1 March 2012 >>
Much has been written already about Andrew Breitbart and his life at the intersection of culture, media and politics. So instead, I will tell you a story about how Andrew Breitbart and I ended up at a Devo concert.
8 May 2007 @ 8:35AM >>
Media bias isn’t usually as obvious or explosive as, say, Dan Rather’s laughably bogus memos
intended to torpedo a presidential campaign. Most often, slanted reporting is far more subtle. It takes the form of adjectives and adverbs that inject the reporter’s opinion, or in the form of sloppy errors that reflect erroneous beliefs held within certain ideological communities.
Let’s deal with the latter first. Reuters is an outlet that for some reason seems constitutionally incapable of accurately reporting the history of the Kyoto global warming treating. Here’s the latest example:
President George W. Bush pulled the United States out of Kyoto in 2001, arguing it would cost U.S. jobs and that it wrongly excluded 2012 goals for poorer nations such as China.
The only problem with that statement is that the Kyoto treaty was never ratified by the U.S., never signed by an American president, and never even submitted to the Senate for ratification. How can President Bush pull out of a treaty that the United States never approved? In fact, in 1997, the U.S. Senate unanimously voted against ratifying any treaty structured the way the Kyoto Protocol was, which may explain why then-President Clinton never signed the treaty or even bothered to submit it for ratification.
But in Reuters-land, the fact Kyoto was effectively rejected before President Bush took office doesn’t matter. In fact, Reuters’ record on this is so bad that the transgression is repeatedly caught by eagle-eyed readers who write in with corrections. The tepid explanation from editors was, “It appears our record on explaining this isn’t great.”
Yeah. It appears that way.
But maybe Reuters is just trying to keep up with rival AP, which has its own past problem getting this right.
Often, though, media bias takes forms not nearly as obvious as this blatant distortion of fact. Take, for example, this piece in the Washington Post:
In the heady opening weeks of the 110th Congress, the Democrats’ domestic agenda appeared to be flying through the Capitol: Homeland security upgrades, a higher minimum wage and student loan interest rate cuts all passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.
The word “upgrades” used above implies improvement, leading me to believe that the writers agree with the fact that the legislation passed by the newly-elected Democratic congress is in fact an improvement. I suspect that the people who voted against it did not necessarily see it as an upgrade. But if you’re a reader of that piece, you’re left with the impression that it is an uncontestable fact that the Democrats improved Homeland Security. The word “changes” would have worked just as well there, and it wouldn’t have attached the reporter’s opinion to the piece, either.
On rare occasions, media bias is outright: the newsman proclaims himself to support this or that cause. Sure, you sometimes see signs of a previous political prediliction. The titan of the Sunday morning talk shows, Tim Russert, worked for Mario Cuomo, the twelve-year governor of New York. Hardball talker Chris Matthews worked for Tip O’Neill, the former Speaker of the House, a man who spent nearly 40 years in Congress. And then there’s George Stephanopolous—now sitting in the chair once occupied by David Brinkley—who helped get Bill Clinton elected in 1992 and helped him weather many a scandal as well. The one common element among these giants of the establishment political media is that they all worked for Democrats.
Nothing wrong with that. In theory, adhering to the rules of strict objectivity should prevent any of those affiliations from making a difference. Assuming, of course, that the conscious mind alone is capable of shutting down the subsconscious mind in order to prevent a person’s own preferences from coloring the way they describe their view of the world to others.
Personally, I have a hard time believing that true objectivity is possible on a frequent enough basis that we shouldn’t consider junking the obsolete notion altogether. Instead of reporters pretending to be unbiased and only having that lie revealed in some subsequent scandal, why don’t they level with us and tell us where they stand? If anything, that would only make us more informed consumers of the product they’re selling.
If the ingredients of food we ingest should be listed so that we can be wise consumers, why shouldn’t the ideological components of the often opinion-tinged news also be listed? What’s wrong with us knowing the thought patterns of the people who string the words together and decide what images we see?
