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Saturday, December 19, 2009
All The News That's Fit To Sell

Interesting story in yesterday's WSJ on how Tiger Woods Protected His Image (sub req):

Mr. Woods had cut an unusual deal with American Media Inc., the owner of both Men's Fitness magazine and the National Enquirer tabloid newspaper. Mr. Woods agreed to the cover shot and photo spread in Men's Fitness, whose circulation of about 700,000 per issue is less than half of Golf Digest's nearly 1.7 million, in return for the National Enquirer squelching a story and photographs purportedly showing Mr. Woods in a liaison with a woman who wasn't his wife, according to people directly involved in the arrangement.

I imagine these "access for control" sort of deals are actually fairly common between celebrities and the media who cover them. You have to wonder how often this also occurs in the world of politics.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Hammer Time

The most recent edition of National Review features Charles Krauthammer on its cover and has a good piece on the indispensible intellectual/pundit by Jay Nordlinger called Critic-in-Chief (sub req):

So, Charles Krauthammer has not exactly been a wallflower or nonentity. But since January 20, 2009, his fame, reach, and popularity has burgeoned. That is because he has been a brilliant critic of President Obama: a persistent, fearless, profound critic of Obama. Indeed, many conservatives, and some liberals as well, consider him the critic-in-chief. He has been on Obama's case constantly, for his errors and follies in policy both foreign and domestic. In a column last month, he said that the "commander-in-chief, young Hamlet, frets, demurs, agonizes." Krauthammer was speaking of the Afghan War. Only in August, Obama had declared Afghanistan to be "a war of necessity." Now the president seemed very much unsure. Krauthammer concluded his column, "Does anything he says remain operative beyond the fading of the audience applause?"

Krauthammer also has a big television presence, a tremendous platform: appearing almost every night on Fox News, specifically Special Report with Bret Baier, where he gives commentary. Fox has rattled the president and his administration, as they have not bothered disguising. Krauthammer is a key part of what you may call the Fox resistance to Obama. There is precedent for the intellectual as television star: Malcolm Muggeridge in Britain, William F. Buckley Jr. in America. But the precedents are few.


There are few precedents indeed for the role that Krauthammer is now playing. His columns are must-reads and I find myself tuning in to Special Report whenever I have the chance chiefly in the hope of catching a few minutes of Krauthammer's expounding on the issues of the day. His language is precise and analytical and, like a surgeon wielding a scalpel, he uses words to cut to the heart of the manner with an almost clinical style. Most importantly, he was one of the first critics to be able to articulate what President Obama is really all about. He's now got Obama down cold which makes his analysis so insightful and convincing.

It might seem unlikely that a man who was born (correction) raised in Quebec, trained as a psychiatrist, once a speechwriter for Walter Mondale, and a writer for the New Republic would become one of the foremost conservative critics of the Age of Obama. But fate has worked in favor of conservatives in the case of Krauthammer and we're fortunate to have his voice leading the resistance. It isn't always an easy role either.

Every columnist writes a "soft" column now and then--a column about sports, or fashion, or maybe a beloved former teacher. All summer long, Krauthammer was wanting to write a column about the Washington Nationals, the baseball team. But he never had the opportunity, because "Obama keeps coming at me like a fire hose."

And it doesn't look like the deluge is going to let up anytime soon.

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Thursday, November 05, 2009
Playing Favorites

In yesterday's WSJ, Thomas Frank revealed a shocking discovery that he had unearthed: Glenn Beck's red phone is not really a hotline to the White House. No! You mean that the phone is nothing but a schlocky part of Beck's shtick whose purpose is to entertain and amuse his audience? Say it ain't so. Next, you'll be telling me that Keith Olbermann isn't really an objective straight-shooting reporter cut from the cloth of the sainted Edward R. Murrow.

Frank also sought to defend one of Beck's recent targets:

One of the specific answers Mr. Beck wanted, on one of the days I watched his program last week, had to do with White House Communications Director Anita Dunn, who has been caught on film quoting one of those Mao Zedong aphorisms that wouldn't look out of place on a motivational poster. She also remarked that Mao was one of her "favorite political philosophers," an honor the Chinese Communist shared with Mother Teresa.

Obviously Ms. Dunn was yet another person who deserved to be added to the long list of radicals that Mr. Beck had uncovered within the government.


The key word here is "favorite" as in favorite political philosophers.

Nor should Mr. Beck require a phone call from the White House to understand that lots of people, including conservatives, have cited Mao and Lenin and other such demonic figures in all sorts of contexts, and that they aren't always careful, when so citing, to point out what bad people these were.

This is absurd. Frank is pretending that what Dunn is being criticized for is not having noted Mao's history when referencing his quotes. He ignores the much more significant statement that Mao was one of her favorite political philosophers. Lots of people may very well cite quotes from Mao, Lenin, and other sources of evil, but you don't find many who claim one of these monsters of history as one of their "favorites."

No discerning person would conclude from Ms. Dunn's dimwitted remark that she is a Maoist.

Really? So during the 2000 presidential campaign when George W. Bush said that Jesus Christ was his favorite political philosopher would no discerning person conclude that he was a Christian?

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Ignoring The Medium & Missing The Message

Camille Paglia on Democratic detachment:

Why did it take so long for Democrats to realize that this year's tea party and town hall uprisings were a genuine barometer of widespread public discontent and not simply a staged scenario by kooks and conspirators? First of all, too many political analysts still think that network and cable TV chat shows are the central forums of national debate. But the truly transformative political energy is coming from talk radio and the Web--both of which Democrat-sponsored proposals have threatened to stifle, in defiance of freedom of speech guarantees in the Bill of Rights. I rarely watch TV anymore except for cooking shows, history and science documentaries, old movies and football. Hence I was blissfully free from the retching overkill that followed the deaths of Michael Jackson and Ted Kennedy--I never saw a single minute of any of it. It was on talk radio, which I have resumed monitoring around the clock because of the healthcare fiasco, that I heard the passionate voices of callers coming directly from the town hall meetings. Hence I was alerted to the depth and intensity of national sentiment long before others who were simply watching staged, manipulated TV shows.

Why has the Democratic Party become so arrogantly detached from ordinary Americans? Though they claim to speak for the poor and dispossessed, Democrats have increasingly become the party of an upper-middle-class professional elite, top-heavy with journalists, academics and lawyers (one reason for the hypocritical absence of tort reform in the healthcare bills). Weirdly, given their worship of highly individualistic, secularized self-actualization, such professionals are as a whole amazingly credulous these days about big-government solutions to every social problem. They see no danger in expanding government authority and intrusive, wasteful bureaucracy. This is, I submit, a stunning turn away from the anti-authority and anti-establishment principles of authentic 1960s leftism.

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Monday, July 06, 2009
One of the Thousand Cuts

Great example of a meaningless yet annoying error in the opening graph of a story on fireworks by Amy Chozick that appeared in the weekend WSJ:

The technology is from China. The 45,000 pounds of explosives, monitored from a command center on the Intrepid battleship, will need to soar as high as 1,000 feet in the sky. Around 9:20 p.m., a new, experimental model known as the "ghost shell" will explode across the night sky, then vanish--only to reappear and disappear several more times in a wave pattern.

This year's Fourth of July fireworks show in New York--more than 10 times larger than the one in Washington--needs to be bigger, brighter, longer and louder than last year's.


The fact that the Intrepid is not a battleship, but an aircraft carrier has no bearing on the integrity of the rest of the story whatsoever. But it demonstrates either ignorance--the writer isn't familiar with the history of the Intrepid or doesn't know the difference between a battleship and an aircraft carrier--or incredible laziness--she doesn't care whether she gets an easily verifiable fact right or not.

Neither explanation serves to give one confidence in the quality of journalism on display. Let's not even not even get into the lapse by the "gatekeepers" who we are constantly assured are on vigilant duty to safeguard the veracity of the information being reported.

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Sunday, July 05, 2009
Too Good To Check?

David Carr of the New York Times, harking back to his days of working as a political reporter in the Twin Cities. Fatigued from a marathon nomination fight during the 1982 State GOP convention, he heads for the cheap seats in the Old St. Paul Civic Center to rest and reflect. Where upon he just happens, by some miraculous coincidence, to situate himself next to Howard Hughes. Or at least our local version of it, as Carr tells it:

Their various causes righteous, their faces flushed with excitement, they went into extra innings, deep into the night. My head spinning, I climbed into the bleachers and sat near a shaggy-looking guy in a shiny hockey jacket from Anoka. We watched the full pageantry of electoral politics silently and then I finally looked down the row and spoke: "Is it always like this?"

"Yes," the man said, turning toward me. I recognized him as someone who should know: Garrison Keillor.


Curiosities we're just supposed to take The New York Times' word on:

1) Garrison Keillor was on-site for a state GOP convention, one with all the momentous import of nominating Wheelock Whitney.

2) He stayed until "deep into the night" to watch exhausting procedural fights.

3) A man who changed his name from Gary to Garrison when he was in junior high was sporting a "shiny hockey jacket" in public.

