Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Black Conservatives Mourn the Passing of Coretta Scott King

Project 21 issued a statement earlier today after learning of the death of Coretta Scott King:
Black Conservatives Mourn the Passing of Coretta Scott King

Members of the black leadership network Project 21 are mourning the passing of Coretta Scott King. Project 21 members praise her legacy of exhibiting strong family unity in the face of great personal tragedy and for maintaining her husband's dream of equal rights for all.

Mrs. King, the widow of the slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., reportedly died in her sleep. She suffered from a heart attack and a stroke in 2005. The Kings married in 1953, and had four children before Dr. King was assassinated in 1968. After his death, Mrs. King continued to raise the couple's children. She also founded the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta.

"Like her husband and his unparalleled contribution to cause of civil rights, Coretta Scott King deserves our thanks for being a icon for family unity," said Project 21 member Kevin Martin. "Even after facing the greatest tragedy that can befall a family, she continued to raise, mold and shape her own children and maintain a family legacy that we can all be proud of. She has taught us great things."

Project 21 member Mychal Massie added: "We are saddened by the passing of Mrs. King. She will forever be remembered as the quiet strength of her late husband, Dr. Martin Luther King. She is an example of the importance a Godly wife plays in the life and service of those called to extraordinary challenges. I am personally moved by the courage she displayed during the many hostile hours of her late husband's life."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:14 PM

Romney's Massachusetts Health Care Reform: Socialism Via the Back Door or a Promising Conservative Approach?

Sally Pipes of the conservative Pacific Research Institute and Ed Haislmaier of the conservative Heritage Foundation (also of our board of directors) are duking it out on National Review Online over Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's health care plan.

Sally dislikes it; Ed defends it.

Says Sally:
...Romney's foray into health policy betrays a fallacious assumption that should not go uncorrected. Conservatives who believe in free markets simply cannot accept the rhetoric equating morality and compassion with universal third-party health insurance coverage. In the United States, we have already achieved universal access to health care through a variety of public and private systems - often derided as a "patchwork system" by those who long for a single statist solution - through private insurance, public insurance, publicly funded free health care clinics, and uncompensated care at hospitals and doctors' offices. Americans without health insurance consume, on average, $1,253 a year in health care services, with the bulk of the bill picked up by someone else.

Accepting that everyone living in the United States needs formal third-party coverage will inevitably lead to government health care...
Rebuts Ed:
Sally Pipes roundly trashes Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's health plan. However, her "just say no" critique reveals a near complete misunderstanding of the governor's innovative approach.

In reality, those who want to create a consumer-based health system and deregulate health insurance should view Romney's plan as one of the most promising strategies out there...

...Romney's health-insurance exchange... would be a single place where a small employer could send its workers to buy coverage, paid for with a defined contribution from the employer. For workers, it would be a "marketplace" in which to choose the plans that best suited them and which they could keep as they moved from job to job. Furthermore, the exchange is designed to ensure that premium payments by both employers and workers can be made on a pre-tax basis.

Such an exchange offers numerous advantages. For example, a two-earner couple could combine contributions from their respective employers to buy and keep the plan they want, instead of being forced to choose one employer's plan while forgoing the subsidy offered by the other employer. Similarly, a worker with two part-time jobs could combine pro-rated contributions from each employer to buy coverage, while the government would have a single place to send subsidies for those who need extra help.

In short, the exchange is designed to work around the limitations of current federal law to achieve, in a single state, the basic objectives of conservative health reform - consumer choice of plans, true coverage portability, and the functional equivalent of individual health-insurance tax credits to help pay for coverage...
Given that Mitt Romney may be running for president, the Pipes-Haislmaier debate is one voters -- especially GOP primary voters -- should read and ponder.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:02 AM

Monday, January 30, 2006

First, WWII Did Not Start in 1933...

Nick Dahlvang fisks the heck out of a silly op-ed by Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post.

Nick used to work here, by the way. His fisking of Mr. Robinson is so good, I thought I'd brag about that.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:22 PM

Autism Theory

This has been my theory about the rise in autism rates for some time, but every doctor I've told this theory to has looked at me blankly. Next time I'll hand them the article and say nothing of my own view.

Admittedly, I can't blame the doctors, since my formal empirical research backing up my theory is nonexistent, but it is interesting to see someone else posit the same theory, with some supporting data (not unlike some of Thomas Sowell's writing about late talkers).

Scientific research into the causes of autism is in its infancy, however, so all science has for now is theories. Plus, autism varies so much among individuals that we are hardly in a position to say now that only one cause is at work.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:10 PM

Washington Post: Conservatives Racist?

Alerted by a Tim Graham report on Newsbusters, I read this Washington Post report on a study that claims "that supporters of President Bush and other conservatives had stronger self-admitted and implicit biases against blacks than liberals did."

Here's three paragraphs from the article, explaining that study. As you read it, ask yourself: Does the conclusion of paragraph three follow from what is said in paragraphs one and two?
For their study, Nosek, Banaji and social psychologist Erik Thompson culled self-acknowledged views about blacks from nearly 130,000 whites, who volunteered online to participate in a widely used test of racial bias that measures the speed of people's associations between black or white faces and positive or negative words. The researchers examined correlations between explicit and implicit attitudes and voting behavior in all 435 congressional districts.

The analysis found that substantial majorities of Americans, liberals and conservatives, found it more difficult to associate black faces with positive concepts than white faces -- evidence of implicit bias. But districts that registered higher levels of bias systematically produced more votes for Bush.

"Obviously, such research does not speak at all to the question of the prejudice level of the president," said Banaji, "but it does show that George W. Bush is appealing as a leader to those Americans who harbor greater anti-black prejudice."
The way I read this (particularly the sentence "But districts that registered higher levels of bias systematically produced more votes for Bush."), they gave people a test (the accuracy of which is not known) to determine if they are biased against blacks, and then correlated this not with the test subjects' own voting pattern, but the voting patterns in the Congressional districts in which the test-takers live.

(Am I reading the article correctly on that point? Maybe others read it differently.)

130,000 people divided by 435 Congressional districts yields an average sample size of 298 people per Congressional district.

Questions that come to mind:

1) Is a sample size of 298 big enough to accurately mirror the entire Congressional district's voting pattern vis-a-vis Bush?

2) Were the 130,000 test-takers more or less evenly distributed over the 435 Congressional districts, or were some districts evaluated on the basis of a few dozen or fewer residents? (For that matter, were registered and/or frequent voters treated the same in the study as non-voters/non-citizens?)

3) The Post article says the 130,000 people who took the test "volunteered online to participate." How were they recruited?

The Post concludes the article with a paragraph containing this quote: "Republicans are supported by whites with prejudice against blacks." As a straight factual statement, as far as it goes, that presumably is true, just as the statement "Democrats are supported by whites with prejudice against blacks" presumably also is true (though not something the Post said). Both statements are too generalized to be meaningful, however.

Just like this Post story.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:34 PM

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Admittedly, She Recruits Young Men to Conservatism -- But At What Cost?

Homicide makes a poor basis for a joke.