That’s why I applaud Brian Montopoli of CBS News for revealing his own beliefs. Montopoli was roundly criticized for sharing his personal view that the media should jump-start a national discussion on gun control. He laments the fact that “politicians who would prefer tighter laws, usually those on the left, don’t want to talk about the issue,” and hopes that Cho Sueng-Hui’s mass murder spree at Virginia Tech will give the media the proper “hook” to “focus on a huge issue”—gun control—”that isn’t going away any time soon.”
What Montopoli fails to realize is there is always a political debate raging about topics that still stir sharp divisions around the country. But when a national political consensus has been reached, it’s because people in both parties have recognized that the electorate clearly favors one position over another. Most Democrats who seek statewide or national office have given up on stricter gun penalties because they want to win elections.
So while I suspect that Montopoli’s true desire is to re-open a debate in the hopes of changing the outcome, I respect Montopoli for at least being up front about his beliefs. In the future, if I encounter Montopoli’s reporting on gun control, I’ll know a bit more about his motivation. And as news consumers, our ability to evaluate the product put out by the news media would be far superior if all reporters were as open about their views as Montopoli is.
Maybe the journalists of tomorrow recognize that exposing one’s own biases is the future of honest reporting:
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director Robert S. Mueller was interrupted by protestors last night, during a speech at the Institute of Politics’ John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum.
Mueller, who was set to speak before a full crowd managed by tight security detail, had just begun his prepared remarks when the first protestor interrupted with screams from the second floor.
“We will never forget the role of the FBI in McCarthyism!” screamed Michael A. Gould-Wartofsky ‘07, who is also a Crimson editorial editor.
It should be noted that the Harvard Crimson is not an opinion paper. It’s the university’s daily student newspaper, and is a stepping-stone for the type of person who wants to move on to journalism school and eventually join the media elite.
So some day, Mr. Gould-Wartofsky may end up working at Reuters, or at CBS News.
And in all likelihood, he’d do very well there.
8 December 2006 @ 8:59AM >>
E-mail as we know it today is facing certain death. Not at the hands of a newer technology that provides more features, but because the software protocols that drive Internet e-mail today are causing us to be buried in mountains of unwanted e-mail spam.
30 November 2006 @ 8:52AM >>
The CEO of the world’s largest music publisher is attempting to extract money from everyone who buys a digital music player.
Universal Music Group’s Chairman and CEO Doug Morris said of iPods and similar players, “These devices are just repositories for stolen music, and they all know it. So it’s time to get paid for it.”
By accusing everyone who bought a digital music player of piracy, Universal hopes to coerce manufacturers of these devices to pay a per-unit fee, a surcharge that is then passed on to the consumer. (Universal apparently figured out that running a profitable business is much easier without the burden of convincing customers that your product is worth buying.) That’s exactly what the music giant did with Microsoft, which now pays Universal for every Zune music player sold.
Now, Universal is targeting the iPod. And with 25% of the market, Universal has quite a bit of leverage against Apple. The company can threaten to pull all of its music from the iTunes Music Store unless Apple complies with a demand to impose a per-unit fee on all iPods. If successful, anyone who buys an iPod will be considered an assumed pirate, and Universal will receive money, regardless of whether any music from that label ever ends up on one of those iPods.
Is this really a road that music publishers want to go down? Aside from the obvious ill will it engenders from honest customers, such a move runs the risk of changing the purchasing calculations of people who own these devices. In effect, it legitimizes piracy in the minds of consumers.
If you’re an honest customer who purchases music today, your decision making may change if you know that record labels charge you simply for buying a music player. You’re already paying once up front—before you’ve even spent a dime to fill the device with music—so why pay again for the same thing when you want to download music? People will feel entitled to download whatever music they want, because they will know that they’ve already been billed for it.
Treating your customers like crooks is never a good way to encourage repeat business. And imposing a blanket music surcharge simply for buying a player is a surefire way to get people thinking that they’ve got a right to download music that they’ve already paid for.
If record labels wanted to ensure that paying customers today become pirates tomorrow, they couldn’t have designed a better way.
22 July 2006 @ 4:21PM >>
Sheesh. I can’t even take a week off
without war breaking out.