4) The reporter went to an obscure location, sat down randomly, blindly shot a question toward a shaggy-looking random guy and it happened to be the bard of Lake Woebegone, providing an anecdote that just happens to be note perfect decades later for a piece he's writing on how endearingly quirky Minnesota politics, and the election of Al Franken is.

Sure, sure, it might be true. Then again, I used to say that about Jayson Blair's work. Make a monkey out of me again, will ya!

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Thursday, July 02, 2009
When Rich and Famous Writers Publish Things You'd Be Embarrassed to Read On a Crappy Blog

The pride of St. Louis Park MN, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times on the opposition to the Democrats recent carbon credit cap and trade bill:

What are Republicans thinking? It is not as if they put forward a different strategy, like a carbon tax. Does the G.O.P. want to be the party of sex scandals and polluters or does it want to be a partner in helping America dominate the next great global industry: E.T. -- energy technology? How could Republicans become so anti-environment, just when the country is going green?
And the Western suburbs weep.

Awaiting former St. Louis Park resident Chad The Elder's statement on this disturbing incident.

The Elder Adds: I'll cede my time to another rich and famous writer whose work is actually deserving of said fame and fortune. George Will's words are from a piece on health care reform, but I think they're fitting for cap and trade as well:

Regarding reform, conservatives are accused of being a party of "no." Fine. That is an indispensable word in politics because most new ideas are false and mischievous. Furthermore, the First Amendment's lovely first five words ("Congress shall make no law") set the negative tone of the Bill of Rights, which is a list of government behaviors, from establishing religion to conducting unreasonable searches, to which the Constitution says: No.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Unable To Save Themselves

In a piece at American Thinker Gary Larson sounds the death knell for "mainstream" journalism. While the body is still technically twitching, his pre-mortem autopsy finds the primary cause of death to be the demise of credible, objective reporting:

Why am I not totally surprised? Inbred journalism majors only reproduce what their inbred professors fed them. For a lover of even-handed journalism, and an ex-practitioner like myself, the outlook is bleak. Time was, in my days in newspapering, street-smart blue-collar kids without fancy degrees entered the field if they could write intelligently and honestly. Not rocket science, just tell the @#$%& truth. The pay was not terrific; reporting was a relatively easy field to enter.

Blue-collar kids worked their way to editor slots. They were not out to "save the [post-Watergate] world." These cubs just reported what happened, and who said what, without inventing stuff. "Go back," I was told by my crusty old city editor in my formative twenties, "to find out what the other side thinks of this proposal." Fairness was supreme to the guy--for all sides of the issue. (I had not a clue as to his political persuasion. I came to respect this more and more as time went on.)

As a Journalism school graduate I emerged with the quaint, rather new notion, that "interpretative journalism" (a term found in the very name of our 1960's textbook) was Gospel. Context was king. It was the pathway to "acing" the public affairs course. Inserting "frame of reference" into our stories was a must. I was graded down without "context" gratuitously offered.

When I entered the profession, my wise old city editor (a high school graduate) quickly disabused me of the notion of "context." "Leave the interpretation to the editorial side," he'd say.

Today the field is rife with highly educated reporters. Fresh from their university indoctrination, they are out to save the world...or save something.


For the last forty years or so, reporters who have behaved as if their mission was save the world and "make a difference" have done much to discredit journalism and contributed to the apparently irreversible decline of many of the field's leading institutions. It might be too late in the game to get back to the days of journalists simply trying to tell us what happened, but for those of us who still hanker for hard core news it would be a welcome shift. One that could maybe even salvage what's left of the industry.

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Everybody Hurts

Regular readers know that I believe there is a lot of value to be had in reading the Wall Street Journal. From the news of the day to the editorial page to the business coverage, the paper packs good bang for the buck. Throw in the book, theater, and movie reviews, food, drink, and personal technology columns, and even the fledgling sports page and you have a fairly well-rounded information package delivered to your door six days a week.

But once in a while the upper-crust, East Coast origins of the paper come across in a manner that most Americans probably have a tough time relating too. For some reason I've noticed this most often in articles that deal with "lifestyle management" or personal finance. Case in point is this piece in yesterday's paper called Back to the (Thrifty) Future:

Before the financial crisis struck, for instance, when we'd go out for dinner with friends, someone would always pick up the check. The unspoken notion was that we'd be going out again soon, and that next time someone else would pick up the tab. There was an informal rotation, sometimes with a bit of a socialist bent. The bankers and lawyers usually grabbed a few more checks over time, but nobody really freeloaded.

Maybe I'm just hanging with the wrong mix of friends, but this isn't something that I've experienced much in my social circles. And the idea that the lawyers and bankers I know would be the ones more often than not picking up a check is almost laughable. They're usually the cheapest, stingiest ones of the bunch.

Summer vacations also reflect the new frugality. In the past, spontaneity was the watchword. Meet-ups in Las Vegas, a trip to London or Paris to do some sightseeing or a dash out to the Hamptons for a weekend.

"Do we have plans for the weekend yet Mitzy?"

"Well Chase, I was thinking that perhaps we could make a dash out to the Hamptons."

"Sounds splendid darling. I'll have Stevens prepare the motor car."

But now that tough times are upon us, those days of carefree summer vacations are a thing of the past. The writer makes note of his own personal sacrifices:

Looking back, it all seems just a bit foolish--the frivolous actions of a self-indulgent time. Now, it's about planning and watching pennies, or at least dollars. In February, my wife and I started mapping out what we wanted to do. Our goal was to do one thing fun and reasonably priced and one thing a bit more adventurous. So, we settled on a late-July bike ride across Iowa, and we're saving up to take a cruise in August. We also might squeeze a camping trip in there somewhere.

Only three vacation outings this summer? The suffering is truly heart-wrenching. And yet some still claim that we're not in the midst of an economic depression?

Our friends are taking a similar approach to the summer. One friend, who works at a large company and is doing just fine in the downturn, is taking his family to New Hampshire for a Fourth of July weekend with the in-laws. The rest of their summer vacation will be spent primarily at their modest lake cabin. He had thought of doing a "tear down" and building a new cabin, but for now he's happy with his smallish, vintage place. He'd rather not spend the money if he doesn't have to. Instead, he's saving up to pay for his kids' schooling.

A dream deferred is a dream denied. Thing really are tough all over.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009
Regret or Remove The Error?

After reading a story in Friday's WSJ on John Madden called NFL Analyst John Madden Often Brilliant, Even if Not Always Right--that highlighted some of the mistakes that Madden had made on air of late--I was all ready to bust the author Matthew Futterman for making a rather egregious misstatement himself. In the original print version of the story he wrote:

As a broadcaster, Mr. Madden remains the standard-bearer of the old guard -- the gruff, barstool voice that harkens back to a time when a famous group of linemen were known as "the Hogs" and clumps of mud got stuck in players' facemasks(most teams now play on artificial turf). Nostalgia may be a large part of his enduring appeal: According to Scarborough Sports Marketing, 69% of all NFL fans are over the age of 35.

The claim that "most teams now play on artificial turf" didn't sound right to me. Sure enough, if you check out a list of current National Football League stadiums you see that nineteen of the thirty-one teams play on grass. A clear and obvious error on Futterman's part.

But if you check out the online version of the story now, you'll find no such error. It's been removed, whitewashed from the story with no hint that it ever was there. If you read the article's comments, you can see that others also caught Futterman's blunder and called him on it. Which is probably what lead to the removal of the error.

Obviously we want to see mistakes corrected. But they should also be acknowledged. I'm not sure what the Journal's policy is on this, but there should at least be a note online saying that a correction had been made.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009
All In A Day's Work

Joe Carter names the three most influential conservative media sources--a book, a magazine, and a radio show--over the last forty years. His choices may surprise you:

- Paul Harvey News and Comment

- Readers Digest

- The Boy Scout Handbook


I was pretty skeptical about his argument until I realized that I had in fact been influenced by all three of these sources while growing up. My parents were avid radio listeners so we got a healthy dose of Harvey. They also subscribed to RD, which I often read. And yes, I was a Boy Scout so I was quite familiar with the Handbook.

While none of them would necessarily be considered overtly conservative, they no doubt had an impact on the formation of conservative views. I doubt that there are any three conservative media sources today that you could say are nearly as influential.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009
I Don't See Your America

At times, Peggy Noonan write some of the most insightful and astute political commentary of our times. At others, she writes things like this:

In terms of public support, Mr. Obama shouldn't get too abstract. He should be thinking hardhats. People want to make their country strong--literally, concretely, because the things they fear (terrorism, global collapse) are so huge and amorphous. Lately I think the biggest thing Americans fear, deep dow--the thing they'd say if you could put the whole nation on the couch and say, "Just free associate, tell me what you fear?--is, "I am afraid we will run out of food. And none of us have gardens, and we haven't taught our children how to grow things. Everything is bought in a store. What if the store closes? What if the choke points through which the great trucks travel from farmland to city get cut off? I have two months of canned goods. I'm afraid."

I'm afraid not Peggy. If you want to talk about the biggest thing that I fear deep down, it ain't whether or not my kids know how to grow corn. No, it probably would have something to do with a mushroom cloud billowing out from downtown Minneapolis.