If it was inappropriate for leftie Alec Baldwin to talk about stoning then-House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde to death (as a way of deflecting perjury-related impeachment inquiries), then it is inappropriate for rightie Ann Coulter to talk about poisoning Justice John Paul Stevens.

Generally I love hearing conservatives talk, but sometimes I think Ann Coulter does more harm than good.

Hat Tip: Don Surber.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:04 PM

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Dr. Sanity: Remembering Challenger

Today is the 20th anniversary of the Challenger disaster.

Dr. Sanity was there -- Crew Surgeon for the mission; on the ground with the families.

If you only read one blog post this month, let it be hers.

Hat tip: Baldilocks.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:37 PM

Friday, January 27, 2006

Ultimate Price?

No, Cindy, it was Casey who paid the ultimate price.

Remember him?

Addendum 1/29/06: The photo here reminds me of President Carter and dictator Brezhnev.

Addendum 1/30/06: From th e-mailbag:
This [expletive deleted] is ridiculous. Long live hugo chavez. Long live fidel castro. Long live the Revolution!!!
And i AM an american. Revolution now!!!!!!!!!!!!!

[email protected]
The Revolution's dead already, but I'll grant you this: Its advocates do outlive many of their critics.

Of course, they have many of them shot.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:19 PM

On the House Leadership Race

I have no public position on the House GOP leadership race, but I'd like to point out something to my fellow bloggers who seem to believe that the selection of one candidate or another by the Conference will be usefully indicative of the Conference's ideological commitment, ethics, likelihood of combatting pork, or whatever.

There is a key difference between this election and the election campaigns -- like Bush v. Kerry -- that bloggers more commonly comment upon: All the voters voting in the House majority leader race know all the candidates personally.

They know if one of more of the candidates has ever broken their word to them, or bent over backwards to keep a pledge when it was difficult to do so. They know if they joined in when work needed to be done or just stuck their name on a press release after someone else's efforts brought a success. They know what counsel they gave in private meetings and if their behind-the-scenes efforts seemed turned toward the benefit of the nation or their own self-aggrandizement or re-election chances. They may know if they've done something that has disqualified others in the past from holding leadership positions in the House, or, conversely, if they have sacrificed much to make something happen they believed in, possibly at high costs to themselves.

My point is that the members of the GOP conference know the candidates better as individual men than anyone who does not know them personally could, and how they vote will reflect this. If the end result, whatever it turns out to be, does not make sense to some in the blogosphere, it may not be the result of an ideologically-impure conference, but of considerations we who do not work there know nothing about.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:44 PM

Rethinking Leftism (Continuing a Theme)

An interesting question is raised on the Commons Blog. Re-worded by me, it is this: Given the success of the left in promoting the notion of "separation of church and state," could the proposed U.S. Park Service takeover of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for teaching purposes be ruled unconstitutional, given that King's speeches and philosophy were of an explicitly and unapologetically Christian nature?

People who have read the Constitution realize the phrase "separation of church and state" is not in it, of course, but many lefties pretend it exists -- and some lefties are judges.

Next up for questioning: The King federal holiday. Does it honor the man or the beliefs he represents? If the latter -- guess what -- they are religious.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:53 PM

Fighting Federal Pork

The Washington Post published a profile today of several groups that fight wasteful government spending, earmarks, and "pork."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:24 PM

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Senator Ken Salazar: Sending "Abominations" to the Back of the Bus

I don't know Senator Ken Salazar of the otherwise great state of Colorado personally, but I think it likely he's a racialist.

For those who don't know, that's someone who, using the definition, puts "an emphasis on race or racial considerations, as in determining policy or interpreting events."

Sort of like a racist, except some definitions of the word "racialist" leave open the possibility that the person means well, but just can't get past race.

On a good day. Other days, they don't mean well.

Look at this Rocky Mountain News story:
Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar on Wednesday called U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas an "abomination" compared with the late Justice Thurgood Marshall...

...Salazar's comment about Thomas came during a telephone news conference Wednesday in which he said he would not be part of any possible Democratic filibuster to stop a vote on the confirmation of Samuel Alito as a member of the court.

Salazar was asked whether he would have filibustered any of the current Supreme Court justices. He replied that he hadn't subjected any of them to the kind of in-depth analysis he did with Alito. Then he continued:

"There are members of the U.S. Supreme Court that I very much disagree with. Clarence Thomas, for example, I think is an abomination when you contrast him to the leadership and principles of someone like Thurgood Marshall. I've been in front of the court and I know the justices..."
Notice that Senator Salazar doesn't point to any of Justice Thomas's decisions or public statements when calling Thomas an "abomination."

No, rather than think of the fine points of Constitutional interpretation -- which is, after all, the job of a Supreme Court justice and thus the matter on which a Justice's competency surely rests -- Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado thought first of race.

Maybe Senator Salazar would like to claim that it is just a coincidence the he compared Justice Thomas to the only other black Justice. (Feel free to write, Senator.)

Maybe Senator Salazar would like to claim that he would have singled out Justice Thomas even if Justice Thomas was white. (This blog's email address is [email protected], Senator.)

Maybe Senator Salazar, if asked without first being given time to have a staffer look up the answer for him, can explain the difference in judicial philosophy between Justices Thomas and Antonin Scalia -- the distinction great enough to get the black man labeled an "abomination" while the white man is left uncriticized.

Or maybe Senator Salazar could explain, without a staffer helping, the difference in judicial philosophy between Chief Justice John Roberts, who Senator Salazar voted to confirm, and Justice Thomas, the "abomination." (Remember, Senator, you have to do this without mentioning that Justice Thomas is a black man.)

I would need a mind-reading machine to prove it, but I believe this is what Senator Salazar, in his heart of hearts, thinks: "Justice Thomas is an abomination because he is black and holds views different from the views I and other mostly-white liberals believe he should hold. Justice Scalia and Chief Justice Roberts are allowed to hold views of their own choosing because they are white men, but Thomas should not, because Thomas is black."

Didn't some other Senator say something recently about Congress being "run like a plantation"? Maybe she was thinking of Senator Salazar's views. It is anyone's guess what confidences Senators share in the cloakroom.

Project 21 has a statement out about Salazar's comment. I think Salazar got off easy with them.

Addendum: Senator Salazar isn't the only U.S. Senator sending Justice Thomas to the back of the bus.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:56 PM

Joel Rosenberg: Welcome to Hamastan

Joel Rosenberg says: "A new terrorist state is born. President Bush should declare "Three No's" -- no recognition, no negotiations, and no funding."

Joel's analysis, supportive but not uncritical of the Bush Administration, is worth a read.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:18 PM

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Deroy Murdock: Legal "Eagles"?

Deroy Murdock looks at the law firms providing free representation for the detainees at Gitmo.

An excerpt:
The attorneys who assist these detainees have wedged themselves between terrorist suspects and U.S. personnel who try to garner valuable intelligence to uncover and thwart future hijackings, subway attacks, and dirty bombs. Muslim extremists at Gitmo, who otherwise might spill the beans about their buddies, instead see high-end attorneys jet in to tell them: Sit tight. We're working night and day to get you out of here.