Of course, to those who’ve been paying attention, this is not a new war. Israel has been under siege since the founding of the modern state in 1948. The war has never been about the plight of Palestinians. If the Palestinians wanted to live side-by-side with Israel in peace, then the Oslo peace accords would have worked. When Oslo didn’t stick, and Israel offered virtually everything Yassir Arafat demanded, the Palestinian leader instead rejected peace and launched an intifada. If Israel’s neighbors truly wanted peace, then why didn’t Israel’s retreat from Palestinian territory secure it? Why is every Israeli compromise and concession followed by more war?
Because Israel’s enemies will not be satisfied with anything less than the country’s complete destruction. They believe Israel is an illegitimate state and that no infidel has a valid claim to what they believe should be Muslim land. But to any fair-minded person, a cursory look at history settles that debate quite easily, as Judith Weiss points out:
Half of Israel’s Jewish population is Arab Jews, not European Jews. How come there are Arab Jews? Because they were in Israel/Judea before Arabs became Muslim. In fact, they were the Jews before various historical events scattered and exiled some of them, one destination being Europe. [...]
The earliest verifiably Jewish artifacts in Israel date to 1500 years before it was conquered by Islam. Contemporary documents and archeological finds verify some Biblical history, and show evidence of Jews in Persia 1000 years before it was conquered by Islam, in Babylonia (later Iraq) 1000 years before it was conquered by Islam, and in Egypt (especially Alexandria) during the Roman Empire, before Egypt was conquered by Islam. Even the Koran acknowledges that Jews were living in Arabia before Mohammed decided to create a new religion, and there is evidence for Jewish residence in what are now Arab countries dating back to Solomonic times.
Don’t expect any of this to satisfy the likes of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. These facts won’t sway Hamas, the terrorist organization that the Palestinians recently elected to govern them. Nor will these facts stem the never-ending volley of rockets that have been raining down on Israel from Hizbollah-controlled areas in southern Lebanon.
Yes, in the two years since the U.N. flaccidly ordered militias like Hizbollah to disarm, the group has inexplicably failed to do so. It’s almost as if terrorists have no respect for the authority of the United Nations! Shocking, I know; I assumed the threat of more speechifying from Secretary General Kofi Annan would be enough to cause even the most militant fanatic to lay down his arms. But I guess the U.N. isn’t as potent as I thought.
Which leads to the current problem. After Syria—Hizbollah’s terror co-sponsor with Iran—withdrew its occupation forces from Lebanon last year, optimism abounded in that newly-independent state, but the state proved too weak to secure its own southern territory. So Lebanon became a broken nation. And, just as the failed state of Afghanistan made it succumb to the Taliban and al Qaeda, Hizbollah succeeded in turning southern Lebanon into its terror playground.
With the backing of Syria and Iran, the playground bully has become quite strong. Hizbollah has already fired thousands of missiles into Israel, and thanks to weapons from Iran, the group now appears capable of hitting every major Israeli population center. AndÃ‚Â now that Iran looks to be on a fast track to becoming a nuclear power, within the next five or ten years, Hizbollah—if it still exists—could be dropping Iranian nukes on Israel.
When Hizbhollah operatives recently ventured into Israeli territory to kidnap two soldiers, they weren’t just violating the borders of a sovereign nation, they were trying to show the Israeli people that not only was their military incapable of protecting civilians, they weren’t even capable of protecting themselves. Against the backdrop of the missile attacks, Israel interpreted this as what it was: yet another act of war. And this time, Israel responded with a forceful attack on Hizbollah positions inside Lebanon.
But many are now criticizing Israel, saying that the country’s response is not proportional to the provocation, as if the provocation hasn’t been ongoing for years. Pretending that Hizbollah’s only crime is capturing two Israeli soldiers requires quite a bit of historical amnesia. But to the wishy-washy handwringers at the U.N., that amnesia is required; without it, they might actually be forced to take a stand. They might actually have to do something besides laundering money for Saddam Hussein and selling 12-year-old girls into sexual slavery. But, of course, the U.N. will do nothing useful; what do you expect from a world body where terror regimes like Iran and Syria get the same vote as Canada and Finland?
