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.