Funnily enough, I haven’t seen a word about this this in the MSM

We hear a lot about dead or wounded Palestinian children, each of whose death or injury is a tragedy. Funnily enough, though, the MSM falls silent when it comes to the Israeli children:

There were a lot of tears of sadness and pain on Monday at the convalescence wing of the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer outside of Tel Aviv, as Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal visited the two young victims of the recent Qassam rocket attack.

Osher and Rami Tuito are being hospitalized at Sheba after a Qassam rocket made impact just a few feet away from the two brothers causing serious injury. Osher, 8, had to have a part of his leg amputated and his older brother Rami, 19, sustained moderate injuries.

As I tried to make clear in my introductory paragraph, I’m not denigrating what happens to Palestinian children, since children are the true tragedy of every conflict. I am noting, however, that while they make headlines, Israeli children don’t even rank the back pages.

UPDATE: I’ve switched to a new server, so you can feel free to look around here or check out my new site, which not only has the old stuff, but also will move forward into the future with all my new material.

More on media run amok

Iowahawk’s classic Bylines of Brutality is now becoming something of a distant memory. To refresh your recollection, in the wake of the NY Times‘ remarkably ill-thought out article about murderous vets, Iowahawk, using the same statistical analysis the Times favors, showed the remarkable violence trend amongst journalists. I thought of that trend when I read about the BBC journalist (or, perhaps, “radio personality” is a more correct identifier) who was described in criminal court as “revolting”:

A BBC Radio 4 presenter accused of drugging and raping a man he met at a party was described in court today as “revolting” and a “bully” by his alleged victim.

The 27-year-old man told an Old Bailey jury he felt “violated” when Nigel Wrench, a presenter on the PM programme, forced him to perform a sex act hours after they met at a New Year party.

Wrench had invited the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, to see an Andy Warhol painting he had, the court heard.

He also told the younger man that he had a bottle of Taittinger champagne at home, and after they arrived he showed him his Porsche parked outside, a jury was told.

But after one gulp of the drink, which he said tasted like “poison”, the alleged victim began to black out and could feel his eyes rolling in his head, he said.

He added that he ended up in Wrench’s bed where he was repeatedly punched and forced to perform a sex act.

Wrench, 47, of north London, denies rape, sexual assault, and administering temazepam with the intention of “stupefying or overpowering” the man to have sex.

His alleged victim said he was “out of it” for a time after they snorted cocaine together in the toilet at the party.

He was talking to Wrench about getting work experience on the radio station, but said he did not fancy him and was surprised when the presenter started kissing him, and backed away against a wall.

“I didn’t want to be kissed by him. I found him revolting,” said the man.

But the man tried to brush it off and later had a conversation about modern art with Wrench, he said.

“He talked specifically about an Andy Warhol print that I was quite interested to see,” the man told the court as he gave evidence from behind a screen.

“He said, ‘do you want to come over to my place to see the Andy Warhol and I also have some other pieces that you might like’.

“He said ‘don’t worry, it won’t be for sex’. I said ‘I don’t want to have sex with you’.”

The trial continues.

Clearly, this is one more for the statistical files regarding media people and the danger they pose to ordinary citizens.

From the “is it just me . . .” department

Is it just me, or is this precisely the way the media covered Theresa Heinz Kerry when it became apparent that John Kerry was the frontrunner?

Once reticent Michelle Obama is big campaign asset

Michelle Obama’s fiery campaign style belies the fact that she was hesitant at first about getting involved in her husband Barack’s bid to become U.S. president.

Obama says she never expected to be on stage extolling her husband’s virtues, but she is revving up crowds as she tells them he is the Democratic candidate who offers the best option for change in the United States.

“I am very passionate about change in the country and that’s what you see,” the 44-year-old Princeton- and Harvard-educated lawyer from Chicago told Reuters in an interview last year.

I’m in the midst of a project right now, so I’m no going to spend my time using Google as a “way back machine,” but I have a distinct memory that Mrs. Kerry was presented in precisely the same way. What say you?

The media again goes after the military

First, the NY Times announced that American troops were crazed killers. Next, it announced that they were crazed homeless people. The latest salvo the media has launched at the troops to counteract the Surge’s success is that they’re so crazy they are killing themselves in droves:

As many as 121 Army soldiers committed suicide in 2007, a jump of some 20 percent over the year before, officials said Thursday.

The rise comes despite numerous efforts to improve the mental health of a force stressed by a longer-than-expected war in Iraq and the most deadly year yet in the now six-year-old conflict in Afghanistan.

Internal briefing papers prepared by the Army’s psychiatry consultant early this month show there were 89 confirmed suicides last year and 32 deaths that are suspected suicides and still under investigation.

More than a quarter of those — about 34 — happened during deployments in Iraq, an increase from 27 in Iraq the previous year, according to the preliminary figures.

The report also shows an increase in the number of attempted suicides and self-injuries — some 2,100 in 2007 compared to less than 1,500 the previous year and less than 500 in 2002.

The total of 121 suicides last year, if all are confirmed, would be more than double the 52 reported in 2001, before the Sept. 11 attacks prompted the Bush administration to launch its counter-terror war. The toll was 87 by 2005 and 102 in 2006.

I’m not quarreling with the numbers for last year, which equal 121 individual tragedies. Nor do I challenge the fact that the number of suicides has been rising. However, I do have a problem with the absence of context. The story makes it appear as if there’s an ever escalating suicide epidemic in the military that sets it apart from the general American population. That is, the article forgot to compare these numbers to society at large. Significantly, it also doesn’t distinguish between active duty, guard and reserve (502,790, 346,288 and 189,975, all of which add up to 1,039,053). As always context makes things interesting.
Here are some statistics regarding suicide in America as of 2004:

Now lets look at Army demographics for the year 2006 (the last I could find):

  • Total number of troops, active, guard and reserve: 1,039,053
  • Total number of active and guard troops (not counting reserve): 849,078
  • Total active duty was 502,790
  • Men make up 86% of active duty soldiers (430,000).
  • Whites made up 61.6 percent of active duty soldiers, or almost 310,000 troops.

I’m not able to find the average age for the Army (I don’t know why), but I’m willing to bet it hovers between 19-24, with the weight at about 20.

Okay, bear with me here, and correct me when I go wildly wrong, but I think one can make a few predictions about what the suicide rate probably would be in the military if it hewed to general American statistics. First of all, if there are an average of 11.05 suicides for every 100,000 people, out of the total army strength of 1,039,053, one would expect a little more than 110 suicides, which is remarkably close to the 121 committed last year. And given that the Army is disproportionately male and that the rate of suicides is disproportionately high amongst men, one would have to expect that the average of 11.05 suicides would have to skew upwards to account for both of these disproportionalities. You then have to add in the fact that the average male soldiers age also places him in one of the high risk suicide categories (youths 15-24). After doing all that, you’d have to slide the rate down a little to reflect the fact that some of these men are minorities, who have lower suicides rates, but that kind of math is utterly beyond me. Any of you who can do math should feel free to chime in here and tell me by how much the suicide rate increases when you have a mostly white, young, male demographic in the military, and mostly white, young, male suicides in the general population. Complicated math or not, my rule of thumb tells me that, compared to the general population, the rate of Army suicides is not out of the ordinary.

Even if one rachets the numbers down from all troops and looks only at active duty and guard troops, the result isn’t that different. The total number of active and guard troops, as I noted above, is 849,078. That means that you could expect an average of 94 suicides per year. And then again, you’d have to do the higher math of factoring in all those young, white men and then factoring down slightly for minorities (who are 38.4$ of active duty troops and 25.5% of guard troops).

Things do get more tragic if one really rachets the numbers down to focus only on active duty suicides, because that would mean a base suicide rate that’s twice the national average. Even adjusting that for the young, white male military population probably wouldn’t offset the differential. I can’t find the report on which this news story is based, though, so I really don’t know which Army population is at issue.

In any event, as you think about all of this, consider that the report says that there are only 89 confirmed suicides, with 32 still being investigated. It’s certain that some of those being investigated will prove also to be suicides, but it’s anything but certain that all will.

Bottom line: It’s all very complicated for a math-phobe like me but, unless one is sure that the numbers in the article apply only to active duty troops, I’m fairly confident that the numbers, while showing 121 personal tragedies, do not prove that our American troops are killing themselves like flies. (Please correct me if I’m wrong.) In other words, while the news report, to the extent it gives numbers directly from military sources, is informative, to the extent the report makes it appear that troops are dying in droves as compared to other Americans, it’s misleading.

UPDATEGateway Pundit has an more interesting take on the story than I did, which is the fact that more troops committed suicide during the Clinton years than are now committing suicide.  Perhaps doing ones job, even a dangerous job, is less demoralizing and depressing than being marginalized and denigrated.

Shredding the NY Times

There are many who think that, under Pinch’s guidance, the NY Times has gone from a somewhat biased, but still reputable paper, to a daily anti-Bush diatribe that has occasional nuggets of actual news interspersed amongst the partisan pieces. I still check out the movie reviews, but I generally support those who believe it makes a good bird cage liner. So it was with real pleasure that I read Andrew McCarthy’s fact-filled but nevertheless almost intemperate attack on the Times. In every paragraph, he both makes his case about the Times’ lead role in birdcages, while simultaneously exhibiting a gleeful venom that makes for fun reading:

A few months back, National Review Online published an article in which I argued that the New York Times’s woeful reporting on Judge Michael B. Mukasey — then a nominee, now serving as U.S. attorney general — was proof positive, as if more were necessary, that the Grey Lady had become an unreliable shill. Its news coverage, I contended, had “devolve[d] into Left-wing polemic, to the point where there is no longer a qualitative difference between the Times and The Nation. Save one: The Nation, self-described ‘flagship of the left,’ has no pretensions about being anything other than The Nation; the Times still pretends to be the Newspaper of Record.”

I didn’t expect anyone to take my word for it. Instead, I went painstakingly through reporter Philip Shenon’s “news” story to demonstrate how dreadfully incomplete, misleading and agenda-driven it was. You can judge for yourself whether I was successful, but if my e-mail is any indication, I was.

I most appreciated the reaction of some journalist friends. I was angry about what the Times had done, but I wasn’t the least bit surprised. By contrast, my journalist friends seemed genuinely stunned at the degree of shoddiness. It was not the New York Times they had once known and admired. Repeatedly came the refrain: I should send my article to the newspaper’s “Public Editor” — its ombudsman, or, as the Times preciously posits, the “readers’ representative.”

Though understandable, I still found the suggestion curious. After all, by my lights, the Times is not objective; it has become a partisan hack. If I’d written in, I’d have implicitly conceded something I didn’t believe to be true: that the newspaper is an honest broker from whom it is reasonable to expect straightforward introspection. I didn’t think the reporter and his editors had made a mistake, or even a series of them. I believe, instead, that the newspaper is invested in its anti-Bush, anti-anti-terrorism narrative and spins or elides facts as necessary to make stories fit. I wouldn’t have felt vindicated if the Public Editor said I was right (which, naturally, would never, ever happen), nor was I likely to be persuaded were he to say I was wrong. In truth, the probability was that he’d ignore me in any event. What, I asked myself, would be the point? So, life being too short, I dropped it.

I do feel vindicated now, though, thanks to my friend Ed Whelan, the brilliant legal analyst who heads the Ethics and Public Policy Center and edifies us daily at NRO’s law blog, “Bench Memos.” Ed’s head is harder than mine — it needs to be since there’s so much more in it. So he decided to crash it into the brick wall that I avoided.

Read here the rest of this joyous romp trouncing the Times.