I have at least two weeks of bottled beer. I'm not afraid.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Defund Thomas Frank

Over the years most of the staff here at Fraters Libertas have developed chronic cases of "Coleman Fatigue" often leading to full-blown outbreaks of "Coleman Affective Disorder" or CAD. These ailments are not treatable through any known medical means and the only way to avoid symptoms is to maintain a strict quarantine by not reading any of Nick Coleman's Star Tribune columns. Sometimes merely hearing about the content of a particularly egregious Coleman column is enough to lead to a temporary relapse.

But there's something to be said for having a regular target like Coleman to take shots at. A man making a strong bid to become such a target is the Wall Street Journal's Thomas Frank, who is probably best known as the author of "What's The Deal With Those Ignorant Gun-Totting Rubes In Kansas Anyway?" Frank writes a weekly column for the Journal called "The Tilting Yard."

I've already had one post comparing the work of Frank and Coleman and laid out some of the ground rules they both follow:

1. Distort and remove all context from your opponent's position until it's nothing more than a flimsy straw man

2. Interview one person who agrees with your position and present them as holding the consensus opinion

3. Throw out baseless assertions in a smug manner with the attitude that every rational American has to come the same conclusion as you and that those who don't are either idiots or part of the neo-con conspiracy.


Since then I've had a couple of additional posts on Mr. Frank and I'm now prepared to amend my Coleman-Frank rules. Consider these to be subsets to the original:

1b. Demagogue your opponents by casting aspersions on their methods and motivation.

2b. Include a quote that supports your view from an "expert" source while downplaying or not acknowledging their bias.

3b. Throw out assertion after assertion not backed up by any evidence, but presented in a manner that assumes their veracity and validity.


The latest and greatest example of the zest and best of Franks came in last Wednesday's WSJ. Frank wrote a column called Health-Care Reform Could Kill the GOP and in it he spun a tale of noble liberals whose only interest was in helping their fellow man with no regard for the political consequences, while Machiavellian conservatives operate without principals in a heartless quest for absolute power. He also included this observation:

For decades Republicans have made policy with a higher purpose in mind: to solidify the GOP base or to damage the institutions and movements aligned with the other side. One of their fondest slogans is "Defund the Left," and under that banner they have attacked labor unions and trial lawyers and tried to sever the links between the lobbying industry and the Democratic Party. Consider as well their long-cherished dreams of privatizing Social Security, which would make Wall Street, instead of Washington, the protector of our beloved seniors. Or their larger effort to demonstrate, by means of egregious misrule, that government is incapable of delivering the most basic services.

Now, as a conservative Republican I should instantly have recognized one of our "fondest slogans," shouldn't I? Why the way Frank makes it sound "Defund the Left" is one of our key rallying cries. Evidence of its use by conservatives must be everywhere.

Let's start with a Google Search for defund the left.

77,900 results. Which sounds impressive until you consider that the worlds "Al Franken genius" give you 84,700. Most of the top ten results for "defund the left" are from left wing sites writing about how this is part of the nefarious conservative plan. There is one link to National Review Online for a post about getting free Ben and Jerry's ice cream. Sinister.

There are also links to Thomas Frank's latest book The Wrecking Crew:

Despite all the badges and bumper stickers it has adorned, I doubt that " defund the left" ever had much popular appeal.

"All the badges and bumper stickers it has adorned" eh? Let's do a Google Image Search with the words "defund the left." Again, lots of left wing sites pop up, but not one badge or bumper sticker in sight. Add badge after the phrase and you get a bunch of left-wing agit prop. Add bumper sticker and you get more of the same, although the number one result may surprise you.

Further research on the phrase "defund the left" reveals that according to the left wing SourceWatch, the latest example of conservatives using this term is from February 2001. Considering that Frank claims that this is (not was) one of our "fondest slogans" it doesn't seem like we've been using it much lately.

Finally, in the six-plus year history of Fraters Libertas (six-thousand seven-hundred and forty-five posts at last count--at least until the sleeping Atomizer giant awakens), the phrase has appeared exactly one time and that was four years ago. I'm going to have to get on the staff to start using that slogan more often. After all, it is one of our favorites.

UPDATE: Frank not Franks. I regret the error.

UPDATE II: At NRO, Jonah Goldberg captures the essence of some of the problems with Frank in comments on his most recent column about surrogate motherhood (which actually wasn't nearly as bad as usual):

Thomas Frank has an almost-interesting column today. It would have been really interesting if he could have gotten past square one and not spent almost the entire column bitching and moaning about the cultural obsession with the hyper-rich. I think there's some merit to his complaints. But they are so unbelievably familiar and trite at this point that if I knew he was never really going to get past that stuff I probably wouldn't have read it.

For Frank and much of his left wing ilk, it's all about class (or race or sexuality) all the time. That obsession clouds their thinking and distracts them from being able to make what otherwise could have been legitimate arguments.

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Sunday, November 30, 2008
Professing Ignorance

It was a bad week for journalism ethics professors.

First, one from Washington and Lee University crawled down for his ivory tower to boldly proclaim that those phony documents used by 60 Minutes in the infamous Bush-National Guard story four years ago STILL have yet to be proven as inauthentic.

As time goes on, the defenders of this 60 Minutes story appear more and more like the Japanese soldiers found still fighting WWII decades after their nation's surrender.

The chore of deprogramming the professor falls to Scott Johnson of Power Line and he is brutally efficient. Excerpt:
Wasserman cites the Thornburgh-Boccardi report in support of his argument here, but It is hard to believe that Wasserman has read it. If he has read it, this professor of journalism ethics needs to be reminded that it's not ethical to withhold from your readers relevant evidence directly contradicting your thesis.
A second journalism ethics professor, this time from some college in Canada, picked a fight with another rather hard target, Mark Steyn. It has to do with Steyn's continuing problems with the Human Rights Tribunals in the Great White North, a 3-year-old book review he published in Maclean's magazine, and the Ayatollah Khomenei's advice on what to do with the meat of an animal with which you may have copulated. Seriously.

It's all covered in this laugh out loud and devastating post by Steyn. Excerpt:
.... so why would a prissy PC drone like Prof Miller be so cavalier as to expose himself as entirely ignorant of the subject he's loftily pontificating on? Not for the first time you realise that, for the lazy white liberal, driving around with a "CELEBRATE DIVERSITY" sticker absolves one from having to take the slightest interest in other cultures.
Plus, there are about a dozen variations of euphemisms for unnatural relations with sheep. Amazingly, none are gratuitous, all are integral to the plot. Example:
In other words, anyone who had the most casual acquaintance with the Ayatollah's writings would be aware not only that it's not in the least bit surprising but entirely par for the course that the old boy had complex rules re using your embraceable ewe for the Friday night kebab special.
The pathetic positions advocated by the Professors in these two dust-ups do not reflect well on the state of journalism instruction in our institutions of higher learning.

I think the problem is they have too much time on their hands. Journalism in this day and age is just so ethical, the journalism ethics professoriate has nothing to study and they are relegated to grasping at straws.

I can only hope this level of sloppy teaching doesn't start to negatively affect the quality of our journalists in the future.

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Monday, October 27, 2008
For Shame

Vox Day calls out the mainstream media enablers among his readers:

Few regulars here still do, but if you are one of the few who still subscribe to a daily newspaper, watch the evening news networks, or read mainstream magazines like Time and People, you should be ashamed of yourself. Because it's people like you who give these outmoded organizations the power to influence the less intelligent and the maleducated.

He makes a key point that isn't given enough attention. Deciding to cancel your subscription to media outlets like the Star Tribune is about more than just a personal statement about your distaste for what they do. It's about your money not being used to contribute to the intellectual delinquency of others.

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Friday, October 03, 2008
Don't Try This At Home

Joe Carter e-mails in response to my post on Carter's Eleven:

"...no references to beer or Scotch to be found anywhere."

Au contraire, we have an article about old beer: A Beer for the Ageing

We even have articles for guys like JB Doubtless: Shake, Rattle, and Twang


It's not often that you hear JB Doubtless and culture mentioned together. I'll give Joe the benefit of the doubt on the beer piece, although I question whether beer is even meant for ageing.

However, he still fails miserably to respond to the scandalous hoarking of the Top 11 List concept. The fellows at Nihilist in Golf Pants have responded in their own manner by crafting a their own Top 11 List covering the same topic as Culture11 did. Readers are invited to compare and contrast in order to determine which is the real deal.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008
Carter's Eleven

Not exactly breaking news, but Joe Carter has left the evangelical outpost to join a new "community" site called Culture11 (insert obvious Spinal Tap ref here). The EO blog is still being kept up through a group effort, but it will definitely miss Joe's unique though a little girly voice. We wish Joe the best of luck in his new gig as managing editor of Culture11.

I do find it a little shocking that while one of the eleven facets of culture the site claims to cover is called "Leisure" there are apparently no references to beer or Scotch to be found anywhere. And this appears to be a blatant ripoff of a bit that a deservedly obscure local blog has been doing for years. Say it ain't so Joe!

