August 1, 2006
Faux journalism, condensed
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 11:19 PM
If you skipped the last post because of its length, here's the basic message:
Beware of newspaper or magazine articles packaged as "news," if the writer spits out long passages of unattributed opinion. I picked on a TIME writer, but I easily could have pointed to other writers who employ the same type of ersatz journalism on a daily basis.
Here's a good rule of thumb: if you find yourself continually asking "Says who?" while reading a piece, you should take the information provided with a grain of salt.
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:47 PM
See if you can spot the common thread in the following passages, beyond the fact that they all appear in Lisa Beyer's TIME article, "Why The Middle East Crisis Isn't Really About Terrorism."
On U.S. policy toward repaying Hizballah for its previous attacks on American targets:
The time appears to be now. By supporting Israel's ferocious
offensive against Hizballah in Lebanon, especially by pushing back
international efforts to broker a cease-fire in order to give the
Israeli military more time to lay waste to the group's fighters and
armaments, Washington has taken a forceful swing at the militia, even
if it's by proxy. It's not exactly about avenging the Marines, of
course. It's about fighting the global war on terrorism.
Or is it? Should it be?
On the nature of the terrorist threat:
However grand it may be to fight all global terrorists, though, the simple fact is that we can't: we don't have the troops, the money or the political will. That means it may make sense to limit our hit list to the groups that actually threaten us. Hizballah does not now do that. Nor does the other group currently in the spotlight, the Palestinian Islamist organization Hamas. The U.S. has sound reasons for wanting to constrain these groups, principally that they threaten our ally Israel. But those reasons have largely gone unarticulated as Bush falls back on maxims about the need to confront terrorism, as if Hizballah and Hamas are likely to be behind the next spectacular that will top 9/11. They are not, and pretending that they are costs the U.S. credibility, risks driving terrorist groups that aren't allied into alliance and obscures the real issues at hand in the Middle East....
How about this one?
Moreover, by casting the battle against Hizballah as part of the war on terrorism, the Administration is obscuring the real questions in this crisis and depriving the American public of a debate over them: How much should we do for Israel, and what should we do to Iran, Hizballah's main source of funding, training and weaponry? The fundamental problem with Hizballah is not that it is a terrorist group, as the President has said repeatedly in recent weeks. The fundamental problem the U.S. should have with Hizballah is that it refuses to stop fighting our principal ally in the region, despite Israel's complete withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. And Hizballah can keep up the fight because it is sponsored by a state that, with its nuclear program, really does present a danger to the U.S. The backers of the Administration argue that the U.S., through Israel, needs to slap back Hizballah in order to smack Iran. But does Israel's whacking Hizballah really deliver a blow to Iran on behalf of the U.S. any more than a medieval duel of seconds settles who is the superior of two knights? It's a discussion worth having, if we can sort out our real interests and purposes in this affair.
I apologize for the long quotations, but they're included for effect. None of these long passages has a bit of attribution. That's a big problem for a story packaged as "news."
In news stories -- as opposed to opinion pieces (like the one-page "counterpoint" Charles Krauthammer offers to balance the four-page "news" article) -- a basic journalistic tenet calls for a reporter to answer the question, "Says who?"
In other parts of the story, Ms. Beyer shares direct and indirect quotes from French diplomats and some Rand Corporation sources. But most of her story consists of passages like the ones quoted above.
Readers of all political stripes should sound the alarm bells whenever they're left continually asking "Says who?"
Farming fun in Iowa
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 9:54 PM
The online version of this TIME article omits the humorous picture, but you'll still learn how former Sen. John Edwards is planning to join other presidential candidates at the Iowa State Fair.
(For those of you who won't see the print version, five candidates are doctored to look like farmers. Joe Biden gets a straw hat; Mitt Romney, a John Deere hat and pitchfork; George Pataki, a pig; Evan Bayh, a rooster; and Edwards, a pie and a wife-beater.)
One thing I AGREE with Heath on........
Posted by Michael Moore at 9:27 PM
One thing that I thought about with the talk of high school
football, is that one Coach that had an impact on Candidate Shuler also was a
big part of the building the football program that I had the opportunity to
A few months ago Heath Shuler came and spoke to one of my
political classes at WCU, and toward the end of his talk I asked him after all
the policy questions, I said Heath “How big of an impact did Coach Deitz have
on you?” Heath responded “I still have
nightmares in the middle of the night of him yellin’!”