The media, Richard Scaife, and the never ending Soros connection

Do you ever feel that George Soros is a malevolent spider, sitting in the middle of a leftist web, trickling his money down thousands of filaments towards disparate ends, all aimed at achieving the same goal — the destruction of Israel and the end of America as the preeminent democratic power in the world? His name crops up so often, in connection with so many things that are worrisome when it comes to attacks on the administration and on Israel. Today yielded two such moments.

The first came to my attention in an email that DQ sent me. He directed my attention to an AP story that reporting on a study that purports to support the “Bush lied, people died” mantra:

A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The study concluded that the statements “were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.”

The study was posted Tuesday on the Web site of the Center for Public Integrity, which worked with the Fund for Independence in Journalism.

The New York Times, of course, has gotten tremendously excited about the story and expanded on it. Significantly neither report makes any mention of George Soros, but they could have — since the organization that came up with this “study” is not an independent fact-finding entity but is, in fact, a Soros entity:

Nowhere in these articles do either news organization bother to inform their reader of the partisan nature of the CPI. Besides Soros, it gets financing from the Streisand Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Los Angeles Times Foundation. The FIJ shares most of its board members with the CPI, which hardly makes it a separate entity in terms of its political direction.

The indefagitable Daffyd at Big Lizards, in his inimitable style, rips apart the supposed conclusions emanating from this Soros organization, deconstructing every carefully written word that implies, without being able to say (’cause it would be a lie), that Bush did, in fact, lie. For example:

Here are the specific charges:

The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida or both.

“It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to al-Qaida,” according to Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith of the Fund for Independence in Journalism staff members, writing an overview of the study. “In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003.”

One notes that “Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith of the Fund for Independence in Journalism staff members” — isn’t that a lovely grammatical construct? — do not deny that Iraq was “trying to… obtain” WMD, even though they appear to include such claims under the category of “false statements.”

Nor do they deny the administration’s claim that Iraq had “links” with al-Qaeda. They merely dispute the meaningfulness of those links… and dub that another “false statement” by the president and his administration.

Michelle Malkin has a nice compilation of other bloggers who have managed, fairly easily, to destroy the fragile fabric that the “study,” the AP and the New York Times have created to mask the fact that the only lie is the implication that there was a lie. I’m sure, given my grammatical skills, I could do the same too, although (a) that would be carrying coals to Newcastle given the superior intellectual minds that have already bent themselves to this task and, in any event, (b) I want to go back to that Soros problem. As you may recall, this post is not about the “study,” which is just one strand in the Soros web, but instead is about Soros’ reach. So, onward….

This clunky study, which did not befuddle the blogosphere, but that certainly succeeded in poisoning the minds of ordinary readers who do not read with skeptical, grammar-driven, Soros-knowledgeable minds, is not the only Soros filament today.

Over at the American Thinker, Ed Lasky has written a real stunner of an article about Obama’s Soros connection. It’s a two degrees of separation story, because there is no charge in it that Obama has had any direct contact with Soros (although he has, in fact, had precisely that kind of contact). The article’s actual focus is Robert Malley, whom Obama has tapped as his Middle East advisor. I’d never heard of Malley before this article, and hope never to hear of him again — and it would be a real “God forbid” if he ever shows up in a Presidential cabinet.

The difficulties with Malley start with his father and, though Lasky freely admits that a son shouldn’t be held accountable for the sins of his father, it’s clear that that Malley junior is an apple that hews close to the Malley senior tree (and how’s that for wild metaphorical writing). First, Malley Sr:

His father Simon Malley was born to a Syrian family in Cairo and at an early age found his métier in political journalism. He participated in the wave of anti-imperialist and nationalist ideology that was sweeping the Third World. He wrote thousands of words in support of struggle against Western nations. In Paris, he founded the journal Afrique Asie; he and his magazine became advocates for “liberation” struggles throughout the world, particularly for the Palestinians.

Simon Malley loathed Israel and anti-Israel activism became a crusade for him-as an internet search would easily show. He spent countless hours with Yasser Arafat and became a close friend of Arafat. He was, according to Daniel Pipes, a sympathizer of the Palestinian Liberation Organization — and this was when it was at the height of its terrorism wave against the West . His efforts were so damaging to France that President Valerie d’Estaing expelled him from the country.

Now, you can’t blame a child for the company his father keeps, but Malley junior definitely appears to want to join the party. As Lasky details with example after example, Malley himself has been a Palestinian shill from top to bottom, writing a whole series of anti-Israel articles that can be easily be proven to be false, and consorting with the usual anti-Israel crowd. And since this is a post about Soros, you won’t be surprised to find that Soros is one of the names that crops up on Malley’s resume:

Robert Malley is the Director of the Middle East/North Africa Program at the International Crisis Group (ICG). Given the impressive title of the group, one might expect it to have along and impressive pedigree — say long the lines of the well-regarded Council of Foreign Relations. In fact, the group is rather small and it has a short pedigree. More importantly, it has ties to George Soros. Soros is a man who has supported a wide variety of groups that have shown a propensity to criticize America and Israel; a man who has made clear his goal is to break the close bonds between America and Israel ; supported the views of Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer whose work on the issue of the “Israel Lobby” has been widely criticized for factual inaccuracies, shoddy research, and has been called “anti-Semitic” in the Washington Post; a man who has taken steps to counter the supposed political influence of the pro-Israel community in America; a man who has also been a key financial backer of Senator Obama’s; and a man who can activate a wide variety of 527 (c) and other activist groups for any politician he supports.

Soros is a funder of the ICG through his Open Society Institute ; he serves on its Board and on its Executive Committee. Other members of the Board include Zbigniew Brzezinski (whose anti-Israel credentials are impeccable) and Wesley Clark (who called US support for Israel during the Hezbollah War a “serious mistake“; who has flirtedand who has been the direct beneficiary of donations made by Soros ; Wesley Clark has defended the actions of George Soros. with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

But let’s return to George Soros.

While it is true that the ICG receives funding from other sources, none of these donors are on the board; and a billionaire on the Executive Committee of the Board can wield a great deal of influence. Soros is a man who is legendary for his investment prowess. In this case, he again seems to have invested well — as he is proud to trumpet. When the ICG gave him a Founders Award, he spoke of how pleased he was with the work the group does (“my money is very well spent”), and he took particular pride in the work done “on the Palestinian question”.

As he should be, given his goals. Malley, as the Director of the Middle East/ North African program at the ICG, has assembled a group of “analysts” who reflect his (and Soros’s) views and who share their goals: a radical reshaping of decades of American foreign policy and a shredding of the role of morality in the formulation of American policy. These policies would strengthen our enemies, empower dictatorships, and harm our allies.

There he is again, that malevolent spider, with his web reaching out to encompass someone who is aiming to reach for the highest office in the land.

I’m not a big one for conspiracy theories, and I frankly don’t think you can ever have a conspiracy of one. You can, however, have a single power broker, a single megalomaniac, a single spider — and I think George Soros is that man.

Now, some may ask, what’s the difference between Soros and the Richard Mellon Scaife, the man who bent his millions to going after the Clintons? Well, I think there are a few differences. For one thing, there’s the little fact that Scaife was right about Bill Clinton’s sexual malfeasance, and I don’t think even the Clintons’ staunchest defenders can claim, with a straight face, that the Clintons didn’t leave a slimy trail of corruption behind them that is probably the only earthly object that, along with the Great Wall of China, can actually be seen from outer space. By contrast, with Bush, there are always allegations of lies and corruptions but, as this most recent study shows, they never go anywhere. Even a Democratically controlled Congress hasn’t been able to make anything out of the endless stream of accusations pouring out of the various Soros machines.

Another difference is that Scaife didn’t have the big dreams Soros does. Scaife wanted to get the Clintons out of the White House. Soros wants to see Israel blasted off the face of the earth, and America reduced to Third World status.

And there is one last, and much more worrisome, difference between Scaife and Soros, and it has to do with the media. Back in the dim, misty 1990s, I knew all about the evil Richard Mellon Scaife. I wasn’t much interested in politics and there was no internet to disseminate information about behind-the-scenes movers and shakers, but I still knew. Why? Because the MSM wanted me to know. There were regular articles in the New York Times, in Time, and in Newsweek, as well as stories on NPR — all of my main news sources during the 1990s — that routinely reminded me that the evil Scaife was funding the vast right wing conspiracy aimed at destroying the Clintons. As a citizen and news consumer, I was aware of him, and could approve, or disapprove, of his agenda depending on my political predilections.

The MSM does not provide that same service with regard to George Soros’ activities — with a perfect example being this morning’s “news” about Bush’s “lies.” Had this been the 1990s, and had this been a report from a Scaife organization about Clinton, assuming the media had had even bothered to report it, you can be damn sure readers would have been told that the report was funded by radical right wing billionaire Richard Scaife. With the current crop of anti-Bush articles, however, Soros is nowhere mentioned. And this pattern repeats itself over and over and over — Soros’ connection is never mentioned.

What stands in stark contrast is how the media reports about Soros himself, separate from all the pies in which he has big, money-dripping fingers. For example, here’s how the New York Times today described George Soros in a story about the opening of the World Economic Forum in Davos: “billionaire philanthropist George Soros.” And how about this hagiographic description in a 2006 story about his funding of a social (socialist?) experiment in Africa:

The financier and philanthropist George Soros said Tuesday that he was contributing $50 million to support a sprawling social experiment, organized and led by the economist Jeffrey D. Sachs, that aims to help villages in Africa escape grinding poverty.

[snip]

Mr. Soros’s contribution is a philanthropic departure for him. He has largely focused on fostering democracy and good government.

Some of you might be thinking right now that this Soros is just a good guy, using his millions to help improve the world. Perhaps a little more information about his words and his goals will help explain why I think the media is cheating by calling him just a “philanthropist” who is trying to “foster democracy”:

In 1979 Soros founded the Open Society Fund, and since then has created a large network of foundations that give away hundreds of millions of dollars each year, much of it to individuals and organizations that share and promote his leftist philosophy. He believes that in order to prevent right-wing fascism from overrunning the world, a strong leftist counterbalance is essential. Asserting that America needed “a regime change” to oust President Bush, Soros maintained that he would gladly have traded his entire fortune in exchange for a Bush defeat in the 2004 election. In a November 2003 interview with the Washington Post‘s Laura Blumenfeld, he stated that defeating President Bush in 2004 “is the central focus of my life”. . . “a matter of life and death.” “America under Bush,” he said, “is a danger to the world, and I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is.” Claiming that “the Republican party has been captured by a bunch of extremists,” Soros accuses the Bush administration of following a “supremacist ideology” in whose rhetoric he claims to hear echoes from his childhood in occupied Hungary. “When I hear Bush say, ‘You’re either with us or against us,’ ” he explains, “it reminds me of the Germans. It conjures up memories of Nazi slogans on the walls, Der Feind Hort mit (The enemy is listening). My experiences under Nazi and Soviet rule have sensitized me.”

Soros pledged to raise $75 million to defeat President Bush in the 2004 Presidential election, and personally donated nearly a third of that amount to anti-Bush groups (see The Shadow Party). He gave $5 million to MoveOn.org, the group that produced political ads likening Bush to Adolf Hitler. He also contributed $10 million to a Democratic Party 2004 get-out-the-vote initiative called America Coming Together, whose directors include representatives from the AFL-CIO, the Sierra Club, the Service Employees International Union, and EMILY’s List. He further pledged $3 million to the Center for American Progress (CAP), a think-tank headed by former Clinton chief-of-staff John Podesta.