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Simple Simon

Stephanie Simon tries to employ a movie reference in a piece in today's WSJ called The United States of Mind (sub req):

And what of the unexpected finding that North Dakota is the most outgoing state in the union? Yes, North Dakota, the same state memorialized years ago in the movie "Fargo" as a frozen wasteland of taciturn souls. Turns out you can be a laconic extrovert, at least in the world of psychology. The trait is defined in part by strong social networks and tight community bonds, which are characteristic of small towns across the Great Plains. (Though not, apparently, small towns in New England, which ranks quite low on the extraversion scale.)

For the record, the frozen wasteland of taciturn souls depicted in "Fargo" was actually Minnesota (don't let the title confuse you). A common mistake for sure, but I expect more from the Journal.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Oh The Humanity

At NRO, novelist Robert Ferrigno imagines an alternative reality DNC and how it would be covered on MSNBC World:

"Good morning, Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea, this is Keith Olbermann reporting from the sixth day Democratic convention. Overtime. Extra innings. Sudden death." Olbermann hunched over, the studio lights glaring off the sheen of sweat across his forehead. "It's 3 A.M. in Denver, the witching hour, and after 134 ballots, the convention is still deadlocked between the presumed nominee, Barak Obama, and the insurgent forces of Hillary Rodham Clinton. At this moment, three holdouts for John Edwards, three deadenders who evidently previously served on an Edwards's jury and remain hypnotized, hold the key to the nomination and the presidency." He held up a blank sheaf of papers, jiggled them. "Our latest MSNBC-NBC intelligence reports indicate that anything can happen, so please, stay tuned."

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Thursday, July 17, 2008
A Few Of My Favorite Things

Wednesday's Financial Times offered up a trifecta of much interest for our own Saint Paul.

First, a review of a concert by Saint's favorite Scottish rockers The Fratellis:

Presumably the ham-fisted heraldry was supposed to underline The Fratellis' pride at being a people's band. Unfashionable but hugely popular--their first album sold 1.5m copies--the Scottish trio bash out unreconstructed bloke rock, all football terrace choruses and beer-spraying guitar solos. The singer Jon Lawler has a passing resemblance to Marc Bolan with his tumbling curls of hair but otherwise they're archetypal lads next door, dressed in dark jeans and casual tops and possessing not one ounce of charisma.

They opened with "Mistress Mabel" from their new album Here We Stand. Pub rock piano and rhymes from Noel Gallagher's reject pile ("Mistress Mabel, you're seriously wrong/Clears my table, bang, and then she's gone") clattered from the stage. The words "Nae Dance" were spray-painted on a speaker stack. Beery men lurching around in the audience did their best to obey the injunction.

The evening's course had been set. The songs were plodding and derivative: sub-Beatles melodies, unglittery glam rock (more Slade than T-Rex), rabble-rousing punk rock in the dubious mould of The Libertines. Lawler's vocals aped Liam Gallagher's growl and the Arctic Monkeys' phrasing. Britpop's life flashed before my eyes.


But other than that, how was the show?

Then we have Gideon Rachman comparing American and British journalism and the use of Saint Paul's favorite tool of the trade; the anonymous source:

American journalists, I realised, regard themselves as members of a respectable profession--like lawyers or bankers. Their British counterparts generally prefer the idea that they are outsiders. They like to quote the adage of the late Nicholas Tomalin that: "The only qualities essential for real success in journalism are rat-like cunning, a plausible manner and a little literary ability."

The British sometimes argue that because American journalists have joined the establishment they are easily duped by "senior sources". The US press's supine role in the run-up to the Iraq war is cited as evidence.

Maybe so. On the other hand, it was painstaking and daring American journalism that uncovered the Watergate scandal.

Certainly, after a while in Washington I began to develop a grudging respect for my neighbours at the Tribune. I admired the fact that their investigative team would work for months on a single article. On the British paper I then worked for, an "investigation" was something we started on Tuesday and published on Sunday. I was also sure that when American papers used the phrase "sources say", there really were some sources. I was not always so confident when that phrase appeared in my own newspaper.

Later in my career, I found myself defending a British colleague in Thailand--who was being roundly criticised by some Americans for using quotes from the Bangkok Post, without attribution. I coldly informed my American colleagues that they were box-tickers, making a fuss about nothing. When the Americans left, my British colleague thanked me and then added casually: "Mind you, you might have struggled to find those quotes in the Bangkok Post." He had made them up.


Finally, a look at Saint Paul's favorite Asian cooking instrument, the "hot wok." Okay, it's really more of look at China's "war on nature" and the spectre of rising Chinese nationalism by Niall Ferguson, who is one of Saint's favorite writers:

China on the eve of next month's Olympic Games is like a "hot wok" of aiguozhuyi - national pride--according to Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese writer. The question is how far the Chinese government risks overcooking the popular mood. Wherever you go, there is no escaping the official slogan of Beijing 2008: "One World, One Dream". The five cutesy Olympic mascots known as Fuwa are equally ubiquitous, chirruping away on screens large and small, from Beijing's striking new international airport terminal to the humblest local railway carriage.

*****

The trouble with a semi-planned economy, as soon becomes clear to the visitor to Chongqing, is twofold. First, in the absence of rule of law and meaningful private property rights, there are no real limits to the "negative externalities" of economic development. The air in Chongqing is as thick with pollutants as the local food is thick with hot chili peppers, frequently turning the city's natural mists into dense pea-soup fogs. Second, the semi-planned economy allocates resources to infrastructure investment but does nothing to mitigate social inequality. The economic gulf between insiders (officials and entrepreneurs) and outsiders (construction workers and the rest) is now huge. If this is the "harmonious society" of which China's leaders boast, then São Paulo is an egalitarian paradise.

*****

Yet the new forms of electronic communication may just as easily act as channels for popular nationalism as for political dissent. "We Have Nothing to Fear", an unofficial video posted on the internet shortly after the unrest in Tibet, is almost hysterically critical of the western media.* With its ultra-nationalist imagery, its strident music and its defiant slogans--"China's sovereignty is sacred and inviolable"; "We have an obligation to safeguard the community's prosperity and stability"; "Do not provoke us!"--it perfectly captures the moment when Chinese nationalism met YouTube.

On the eve of the Olympics, there is indeed something of the "hot wok" about the mood in China. But it is China's hot websites, burning with a new generation's nationalism, that should make the rest of the world feel uneasy.

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Friday, June 27, 2008
At Least I'll Get My Washing Done

The people have spoken and not surprisingly you have said that Laura Ingraham has the worst guest hosts. This was actually the outcome I had in mind when I posted the poll, having spent the last several days suffering through Monica Crowley trying to fill in for Ingraham.

No offense to the ladies out there, but there is a reason there aren't many successful female political talk radio hosts (or hostesses) in the land (Ingraham is the obvious exception). There's something about the tonal quality of their voices and tendency to chatter excitedly that usually has me reaching for the dial post haste. Hugh Hewitt finished second to Ingraham in the poll and had he decided to have Carol Platt Liebau fill in for him this week, it might have been enough to vault him into the top spot. Like nails on a chalkboard her voice is.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008
"I hear nothing, I see nothing, I know nothing!"

May 7th Debate - Medved/Schultz:

Join AM1280 The Patriot as we present our own Michael Medved in a spirited debate against liberal Ed Schultz on The Future of America. This event will be held on Wednesday May 7th at 8:00 PM at The Northland Inn in Brooklyn Park. General Admission is $25, but you can save $5 if you purchase in advance. A limited number of V.I.P. dinner tickets are available which include a photo opportunity with Michael Medved and Ed Schultz prior to the event.

A picture with Medved on your right and Schultz on your left I presume.

It's going to be a heavyweight talk radio showdown (Schultz's heavyweight status being relative to the world of liberal talk radio of course) that is sure to bring back memories of 1933's Baer-Schmeling match at Yankee Stadium. Only this time I imagine the Jewish contender will score his technical knockout much sooner.

Get your tickets today.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Truth Well Told

More from http://www.angryjournalist.com/

I am not a journalist--that is, not a reporter, editor or photographer--but I worked in a newsroom for many years and sat in on hundreds of morning news meetings, as well as every other kind of meeting a newsroom generates. Over the years, I had thousands of interactions with the people producing the daily paper.Reporters and editors let bias into news stories all the time. They vehemently deny it because they truly believe it doesn't happen. But they look at everything through a lens formed in the sixties and handed down almost unmodified by anything that's happened since.

On certain subjects like the environment, or race, or big business vs. the little guy, or gay rights, the issues are always perfectly clear. White hats and black hats are firmly fitted onto the heads of stock characters, and here we go.The story is framed in the morning meeting or in the project proposal before a single fact is reported, and by God, that's the way it's going to be written. If the reporting doesn't support the premise, we can make it seem to with the headline, the art, burying or blurring the inconvenient facts, and a hundred other ways. We know we're right, even if we can't quite find the facts to prove it.


For example: You've pitched a big project on lead in drinking water in a poor minority community, maybe on a tip from your environmental-lawyer-longtime-source and buddy. A lot of scarce resources will be spent on testing water and blood samples, etc., but this could be a Pulitzer entry.