"Why our best law firms would dedicate their pro-bono resources to suspected terrorists rather than, say, people rendered homeless by Katrina, is beyond me," marvels one former high-level federal attorney who previously was involved with these issues. "By definition, these representations only serve to expand the rights of alien enemy combatants during wartime."
There's lot's more. I was particularly struck by the firm Deroy describes as defending both a Gitmo detainee and providing legal work for the manufacturer of all four of the airplanes hijacked on 9-11.

I guess that's not a conflict of interest, though. Everyone on those airplanes is dead.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:41 PM

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Moonbatism Lives!

A little accusation in the e-mail tonight, reprinted in full:
Yep. Read your blog on the Battle of Trafalgar, posted on October 21 2005 and quess what...

this was petty much a straight lift from the New York Times of August 19, fully two months earlier. Plagiarism lives!

Fred Wehner
[email protected]
What drivel. Here's my October 21, 2005 piece on Trafalgar; here's the New York Times piece of August 19. Except that they are both about Trafalgar, they are nothing alike -- but I'll let the words speak for themselves. Just click the links.


Addendum, 1/25/06 After an e-mail exchange with Mr. Wehner that was not characterized by civility and which has not, at least as yet, brought me the apology I am due, I have ascertained that Mr. Wehner 1) failed to notice that my long quotation of an October 21, 2005 Scotsman essay by Arthur Herman in my October 21 blog entry was fully attributed to Mr. Herman by name and by link, and thus, as the quotation was properly attributed, it could not be plagiarism; 2) confused the October 21 Scotsman essay I quoted and linked to with an August 19, 2005 Wall Street Journal book review by Mr. Herman; 3) further confused the August 19 Wall Street Journal book review by Mr. Herman with an August 19 New York Times book review by William Grimes.

It took three errors to make it happen, but by this route my proper attribution of a quote in an October Scotsman article by Arthur Herman became the supposed plagiarism of an August book review by William Grimes in the New York Times.

Accusations are easy to make, folks, but it is very important to make sure you have your facts straight first. Sometimes, you may be hoping someone did something wrong and, well, they just didn't.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:36 PM

Questions for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation

Project 21 has some questions for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation:
Charity Chief Commended for Promise to Account for Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Grant; Project 21 Members Urge CBCF to Be Similarly Forthcoming

Black activists are applauding the New Orleans non-profit "Community of Faith for Economic Empowerment," commonly known as COFFEE, for pledging to make public a full report on how Katrina aid monies it apparently received from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation are being spent.

Members of the black leadership network Project 21 now call upon the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation itself to resolve lingering questions about the disbursal of Hurricane Katrina aid raised by the CBCF.

After Congressional Black Caucus members criticized the Bush Administration on September 2 for allegedly-inadequate Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, the CBCF announced plans to raise $1 million in aid. Between late September and the end of 2005, the CBCF's "Katrina Relief Fund" reportedly collected $450,000 from six corporations and corporate philanthropies and $5,250 from individual donors.

Questions remain unanswered about when and if the aid money was distributed and why COFFEE, a charity close to CBCF Chairman Representative William J. Jefferson (D-LA), was selected to receive the lion's share of the funds.

Benjamin Bell, president of COFFEE, told in a January 11 e-mail that "a report of the total [CBCF grant] effort is being prepared as well as a distribution of the final dollars."

The CBCF has made no such commitment. Its public statements about the aid have been contradictory.

CBCF spokesperson Patty Rice told on December 21 that none of the aid money had been distributed by the CBCF at that time. Rice also said a CBCF committee was being organized to select grantees and issue grants in January or February of 2006.

However, accounts from the CBCF website and from the CBCF CEO differed:
* The CBCF web site claims that $290,000 of the Katrina Relief Fund was "issued" to the group COFFEE on December 9, 2005.

* In a statement quoted on January 18, CBCF President and CEO Don Tharpe said the $290,000 was still in the CBCF's possession as late as December 12, contradicting the website, but Tharpe confirmed the sum had subsequently been disbursed to COFFEE.
COFFEE has several links to Rep. Jefferson:
1) COFFEE was founded in 2002 to implement a CBCF housing-aid program created by Representative Jefferson.

2) COFFEE's chairman, Reverend Zebadee Bridges, in 1999 reportedly told his parishioners at the Asia Baptist Church in New Orleans to vote for and donate to Rep. Jefferson's gubernatorial campaign, a possible abuse of the church's non-profit tax status.

3) According to reporting, COFFEE apparently allowed Rep. Jefferson to deliver some of the aid checks to local recipients, although Jefferson is neither a board member nor employee of COFFEE.
Project 21 members seek answers to several questions:
* Why did the CBCF select COFFEE to receive the overwhelming majority of the Katrina aid funds collected by the CBCF?

* Since the selection of COFFEE could benefit Rep. Jefferson politically, and the CBCF, a non-profit foundation, is barred by law from engaging in political activity, did Rep. Jefferson, while acting in his capacity as CBCF chairman, recuse himself from the decision to select COFFEE?

* Was the selection of COFFEE as the main aid recipient made by the entire CBCF board via a formal recorded vote? If not, which body or individual(s) made the decision?

* Are persons affiliated with COFFEE or the CBCF or their immediate families eligible for aid? If not, what prohibitions are in place? If so, have any such individuals received funds, why and what was the value of the aid received?

* Will the CBCF and COFFEE subject the aid disbursement program to independent audits of the type many charities conduct on routine annual basis? If so, will the audit reports be made public?

* Were charities other than COFFEE considered for the distribution of funds in the New Orleans area?

* What criteria is being used to determine how the rest of the CBCF aid money will be distributed? Is there a timetable for the distribution of the remaining funds?
Project 21 members had the following comments:

"Given the devastation that befell New Orleans and the Gulf Coast and the Congressional Black Caucus's criticism of federal relief efforts, the ambiguity surrounding the CBCF's own aid efforts leave me confused, saddened and angry," said Project 21 member Kevin Martin. "At best, the unanswered questions about their charitable foundation's fundraising make these black legislators look hypocritical and foolish. At worst, the victims of Hurricane Katrina may have been used as cannon fodder for political gain and monetary benefit. The light of full disclosure is necessary to remove the shadow of doubt now enveloping the CBC."

Project 21 member Mark Jordan asked: "Why weren't the funds disbursed when they came in? In what type of accounts were the funds deposited pending disbursal? Did the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation benefit from interest on the charitable donations before they were disbursed?"

"The revelations about the Congressional Black Caucus, its foundation and their hurricane relief efforts give the appearance of a group that has capitalized on misery and now expects to be immune from scrutiny," said Project 21 member Mychal Massie. "Was CBC criticism of President Bush in September intended to stir racial tension and justify a grab for money? Will this money be used to aid the truly needy or simply to curry favor for Representative Jefferson with his constituents? These questions deserve an answer. The CBCF should issue a full and detailed public report..."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:39 AM

Fight Global Warming: Surrender Your Bling

Peyton Knight sent over this commentary about a global warming report he read on the Black Entertainment Television website. Apparently, I am way behind the cultural curve, because I had to send him an email to find out what "bling" is. I thought maybe it was a typo.