In response to all the high school football talk, I couldn’t
help but think that one thing I agree with Heath on is that I can still hear
Boyce T. (Touchdown) Deitz yelling on the first day of practice “GET IN THERE,
AND STICK IT TO ‘EM!!!!” At Smoky Mountain
of course, Heath went to Swain….Bless his Heart!
Ten years of welfare reform
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 8:27 PM
Newsweek columnist Robert J. Samuelson examines the history of the Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.
I found this observation especially interesting:
One lesson is that what people do for themselves often overshadows what government does for them. Since 1991, for example, the teen birthrate has dropped by a third. The mothers least capable of supporting children have had fewer of them. Welfare reform didn't single handedly cause this. But it reinforced a broader shift in the social climate—one emphasizing personal responsibility over victimhood.
Scary Times for Freedom
Posted by Daren Bakst at 6:46 PM
The attack on global warming "skeptics" has reached scary levels.
If you don't think environmental groups and California's government are wacko, then please read this incredible attempt to chill speech and science, which I actually think would fail even in China and Cuba, but California, I'm not so sure about.
I'm shocked right now and a bit concerned for the First Amendment, sound science, and decency.
Observations on obesity
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 6:25 PM
This article offers an interesting take on the cultural component of the obesity debate.
Recycled, Mass. "Big Dig" Architecture
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 4:09 PM
This is an interesting approach to recycling building materials from large-scale road construction projects to be used for residential housing.
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 3:55 PM
In recent negotiations, the Detroit Federation of Teachers demanded that the Detroit Public Schools give them salaries comparable to the top 10 percent of teachers in the suburbs, compensation for stolen property, smaller class sizes, access to more copy machines, and a 15.6 percent raise for its most experienced teachers.
This is all well deserved, considering that Detroit's four-year graduation rate was 21.7 percent. Perhaps it is time to start thinking "outside of the box," Kwame.
Britney-on-a-bearskin sculptor outdoes himself
Posted by Jon Sanders at 2:54 PMSilly me; I thought this was his magnum opus! But I was wrong!
Speaking of [Hillary] Clinton, her first "Presidential Bust" is set to be unveiled this week — at New York's Museum of Sex.
Sculptor Daniel Edwards says the work portrays Clinton's "youthful spirit and a face matured by wisdom," adding, "Presented in a low cut gown, her cleavage is on display prominently portraying sexual power which some people still consider too threatening."
Edwards says he was inspired by actress Sharon Stone, who said Clinton shouldn't run for president because she had too much sexuality.
I can think of many things upon viewing that, but "sexual power" isn't one. It did occur to me, however, that this has temporarily changed Google News search results given the terms "Clinton," "bust," and "sex."
Posted by Jon Ham at 1:50 PM
John Kerry was in Iowa recently and the momentum remaining from his 2004 presidential race is evident in the turnout for this "rally."
(Hat tip to Drudge)
Free Market (Black and Decker)
Posted by Chad Adams at 1:32 PM
Well, at least we now know the price in the free market for switching
At least the publicly known price.
For those who have switched for less
or are considering doing so, please pay attention, your bargaining
price may have just shifted.
$50,000, up to $250k in fines and possibly five years in prison is the going rate.
And maybe a meal at an IHOP. . . .
Decker pleads guilty in Black probe
Posted by Paul Chesser at 12:24 AM
The News & Observer has the breaking news.
Re: Timeshares in Havana
Posted by Jon Sanders at 11:25 AM
Five years, Jon H.? No way. Think sixty years, minimum. Castro's doctors said just this past spring that the Former Great Communist Hope Before Chavez was going to live to 140 — and Cuba's health care is far, far greater than America's, as every leftist academic in America knows (but somehow those deluded Cubans making rafts out of 1950s pickup trucks don't).
Dept. head backs Michaels — for now
Posted by Jon Ham at 10:57 AM
The enviro nuts and the MSM have the long knives out for Virginia
state climatologist Pat Michaels for his critical analysis of
global-warming research. But Jay Zieman, the chairman of U.Va.'s
environmental sciences department, is backing him, at least for the
time being. This from the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
Zieman said Michaels is well-respected as a scientist. "He publishes
in these peer review journals, and he's doing good work and it's
accepted by the scientific community," he said.
Zieman also said academic freedom is important, no matter how
unpopular a scientist's findings. "We found out in Iraq that freedom is
messy. So can academic freedom be messy. Persons do have the right to
have a minority opinion."
