News is breaking today about NATO forces killing a couple dozen Pakistani soldiers. This is likely to be a big story, is likely to have long-lasting repercussions, and is, undoubtedly, bad news.
For whatever reason, the first round of stories about this subject has come from Reuters – al Reuters to its friends. I don’t pay much attention to al Reuters these days, so perhaps I am unique in being surprised to see that it has adopted the term “war on militancy” to describe what we provincial rubes sometimes call the War on Terror. The latter isn’t the best term, and has certain propagandistic qualities, but … war on militancy? Really? The flaws of “War on Terror” can be somewhat forgiven by observing that: 1) the term was crafted during a crisis when terminology was not the number one priority, and 2) it was developed by politicians with an agenda, so of course it’s going to have propagandistic qualities. A great many war names have this quality – several European kingdoms went to great lengths not to use the US government’s term “civil war” to describe the North American hostilities between 1861-65, as those hostilities were only a “civil war” if you believe there was no right of secession.
I’m open to journalists, particularly international journalists, adopting a more neutral terminology than what our government uses. Actually, I’d kinda prefer that they would, since the neutrality of outsiders is always useful to examine ourselves. But “War on Militancy” is utter nonsense, made worse by the observation that a lot of people put a lot of effort creating it. Professional “journalists” – people who tell us that they tell stories objectively – spent years thinking about this, and the best they can do is an oxymoron? Personally, if I’m forced to pick between the nonsense jingoistic phrase of my government or the nonsense jingoistic phrase of an international news organization that has made it clear it opposes my government, I’ll take the domestic nonsense. At least it’s our nonsense.
Apollo posted this at 11:17 AM CDT on Saturday, November 26th, 2011 as Global War on Terror, Journalism, Politics and the English Language
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Then read this. The obstinance- and jackassery-induced head explosion will solve your problems. I would expect to find more nuanced, fair-minded reporting in a Pravda article covering a pro-capitalism rally at Red Square.
Apollo posted this at 2:34 PM CDT on Tuesday, September 27th, 2011 as Journalism, Race
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If you can figure out why they rate this Rick Perry statement false, you’re a better reader than me. As best I can tell, Perry said to Romney, about Social Security, “You said if people did it in the private sector it would be called criminal. That’s in your book.” They rate this statement as “Mostly False” because Mitt Romney only said that the funding mechanism of Social Security – i.e. tax people today, write some I.O.U.s, and then pay them later with money taxed from other people – would be called criminal. Ah. But Social Security doesn’t exist apart from its funding mechanism. So… I guess Perry’s statement is false because Romney doesn’t believe the ideal of Social Security is criminal? Really?
I also saw this paragraph, summarizing a previous Politifact:
We’ve run several looks at Perry’s Social Security descriptions in his 2010 book, Fed Up!, rating False his claim that the government program is a Ponzi scheme. Unlike such a criminal enterprise, Social Security is obligated to pay benefits and participants are aware of how the system operates; it’s public. Unlike a Ponzi scheme, too, Social Security is accountable to Congress and the American people.
I refuse to read the linked piece because that summary tells me that it’s a pile of dunderheaded moronacy unfit for human consumption. “Social Security is obligated to pay benefits” is nonsense. “Social Security” is a government program that can be cut off at a moment’s notice, and the Supreme Court has ruled that no one has a right to any future payment. That’s like saying that “welfare is obligated to pay benefits.” It is, until it isn’t. Much like a … wait for it … Ponzi scheme!
And “participants are aware of how the system operates”? Every year I get a letter in the mail from Social Security telling me how much I’ve paid in over the years and how much my benefits would be if were able to retire tomorrow. And it’s only been very recently that people have stopped talking about the I.O.U.’s in the “trust fund” like they’re real money. And why is a penniless account called a “trust fund” if not to make people think there’s money in there waiting for them? Whether “participants” (this is like calling prisoners “residents”) are aware of what’s going on or not, the people who run Social Security sure have put a lot of effort into making it sound legitimate. Much like a … wait for it … Ponzi scheme!
And “Unlike a Ponzi scheme, too, Social Security is accountable to Congress and the American people”? Accountable to Congress? That’s like saying Ponzi’s scheme was accountable to Ponzi – he created the damned thing! And what does it mean to say that it’s “accountable to … the American people”? Really, I don’t know what that means. Can we throw Social Security in prison when it doesn’t pay out? I think the only way that it’s “accountable” is that we can vote to shut it down and cut our losses. Sounds to me like Social Security is “accountlbe” in much the same way as a … wait for it … Ponzi scheme!
