Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Military Meets, Exceeds Recruiting Goals

Sorry for the lack of posts--I've been busy moving from Texas to Colorado.

I did notice this article today about how the U.S. military has met or exceeded its recruiting goals. It is an AP article, so of course the author couldn't wait to get his first dig in with the first sentence. You have to keep pushing those media talking points, I guess.
Though Americans are increasingly pessimistic about the war in Iraq, the Pentagon said Tuesday it is having success enlisting new troops. The Navy and Air Force met their recruiting goals last month while the Army and Marine Corps exceeded theirs, the Defense Department announced.
Hat tip Instapundit.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Thank You Sgt. 1st Class James D. Priestap

Details here.

Thank you, sir. Nothing more for me to say.

More On Media Bias

A long but interesting blog post (via Instapundit) about media bias.
Of the three broadcast network news anchors (all of whom are "executive producers" of their programs), do you think any have ever voted for Republican presidential candidate? Katie Couric at CBS? Brian Williams at NBC? Charlie Gibson at ABC? They voted for Kerry, they voted for Gore, they voted for Clinton twice -- they voted for Dukakis, for crying out loud, and no one who'd watched their broadcasts over the years would ever doubt it.

If one can become a multimillionaire news anchor, the very pinnacle of success in the news business, despite being transparently a partisan Democrat and a liberal ideologue, then obviously there is no penalty for such beliefs within the media profession. And since no conservative is a network anchor or executive producer, one might assume (and you'd get no argument from Bernard Goldberg) that conservative beliefs are penalized.
As Glenn would say, read the whole thing.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Would You Believe It? Media Bias

I'm running out of creative titles for posts on this subject. A blog called Flopping Aces has a story about the use of fake sources for Iraq stories. Naturally these sources have led to stories that indicate the growing "Iraq is already in a civil war" angle that seems to be the push of the week for the mainstream media. This has been linked by more blogs than I can list here--suffice it to say, the word is out. Will anyone care? Unlikely.

This is not an isolated occurrence. The Democracy Project has more (hattip Instapundit).

Are you following the links? Again, unlikely. The more you read, the more you should realize the that news you hear does not reflect reality--it reflects a political agenda.

My exasperation comes from a sinking feeling that there is nothing to be done to stop it. People talk loftily of the "blog revolution" and how it will revolutionize media coverage. While there have been isolated incidents (Dan Rather, for example) I don't think the fake and false coverage is going to stop any time soon. Even friends who read this blog say, "Oh I saw your post, but I didn't follow the links." It is much easier to sit back on your couch and hear Katie Couric tell you that the sky is falling. Reading and investigating the truth buried on the web takes a lot more effort. Time will tell, but I fear that Katie has an unsurmountable advantage in this war between fact and fiction.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Iraq, World War II, and Absurd Statistics

As I flew home from Thanksgiving this past weekend, I noticed the passenger to my left was reading USA Today. At the bottom of the front page was an article about how the U.S. has now spent as much time in Iraq as they did in World War II. You can read it online version here.

This "revelation" of course has been picked up by many people, who are using it as the basis to make all sorts of ridiculous assumptions. Everyone has heard the quote, "There are lies, damn lies, and statistics," but this example is beyond the pale. Just to make the point, let's look at another (in this case morbid) statistical comparison.

USA Today wants to compare WWII and Iraq? OK, let's compare combat fatalities. The current fatality count in Iraq is 2871 (as of today). The WWII fatality count was 407,300. At the current rates, it would take 519.5 years before the Iraq fatality count would equal World War II count. That's right, somewhere in the year 2525.

Obviously making such a statistical comparison is virtually meaningless. So is comparing the number of days spent, as USA Today and now a host of others are doing. If you have opinions on the war in Iraq, make them known; I firmly believe that society benefits from hearing a diverse view on any subject. But leave the mind-numbingly moronic statistics out of the discussion.

Milblogs (hattip Instapundit) illustrates another way in which the comparison is meaningless. Jay Tea, over at Wizbangblog, rips Michael Moore's use of the statistic to shreds.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Global Warming, Hurricanes, And Politics

Captain's Quarters Blog has a very interesting post on global warming and the (lack of) hurricanes this season.

It covers media bias and self-evident contradictions about global warming, two of my favorite subject.

You might want to stay clear of the comments, though; a lot of text there with very little evidence to back anything up (on both sides).

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Top Democrat Wants To Bring Back the Draft

The story that the incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Democrat Charles Rangel, wants to bring back has been covered everywhere. My angle? Why CNN's bias of course. They cover the story, front and center, but with the title:
Rangle: Bring back the draft
But how many people know who Rangle is? They don't identify him as a Democrat in the blurb on the front page:
An all volunteer U.S. military is fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But that could change if the incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has his way. Rep. Charles Rangel wants to bring back the draft.
It's only if you click on the actual article that you see the full headline:
Top Democrat: Bring back the draft
CNN does this hocus pocus with headlines a lot; the headline on the front page rarely matches the headline of the actual article. This often seems to be done for space limitations but often the editing of the text for the front page drastically changes the meaning of the headline. If these changes in meaning are random, then it just shows sloppy editing on the part of CNN. But do the changes in meaning have a political bias?

This brings me to mention an idea I hope to implement some time in the near future. It would be easy enough to record both the short headline and the long headline and compare them when they are different. I, for one, would be fascinated to see if there is a pattern in direction the edits take the headline.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Democratic Leaders Flip-Flop on Kerry's Appearance in Photo-Op

The photographer in me just loves this story. A number of the Democratic leaders in Congress were making a "power walk" photo-op for the press. According to reporters, John Kerry started to walk with them, but was told something by Schumer that made him stop. Powerline comments on the UPI story:
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer appeared to kick Sen. John Kerry out of a Democratic leadership walk in Washington, a reporter who witnessed the event said.

An ABC News reporter said the incident occurred Tuesday outside of the Old Senate Chamber as members of the new Democratic leadership, of which Kerry is not a part, left the chamber en route to the Ohio Clock Corridor to discuss leadership elections, the incoming majority's agenda and Iraq.

The ABC reporter said Kerry left the room behind Democratic Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.; Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Caucus Secretary Patty Murray, D-Wash.; and Caucus Vice-Chair Schumer, D-N.Y. However, when Schumer noticed Kerry, D-N.Y., walking behind him, he turned and said something to the Massachusetts senator that caused him to stop.

Kerry waited for the Democratic leaders to walk ahead and then ducked between two statues. The ABC reporter speculated that Schumer may have told Kerry to stay clear of the leadership shot.
If you wrote fiction with such an event, editors would reject it as unbelievable. Kerry waited for the Democratic leaders to walk ahead and then ducked between two statues. The before and after pictures are priceless. Here's the before picture. You can actually see Kerry in the background with a what-just-happened look on his face.

The after picture is the effect they were going for (from Wizbang's weekly caption contest).

If you ever needed proof that politics is all about showmanship, here you go.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Writing Your Own News

I grew up near Cincinnati, OH. There's a radio station there, 102.7 WEBN, that use to play these fake commercials by a company called "Brute Force Cybernetics", with the tagline, "The company creates a need and then fills it."

I think CNN could alter that slightly and use it for their own tagline. I suggest:
CNN. The company that creates the news and then covers it.
So yesterday they ran this little story: Bush's Asia trip intensifies Iraq-Vietnam comparisons. The article starts with:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush's recent acknowledgment that the war in Iraq was comparable to the Viet Cong's psychologically devastating Tet Offensive in 1968 was hardly the first time a parallel has been drawn between the Iraq and Vietnam conflicts.

Questions about a "quagmire" have haunted the president's Iraq policy since before a single bomb fell on Baghdad.
Since before a single bomb fell, eh? I wonder who was asking those questions. Could it possible have been CNN?

I stopped reading the article right there. I suppose the author might have redeemed themselves somewhere along the way but quite frankly they didn't deserve any more of my time.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Phased Redeployment Rejected

President Bush has received a lot of criticism lately for his abrupt firing of Rumsfield after the midterm elections. Many have suggested that he is fighting for a positive legacy to his presidency and will drift left to help ensure that. While I can understand that fear, I think it is probably somewhat unrealistic. I'm sure those on the left chortle at the idea of Bush drifting "too far to the left".

This story today on CNN regarding the rejection by Bush of the phased redeployment suggestion from Democrats seems to confirm that.