No, as this article about bling's entry into the Oxford English Dictionary explains, it is a term "used to describe diamonds, jewelry and all forms of showy style."

But you knew that, so here's Peyton's message:
It was only last month at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal that we learned global warming is unfairly targeting women.

So, just when you thought that global warming couldn't be any more bigoted, an article on the website of Black Entertainment Television is proclaiming that a warmer Earth disproportionately affects African-Americans.

It is only a matter of time before black Americans began to feel the sharp sting of this racist weather phenomenon.

According to the BET article, "If global warming gets worse, many African-American communities will be more vulnerable to breathing ailments, insect-carried diseases and heat-related illness and death."

Quite a claim -- one you might think requires further explanation and citation. (Don't get your hopes up.) The author also laments, "asking Black folks to give up gas-guzzling SUVs and other bling is a tough sell."

Has anyone ever calculated how much warming is directly attributed to bling?

Shouldn't this be done before folks are urged to surrender their bling?

The news gets worse. As if the inherently racist tendencies of Mother Nature weren't enough, the article points out that the Bush administration may have "made matters worse by creating new policies, like the Clear Skies Act and the Healthy Forest Initiative."

I tell you, if I had a dime for every black person disproportionately affected by the federal government properly caring for the forestland it owns -- well, let's just say I wouldn't be driving a Honda Civic.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:04 AM

Monday, January 23, 2006

Wrong Shirt; No Chair

Rooting for the Steelers apparently isn't optional in Beaver Falls, PA.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:29 PM

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Mike Kremzar, What Say You Now?

I haven't heard lately from Mr. Mike Kremzar, but if you are out there, Mr. Kremzar, you can stop worrying about Ben Roethlisberger 's and Kimo von Oelhoffen's safety when they ride their motorcycles in Ohio.

They won't in in Ohio. They'll be in Detroit.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:07 PM

Wecht Indicted for Cadaver-Trading

For folks in western Pennsylvania, this is big news indeed.

Few government corruption cases include charges of cadaver-trading, but the case against doctor/lawyer/county-coroner-for-life Cyril Wecht doesn't stop there. 84 counts in all.

Addendum 1/22: If this article is any indication, the Wecht indictment must be quite an interesting read. County forensics experts walking dogs, public employees buying nose plugs, unrecognizable chauffeurs and, as Eric Heyl put it, "corpse bartering. Let's not forget the corpse bartering."

Could we if we tried?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:28 PM

Saturday, January 21, 2006

More Tears for Caribou

Don Surber asks: "Where are the tears for those dying in the coal war?"

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:55 PM

Blacks Divided on Death Penalty, Polls Show

The San Francisco Chronicle says the public may have a skewed perception about support/lack of support for the death penalty in the black community,

Some excerpts:
The high-profile African American leaders who rallied in support of Stanley Tookie Williams gave the impression the death penalty issue is black and white.

In fact, national polls show African Americans split evenly on capital punishment. Though whites favor the death penalty 3 to 1, nearly 50 percent of blacks favor execution for convicted murderers regardless of race.

Author and political analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson said African Americans' opposition to capital punishment is a "myth," evident from the amount of mail he received from black readers after he wrote in support of clemency for Williams.

"I got a number of letters from African Americans who said that those who perpetrate crime must be dealt with," said Hutchinson, a black man who has also written in opposition to Clarence Ray Allen's upcoming execution. "Many blacks are conservative when it comes to law and order...

...Billy Jeffrey, a 56-year-old San Francisco building inspector, for example, said high-profile African Americans who oppose capital punishment perpetuate the misconception that most blacks feel the way they do.

"The message they put out is absolutely wrong," said Jeffrey, who is black. "They tell you one thing about the community, but the rank and file are not like that."

He said silence on the part of African Americans who support capital punishment contributes to the misunderstanding.

"I have friends on both sides of the fence," Jeffrey said. "But those who support it are trying to be politically correct. So they don't say much about it."

Lawanda Hawkins, a Los Angeles member of Crime Victims United of America, said she was shocked by the backing Williams received from church leaders and entertainers and said it will lead them to "lose points" in the black community...

...Kevin L. Martin, who belongs to Project 21, a conservative African American political group with members nationwide, said he is an avid supporter of the death penalty and believes that 99.9 percent of the people in prison are guilty.

He said the idea that blacks rarely support capital punishment results from the tendency of the public to see outspoken black liberals as leaders, while conservatives rarely win that title.

"The perception of black opposition is predicated by these black liberals, who hold these murderers on a pedestal and claim racism is behind the convictions," Martin said. "They don't speak for me or my community."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:11 PM

Friday, January 20, 2006

Do Hookers Get a Lot of Phone Calls?

Apparently, Britain is considering the legalization of prostitution -- "albeit only small [whorehouses], with a maximum of two prostitutes and a receptionist."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:52 PM

Steven Hayward on Ronald Reagan

There is a wonderful essay about Ronald Reagan by Steve Hayward on National Review Online today.

The final paragraphs covering some of the reporting about Reagan's First Inaugural Address were particularly satisfying for me.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:38 PM

Nickelodeon Junk Food Lawsuit: The Food Doesn't Jump Out of the TV and Into the Kids, Folks

Pat Cleary, writing on the National Association of Manufacturers blog, comments about an AP story about "advocacy groups" and parents suing "the Nickelodeon TV network and cereal maker Kellogg Co. in an effort to stop junk food marketing to kids."

I run a little control group on the question of the impact of TV advertising on childrens' food choices here at Chez Ridenour. The results of my control group study found these commercials have zero impact on what is served at our table.

Further examination of the data supplied the reason: children don't have any money.

Children don't buy junk foods. Parents do.

So, "advocacy groups," if you really want to keep junk food from kids, sue parents.

If you dare.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:26 AM

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Just How Dumb Do the E-Scammers Think We Are?

Got another one of those scam letters by e-mail today. The pitch in this one was that the fellow ("My name is John Nelson from South Africa ;living in Madrid,Spain") wanted me to pay his Dad's medical bills.

You see, says the would-be e-scammer, "his heart is not functioning properly and it was due to a fatal accident."

Fatal accidents will do that.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:35 AM

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Ray Nagin's Remarks

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has apologized for remarks he made yesterday in which he appeared A) to be channeling the Lord a la Pat Robertson, and B) doing so in the service of racial segregation.

Not the best combination.

Fortunately, the mayor came to his senses. In fact, it sounds like what the mayor says he meant to say was, if not exactly completely noncontroversial (what does Iraq have to do with hurricanes?), far more appropriate:
The mayor said his speech was really meant to convey that blacks were a vital part of New Orleans' history and culture and should be encouraged to return. "I want everyone to be welcome in New Orleans - black, white, Asian, everybody," he said.

Nagin said the other main point he had hoped to make Monday was that when blacks do return, they must work to stamp out the crime and political infighting that have held them back.
Earlier today, Project 21 had this to say about the Mayor's controversial comments:
Black Cleric Derides New Orleans Mayor's "God is Mad at America" Assertion as "Plantation Politics"

A clergyman affiliated with the black leadership network Project 21 is questioning the sincerity of New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin in light of comments Nagin made during a city observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday.

