blather about current politics to muck up a straight history lesson.

Second, what in the world was this guy talking about? If business has so much power, why are there towns and cities all over this country where Wal-Mart can't even get permission to open a store? If a corporation announces earnings which are less than Wall Street analysts expected, management can expect to be sued for securities fraud. Of course, if earnings come in higher than analysts projected, they will also get sued for securities fraud. If a thief hurts himself stealing from a business, the business can expect to be sued. This doesn't seem to represent a lot of power to me. And certainly not what the Trusts represented 100 years ago. Business managers are so afraid of the government today, they don't do anything anymore without consulting a lawyer first. They often make political contributions to both political parties in hopes that they won't be targeted by regulators or prosecutors for failing to pony up.

I tried to think of business owners or managers who had become known for their efforts to influence politics. The big names are all on the left -- George Soros, Warren Buffett, Ted Turner. Companies in trouble which sought political influence with Washington have always found Democrats far more willing to bend the rules and sell out for cash than Republicans (see Enron, Indian tribes, Commerce Dept. junkets, Global Crossing, et al).

In sum, this just one more example where left-wing rhetoric has become totally unhinged from reality.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Alternatives for AARP

Donald Luskin has heard from many seniors that they are so irritated with AARP that they intend to give up their memberships. They have asked him if alternatives exist. He thought Art Linkletter had such a group, but the web site seems to be down.

Does anyone know if there is a viable alternative out there which offers the same kind of senior discounts, etc. without the partisan liberal politics which make AARP a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party?

Thursday, January 27, 2005

More NFL lunacy

On ESPN's PTI yesterday, Kornheiser and Wilbon managed to make even bigger laughingstocks of themselves than normal. They debated where Tom Brady ranks among the greatest QBs in NFL history in a group that included of Montana, Young, Bradshaw, Favre, Aikman, Elway and Marino. Hall of Famers like Jim Kelly didn't even make the list. Kornheiser wrapped up the segment by telling us that if the Patriots win against the Eagles, Tom Brady will be the greatest QB ever.

Tom Brady has never ranked among the best 8 QBs in the league when he played much less the top 8 of all time. His pass completion percentage this year ranked behind more than 15 other QBs. His passer rating finally improved to 9th this season. For a QB who had tremendous protection from his offensive line, his performance this year was really weak.

Football is a team game. If the Patriots manage to overcome their mediocre QB to win another Super Bowl this season, the team victory won't magically turn Brady into a great player.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Payola scandals -- Moyers, Nader and Jackson

Glenn Reynolds and others in the blogosphere have been posting regularly on the "payola" scandals where certain people have failed to disclose compensation when they take advocacy roles on issues affecting the public. (see e.g. Armstrong Williams and Kos) Maggie Gallagher is now coming under scrutiny.

If we are going to focus on the financial arrangements of those advocates who attempt to manipulate public attitudes, why don't we start with Bill Moyers, Ralph Nader and Jesse Jackson. These three have made careers of making themselves quite wealthy on cash from government and charities while serving as advocates for all kind of public policies.

Don't the people deserve to know just how much wealth they have raked in from public and charitable sources?

Do your Reps in Congress support democracy?

I think we should ask every Senator and Representative in Congress to make public their position on democracy in Iraq. Are they for it or against it?

I'm e-mailing mine right now.

NFL football

I don't think I have ever seen a more overrated athlete in professional sports than Tom Brady, the QB of the Patriots.

How sad

A recent story in the local paper said that an outstanding HS football player from Illinois had eliminated the University of Tennessee from his final choices of the schools recruiting him because of his concerns about racism in the South. His comment had Volunteer fans scratching their heads. The Vols have black players from all over the country. Blacks have made up the overwhelming majority of their team for many, many years. In fact, there is probably not another college football program in the country which regularly attracts as diverse a group of players as UT (recent teams have had players from places like Hawaii, Alaska, Canada and Germany in addition to the annual influx from California, the Midwest, the South and the East).

Besides, they wondered, this is Knoxville and the year is 2005. What in the world is this kid thinking?!