Does anyone else really hate political B.S. terms such as "phased redeployment"?
Q. Senator, are you calling for a full retreat from Iraq?

A. Of course not.

Q. Then what are you calling for?

A. I'm calling for a phased redeployment of our troops...
Please, call it what it is. If you can't even say it, how can you stand behind it?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Jason Dunham To Receive Medal Of Honor

President Bush announced today that Marine Corporal Jason Dunham will be awarded posthumously the Medal of Honor for heroism in Iraq.
In April 2004, Dunham was leading a patrol in an Iraqi town near the Syrian border when the patrol stopped a convoy of cars leaving the scene of an attack on a Marine convoy, according to military and media accounts of the action.

An occupant of one of the cars attacked Dunham and the two fought hand to hand. As they fought, Dunham yelled to fellow Marines, "No, no watch his hand." The attacker then dropped a grenade and Dunham hurled himself on top of it, using his helmet to try to blunt the force of the blast.
Read that again.

So many things one could say, yet nothing seems worthy of his actions. With that in mind, I will just say this. Thank you Jason Dunham for putting the hero in heroism.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Guiliani Now More Than Ever

I've posted in the past about how I think Guiliani would make an excellent candidate for president. My reasons in the past were threefold.
  1. The man acts with integrity. With all the scandal stories of the past few years, I think he would be a welcome change.
  2. He passed with flying colors the crucible test he was forced into after 9/11 in NYC. Any arguments that he was "just a mayor" are weak in how he acted under extreme pressure.
  3. He is popular in the Northeast. Several hypothetical race polls have him ahead of Hillary Clinton. There are very few, if any, scenarios where a Democrat could win the presidency without New York State.
I think after recent events, there are probably two more reasons.
  1. Many of potential Republican contenders were too damaged by this midterm election to be seriously considered. In all honesty, Senators rarely make good presidential candidates. Senators who couldn't even win reelection for their own senate seat make horrible ones.
  2. The Democrats won back both sides of Congress by running with a very moderate group of candidates in many races. Moonbats such as Pelosi may have the reins but it was moderates that have given her that power. The biggest criticism of Guiliani is that he "isn't conservative enough". In light of the thumpin' (as President Bush termed it) the Republicans just received, and the success of moderates such as Schwarzenegger, I don't think an ultra conservative choice would be a disaster.
Jim Addison seems to agree with me, on reason 4 if nothing else. (Scroll past a rant about Republicans staying home to the bottom of his post.)
That leaves Guiliani. He is already well-known and very popular among all segments of the American electorate. While many have long supposed his liberal social positions would alienate the right, that appears not to be the case. Here in South Carolina, where values are held dear and social conservatism rules, conservatives most often mention Rudy as the candidate they would like to see run in '08.

We need someone who can hold us together in the face of disaster and get us to work rebuilding. Rudy is such a leader. I've seen him do it.
I hope others reach the same conclusions.

What's Next In Iraq?

Kim Priestap at Wizbang has had some interesting posts about what might happen next in Iraq. First off is a post about Pelosi's most recent comments about Iraq:
The point is this isn't a war to win. It's a situation to be solved.
When President Bush said he was open to new directions in Iraq, I don't think this is what he had in mind. So today Priestap had a follow up post concerning an interview with "terrorist leaders":
'There is no chance that the resistance will stop'

Abu Ayman, an Islamic Jihad leader in Jenin, said he is "emboldened" by those in America who compare the war in Iraq to Vietnam.

"(The mujahedeen fighters) brought the Americans to speak for the first time seriously and sincerely that Iraq is becoming a new Vietnam and that they should fix a schedule for their withdrawal from Iraq," boasted Abu Ayman.
Not sure what else there is to say directly other than if you worried about what might happen next, you aren't alone.

On a separate note, does anyone else find it shocking that you can read interviews with people explicitly referred to as "terrorist leaders"? Can you imagine reading a interview during the cold war of someone labeled "secret Soviet assassin"?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Losing With Dignity

It's been interesting for me to read some of the more conservative blogs, to see how the authors are reacting to Democratic takeover of the House, and likely the Senate. As I said a few posts ago, one of the keys to a successful democracy is a respect for the majority view. Captain's Quarters Blog gets it right:
However, in terms of policy at least, the American people have spoken. The majority endorsed these views, and now we have to see them play out. We can certainly criticize it -- and we will -- but we have to respect the voice of the American electorate. They wanted a different direction, and now they have to experience its consequences.
This seems to me to be brutally honest. He's certain that he will be critical of policy choices, but understands that the vote last night was rejection of the status quo (as mid-term elections usually are) and that change of some sort has been endorsed by the American people. Hugh Hewitt, I think, gets it wrong:
And it is a wonderful day for new media, especially talk radio. For two years we have had to defend the Congressional gang that couldn't shoot straight. Now we get to play offense.
What the country doesn't need now is sniping by the right who are stinging from loosing an election for the first time in many years.

It will be interesting (and important) to see how many on the right follow the Captain Ed model, and how many follow the Hewitt model.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Exit Poll Silence

Instapundit has typical short post up linking to an article explaining the mechanics of exit polls. Glenn adds the following theory:
My prediction: If they're bad for the GOP they'll leak early. If they're good for the GOP, they won't.
I just checked all the usual suspects (Drudge, etc.) and can't find any leaked exit polls. It will be interesting to see if Glenn's prediction is accurate.

Why I Hate The Two-Party System

The title of this post is perhaps a little strong. I can't hate a two-party system completely as I've yet to learn of a better system. When I have political discussions with Canadian or Indian friends, for example, about their countries political system, I always come away with a greater respect for the founding fathers. It should be noted, however, that many of the founding fathers were opposed to the idea of political parties.

But I was reminded again of the aspect of the two-party system I don't like the most--the adversarial nature it brings out in people. From a NYTimes editorial:
“Two years ago, winning 14 seats in the House would have been a pipe dream,” said Matt Bennett, a founder of Third Way, a moderate Democratic organization. Now, Mr. Bennett said, failure to win the House, even by one seat, would send Democrats diving under their beds (not to mention what it might do to all the pundits).

“It would be crushing,” he said. “It would be extremely difficult.”

Mr. Cook put it more succinctly. “I think you’d see a Jim Jones situation — it would be a mass suicide,” he said.
Put it succinctly? I would hope Mr. Cook's statement has no basis in reality. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of rooting for "your team" and certainly the energy interjected by the Bush Derangement Syndrome of many involved is only making matters worse. But I wish people would realize that in the end, we are all on the same team.

I've been reminded recently that one of the most important aspects of a democracy is accepting that sometimes your view will be in the minority and respecting the majority view. You may not like it, you may be motivated to change it, but you respect the democratic process enough not to destructively react to it.

The Republicans may hold both sides of Congress today. The Democrats may take one or both sides back. Any outcome is within the realm of possibility. Whatever the final tallies, neither side should be so upset that the only analogy that comes to mind is joking about mass-suicide.

As Ann Althouse said, commenting on the same quote, "Wow, calm down people! It's just politics."

Monday, November 06, 2006

Jay Cost On Election Polls

I remember being an avid read of Jay Cost during the last presidential election. Cost had his own blog and presented analyses of polls from a statistical stand point. He's now writing for Real Clear Politics and has had two very good articles about the upcoming midterm election.

Both deal with predictions about the House, the second with more statistics than the first.

It's hard to summarize a Cost article as he uses a lot of (simple) statistics. The short summary is that he feels that people are overstating the degree to which seats may change parties. If I haven't scared you off with the statistics comments, give his articles a read (especially the second one). They are well worth the read.

The Only Issue This Election Day

I've seen links to this editorial titled "The Only Issue This Election Day" by Orson Scott Card from numerous sites. The background is that Card is a Democrat, but one that feels that the War on Terror trumps all other issues in the coming election. I found it fascinating, which explain the number of links it has received.
I say this as a Democrat, for whom the Republican domination of government threatens many values that I hold to be important to America's role as a light among nations.
It quickly becomes clear why Card isn't happy with the Democratic Party's stance on the War on Terror. Using phrases such as "light among nations" in reference to the United States seems to be the antithesis of Democratic Party's platform. In fact, Card almost states as much when he says:
To all intents and purposes, when the Democratic Party jettisoned Joseph Lieberman over the issue of his support of this war, they kicked me out as well. The party of Harry Truman and Daniel Patrick Moynihan -- the party I joined back in the 1970s -- is dead. Of suicide.
The rest of the piece deals with why he feels the War on Terror is so important--singularly important in his mind. It's an interesting read. His comments on nation building are particularly noteworthy:
Another charge against the Bush administration's conduct of the war is that they are engaged in the hopeless task of "nation-building." And this is true -- except for the word "hopeless."