Cease-fires and negotiated peaces have been tried. Throughout history, world opinion repeatedly forces Israel into bargains with adversaries who use “peacetime” to build strength. No matter how many handshakes, strained smiles and photo ops each new peace deal yields, Israel’s enemies invariably come back and attack later. And no matter how much land Israel gives up—and they’ve given up quite a bit of strategically-important land in their many futile attempts to buy peace—groups like Hizbollah will not be satisfied with anything less than the destruction of the Israeli nation.
That’s why a cease-fire, the proposed solution of people who see no moral distinction between the actions of Hizbollah and Israel, has the effect of undermining Israel’s security. Hizbollah won’t perceive a cease-fire as a cooling-off period before joining Israel on a road towards peace, they’ll just see it as a brief pause in a continuing war, a time-out they can use to start rolling more Iranian rockets towards the Israeli border. And if Hizbollah manages to hold on to southern Lebanon until Iran can produce a nuclear weapon, is there any doubt that they’ll use it? Terrorists aren’t usually known for their restraint. And yet the world is demanding restraint from Israel, which is merely trying to prevent that day from coming.
You can’t negotiate peace with an enemy whose only goal is your destruction. The end result of a cease-fire will not be peace. A cease-fire merely puts off the inevitable for a future day when the stakes are higher. If Hizbollah is not destroyed, and if the current regimes in Iran and Syria maintain power long enough to produce a nuclear weapon and a way to deliver it to Israel, you can be damn sure that weapon will be used. Iran’s president has virtually guaranteed it.
So when the rest of the world demands restraint from Israel, it makes me wonder: would any other country put up with living like the Israelis have for decades? If suicide bombs and lobbed rockets were exploding all over France with such regularity, would we expect the French to sit by and do nothing? Okay, bad example. But you get my point.
As long as the mullahs control Iran and the Baathists control Syria, they will use proxies like Hizbollah to wage war on Israel. Unfortunately, the reality is, this war is inevitable. And it goes beyond Hizbollah. Ultimately, Syria and Iran must be confronted. It can happen today, next year, or sometime after Iran has acquired nukes. As far as the fate of Israel is concerned, this war better play out before the mullahs get the bomb. After that, it’ll be too late.
When will the world wake up and realize that ignoring the Jihadists does not make them go away? People don’t seem to learn until the bombs start blowing up their own cities. And even then, the lesson is quickly forgotten. But if the last five years has taught the world anything, it’s that the hatred of the Jihadists isn’t limited to Israel. And this bone-deep hatred won’t magically vanish if Israel disappears under a mushroom cloud. No, if you’re an infidel, you’re on the list. The only question is how long it’ll take them to get to you.
23 May 2006 >>
First, let’s define “they.” For the purposes of this article, “they” refers to Jihadists: a radical subset of Muslims who believe it is their duty to kill anyone who refuses to abide by their religious law. Coincidentally, “they” are responsible for a disproportionate share of the terrorist attacks around the world, as un-politically-correct as this might be to recognize.
Now that we know who “they” are, who’s “us”? Even though the “us” that “they” hate pretty much amounts to all of Western society, I will take “us” to mean the United States, since in the eyes of many in the non-Western world, the U.S. symbolizes Western society. But as the ongoing terrorist attacks worldwide prove, people are grossly misinformed if they believe the United States is the only country the Jihadists wish to destroy.
9 January 2006 @ 1:35PM >>
The Republicans campaigned to bring their philosophy of limited government to Washington and pledged to clean House, literally. And they did, for a while, but over time, certain principles seemed to disappear. (Whatever happened to the idea of term limits? Oh yeah, bad for incumbents, so let’s forget about that.) Now that the Republican Party has controlled Congress for over a decade, it seems that they have morphed from the party of limited government into the party of, simply, government.
9 November 2005 @ 2:38PM >>
Many commentators are saying that last night’s election results bode ill for the Republicans in 2006. But the two headline races—the governorships of Virginia and New Jersey—don’t seem like major defeats for the Republican party as a whole. In each case, a Democrat was elected to replace a Democrat, and even when you factor in Governor Schwarzenegger’s defeated ballot initiatives in California, what you’re left with is Democratic victories in places where Democrats have either been dominant for years or have been successful in recent elections. The one exception, of course, is New York City, where Mayor Mike Bloomberg won re-election in a landslide. This is no victory for Republicans, however; Bloomberg can barely be considered a Republican at all. He switched parties shortly before his first run for mayor, and likely did so only to avoid a bruising Democratic primary, which he would not likely have won in the first place.