Social Security : Ponzi Scheme :: State Lottery : Mob-run Numbers Racket. To paraphrase Nixon, when the government does it, that means it is not illegal.
Apollo posted this at 9:18 AM CDT on Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 as Is It 2012 Yet?, It's Economics - Stupid!, Journalism
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The Main Stream Media’s boner for Barack Obama has never been so clear:
The realities of governing as opposed to the unrealities of presidential campaigns may have made President Obama a much more human figure compared with the almost messiah-like status he had in the eyes of many supporters in 2008.
But that doesn’t mean there still isn’t the occasional moment reminiscent of a Bible story.
At a rally on the campus of North Carolina State in Raleigh, N.C. Wednesday where President Obama went to drum up support for his jobs bill, this happened.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I love you, Barack!
THE PRESIDENT: I love you back. (Applause.) But first — but if you love me — if you love me, you got to help me pass this bill. (Applause.) If you love me, you got to help me pass this bill.
Here’s John 21:15, the New International Version, describing a scene between Jesus and his disciples:
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter,”Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
That’s right folks. Obama speaking at a rally is the equivalent of Jesus speaking to his disciples.
You really can’t make this shit up.
Jamie posted this at 9:36 PM CDT on Friday, September 16th, 2011 as Journalism
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So I read this hilarious David Brooks column. Without saying as much, Brooks seems utterly horrified at Rick Perry. Personally, I don’t care what David Brooks thinks; the Republicans could nominate David Brooks and he’d still find an excuse to write a preening column endorsing Obama one week before the election.
But he concludes with a thought, variations of which I’ve seen a few times:
The second line of attack [for Romney] is to shift what the campaign is about. If voters think Nancy Pelosi is the biggest threat to their children’s prosperity, they will hire Perry. If they think competition from Chinese and Indian workers is the biggest threat, they will hire Romney. He’s just more credible as someone who can manage economic problems, build human capital and nurture an innovation-based global economy.
Huh? Why would he seem more credible at that? Rick Perry has been governor of Texas for ten years, during which it has grown by 4.3 million people (20%); in the last 10 years (only 4 of which involved Mitt Romney), Massachusetts grew by about 200,000 people (3.1%). Texas gained 4 congressional seats; Massachusetts lost 1 (last time Massachusetts gained a seat? 1910). Under Rick Perry, Texas has gone from worse than Massachusetts in unemployment, to about the same (all while absorbing a new population of 4.3 million; it has taken Massachusetts since 1890 to add 4.3 million residents to its population). Go here and poke around; in 2000, per capita GDP in Texas was 81.8% that of Massachusetts, and in 2010 it’s 83% (in 1990, it was 84%, so Texas lossed ground to Massachusetts during the 90s, then gained on Massachusetts during the Perry years, 4 of which overlapped with the Romney years).
I don’t want to turn this into bash Massachusetts time; plainly that’s not my intention. By any number of measurement it’s a nicer place than Texas (divorce rate, illegitimacy, literacy, personal income, summer weather). But Brooks (and some others I’ve seen but ignored) specifically asked who is more credible at “manag[ing] economic problems, build[ing] human capital[,] and nurtur[ing] an innovation-based … economy.” Perry has done just that in Texas; during the current downturn, the strength of the Texas economy that Perry has presided over has caused the state to really stand out. Romney was governor of Massachusetts for four years, during which … well, I guess it was a fine enough state to live in, but I don’t remember stories about the booming Massachusetts economy, or Massachusetts doing markedly better than other states, or Massachusetts being the place to move,the sorts of stories we’ve seen about Texas for most of the last decade.
So looking at their track records, why would Brooks so flippantly assert that Romney’s “just more credible” on this front? Beats me. My presumption is that there is a subset of respectable Republicanish types who view any believing Christian from south of Mason & Dixon as nothing more than a backwoods culture warrior. I’m already seeing Perry being painted in this way, but I don’t get the impression that’s how he’s running his campaign (notice Jonah’s article doesn’t really show any examples of Perry picking these fights). He’s got a genuinely excellent record of achievement in public office to run on – better than any Republican nominee’s since, at least, Reagan – and I’d prefer to see the northeastern snoots at least pretend to address that before blowing him off as some bumpkin who’s unfit to carry Mitt Romney’s sandals.