[snip]

While criticizing the Iraq War for the benefit of reporters at the January 2007 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Soros unburdened himself of the view that Nazis were now running the United States government. “America needs to follow the policies it has introduced in Germany,” Soros explained. “We have to go through a certain de-Nazification process.” Lest there be doubts that Soros was actually likening his adoptive country to the Third Reich and the Bush administration to the Nazi nomenklatura, a Soros spokesman, Michael Vachon, moved quickly to dispel them. “There is nothing unpatriotic about demanding accountability from the president,” he said of Soros’s appeal for de-Nazification. “Those responsible for taking America into this needless war should do us all a favor and retire from public office.”

[snip]

Soros and his foundations have had a hand in funding a host of leftist organizations, including the Tides Foundation; the Tides Center; the National Organization for Women; Feminist Majority; the American Civil Liberties Union; People for the American Way; Alliance for Justice; NARAL Pro-Choice America; America Coming Together; the Center for American Progress; Campaign for America’s Future; Amnesty International; the Sentencing Project; the Center for Community Change; the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Human Rights Watch; the Prison Moratorium Project; the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement; the National Lawyers Guild; the Center for Constitutional Rights; the Coalition for an International Criminal Court; The American Prospect; MoveOn.org; Planned Parenthood; the Nation Institute; the Brennan Center for Justice; the Ms. Foundation for Women; the National Security Archive Fund; the Pacifica Foundation; Physicians for Human Rights; the Proteus Fund; the Public Citizen Foundation; the Urban Institute; the American Friends Service Committee; Catholics for a Free Choice; Human Rights First; the Independent Media Institute; MADRE; the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund; the Immigrant Legal Resource Center; the National Immigration Law Center; the National Immigration Forum; the National Council of La Raza; the American Immigration Law Foundation; the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee; and the Peace and Security Funders Group.

The organizations he funds are a real giveaway. Some of them are the usual targets of conservative ire: the ACLU, the People for the American Way, NARAL, etc. But some of them are a little more, shall we say, extreme. How about the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee? You remember Lynne Stewart, don’t you? She’s the lawyer who aids and abets terrorists, and ended up imprisoned for doing so. And want about La Raza? That’s an organization that would like to see unlimited immigration and, in a best of all possible worlds, the reintegration of vast parts of the Southwest and California back into Mexico. You can go through the rest of the list and reach your own conclusions about where his money is going.

Now, thankfully, America is still a small “d” democracy, and Soros can hold his beliefs and put his money where he will. I happen to disagree strongly with his beliefs and regret that money flow, but I can’t stop it. However, when that kind of money is flowing in a single direction — Left — from one man, one would think that the MSM would find that sufficiently interesting to be newsworthy — to make it as worthy of mention as the inevitable references during the 1990s to Scaifes’ finger in every anti-Clinton pie, or to the lost War in Iraq in every War article. But the MSM doesn’t mention the Soros connection. That’s left to the blogosphere, which is read only by those who care a lot. Which means that those who care less than a lot are reading news articles such as the one that opened this post in which the MSM does not see fit to mention that the study was funded by the “far Left” or “ultra Progressive” George Soros, who has consistently been a foe of the Bush administration. And the ordinary man in the street, reading one more drop of poisoning dripping off the Soros web, is utterly unaware that he’s been tainted by that poison.

UPDATEAt least one British paper regards Soros with a little less warmth than the American media.  In reporting on Soros’ gloating comments about the weakening American dollar and its imminent destruction, the Telegraph describes him in the first paragraph as “The billionaire investor famous for “breaking” the Bank of England in the 1990s.”

Hitchens is almost right

Christopher Hitchens is totally right when he notes that Mike Huckabee’s defense of the Confederate flag harmonizes perfectly with racist views.  That is, a person could argue that the defense of the flag is all about States’ rights, but the fact is that the Confederate flag is so inextricably intertwined with the KKK and Jim Crow that such an argument is stupid or disingenuous at best, and fraudulent at worst.  Hitchens is also right that the press gave Huckabee a pass for this nasty remark.  Assuming that the pass was deliberate, and that the Huckabee story didn’t simply get swamped by the infinitely more fascinating fight between Clinton and Obama, one has to ask why the press was so passive.  Hitchens thinks it’s because it was afraid of offending racist Southern rednecks:

But when real political racism rears its head, our easily upset media falls oddly silent. Can you guess why? Of course you can. Gov. Huckabee is the self-anointed candidate of the simple and traditional Christian folk who hate smart-ass, educated, big-city types, and if you dare to attack him for his vulgarity and stupidity and bigotry, he will accuse you of prejudice in return. What he hopes is that his neo-Confederate sickness will become subsumed into easy chatter about his recipes for fried squirrel and his other folksy populist themes. (By the way, you owe it to yourselves to watch the exciting revelations about his squirrel-grilling past; and do examine his family Christmas card while you’re at it.) But this drivel, it turns out, is all a slick cover for racist incitement, and it ought not to be given a free pass.

I actually don’t think that’s the case.  Just as I’d prefer Hillary to win the Democratic primaries because I think she’ll be easier to beat than Obama, the press would prefer that Huckabee win the Republican primaries, because they know he’ll go down in flames in the Presidential election.  That’s why they’ve handled him with something approaching TLC — he’s their favored candidate because he’ll lose.

Speaking of different press approaches to the different parties and their candidates, Patrick, my favorite Paragraph Farmer, has an elegantly written article up at the American Spectator examining the way in which reporters delve deep into Romney’s and Huckabee’s theological beliefs (something that may be fair game because their beliefs stand out), while treating with kid gloves rather unusual theological revelations from candidates on the left.  Even if one pulls back from specific theological peculiarities, there is no doubt that the press has carefully ignored Hillary’s politically activist Methodism, which has more to do with socialism than God, and Obama’s truly unfortunate, and very strong, ties to a black supremacist church.  Likewise, a speech from a pulpit is non-news if you’re on the Left, and a threat to the separation of church and state if you’re on the right.  Double standards, anybody?

What to expect from a Hillary White House

I meant to blog about this last week and never got around to it, “this” being the fact that Judicial Watch finally obtained just a few of the 3 million pages of hidden documents related to Hillary’s ill-fated attempt to nationalize health care.  Actually, I wasn’t going to blog at all.  Instead, I was going to send you to the Captain’s Quarters to see what he had to say on the subject.  Given Hillary’s pattern and practice over the decades, what is revealed probably won’t surprise you too much:  rather than allow a debate on the merits, Hillary and her minions were trying to figure out ways to use the federal government to smear opponents so that they would be afraid or unable to challenge the task force’s recommendations.  So, in a way, it’s not news, it’s just more of the same.

What is a bit more newsworthy, and it’s something the Captain blogs about this week, is the fact that the MSM has resolutely ignored these documents.  Considering that she is the Democratic front runner today,  and that there has actually emerged a White House record on which she can run (since she’s boasted about her White House experience), one might think the press would be interested.  And if one thought that, one might be wrong.  Here’s a very upset Captain on the problem with our Fourth Estate:

Where are the media organizations that style themselves as the bulwark against governmental abuses of power? Why haven’t they reported on these memos, which clearly delineate a type of attack on government opposition that hasn’t been this baldly proposed since the Nixon administration? Given Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the presidency — one on which she relies on her experience in her husband’s administration for her qualifications — isn’t all of this terribly relevant to the question of how she will run the White House, and what kind of treatment her critics can expect to receive?

The silence from the Fourth Estate is deafening. It screams either cowardice or collaboration.

More media attacks on vets *UPDATED*

The media supported the troops when they felt they could attack the War. Now that the Surge is working, with dramatic downturns in overall violence (setting the stage for political stability), making attacks on the War somehow doesn’t work anymore, so the media has found a tried and true target: the troops themselves. The first salvo was the NY Times “troops as killers” tripe, which Iowahawk skewered. Round two in the media’s undeclared war is “the troops as insane, drug addicted homeless people,” an attack emanating this time from AP. What’s marvelous (in a twisted way) about the AP report, is how it relies on the media’s original myth about insane, drug addicted homeless Vietnam Vets to support its central tenet. Thus, after one anecdote about a poor, lost soul, the report hits its stride:

This is not a new story in America: A young veteran back from war whose struggle to rejoin society has failed, at least for the moment, fighting demons and left homeless.

But it is happening to a new generation. As the war in Afghanistan plods on in its seventh year, and the war in Iraq in its fifth, a new cadre of homeless veterans is taking shape.

And with it come the questions: How is it that a nation that became so familiar with the archetypal homeless, combat-addled Vietnam veteran is now watching as more homeless veterans turn up from new wars?

What lessons have we not learned? Who is failing these people? Or is homelessness an unavoidable byproduct of war, of young men and women who devote themselves to serving their country and then see things no man or woman should?

(Incidentally, Erin McCalm, the author of this “report,” repeats this myth again later in the article.) Pardon me while I take a short trip to the vomitorium to purge myself of that kind of trite psychobabble.

I’m not someone who deals comfortably with numbers, so I’ll leave it to you guys to tell me what’s wrong with these:

For now, about 1,500 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have been identified by the Department of Veterans Affairs. About 400 of them have taken part in VA programs designed to target homelessness.

The 1,500 are a small, young segment of an estimated 336,000 veterans in the United States who were homeless at some point in 2006, the most recent year for which statistics are available, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

And yes, I am willing to bet that this minuscule statistical sampling is somehow very wrong. That is, I’m assuming that if someone compares Vet homeless figures to general homeless figures for young men and women in the same demographic, the numbers will be the same or, as seems often to be the case (whether the subject is alleged rises in Vet suicide or murder) lower.

Anyway, Ms. McClam, isn’t really interested in actual numbers. She’s much more interested in predicting imminent social breakdown because of the return of vast numbers of dysfunctional vets:

Still, advocates for homeless veterans use words like “surge” and “onslaught” and even “tsunami” to describe what could happen in the coming years, as both wars continue and thousands of veterans struggle with post-traumatic stress.

People who have studied postwar trauma say there is always a lengthy gap between coming home — the time of parades and backslaps and “The Boys Are Back in Town” on the local FM station — and the moments of utter darkness that leave some of them homeless.

In that time, usually a period of years, some veterans focus on the horrors they saw on the battlefield, or the friends they lost, or why on earth they themselves deserved to come home at all. They self-medicate, develop addictions, spiral down.

How — or perhaps the better question is why — is this happening again?

“I really wish I could answer that question,” says Anthony Belcher, an outreach supervisor at New Directions, which conducts monthly sweeps of Skid Row in Los Angeles, identifying homeless veterans and trying to help them get over addictions.

“It’s the same question I’ve been asking myself and everyone around me. I’m like, wait, wait, hold it, we did this before. I don’t know how our society can allow this to happen again.”

I suspect that poor Mr. Belcher can’t answer the question because it’s probably not happening again, just as it didn’t happen before.

And so the article goes. Broad, unsupported conclusions, breathless anguished questions, a complete absence of hard facts. This is not reporting. This doesn’t even rise to yellow journalism. This is so bad Ms. McClam couldn’t even make it as the writer of daytime soaps — the audience would expect more in the way of plot development and verisimilitude. This is the stuff of 1930s Hollywood spoofs about bad female journalists, trafficking in breathy innuendo, emotions and fantasy.

(The picture at the top, by the way, is of a Canadian homeless man.)

UPDATECurt, at Flopping Aces, is doing the math:

If my math is right (and there no guarantee it is, jarhead remember) those numbers work out to be .004% of the veteran homeless were from the Iraq/Afghanistan war.

So .004% is worthy of a 1,947 word article from the AP? This article from the NYT’s in November puts the number of Iraq/Afghanistan homeless veterans at 400. In two months it went up 1,100. That’s some jump.

And how about that 336,000 number. HUD reports that in 2006 the number of homeless in the United States was

The number of chronically homeless people dropped from 175,900 in 2005 to 155,600 in 2006, according to data collected from about 3,900 cities and counties.