So, while last night’s results don’t seem to send much of a signal one way or the other, Republicans in Congress should still be wary. Why? Because with the 2004 presidential election a distant memory, Republican voters no longer have to fear a Kerry presidency rehashing all the greatest hits of the Carter era. A Republican criticizing a Republican no longer has the effect of indirectly helping someone like John Kerry get the keys to the White House. So the supporters who have been relentlessly defending President Bush and the Republicans against the scurrilous smears of the Democrats and the anti-war left can now take stock of their own leaders. And many of them don’t like what they see.
Unfortunately, the structure of our government encourages each Congressman to go to the voters every two years with a laundry list of goodies brought back to the district courtesy of U.S. taxpayers everywhere. When I was growing up, House Speaker Tip O’Neill was the embodiment of the tax-and-spend Democrats. Every time you’d see his face on TV, you knew money was magically evaporating from your pocket. And day by day, his nose seemed to balloon with the size of the Federal government. Tip, you see, lived by the dictum that “all politics is local.” He knew how to buy votes by handing out goodies to his district, and he didn’t care what it did to the size of the budget or the rest of the country.
In 1994, the Republicans took over the House for the first time since the Eisenhower Administration. Faithful Republican voters were promised a class that would clean house. And they did, for a while, until they got comfortable in their jobs, propped up by the perks, and then all of a sudden various planks from the Contract With America went down the memory hole. (Does anyone remember term limits?) Over a decade after the Republicans took over, they seemed to have gotten as fat and lazy as the Democratic leadership they replaced. They’re now spending like drunken sailors in a fashion that would make Tip O’Neill proud (and maybe a little jealous). And on important issues like protecting our borders, the Republicans in Congress have followed President Bush’s lack-of-lead and taken no action. Millions of people stream across our borders illegally—providing a big gaping hole for not just immigrants seeking work, but terrorists seeking destruction—and Republicans turn the other way out of fear of alienating potential voters. With Republicans like that, who needs Democrats?
2006 may be a nasty year for the Republicans, and if it is, it won’t be because the Democrats are making gains with the public. It’ll be because many Republican voters see little point in supporting candidates who are indistinguishable from their opponents on such important issues. In these days of a hyper-polarized electorate, the importance of each party’s base becomes paramount. If Democrats emerge victorious in 2006, it’ll be because their base is energized while the Republican base is dispirited.
So even though last night’s results aren’t really the wake-up call that some commentators are claiming, perhaps Republican politicians should interpret it that way just the same. Because unless something changes between this November and next, I don’t think there are going to be very many Republican voters enthusiastic about pulling the lever for their party.
3 November 2005 @ 10:05AM >>
When you turn on the news or open the paper for reporting from Iraq, what do you see? These days, news coverage is little more than a recitation of the latest casualty reports on our side. One solider was killed by a roadside bomb. Another soldier was killed in a helicopter crash. Do you ever wonder what these soldiers were doing while they were alive? You’ll rarely hear that. Are you ever curious about any of our military operations? If we still had the media of World War II, you might actually learn something beyond the latest death count. But today’s media can’t be bothered with that.
And how about the political progress in Iraq? There have been two historic national elections, one to fill a parliament, and another to ratify the country’s new constitution. Iraqis literally risked death just to vote, and they still had higher turnout than American elections do. Yet I saw more media coverage of long lines at polling places in Ohio than these two Iraqi elections combined. It’s pretty damn remarkable that a country went from a brutal dictatorship to a struggling but hopeful democracy in two years. So why aren’t we hearing more about it?
Whether it’s bias, laziness, incompetence, or just a fascination with the bloody, if you get all of your news from the establishment media, you’re getting a pretty skewed vision of the new Iraq. Many people have noticed this for a long time, soldiers especially. Recently, CNN interviewed one soldier who gave a critique on the media’s coverage:
[I]t is kind of disheartening sometimes to see everything focused on just the, the death and destruction and the IED strikes and not focused on how well the U.S. and coalition forces are doing building up the Iraqi police services and the Iraqi army. It really is a tremendous effort being put into that infrastructure and building a self-sufficient government over there. And they’re absolutely making progress.