But what is the alternative? I've heard several, each more disastrous and impossible and even shameful than the one before.
I am not sure I agree, but read the whole editorial to understand the context of the quote.

Election Predictions, 2006

The web seems to be overflowing with election predictions for tomorrow's midterm election. Blogs and online portals of more traditional media are all full of authors making bold predictions on what will happen. I'm not sure anyway can claim to have the background and analytical technique to make such predictions with certainty, but they certainly are interesting reads. Here's a sample of a few, if you are interested:

Quin Hillyer at the American Spectator.

Bull Dog Pundit at anklebitingpundits.

Several at wizbangblog from Alexander McClure, Ed Torres, and Jim Addison.

Are any of them close to the mark? Check back Wednesday to see...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Who Votes, Who Doesn't, and Why

The Pew Research Center has recently released a report concerning the demographics of voters and their voting frequency title, "Who Votes, Who Doesn't, and Why."

Here are some of the more interesting findings. People 18-29 are only 22% likely to be a regular voter, while those 50-64 are 42% likely to vote regularly. (Jim Addison has a post on Rock the Vote over at politics.wizbang and how it always fails to motivate the 18-29 year-old demographic.)

Those that make over $75K a year are 44% likely to vote regularly, compared to only 26% for those making less than $20K. Which group do you think would be more likely to vote for candidates promising lower taxes?

I didn't have time to delve deeply into the statistics of the survey (probably a dangerous thing to skip) but overall found the report worth the read.

Republicans Outnumber Democrats Online

I've seen the results of this study posted several places now. According to a Nielson report, Republicans outnumber Democrats online. From the press release:
Nielsen//NetRatings (NASDAQ: NTRT), a global leader in Internet media and market research, announced today that 36.6 percent of U.S. adults online are Republicans, 30.8 percent are Democrats and 17.3 percent are Independents. With campaign Web sites becoming increasingly important to reaching the electorate, candidates need to keep their fingers on the political pulse of the Internet.
This difference, while interesting in its own right, is more interesting when you consider the party breakdown for most polls. Pollsters almost always assume a numbers advantage to Democrats when polling. Is there really such a difference between online and total demographics? Or is this one more indication that pollsters use questionable statistical methods to bias polling results?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Best Reaction To John Kerry So Far

This just made me smile.

From Drudge via Lorie Byrd.

Breaking News: Media Coverage Of Midterm Elections Favors Democrats

A report by the Center for Media and Public Affairs analyzes the TV news coverage of the midterm election. The high level conclusion was:
88 Percent Bad Press For GOP; Dems Get 77 Percent Good Press.


3 out of 4 (77 percent) on-air evaluations of Democratic candidates and members of Congress were positive during the first seven weeks of the campaign. By contrast only 1 out of 8 assessments (12 percent) were favorable towards their Republican counterparts.
I know you are as shocked as I am.
In the first seven weeks after Labor Day in 2002, network coverage of the mid-term elections totaled only 35 stories. 2006's coverage has been almost five times as heavy, with 167 elections stories.
I guess if you are going to stump for the Democrats, you should get your message out there as much as possible. I found this last data point interesting:
Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) was featured in 10 stories, even though he's not seeking re-election this year.
Grooming him for a 2008 Presidential run, I imagine.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Inconsistent Politics

Jay Tea over at Wizbangblog has a post titled "I'm Getting Dizzy Here" that points out some inconsistencies in positions held by the Democratic Party. Some might find it amusing, and I was definitely amused but I'm not exactly sure of the reason why. I'm pretty sure it's one of the following.
  • There's enough truth in the list to make it frighteningly funny.

  • Jay Tea continues to describe himself as a moderate, but a surprisingly large number of his posts make the Democrats look like idiots.

  • A flame war has erupted in the comments that is full of stereotypical Bush-bashers making logically weak points while stereotypical Bush-supporters resort to ridiculously overblown comments (and a lot of swearing and name calling).
Personally I am, with much of society I think, disgusted with politicians in general, on both sides. The wild outbreak of Bush Derangement Syndrome and rampant liberal media bias has pushed me to "the right" some in recent years. But let's be clear here. Candidates and office-holders from both parties have said and done ridiculous things to gain and hold power. And there are no signs that the system will correct itself to change that.

John Kerry Trashes The American Military

By now I'm sure you've heard about John Kerry's remarks and seen the video. Even this one hasn't escaped the mainstream media; apparently CNN has run the video multiple times per hour. In case you somehow missed it, Mr. Kerry took it up himself to warn kids that they better getting an education or else they will wind up dumb and end up stuck in Iraq.

Reaction is everywhere. Instapundit. Wizbangblog. Captain's Quarters. Michelle Malkin. The Anchoress.

Whether you find his attitude reprehensible or secretly agree with him, I think you have to agree that it was an astoundingly stupid thing to say a week before a major election. Suddenly the major news story isn't Foley. It isn't the latest combat death in Iraq. It's a prominent Democrat on tape saying he feels that people who join the military are stupid. Expect quotes like this one from Donald Sensing (quoted on Instapundit, above) to be front and center for the next week.
In about 30 minutes I wll leave to attend the funeral of Marine Lance Cpl. Richard Buerstetta, killed in action in Iraq two weekends ago. He was a 2004 graduate of Franklin High School, where both my sons knew him. He and my eldest son were actually scheduled to go to boot camp at Parris Island, SC, the same day, but a change by their recruiter sent them on different days. Lance Cpl. Buerstetta was a Marine reservist, enrolled in college at Middle Tennessee State University, when his callup came. Without a flicker of hesitation at being yanked from his college courses, he shouldered his seabags and went off to war. “His bags stayed packed,” according to a family member. He died about a month after arriving in Iraq.

Got that? High school graduate. College student. US Marine. Iraq.

This Youtube video of Sen. John F. Kerry laying the most grievous insult upon Lance Cpl. Buerstetta and his peers explains why, as much as I will hold my nose to vote Republican next week, I cannot possibly bring myself to vote at this time for any Democrat.
Note that Sensing isn't a rabid conservative, who was shilling for the Republican party the entire election season.

Somewhere, Karl Rove is smiling.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Impressions Of The Economy By The Media

In a recent Instapundit post, Glenn quipped:
No wonder the Big Media are acting as if the economy is in dreadful shape. For them, it is.
I'm wondering if there is more truth to this than people realize.

I experienced the boom and the bust of the dot com industry first hand. When I started, things were really good. The yearly company meeting was seen as an excuse to fly everyone to the Bahamas on charted jets. Then when things tanked, things changed in a hurry. The company meeting became fried chicken at a city park.

Economically and from a morale standpoint, the situation was still at a low for us when the economy as a whole started to bounce back. I remember my shock when I started reading articles about how strong the economy actually was. It couldn't be, could it? The last quarterly update from out CFO was devastating.

I can say with experience that I understand how one's own situation can color the impression of the economy. Old-school, big media is definitely seeing a shift in popularity to alternative forms such as blogs and podcasts. It seems more than reasonable that living through and trying to cope with such drastic changes would cause them to see a generally robust economy in a more negative light.

France And The 35-Hour Work Week

The French, it seems, don't learn. A French judge has expanded the scope of the mandatory maximum 35-hour work week to include bars and restaurants. Restaurant owners are saying that it will cripple their businesses.

As a (French) friend of mine once said: "France is on it's way to becoming a 3rd world country--they just don't realize it yet."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Why Traffic Cameras Don't Work, Part 327

I've always been opposed to traffic cameras on basic principle. While I'm not a huge Libertarian, the idea of using a computer to monitor human behavior and issue corrections has always scared me.

Here's one more reason it won't work.
The cameras were designed to catch motorists who simply slow down in front of a camera, and then drive above the speed limit until they reach the next one.
I still don't like it, but sounds well thought out so far.
But, under Home Office rules governing the camera equipment, prosecutions are only valid if a driver is filmed in the same lane at the start and finish of each section by a linked pair of cameras.