Anyone see a problem there? This article from HUD puts it at 744,000. Pretty big discrepancy there. It even says 41% of that number are whole families which means only 416,000 are singles. I’m thinking that most of these veteran homeless are not taking their whole family with them so the majority of single homeless are veterans?

Any other math work from readers will be much appreciated.

A new danger to Americans

The New York Times revealed that 121 veterans are just the tip of the iceberg, and that there is probably, well, certainly, well, maybe, well, there could be, a huge swirling mass of psychotic veterans out there, possibly. Iowahawk, showing a truly impressive learning curve, has mastered those same journalistic and statistical techniques to reveal where the source of the real dangers facing ordinary Americans:

Bylines of Brutality

As Casualties Mount, Some Question The Emotional Stability of Media Vets

An Iowahawk Special Investigative Report
With Statistical Guidance from the New York Times

A Denver newspaper columnist is arrested for stalking a story subject. In Cincinnati, a television reporter is arrested on charges of child molestation. A North Carolina newspaper reporter is arrested for harassing a local woman. A drunken Chicago Sun-Times columnist and editorial board member is arrested for wife beating. A Baltimore newspaper editor is arrested for threatening neighbors with a shotgun. In Florida, one TV reporter is arrested for DUI, while another is charged with carrying a gun into a high school. A Philadelphia news anchorwoman goes on a violent drunken rampage, assaulting a police officer. In England, a newspaper columnist is arrested for killing her elderly aunt.

Unrelated incidents, or mounting evidence of that America’s newsrooms have become a breeding ground for murderous, drunk, gun-wielding child molesters? Answers are elusive, but the ever-increasing toll of violent crimes committed by journalists has led some experts to warn that without programs for intensive mental health care, the nation faces a potential bloodbath at the hands of psychopathic media vets.

“These people could snap at any minute,” says James Treacher of the Treacher Institute for Journalist Studies. “We need to get them the help and medication they need before it’s too late.”

You can — no, you must — read the rest here.

I have to admit to being pretty impressed, because I was just telling DQ that discourse in this country has gotten so wacky that it makes satire practically impossible. Iowahawk shows that there’s still room for this fine art.

Incidentally, Iowahawk forgot to include in his hall of shame Bernie Ward, the former priest and San Francisco radio personality, who was indicted for trafficking in child porn.

Hat tip: American Thinker

More fake but accurate — this time from Israel *UPDATED*

In one of my recent posts fawning over Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, I mentioned his discussion about the fascistic love for the “fake but accurate” approach to “truth.” Thus,

As the cross-burning incident at Cornell demonstrated, this preference for arousing passions at the expense of truth and reason defined the agenda for those fighting in [the 1960s Leftist] trenches. The practice of “lying for justice” — always acceptable on the communist left — was infused into the American New Left with potency. The catch-phrase at the Columbia uprising was “the issue is not the issue.” No wonder, since the actual “issue” — building a gym in adjacent Harlem — was such small beer. For most of the activists, deceit wasn’t the point. The point was passion, mobilization, action. As one SDS member proclaimed after he and his colleagues seized a building and kidnapped a dean, “We’ve got something going on here and now we’ve just got to find out what it is.” (p. 179.)

Apparently — and unsurprisingly — this viewpoint isn’t limited to the American left, but arises wherever there is a left. Thus, at Augean Stables, Richard Landes describes giving a speech to Israelis about the false Muhammed al-Durah video:

I recently gave a talk at a conference on Media and Ethics in Jerusalem, where I presented the case against Enderlin’s version of the Muhammad al Durah story. Apparently, the presentation was relatively convincing since one of the first criticisms I immediately received from a prominent Israeli professor of communications was: “So what? According to reliable statistics, the Israeli army has killed over 800 Palestinian children since the second Intifada. So what difference does it make if this case is staged or not?” His intervention was followed by a round of applause from about a third of the 200-some person audience.

Israel is not going to be murdered. With the help of her own leftists, using Hamas as its instrument of choice, she’s going to commit assisted suicide.

UPDATE: Melanie Phillips elaborates on Israeli suicide, and its roots in the false history promulgated about Israel on the left (often by Israel’s own leftists).  Sadly, those who can no longer buy the leftist view seem to have settled for a type of apathetic nihilism (which may explain why Israeli voters can’t rouse themselves to get rid of Olmert).  My cousin, an incredibly smart sabra who still lives in Israel, admits that she is no longer a leftist (which was the default political position for Israel’s educated class when she was a girl in the 1950s).  Now, she says, “I support them all.  One of them might have an idea.”

Killing a canard quickly *UPDATE*

After the Vietnam War, one of the favorite liberal tropes was that the vets came back as deranged, dysfunctional, often savage subhuman creatures. I never understood that. I was the daughter of a veteran who had served in two wars, one of which was WWII, where he saw hand to hand combat at El Alamein and was strafed for three days in Crete. (The other war was the Israeli War of Independence, and he never told battle stories about that one.) My Dad was often an angry man (not violent, just put-upon), but he was that way before the war, as a result of having been brought up in one of Weimar Berlin’s worst slums before his mother (abandoned by his father before he was born) could no longer handle him and therefore delivered him, at age 5, to an orphanage. The orphanage saved him, but I don’t think he ever got over the anger that went with being abandoned — and that went with being raised a Communist. In any event, my father’s personality, which was mostly compounded of intelligence, wit, humor and hard work, was in place long before war began. I also took note of the fact that, not only did the WWII vets return to extraordinarily productive lives (think of the booming 1950s), but so too did most of the concentration camp survivors, people who experienced things horrors even soldiers couldn’t imagine.

When I’d query my parents about the difference between Vietnam Vets and all other veterans, they could only reply “Drugs. It must have happened because they all came back drug addicted.” The fact that, statistically, that wasn’t true either was something none of us could deal with intellectually. So, we simply accepted the MSM trope and, because we didn’t know any vets personally (my parents were too old and I too young), it really didn’t matter anyway.

The trope — the vet as psychotic killer — is unsurprisingly being recycled. The MSM supported the vets when they could attack the war’s progress. With the war progressing well (that darn Surge), the MSM has now turned on the vets, most recently with the infamous NY Times story about killer vets. Sadly for the NY Times, unlike the golden days of yore when it enjoyed a media monopoly, there is now a way to analyze the story and disseminate corrections — and, boy, does this story need correcting, since it is basically a fraud, not through misstatements, but through omission. That is, it retells several horrific stories about crimes involving vets, without any giving any context about either the vet or the nature of crime in society at large. (As a matter of law, in California, one form of deceit is “The suppression of a fact, by one who is bound to disclose it, or who gives information of other facts which are likely to mislead for want of communication of that fact.” Calif. Civ. Code sec. 1710.)

Thankfully, Bob Owens, who has become something of a specialist at his own blog exposing gross acts of media malfeasance, has turned a jaundiced eye on the Times‘ latest whopper, and produced a clear amalgamation of his own analysis, and the analyses that others have done. You should definitely read the article, but the bottom line won’t surprise you: through the combined sins of fraudulent omission and sheer hysteria, the Times has produced something that is wrong, wrong, wrong. I’d cry shame, but the MSM has none.

UPDATE:  It seems appropriate to include year the American Thinker’s catch about the Times’ double standard when it comes to Presidential war powers.

Surge? What surge?

By now, it’s not news to any of you that John Edwards, one of the top Democratic contenders for the Presidency, announced that, if he’s elected, he’ll withdraw all troops from Iraq within ten months:

John Edwards says that if elected president he would withdraw the American troops who are training the Iraqi army and police as part of a broader plan to remove virtually all American forces within 10 months.

In connection with this inane pronouncement, Max Boot offers my favorite analysis of both Edwards’ and the media’s time warp mentality:

Of course it’s unlikely that Edwards will ever occupy the White House. But he is one of the top three Democratic presidential candidates, so what he says is worth considering. And what he is saying is essentially what Democrats have been saying for the last couple of years. To wit: “I have never believed that there was a military solution in Iraq, don’t believe it today. I think the issue is how do you maximize the chances of achieving a political reconciliation between Sunni and Shia because I think that political reconciliation is the foundation for any long-term stability in Iraq.” (For more of Edwards’s pensées, see here.)

This is exactly the argument Democrats were making against the surge. Now the surge is succeeding, but they haven’t yet figured out a new argument, so they keep replaying the same old DVD.

By the way, if you want further evidence of how the surge is working, check out the latest casualty figures, which show that 23 American soldiers died in December, the second-smallest figure on record since the invasion began. (The runner-up was the month of February 2004 when 20 died.) Of course that news may be a little hard to find since it’s buried in news articles like this one, headlined “2007 Deadliest Year for U.S. Troops in Iraq.” The headline is accurate but misleading, since casualties have been falling precipitously over the past six months—ever since the surge started to take effect.

‘Nuff said.

Something else that’s buried in the interview, that would have raised antennae in 1992, but that went completely unnoticed in the blogosphere, is Elizabeth Edward’s role in the campaign.  Please note in the following paragraphs both how she is described and what she does:

In one of his most detailed discussions to date about how he would handle Iraq as president, Mr. Edwards staked out a position that would lead to a more rapid and complete troop withdrawal than his principal rivals, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, who have indicated they are open to keeping American trainers and counterterrorism units in Iraq.

Elizabeth Edwards, his wife and political partner, who listened in on the interview from a seat across the aisle, intervened at the end of the session to underscore that Mr. Edwards did not intend to stop all training and was prepared to train Iraqi forces outside of the country. Mr. Edwards continued the theme while acknowledging that the benefits of such training would be limited.

His political partner?  What’s that?  Is this a redux of Hillary’s and Bill’s famous 1992 promise that, with them, you’d get two for the price of one?  I’ve certainly noticed over the past several months that John sends his wife out to say the nasty things that he’s afraid to say (presumably because her status as a cancer victim will give her a pass for being nasty or stupid).  See here, for example.  It’s sort of like have a chihuahua serve as the guard dog for a toy poodle, isn’t it?  Of course, poor Edwards is hampered by the fact that, when he gets mad, he just looks silly.

Chris Muir nails it again

I always enjoy Chris Muir’s cartoons, but some of them I enjoy even more than others — such as this one:

News or editorial?

To me, news is just the facts, while editorials may have facts but also have spin and opinion.  Tell my what you think of the opening of this purported “news” story from AP:

The demise of the bridge to nowhere notwithstanding, Sen. Ted Stevens and other Republicans remain the kings of pork-barrel spending, proving that GOP mastery of “earmarks” can withstand public scorn, a president’s rebuke and even a Democratic takeover of Congress.

Certainly it’s catchy writing, and the underlying point about Congressional (and Republican) pork practices is newsworthy, but….

Poisoning the well

I’ve pretty much written off the MSM.  I never watch it and I read it with a jaundiced eye, trying to pick out the actual facts from the bile-filled commentary.  For that reason, I tend to miss out on the insanity of those who still occupy positions of prominence in the MSM.  Reading their remarks all in one place has an interesting effect on me — part of me wants to laugh at how ludicrous and extreme it is, but most of me feels the need for a hot, disinfecting shower that will wash off the searing stream of irrational venom.

The other thing that happens when I read the collective moronity, hatred and fatuity of prominent MSM spokes people is that I understand why people like my mother can simultaneously say that they hate and fear Bush and Cheney, even if a more detailed conversation with them reveals that, in fact, they agree almost across the board with those two men’s policy positions.  And when it comes to voting, the irrational hatred inculcated by this ostensibly unbiased media will have a greater effect on my mother and people similarly situated than any rational understand of and approach to those policy issues that affect their day-to-day lives.