All I could think was -- how sad. I expect 17 year old kids to have ideas that are sometimes a little screwy. What I don't understand concerns the adults in this young man's life. Where are his parents, teachers and coaches? What kind of nonsense have they been teaching him?

Racism in Knoxville? I guess I'll have to discuss this with my next door neighbors from India. Or the family next to them from Nigeria. Or the Jewish family across the street. Or the Chinese couple next to them. Or the Thai lady next door. Or the black family behind us.

Because I don't see it. And neither do my neighbors.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Partisan News Media I

I wonder if anyone else remembers when the ombudsman of the Washington Post said that the news media was partisan and had been the whole time he had worked in the industry. He said it on C-SPAN in 1993 or 1994.

After Clinton had won the presidency in 1992, several former GOP White House aides showed up on cable news programs as commentators. David Broder wrote a column expressing his grave concern that the public would see these political partisans as journalists. This, he feared, would harm the reputation of journalists for objective, balanced reporting.

C-SPAN had a panel to discuss the issue. Panelists included Hodding Carter and others (I think Mona Charen or Linda Chavez. I don't remember if Tony Snow was there). Among the others was the soon-to-retire Ombudsman of the Washington Post. After several others had given their opinion that they didn't see much of a problem, he completely rejected Broder's thesis of the nonpartisan press. I wish I could remember his name, but I'll never forget what he said.

He said that the press had been partisan throughout his newspaper career. His very first assignment in journalism had been to write a political speech for a political candidate. His first job, in the '50s, was with the Nashville Tennessean (since I grew up in Nashville, this really got my attention). He wrote the speech for a Democrat named Cecil Branstetter. (Cecil's son Dewey was a classmate of mine at Vandy Law School).

His second assignment for the paper was to cover the event where Branstetter gave the speech. He noted with a little humor that he found the speech to be very impressive. And his third assignment for the newspaper was to write the editorial endorsing Branstetter's candidacy for office (I think it was a legislative seat).

He chose not to reveal any more recent examples from his career, but he made it clear that partisan efforts by the press in election campaigns had been around for a long time.

Anyone remember his name? He had a son who was also a journalist who was also working at the Wash Post.

Media Partisanship

I just wanted to note that we ought to try to distinguish between media bias and media partisanship. Media bias is the term we should use when news coverage is slanted as a result of the honest perceptions of the overwhelmingly liberal press. Partisanship is what we saw for the last year from a press which was trying to win an election for their candidate.

Media bias is a problem. Partisanship, such as what we saw from CBS, is a much bigger problem. The Prowler at the American Spectator had a quote a few years back from a retired Democrat (unnamed), who laughed and said that Republicans would be a lot angrier about media bias than they already are, if they only knew how closely Democrats and the news media coordinated the news coverage.

I'll have some examples of this kind of partisanship later this morning.

Friday, January 21, 2005

An Absolute MUST READ

Via, I read an article that I think is an absolute must read. Steven Malanga in the indispensable City Journal wrote "The Real Engine of Blue America." The sub heading is "There are no blue states -- only blue cities, where tax eaters rule."

Malanga argues that unionized government workers and those private sector workers who are dependent on government spending are the backbone of the Democratic party. He does a nice job of outlining the massive explosion of funding that resulted from the war on poverty and the interest groups which sprang up to insure that the gravy train never ends. These groups have learned that their real power goes far beyond bargaining for their members, but rather to insuring the election of politicians committed to expanding the spending that supports their members.

One way the Media helps the GOP

The "mainstream" news media makes it easier for fools to rise to positions of power in the Democratic party.

Back in the wilderness days of the Internet in the late '90s, I used to read a conservative website called Washington Weekly. They once ran an article advancing this theory that the bias and partisanship of the media helps the GOP. They pointed out that Republicans in DC have to learn quickly to be ever vigilant. If a member of the GOP lets down his guard, he gets hammered by the press. If a Democrat says something really stupid, he gets a pass.

