Thursday, September 30, 2004

"Nick Coleman, Real Journalist"

The Nick Coleman rant concerning bloggers has been covered extensively by other blogs, especially the Fraters', so I only have one comment and one suggestion for Nick.

Mr. Coleman seems to have not kept in touch with the times. For 18 years he has been able to opine, denigrate, and mock via his column the people whose positions he disapproves of or just plain dislikes without having to worry much about the reactions of those in the audience who disagree. After all, what could they do to him? Problem is Nick old fellow, times have changed a bit. It's easy for the average Joe to publish on the web these days, and when you make an ass of yourself by petulantly trashing the "bloggies" you're picking a fight with folks who possibly have more readers than you do. Of course there is the side benefit of exposing your hackwork to a nationwide audience and providing more embarassment to the citizens of the Twin Cities... .

Nick, I'm sure you remember Mark Twain's crack about never picking a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel. I suggest that you remember that these days, electrons are cheaper than ink.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

In another post, I asked about how do we get news we can trust. I just want to clarify what I had in mind. One answer to this question is something to the effect of "Use the resources available, especially the internet to check out what the news source is saying". The problem is most of us lack the time to fully research/verify the facts reported about stories of interest to us. After all, most of us do something other than research to make a living. Then there are the time requirements in raising children, maintaining one's home, and/or taking care of the other myriad things that need to be done to maintain one's daily life. That's one of the things that, once upon a time, made the network news kind of attactive. People (rightly or wrongly) trusted Cronkite, Brinkley, et. al. to deliver the important news of the day. Now that we've gotten an inside look at how the sausage is made, so to speak, and now have reason to distrust their descendants at the networks, where will people turn for reliable, accurate information needed to make important decisions (like, who to vote for)?

A Whiff of Fall

Fall started for me today (you're about a week late - ed. ) when I left work. When I stepped out of the computer center, I noticed just a hint of the smell the breeze off a harvested corn field has. This despite the fact that there isn't a cornfield within miles and the harvest won't be starting for awhile yet. I lack the words to describe it, but to me, it whispers "Winter is coming..."

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

CBS's Betrayal

The scandal now called "Rathergate" has moved a lot of electrons while I have been away. Kudos to the folks at Power Line , Little Green Footballs, and others for doing the heavy lifting that exposed this thing. I don't have any facts to add to this, but I do have a few thoughts about the fallout. Briefly covered are the Kerry campaign, CBS, bloggers, and the public at large.

First, Kerry and Co. . If it turns out that there were contacts between the campaign and CBS News before CBS broadcast the story, Kerry's poll numbers will sink faster than Michael Moore in a leaky rowboat. Even though President Bush is not what I would call wildly popular with the voting public right now, an opposing candidate involved in a fraudulent smear job on the president will rapidly become the villain. I find it difficult to believe they could be this stupid, but if the docs are traced back to someone in the Kerry camp, it's all over but the postmortems.

CBS. CBS loses on two counts. First they've squandered whatever trust that remained from the days of the big Three networks. Given the degree of sloppiness shown in their rush to get this story on the air, why should anyone trust any of their investigative work? Their eagerness to ignore information that didn't agree with the storyline (Bush was given special treatment, Bush pulled strings, Bush didn't serve honorably) also demonstrates that they do not merit trust as well as showing CBS News to be unprofessional. Second, if it turns out that people inside CBS News were in cahoots with people in the Kerry campaign on this story, then any pretense of the media being objective is finished at CBS. It won't be Fox News that's the poster child of media bias anymore. Oh, and by the way CBS should fire Dan Rather and everyone else connected with the decision to air the National Guard story without vetting the evidence.

Bloggers. A well-deserved pat on the back. I have noticed a few mentions of the idea that the mainstream media is no longer relevant, because of the presence of the citizen journalist/blogger. I just want to caution that most of the factual reporting is still done by what is referred to the mainstream media (newspapers/TV/magazines), henceforth known as the MSM. Interviews with the Killian family, information about the warnings given to CBS by their own document experts, a statement from the Col. Staudt accused of pressuring the TANG denying Bush was given special treatment, etc. were discovered by the professional press, for example. Bloggers have become a very useful adjunct because there are so many people taking an interest in the controversial stories of the day that mistakes made by the press are found fairly quickly (much to the chagrin of CBS). They also provide additonal, often interesting analysis/citicism of the stories produced by the MSM.