Apollo posted this at 10:22 PM CDT on Friday, August 26th, 2011 as Deep in the Heart of Texas, Is It 2012 Yet?, Journalism, Wicked Crazy Massachusetts
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Of course they’re on his side, but this story makes me wonder how much. I noted a few of days ago that the Obama people were starting to lie about what Rick Perry said about secession. The story I linked above shows they’re continuing this tactic:
“The statements that Perry makes are remarkable in that just two years ago, the governor of Texas openly talked about leading Texas out of the United States of America, and now this campaign has caused him to profess his love to the United States,” Gibbs said during an appearance on MSNBC.
I presumed these lies would continue uncorrected until Perry had to make a statement or something. But there, in an AP story, appears the following:
Perry never advocated Texas actually would break away from the United States at a tea party rally in 2009, but he did suggest that Texans might get so fed up they’d want to secede at some point.
Holy smokes. Journalists correcting the open and scurrilous lies of the Obama reelection effort, and so early in the campaign. I do not believe Obama can count on the same level of media cheerleading he got last time, and I don’t think he will know how to handle that situation.
P.S. If you believe Robert Gibbs capable of sincerity, it would be ironic to see him making the flippant accusation, ““Any day now Rick Perry will probably ask to see the president’s birth certificate.” It would be ironic, because the Obama people said the birth certificate thing was a baseless, made-up smear, and here’s Robert Gibbs using it as a baseless, made-up smear against others; as far as I know, Perry’s never said peep about the matter.
Prediction: Before this is over we will hear Democrats openly stating that they regret that Obama caved to Trump on the birth certificate. The president sprang the trap too early – had he held on to it until, say, September, he could have gotten a lot more Republicans to say goofy things about it.
9/18 Update: The people at PolitiFact rate the White House’s secession meme as “False.” I’m not a fan of PolitiFact, and, judging by their past work, would have expected them to find some glint of truth in the allegation. Bully for them, and a bad omen for the president.
Apollo posted this at 6:53 AM CDT on Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 as Is It 2012 Yet?, Journalism, Running with the antelope, Scorched Earth
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Better question: Does this actually surprise anyone? There are exactly two types of people in this country: 1. The type who see an edited video of a thrice elected governor of the second largest state referring to the first black president as a “black cloud” hanging over the country and presume that the video has been dishonestly edited and interpreted; and 2. The type who watch MSNBC. I suspect there are more of the former than the latter.
I’ll answer my original question now: Because no one with both talent and integrity would show their face on that channel.
Apollo posted this at 12:13 AM CDT on Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 as Is It 2012 Yet?, Journalism, Scorched Earth
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Every time I see her give an extended interview, like here, I come away thinking better of her. Of course, every time I see David Gregory do an extended interview I want to see his hair catch on fire. I suspect I’d think better of Kim Jong-Il after watching him be subjected to a half hour of David Gregory’s personal obsession with proving that he’s smarter than you.
Apollo posted this at 11:32 AM CDT on Sunday, August 14th, 2011 as Is It 2012 Yet?, Journalism
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The AP runs a story on federal subsidization of small-town airports, and claims:
Flights out of Morgantown, W.Va., were among those targeted by other Republicans. A $1 million subsidy amounted to about $52 for each of Morgantown’s more than 10,000 passengers last year.
Oh come on! This doesn’t involve fractions or anything complex; you’re telling me that there are 10,000 passengers, and that there’s $1,000,000 of subsidy. In the unlikely event that even a poorly educated person couldn’t solve that subsidy/passenger problem, I’d hope that, at the very least, someone in the AP editing process would have thought, “I don’t know what the relationship between 1,000,000 and 10,000 is, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t involve the number 52.” By “more than 10,000,” does the AP actually mean 19,230? Cause that’s a big difference.
In 1999 the EAS served 89 communities – 68 in the continental United States, one in Hawaii and 20 in Alaska. Today, it serves 45 in Alaska and 108 elsewhere, and over the last 10 years the budget quadrupled from $50 million to $200 million.
Very good, AP! Four times 50 is 200! But in the very next paragraph, we’re told:
The subsidies go to about a dozen airlines, but in 2010 almost one-third of the entire budget – $67.8 million -went to Great Lakes, which is based in Cheyenne, Wyo.
Oh noes! Someone bought the version of Windows that doesn’t come with a calculator or access to Google, and thus doesn’t know that $67,800,000 is actually more than one-third of $200,000,000.