At, Glenn wrote yesterday about Senator Barack Obama as a new star in the Democratic party. He shines, in part, because the Democrats have so many fools like Barbara Boxer, Joe Biden, Patty Murray, Ted Kennedy et al in the Senate. Obviously, if the press did a responsible job of covering both sides of the aisle, the fools would falter before they made it to leadership roles. In fact, they would likely fail to move through the local and state political levels to get to DC in the first place.

A wise Republican such as President Bush correctly perceives that the news media is his enemy. They want to defeat him and they want to defeat his policies. So he makes sure that he, and his subordinates, never forget that. Over the years, the result is a stronger, tougher, better-focused politician.

Dukakis, Gore and Kerry were woeful campaigners, in part, because they had never been really tested in their careers. And none of the other Democrats in the primaries last year was any better.

Can you imagine the meltdown we would see if a Jesse Jackson, Ted Kennedy, Al Sharpton, Al Gore or John Kerry were ever subjected to the kind of intense, negative scrutiny that Republicans routinely endure? Imagine John Kerry running as a Republican. Think of him trying to deal with an antagonistic press corps in full gotcha mode hounding him relentlessly about a dishonorable discharge, illegal meetings with the enemy in Paris, aiding the enemy's propaganda efforts and torture of US POWs, discussing plots to assassinate US senators, Christmas in Cambodia, exaggerated claims of Vietnam bravery and wounds, claiming credit for the heroism of others, the knowing use of fraudulent praise from Vietnam vets at the convention, subornation of perjury in Winter Soldier testimony, etc.

His head might have exploded.

Morality of Election Fraud

In 2000, 2002, and 2004, dozens of reports of election fraud by Democrats came in from all over the country. Bill Hobbs did a great job of compiling a lot of them this past fall. [While Democrats have claimed that the GOP disenfranchises black voters, there is no evidence to support the claim and the alleged "disenfranchisement" always seems to occur in counties where the elections are run by the Democrats themselves.]

If we assume that Democrats are governed by moral principles, why the epidemic of vote fraud? Go back to Krauthammer's axiom on the difference b/w Democrats and Republicans. If one is doing battle with the forces of evil, what's a little vote fraud? The ends justify the means in this moral calculus.

Remember how Bill Clinton justified his illegal conduct to the members of his cabinet? It was necessary, he said, otherwise the Republicans would benefit. What other choice did he have?

Despite overwhelming evidence that Clinton was guilty of felonies, not a single Democrat in Congress voted against him in the impeachment process. Why? As Chris Matthews explained at the time, nothing Clinton could have done could be bad enough to justify siding with Republicans.

The various scandals of the Clinton years were so numerous that Democratic lawyers in the White House needed multiple pages on their legal pads just to write down the names of the different investigations. Yet none of the hundreds of Democrats with knowledge of the illegalities and corruption has cooperated with investigators. Why?Because Republicans might benefit.

If extensive corruption and criminality can be justifed as moral because the enemy is the evil Republican party, what's a little vote fraud?

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Thank you

A big thank you to Deacon at Powerline and Betsy at Betsy's Page for their kindness in mentioning Two Minute Offense to their readers. It was always nice in the past to have them post something from one of my e-mails. But, I was really blown away by the emotional charge I got when I read their posts and saw comments on my blog. I really hadn't expected that it would affect me so much.

As my son says -- pretty cool.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Difference between Republicans and Democrats

I think it was Charles Krauthammer who first said that the difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans believe that Democrats are wrong and Democrats believe that Republicans are evil.

You cannot really understand the politics of the last quarter century without keeping that thought in mind.

The faces of the Democratic Party

Democrats searching for a clue in their quest to figure out why they have become a minority party might want to comtemplate the wisdom of having John Kerry criticize Secretary Rumsfeld for failing to adequately equip the troops in Iraq. Of course, Kerry is just part of a recurring theme for the party of the donkeys. Let's look at the 5 most prominent faces of the Democratic Party over the last 15 years -- Ted Kennedy, Bill and Hilary Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry.

Remember the spectacle of Kennedy, as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sitting in judgment of Clarence Thomas? Kennedy and his friends said that Mr. Thomas was unfit for public service because of his (alleged) inappropriate behavior with a women who worked for him. Hmmm, I wonder why 2/3 of the American public were unpersuaded by Teddy on that one.

