Monday, June 27, 2005

Speaking of the Star Tribune...

I saw this column Sunday from the Reader's representative, Kate Parry. It was about the perception of bias at the Star Tribune, both liberal and believe it or not, conservative. Here's how she characterizes the two kinds of mail she gets on the subject:

Here are the messages I regularly hear from these readers:

From conservatives: The Star Tribune is too liberal. It never prints anything positive about the war in Iraq because it's biased against President Bush. It slants news coverage to fit the liberal editorial page agenda. It never scrutinized Bill Clinton the way it goes after Bush. Everyone who works there is a liberal.

From liberals: The Star Tribune has become too conservative. It is caving to pressure from the right -- that's why it hired a conservative Metro columnist. It buries important stories about how badly the war in Iraq is going. It slants coverage to fit the agenda of its conservative corporate masters.

Of course, the very idea that the Strib hiring a conservative columnist is a sign of conservative bias at a paper who has the likes of Nick Coleman, Doug Grow, and Kim Ode in the Metro section is ludicrous, but I digress.

She then looks at it in terms of the coverage of President Bush's recent visit to Maple Grove vs. the coverage of former President Clinton's visits here in his second term. Unsurprisingly, she finds little difference between the two, at least in the amount of space devoted to coverage. However I do have this modest bone to pick. Parry mentions the amount of space given to the Presidents' respective detractors on their various trips to Minnesota:

McMichael liked the photo of Bush that ran on the front page after the visit, but she thought the tone of the coverage was negative, with references to protesters and context about people who questioned the drug plan. I measured 8.75 column inches on detractors of Bush in coverage of his visit. With Clinton, there was no coverage of detractors during the school visit, but there were 10 inches from detractors during the farm visit, including a mention on page one of "tepid applause" from the farmer crowd to some of Clinton's ideas.

I would just like to ask, how many major stories about Bush appear in the Strib without giving significant coverage to his detractors?

In any case, the column was kind of interesting, but it mostly misses the point. The things that most bother conservatives are stories that misrepresent their views, stories that spend a lot of space reporting the viewpoints of liberals and then give short shrift to conservative viewpoints, the name-calling, shrillness, the lack and misrepresentation of conservative views, and sloppiness on the editorial pages, the stories that use liberal sources without identifing their politics but always label conservative sources, etc. . I think these questions are of more interest to conservatives.

Correction : Made an edit to fix the first block quote, from which I left out the first sentence.

Why not dump the Strib?

I don't have the eloquence of a Lileks, but I do have a reason to put up with the Star Tribune's left-loony opinion sections and occasional slanted reporting. The Fraters have a point, but...

If you're a conservative, consider the Star Tribune as an unintended, accidental fifth column in the left, a unknowing set of useful idiots for the likes ofKarl Rove, if you will. The shrill, poorly argued editorials, (the rudeness and arrogance are but a bonus) the extreme viewpoints, the clear signs of Bush Derangement Syndrome on full public display are just the kind of advertising the left (and the Democratic Party) deserve. Nick Coleman alone is a fine recruiter for the right, every time he writes a column about politics. And that's before even mentioning Jim Boyd.

Hell, if I were a conservative business owner it might be a good time to take out a bit more advertising in the Star&Sickle (if the economics are right, of course). If these folks are unbalanced lefty loons, that subscription money allows them to advertise that fact to the world. If you want to make Minnesota a red state, let'em rave!

Besides like I said before, it makes a fine dropcloth for cleaning the guns that so upset them. So subscribe, pour a tall one, sit back and watch the spectacle!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

A Question of Color

I recently received a question about the link colors in my posts. As I didn't know that the links were showing up pink within the posts (they show up as red in the two browsers I use - Mozilla and Internet Explorer) and pink is not my signature color, the situation has been rectified by a bit of tampering with the Blogger template. Hopefully the link colors will be purple, with visited links red and green hovers. Just not pink.