That means a three-lane motorway would require three separate sets of cameras - one for each lane. If drivers leave the speed-camera zone via a different lane to the one they entered in, they cannot normally be prosecuted.
The Chief Constable of the Yorkshire police adds:
Motorists are strongly advised not to seek to evade detection by unnecessarily changing lanes as this would generate a greater risk of collision and may lead to other offences being committed which the police may prosecute.
This is the a different version of the problem seen with red light cameras--people accelerating massively when they see a yellow light to avoid a ticket.

I think it's clear that such systems don't work, but that's doesn't stop people from trying.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Chernobyl Myth (Again)

There is an article at the about what the Earth would be like without humans on it. I started to say it was an interesting article but I retracted that assessment as I'm not really sure what the point of the article is. It does manage to get a number of "humans bad, nature good" talking points, so I suppose that must be author's rationale for writing it.

I mention the article only to attempt--and I'm sure in vain--to squash the myth of the Chernobyl disaster once more time. The author is explaining how quickly certain human creations would be swallowed up by nature, and how slowly it would subsume others.
The best illustration of this is the city of Pripyat near Chernobyl in Ukraine, which was abandoned after the nuclear disaster 20 years ago and remains deserted. "From a distance, you would still believe that Pripyat is a living city, but the buildings are slowly decaying," says Ronald Chesser, an environmental biologist at Texas Tech University in Lubbock who has worked extensively in the exclusion zone around Chernobyl. "The most pervasive thing you see are plants whose root systems get into the concrete and behind the bricks and into doorframes and so forth, and are rapidly breaking up the structure. You wouldn't think, as you walk around your house every day, that we have a big impact on keeping that from happening, but clearly we do. It's really sobering to see how the plant community invades every nook and cranny of a city."
That is an interesting observation. Yet the article continues:
The area around Chernobyl has revealed just how fast nature can bounce back. "I really expected to see a nuclear desert there," says Chesser. "I was quite surprised. When you enter into the exclusion zone, it's a very thriving ecosystem."

The first few years after people evacuated the zone, rats and house mice flourished, and packs of feral dogs roamed the area despite efforts to exterminate them. But the heyday of these vermin proved to be short-lived, and already the native fauna has begun to take over. Wild boar are 10 to 15 times as common within the Chernobyl exclusion zone as outside it, and big predators are making a spectacular comeback. "I've never seen a wolf in the Ukraine outside the exclusion zone. I've seen many of them inside," says Chesser.
He expected to find a "nuclear desert". Really?

In case you aren't aware, the scope of the Chernobyl event has now reached mythical proportions. I wrote about this topic previously. Estimates of immediate deaths caused by the accident are now widely reported between 15,000 and 30,000. The actual number of deaths was 56. Deaths from radiation sickness are suggested to be as high as 3.5 million when in fact they were less than 4,000. Chesser expected to see a nuclear desert because he's bought into a deliberate distortion of the truth. I write this in the hopes that at least a few people won't be fooled.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Classic Schwarzenegger Quote

I watched Governor Schwarzenegger's appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno tonight. Leno was questioning him on negative campaigns ads that tried to be negative by linking him with President Bush. Leno asked him if suggesting such a link was fair. His response?
Linking me to President Bush is like linking me to an Oscar.
Love him or hate him, Schwarzenegger is always entertaining.

Bush Derangement Syndrome Strikes Barbara Streisand

While "performing" in NY, a heckler wouldn't leave Barbara Streisand alone and she cut him short with an f-bomb. I put performing in quotes because she wasn't actually singing at the time. Instead she was acting out a skit with a George Bush impersonator.
There was Streisand, enduring a smattering of loud jeers as she and “George Bush” — a celebrity impersonator — muddled through a skit that portrayed the president as a bumbling idiot.

Though most of the crowd offered polite applause during the slightly humorous routine, it had gone on a bit too long, especially for those who just wanted to hear Streisand sing like she had been doing for the past hour.

“Come on, be polite!” the well-known liberal implored during the sketch as she and “Bush” exchanged zingers. But one heckler wouldn’t let up. And finally, Streisand let him have it.

“Shut the (expletive) up!” Streisand bellowed, drawing wild applause. “Shut up if you can’t take a joke!”

With that one F-word, the jeers ended.
The article hits the nail on the head with the observation: "...for those who just wanted to hear Streisand sing..." Ms. Streisand is welcome to whatever political views she chooses. But couldn't she understand that fans that paid a large sum on money to see her did so to hear her sing?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Possibility Of Russian Assassins In Iraq

A recent post on StategyPage theorizes about the presence of Russian assassins in Iraq. Read the whole piece for the details but the theory starts with:
Last June, after five Russian diplomats were killed by Sunni Arab terrorists, many experienced counter-terrorism professionals expected the Russians to act.
I also would have expected this. The genesis for this expectation is mentioned in the article--an event that was burned into my memory during my childhood.
Back in the 1980s, for example, Islamic terrorists in Lebanon kidnapped a Russian diplomat. The Russians (then the Soviets, a distinction without much difference in these matters) quickly found out which faction had their guy, kidnapped a relative of one of the kidnappers, and had a body part delivered to the Islamic kidnappers. The message was, release the Russian diplomat unharmed, or the KGB (Soviet secret police) would keep sending body parts, and grabbing kinfolk of the kidnappers. The Russian diplomat was released.
I remember reading about this clearly. It was such a contrast to the failed U.S. attempt to free the hostages by Carter in 1979. Given the success of such brutal tactics, I would have expected the Russians to use it again.

No news of a repeat has been forthcoming, apparently. Thus the theory that Russian agents are still on the case. The damage to the Russian image due to giving up would be devastating.
The Russians tend to be patient, and persistent, in these matters. They also realize that they have a reputation to uphold. Many times, local thugs and radicals have avoided harming Russian diplomats because of the Russian tradition of retribution. Break that tradition, and you put a lot of Russian diplomats at risk in the future.


The only thing that could stop the Russians is someone else having gotten to the killers first. The attrition among Sunni Arab terrorists is very high. If American or Iraqi counter-terror action has already killed the guys the Russians are hunting, it would still probably be announced, just to show that the Russians were on the case. So, four months of silence probably means that the Russians are still after the people who killed their diplomats.
Sounds reasonable to me but I'm no expert in such matters. It will interesting to see what, if anything, is announced by the Russians in the future.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Biased ABC News Coverage Of ...

In my previous post I alluded to a featured ABC News story. What does the story cover? That's a good question. If you were to read the whole story, which I can't say I recommend, you'd realize it has something to do with poll results, the Foley scandal, and effects on the upcoming November elections. I honestly had to keep checking to see that the story wasn't actually an editorial, the slant and bias was so thick.

Let's start with the headline on the front page:
Democrats See Biggest Lead in Congressional Races in 20 Years
Or, to paraphrase the author, "Go Team!" Under the headline for the main story are two more stories:
Republicans Losing Steam on the Mom Vote
GOP Struggles With Korea, Foley Scandal
Oh my, things aren't looking good. If you click on the first headline, you get a different headline on the actual story:
Bush Approval Withers Under Iraq, Foley Pressure
The author apparently felt his point wasn't clear, so there's a minor headline under the main one:
A Deep Deficit for the Republicans Reflects a Beleaguered President
Then we get to the actual text of the article, which begins:
An unpopular war led by a beleaguered president has pushed the Republican Party back to a deep deficit in voter preferences. But the Mark Foley scandal, while it hasn't helped, is a distant concern, with many doubting that the Democrats would've handled it any better.

The scandal's likeliest impact is that it forces the Republicans off the anti-terrorism message that remains their best push back against the broad discontent with the war in Iraq. The scandal has erased the minor gains the Republicans showed around the 9/11 anniversary.
I'm honestly speechless. Remember this isn't an editorial, this is a news story--ostensibly about a scientific poll. Almost in one breath we have "Democrats See Biggest Lead", "Republicans Losing Steam", "GOP Struggles", "Bush Approval Withers", "Deep Deficit", "Beleaguered President", "unpopular war", "scandal", "broad discontent", and "erased the minor gains".

Author Gary Langer should be ashamed of himself. Or at least moved to the editorial department where he belongs.