It's going to be a front-page multi-part series, with two or three open pages inside the first day, huge graphics and lots of photos of "victims." We'll have the greedy capitalist who owns the small water system, the dilatory and incompetent regulators, and the poor residents who only now realize, thanks to our crusading reporter, that they have been poisoned.

It turns out that the lead levels in the blood samples are below what's considered dangerous. Okay then, we'll compare them to the national AVERAGE, a completely meaningless number. But now we've got our graphics, we've got poor black folks with mysterious ailments, a learning-disabled kid to feature, and an "embattled" (a loaded word if there ever was one) state agency. Run the series. Promote the hell out of it and order fifty extra copies for contest entries. I could go on about how intelligent reporters can still be appallingly ignorant on subjects like science and history, and the arrogance that keeps them from admitting it.


You can't write a balanced story if you have no idea there could be another side. And on how advocates for the apple-pie causes we (doesn't everybody?) support aren't subjected to the same skepticism we apply to politicians and corporate spokespeople.

And there's the conviction, expressed in our touch-feely editors' retreats, that the paper's role is to "lead" and "teach," and if the community protests, it's because they're "resistant to change". Translation: I'm trying to tell you how to be just like me and you won't listen. I loved working at the paper. There's no other job where you get to be around so many smart, funny people every day. But I'm a total cynic when it comes to the way news is gathered and reported, and I consume no journalism without my Skeptometer dialed to High.


UPDATE:
There are A LOT of journos on the site bitching about how little they are paid. One said she started at $22k right out of college and hasn't made much more since then (5 years later).

Pity, that.

This poster cracks these self-important wankos right atwixed the eyes with a little Econ 101:

I'm a non-journalist who will try to explain why most of you feel--and are--poorly paid:

You are a commodity.Commodities are price-driven. ANY unionized job--by definition--is a commodity.

If you do not DIRECTLY contribute to some P&L, and/or easily replaceable, you will be paid...just enough.

Applies to teachers too.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008
How Well Do You Know Your Acronymns?

I'm getting a hoot out of reading the posts on AngryJournalist.com:

Many of these posts talk about balanced reporting. I spent a decade heading a public health agency and dealing with the "scare of the day" invented by you worthless losers. Journalists who had no concept of scientific studies would pick and choose from the info given them by our toxicologists and epidemiologists (who they refused to identify as Dr. because they had Ph.D or DVM degrees and their rules only use that title for MD degrees) and "balance" them with the alarmist drivel of some housewife who claimed the entire neighborhood had cancer. They could keep a story with no basis going for months or at least until the next housewife showed up. I have zero respect for anyone associated with the news media and do not consume the piffle they produce. FOAD and/or ESAD to all you journalists.

Bwah!

UPDATE:

(Journalism is) a quasi-profession made up of a bunch of people who have tremendous self-esteem issues due to the fact that they are constantly forced to talk and write about people who are smarter, more interesting and more accomplished than they ever will be.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008
They're Mad As Hell....

...and they're not going to take it anymore. Mark e-mails to hep us to a story on a place where angry journalists vent their frustrations to the world:

They're angry at their demanding editors. They're angry about the mushrooming workload in shrinking newsrooms. They're even angry about other angry journalists.

But these angry journalists are happy they can now vent their frustrations to the rest of the world, courtesy of AngryJournalist.com, a sort of online complaint board allowing ink-stained wretches to gripe anonymously.


It's difficult to tell how many of the entries are the complaints of real angry journalists and how many are pranksters mocking their angst (sometimes to very humorous effect).

Some of the ones cited in the story include:

Angry Journalist #2559 seems to think that his or her newspaper serves for other purposes than informing readers: "Whatever I write ulimately (sic) either ends up as cage lining or as blankets for bums."

At least he's got a realistic perspective on the importance of his work.

And:

"I'm angry because my company, just like the rest of the industry, wants me to do more with less. They've said, 'To hell with quality. Let's just fill the website with as much (expletive) as possible,'" gripes Angry Journalist #241.

A Minnesota Monitor staffer perhaps?

This my personal favorite:

Angry Journalist #2927:

I'm angry I got plagiarized by a blogger, and that other bloggers picked up "his" story. I've posted comments on the original and related blogs, linking to my story. But, what else can I do?

F***ing bloggers. And I don't mean sites that have a staff or some kind of level of accountability, or are done by reporters working for news organizations, or are just purely entertainment/gossip news. But for God's sake: Why do readers think that some guy in his boxers sitting on his mom's couch can give them better news?


At least we've moved up from the basement.

It must come back to the fact that news organizations have done such a poor job, due to layoffs, mismanagement, and outsourcing customer service, that the average reader really cant tell the difference anymore.

F***.


Sound like any angry journalists you know?

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Thursday, March 13, 2008
All Lucrative Offers Considered

Another shocking tale of corporate greed in America. A highly successful business, full of wealthy executives and staff, shaking down the local government of one of the poorest cities in America for millions in tax subsidies. The gory details from the Washington Post.

[The District of Columbia] has negotiated a $40 million deal .... to keep the company's headquarters in the city, granting tax abatements over the next two decades

You may think its only a matter of time before advocates for the poor are staging protest rallies and calling for Congressional investigations into this obvious misappropriation of the public treasury. Until, that is, I reveal what is behind the ellipsis in that quote above.

That rich corporation was (drumroll, please)

National Public Radio (ta-da!)

Just when you thought the billions of dollars in direct government subsidies, tax advantaged contributions, and free use of government owned facilities and equipment might be enough to keep afloat "public" broadcasting in this country, their grasping hand reaches out and grabs the government of DC by the throat. Give us more money or we're taking your beloved institution and leaving! When did Carl Pohlad buy NPR?

NPR could have gone "anywhere" the mayor said, adding that the 20-year tax abatements and planned street improvements in the neighborhood were necessary incentives.

Anywhere? Our National Radio Station can cover news from our National Capital from anywhere? Paducah, Kentucky? Jerkwater Flatts, ND? East Bumblefark, MD?

Close, on that last one:

Montgomery County officials presented a package that "caused us to take a second look" at a location near the Silver Spring Metro station, he said.

County officials spent months trying to lure the company, crafting scenarios including one that would have provided about $32 million in permanent property tax breaks because NPR is a nonprofit with an educational mission.
[Laughter.]

The county also offered to build a parking lot for the company that would have been worth about $18 million, said Diane Schwartz Jones, a top aide to County Executive Isiah Leggett (D).

It seems they could have gone "anywhere" as long as the bid was at least $40 million of government money. But loyalty won the day! As the distinguished gentlewoman from DC, Eleanor Holmes Norton, put it:

"I knew NPR would not do that to us," said Norton

Do what? In addition to the money, demand the City Council members get Garrison Keillor's face tattooed on their rear ends? (Don't get smug DC, I hear Paducah Kentucky is seriously considering upgrading their offer to include this.)

Neil O. Albert, deputy mayor for planning and economic development, said that NPR will not pay property taxes on the building for 20 years, saving $40 million. The city has agreed not to raise property taxes by more than 3 percent on the station's Massachusetts Avenue building for two decades, or until NPR sells it.

A pretty sweet deal there. But it's not like DC actually has a need for $40 million or anything. They've solved all their problems with crime, education, health, welfare, and high tax rates, right? They were just looking for a way to distribute their vast surpluses.

Actually, no. DC is like most urban, liberal enclaves, a vast, insatiable, sucking black hole of tax dollars. And the game of giving a tax free palace to NPR is not zero sum. If there are winners, there will also be losers, that money has got to come from somewhere. Believe it or not, that happens to be the ATM machine known as private business.

Nicholas Deoudes, who owns three buildings less than a mile from the future NPR location, said that his property taxes increased last year from $13,614 to $36,151. Deoudes, who has owned the buildings for 29 years, said the city needs to help longtime business owners who stayed when the area was a "ghost town."

"That's criminal," Deoudes said about the NPR deal. "My assessments went up . . . while somebody else got it for 20 years with no property taxes. They're handing out benefits to the big guys and leaving the small-time guys like myself and my tenant out of business. We're picking up the tab for somebody else."


Let's not forget, the "big guys" in this case are the biggest guys of all, the government.

Of course, the reason DC is giving NPR more money is to retain all those high price jobs within their borders. Those salaries all being dependent on other government handouts. A vicious little circle. But you can see why DC is happy to screw over private business. They have the unfortunate luck of having to produce something of value to stay in business. There's no guarantee they'll be around in 5, 10, 20 years. On the other hand, NPR, like most government programs, is forever.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008
Regretting The Error

After JB spotted an obvious error in a New York Post story the other day (recounted here), he e-mailed the reporter--Charles Hurt, the Post's DC Bureau Chief--to make him aware of his mistake.

Now, he has received a reply and an admission of guilt. Sort of:

Doubtless, you are right. I promise you it was an error that was inserted at copy desk level. It will be fixed if it hasn't already. In any event, thank you for bringing to my attention and thank you for reading the Post.