But you almost never see that progress covered. Instead, you see the exact same story—with a few variables changed—repeated over and over.
The media’s decisions about what to cover and not cover are made by a handful of people in New York and Washington, DC. If they all share similar views, that may explain why virtually all coverage of Iraq is identical: the latest death count, and little more. It’s been this way for so long that even journalism students are beginning to notice. In the Columbia Journalism Review, certainly no bastion of neo-conservatism, one columnist questions the state of Iraq reporting:
[T]he 2,000th military death in Iraq happened to fall on exactly the same day as the Iraqi constitution was officially passed. The constitution story, though appearing on many front pages, paled in placement and headline size to the 2,000-death story, with many papers boldfacing and enlarging the number “2,000,” so that it eclipsed any other nearby story. As one would expect, conservative critics jumped at this as further proof that, once again, the liberal media was trumpeting the bad news and suppressing the good news.
The columnist did a quick search and found that “[i]n the New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times there was just one story each about the constitution passing. Whereas the 2,000 deaths story inspired three to four stories and a couple op-eds and editorials per paper.”
In my mind, every soldier who dies is significant. The first, the fiftieth, and the five-hundredth death are equally worthy of our sorrow and our gratitude that some people are willing to sacrifice their lives for others. But the 2,000th death is a story only because we happen to use a base-10 counting system. Is one number a bigger story than another because it has a few zeros on the end? Is it a big enough story to eclipse something as historic as a freed people voting themselves a new constitution?
In the media’s reporting, the storyline for each event in Iraq is set even before it happens. To the small clique of media bigwigs who make these decisions, negative stories get prominence and virtually everything else gets ignored. So what happens when reality doesn’t quite fit the predetermined model? Well, that’s just a minor inconvenience that can be fixed with a little selective editing. Take, for example, The New York Times and its body count watch for the 2,000th soldier killed in Iraq. The Times coverage mentioned Corporal Jeffrey B. Starr, who died earlier this year on Memorial Day. Starr left a note for his loved ones to be read in the event of his death. Here’s some of what he wrote:
Obviously if you are reading this then I have died in Iraq. I kind of predicted this, that is why I’m writing this in November. A third time just seemed like I’m pushing my chances. I don’t regret going, everybody dies but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it’s not to me. I’m here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. To do what they want with their lives. To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark.
Here’s how the Times reported Starr’s statement:
Sifting through Cpl. Starr’s laptop computer after his death, his father found a letter to be delivered to the Marine’s girlfriend. “I kind of predicted this,” Cpl. Starr wrote of his own death. “A third time just seemed like I’m pushing my chances.”
Starr’s words posed a problem for the predetermined storyline, so the Times just left most of them out. That’s how a statement in support of the operations in Iraq became a simple fatalistic prediction of death. And that’s far from the first time the Times has shaped quotes to fit its worldview.
So what does this all mean? For now, it means that the media’s artificially negative portrayal of Iraq is sapping U.S. support for the war. But in the long run, it’s proof that the establishment media is willing to destroy itself in the process of furthering a political agenda. The media’s only real asset is their credibility, and they’re pimping out that credibility every time they try to jam current reality into a Vietnam-era model of the world.
Psychologically, it is understandable. The media has never been as powerful as it was when it turned the nation against the Vietnam war. Some people have a hard time letting go of their glory days. But for an industry that’s already in decline, selling a product with so many obvious flaws makes about as much sense as shooting yourself in the head while you’re jumping off a skyscraper.
An earlier version of this post erroneously referred to Corporal Jeffrey B. Starr as the 2,000th U.S. soldier who died in Iraq. His profile was included in New York Times
coverage of the 2,000 mark, but was not himself the 2,000th soldier killed.)