During the January 16 event, Mayor Nagin said: "Surely God is mad at America. He sent us hurricane after hurricane, and it's destroyed and put stress on our country."

"Mayor Nagin is a politician who rightly came under fire for numerous missteps surrounding Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Now he is practicing plantation politics in an attempt to keep his job," said Project 21 member Council Nedd. Nedd is a bishop of the Anglican Church Worldwide.

Mimicking Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), who charged during a September 2, 2005 press conference that God "cannot be pleased" with the Bush Administration with regard to hurricane aid efforts, Mayor Nagin sought to politicized God by adding, "Surely He doesn't approve of us being in Iraq under false pretenses."

Nagin found blame with the black community as well, saying, "But surely he is upset at black America also. We're not taking care of ourselves."

Nedd commented: "As a priest and a bishop, I am very interested in hearing when people get a word from the Lord. So when Mayor Nagin said God is mad at America, it intrigued me because, in the book of Genesis, God says he will never again destroy the earth by flood."

Nedd further questioned Mayor Nagin's message that God also wants a "chocolate New Orleans," referring to the city's predominantly-black makeup prior to Katrina. Demographic predictions suggest the rebuilt city will be smaller and more racially diverse.

"I'm sure that I do not have to tell Mayor Nagin this, but the true beauty of New Orleans is that it has always existed as a blend of people and cultures," said Nedd. "I will even go as far as to say that it was probably the first city in America approximating a true melting pot. Why mess with this success?"...
Political consultant Ed Renwick of Loyola University's Institute of Politics was quoted in numerous newspapers about the mayor's somewhat freewheeling speaking style:
He also tends to speak to the literal audience he's with at the time instead of the whole world he reaches through the TV, radio and print media.
Mayor Nagin would not be the first politician to have this problem. (Trent Lott comes to mind.) The solution is to develop a core set of defensible ideas and stick to them, regardless of which group one is speaking to. Mayor Nagin and others should remember that a person who wants to please crowds is a politician, but a person who tries to lead them -- in a positive direction -- has taken the first step to being a statesman.

P.S. I say more about a different aspect of this story on

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:21 PM

Monday, January 16, 2006

No Chlorophyll Here

An e-mail from a very antagonistic stranger, who even went to the trouble of complaining in red:
I just wondered what you STUPID ASSHOLES had to say about this new revelation. LMAO

New source of global warming gas found: plants

Wed Jan 11, 1:06 PM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - German scientists have discovered a new source of methane, a greenhouse gas that is second only to carbon dioxide in its impact on climate change.

The culprits are plants.

They produce about 10 to 30 percent of the annual methane found in the atmosphere, according to researchers at the Max-Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany.

The scientists measured the amount of methane released by plants in controlled experiments. They found it increases with rising temperatures and exposure to sunlight.

"Significant methane emissions from both intact plants and detached leaves were observed ... in the laboratory and in the field," Dr Frank Keppler and his team said in a report in the journal Nature.

Methane, which is produced by city rubbish dumps, coal mining, flatulent animals, rice cultivation and peat bogs, is one of the most potent greenhouse gases in terms of its ability to trap heat.

Concentrations of the gas in the atmosphere have almost tripled in the last 150 years. About 600 million tonnes worldwide are produced annually.

The scientists said their finding is important for understanding the link between global warming and a rise in greenhouse gases.

It could also have implications for the Kyoto Protocol, which calls for developed countries to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.

Keppler and his colleagues discovered that living plants emit 10 to 100 times more methane than dead plants.

Scientists had previously thought that plants could only emit methane in the absence of oxygen.

David Lowe, of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand, said the findings are startling and controversial.

"Keppler and colleagues' finding helps to account for observations from space of incredibly large plumes of methane above tropical forests," he said in a commentary on the research.

But the study also poses questions, such as how such a potentially large source of methane could have been overlooked and how plants produced it.

"There will be a lively scramble among researchers for the answers to these and other questions," Lowe added.

D. Alexander
[email protected]
Why the antagonism? Does she/he think we are plants?

In all seriousness, the article, if accurate, confirms something we've been saying for years; namely, that climate science is still in its infancy.

Addendum, 1/17: D. Alexander writes back:
How do you stupid assholes reconcile "global warming" with this?

I'd also like to hear your "spin" on the recent news that PLANTS are the major cause of methane gas.

You people really are idiots, so I don't expect to receive an honest reply from you, so, really, don't waste your or my time.
The Breitbart link suppled by Mrs./Miss/Mr. Alexander is to an AP story entitled "Bitter Cold in Moscow Leaves Two Dead."

I guess the plants around Moscow haven't been doing their duty.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:18 AM

Sunday, January 15, 2006

"Peer-Reviewed" Journal Fooled (Yes, Again)

Another falsified story in yet another prestigious scientific research journal.

Hat tip: Kevin, M.D.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:21 PM

Senator Biden's Environmental Threat

From the Borowitz Report:
Senator Biden Producing Dangerously High Levels Of Carbon Dioxide

Talkative Lawmaker Creating Environmental Threat, Scientists Fear

Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), who has dominated this week's confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito with his seemingly nonstop talking, is producing dangerously high level of carbon dioxide that could pose a serious environmental threat, leading scientists said today.

While many observers have found Sen. Biden's interminable orating tedious and wearisome, few suspected that the lawmaker was producing gases that could threaten the ecological balance of the planet.

But at a conference in Oslo, Norway devoted to the environmental challenges posed by Sen. Biden's endless nattering, scientists today said that the Delaware Democrat was producing levels of carbon dioxide that could prove harmful to many of the earth's species...
Read the rest here.

Hat tip: The Commons Blog

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:27 AM

Monitoring Employees' Internet Surfing an Employer's Duty?

The Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey says employers may be liable for their employees' use of company computers for personal use.

The case described here is one in which a wife wants to sue her husband's employer after her husband used a company computer to upload a picture of their daughter to a child pornography site.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:31 AM

How Custom Jewelry Sales are Like Local Sports Journalism

How is a sports journalist like a custom jewelry designer?

That's not a trick question; it is something I started thinking about today while reading this Washington Post story, as my father-in-law called just then to tell my husband about his new custom-designed jewelry website.

The Post story, "The Redskins' Media Offensive: A Blitz of Team-Paid Programming Raises Some Flags About Objectivity," by Paul Farhi, begins:
"Redskins Generation," on WUSA, Channel 9, looks a lot like any other sports-feature program. It has highlight clips of the team's games, interviews with players and coaches and amusing features about just about everything related to the Redskins.

The weekly show, however, has an unusual pedigree. Although the program airs on Channel 9, the station has no hand in its production or content. "Redskins Generation" is owned and produced entirely by the Redskins. The team pays the station a fee to air the show during the football season. In the strictest sense, "Redskins Generation" isn't a program at all, but a program-length commercial designed to tout the team.

The show is one of several Redskins-backed radio and TV programs that have dotted the local airwaves this season...
I'm all in favor of saying sponsored programming should be labeled as such (as these programs appear to be), but when it comes to sports, let's not get over-serious about "journalistic integrity." Let's face it, sports coverage is not objective, and no one thinks it is.