Those darn gatekeepers. When they're not asleep at the gate, letting all sorts of misinformation slip through, they're changing the reporters' work to introduce errors!

This actually makes this instance an even more glaring example of media ignorance. The reporter correctly writes that McCain was held captive by the North Vietnamese (at least according to his claim). A copy editor then decides that's incorrect and changes it to Viet Cong. At that point, he had to be damn sure that the reporter was wrong. So sure, that he didn't bother to take ten seconds to verify the facts.

It's bad enough for a reporter to make a mistake through carelessness, laziness, or ignorance. But it's even worse when a editor makes a mistake by changing the reporters' original work. If you're going to step in and make a "correction," you better be absolutely certain that you're right.

Don't worry folks, the gatekeepers are on the job.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Know The Enemy

JB may have nobly sacrificed blogging for Lent, but blogging hasn't quit him as evidenced by his catch of this rather obvious media error in the New York Post:

March 3, 2008 WASHINGTON--One of Hillary Rodham Clinton's best-known supporters, feminist author Gloria Steinem, belittled John McCain's ordeal as a prisoner of war and the torture he endured as a captured Navy airman.

"I mean, hello?" Steinem told a Texas crowd Saturday night as she was discussing McCain's captivity by the Viet Cong.


McCain of course was shot down over Hanoi and held captive by the North Vietnamese Army. As JB notes:

Might sound like trifling, but it goes to the complete lack of knowledge they have about what happened over there.

This isn't the first time that the media has been confused between the VC and NVA either. The differences between the two are significant to anyone with more than a passing understanding of the Vietnam War and it's just another example of the historical ignorance and intellectual laziness that is all too prevalent in the media.

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Friday, February 15, 2008
No Context Required

Last Friday, Susan Sataline penned a piece in the Wall Street Journal (sub req) that in my opinion grossly exaggerated the role of religious bigotry in Mitt Romney's failed bid to win the GOP nomination. It also grossly mischaracterized the position of Father Richard John Neuhaus on the possibility of a Mormon in the White House (that would make for a great book title, wouldn't it?) and lumped in him with people who truly were attacking Romney because of his faith:

On the Internet, the Romney bid prompted an outpouring of broadsides against Mormonism from both the secular and religious worlds. Evangelical Christian speakers who consider it their mission to criticize Mormon beliefs lectured to church congregations across the country. Richard John Neuhaus, editor of the Catholic journal First Things, wrote that a Mormon presidency would threaten Christian faiths. Atheist author Christopher Hitchens called Mormonism "a mad cult" on Slate.com, and Bill Keller, a former convict who runs an online ministry in Florida, told a national radio audience that a vote for Mr. Romney was a vote for Satan.

For the record, what Neuhaus said was that if Romney was elected President it would enhance the image and visibility of the LDS and likely lead to an increase in their numbers. And that it was something that could legitimately be considered by voters:

It is not an unreasonable prejudice for people who, unlike Alan Wolfe et al., care about true religion to take their concern about Mormonism into account in considering the candidacy of Mr. Romney. The question is not whether, as president, Mr. Romney would take orders from Salt Lake City. I doubt whether many people think he would. The questions are: Would a Mormon as president of the United States give greater credibility and prestige to Mormonism? The answer is almost certainly yes. Would it therefore help advance the missionary goals of what many view as a false religion? The answer is almost certainly yes. Is it legitimate for those Americans to take these questions into account in voting for a presidential nominee or candidate? The answer is certainly yes.

But he was also very clear from the beginning of the campaign that he didn't believe that Romney's religion was more important than his political views and those views would be what determined who he would vote for. He said as much when we interviewed him last March on the NARN.

To cherry-pick and mischaracterize his comment and include it in the same paragraph as remarks from Hitchens (an atheist) and Keller (an ex-con) was dishonest and disreputable. It was shoddy and sloppy journalism.

To its credit, the Journal did allow Neuhaus to respond in yesterday's Letters to the Editor:

I object to your characterization that I "wrote that a Mormon presidency would threaten Christian faiths." I do not believe that. What I did write on several occasions is that Gov. Romney is a very attractive candidate but we should not underestimate the number of people who would not vote for a Mormon for president. Nor, I wrote, should we arrogantly dismiss these people as bigots. My point was and is that for many of these people the religious factor trumps the political. I did not agree with them in the instance of the Romney candidacy, but theirs is a defensible position that should not be caricatured as an irrational prejudice, which is what, unfortunately, your story does.

The Rev. Richard John Neuhaus

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Monday, December 10, 2007
Courting Those All Important "Values Voters"

Caught a couple minutes of the Stephanie Miller show today on Air America. Not usually part of my morning routine, but my dial was locked on 950 after listening to Saturday night's Gopher hockey game. Miller and her male sidekicks were mocking the theological beliefs of Mormonism and playing some goofy background music--just in case you didn't catch their tone. Of course, this wasn't really about Mormonism per se, it was an attack on Mitt Romney.

Now I'll be the first guy to admit that some of the tenets of the Mormon faith provide fertile ground for ridicule (see South Park's hilarious episode on it for example). But there's still something unseemly about using it as an avenue to attack a candidate for president. I don't have a problem with people who are troubled by Romney's religion and want to take that into consideration when deciding whether he should be the next president. But openly ridiculing his faith (and that of his fellow Mormons) as part of politics seems a bit beyond the pale.

I also think it reveals what Miller and many of her ideological bent really believe about religion in general. At the end of the segment--after laughing off the Mormon views of heaven--they summarized their take on Mormonism as "not all that more wacky than Catholicism." Nice outreach to the religious voters there.

A couple of other points to consider:

- Is Miller aware that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is a Mormon? Or maybe she doesn't believe that he's a "real" Mormon sorta like how John Kerry isn't a "real" Catholic.

- How many segments has Miller spent mocking the precepts of Islam on her show? Don't answer Atomizer. That's one of them rhetorical type questions

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Saturday, December 01, 2007
No Respect

From the News in Brief section of this weekend's Moscow Times:

Journalists Help Spread HIV

Journalists and homosexuals top the list of social groups that most actively contract and transmit HIV, Vadim Pokrovsky, head of the Federal Center to Fight AIDS, told the Novy Region news agency Thursday.

He added that the most risky groups were the ones where homosexuals have the opportunity to actively socialize, and he also mentioned policemen, doctors and show-business figures as risk groups.

Pokrovsky said, however, that public perception about high rates of HIV among the homeless had been proven wrong. "Bums don't have sexual lives, and they have no money for [injectable] drugs," he said.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The Burning of Atlanta

It sounds like local TV news in Atlanta is a little more entertaining than what we get in the Twin Cities:

A weekend Atlanta anchor was fired after she was said to have uttered the word "m-----f-----" during her newscast.

Pow! That does sound a little beyond the standards of non-premium cable broadcasting. No word on whether there were mitigating factors, for instance, if she had been reporting on the performance of the Minnesota Timberwolves this season.

Actually, Ms. Champion denies using the expletive.

My co-anchor and I were talking about a mechanical screenwriter. It is difficult to use at times. The last part of our conversation was silly banter and barely audible, but it was picked up. I called the screenwriter a 'mothersucka' not the f-bomb.

I did not curse on the air, and what happened should not have cost me my job. 'Darn,' 'shoot' and 'heck' are all words that a listener may see as substitutes for curse words. But, they are not curse words . . . and neither is 'mothasucka.' The penalty seems extremely heavy-handed.


Back off you puritanical censors! She was only using a playful variation of the most obscene phrase in the English language.

I'm not sure a plea to mainstream one of the few remaining nuclear options left in the world of profanity will be a successful defense. However, she does have precedent on her side for this kind of news reporting in Atlanta:

Several years ago an Atlanta anchorman at another station actually said MF on the air and was merely suspended, not fired.

Two of these dropped within a couple of years in the Atlanta market? It's a trend! I presume the consultants will be selling the locals on this and I look forward to someday soon sitting down to watch the touching presentation on Channel 11 of Eleven MF'ers Who Care.

Post script: A Google search reminds us of this appearance by Cari Champion, back when she was a meteorologist at a station in Florida. CNN interrupted regular broadcasting to feature this commentary on the ravages of Hurricane Frances in September 2004:

CARI CHAMPION, WPTV CORRESPONDENT: Do not go outside in Jupiter, if you live in that city, because of the flooding, downed power lines.

The rain, I believe, honestly, the rain really had -- it did more of a job on the area as opposed to the winds because, again, it was a category two. The winds weren't bad. I mean, structurally, a lot of places were able to handle that wind, but...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, WSVN: Hey, Cari. I want a little figure -- I'm going to give you a little figure you can give to your newsroom.

CHAMPION: Yes, tell me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You had the equivalent of, I would say -- let's see. Two and a half inches of rain, you've had about 12. That's five.

You had about 250 million gallons of water per square mile poured on you in a very short period of time.

CHAMPION: And that's what they were saying. At the P.B.I.A., Palm Beach International Airport, they reported eight and a half inches, I mean, like three, in like three hours, maybe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

CHAMPION: It was amazing. It was really amazing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These two and a half inches of rain is 40 million gallons per square mile.