8 July 2005 @ 2:42PM >>
There’s a real war going on out there, and the enemy isn’t each other. If we can just stop assuming we’re the problem, we might actually stand a chance of victory. But if we waste time navel-gazing in a world that contains wealthy terrorists and starving nuclear powers, we will ultimately be killed in our own streets in a way that’ll make September 11th look like a verbal reprimand. And if you don’t think that’s a possibility, then you really don’t know the enemy.
11 April 2005 @ 10:06AM >>
Many colleges and universities have permanent political offices staffed by paid university employees. These offices exist to push their views on students, and if you’re a student, parent, alumnus or taxpayer, you’re paying for it.
29 December 2004 >>
When the epitaph is written on this current age of journalism, I suspect a little asterisk will be reserved for Nick Coleman. He seems to be insisting on the most public flame-out possible.
13 December 2004 >>
Any tech junkie who travels extensively is undoubtedly familiar with the pangs of withdrawal suffered when decent Internet access is nowhere to be found. There are many folks like me whose work depends on frequent, reliable access to e-mail and the web. Most of my business communication, in fact, is done by e-mail. Even the voicemail from my home phone gets sent to my e-mail inbox, freeing me from having to constantly call in and check for messages.
23 November 2004 >>
What if, instead of paying taxes in money, the government forced you to work on a chain gang in order to pay taxes? If you have to work until 5PM every day, but everyone else gets to go home at noon, would that be fair?
28 October 2004 >>
The choice we have on election day is between the worldview of September 10th—embodied by John Kerry—and President Bush’s September 12th worldview.
30 September 2004 >>
For years, the media’s promise to news consumers has been, “trust us. What we say is true.” But after CBS News gets caught airing a fraud, it’s easy to wonder how many times we’ve been snookered before. We may never know, but one thing is clear: when reporters say their opinions don’t shape what they report, they’re deceiving you, plain and simple. If the news media wants to regain our trust, they’re going to have to level with us.
9 September 2004 >>
Today, many American college campuses are dominated by the ideology of political correctness. According to the tenets of political correctness, the United States is the source of all the world’s troubles, capitalism is evil, and people’s biological heritage makes them either “oppressors” or “victims”. Political correctness does not tolerate dissent, so students who disagree with the ideology are often punished. Tools like speech codes are used by school administrators to enforce thought conformity. At Cal Poly, one student endured a Kafkaesque disciplinary ordeal that lasted more than a year and ended up in federal court—just for posting a flyer announcing an upcoming event! Welcome to the world of higher education today, where universities seem more intent on teaching students what to think than how to think.
26 July 2004 >>
What Kerry needs to do is attract some of the voters who don’t equate Bush with Hitler. That’ll be hard if Kerry is seen as surrounded by extremists. Maybe Kerry recognizes this but is trying to have it both ways, as he does when he votes in favor of bills before he votes against them. But this is an issue he can’t waffle on. When voters view the Democratic Convention, they’ll either see hatred on display or they won’t. I’m sure Kerry’s team will do their best to present a sanitized convention, but today’s Democrats seem to be driven by rage and not reason. And rage is very hard to contain, which means we may be in for a rather interesting week up in Boston.
8 June 2004 >>
In the late 1970s, before the Age of Reagan, I remember my mother waiting in lines that snaked around the block just to fill up a tank of gas. I have vague memories of a trip to Toronto with my grandparents when President Carter delivered a major speech. We watched from our hotel room, but I was too young to understand or remember the topic; maybe it was the infamous “malaise speech,” perhaps it was about Iran. From my father’s office, I could see the hostage calendar in Times Square. It counted up to 444, the number of days that 52 American citizens were held captive in Iran. They were freed the day President Reagan was sworn in, the day the 1970s were pronounced dead.
21 May 2004 >>
When the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill became law, unprecedented restrictions were placed on the free speech rights of private citizens. It is now illegal for a group of people to organize, pool their resources and purchase broadcast media ads supporting or opposing political candidates within 60 days of November’s election. The rationale was to eliminate the influence of advocacy groups that have become increasingly effective at bringing certain issues to the attention of voters. But the bill has one big gaping loophole.