Newspapers, TV, radio etc. in the various NFL, MLB, NHL and other sports' home markets more-or-less openly root for the team. The pretense of objectivity is slim to non-existent. Objectivity would take the fun out.

Lest there be a mistake, let me be clear that I'm not being critical of the news media on this point. The Washington Post is a for-profit company, most of the readers in its local market root for the Redskins if they follow football at all, therefore, the Washington Post boosts the Redskins. The rest of the local media does, too.

The Post article continues:
Although the [TV] programs [sponsored by the Redskins] ensure visibility and a generally sunny view for the Redskins no matter how well the team is faring, the shows raise a journalistic question: Can local broadcasters fairly report on the Redskins when they're part of what is essentially a team-sponsored promotional exercise?

Although the programs do not ignore obvious bad news, they tend to feature upbeat -- and at times adulatory -- segments about the team...

...Andy Pollin, WTEM's program director, said he wrestled with the journalistic ethics when he was the host of "Redskins Game Day" on Channel 5 during the 2000 and 2001 seasons (he's no longer associated with the program). "In the back of my mind," Pollin said, "there was always someone saying, 'Don't blast Dan Snyder if you want to keep this nice little paycheck you're getting [from the team] every week.' "

But station executives defend the journalistic integrity of the arrangement, saying the team doesn't dictate show content....
The Redskins don't get bucketloads of media attention from the "objective" local sports journalists because 1) it is objectively more important for the news outlet to devote ink (or airtime) to the Redskins than to other competing stories, or 2) the Redskins are objectively more worthy of coverage than any other team in the NFL. (Obviously false, as the Steelers are the most worthy.)

The Redskins get news coverage here in DC because the local consumers of news media want this coverage, and they want it reasonably enthusiastic and they want it biased toward the Redskins. They don't want it to be objective, not because they don't believe in "journalistic integrity," but because sports is supposed to be about fun.

(It's not like people decide who to vote for based on the way some sportswriter describes a fourth quarter Hail Mary.)

The talk of fun leads me back to my jewelry analogy. Jewelry is like sports in that its consumers (in the economic rather than gastronomic sense) don't need it; they enjoy it. They don't worry if a jewelry designer "objectively" decided that a yellow rock would look best in a certain setting or if he put a yellow rock in the setting because the customer asked for a yellow rock. The bottom line is that the customer wanted a yellow rock, and the jewelry designer was willing to provide one. There would be no lack of "designer integrity" if the designer genuinely preferred a blue rock, but didn't say so.

The same holds for sports coverage. The desire for pro-Redskins rah-rah coverage created a market for such coverage, which is being supplied by the local sports press. This is no different than a market for yellow rocks being supplied by people who sell yellow rocks. Some of the local sports journalists undoubtedly like the Steelers more than the Redskins (one assumes this must be so), but the market calls for Redskins coverage, so that is what they supply -- just the way a jewelry designer who likes blue rocks best still sells yellow rocks to the customers who prefer them.

Sometimes journalists take themselves a little too seriously. "Journalistic integrity" doesn't have to mean giving the consumer what you think they should have rather than what they want, particularly when everyone involved in the transaction knows professional sports exist exclusively for fun and profit.

P.S. As I wrote this story I watched the local NBC affiliate's 11 PM news broadcast's coverage of the Redskins playoff loss today. One sports reporter called the loss "disappointing" while another spoke of "hope" for a better Redskins performance next year. Objective? Obviously not. But neither was it inappropriate.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:27 AM

Blacks Repudiate Belafonte

Project 21 has a new press release out criticizing Harry Belafonte.

It begins:
With former singing star Harry Belafonte's anti-American rhetoric apparently increasing in fervor, members of the black leadership network Project 21 call upon prominent Americans - especially those who find themselves sharing a stage with Belafonte - to disavow his anti-American radicalism and his practice of harshly attacking the character of those who disagree with his policy views.

During a recent visit with Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, Belafonte and praised the anti-American, anti-human rights Chavez regime, saying, "No matter what the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world, George W. Bush says, we're here to tell you: Not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of the American people ... support your revolution." He also said of Chavez, "We respect you, we admire you."

On January 4, the Simon Wiesenthal Center strongly condemned what it termed "anti-Semitic" statements by Chavez, who said in a televised Christmas Eve speech "the world has wealth for all, but some minorities, the descendants of the same people that crucified Christ, have taken over all the wealth of the world."

Belafonte's public praise of Chavez came on January 7.

Belafonte has in the past been criticized for referring to Bush Administration officials Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice as "house slaves..."
Addendum, 1/15/06: Duane Hershberger has additional thoughts.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:25 AM

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Professor Bainbridge: Eminent Domain Crimes

Professor Bainbridge is exposing a Los Angeles eminent domain abuse case with a twist: The original landowner not only lost his property for the use of another private business, but the city council managed to commit fraud against city taxpayers at the same time.

I'm going to leave out the part about how the "winning developer" made campaign contributions to top city officials. Two crimes is enough for one story. Anything more is piling on.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:33 PM

Friday, January 13, 2006

Micromanaging Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart could decide to meet the new Maryland state mandate that it spend an amount equal to eight percent of its payroll on health care benefits by slashing pay.

There's more than one way to skin a cat.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:17 PM

Global Warming Poll: Better Late Than Never

Canadian national television has an online poll today: "Should Canada withdraw from the Kyoto accord?"

Interesting that the question is even being asked.

When I visited, the results were 70 percent, yes; 30 percent, no. No indication was given of the number of votes cast.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:34 PM

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Self-Serving Post Alert

How sweet!

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:16 AM

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Bengals v. Steelers v. Colts

Mike Kremzar, whomever he may be, appears to be so bitter over the Steelers 31-17 wild-card playoff win Sunday over the Cincinnati Bengals that he is complaining to me.

While I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, and of course support the Steelers as does any other red-blooded American, I have not commented in this blog or anywhere else about Sunday's game up to this moment. (I wonder if Mr. Kremzar is tracking down all the Pittsburgh-bred bloggers...?)

Still, perhaps Mr. Kremzar will feel a little better if his comments are published:
Your defense of the Cheap Shot Steelers is very strange. Led by Dirty Bill Coward, Kimo VonScumBag intentionally went for Palmer's knee. Pictures clearly show him holding Palmer's foot down while he drove into the knee - as coached by Dirty Bill. Kimo VonDarthVader will end his career not known as an average player but as the Cheap shot artist who may have ended a promising career. Of course, the Steeler fans exult in plays like this and continue to celebrate their team's dirty play. Unlike crybaby Ben Ratslinger who whines whenever he is touched, Palmer chooses to never look back and always puts a positive spin on things. I do recommend that Big Ben Ratslinger and Kimo VonScumBag not ride their motorcycles in Ohio - those machines can be dangerous.

What comes around goes around. The Cheap Shot Steelers and Dirty Bill Coward are incapable of winning - particularly in Indianapolis - without late hits, taunting, gouging, and injuring opposing players. Go Colts.