Numbers make a final appearance in the story:
According to a 2009 report from the Pew Charitable Trusts, highways got 76 percent of subsidies, mass transit 16 percent, aviation 6 percent and rail and maritime 3 percent. Pew estimates that transportation subsidies in 2008 came to about $45 billion, or $367 for every household in America.
I don’t feel like googling how many “households” there are in America, but Google does tell me that 45,000,000,000/367 is 122,615,804 (I’m pretty sure that Google rounded that up). That seems plausible, so perhaps they at least accurately reported the math of another organization that got its math right.
Apollo posted this at 6:12 AM CDT on Saturday, August 13th, 2011 as Journalism
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From this story about my governor’s choice of prayer partners:
Meanwhile, some have criticized Perry for teaming with the event’s host organization, the American Family Association, which regularly organizes protests of companies that it considers too gay-friendly. An association spokesman has also been highly critical of Islam and suggested that the Nazi party was founded “in a gay bar in Munich.”
Is that last statement true? The journalist who wrote the story felt no need to explore that question; he just gave the quote and expected readers to be appalled. I abhor this style of journalism, because it seems to be used exclusively against one side of the political spectrum.
If what the guy said was true, it would certainly be an interesting historical bit, though I’m not positive I would draw any conclusions about the modern world from that fact. I mean, the Nazi party was unquestionably founded in a German bar in Munich, yet modern Germans seem okay enough. I’ve attempted to research the statement, but all I can find are gay groups pointing at the statement as an example of hate speech, and people who support the American Family Association saying that it’s an historical fact because they read it in the same book that that the spokesman. Snopes has nothing.
Since journalists won’t tell us whether the statement is true, I’ll idly speculate. On its face, the statement isn’t outlandish – I don’t know much about gay bars in Weimar Germany and don’t feel like that general topic is worth my time, but at the least the statement isn’t impossible. In my experience, when you say unflattering things about people on the left and they respond by pointing at your statement as patently offensive without addressing its merits, that’s a pretty good sign that what you’ve said was true. Moreover, the Southern Poverty Law Center is involved, which almost guarantees some level of chicanery.
But I also have to think that if it was true, it’s the sort of thing we would have all heard by now. Hitler’s masculinity has never been beyond the pale in Allied countries, and World War II occurred during a time when being gay was not widely seen as a good and masculine thing. The Nazis had numerous political enemies who escaped Germany before the war and would have probably been happy to reveal this fact if it was true (or even believable in the context of the times). Overall, I think this weighs more heavily than my presumption that flakking Leftists are obscuring the truth. I’d say it’s probably not true that the Nazi party was founded in a gay bar.
Apollo posted this at 11:55 AM CDT on Monday, August 8th, 2011 as Is It 2012 Yet?, Journalism, Kulturkampf
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While I doubt Michelle Bachmann’s migraines should disqualify her from the presidency, her prepared (!) response to this issue appears to be nonsense:
But I’d like to be abundantly clear: My ability to function effectively will not affect my ability to serve as commander in chief.
I sincerely hope that was mistranscribed. Or perhaps it’s a sideways comment on her view of the presidency?
Note: The blog post from Michael Crowley ends with what I consider to be the most pernicious storyline from campaign correspondents, that “the pertinent question” is whether or not a candidate is a good campaigner. No, Mikey, “the pertinent question” is whether a candidate is well-suited for the relevant office. Whether the candidate can put up with obnoxious journalists may or may not be a related question – and I’m sure it’s a pertinent question for you - but we’re trying to pick a president here, not a campaigner-in-chief.
Apollo posted this at 3:14 PM CDT on Tuesday, July 19th, 2011 as Is It 2012 Yet?, Journalism
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The title pretty much explains how I feel about almost everyone involved in the recent kerfuffle over the vastly overhyped “documentary” The Undefeated.
I hold no one blameless in this incredibly insipid brouhaha. First let me address the mistakes I think my friend Conor made in his original piece about attending a midnight showing of a Sarah Palin movie screening and finding the theater empty.
Conor’s original inferences were based on faulty assumptions about feature film distribution. Since theaters must pay studios for each print they exhibit (at great cost to the theater) they buy a set number of prints based on their expectations for the first 2-3 weeks of release. In other words the theater could not have screened more Harry Potter films in place of The Undefeated. Furthermore given that the theater was already open (most of the cost was being born by HP) and that the incremental cost of screening another film they had already purchased was negligible – it is not surprising that the theater manager chose to screen another new movie in one of the empty theaters hoping for some spillover traffic. He might have chosen poorly (more Green Lantern, please! I hate having to beg!), but I don’t see him caring much beyond the hundreds of thousands HP was likely to bring in.