More editorializing from Jennifer Loven

I like to check out the most popular stories on Yahoo News for news articles that liberals are reading. (I say “that liberals are reading” because it’s pretty clear that Yahoo News’ algorithm picks up only center to left-of-center sources.) As you can see if you click over on over, this site ranks stories according to popularity, with the first few sentences of each story included. It was on this Yahoo page, at 9:06 p.m. PST that I read the following:

Bush vetoes kids health insurance bill

President Bush vetoed legislation Wednesday that would have expanded government-provided health insurance for children, his second slap-down of a bipartisan effort in Congress to dramatically increase funding for the popular program.

My first thought was “that doesn’t sound like news and it doesn’t even sound accurate, and it comes from AP, so Jennifer Loven must have written it.” And sure enough, clicked over and I was right — it is a Jennifer Loven story (and I mean story in the dictionary sense of the word: “a fictitious tale, shorter and less elaborate than a novel.”

I’ve written before about Jennifer Loven (here, here, and here). Her husband is a Democratic party operative, and most of her “news” stories read like the press releases he probably brings home every evening. Loven is entitled to her opinion, of course, but it hacks me off like crazy that she presents her writing as an objective news story under the AP banner, rather than the Democratic opinion piece it really is.

Aside from the “George Bush hates children” caption and the “he’s violently rejecting legislation for children” language, which is spin, pure and simply, let me get to the “it doesn’t even sound accurate” part of my reaction. My accuracy question goes to Loven’s description of the program as “popular.”

Interestingly, when polled — that is, when people give an opinion in a vacuum — they think it’s a great idea to insure poor children, although “poor” is defined entirely differently on the Left and the Right.  More interestingly, when the questioners dig in, they find that people pretty much like the way the system is now — with power in the State — and are increasingly less enthusiastic the more the actual SCHIP program is described. The real heart of her misrepresentation, though, lies in Loven’s editorializing, which might track polls, but is entirely inconsistent with the real worldAs Michelle Malkin describes in a post that has exactly the same take as mine (and I started writing mine before I saw hers), when people are actually asked to vote on an SCHIP type program (rather than opining in the abstract from the comfort of their living room), they don’t want it, and that goes for liberals as well as conservatives.

So, amazingly, in one sentence, Loven got in two spins and one misrepresentation.  That’s impressive, even for her.  I haven’t read the rest of the article — having exhausted myself reading the first sentence — so I have nothing else to say on the subject.

The media and Iraq

You remember Matt Sanchez, don’t you? He’s the conservative military writer who suddenly shot to fame when it was revealed that he’d had an earlier career working in gay porn. He’s since turned against the lifestyle (porn), and writes about how it degrades the human spirit. He’s also been writing from Iraq and Afghanistan, and Right Wing News has an email interview with him. A lot of his responses are a bit too flip — too trying to be funny — but I think he’s on to something when he discusses the MSM’s Iraq news coverage:

Now, since then, you’ve been embedded in Iraq and Afghanistan. First off, tell us a little bit about your time in Iraq and how you think things are going there.

In Iraq, the media tried pulling off a coup attempt, by cooking the coverage. I understand performance is an element of the news, but these people were just flat out hamming it up for the cameras.

Iraq is a country the size of California with a population as large as Canada’s. On any given day things happen—very ugly things happen. Iraq was under a coordinated assault by Islamofascists who terrorized the country after the fall of Saddam. What the media showed was a one-sided military drama about how directionless the conflict was, while completely downplaying the actions and motives of the enemy.

Fast forward a couple of years, and the coverage has changed, because of great independent reporting. Iraq had an average of only 30 western reporters from 2005 through 2007. The country is the size of California, but even less media interest than Brian Depalma’s hit Redacted.

When people like Michael Yon, Michael Totten, Bill Roggio, JD Johannes, Michelle Malkin and Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity et al showed a more in-depth view, it challenged the media monopoly. The internet and talk radio played a HUGE role in this.

Thanks to eyes on the ground reporting, spin, like Thomas Scott Beauchamp, was challenged and debunked. That entire liberal soap opera would have stood unchallenged, a bit like how the McCarthyism myth has largely stood unchallenged.

The networks protect us from dangerous ideas

The following advertisements are so inflammatory that the major networks are refusing to run them. And, apparently, they are so frightened of the repercussions associated with their refusal to run them that the are stonewalling any efforts at correspondence regarding the ad’s contents.

Do the ads demand jihad? Are they advocating the overthrow of the United States government? Do they support child pornography? Are they taking a position on gay marriage or abortion? No, they are much more controversial than that. Watch and decide:

For the whole story behind these dangerous videos, check out this Power Line post.

As for me, all you guys and gals in the military, thank you! And may all the blessings of the holiday season, whatever you celebrate or if you don’t celebrate anything at all, be with you.

UPDATENBC has apparently see the error of its ways.

Irving Berlin and Churchill

Did you hear the story about Irving Berlin’s lunch with Winston Churchill during WWII? It’s a very funny story, it’s true, and it’s part of the larger and very wonderful story of Irving Berlin’s musical This is the Army. Berlin wrote This is the Army both to boost American morale and to raise money (which it did, in spades). Although originally intended for a short Broadway run, it ended up touring America, being made into a movie, and being performed in England, as well as the European and Pacific theaters of War. The English tour was the occasion for this great story:

For prominent Americans wartime London was remarkable for the easy access they enjoyed to the highest echelons of British society. Berlin received an invitation to have lunch with Winston Churchill at 10 Downing Street. Throughout the course of the war, Churchill had been entertained by dispatches written by the celebrated Oxford don Isaiah Berlin, who was assigned to the British Embassy in Washington. On hearing that the writer he so admired was visiting London, Churchill hastened to invite Isaiah Berlin to lunch. Through a bureaucratic mixup, however, the invitation went out to the songwriter rather than the political commentator.

On the appointed day, Irving Berlin presented himself at the prime minister’s residence, where he was escorted to a comfortable room and given a cigar and a glass of brandy. In time, Churchill appeared, still under the impression that his guest was Isaiah Berlin. The prime minister wasted little time on pleasantries. “How is war production in the United States?” he demanded.

Berlin was taken aback by the question. He was a composer and performer, not a war correspondent. “Oh, we’re doing fine,” he hesitantly answered.

“What do you think Roosevelt’s chances of reelection are?”

Uncomfortable at being called on to play political pundit, he gave the obvious answer. “I think he’ll win again.”

“Good,” Churchill replied. “Good.”

“But if he won’t run again,” Irving offered, “I don’t think I’ll vote at all.”

For the first time, he had Churchill’s interest, not that he welcomed it. “You mean you think you’ll have a vote?” Churchill asked, a note of wonder–or was it British irony?–creeping into his voice.

“I sincerely hope so,” Irving said.

“That would be wonderful,” Churchill replied, appearing to sum up. “If only Anglo-American cooperation reached such a point that we could vote in each other’s elections. Professor, you have my admiration. You must stay for lunch.”

Throughout lunch at 10 Downing Street, Irving was haunted by the feeling that he was well out of his depth. Why had Churchill addressed him as “professor”? He stopped trying to reply to Churchill’s probing questions and fell silent. Eventually Churchill turned his back on his taciturn guest. The awkward lunch finally came to a conclusion, and as Churchill left the room, he whispered loudly to an aide, “Berlin’s just like most bureaucrats. Wonderful on paper but disappointing when you meet them face to face.”

If you’d like a sense of the show, I’ve included a couple of clips below, one lauding the Air Force, the other the Navy. All the performers you see in the clips, incidentally, are real members of the Armed Forces (most with performance backgrounds, of course), rather than Hollywood stars and extras. Who you don’t see in the clips is Ronald Reagan, who was then a Lieutenant working in Hollywood on morale boosting projects, and who had a role in this movie too. Aside from Reagan, who served at the Army’s behest, there were other actual Warner Brother stars in the movie as well but, with the exception of a couple of George Murphy and Frances Langford numbers, they did not provide the musical content, which was left to the real troops.

And here’s a nice piece of trivia from the movie:

This film is the only one to star a U.S. President, a U.S. Senator, a state governor and two Presidents of the Screen Actors Guild. Ronald Reagan was President of the U.S. from 1981-1989, Governor of California from 1967-1975 and President of SAG from 1947-1952 and 1959-1960; George Murphy was Senator from California 1965-1971 and President of SAG 1944-1946. They filmed the movie prior to having been elected to any of the offices mentioned.

UPDATE: Perhaps because I’ve spent the last 30 minutes mentally back in WWII (an era that pre-dates my birth), when our country cared about the military and its fight to defend freedom, I somehow found startling the results of the gala for “CNN Heroes.” All the “heroes” sound like great people, creative and hard working, but I did find it a bit peculiar that, while our country is at war in both Afghanistan and Iraq, the heroes did not include (and, indeed, the roster did not even contemplate) people whose heroism includes actually putting their lives on the line so that others can live free.

Swift boating the media

Clipart Photo of John Kerry SalutingIt seems like forever, but it was only three and a half years ago that John Kerry was the Democratic front runner, with the MSM lining up for his anticipated coronation. And then something strange happened: the Vietnam vets started speaking up, challenging the mythology Kerry had created — and the press had sustained — around his brief time in Vietnam. And so a new verb was born: “to swiftboat,” which the Left defines as to lie about someone’s past for political advantage, and the Right defines as revealing the truth about someone’s past for the public’s benefit.

Now, the story is no longer about what Kerry did and did not do in Vietnam. Instead, the more interesting story is about how the Veterans pressed to get the truth before the public, and how the MSM pushed back, desperate to deep six a narrative that had the potential to destroy Kerry’s candidacy.

Someone involved in the matter from the beginning (indeed, he worked with John O’Neill in 1971 to challenge the Winter Soldier slanders) was Bruce Kesler, a former Marine who served in Vietnam. At the Democracy Project website, he tells about a book called To Set The Record Straight, How Swift Boat Veterans, POWs and the New Media Defeated John Kerry, whose authors, Scott Swett and Tim Ziegler, explain all about the Swift Boaters’ and the media’s role in Election 2004. It sounds like a great book and I’m betting that, after you read what Bruce has to say, you’ll want to read the book too.

UPDATE: In writing to Bruce about his book recommendation, I said something with which I’ve become enamored, so I’ll repeat it here: As I’ve often said, I don’t have problems with bias. That is a fairly basic part of the human condition. I have a huge problem with a media conglomerate that denies bias, and denies the steps it takes to promote its position. I like anything that exposes the shell game the media plays on the American public.

Two different worlds

This is a reprint of an original article I wrote for American Thinker:

As the family renegade, the one who turned right politically, I often find myself trying to argue against such forceful conclusory statements as “Bush is an idiot” or “the War in Iraq is a disaster.” (In other words, the declarative versions of the “questions” posed at the BoobTube Republican debates on CNN.)

I foolishly attempt to counter those statements with facts. For the “Bush is an idiot” assertion, I might respond with basics such as “his Yale grades were better than Kerry’s” or “he has a Harvard MBA.” Or perhaps I’ll try for a bit more sophistication along the lines of “Sarkozy and Merkel like him.” I might even do a little fighting back along the lines of “You’re being regionalist by picking on his Southern pronunciation. Shame on you!”

Things get more challenging when I hear “the War in Iraq is a disaster.” I usually start by trying to get my fellow conversationalist to define what a success would look like. This is always a fruitless task, since the person who holds the view that the War is a disaster can’t conceive of any victory short of traveling back in time and undoing the decision to go to war in the first place. If I can tug the person back to reality, I face a new issue, one that arises because of what I call the “source problem.”

You have to remember that I’m having these discussions with people who read only the San Francisco Chronicle, the New York Times, The New Yorker, Time Magazine, Newsweek and The New Republic, and who listen only to NPR and ABC. In other words, despite the ostensible multiplicity of sites they look to for their news, all of these sites share the same view. Indeed, they share precisely the same view my family holds: “Bush is an idiot” and “the War is a disaster.” They live in what Thomas Lifson calls “The Blue Bubble.”