Mike Kremzar
[email protected]
I do think it is a shame that Bengals Quarterback Carson Palmer's knee was injured, and I respect Palmer's classy comments about it, but when it comes to the question of the game's outcome, Mr. Kremzar, it is not irrelevant that the Bengals defense allowed the Steelers to score 31 points. Younze guys might want to work on that.

Addendum, 1/15/06: Pittsburgh 21, Indianapolis 18

Addendum, 1/22/06: AFC Championship: Pittsburgh 34, Denver 17

Addendum, 2/5/06: Super Bowl XL: Pittsburgh 21, Seattle 10

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:32 PM

Science Magazine to Try Harder

From a New York Times story by Nicholas Wade:
Science magazine, the leading scientific journal that published Dr. Hwang Woo Suk's two now-discredited reports on cloning human cells, said yesterday that it would evaluate how the articles had been reviewed and search for ways to improve its procedures...
Read the entire story here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:11 AM

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Commons Blog: Protecting Nessie

"I am sorry to bother you with an inquiry which will no doubt be greeted at first glance with gales of laughter."

So began an official British inter-governmental inquiry into how to protect Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, should she ever appear.

There is never a day off for those interested in protecting rare and endangered species.

The Commons Blog has the details.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:31 PM

Monday, January 09, 2006

Global Warming Research Not Too Hot

The New York Times examines "quirky tools" used to educate the public on global warming.

Gotta admit the heat-sensitive coffee mug is a cute idea -- but, as the New York Times story itself notes, the research that went into it apparently wasn't too hot.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:38 PM

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Global Warming Meets Genealogy: A Post for a Saturday Night

Hat tipped by this interesting post on global warming on The Political Dogs blog, I ran into this detailed post also on global warming on the Fundamentally Right blog. Whereupon, I saw that the proprietor of Fundamentally Right is descended from English immigrants who arrived in 1637 and settled in New Haven.

Well, me too.

Here's where my ancestors' house was:

New Haven 1641 John Budd plot
And you probably thought genealogy and global warming were different topics altogether.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:50 PM

Equal Number of Complaints Dodge is My Media Pet Peeve Number One

One of my top media pet peeves is when a journalist explains away criticism by saying something along these lines: "We got an equal number of complaints from liberals and conservatives, so we aren't concerned."

Think again, dweebo. It may have been that your article was objectively inaccurate.

This rant was in part inspired by listening to a big name broadcast network correspondent explain a news story in response to a question from an anchor and get nearly all of it wrong, including getting the dates of key events wrong by over a decade, claiming key individuals in the story worked for certain firms when they in fact worked for other firms entirely and, in a particularly "out there" burst of inaccuracy, claiming a controversial White House official worked at the firm with the other cited individuals, when none of the named persons had ever worked for that firm or, in fact, had ever worked together anywhere.

I ask myself: Why don't these guys just reply: "Gee, Mr. Anchor, I don't know much about that story. Better tell me the questions in advance next time."

I suppose the answer is that, in broadcast news, presentation is more important than substance. Why admit ignorance on-air, since the audience, which is relying on you for the details, is unlikely to notice you have no idea what you are talking about? Just look suave and fake it.

Besides, if complaints come in, you can always blithely note that you got an equal number of complaints from liberals and conservatives, and then go back to arranging your hair.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:13 AM

Regret The Error: Miner Story Corrections

The often-hilarious Regret The Error blog, which reprints corrections from newspapers, has a post up January 6 revealing how various publications explained misreporting the miner story to their readers.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:07 AM

New York Times a Criminal Organization?

If top editors and reporters of the New York Times were to be convicted and sent to a federal penitentiary, as the lawyers writing at Power Line speculate could happen, would that make the New York Times a criminal organization?

Just want to make sure I use terms properly, that's all.

(Well, maybe that and thinking it would be fun to take a page from the Investigative Reporters' Handbook and speculate that an institution is full of criminals just in case publishing such speculation causes an informant -- if there is any crime to uncover -- to come forward. If it turns out the targets are innocent, no harm done, right? Good reputations are like money. Unlike a Pulitizer, you can't take them with you.)

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:10 AM

Friday, January 06, 2006

Death by Suicide Prevention

Randy Balko finds another head-scratcher.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:11 PM

God, As Revealed

Editorial through art.


Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:07 AM

Herbs and Shrubs Abandon Schwarzenegger?

A John M. Broder January 6 New York Times article contains this:
Mr. Schwarzenegger used the speech to propose policies intended to appeal to working families and moderate voters, who all but abandoned him last year as he pursued a conservative agenda.
What is the definition of "working family"? We hear that phrase in politicians' speeches, where it typically is used because it has universal appeal but otherwise is too meaningless to offend any potential voter.

Just in case I was being obtuse, I stuck the phrase "working family" into It responded: "No entry found for working family. Did you mean vervain family?" I was game, and obtained this result: "n: family of New World tropical and subtropical herbs and shrubs and trees."

Hmmm. Probably not the definition the New York Times had in mind. But what is? Don't tell me it is all families headed by one or two working adults, as that definition would include families across the entire political spectrum.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:04 AM

Pat Robertson Has a Lot of Self-Confidence

Pat Robertson is entitled to his opinion, but I believe God's mysteries are beyond human understanding.

Addendum, 1/6: Jeff Harrell said it better.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:02 AM

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Sharon Left No Joshua

Charles Krauthammer's op-ed in the Friday Washington Post about the loss of Ariel Sharon is grim.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:51 PM

Political Developments in Israel

Joel Rosenberg's blog is one to follow for analysis of political events in Israel following the incapacitation of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Joel, an old friend, is writing temporarily from Egypt. He is a New York Times best-selling novelist now, but previously served on the staffs of or as advisors to Natan Sharansky, Benjamin Netanyahu, Rush Limbaugh and the Heritage Foundation. His political judgment is impeccable.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:39 PM

Washington Post: "The Mistake Was Not Ours" (And Other Excuses from the Press)

Here's a story from Editor and Publisher in which some editors apologize for false coverage of the miner story, while others defend their inaccurate reporting.

Notice in these snippets (the E&P article has more) that the "prestige newspapers" seem less likely to apologize than the smaller papers:
"The mistake was not ours." - Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie, Jr.

"The paper is responsible for everything in the paper and if there is an inaccuracy, in this case a huge one, you have to take responsibility." - Philadelphia Daily News Editor Mike Days

"It seemed we handled it just fine all along the way." - Boston Globe Editor Martin Baron

"...we are sorry for any excessive pain our print editions might add." - Shreveport Times Executive Editor Alan English

"I don't feel [sic]that we need to apologize, but we should explain." - Miami Herald Executive Editor Tom Fiedler

"If you saw today's printed edition of The Eagle, you saw a front page headline and story that are flat wrong. ...I'll explain why we (and newspapers across the country) went to press last night with the information we had at the time. But it won't excuse the blunt truth that we violated a basic tenet of journalism today in our printed edition: Report what you know and how you know it." - Wichita Eagle Editor Sherry Chisenhall
Remember, folks: "the miners are alive/the miners are dead" question is as clear-cut as a story can be. It is not viewed differently by people of different political persuasions. Its facts are not subject to interpretation. The miners were either alive or they were dead, and the mainstream press -- the very people who think they deserve a federal shield law -- couldn't get it right.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:57 AM

That Must Be Why Geraldo Rivera Cried on the Air

In letters to Editor and Publisher, writers who seem suspiciously like paid journalists complain that the false "miners are rescued story" is not the news media's fault.