CHAMPION: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Palm Beach right now has over a foot total; so, I mean, you're talking billions and billions and billions of gallons of water dumped in a very short period. That's why people underestimate flooding.
[ED NOTE: I can identify that male, it's Carl Sagan.]

CHAMPION: Your right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, WSVN: Yes, and sadly, it's not safe for drinking.

CHAMPION: Absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just a mass.


For her strength in resisting dropping an MF on this clown in 2004, she deserved at least a regional Emmy.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007
The News from Four Months Ago, Today

Breaking news from the Associated Press, on a certain unorthdox contributor to the political campaign of comedian Al Franken:

Liberal Al Franken is good enough and smart enough to win some of conservative Ben Stein's money -- and doggone it, Stein likes him.

Stein, an actor, writer, economist and former Nixon speechwriter, has contributed $2,000 to Franken's U.S. Senate campaign. The two men have known each other for about 30 years.

As a former "Saturday Night Live" star, Franken has received scores of contributions from people in the entertainment industry, but Stein's donation doesn't fit into the GOP's talking points about liberal Hollywood elites bankrolling Franken's campaign.


Glad someone finally woke up the boys at the most powerful news syndication service in the world to this story. Of course, the cognitive elite comprising the readership of Fraters LIbertas already knew this, when I broke the story on June 12:

Ben Stein - $1,000. Legendary Ferris Beuhler actor, game show host, and brilliant conservative. Former speech writer for Richard Nixon and columnist for the American Spectator and Yahoo Finance, among other outlets. One of the finest writers around on politics, economics, and culture, as demonstrated in this listing. In particular, he's one the most articulate and persuasive speakers advocating the pro-life stance in the country.

And he's giving money to Al Bleeping Franken? A guy who's never found a liberal position on abortion he didn't like (as shown by the $5,000 contribution he also received from something called Washington Women for Choice.) How in the world can Ben Stein be supporting Al Franken?


Then I went the further step of getting the first comment from Ben Stein on the subject. And I didn't burden the readers with unfunny references to Stuart Smalley. Members of the Academy, please remember this come Pulitzer time.

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Friday, September 28, 2007
Rush to Judgment

Earlier this week I was listening to Rush during lunch and heard him discussing the case of Jesse Macbeth, the "phony soldier" who's tales of atrocities commited by US troops in Iraq were trumpeted by elements in the left and alternative media, until he was exposed as a charlatan.

Apparently later in the show, during a caller segment, Rush sardonically queried about this "phony soldier" phenomenon in regards to media reports on the status of American efforts in Iraq.

It turns out the Media Matters monitor assigned to listen to Limbaugh flagged this as offensive and they reported on the comment, out of context, as equivalent to Republican accusations of the liberal tendancy to denegrate US troops. To anyone who heard any part of that broadcast, or cared enough to review it after the fact, the accusation is laughably disingenuous.

But in today's media climate, laughably disengenuous and taken at face value in an attempt to destroy, are not mutually exclusive concepts. From Media Matters Democrat funded portal, to their local facsimilies, to US Congressmen, to a MSM reporter using it as a premise for a question during today's White House press conference, it's the cold hard fact of the moment for eager Democrats looking to smash a conservative icon.

Fair-minded fellow citizens, please correct your future judgment on the credibility of those information outlets trumpeting this false controversy appropriately.

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Friday, September 14, 2007
Nous Sommes Tous Les Garde-Portes

Over the years, we've taken a lot of pride in the quality of interviews (or "gets" as they're referred to by us media industry insiders) that we've been able to land on the Northern Alliance Radio Network. Victor Davis Hanson, Michael Barone, Richard John Neuhaus, Michael Burleigh, Vox Day, Sewer Man...the list goes on and on.

But we can't hold candle to Alexis Debat. Over the years the former ABC news consultant has written up interviews with an impressive list of names including Former President Bill Clinton, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and Sen. Barack Obama. Those are some tough gets.

In fact, maybe they were a little too tough. Much easier to just make it all up:

Former President Bill Clinton, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan have added their names to the list of people who say they were the subjects of fake interviews published in a French foreign affairs journal under the name of Alexis Debat, a former ABC News consultant.

"This guy is just sick," said Patrick Wajsman, the editor of the magazine, Politique Internationale, a prestigious publication that has been in business for 29 years. Wajsman said he was removing all articles with Debat's byline from the magazine's Web site.

Yesterday, a spokesman for Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., said a supposed interview with Debat, published in the June 2007 edition of Politique Internationale, never occurred and was a fabrication.


They should have known that the picture of Obama wearing a beret personalized with his name was a Photoshop job.

This incident raises some familiar questions about just what happened to those fact-checkers, gatekeepers, and editors.

In fact, Stephane Dujarric, the deputy communications director for the U.N. secretary-general, said he called the fabricated interview to the attention of the editor of the magazine, Patrick Wajsman, in June 2005.

"I told him that if he went ahead with it, we would denounce the interview as a fake," the U.N. official said. "This was not some obscure guy. This was the sitting secretary-general of the U.N., and the magazine was told it was a fake," he said.

Despite that, Debat continued for the next two years to be cited as the author of interviews with a range of prominent U.S. public officials in Politique Internationale.

The U.N. official said a second supposed interview of Annan by Debat, posted earlier this year by Politique Internationale, was actually portions of a speech the secretary-general had given at Princeton University.

The magazine editor, Wajsman, told ABCNews.com he thought the problem with the Annan interview, one of the first he submitted, was "maybe a technical one" or a misunderstanding.


Yeah, the technical misunderstanding was the he DIDN'T ACTUALLY INTERVIEW ANNAN! Nice to see the Sergeant Schultz defense ("I know nothing!")--a favorite of US editors--is also popular across the pond. That and pointing the blame elsewhere:

Asked why he continued to use Debat after the warning from the U.N., Wajsman said, "Everybody can be trusted once. He seemed to be well-connected in Washington, working for ABC and the Nixon center."

Eetz all zee Americans fault.

I have a hunch that we'll be discussing this story further on tomorrow's NARN First Team broadcast from 11am-1pm. Tune in locally on AM1280 WWTC or listen live on the internet stream from anywhere and everywhere.

Saint Paul is not going to joining the radio festivities as he and his new bride are departing on their honeymoon tomorrow. Not every guy is classy enough to take his true love on a romantic getaway to Tijuana, but our Saint Paul is sparing no expense. Lucky gal.

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Saturday, September 08, 2007
Are You Smarter Than A Fourth Grader?

This nugget from The Numbers Guy (sub req) in yesterday's WSJ shows why all those fact-checkers, editors, and gatekeepers are needed:

Michael Ranney, a cognitive scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, says journalism students in his number-training class who should know the U.S. population is 300 million sometimes guess California has one billion people (instead of 36.5 million).

Everything I needed to know I learned in J-school?

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Breaking Interview News

Lunch time conservatives, at 12:10 PM (Central) Karl Rove being interviewed by Rush Limbaugh right now. Streaming here.

UPDATE: It's over! Not bad, but no new insights provided. All things considered my cheese and honey mustard sandwich was equally as compelling. Streaming here.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007
We Had Planes, What About Trains?

Steven, a lawyer from some place called "Brooklyn" (never 'eard of it), e-mails to hep us to an interesting discussion in the comments section of a NY Times post by Steven. D. Levitt (of Freakonomics fame) called If You Were a Terrorist, How Would You Attack?. There are a lot of interesting ideas offered along with comments from a number of people who believe that it's a discussion that we shouldn't even be having.

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Friday, July 27, 2007
Is Our Reporters Learning?

What do you do with a young reporter who made a series of errors and showed obvious political bias while covering the national education beat? If you're the Washington Post, you send this "rising star" to Iraq to cover the war. Red State has the details:

Mr. Paley is a twenty-something Harvard grad who has been covering the U.S. Department of Education for the Washington Post. If his present track record of covering education for WaPo is any indicator, we can expect to get a fable, not facts, from Iraq.

Getting his big break on the front page of the Washington Post in April, Paley wrote a host of hard hitting articles citing his leading source as a "senior official," "senior agency official," and even a "presidential appointee." Unfortunately, WaPo had to run a correction admitting that the source was none of the three.


Okay, but anyone can make a mistake, right?

Weeks later, Paley returned to the front page without fact checking. On April 21, 2007, Paley wrote, "The No. 3 official in the U.S. Department of Education, who oversees the student loan industry, had more than $10,000 invested in student lenders, according to documents released last night."

The fact was that the husband of the official owned the stock via a 401(K) and sold it before his wife faced Senate confirmation.

Instead of running yet another correction, WaPo just sneaked in two paragraphs in *a different story* mentioning these facts. This sneaky way to correct their prodigy's record even upset WaPo's ombudsman who called the handling "problematic" and wrote that the correction "should have had its own headline and more prominent display."


As we've learned from years of following newspapers, anytime you can get an ombudsman (or "reader's representative") to actually fess up to a mistake, you know something's gone seriously wrong.