13 May 2004 >>
For us to achieve a just victory, it is important to hold ourselves to a higher morality. And when we fall short, the rest of the world should see that we can confront our own mistakes. If airing the Abu Ghraib prison pictures helps us do that, all the better. But we must not let terrorists take it as a sign that we don’t have the stomach for war. That’s why it’s important to show the rest of the world that we’re not afraid to kick some ass. And if seeing the gruesome images of Nick Berg’s beheading gives us the mettle required to win this war, then he will not have died in vain.
22 April 2004 >>
In Manhattan, most people take the subway to and from work. A lot of people take buses, while some take cabs. And then there is The Van.
8 April 2004 >>
Condoleezza Rice’s testimony before the 9/11 Commission made for riveting listening. The political fireworks were on full display when the Democrats on the panel pressed Rice, asking why President Bush had not developed a pre-September 11th plan to preemptively attack Afghanistan and disrupt al Qaeda. These questions, of course, come from the same folks who criticize Bush administration for acting preemptively against Iraq.
The inconsistencies of the Democratic arguments against the Bush Administration make it impossible for them to put forth any alternate vision, because anything they propose will conflict with some of their previous criticisms. Even that they’ll deny, though; they’ll sweeten their waffles with the syrup of nuance, the word they use to cover up the fact that they’re holding several completely contradictory stances simultaneously.
According to principles of quantum mechanics, it is possible for a subatomic particle to occupy multiple positions at the same time. Perhaps the Democrats hope to become the quantum party. If so, it explains why John Kerry, the consummate Quantum Candidate, is the perfect person to head the Democratic ticket this fall.
17 February 2004 >>
United Press International recently reported the discovery of documents from Saddam Hussein’s oil ministry that show the Iraqi dictator “used oil to bribe top French officials into opposing the imminent U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.” And according to ABC News, allies of Saddam Hussein profited by pocketing the difference between the price of oil under the U.N.’s “Oil for Food” program and the price of oil on the open market. Some of these allies included “a close political associate and financial backer of French President Jacques Chirac”, “Russian political figures” including “the Russian ambassador to Baghdad” and “officials in the office of President Vladimir Putin”, “George Galloway, a British member of Parliament”, and even some—gasp!—”prominent journalists”. So why haven’t you heard about this story yet?
9 January 2004 >>
Spammers and anti-spammers are engaged in an arms race. For every spam-blocking technique that’s created, spammers eventually devise a way to circumvent it. Although there is no way to guarantee complete freedom from spam—at least not with the technology that currently delivers Internet e-mail—there are ways to defend your inbox against spam.
17 December 2003 >>
At some point, changing babies where people are eating food and drinking coffee became acceptable. For some reason, I was not notified.
8 December 2003 >>
When President Bush tried to help American companies by imposing surcharges on imported steel, some Democrats—as you might expect—criticized him. After all, the steel industry is not only business, it is big, as in big belching smokestacks spewing cancerous clouds that eventually end up absorbed in the lungs of small children and cute, furry animals. From the perspective of his opponents, this one move could be used to symbolize the entire Bush presidency: they could accuse him of helping his corporate fat-cat buddies get rich by polluting while giving the unilateral finger to Europe, whose steel suppliers were put at a disadvantage.
20 November 2003 >>
“Concocted quotes can make for compelling reading, especially if they’re designed to elicit an emotional response. The intensity of the feelings generated by an e-mail determines the velocity at which it travels; the passion stirred is what gets people to press Send. Therefore, because a rational dissection of fraud is less titillating than incendiary accusations, a clever hoax will always have a broader reach than an earnest rebuttal. And, because reading an e-mail requires far less effort than researching it, few will ever discover that they’ve been duped.”
4 October 2003 >>
If Arnold Schwarzenegger really does admire Hitler, then all the previous misuses of the so-and-so-is-just-like-Hitler accusation may prevent people from taking it seriously against Schwarzenegger. And, if this charge is merely a cheap attempt to inflict political damage, then it just increases the probability that voters won’t pay any attention to legitimate accusations in the future.
27 August 2003 >>
“Stop the presses! Decades after retirement, Walter Cronkite can still break a major story. Saying he believes ‘most of us reporters are liberal,’ Cronkite is admitting what many on the left have denied fervently for years: that there is a bias in the news media, and that it tips to the left noticeably.”