Massive Anti-Chavista Rallies

I debated posting about this. I mean surely you've all read and seen about the anti-Chavista rallies from the mainstream media on the TV and on the web, right? Then I checked the usually culprits--CNN, FoxNews, CBS, ABC--and found no mention of Chavez, rally, or anti. ABC was running a major story, "Democrats See Biggest Lead in Congressional Races in 20 Years" (more on that later), but no, nothing on Chavez.

Anyway, for those actually interested in the news, there was a massive rally in Venezuela for opposition presidential candidate Manuel Rosales. (Hat tip Lorie Byrd at WizbanBlog). Here's an AP Photo:

Strange, the AP seemed to cover the event, at least with photographs, but no mention from the major news outlets. Yet when Chavez calls President Bush the devil at a UN speech it gets major coverage.

Media bias? Check out the next post...

More Frequent Updates

Well the move has been "completed"--at least in the most basic sense. I can't say that I am settled . I'm sad that I can say that I am no longer a Texan. I am now a (I had to look this up for spelling) Coloradan. More on that later.

But for now, I just wanted to make a quick note to those return visitors to say to expect more frequent updates now that much of the move is behind me.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Not Breaking New: Stocks At Record Highs

The DOW Jones index hit a record high for the 3rd straight day. You'd think that would be news. I checked the front pages of CNN, FoxNews, ABC, CBS, and MSNBC. None of them really covered the story. There was a small headline on FoxNews, but we all know they are just a shill for the White House, so that hardly counts.

Glenn seems to have taken a slight interest over an Instapundit. That first link is quite interesting, if not well-written. It discusses a Chicago Tribune article titled, "As Dow Surges, Many Left Behind," and has commentary such as:
At the same time, the housing market developed a bubble of its own in the past six years as the Federal Reserve kept interest rates low to prop up the economy. Now, home construction has tumbled, and prices generally have softened. Some fear the end of this bubble could sink the economy. Others disagree. Whatever the case, the economy is slowing down.
The author goes on to analyze earlier Tribune coverage of stock market highs from 2000, when Clinton was President. The stories are all glowing and any negatives are explained away as "nothing to worry about".

The media's behavior on this issue has become somewhat of a joke at more conservative blogs. Wizbangblog had a post about the record highs. The first comment?
I blame Bush.
As funny as such postings may be, I still continue to worry about the state of the current mainstream media.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Inspirational Picture Of The International Space Station and Space Shuttle

I thought about writing this post from a political angle and I certainly could have. Space exploration is important and should be funded and so on. But honestly, this photo stands on its own--no political commentary necessary.

At a site called Astrosurf, a photographer captured the Space Shuttle Atlantis minutes after undocking from the International Space Station. Oh yeah, against the backdrop of the sun. Simply awe-inpiring.

Click the link, above, to see the uncropped version.

And tell me you didn't think of this:

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

On The Road

Blogspot seems to be having issues at the moment, so I don't know if this post will go through.

I'm on the road with little chance for internet access until this weekend, so no posts or updates until then.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Lack Of Real Journalism From Iraq

One of the criticisms of news via blog versus the mainstream media is the lack of "on the ground" reporting from blogs. From the Rathergate scandal, a reference was made to bloggers as "guys in pajamas" in an attempt to conjure a Monday-morning quarterback image.

For some issues, though, it doesn't seem that the mainstream media does much better. There is an interesting post on Strategy Page about the lack of imbedded reporters in Iraq. The article notes:
Most journalists are in the Green Zone, or some well-guarded hotel. There, they depend on Iraqi stringers to gather information, and take pictures for them. In reality, these reporters could do this from back home, and many more media organizations are doing just that.

Nothing new about using local stringers in dangerous areas. It's common sense, given that the bad guys are in the habit of kidnapping, or just killing, foreign reporters. The problem is, the pool of available Iraqi talent is mostly Sunni Arab. Many of these folks side with the bad guys. And all Iraqi journalists, especially those working for foreigners, are subject to intimidation, or bribery. While some of the foreign reporters may be aware of all this, some aren't, and many of the rest don't care. The truth won't set them free, but supplying stories their editors are looking for, will.
I find the lack of priority to be appalling. I was shocked to learn that there are only 9 imbedded reporters (hat tip Instapundit) currently in Iraq.
Here’s the chart (CLICK HERE TO VIEW) showing who the nine embedded reporters were covering all of Iraq on 9/19/2006. You’ll see that of those 9 reporters, 3 were from the Armed Forces’ Stars & Stripes, 1 from AFN (Armed Force Network), 1 from the Charlotte Observer, 1 from the BBC, 1 from the AP, 1 from RAI, and 1 from Polish Radio. All the rest of the “coverage” of the Iraq war on that day came from reporters hunkered down in the hotels and other locations under the rubric “Baghdad News Bureaus.”
Only one AP reporter? Almost half of the embedded reporters are from military newspapers?

The next time you read a doom-and-gloom article about how bad things are in Iraq, realize that the person writing it doesn't do so with first-hand knowledge. Is that really reporting?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Lunacy At The UN

That busy schedule is intervening, preventing me from blogging about recent happenings at the UN as much as I'd like. But I wanted to at least publish these links--because if you've been getting your news from the MSM, you probably missed some if not all of this.

First up, we have Iranian President Ahmadinejad who spoke at the UN to bemoan the influence of the United States worldwide. What you probably didn't know is that 35,000 or so people gathered to protest his speech. Read about it here (hattip Instapundit) and here. Why was this protest not covered by national media? A few thousand protest President Bush or the war in Iraq and it gets round the clock coverage on CNN. Ten times that show up outside the UN to protest Ahmadinejad and the only coverage is from a few local NY newspapers.

Next up we have Hugo Chavez's speech at the UN, where he called George Bush "the devil". I was worried that while some thought (again from Instapundit) the speech revealed some of the huge problems with the UN, others would just nod their head and agree. Sadly the White House response was considered weak by many; for and example, see The Corner via Wizbangblog.

I was glad to see that Chavez's comments were so ridiculous that Pelosi and Rangel even came to the defense of the President. This reaction from two outspoken critics of Bush revealed to me just how out of step the liberal blogosphere ala Kos and the DU are from American society. It wouldn't take much searching to find prominent liberal blogs praising Chavez's speech. While I'm sure that brings a warm fuzzy feeling to their readers, Pelosi's and Rangel's reactions show just how unmarketable that view is, politically.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Battle For Freedom

I'll admit that the picture below is a strange place to see a sign of hope, but that's what stuck me when I saw it. The picture is from an editorial at written yesterday (9/18/2006) but I believe the photo was actually taken back in February of this year, during the infamous cartoon riots in the Muslim world.

I think what is so telling in the photo is the use of the word freedom. Note that it isn't America or George Bush or Jews but freedom. Often times in speeches by President Bush, the war on terror is likened to a battle for freedom and for western civilization as we know it. Such analogies are just as often derided as fear mongering; the supposition being that the President is using fear to justify his agenda around the globe.

But this photo says that (at least one) of the terrorists get it--provocative thoughts such as freedom are their true enemies. And while I have my doubts as to the chances of success for any particular policy, I don't have my doubts of the pervasive nature of ideas such as liberty and freedom. If the terrorists truly mean to defeat the idea people are allowed to live free, then they have already lost.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Islamic Extremists' Rage-o-meter

The yellow-orange-red threat level of the Department of Homeland Security has been the subject of a number of jokes and parodies. I can't say that it isn't deserving of them in some cases. But a blog with the interesting name Wuzzadem has taken the parody in a different direction.

(Hattip: Michele Malkin)

I'll admit the joke at first glance just seems silly. But the truth behind it is compelling. How many different events or statements or actions have resulted in worldwide riots with people, as the joke suggests, in a murderous rage? It has gotten to the point where it doesn't even register to me anymore. Threats of beheadings in the news? Well of course there are.

What I find most frightening is the thought that some believe if we were just to leave them alone, their murderous rage would subside.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Lesson Of The Day: Don't Make Ann Althouse Angry

Ann Althouse's always thoughtful, sometimes whimsical blog took a decidedly different turn today.

Remind me never to get on her bad side. (Though I think I'm safe in this case; I agree with her completely.)

It's Election Season -- Time For The Biased Polls

Next to media bias, another issue I just can't let go is the business of biased polls. Everyone has heard the expression "there are lies, damn lies, and statistics." Well poll results are "politically-motivated statistics" so you can just imagine the manipulation that happens behind the scenes.