Erick at Red State concludes:

So, realizing they need to do something to get Paley off the Education beat and stop the embarrassing need to substantively correct his front page stories, WaPo has come up with a great idea. They are sending him to Iraq as a war correspondent.

If this wasn't such a serious matter, it would be absurdly amusing.

Jerry: So, what did you say?

Elaine: Well, I called him all the way up to my office, so I had to tell him
something important. So I promoted him.

Jerry: What? What did you--

Elaine: Copywriter.

Jerry: He's writing copy?

Elaine: Well it can't be any worse than the pointless drivel we normally churn
out.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Cape Sicko

I see Michael Moore and CNN have been feudin' and fussin' over the alleged inaccuracies of the network's report about Moore's film Sicko. Can't say I watched the CNN report in question. Or Sicko, for that matter (only an authentic sicko would subject himself to both), so I cannot take sides in this dispute.

Precedent suggests Moore's latest movie is cheap, manipulative propaganda. But I wouldn't be surprised if CNN also botched their report. As the long running "This Week in Gatekeeping" segment on NARN demonstrates each and every week, there is commonly a shortage of accuracy and a surplus of lazy reporting in news reports from Big Media like CNN.

So what happens what a cheap manipulative movie gets subjected to a lazy, inaccurate critical review? Maybe it's like grammar with a double negative and something extremely awkward but ultimately positive comes out in the end.

I'd say that's a fair characterization of Moore's latest threat letter to CNN. With both of these heroes of the left butting heads, it will be harder for each to, say, continue eroding America's will to win its wars, at least for the time being.

I must say, the tone of Moore's letter to CNN exceeds even the hatred he's directed to people like George Bush and General Motors. Reading through it, it reminds me of only one thing, which leads us to this psychotic stalker rhetoric separated at birth:

Michael Moore and his letter to CNN

and

Robert DeNiro as Max Cady in Cape Fear.

Evidence:

Moore: Dear CNN, Well, the week is over -- and still no apology, no retraction, no correction of your glaring mistakes. I bet you thought my dust-up with Wolf Blitzer was just a cool ratings coup, that you really wouldn't have to correct the false statements you made about "Sicko." I bet you thought I was just going to go quietly away.

Cady: You think a couple whacks to my guts is gonna get me down? It's gonna take a hell of a lot more than that, Counselor.


-------------------------------------------------------

Moore: Think again. I'm about to become your worst nightmare. 'Cause I ain't ever going away.

Cady: I'm thinkin' of settlin' here in New Essex, Counselor. It's a small town. Everywhere you turn, we're gonna run into each other.


-------------------------------------------------------

Moore: After what the public saw with your report on "Sicko," and how many inaccuracies that report contained, how can anyone believe anything you say on your network? In the old days, before the Internet, you could get away with it. Your victims had no way to set the record straight, to show the viewers how you had misrepresented the truth. But now, we can post the truth -- and back it up with evidence and facts -- on the web, for all to see.

Cady: It's not necessary to lay a foul tongue on me, my friend. I could get upset. Things could get outta hand. And then in self-defense, I could do somethin' to you that you would not like.


-------------------------------------------------------

Moore: I won't waste your time rehashing your errors. You know what they are. What I want to do is help you come clean. Admit you were wrong. What is the shame in that? We all make mistakes. I know it's hard to admit it when you've screwed up, but it's also liberating and cathartic.

Cady: I don't hate him at all. Oh, no, I pray for him. I'm here to help him. I mean, we all make mistakes, Danielle. You and I have. At least we try to admit it. But your daddy, he don't.


-------------------------------------------------------

Moore: And now, for 5 days, I have posted on my website, for all to see, every mistake and error he made. You, on the other hand, in the face of this overwhelming evidence and a huge public backlash, have chosen to remain silent, probably praying and hoping this will all go away. Well it isn't.

Cady: I'm better than you all! I can outlearn you! I can out-read you! I can outthink you! And I can out-philosophize you! And I'm gonna outlast you!


---------------------------------------------------

Cady: I find you guilty, Counselor! Guilty of betraying your fellow man! Guilty of betraying your country and abrogatin' your oath! Guilty of judging me and selling me out! With the power vested in me by the kingdom of God, I sentence you to the 7th Circle of hell! Now you will learn about loss! You're gonna learn to be an animal! To live like one and die like one.

Moore: I find you guilty CNN! Guilty of betraying your fellow traveler! Guilty of betraying the anti-Capitalist cause and abrogating your oath! You're gonna learn to be an animal, Wolf Blitzer! To live and die like one!


---------------------------------------------------

OK, I made up that last Moore quote. But I wouldn't be surprised to see it in the next letter from the corpulent auteur. And if he starts tattooing Bible verses on his back, and broken hearts on his chest, CNN may want to think twice about renting any houseboats for a staff retreat.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007
People Judge You By The Words You Use

Yesterday, I heard a NPR news announcer somberly intone on the Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance reform laws in these terms (roughly):

"The decision marked a change in direction for the court from support for campaign finance reform to deregulation."

Deregulation? I suppose you could call it that, but we're not talking about airlines or telecommunications here. We're talking about a little something called the First Amendment and the rather well-regarded principle of "freedom of speech."

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Hmmm....

On Monday, I concluded a post with advice to Nick Jr. writers to "unpack your adjectives."

On Tuesday, James Taranto leads off Best of the Web Today with a post on the New York Times titled "Unpack Your Adjectives."

(Tip of the hat to Rick for the catch.)

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Friday, June 08, 2007
Just A Taste

One of the small joys of subscribing to the Wall Street Journal is the Taste page in the Friday edition of the paper. The three articles featured there each week on culture, education, and religion are just about guaranteed to entertain and enlighten. This week's batch is no exception.

Dimitri Cavalli recalls a time when liberals cheered as the Catholic Church cracked down on those who went against its teachings (free for all!):

Rummel and Archbishop Joseph Ritter of St. Louis had previously used the threat of excommunication to suppress lay Catholic opposition to civil rights. In 1956, Rummel warned Catholic lawmakers in the state legislature that they would face excommunication if they voted to mandate the segregation of all private schools, including Catholic ones. In the same year, he forced the Association of Catholic Laymen, which was established to oppose his initial desegregation efforts, to disband by threatening its members with excommunication. In 1947, when "separate but equal" was still the law of the land, Ritter threatened to excommunicate any Catholic who took legal action to block his plan to desegregate Catholic schools in St. Louis.

How did liberals react to Rummel's actions? "We salute the Catholic Archbishop," the New York Times editorialized. "He has set an example founded on religious principle and response to the social conscience of our times." An editorial in the Nation applauded Rummel's initial excommunication threat and cited Ritter's action in 1947 as a precedent. Certainly, it seems, liberals don't really mind mixing religion with politics as long as it's their political agenda being promoted.

Rep. DeLauro, Mr. Giuliani and other Catholic politicians may choose to see ecclesiastical punishments as blunt political weapons used to club them into submission on a controversial issue. For the bishops, however, such punishments are imposed as a last effort to be taken against those who, in their judgment, are publicly flouting the laws of the church.


And Collin Levy notes that many environmentalists are really not happy to see energy companies playing ball on alternative energy:

All of this is particularly amusing in light of the hype in California last year over a ballot initiative called Proposition 87, also known as the "Clean Alternative Energy Act." Under the act, oil companies, having failed to invest enough in research on alternative fuels, would face a tax on each barrel of oil taken out of California. The money would be used in part to start a research fund for alternative energy technology.

Many of the state's environmental glitterati rallied to support the initiative, including honorary resident Al Gore, Julia Roberts and Hollywood gadabout and heir Steve Bing, who pledged more than $40 million of his inherited wealth to the cause. The proposition failed, but the big oil companies launched new alternative fuel research institutes on California campuses shortly thereafter. Instead of gloating, Mr. Bing lashed out at Stanford for participating, publicly taking back $2.5 million of a gift to the school in protest.

The outrage of Mr. Bing and others is hard to fathom, but their chief concern seems to be that, between them, the universities and the energy companies have cut the political activists out of control of the investment dollars. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a liberal watchdog group, has set up its own "Project for Integrity in Science" to "scrutinize conflicts of interest" at those schools and other nonprofit associations that receive corporate funding. The basic principle is fine: Transparency in philanthropy is generally a good thing.

But the agenda of Mr. Bing and his environmentalist friends seems confused. Are they against capitalism or against pollution? Have they figured out that the two are not (always) the same?


Far too many greens are at heart against capitalism. Concern over the state of the environment has just been a useful tool to advance their ultimate goal.

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TALK O' THE TOWN
We are the wind beneath the right wing.

Listen to the Northern Alliance Radio Network on Saturdays from 11am 'til 3pm on AM 1280-The Patriot:

* The First Team 11am-1pm
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This week on The First Team:

Brian and John continue to voice their heated rhetoric and troublesome vitriol.



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2009-10 NARN LOON O' THE WEEK

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10/31--Levi Johnston
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10/10--Barbara Boxer
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9/19--Jimmy Carter
9/5--Chris Matthews
8/29--Dan Savage
8/22--Brad Pitt
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2/28--Sean Penn
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