Light Posting

I apologize for the light and intermittent (even by my low standards) posting here the last week or two. Life has been hectic 'round here, even for a shy guy with no life like me, and the blog has been near the bottom of the priority list. Fortunately the MOB and the Northern Alliance have far more (and far better) reading than this joint anyway, so please check them out as inclination directs.
I had the experience today of actually encountering an opinion piece from a Star Tribune editor that actually contained a criticism of the DFL. You had to get past the carping about the GOP first, of course. It was however a criticism that echoes one of the common complaints of conservatives:
Hutchinson is already rehearsing next year's stump speech. He faults Gov. Tim Pawlenty and his GOP allies at the Legislature for offering Minnesota less government at a "no new taxes" price, and DFLers for proposing to provide existing services in about the same way, but at a higher price.

"That's not what Minnesotans want. People want more for their money. They want their government to deliver better education, better health, better transportation, and they are willing to pay the price to get it. ... People don't really care that much whether their state moves left or right. They want it to move forward."

He'll get a good argument from both parties about his characterization of their positions. But as long as the GOP idea of health care reform is booting hard-working, premium-paying people out of health insurance programs, and the DFL idea of better education consists mainly of spending more money, Hutchinson's accusations will hit home.

The article itself is about Peter Hutchinson's bid to become the next Independence Party governor of Minnesota. Lori Sturdevant seems to rather like the idea. Unfortunately for her, whatever the merits of having third parties involved in Minnesota government the fact is that until that same third party has some significant representation in the Legislature, the gridlock will continue. The financial difficulties of the past three years were the spark for the current impasse, but it would have happened sooner or later. The GOP and DFL are too far apart and in my opinion more interested in winning than in governing, especially the DFLers who are playing scorched earth with a vengeance. The surpluses from 1999-2002 during Jesse Ventura's term made it easy to paper over differences without actually resolving them at the time. Now it's crunch time, and we're getting another lesson on how disfunctional our current set of politicians is at the moment. It would be well for them to remember (and act on) the idea of actually doing their jobs and completing their work in the alloted time. Just about everyone else does... Well, at least the GOP recognizes that our current difficulties are more of a spending problem, unlike the DFL.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

From the Can't Stop Digging at the Bottom of a Well Dept.

The Star Tribune's editors, unsatisfied with comparing the Bush administration to the Taliban, have gone even farther off the rhetorical deep end by not only endorsing Dick "Turban" Durbin's remarks, but criticizing him for not going far enough! Apparently the editors of my next-to-hometown consider the Marines and interrogators at Guantanamo Bay to be worse than the folks who ran the Nazi concentration camps, the gulag, and torture cells of the Lubyanka. Shame on them, because they should know better, or at least have been taught some history. Alas not, I guess.

I would mention a couple of things the Strib should consider prior to wasting valuable paper and ink on valueless spew like today's. First, the people being held at Gitmo are not prisoners of war or even criminals. For these folks, being a criminal would be a step up in status, and being worthy of POW status is just isn't possible. From what I've read concerning the Geneva Conventions most of the people held at Gitmo could have been summarily executed when captured, and it would have been perfectly legal and in keeping with over a century of military tradition. ( see the first part of Bill Whittle's Sanctuary essay, which mentions why uniforms are important in war, especially for civilians)

Second, the Strib needs to remember that the treatment given to the prisoners at Gitmo is not as tough as that given to our own people during their escape and evasion training. It certainly doesn't compare to real torture - the kinds practiced in Hanoi, in the gulag, in Lefortovo, in China, and in North Korea, just to name a few.

Moreover, the US government has made considerable effort to attempt to sort out those at Gitmo who really shouldn't be there. The result is a couple of hundred folks sent home, some of whom made further attempts to kill our people. Who else would do that?

Yes, there have been instances of mistreatment of prisoners/detainees in US custody. This is not to be tolerated, and must be (and has been) investigated and the offenders punished. It is also true that problems like this are inevitable. Not one of those incidents was discovered by the press. The press reports of misconduct at Abu Gharib and other places were not the fruit of investigative journalism. They were the product of investigations conducted by our own government. If the Bush administration's policy on detainees was based on that of the gulag or the torture chamber, they wouldn't be running investigations of it for the press to report on.