The worst polls are one's that don't reveal their internals. Such polls are completely meaningless but sadly get press all the time. In other cases, polls are published with their internals. This at least lets the poll be evaluated and examined by people who care to do such things. Again sadly it doesn't stop the quick-glance headline from giving misleading information.

As an example, take this poll by SurveyUSA concerning the Missouri Senate race between Talent and McCaskill. The poll results show the race in a statistical tie and allow the article to begin:
It continues to be one of the hottest, if not the hottest, Senate races in the country.
However, Alexander McClure of takes a look at the internals of this poll and discovers that Democrats have been drastically overrepresented (at the expense of Independents for the most part). Adjust the results for percentages from 2004 exit polls and Talent is ahead 51% to 44%.

Now, the truth probably lies somewhere in between. This is just one more case where some information is worse than no information. The average person doesn't have the time nor the background in statistics to care about the internals of polls. They read "race tied" and move on. One can only imagine how that affects their behavior on election day.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

CNN Won't Give Up On Plame Case

Have you been following the Plame case? If so I feel sorry for you. I tried several times to read up on it over the last--what has it been? months? years? feels like decades and I found myself too bored to really understand the details of what was being claimed and who was claiming it.

I did catch the gist of it, though. To the many in the giddy media it appeared that Karl Rove finally got caught doing something illegal and was going to be forced out of Washington. Of course, now the real person behind the leak has come forward and it wasn't Rove at all, it was Richard Armitage of the CIA. If I understand correctly, Armitage is actually a well-known opponent of Bush/Rove and thus the story has quickly fallen from the front pages of all the major media outlets.

But today I noted a CNN front-page headline that struck me as odd. The headline of the actual article is fine, "Outed CIA agent Plame adds Armitage to lawsuit." But the headline on the front page was different:

Notice that the headline (3rd from the top) doesn't mention Armitage by name. Instead we see the term 'admitted leaker'. Why? When Rove was the prime suspect we saw his name repeated ad nauseum on the front page.

This is actually something I've noticed on for a while now. The tag line on the front page doesn't match the headline of the actual article. Just one more way to affect and change the first impression people get when glancing at the top stories of the moment. It would be interesting to study the difference between tag line and headline to see if a consistent bias could be found.

Attack On U.S. Embassy In Syria Staged?

There is now speculation that the attack on the U.S. embassy in Syria was staged. I've looked for other sources that support this claim but haven't been able to find any yet. What a story if it turns out to be true.

And if it was staged, the effort certainly accomplished one of its objectives.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Analysis Of Bush's 9/11 Anniversary Speech

Update: This old post is (for obvious reasons) popping up on Google searches today. It is now two years later. Back to blogging tomorrow. End update.

One thing I love about the blogosphere is that sometimes you plan on writing on some topic only to find someone more eloquent has already done your work for you. I was doubly pleased to find that Ann Althouse had done so not once, but twice.

The first of her post deals with an analysis of Keith Olbermann's rant against President Bush. She does a fine job ripping the poor speech writing to shreads. About the only thing I would have done differently would have been to quote Olbermann less--he doesn't deserve to have his rants receive more press. How far has Olbermann fallen? It makes me truly sad.

The second post deals with a direct analysis of President Bush's 9/11 anniversary speech. (Here we learn Olbermann's "reaction" was written before hearing the speech which makes his disdain all the more laughable.) In the end, I agree with Althouse's conclusion:
We must "work together to meet the test that history has given us." Note the passivity. I didn't choose this, history made me do it. And since it's history, you need to get in line, get serious. There's a core of that that I absolutely agree with. We're in a war, so we need to concentrate on winning, and you should only want to do the things that help. But I don't think the assertions here are going to convince anyone, and he's given his critics new material. They are going to resent and resist the demand that we perceive ourselves as caught up in a massive, historical ideological struggle.
Sadly, I think she is spot on with this analysis. The people who hate Bush have already made up their mind and either didn't listen to the speech or only listened to find ammunition for the next round of rhetoric. The people who support him might agree with what he said but be rather bored with hearing it all again.

Anti-Americanism Is Nothing New

Last night I decided to watch the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, just to see what his show would be like on the anniversary of 9/11. (For some reason I am more interested in the way that comedic entertainers such as Stewart and Leno handle the 9/11 anniversary than I am with dedicated news programs. I suppose it is because their task is harder--trying to make us laugh while at the same time being respectful.) All in all, it was a fine show. The monologue was subdued but typical, with a brief mention of 9/11 at the beginning. His now famous headlines bit was as entertaining as ever. And the choice of his three guests (James Woods, Charlie Rose, and the "singing cop" Daniel Rodriguez) was very appropriate.

One thing did catch my attention, however. While interviewing Charlie Rose, the two remembered how a French newspaper ran with the headline, "Today we are all Americans," or something similar the day after 9/11. Leno asked Rose what had happened to that feeling worldwide. Rose answered immediately, "Iraq happened."


It is such a seductive line that I fear so many accept it without thinking about it. But the truth is the feeling that "America is the problem" was commonplace worldwide long before the second Iraq war and long before 9/11.

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit agrees, linking to an editorial by Anne Applebaum in the UK. Anne writes:
The dislike of America, the hatred for what it was believed to stand for – capitalism, globalisation, militarism, Zionism, Hollywood or McDonald's, depending on your point of view – was well entrenched. To put it differently, the scorn now widely felt in Britain and across Europe for America's "war on terrorism" actually preceded the "war on terrorism" itself. It was already there on September 12 and 13, right out in the open for everyone to see.
One could argue that while anti-American sentiment existed before the second Iraq war, the decision by Bush to remove Saddam Hussein from power increased that sentiment. There is of course some truth to that and the degree to which that occurred and whether the cost was worth it is a matter of interesting debate.

But for many that isn't enough. Bush wasn't just a small part of a bigger problem--he has to be the entire cause. Everything has to have been rosy and bright before he came along. It is a ridiculous assertion but all too often with Bush detractors the ridiculous is the path of choice.

Monday, September 11, 2006


While I was planning on getting back to blogging "someday", I didn't have any specific plans to do so on the five-year anniversary of 9/11. What could I add to the mountains of media that are available, both mainstream and on blogs? What more could be said?

Despite that and despite having a horribly busy schedule that should preclude checking in on all my favorite blogs to see what they had to say today, I found myself compelled to do so anyway. I could list and link them all here, but again I'm not sure what purpose that would serve.

Then I happened to check in on a blog I haven't read in a while, The Anchoress. She has a post today that links a video by John Stewart from his first Daily Show after 9/11/2001. If you do nothing else to remember today, perhaps because remembering is still too painful, try to make it through this 8 minute, 52 second clip. I was glad I did.

Remember the innocent people that died that day. This site might be slow, but each of the 2996 victims has been matched to a blogger that volunteered. You can follow the link on any individual person to learn a little more about them. Obviously that's too many links to follow, too many stories to read. And, sadly, I suppose that's the point.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Idiocy From Jesse Jackson

I haven't blogged about the Duke lacrosse team rape allegation story because such stories (and ones such as the Aruba murder case) do not really spark my interest. But recently Jesse Jackson made a statement so absurd that deserves as much public ridicule as possible.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson said Saturday that his Rainbow/Push Coalition will pay the college tuition for a black stripper who has made rape allegations against white members of Duke University's men's lacrosse team.

And the offer stands even if it turns out she fabricated her story.

Jackson told The Associated Press Saturday that his organization is committed to making sure the 27-year-old divorced mother of two will never again "have to stoop that low to survive."

Pathetic and ridiculous. Rape is one of the most heinous crimes--one that occurs far too frequently. Fabricating false charges of rape cannot be tolerated by society. And it most certainly should not be rewarded.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Coverage Of The Illegal Immigration Protests

On Monday, I posted about a citizen journalism experiment at Powerline blog regarding the latest round of illegal immigration protests around the country. A summary of the results can be found in a follow-up Powerline post. The whole post is very interesting, but I found the following observation worthy of specific note.

International A.N.S.W.E.R. passed out thousands of mass-produced, yellow and black signs with exactly the same message. You can see them prominently displayed in our video footage from New York. Here, though, is what I think is even more interesting. At either of the two New York Times pages linked above, you can also link to the Times' own video of the New York demonstration. Take a look at it.