As for the Clintons, they lectured us on the proper way to raise our children. And of course, personal example being the best method of teaching, they provided us with their own live text book full of examples we used to instruct our kids on why character matters.

In 1996, Al Gore ordered the INS to violate the law and give citizenship to over a million illegal aliens without background checks (so they could vote for him in the 1996 election). As a result, over 100,000 serious felons who should have been deported were given citizenship and allowed to continue their criminal careers in the US. So who better in 2004 than Algore to rant and rage about how George Bush has supposedly put us at risk?

Now, John Kerry, slanderer-in-chief of American troops, claims that Don Rumsfeld must be fired for failing to adequately care for the needs of our forces in Iraq. Back in the fall, one of the writers over at wrote a piece pointing out that John Kerry's VVAW group taped propaganda on cassettes and sent them to Hanoi to be used in the torture of American POWs. More recently, we have his refusal to vote for the equipment and supplies our troops needed in Iraq.

I must say that most people would consider John's record on caring about the troops to be something less than stellar. Perhaps Democrats might want to ponder whether Kerry is their best possible choice to front the attack on Rumsfeld for failing to care about the troops.

Anyone see a pattern here?

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Investing in America's workers

Ted Kennedy and the Democrats, along with allies such as AARP, are telling us that investing our retirement savings in the stock market is a terrible idea. I have some questions for the senator.

1. If investing social security assets in the stock market is a bad idea, wouldn't putting my IRA assets in the stock market also be a bad idea?

2. My investments in American companies depend on the ingenuity, hard work and productivity of American workers. Why is it a bad idea for me to base my future on America's workers?

3. Investment in our capital markets helps create jobs. Why is creating more and better jobs for American workers such a terrible idea?

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Politics -- Democrats believe their own spin

Ever since last week when I decided to start a blog, I have been thinking about my first post and wanting it to be a good, solid effort. I thought I would tackle the current debate in liberal circles about what the latest election really means. And after all the time I spent trying to polish up my thoughts, James Taranto with Best of the Web at Opinion Journal today (1/11/05) made one of my points. (Btw -- I'll be happy to link to it when I learn how.)

Among the points I wanted to make was that Democrats, as a party, have lost touch with reality. The various ways this is true are many, but one of them is the one Taranto pointed out -- they end up believing their own spin. They decide on their talking points, the news media cranks out story after story in support of the party line, the party faithful swallow it as truth, and they feed it back to the politicians and their pollsters. Apparently, when they read their own spin coming back to them in the polls, they perceive it as truth. In the most recent election, we saw this on the economy, Iraq, the Swift vets' claims, etc.

Take the economy as an example. Ray Fair, an economics professor at Yale and a self-described liberal Democrat, has used econometric methods to predict election outcomes. His research shows that the state of the economy is the determining factor in presidential elections. The various economic statistical measures were so strong in 2004 that his model projected Bush would win in a landslide with about 58% of the vote. Now we know that Bush only got 51%, but the actual strength of the economy is not debatable. Perhaps Fair will have to tweak his projection model to account for situations where large segments of the voting public have been misled into believing the economy is in bad shape. For them, perception became reality.

In various post-mortems of the election, a number of liberals have expressed dismay that they failed to win the election when the economy was so bad. Kerry seems to be among them. It isn't surprising that his campaign tried to put out as much spin as possible to mislead people on the true state of the economy. What is hard to believe, however, is that he should end up being misled by his own misinformation. The steady drumbeat of media stories parroting his party line (worst economic performance by a president since Hoover ad nauseum) seems to have fooled not only the party faithful, but the party leaders as well.

Tomorrow I'll start with my take on why a realignment has occurred and how the mainstream media has been breathing just enough life into the Donkey's corpse to allow it to die slowly over decades. Instead of facing reality and make necessary changes, the Democrats will continue to decay until the stench is overwhelming.

Update -- obviously, I haven't followed this one up yet. It's in the works.