One last question for the collective font of wisdom at the Strib - if we don't incarcerate these kind of people at places like Gitmo, what do we do with them? Catch and release?

Saturday, June 18, 2005


I have to report that although a good time was had by all, the Germans won a marginal victory in last night's FOW game at the Source. The Americans just could not solve the Jagdpanthers on the east half of the map, and a platoon of Panthers tipped the balance in the West. Who would have thought that it would be impossible to range artillery on infantry just because they are in a building? I thought that's what artillery is for, dammit!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Return of the Gay Patriot

The Gay Patriot is back after a long, apparently involuntary hiatus from blogging. Welcome back, sir!

I am curious about one thing, though. Why is it expected by those on the left that the right to privacy is inviolate when it comes to the unrestricted killing unborn human life, but is of no consequence when it comes to 'outing' someone who just wants to blog anonymously? Or does the right of privacy only apply to those with the correct politics?


I'm sorry for the lack of posting lately, I have spent this week getting ready for Friday's Flames of War game at the Source in St. Paul. For anyone who's interested FOW is a set of rules for tactical World War Two wargaming with 15mm miniature figures. I'm providing half the American force for this week's game, two companies of the United States Army will be facing off against the Wehrmacht in a no-holds-barred slugging match. Hopefully I won't embarrass the USA too much... .

I see things haven't changed all that much anyway. The Star Tribune is still trying to convince everyone George Bush is a war criminal, while the press seems intent on transforming Guantanamo Bay into the something worse than the gulag, with help from an idiot senator from Illinois. That means you, Senator Durbin. Hopefully the people of Illinois will see fit to replace you at re-election time. Just as a refresher, here's a post that provides examples of what torture really is (warning: graphic images).

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Mention single-payer health care, and the Star Tribune follows. Am I great or what? (don't answer that!) All of the pieces have one thing in common: a demand for European-style, taxpayer-funded, government-run health care. Note the lack of pieces expressing a dissenting view. Remember, these are the guys who complain about Fox News (who by the way, presents more liberal opinions than the Strib presents conservative ones).

Here at Million Monkeys, we want to present a supplemental service today that highlights some opinions and stories on this issue the Strib ignores: here, here, here, and last an NYT story about a ruling on a related subject from Canada's Supreme Court.

I am not advocating for or against the Stib's position really, because our current system doesn't seem to deliver good value for the money spent on it. (20% for administrative overhead? I believe it... ) Dealing with insurance companies can often be a nightmare, and there are an awful lot of people who don't have coverage, and others who if they become unemployed are extremely hard to insure. Single-payer, however, has its own problems with quality and availability of care. Both kinds of systems seem to be unable to control costs. The Strib doesn't mention it while shilling for single-payer, but European countries are facing money problems with their universal plans that they've had little success solving.

I don't have an answer. If I did, I'be enjoying a long, early retirement along the Riviera or sitting in a pub near my favorite Scotch distillery.

Canadian Health Care

I wonder what the Star Tribune's editors would say to the Canadian Supreme Court about this decision. Here's an exerpt from the NYT story:

The court ruled that the waiting lists had become so long that they violated patients' "life and personal security, inviolability and freedom" under the Quebec charter of human rights and freedoms, which covers about one-quarter of Canada's population.

"The evidence in this case shows that delays in the public health care system are widespread, and that, in some serious cases, patients die as a result of waiting lists for public health care," the Supreme Court ruled. "In sum, the prohibition on obtaining private health insurance is not constitutional where the public system fails to deliver reasonable services."

What does the Strib, who has often praised Canada's single payer system, say to that? Not to mention the pro-single payer types in the DFL and national Democratic parties. (They know who they are... )

I've been away for awhile, due to computer problems and being on call at work. After my little hiatus from the blog I took a look around to see what's new. What do I see?

The state legislature is still at work (and loggerheads) mostly becuase the DFL made a compromise offer that wasn't. The Star Tribune is still sniping at President Bush, and a MSM journalist says something that makes him look like a jackass and he doesn't even know it. Then said journalist wonders why fewer and fewer people trust what he says.

Heck, it's like I've never been away... .