The Governor made them do it.

That must be why Geraldo Rivera appeared to be crying tears of joy live on two cable news networks Tuesday night, while Fox's Donna Fiducia tried in vain to get a word in edgewise.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:37 AM

Washington Post Radio

Proving once again that it is comfortable with letting its writers pontificate without the intervention of fact-checkers and editors, the Washington Post announces the creation of a Washington Post radio station, which it will use to promote itself.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:32 AM

What, We Apologize?

Just for fun, I put the words "apologize" and "miner" in Google News to see if any news outlets had run the phrase "we apologize for falsely reporting the miners were rescued alive," or something similar.

One hit. Admittedly, Google News has very limited coverage, especially of the broadcast media, but really, just one hit?

The hit: The Charleston Daily Mail reported an apology by Ed Dawson, executive editor of the Herald-Dispatch in Huntington, West Virginia.

The article doesn't mention how the Charleston Daily Mail itself covered the story, nor why any West Virginia newspapers ran unverified information as truth, but there is an implication within the text that the West Virginia press corps was victimized by the inability of the Associated Press to get the story right.

Are we to believe that West Virginia newspapers did not have their own reporters at the mine Tuesday night?

Was the story too small to bother with or not local enough for their taste?

As I've said before about things that shouldn't be true but are: Sheesh.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:04 AM

Limbaugh Echo Chamber: The Media Reports What They Want to Happen

Rush Limbaugh was really on a roll today, talking about the news media's accuracy level.

It's better heard than read (go here for transcript, here for audio/video archives) as Rush tends to be, but worth it either way.

A tiny selection of many choice comments:
...from a purely analytical point of view -- the media prove time and time again they cannot be trusted to report the truth or the facts... First there was Katrina. We got forged documents, lies about the law regarding the NSA program; now this terrible mine accident. Time and again they report false information and spin. They rely on rumored sources. Somebody shouts out a rumor, they run with it. They take it to the air. The new standard in the media is: a guy runs up and tells you something, you don't know who your sources are. You don't know your source's name. You don't know anything about him but you report it as news, and then when it's all proven to be untrue. You get, "Oh, how awful..."

...let's take a look at the media. This is an industry that supposedly trades on facts, supposedly trades on truth, and if it can't be trusted how is it any different than Enron or WorldCom?

We are the consumers of this information, and if the information is repeatedly unreliable then the product is defective and those people selling it are dishonest...

...self-policing isn't working, either. There is no accountability. Where are all the editors? Where are all the levels in this miner story, for example? We keep hearing that you can't trust talk radio. "You can't trust Matt Drudge. You can't trust the Internet, because there aren't any filters! It's just a bunch of wackos doing what they want to do, advancing their own agenda." How is that really any different from what the mainstream media, the old media, is today? Where are the filters? Who are the filters? Well, the filters are no different than the reporters. They got the same agenda. They have the same purpose. But they deny it. The last thing they're interested in is fact. The last thing they're interested in is truth. They don't report what happened. They report what they want to happen.

...I don't think they give a damn about the news at all.

...The point is that we should take note of the fact that the media are not what they say they are. They are not journalists seeking the truth and seeking facts. That is false advertising. They have a defective product. They are losing the respect of the public. They've lost it in West Virginia now. They are losing credibility, the way any dishonest company and profession does. I mean, you go to bed thinking 12 miners are alive only to wake up the next day to find out that all but one of them is dead. It's shocking.
The man's right.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:02 AM

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I Take It They Didn't Stop the Presses

"Media struggle with Misinformation," says a headline in the January 4 New York Newsday.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:29 PM

It Grows

Michelle Malkin's War on Blogs was a good read in December, but read it again while thinking about the fact that the mainstream press told all of us the West Virginia miners were safely rescued yesterday.

If the mainstream press were to provide reliably accurate and comprehensive news coverage, the market for blogproduct would shrink.

Hat tip: Beltway Blogroll

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:08 PM

Freedom: The U.S. Is Ninth

Ninth. Ninth. Sheesh.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:15 PM

Congressional Black Caucus Katrina Relief Funds Remain Undisbursed

Mychal Massie hopes folks will join A. M. Siriano in sending letters to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, asking the Caucus to distribute the reported estimated $400,000 it received in donations to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Marc Morano of has more details, including some good points from Ken Boehm of the National Legal and Policy Center.

The A. M. Blog has a form set up to allow those who are interested to easily send an e-mail to the Congressional Black Caucus.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:01 AM

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Environmentalists v. Alito

Peyton Knight recommends a piece by law professor Jonathan Adler, who shows that environmental groups are bending over backwards to find ways to attack Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:33 PM

Monday, January 02, 2006

Smoking Saves Government Money

I enjoyed this new George Will column about tobacco lawsuit abuse, perhaps because I made some of the same points myself, back in 1999:
...the government does not lose money from smoking; it profits from it.

...because smokers have an 18-36 percent chance of dying sooner than they would if they did not smoke, smokers tend to use substantially less Social Security and Medicare benefits and other expensive government programs. This saves the government approximately 32 cents for every pack of cigarettes sold.

In addition to saving 32 cents per pack, says [Professor W. Kip] Viscusi, government taxes average 53 cents per pack.

So government profits 85 cents per pack of cigarettes sold in the United States. This figure, incidentally, does not include the $246 billion tobacco companies agreed to give state governments last year to settle state-initiated lawsuits.

Meanwhile, according to the New York Times, tobacco companies make an average profit of 28 cents per pack.

Government profits from tobacco more than tobacco companies do.
My conclusion: If you see yourself as a government wage slave, by all means, smoke. Aside from the expense to you and the inconvenience of possible premature death or unnecessary illness, it is a nice thing to do for your fellow citizens.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:29 PM

What Does A "Reputable Scientist" Do Instead?

A Time story by Michael Lemonick about Woo Suk Hwang's apparently-fraudulent stem cell research, The Rise and Fall of the Cloning King, contains this paragraph:
In order to clone an adult, you need to put one of its cells into a human egg cell from which the nucleus has been removed. After electrical fusion and chemical activation, the egg can then start dividing, creating embryonic stem cells. (If left to mature, the embryo could eventually grow into a clone of the original adult--something no reputable scientist would let happen.)
The full article is interesting, although it raises questions ("How did his now invalidated stem-cell paper get into a major scientific journal? How did such serious flaws go undetected for months? And could he have knowingly taken such foolish risks?") that are not answered. The first, at least, was answerable (go here or here).

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:52 AM

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Don Surber on Global Warming

A pretty funny post.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:30 PM

Reliability of Medical Journals

Bizzy Blog notes a warning from an American Cancer Society Professor at Harvard Medical School:
...doctors should take all studies published in "prominent medical journals" with "skeptical caution."
Read it in conjunction with this BizzyBlog post from December 17, 2005: What Does "Peer Review" Mean? (Hint: Diddly squat.)

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:19 AM

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