Look at the sea of yellow and black, International A.N.S.W.E.R. signs. They vastly outnumber all other signs and banners. They are the dominant visual image of the New York demonstration. It is inconceivable that the Times' reporters could have failed to note the prominent role played by A.N.S.W.E.R. in running the demonstration, or the dominant role played by that group in equipping the protesters with signs. Yet the organization's role was not acknowledged by the Times, or, to my knowledge, by any other newspaper. Why? The Times' reporters were obviously aware of A.N.S.W.E.R.'s prominent involvement, and thirty seconds' worth of research would have disclosed the fact that the group is an unabashedly Communist organization. It wouldn't have taken much more than that to learn that A.N.S.W.E.R.'s National Coordinator has said that illegal immigration can be the "catalyst for a broader class struggle, even possibly a revolutionary struggle."

As Glenn would say on Instapundit, read the whole thing.

Perhaps showing again how the media is falling out of touch with the thoughts of many Americans, a Zogby poll shows that the protests have had a negative impact on the cause of illegal immigration.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Good Job Growth

The Christian Science Monitor has an interesting article concerning U.S. job growth. The article focuses not on the quantity but on the quality of the new jobs being created by the U.S. economy. The short summary is that the new jobs are "good jobs"--meaning they are relatively high paying and career oriented.

The author also notes that:
This good news about the breadth of job creation comes against a backdrop of labor-market anxiety that has persisted despite the economy's solid overall footing. Competition from imported goods, the threat of outsourcing services abroad, and a controversial influx of illegal laborers are just some of the forces that make many workers worried about their future.
I think you could add the ever present "bias media coverage" to the above list.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Blogs As Citizen Journalism?

Powerline blog is trying something interesting--an experiment in citizen journalism. Today another round of pro-illegal immigration demonstrations has taken place. Powerline is collecting video and photo records of these demonstrations to see if this coverage differs from mass media coverage. I would suspect that the data collected by Powerline would be biased, but likely not any more than the MSM coverage. I, for one, will be very interested to see what they collect and decide to show.

What is perhaps more interesting is the concept. Powerline is trying the experiment because one of the groups organizing the demonstrations is a Communist organization called International A.N.S.W.E.R.
Last Wednesday, there was an A.N.S.W.E.R. meeting in Washington, D.C. at which A.N.S.W.E.R.'s National Coordinator, Brian Becker, and Juan Jose Gutierrez, Director of Latino Movement USA, spoke about illegal immigration as an aspect of the socialist movement and about the upcoming demonstrations. One of tomorrow's biggest demonstrations will take place in Washington, and A.N.S.W.E.R. and other radical organizations are expected to play a prominent role.

Unfortunately for A.N.S.W.E.R., the meeting was attended by a couple of bloggers from Vital Perspective, who taped the meeting and reported on it on their site. They shared their audiotape of the proceedings with us, and we have posted a short excerpt on Power Line Video. In this excerpt, you can hear Becker wonder whether there are undercover policemen present (he forgot about bloggers), pose a tough question to his audience, and speculate about how illegal immigrants could be the "catalyst for a broader class struggle, even possibly a revolutionary struggle."
Did you hear about this on the evening news? No? Interesting.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Iraq Casualties And Perspective

I know I haven't been blogging as much as late, but I hope that this post does show why I continue to bother from time to time. Regardless of your point of view on whatever the issue of the moment is, blogs represent a new way to learn and debate. And it is a means that I find superior to being spoon-fed someone else’s opinion on the evening news.

A week or so ago, there was a post at Redstate that tried to give some perspective to the military deaths that have occurred in Iraq. Coming from a blog with such a conservative bias, I think you can imagine what direction the perspective took the raw numbers. To their credit, the post is open to comments and some of the comments offer a severe criticism of the analysis.

The post was picked up by Instapundit. Originally the post was nothing but a short link to the Redstate post. But given the readership levels of Instapundit, Glenn was soon bombarded with different points of view and updates to his original post were made.

A counter-analysis was given at the Winds of Change blog. This counter was itself countered at Belmont Club and Elements of Power.

And the above just represents where I stopped digging into this issue. Certainly the analysis is not complete. I still have open questions, specifically concerning the validity of these numbers that people are tossing around as verified fact. But one thing is perfectly clear to me. The above set of links has made me think more about this issue than hearing soldier number X died today in Iraq on the evening news.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Hillary Clinton, Immigration, and Jesus

No, you didn't read that headline wrong. Doesn't make any sense to you? I'll have to agree with that. Speaking out against a bill that would criminalize illegal immigration, Ms. Clinton had the following to say. (Hat tip Polipundit, which links to the Times version of the AP story. Since you can't read that without a silly subscription, I found the AP wire version on another site.)
"It is certainly not in keeping with my understanding of the Scriptures," Clinton said, "because this bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself."
The quote almost has me speechless, but I had to comment on it anyway. Can you imagine the storm of reactions is President Bush vowed to veto a bill because of its theoretical effects on Jesus? Is anyone else buying Ms. Clinton's sudden rebirth of spirituality?

You can find a number of strawman polls and more formal polls, testing how various potential Republican candidates would fare against Hillary Clinton in a 2008 Presidential election. The more press Clinton gets, the less likely I think it is that she will get the Democratic nomination. Will the energize portion of the Democratic base--the avid Kos followers--support a candidate who continually attempts to quote scripture, make biblical analogies and in general appear to be a person whose life is guided by a strong faith?

Time will tell, but it seems unlikely.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Washington Post Goes Red

Ben Domenech has a new editorial column at the Washington Post called Red America. The column promises to bring a conservative point of view to an otherwise liberal news paper. Michele Malkin predicted that this would cause an outcry among the more liberal minded and her prediction is already starting to come true. Read the comments from readers...the word that comes to mind is raving.

What is perhaps most shocking to me is that this is news as all. A paper hires an editorialist with opinions. Is this really noteworthy? Sadly, it's the reaction the hiring has received that has been the most worthy of note.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Mainstream Media Mistakes and Biases

Near the end of last week, the mainstream media showed its colors once again and while I can't say I was surprised, I was once again angered.

First up was the coverage of the recently declassified documents that had been captured in Iraq. Blog commentary about the coverage can be found by Malkin. Malkin writes about an ABC News analysis of the documents (available here). The recovered documents clearly suggest a link between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. (Remember, these are the findings of an Iraqi intelligence officer, not ABC News.)
  • That OBL and the Taliban are in contact with Iraq and that a group of Taliban and bin Laden group members visited Iraq.
  • That the U.S. has proof the Iraqi government and "bin Laden's group" agreed to cooperate to attack targets inside America.
  • That in case the Taliban and bin Laden's group turn out to be involved in "these destructive operations," the U.S. may strike Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • That the Afghani consul heard about the issue of Iraq's relationship with "bin Laden's group" while he was in Iran.
But the editor felt compelled to add the following note to the above findings.
Editor's Note: The controversial claim that Osama bin Laden was cooperating with Saddam Hussein is an ongoing matter of intense debate. While the assertions contained in this document clearly support the claim, the sourcing is questionable -- i.e. an unnamed Afghan "informant" reporting on a conversation with another Afghan "consul." The date of the document -- four days after 9/11 -- is worth noting but without further corroboration, this document is of limited evidentiary value.
Interesting, isn't it, that this time documents are of "limited evidentiary value" but when memos slandering Bush were released during the election they were found to be "fake but accurate?" This is a double standard of almost indescribable proportions.

Also in the news at the end of last week was a monumental misstep by a personal favorite of mine--the New York Times. The Times has interviewed a man who claimed to be the now infamous "man in the hood" from the Abu Ghraib prison photos. It turns out that the man is a liar and not in the picture. A retraction and editor's note has been published. The most laughable part of the excuse comes from them 2nd paragraph of the editor's note.
The Times did not adequately research Mr. Qaissi's insistence that he was the man in the photograph. Mr. Qaissi's account had already been broadcast and printed by other outlets, including PBS and Vanity Fair, without challenge. Lawyers for former prisoners at Abu Ghraib vouched for him. Human rights workers seemed to support his account. The Pentagon, asked for verification, declined to confirm or deny it.
To paraphrase the excuse: "We didn't do out job and fact check, but other's made the same mistake and the Pentagon didn't do our job for us, so isn't that OK?" Pathetic. A round of up other reactions can be found at Instapundit.