I, on the other hand, don’t limit myself to these sources. Sure, I read or listen to them, but where I differ from my family is that I don’t stop with them. In addition to alternately skimming or deep reading these sources, I read and listen to a whole host of other sources, with radically different viewpoints, both from the mainstream media and, often, from each other.

On the internet, daily, I read American Thinker, Little Green Footballs, Michelle Malkin, Powerline, Captain’s Quarters, National Review Online, FrontPage Magazine, Townhall, WSJ’s Opinion Journal, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Weekly Standard, The American Spectator, Stratfor reports, and Spiegel Online. And no, I don’t read every article, in every issue, every day, because if I did I would be unable to carry on any other tasks of daily living. But I check out the top stories every day, at minimum acquainting myself with the main news and opinion.

My auditory treats are the Dennis Prager show, the Hugh Hewitt show and the Michael Medved show. Indeed, I have these guys to thank for the fact that I’m in better shape now than I’ve been in for years. I’ve never been a big fan of exercise, which bores me. Having discovered, however, that I can listen to their shows on my iPod, I’m chafing at the bit to get out there and burn some calories. I look pretty good now so – Thanks, guys! But I digress….

One of the things I’ve discovered listening to and reading these truly diverse news sources is that I’ve come to trust the conservative sources more than I ever did the Mainstream Media sources. It’s not just that, as a neocon, I agree with their values or the conclusions they reach running facts through their values filter.

My response is a bit more practical than ideological: Going to my conservative sources, I never feel I’m being toyed with or tricked. Each of the conservative sources is absolutely honest about its biases. If the source supports an idea or person holding that idea, it says so and explains why. Conversely, if it disagrees with an idea or a person holding that idea, the source acknowledges openly that disagreement, and then works to support its position.

This honesty stands in stark contrast to the traditional media’s obsessively repeated contention that it is objectively presenting news without allowing any bias to slip in. Once upon a time, I accepted that statement as true (as my family still does), but I’ve been burned too many times now to believe that there’s even a scintilla of truth to that statement.

If you doubt my opinion about the mainstream media’s subjectivity, a good source of information about the media’s myriad objectivity failures is Media Mythbusters, a wiki with which I am affiliated. Media Mythbusters collects data about the more serious media-propounded myths, none of which can be attributed to mere human error, and many of which appear to be animated by media members’ hostility to President Bush, to the Iraq War and (if the media is British) to Israel. Alternatively, if you’d like to see an example of someone who never exactly lies, but who oozes Bush hostility in every ostensible neutral “news” report, just pick up any AP report that Jennifer Loven writes. (You can learn a little more about Loven here.)

Members of the conservative media are also more generous with presenting the underlying source material on which they rely or with which they disagree, something that is especially apparent on the radio. For example, on NPR, Robert Siegel will do an eight minute report that begins with his opining magisterially on a subject, and then continues with his editing in carefully selected snippets of interviews with witnesses, actors and experts. Given the limited time format, it’s inevitable of course that the greater part of any given interview is left on the cutting room floor, with Siegel and his staff picking whatever money lines suit the story they wish to present.

On conservative talk radio, however, the hosts will frequently play half hour long clips, not just of people they support, but of people with whose opinion they differ. Likewise, when these hosts have guests on, the guests are not only people with whom the hosts agree, but people with whom they disagree. And in the latter case, you can comfortably settle in and listen to a free-wheeling, although never mean-spirited, discussion with both host and guest called upon to defend their positions vigorously.

But how can I say all this to my family, people who would just as soon go to a NASCAR race as listen to talk radio or read a conservative blog or newspaper? To them, despite the fact that I read two or three times as much as they do, from a much broader variety of sources, I am less well informed, not more well informed than they are. The New York Times and its ilk are the sum total of their intellectual universe, shaping their attitudes, and limiting the facts that they are willing to accept as true.

So when my family says to me that the War in Iraq is an unmitigated disaster, we stare at each other over an unbridgeable factual chasm. To me, Iraq is a vast tapestry, with some regions doing better than others, with violence still existent but shifting in nature and purpose, with its infrastructure shaky but on an upward trajectory, and with a political body that is being rather unfairly pushed to transition instantly from a violent dictatorship in a religiously fractured land into a cheery, ecumenical American style democracy. That’s a tall order, and one that I think the Iraqis are handling much better than anybody had reason to expect.

To my family, however, the War has always been Bush’s folly, instigated by his lies, and irretrievably hampered by his massive ineptitude. Nothing I say matters, not just because they disagree with my opinions, but because they disagree with my facts – facts that have never made it to the Times‘ august pages.

And so we really don’t have many political arguments in my family. This is a good thing, I guess, because it advances family serenity. Nevertheless, I find it extremely sad that, because they live in a finite factual universe, my family cannot even contemplate the possibility that there are facts out there from reliable sources that might change their ideas.

Media up to its tricks?

During the last Democratic debate, it looked as if CNN had planted Democratic activists in the audience — people who it identified as undecided voters as if they were political tabula rasas – — to throw softball questions at the candidates.  It now looks as if someone at CNN planted a Democratic activist to throw hardball questions at the Republican candidates.

This time, the plant showed up in the form of a Clinton activist who lobbed a nasty, loaded question at the candidates regarding gays in the military — an especially funny thing considering that it was the Clinton presidency that created the “neither fish nor fowl” policy that currently dominates the American military when it comes to gay service people.

If anyone wonders why the American people regularly rank the media below lawyers and used car salesmen when it comes to career respect, they should look no further than these types of shenanigans.

“Youths” honor decedents of “ethnic descent” by continuing to attack French police

I kid you not — the language I put in quotations in this post caption is the precise language the BBC uses to describe those who are engaged in a little bit of urban unrest In France. You know, the kind of innocuous urban rioting that results in more than 80 policeman being injured from beatings and bullets. Here, let me show you:

At least 10 cars have been burned and a fire broke out at a library in Toulouse, southern France, following consecutive nights of rioting in Paris.

There was also more violence in the capital as youths set cars on fire in the suburb of Villiers-le-Bel, the Associated Press news agency reports.

***

Relatives of the two dead teenagers, who were both from ethnic minorities, have insisted that police rammed their motorcycle before leaving them to die. (Emphasis mine.)

And that’s it. That’s all the information the BBC is going to give you about those rioters. But in this internet day and age, “ve haf vays” of finding out more information, even though it’s tough, very tough to do so. The Bloomberg report, for example, coyly hints at the ethnic nature of the “unrest” (Bloomberg’s word, not mine), by stating that “In France, poor neighborhoods and housing projects where many immigrants live tend to be far from city centers.” Hmm. Immigrants from where, I wonder? But we’re putting the pieces together. We’ve now got immigrant communities with people of ethnic descent.

AP, surprisingly is fairly forthright about the nature of the suburbs in which this year’s batch of riots is taking place, although it can’t resist implying that the poor innocents doing the attacking are doing so righteously because of their alienation: “The unrest showed that anger still smolders in France’s poor neighborhoods, where many Arabs, blacks and other minorities live largely isolated from the rest of society.” And again, “Youths, many of them Arab and black children of immigrants, again appeared to be lashing out at police and other targets seen to represent a French establishment they feel has left them behind.”

I’m sorry to say that the British paper The Independent is no help at all. While it boldly calls the youthful attacks on police something akin to “guerrilla warfare,” it places the blame firmly where it belongs: on the police. You see, last year, long after the riots ended, it turned out that the two youths who were electrocuted had been acting innocently when the police chased them into the power substation, knowing it was dangerous. (It does not appear that this was known when the actual riots happened, of course.) In other words, The Independent agrees with AP that the current crop of youths is righteously upset about the two kids killed while on the motor scooters, clearly justifying anarchy.

So, both at home and abroad, the MSM narrative is as follows: Young people are rioting in Paris and, in true “if it bleeds it leads” tradition, the news reports will happily tell you that they’re organized, they’re armed, and they’re incredibly aggressive, so much so that scores of police have been injured, and we’re not even talking property damage. If you insist on knowing more about who these people are, we’ll hint that they’re friends of youths of ethnic descent, and that they live in neighborhoods that have primarily Arab and African immigrants and their children.

If you suspect that part of the problem might be that these Arab and African immigrants are Muslim, please be assured that you are wrong. In the ponderous language of social scientists, the reporters will assure you that the riots/unrest/guerrilla warfare problem is entirely due to (1) the government’s treating these youths badly and (2) the fact that it emerged after last year’s riots that the police might have lied about their run-in with two of these same types of youths.

By the way, I don’t have any doubt but that part of the reason — even a large part of the reason — that these riots happen is because French society, indeed most European society, is set up so that there is no path to integration and assimilation for immigrants. That societal failure to absorb immigrants means that they’re going to be sitting in slums that become powder kegs of anger, unrest and, eventually, violence. Believing that, though, doesn’t mean that I don’t also believe that another, possibly significant, part of the problem is that there is a connection in this day and age between Muslims and violence. And when news reports play so coy, rather than my ending up believing that Islam has nothing to do with the violence, I tend to believe that Islam does have something to do with the violence and that the press is simply avoiding an issue it does not want to address.

And by the way, this kind of media avoidance syndrome — where you have to read through scads of articles to gather the puzzle pieces that shape the whole picture — is not limited to youth violence. Over at Big Lizards, Dafydd has taken the time to investigate the hidden, and very sordid, connection between the Clintons and InfoUSA, with the latter being a database marketer that knowingly sells information about vulnerable populations (the old and the sick) to organizations that run scams on these same people. He’s also taken the time to smell a rat in the article that purports to show a racist/religious-ist Romney refusing to contemplate the possibility of a Muslim holding a high government position in his administration. (Note to MSM types: it’s the carefully placed ellipses that always end up giving you away.)

My bottom line to the media: either report the news or stop pretending that you do.

UPDATE: It’s currently hidden behind the WSJ’s subscription wall, but John Fund has written a great article about Nancy Pelosi’s current effort to make America more like France by working to ensure that the current generation of immigrants remains stuck forever in non-English speaking poverty. Consistent with fair use, I’ll give you just a taste of what Fund has to say, and we’ll hope that the WSJ soon releases the article for general consumption:

Should the Salvation Army be able to require its employees to speak English? You wouldn’t think that’s controversial. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is holding up a $53 billion appropriations bill funding the FBI, NASA and Justice Department solely to block an attached amendment, passed by both the Senate and House, that protects the charity and other employers from federal lawsuits over their English-only policies.

The U.S. used to welcome immigrants while at the same time encouraging assimilation. Since 1906, for example, new citizens have had to show “the ability to read, write and speak ordinary English.” A century later, this preference for assimilation is still overwhelmingly popular. A new Rasmussen poll finds that 87% of voters think it “very important” that people speak English in the U.S., with four out of five Hispanics agreeing. And 77% support the right of employers to have English-only policies, while only 14% are opposed.

But hardball politics practiced by ethnic grievance lobbies is driving assimilation into the dustbin of history. The House Hispanic Caucus withheld its votes from a key bill granting relief on the Alternative Minimum Tax until Ms. Pelosi promised to kill the Salvation Army relief amendment.

UPDATE II: More on liberal efforts to keep minorities ghettoized.