This is the second day
of stories or editorials about Michaels in Virginia's major papers.
We'll see if Zieman's admirable support continues as the heat
increases, as it surely will.
Tammany Hall's Approach to Light Rail
Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 10:54 AM
I could not resist. Since land and housing prices go up near light rail stations why shouldn't that increase fund the project? The way Tammany Hall would approach this is to invite neighborhoods to bid for the stations. The highest bidders would receive stations and the tracks would then be built connecting the stations. Those who benefit most would pay the costs. In addition, the money to pay the city planners and highly paid private consultants would also be saved as they would be totally unnecessary. This is one more demonstration that America worked better before the Progressives gained control.
Franklin's Printing Press
Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 10:40 AM
This Mises commentary analyzes Franklin's failure as an economist, especially his recommendations regarding increasing the amount of paper money as a way to spur economic activity and prosperity. I recently completed a wonderful biography of Franklin, "The First American" by H.W. Brands. Brands reports that PA and NJ awarded Franklin contracts to print their money. Not to disparage the motives of this great patriot, but maybe his views on paper money were influenced by his printing contracts.
David Henderson on the minimum wage
Posted by George Leef at 09:58 AM
David Henderson, a razor-sharp economist, writes about the minimum wage in today's WSJ. You can (and should!) read his piece here.
Two thumbs up for his demolition of the cover for raising the minimum. Advocates have for years been saying that a certain study by Card and Krueger proved that minimum wage increases don't really have any effect on the demand for labor. Henderson buries that notion.
This issue is a particularly nasty example of the tendency among politicians to capitalize on the economic ignorance of most Americans. The pols who advocate raising the minimum wage (or even instituting "living wage" mandates) get to bask in the glow of their supposed "compassion" while their coercive meddling destroys job opportunities for the least able people in society. It's truly despicable.
BTW, Henderson's book The Joy of Freedom is one that I recommend strongly.
College Bubble to Burst?
Posted by George Leef at 09:41 AM
That's the prediction in story in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Why? Demographics: "Fueling the current college admissions frenzy are the 'baby boomletters' born in the lat 1980s and early 1990s. By 2009, the last of them will reach college age, heralding the first sustained decline in the number of graduating high school students in nearly two decades."
I have no reason to doubt the numbers. It will probably be even worse as more people figure out that many of the academically "disengaged" students who now leave high school gain very little from college coursework that doesn't require them to develop their intellectual abilities.
Life imitates "The Simpsons"
Posted by Jon Sanders at 09:30 AMLife: "Teen idol and multi-platinum recording artist Hilary Duff will perform a free concert for military families next week at the Crown Coliseum." Fayetteville Observer, 7/26
"The Simpsons": (Click here.)
Housing Costs and Rail
Posted by Joseph Coletti at 09:20 AM
A letter in Motor Trend reminded me to expect a lot more of this
if we ever get the Triangle Choo-Choo. Housing near rail stations is
popular when the train is convenient. John Hood extolled the convenience of rail
in Washington, D.C., last week. Because of the convenience and
popularity (and scarcity) housing near rail stations gets more
expensive and the supporters of the rail program start with the "I told
you so" chorus. They might even throw in a few "look how the market
responds" lines if they're really clever.
The problem is that rail operations, even in Washington, D.C., require large subsidies. Metro's
fare and advertising revenue cover less than 8% of the system's cost.
Fares increase with distance, so it costs less to travel a shorter
distance. The net result is that people who can afford housing near a
rail station or in a downtown area receive travel subsidies from the
government and those who can least afford it have longer commutes and
pay the full cost of gas in addition to their homes -- until city
council helps pay for their housing.
Creepy in Durham
Posted by Jon Ham at 08:26 AM
I don't know what's creepier, that Durham DA Mike Nifong gets peeved
with fellow Animal Control Advisory Committee members who signed a
petition to allow county commission member Lewis Cheek on the November
ballot, or that he actually perused the 10,000 or so names on the list
to find these two people's names. It seems Nifong is using that
petition as a ready-made enemies list. How many other names has he
marked with yellow highlighter? Will they have to hope they don't get a
speeding ticket or get cited for having an outdated inspection sticker
on their car?
Timeshares in Havana
Posted by Jon Ham at 07:39 AM
I think this means
we'll be vacationing in a free and prosperous Havana in five years. Get
ready for timeshares overlooking the Malecon. No reason the terrorists
at Gitmo should be the only ones to enjoy a Cuban vacation.
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