The public at large. The days of Uncle Walter are over (if they ever existed). People are going to have to get used to the fact that news organizations are not as trustworthy as once believed. This process has been going on for awhile (Janet Cooke, Jayson Blair, Mike Barnicle, etc.) but this is probably the last straw. This leaves the problem of vetting the news reports (often conflicting or incomplete) that people will see from multiple sources, none of which can be guaranteed trustworthy. How will we know which parts of which reports are true?

Friday, September 03, 2004

Random Musings on the RNC

Just a few thoughts about the Republican National Convention, in no particular order:

Best Speech: John McCain. He laid out the case for taking the fight to the Islamofacists better than than anyone I've heard up to now. His references to "our Democrat friends" made a subtle point about which party reallly is being divisive this year. I don't recall any speakers at the DNC referring to Republicans that way. The ending was a passionate reminder that we are one nation that needs to be united in the face of those who want us destroyed - something else the Dems didn't bother to do. Plus, a wonderful, bonus bitch-slapping of Michael Moore!
Honorable Mentions: Rudy Giuliani for making a case against the Democrats' being able to properly defend this country, done with a relatively light-hearted touch.
Arnold Schwartzenegger for giving the most positive speech at the convention (in prime time).

Zell Miller: Fiery and over the top. He clearly is speaking from the heart and in a style that is reminiscent of decades past. But the rhetoric was too harsh, even if the delegates loved it. I can understand the anger, given the tone used by the Dems in criticizing Bush, but although it was entertaining it was too angry. However, it did not deserve the kind of reaction as quoted from Ken Layne:

No kidding. I grew up in the South, surrounded by sons of bitches like Zell Miller -- bitter old nigger-haters who couldn't possibly understand why they weren't right about anything -- and this dixiecrat piece of shit is probably the best advertisement for the Bush Administration's Compassionate Conservatism we've ever seen. Thank you, Zell

Just another example of that famous lefty tolerance and respect for others, I guess. Then we have Andrew Sullivan's view, summarized in his first paragraph here:

Zell Miller's address will, I think, go down as a critical moment in this campaign, and maybe in the history of the Republican party. I kept thinking of the contrast with the Democrats' keynote speaker, Barack Obama, a post-racial, smiling, expansive young American, speaking about national unity and uplift. Then you see Zell Miller, his face rigid with anger, his eyes blazing with years of frustration as his Dixiecrat vision became slowly eclipsed among the Democrats. Remember who this man is: once a proud supporter of racial segregation, a man who lambasted LBJ for selling his soul to the negroes. His speech tonight was in this vein, a classic Dixiecrat speech, jammed with bald lies, straw men, and hateful rhetoric. As an immigrant to this country and as someone who has been to many Southern states and enjoyed astonishing hospitality and warmth and sophistication, I long dismissed some of the Northern stereotypes about the South. But Miller did his best to revive them. The man's speech was not merely crude; it added whole universes to the word crude.

I fail to see how that is any worse (or even as bad) as Democrats referring to the GOP as fascists, bigots, murderers, etc. . He basically calls Miller a racist without any real evidence, other than 40 year old stuff that at the time was unfortunately a staple for southern Democrats (in which case what does one say about Robert Byrd?). His record as governor of Georgia does not indicate racism, nor does his Senate record. Unless you have real, recent evidence of racism Andrew, shut yer gob or find some other grounds for criticism.

Andrew went on to officiallly jump the shark after Bush's speech even though he liked it, because Sully is now a one issue voter - gay marriage - and that is more important to him than dealing with the folks who want to kill us. Mr. Sullivan, I just want to point out that Bush's position on the subject (although not mainstream) is closer to the mainstream than yours.

Bounce: I don't know. The polls I've seen indicate anywhere from a 4 to 6 point boost for Bush, but let things simmer for a few days. So far, neither of these guys has convinced me to vote for him, although I find that I dislike Kerry more.