UPDATE III: For a literary touch, I’ll just throw in one more thing. Because I’m feeling lazy, I’ve been re-reading Dorothy L. Sayers’ Gaudy Night, one of my favorite novels from England in the mid-1930s. (Even though it’s a mystery, I view it as a novel because, after many readings, there are no mysteries left in that book for me.) The book takes place at Oxford, and has a healthy respect for the old-fashioned idea of academic objectivity. Sayers therefore has one of her characters, during a discussion with someone about a history book, say the following:

“I entirely agree that a historian ought to be precise in detail; but unless you take all the characters and circumstances concerned into account, you are reckoning without the facts. The proportions and relations of things are just as much facts as the things themselves, and if you get those wrong, you falsify the picture really seriously.”

The whole book, incidentally, is a testament to examining facts without allowing private belief systems or loyalties to interfere with ones understanding of those facts.

The gap between critics and the rest of us

Rotten Tomatoes is an aggregator that assembles movie reviews and then, depending on the number of positive or negative reviews, assigns any given film a “freshness rating. ” The higher the rating, the more favorable the majority of reviews are.

For example, as of today (11/25 at 18:06 PST), Enchanted gets a 93% freshness rating (which is a percentage point higher than yesterday). In other words, there’s a fair degree of critical unanimity that Enchanted is a really nice movie. That unanimity carries over to the non-professionals too. At the bottom of each movie’s Rotten Tomatoes page, non-professional critics can add their two cents, either by writing a review or simply by voting for the movie. The non-professional critics give the movie a 92%, while the user rating is 8.4/10 — pretty high. And if you get away from the rarefied world of professional critics or people who take the time to contribute to sites such as Rotten Tomatoes, the news is still good. By voting with their feet, film-goers gave the movie a $50 million opening, which is nothing to sneeze at.

Things are a little different for famed director Brian de Palma’s Redacted, both in terms of box office revenues and, most strikingly, in terms of the way the professional critics see the movie and the way the rest of the world sees the movie. In this last regard, it is, once again, a striking reminder that our media is populated by people who are very anti-War — which, as I always say, is their prerogative, if only they didn’t pretend to some Olympian objectivity.

So, back to Rotten Tomatoes, this time to the Redacted page (again, as of 11/25 at 18:06 PST). Generally, the movie hasn’t been well-received. What’s fascinating is that, the more “important” the publication (in a declining scaled from the New York Times down to the Podunk Review, and yes, I made that last one up) the more likely it is that the critic approves of the movie. Thus, while the critical average for the movie is 47% (that’s aggregating all professional critics) the top critics (or, as they’re called, “the cream of the crop”) gave it a 54% rating. Even more strikingly, some of them acknowledge that it’s a lousy movie. They just like the message so much, they really think you ought to see it. For example, David Edelstein, who reviews movies both for NPR and New York Magazine, has this to say:

Critics have called the movie crude and punishing. All right, the defense concedes all that, but the movie does a harrowing job of depicting the psychological toll of the occupation on both Iraqis and U.S. soldiers. Despite the presence of two American sociopaths (one named Rush, perhaps in honor of the radio commentator who likened torture at Abu Ghraib to frat-house antics), this is not an unsympathetic portrait. In the film’s best scene, we watch a car approach a checkpoint from the Americans’ point of view. It takes a long time, and who knows who’s inside it? All at once, you understand the corrosiveness of living all the time with that threat. And is it unpatriotic to point out that soldiers on their third tours of duty in a place where they have little knowledge of the culture, where they can’t tell who is on their side and who wants to blow them up, stand a good chance of losing both their moral compass and their minds?

If I read Edelstein correctly, he’s saying that Redacted is a lousy movie, but you should see it anyway, because it shows that our soldiers are going insane in Iraq. Okay. He may have framed it in the guise of compassion (those poor babies at the checkpoints), but I think the underlying message is pretty unmistakable, don’t you?

While the faux-intellectuals may be impressed, the public is not. The bottom of the Rotten Tomatoes page starts to give the game away. Non-professional reviewers give the movie only a 30% approval rating, which is enough to drive anyone away from the box office. Likewise, those who merely vote (without a written review) give it a 3.4/10 — again, a singularly uninspiring showing. But that’s the world of words. How about the marketplace? Therein lies the real story (H/T Power Line):

IT’S hard for Hollywood pacifists like Brian De Palma to capture the hearts and minds of America if Americans won’t see their movies. While the public is staying away in droves from “Rendition,” “Lions for Lambs” and “In the Valley of Elah,” audiences are really avoiding “Redacted,” De Palma’s picture about US soldiers who rape a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, then kill her and her family. The message movie was produced by NBA Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who insisted on deleting grisly images of Iraqi war casualties from the montage at the film’s end. Cuban offered to sell the film back to De Palma at cost, but the director was too smart to go for that deal. “Redacted” – which “could be the worst movie I’ve ever seen,” said critic Michael Medved – took in just $25,628 in its opening weekend in 15 theaters, which means roughly 3,000 people saw it in the entire country. “This, despite an A-list director, a huge wave of publicity, high praise in the Times, The New Yorker, left-leaning sites like Salon, etc. A Joe Strummer documentary [of punk-rock band The Clash] playing in fewer theaters made more in its third week,” e-mailed one cineaste. “Not even people who presumably agree with the movie’s antiwar thesis made the effort to see it.” (Emphasis mine.)

It kind of gives you hope for America, doesn’t it? We may be bombarded by intellectually superior people urging us to do our moral duty by seeing a movie that implies — heck, that says straight out — that American troops are so morally and psychologically weak that serving in Iraq has turned them into monsters, but we, the People, ignore that type of crap. Good for us!

UPDATE: Hot Air reminds me that America was never the real target market in any event. It’s sad when anti-American propaganda, rather than being created abroad and sent here, is created here and sent abroad. It’s an inversion of the normal way people should feel about their home.

It depends what “undecided” means

Here’s a wonderful video from Hot Air exposing the fact that many of the “undecided” voters who got to question the candidates at the most recent Democratic debate were activists or operatives of some kind.  Indeed, one of them may even have been known to a Democratic candidate before the debate began:

It’s a very funny video, but it does take you down a language trail.  When Wolf Blitzer announced that these audience questioners were undecided, did he mean, as most of us first understood it, that they were political blank slates, who have not even decided with which party they wish to be affiliated?  I think it’s entirely possible that he didn’t mean “undecided” in that sense, especially given the MSM’s world view:  there is just one party (Democratic) , which is continuously and unfairly being attacked by a political malformation (conservatives).  In this world view, “undecided” would mean that these people have decided views on the issues, but are undecided as to which (Democratic) candidate would best serve those views.

Certainly if that’s what Blitzer/CNN mean to say, they should have clarified that point.  It was careless and possibly underhanded to imply in any way that these people were ordinary Moms and Pops.  Still, castigate CNN as I may, I do think CNN might be able to take a lawyerly language pass on its use of the word “undecided.”

This is why it’s always smart to dig into a poll

It’s tempting and easy to take poll results at face value. I certainly used to for most of my life and even now still have a lazy tendency to do so. However, I’m beginning to discover that you always need to drill down into the poll at issue, either to discover what population got polled (and its not always as representative as you might think), or what the questions were. Today, Confederate Yankee caught an NBC-WSJ poll that phrases questions in such a way as to force an answer. For the uninformed, it would be hard to avoid being steered in the direction the pollster wants; while for the uninformed, it would be almost impossible not to be driven in the preferred pollster direction.

Here’s how the story could have been reported, Part II

A few months ago, I took umbrage at a BBC news story that reported that Israel killed Palestinian children and only saw fit to mention, in the 5th and 6th paragraphs, that the children were fiddling around rocket launchers when Israel fired its missiles. I felt that the news was being reported to demonize Israel, and that’s why it led the story with the dead children. Just to refresh your recollection, here are the headline and first three paragraphs of that story:

Palestinian children die in blast

Three Palestinian children have been killed after an Israeli tank shell hit northern Gaza, Palestinian doctors say.

Israel’s military confirmed it launched an attack, saying it had targeted people setting up a rocket launcher.

Doctors said two boys aged 10 and 12 died of shrapnel wounds. A 12-year-old girl who was critically injured in the blast died also in hospital.

Two months later, I now have an interesting comparison study about how newspapers report child deaths in the Middle East. As you may recall, yesterday Hamas, a Palestinian organization, fired into a crowd of supports of Fatah, another Palestinian organization. Here are a few headlines and first paragraphs.

From the BBC:

Deadly clash at Arafat Gaza rally

At least six people have died in gunfire at a rally in Gaza City organised by Fatah to mark three years since the death of Yasser Arafat.

The violence occurred when Fatah supporters began taunting Hamas police and throwing stones, witnesses said.

From the London Times:

Bloody anniversary wrecks hopes for peace between Gaza factions

Seven people were killed and more than 100 wounded yesterday when Hamas paramilitary police clashed with Fatah supporters during a massive Gaza City rally marking the third anniversary of Yassir Arafat’s death.

In the worst inter-Palestinian clashes since the Islamist Hamas drove its secular Fatah rivals from the Gaza Strip in June, the self-appointed Hamas police force fired on a demonstration and beat protesters, claiming that Fatah snipers on rooftops had triggered the violence.

From Sky News:

Gunmen Open Fire At Gaza City Rally

At least five people have reportedly been killed at a mass rally marking former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s death.

Hospital officials said 50 others were wounded when security forces opened fire in Gaza City.

From the AP (via the Winnipeg Sun):

7 killed as Hamas open fire on Fatah rally

GAZA CITY — Seven civilians were killed and dozens were wounded in a clash between Palestinian factions yesterday when Hamas police opened fire after protesters began hurling rocks.

On the anniversary of the 2003 death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, a rally of more than 250,000 Fatah supporters posed the strongest challenge to Hamas rule in Gaza since the Islamic militants seized the territory.

From the New York Times:

6 Palestinians Killed in Gaza at Fatah Rally

GAZA, Nov. 12 — At least six Palestinians were killed and more than 100 wounded here on Monday when a rally by the relatively pro-Western Fatah movement to mark the third anniversary of the death of its founder, Yasir Arafat, ended in armed clashes with its rival, Hamas.

Doctors at two Gaza hospitals said all of the dead and most of the wounded were Fatah supporters who had taken part in the rally.

None of these stories, from major news outlets, make any mention of children amongst the dead after this Palestinian violence. Yet, surprisingly, at least one child was, in fact, a victim of this internecine bloodshed. I discovered that tidbit in paragraph 9 of a London Times story from today looking back on yesterday’s events.  Yesterday, buried deep in its initial report of the event, the London Times did have witnesses report that children were in the line of fire, but it mentioned no juvenile deaths.  The New York Times also didn’t mention juvenile deaths in its initial report, although I think it gets credit for reporting the Palestinians’ dawning realization that they opted for a sizzling Palestinian fire in lieu of the warmer, more humane, Israeli frying pan:

At Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Afaf Abu Tayeh, 45, was waiting by the morgue. She was there to look for two sons, ages 16 and 17. “The Israelis were more merciful than them,” she said of Hamas. “They beat children in front of my eyes.”

Maybe it’s just coincidence, but I think there is something going on when the death of children is reported so differently, depending on who is doing the shooting.  And I think that what is going on is that the media, either purposely or because of an inherent, uncontrollable bias, views Israel as a demonic child-killing country (sort of the modern blood libel), while it is loathe to give any openings for too many value judgments regarding the Palestinians, whom the media has championed for so long.  And all the while, as we excuse the Palestinians for their bestial conduct towards others as well as to themselves, we give them carte blanche to continue with such behavior, so that more children will die.

How would you classify this story?

DQ often says — and I know he’s correct — that I tend to be too harsh on the media, forgetting that the media’s goal is to sell the most interesting spin pm a story, even if that story doesn’t comport with my view of how the same story should be reported. He and I have had some vigorous (but always friendly and civil) debates about coverage coming out of Iraq and Israel. With regard to reports from these two regions, I often find them biased because, with regard to Iraq, the press omits good news, and with regard to the Israel, the Press (a) gives moral equivalence to Israelis and Palestinians, something I don’t think Palestinians, by their conduct, deserve; and (b) focuses obsessively (and on the front page) on Palestinian children the Israelis kill, while pretty much giving short shrift (and back page status) to any children, Palestinian or Israeli, that the Palestinians kill.