I also understand Conor’s desire for an interesting puff piece of anecdotal political reporting and his thinking that a midnight screening would have the most dramatic impact. However, he fundamentally misunderstood the nature of the Palin Fanatic demographic and film entertainment. Sure Palinistas camp out for days to see her in person – but that is a once in a lifetime opportunity for most. A movie is with us forever, in multiple formats, so there is no real rush to see it. Furthermore, since the Palin movie’s target demographic was 45 and older whites – people who don’t tend to go to any midnight screenings – I think his methodology was flawed.
All these flaws aside the vitriolic, moronic and I would think libelous attacks leveled Conor’s way by the alleged stewards of truth and liberty that constitute the right wing media these days is beyond the pale.
The conspiracy nutters like William Collier and Larry O’Conner should be ashamed of themselves. I honestly think we should just discardthem on the Trashheap of Conservatism but they are given forums by people like Andrew Brietbart. This is just the latest in the trend of conservative victimization. No one can find anything wrong with St. Sarah of Wasilla so it must be some sort vast conspiracy between Conor, The Atlantic and AMC Theaters. Seriously? It wasn’t that long ago that we all ridiculed HRC for the “vast right-wing conspiracy“. “Conservative” charlatans who engage in the same practices should receive equal treatment.
This brings me to two of their chief instigators:
Dan Riehl is nothing short pathetic bully, as I’ve said before, and he’s not even the head bully. He’s the sad best friend of the High School Quarterback, (Brietbart, Levin whoever he claims is his bestie this week) who gloms onto the accomplishments and bona fides of someone more accomplished than themselves to swing a big club. I would hope that intelligent conservatives who claim to uphold “traditional values” would dismiss him. Alas, my expectations of many modern “conservatives” are too high it seems.
Andrew Brietbart on the other hand is a different animal entirely. He is quite clearly a genius businessman, media mogul and internet entrepreneur. He absolutely deserves his elevated place on the right as a champion of right leaning opinion journalism. What is truly sad about the man is the way he squanders his gifts. He is completely uninterested in moving the discussion forward and instead seems to believe that making pathetic tit-for-tat gotcha moments will somehow elevate right wing journalism and usher in a new conservative era. Sorry, Andrew, but you are abjectly incapable of convincing anyone not already ideologically aligned with you. For someone with the balls to go out and challenge liberal media hegemony you are the first to fall back on conservative victim whoa-is-me-ism. I hoped you were better than the childish name calling you demonstrated in this case. I was wrong.
Jamie posted this at 5:21 PM CDT on Monday, July 18th, 2011 as Buffoon Watch, Journalism
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In this post, I giggled at a journalist’s statements that many “compare” Obama to Reagan, and in a comment pointed out that the correct word would have been “constrast.”
Today I read this story, which details the political inaction in Minnesota during a government shutdown:
The lack of action contrasts with what’s been happening in Washington, where an Aug. 2 deadline to raise the debt ceiling has lawmakers scrambling for a deal that would keep the U.S. from a potential default on its debt. President Barack Obama has summoned leaders for a rare weekend session and aides are trading proposals behind the scenes.
The lack of “action” in Minnesota doesn’t “contrast” with what the federales are doing in Washington. In Minnesota there is talk; in Washington there is talk. In neither place is there “action.” Perhaps they are talking faster in Washington, but no matter how fast people talk, it’s not action.
Apollo posted this at 3:43 PM CDT on Saturday, July 9th, 2011 as Budgets, Journalism, Politics and the English Language
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I read this story mostly to giggle at the notion that the unemployment rate won’t be a factor in next year’s election. But then I learned that that was only the second most giggle-worthy statement in the story, finishing well behind:
“Ronald Reagan, another president Obama is sometimes compared with …”
What makes that line especially amusing is that it comes from the journalist writing the story, not an Obama operative.
Apollo posted this at 8:52 AM CDT on Friday, July 8th, 2011 as Journalism
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Just because my governor has better hair than they will ever have and is an impeccable dresser does not make it acceptable for unkempt journalists to spread rumors that he’s gay. Rumors of metrosexuality – in case any acid-dropping hippy-types have flashbacks to 2004 – should also be considered shot down.
Apollo posted this at 8:16 PM CDT on Monday, June 20th, 2011 as Deep in the Heart of Texas, Is It 2012 Yet?, Journalism
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