Just over a year ago, my first post posed the question, "Why Blog?" Political and news blogs provide an amazing fact-checking service for the mainstream media. And judging by the past and continuing behavior of the media, it is a service that is desperately needed.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Full Circle: Hollywood Doesn't Get Jon Stewart

One of my first every blog posts dealt with Jon Stewart of Daily Show fame, and his admission that good things could be happening in the Middle East as the result of the choices of President Bush. It seems fitting that after my short break from blogging that I find myself posting about Mr. Stewart again.

As many of you realize, Jon Stewart hosted the Academy Awards last night. I didn't watch the awards show, but I did happen across this interesting article at MSNBC titled, "Those big stars just don't get Jon Stewart." The article suggests that Stewart's hosting performance will go down in history as a failure, joining the likes of Chris Rock and David Letterman. What was more revealing was that it wasn't that Stewart's performance was bad--it was that the sheltered Hollywood community takes itself too seriously. Most notable were reaction like the following.
An admitted and unashamed progressive himself, Stewart later made fun of the film industry's perceived liberalness, telling viewers the Oscars are a chance to "see all your favorite stars without having to donate any money to the Democratic party." Our favorite stars barely chuckled.
The author further suggests that this is more evidence that Hollywood is out of step with much of the country.
But that sort of contradictory, somewhat nuanced humor didn't work well for the Oscars' audience. The theater audience's lack of laughter was judgmental and was at odds with viewers who were laughing because this was the funny Jon Stewart we know from cable.
While I haven't been blogging myself of late, I have continued to read and watch what is going on in the world. And lately I've been more and more struck by a consistent theme--people taking themselves too seriously. More (much more) on that later.

In regards to this topic, however, I think this is just further proof that disappointing theater revenues aren't due to internet piracy or a high ticket prices. They are due to Hollywood pressing an agenda that many have no interest in following and believing themselves so important that they can't take a reflective look to see that, even when pointed there by one of their own.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Break From Blogging

It seems that I have taken an unplanned break from blogging. The reasons are both many and likely uninteresting to the few people that read here.

I have some thoughts on what I would like to do next, blogging-wise, but they may take some time to set into motion.

Check back for more details.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Math Errors And Political Agendas

I know this stems from my academic background, but I really can't abide people who make egregious math errors in an effort to promote their agenda. Sometimes it involves simply quoting statistics that have no basis in reality. Case in point, note this comment by John Kerry on NBC today.
53% of America’s children do not graduate from high school.
The real number turns out to be around 87%. (Hat tip Polipundit.) Why would someone make such a claim when they have to know how quickly and easily there error would be discovered?
(Update: Malkin has the video.)

Sometimes the error is more complicated, but still simple enough to not be excusable. As an example (hat tip Instapundit), here's a blog post by Eugene Volokh detailing some sketchy math being done by the Oregon State University newspaper. The paper made the following statement.
According to a press release issued by the Women’s Center, 2,000 rapes occur every five minutes.
If that number seems shockingly high to you, it should; it suggests there are 200 million rapes a year. When Volokh questioned the paper, he was directed to the press release which actually says:
About 2,000 rapes are committed daily at the rate of about one every 5 minutes.
2,000 daily is much different that 2,000 every 5 minutes. The errors continue as Volokh points out:
A "rate of about one every 5 minutes" would be about 300 daily ((60/5) x 24), not about 2000 daily.
There remains great debate about what the actual number is.

What is so frustrating about this to me is that there is no need to hype this ill in our society. Whether the number is 300 daily or 2000 daily, it is appallingly too high. One does not need to suggest it is 700,000 daily to make a point.

This fudging numbers issue really bothers me. As as result, should I suggest that 79.2% of all mainstream media articles have incorrect statistics? No, because I have no idea what the actual percentage is; therefore I won't pretend that I do. And irrespective of how noble their agenda is, no one else should either.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Bush Approval Rating Hits 50%

This latest Rasmussen poll is getting some coverage (by blogs of course, not the mainstream media). As of January 31, the running poll show's Bush's approval rating at 50%.

What could explain the rise in approval?

Perhaps this?

Or this?

Or maybe this? (And it gets better here.)

Some advice for Democrats. You aren't running against George Bush anymore. Like it or not (and we all know you can't stand it to the very core of your being), George Bush will be President of the United States for 8 years. After that, his political career is over.

Do you want to regain some semblance of respectability and some chance of regaining power in 2008? Concentrate on 2006 Senate elections. Concentrate on having a party platform that is compelling to a majority of the American population and one that stands by itself. You platform cannot be Bush lied, Iraq is a failure, or Republicans are evil.

Politics is full of absurdities. But there are, it seems, limits to how far the American people can be pushed.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

CNN's Military Bashing Agenda

With Alito and trapped miners in the news, there has been little coverage of Iraq on the front page of CNN as of late. It has been said that the best sign of success in Iraq will be when the mainstream media stops caring about it.

It seems however that CNN couldn't keep their agenda held back forever. The front page has a featured article, with the headline: "Army's 'thin green line' could snap, study says." Completing the mood-setting piece is the following photo.

Normally I try to at least read the article that I'm referencing, but this time I couldn't get behind the headline and the photo. I would love to know the source of the photo. I'm pretty sure it isn't a photo troops reacting to the report. It wouldn't surprise me if they had been sitting for a long time and were just bored. But I have no way of knowing of course.

I will perhaps follow-up more later if I can find more information and analysis of this report. For now, I'll leave you with a few more photos. These we part of some a collection of "best pictures of 2005" that has been circulating the internet. I'm not sure really what I'm trying to say with these; I only know I want it to be different than the constant and consistent bile being spewed out by CNN and their kin.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Progress In Iraq? Infighting Among Terrorists

This didn't get much press (shocking I know), but I found it fascinating. Bill Roggio writes about "Faultlines in Iraq's Islamist Insurgency". In particular:
al-Qaeda in Iraq has recently issued a statement claiming to “have set up an umbrella body to coordinate their fight against U.S.-led forces and the Iraqi government.” Notably excluded from this body of insurgent groups are Ansar al-Sunnah and the Iraq Islamic Army.

Zarqawi was able to secure the commitment of a little known Islamist group called The Victorious Sect and five small organization, however he was unable to reach out to two largest groups, Ansar al-Sunnah and the Islamic Army in Iraq, two groups that have worked with al-Qaeda in the past.
Couple this story with Bin Laden's rejected (and disingenuous) call for a truce, and I can only see more progress in Iraq.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Laura Bush Responds To Hillary Clinton's MLK Comments

Yesterday I posted regarding some outrageous comments made by Hillary Clinton on MLK Day. I felt that the comments showed a moment of political clumsiness rarely showed by Ms. Clinton.

Laura Bush has criticized Senator Clinton for her remarks. (Hat tip Polipundit.) The political staging of the first lady's comments seemed a lot savvier, in my opinion. She comments while in Africa, after Monday's inauguration of Liberia's president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first woman president elected in Africa. Regardless of the content, comments made in the company of a woman such as Ellen Sirleaf seem much more respectable that those made in the company of Al Sharpton.

Of course, political staging aside, the content of Mrs. Bush's remarks deserves a lot more respect than those of Ms. Clinton.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Hillary Clinton Shows Weakness: MLK Day Comments

Hillary Clinton made some shocking comments at a church in Harlem on MLK day. I first read heard about this via the NY Daily News. Searching for more references, I found that Michele Malkin was already on the case. It's hard to provide a better collection of links than Michele, so I'll just direct you to her post on the subject. She includes a link to video of Senator Clinton making the comments.

From the NY Times coverage of the speech:
Mrs. Clinton added that the House has been "run like a plantation" under Republicans. "And you know what I am talking about," she said. "It has been run in a way so that nobody with a contrary point of view has had a chance to present legislation, to make an argument."
This seems to me to be a serious miss-step by Ms. Clinton. In the more recent moonbat and media explosions, trying to Blame Bush for something new, Clinton has wisely kept her distance. She didn't support immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq. She hasn't (to my knowledge) attacked the President about wire taps, knowing full well that her husband did the same while he was in office. She has made no crazy attacks against Alito--attacks of the sort that have made other Democrats look silly in the last week.

So why now appear in a church with Al Sharpton making outrageous and inflammatory statements? Normally she we would be savvy enough to let the Sharptons and Gores of the world make the ridiculous statements. Watching the video, only one word comes to mind.