By the way, as to Iraq, I’m certainly in good company in thinking that the media reports only bad news, not good. DQ might say good news isn’t news, but I think that’s true only in “bleed and lead” local reporting. When it comes to Iraq, which is the major political issue of our time, after pounding the bad news, the fact that good things are happening should be news too.

With that in mind — the fact that I tend to be suspicious of MSM coverage — I have a question for you. The SF Chronicle just did a story about Obama, which is presented as political analysis, but which I read as a puff piece by a wishful thinking reporter. How would you classify this story?

UPDATE: Incidentally, here is what I think of as an interesting fact based news story that ought to be given prominence as an offset to the endless “grim milestone” reports that the papers like to run on a regular basis.

UPDATE IIHere’s some more news that the media doesn’t consider news.

Tony Snow politely takes on the liberal media monolith

Tony Snow recently received a Freedom of Speech Award from the Media Institute. In a graceful, humorous, and non-aggressive speech, he traced the First Amendment risks that arise from a monolithic liberal media. He begins by pointing out that it is a fact that the mainstream American media is overwhelmingly liberal and ascribes it to a historical process that began with the long run Democrats had in Congress:

The Roper Organization conducted a poll after the 1992 election and discovered that 93 percent of Washington political reporters voted for Bill Clinton. Only 2 percent identified themselves as “conservative.”

Subsequent surveys have indicated a similar spread in party affiliation, which makes the Washington Press Corps the most reliable Democratic voting bloc in the nation.

This is not a smear or a criticism. It is a fact, and it’s worth examining. My theory is that liberal – Democratic – sympathies flourish among reporters for very practical reasons. Democrats ran every major institution in Washington for 62 years – between 1932 and 1994. That’s the longest string of effective one-party rule in the history of democracy. Reporters knew that to get news, they needed to cultivate the people who made the news – who shaped legislation, who passed the laws, who peopled government departments and agencies – in other words, the people who really pull the levers in Washington. They needed to know elected officials, staffers, bureaucratic gnomes – the vast bulk of whom were Democrats.

Year in, year out, reporters and sources worked together. Over time, many became friendly, if not friends. They attended the same parties. Their kids went to the same schools. They shared stories of their ambitions and fears. They developed empathy for one another.

Reporters knew liberal arguments inside and out, because they heard them all the time from their sources. Meanwhile, they remained strangers to conservative viewpoints, even (or especially) during the heyday of the Reagan Revolution.

I will never forget receiving several calls the day after the surprising Republican landslide in 1994. Political reporters called me, a known conservative in the journalism fraternity, seeking introductions to the exotic breed known as Republicans.

The scribes harbored no personal animosity toward conservatives. They just weren’t used to dealing with them. They felt the need to approach them cautiously, with the blend of suspicion and fear you might feel if someone asked you to stroke a Gila monster.

Having established that there is such a monolithic liberal viewpoint — and having done so without attributing bad motives to anyone (typical for the genial, graceful Snow), Snow goes on to explain just why it is so dangerous that the media has a single viewpoint and, even more damagingly, a viewpoint blinkered by the orthodoxies of political correctness:

The ideological sameness of major news organizations is bad journalism, bad business and bad for the First Amendment, which was designed to foment ferocious debate – not orthodoxy.

***

A free press is supposed to relish and weigh ideas, not discard some simply on the basis of polite fashion. It’s a good thing to walk in someone else’s shoes, to try to see the world as they do. The quest permits one to look at issues and events from different angles and perspectives, to encounter new ways of thinking, and to add to one’s mental toolkit. It makes an already interesting job even more stimulating, and can make smart reporters even sharper when it comes to understanding national stories and trends.

But smugness isn’t the only threat to the First Amendment. Political correctness also stands in the way. It routinely imposes the kind of censorship journalists ought to hate most –prior restraint. It forbids the mere contemplation or acknowledgment of views that ruffle the feathers of self-appointed arbiters of the acceptable. These grandees usually find some kindly explanation for their banning of forbidden topics and thoughts – the communications in question hurt people’s feelings, invoke stereotypes, that sort of thing. But let’s be clear: the First Amendment didn’t create allowances for censors.

The Constitution’s authors would have grasped the utter frivolity of political correctness. It isn’t necessary. American society has a wonderful record of rejecting demagogues and verbal exhibitionists, without prodding or intervention from self-appointed scolds. The votaries of hatred and division occasionally have their day, but never for long. Americans have little patience for tub-thumping maniacs, and they reject demagogues with regular and ruthless efficiency.

In fact, the average Joe is far less susceptible to shabby fads than the PC police, who have become so ubiquitous and whose ministrations have become so absurd that even my elementary-school children are making fun of them – and not because Daddy has prompted them to do so.

Unfortunately, some in the press have adopted PC etiquette and practice without coercion from a Grand Inquisitor. There are questions some media organizations simply don’t ask. For instance, is racism as bad as it was two decades ago? The answer is no. If you doubt it, check out your kids. They’re refreshingly devoid of the bigotry and self-consciousness that characterized our youth. This is an immensely positive development, but nobody dares acknowledge it. It’s forbidden. And so race-baiters generate headlines, while healers and innovators toil unnoticed.

Snow doesn’t stop with those points, but goes on to discuss the blindness behind conventional wisdom, the dangers of elevating gossip journalism to front page status, the hostility to religion that the traditional media displays, and a few other points of weakness. It’s vintage Snow: intelligent, accurate, humorous, and without meanness. I urge you to read it all, which you can do here.

UPDATE:  See also Noel Sheppard’s coverage.

New technology and tragedies

United 93, instead of becoming a weapon in terrorists’ hands that would have struck at America’s heart, become a symbol of heroism and resistance.  And the reason that happened was because of the cell phone.  Passengers on board the flight were able to gain information and assess risk thanks to the information they received through their phones.

Another tragedy, although thankfully not one of such great dimensions, brought to Ocean Guy’s attention the fact that the  new technology means that every single person can become a news source, with pooled information having the potential to be much more accurate and swiftly assembled than anything the MSM can achieve.  His daughter and her friends, all USC students, were at his home when that terrible fire took place.  The young women were, of course, desperate for information:

Not all of the reports were accurate, and it took a while for the stories to come together… 6 missing, 7 missing, 6 dead, 4 got out… the first few minutes were confused, but the information kept flowing. Their network of friends were getting the story out through their cell phones and blackberries. We checked online and at first found nothing… nothing on the TV news either. Then, about noon, we got the first Google hits returning a basic outline of the story. But the girls were craving information and we were all frustrated at how slowly it was trickling out… their cell phone network was so much faster and surprisingly reliable.

As the girls pieced together the story and discovered the names of some of the victims, one of the old gatekeepers of the news, the AP was reporting that it would be several days before the names would be released. But through cell phones and IM’s and facebook, the story and names were already widely known.

(You can read the rest here.)

Clearly, this new media cannot replace the old media, because it conveys the news only to those who have connections.  That is, I couldn’t have linked into this network with any intelligence, nor would I have been able to interpret any data I might have received.

However, his story does emphasize the fact that the old media is no longer the sole guardian of information.  It is still a useful and, indeed, necessary clearinghouse for information, but it now must team with the people on the spot, or the people who know someone on the spot, to ensure story speed and accuracy.

The new technology also places on the old media the very difficult task of determining which citizen reporters are accurate and honest, and which are not.  And as to that, given the various media scandals that have arisen when the old media was relying on its own people, one does worry how the old media will cope with yet another challenge to determining source veracity.

Media people again fail to do their job

Would it surprise any of you to learn that the media’s coverage of the President horse race accords more coverage, and more favorable coverage, to the Democratic candidates? It didn’t surprise me, but it’s still useful to see it in black and white:

Campaign coverage of the 2008 presidential election has been both biased and shallow, according to a study released today by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.

One party dominates, and there’s way too much partisan fluff.

Numbers reveal all: Democratic candidates were the subject of half of the 1,742 recent print, broadcast and online news stories analyzed in the research. Republicans garnered 31 percent.

“Overall, Democrats received more positive coverage than Republicans (35 percent of stories versus 26 percent), while Republicans received more negative coverage than Democrats (35 percent versus 26 percent),” the study said.

Just as interesting is the fact that, while the public really, really wants to know about the candidates’ positions on the issues and their voting records during public office, that’s not what they’re getting:

The public pines for substance. A separate survey found that 77 percent of the respondents said they wanted more solid information on candidate policies and ideas. The press did not deliver.

Instead, almost two-thirds of the coverage focused on the “game” of the political horse race and candidate “performance.” Accounts of their marriages, health and religion followed in importance in 17 percent of the stories — with just 15 percent examining domestic and foreign policies. A mere 1 percent shed light on candidates’ public records.

“The press and the public are not on the same page when it comes to priorities in campaign coverage,” the study said. “This disparity indicates there is room for the press to calibrate its coverage differently to make it more useful and possibly more interesting to citizens.”

You can read (and weep over) the rest of the report here.

Hat tip: American Thinker

Obama is all smoke, but no fire

The LA Times has a story today that has just an incredibly funny title:

Polls don’t reflect Obama’s star power.

Maybe, if the polls don’t reflect Obama’s star power, it’s because he doesn’t have any. In other words, what makes a star a star, at least in the Hollywood world (and that is the world geographically closest to the LA Times) is the fact that people love him, are crazy about him, flock to him, and are willing to put their support behind him, either by buying tickets to his movies or by voting for him. If people don’t want to do those things, he’s probably not a star.

The secret behind the oxymoron in the title, and the oxymoronic thinking in the whole article is right here, in paragraph 9:

No candidate in recent memory has swept onto the national political scene with greater fanfare. Obama has been on magazine covers and talk shows. Oprah Winfrey endorsed him, and Obama Girl’s unrequited urges turned him into a YouTube sensation. He has raised nearly as much money as Clinton, and in Iowa, at least, has advertised twice as much (4,244 TV spots versus 2,192, according to the Nielsen Co.)

It’s not the people who love Obama, it’s the members of the media who love Obama. They’ve been trying to make him a star, and are frustrated that the public is resisting. Again, because the article used the “star” concept, which is a Hollywood construct, let’s give a Hollywood analogy.

The whole thing reminds me of Matthew McConaughey’s career.  He’s a guy who has been hanging around in Hollywood for a decade without ever becoming a big box office draw.  He’s kind of appealing, and he definitely makes real movies, but he simply doesn’t have star power.  The reason he’s always stuck in my mind, though, is because I carry such vivid memories of the hoopla when he hit Hollywood.  Every newspaper you picked up raved about him, assuring readers that he was going to be the next Tom Cruise, Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, or Brad Pitt.  They wanted him to be a star.  The American viewing public did not — and the public won because they weren’t buying enough tickets to elevate him from perfectly okay actor to STAR.

And it’s precisely the same with Obama.  The media is relentlessly trying to market him as a star and the American public is not buying.  No matter what the media says, they recognize that there’s very little there there.  This is a guy who has minimal practical experience in any area of endeavor, who has little knowledge of the world around him, and who is prone to gaffes of the type the media would savage if he were a Republican.  He has all the charm of a good 5:00 p.m. news anchor — and no matter how much I might enjoy watching one of those guys, I’d never confuse his ability to read a news feed with actual knowledge or governing experience.

So, maybe the LA Times is bewildered about Obama’s failure to ignite the American public with his “star power,” but I certainly am not.

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