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Saturn, again

Here's a set of non-Cassini images of Saturn, taken by the Hubble Space telescope this February.

Click on the image for a better photo and a description from NASA.

Monday, June 06, 2005

D-Day plus 61

Today is the 61st anniversary of the Normandy invasion. There wasn't much mention of it in the Star Tribune. Just as well it didn't, since the editors there would doubtless have chosen to run an attack on the President, just like they did on Memorial Day. Heaven only knows what they have in mind for Independence Day. I digress, however.

What I really wanted to say... . I don't know, exactly. I am in awe of the people who stormed the beaches that day in 1944. I do not know if I would have had the courage to advance out of the landing craft in the face of shells and bullets fired by people doing their level best to kill me, even though the cause be just. I will never know, and since the cost of knowing may be war on the scale of World War Two I am grateful for it.

But, that leaves a question. A question of service. Nothing I am likely to be able to do will be the equal of the service given by those men and their brothers in arms over 60 years ago. Not many folks get to win the Cold War, for example. I don't think that simply meeting my civic responsibility to vote is sufficient, but I'm not sure what a clumsy, awkward guy with a knack for alienating people can do that won't make things worse instead of better. But there must be something.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Today's Star Tribune editorial is one of the rare ones that I mostly agree with. Over the years, I've come to believe gerrymandering is the worst feature of our political system, simply because it stifles competition. If a redistricting method based solely on geography and population numbers reduces the number of safe seats for both parties, good. If competition is good for the economy, it should be good for our politics too.

Flap, Flap, Flap,

I see this wee site has evolved all the way to Flappy Bird status in the TTLB Ecosystem. Amazing. Frankly I never expected to leave the primordial soup, so this is rather unexpected. I guess that leaves me with the question of how much evolution is enough? One could shoot for Higher Beings, Mortal Humans, Playful Primates, Large Mammals, or even Maruading Marsupials. Problem is, all those higher statuses require, well, talent. So that leaves, how far can this place shoot for by bluffing? Maybe I could shoot for Adorable Rodent. Beavers and muskrats are kind of interesting, and it sure worked for Mickey Mouse.

Linda Foley Rides Again

"The conservatives have got us, as a country, now believing that balance -- giving both sides -- is the same as truth, and there are some things that are just false"

- Linda Foley, Newspaper Guild President

What are the flaws in this statement and what it implies? Let me count:

  1. I have never heard a conservative say anything of the sort. I believe the conservative position (such as there is one, see disclaimer below) is their side of controversial issues is often not even presented, or presented in a cursory, careless, and inaccurate fashion. They believe that if both/all sides of an argument are fairly presented, individuals can make up their own minds as to what the truth is.
  2. In the case of a controversial issue the truth hasn't been determined yet, so presenting only one side of the argument about it denys those viewing information important to their making an informed judgement about what the truth might actually be.
  3. If journalists are the arbiters of what information is presented they are setting themselves up as being the Guardians of Truth. If so, why don't we just submit to the Reporter's Raj?
  4. Ms. Foley, it is possible that both sides in an argument are wrong. Or right, or some of both. Don't progressives/liberals believe in nuance anymore?
  5. If only the favored side of an argument is presented or the other side is presented in a slanted fashion, we get more information about the bias of the journalist than we do about the story. For me at least, it increases the distrust I have for journalists in general.
Sure, some things are indeed false. What we need are journalists who are able to report the relevent facts in an interesting way. It's up to us to make the decisions about the truth.

See the video at the Politcal Teen. (via the Instapundit)

Disclaimer: I am not really a conservative. My political views, however, are almost certainly to the right of Ms. Foley's

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

On the way home from work today via the evening traffic jam, I ended up trailing a car with a variety of anti-Bush ("A Village in Texas is Missing its Idiot") and pro-Democrat stickers. It got me thinking. Not just about the Kerry folks are still flying their allegiences over 7 months after the election, but about why there were Kerry stickers at all.

In an election year where the Democrats were united by hatred for George W. Bush, an incumbent hated by the press, one who was running a not very popular war in Iraq, an economy perceived to not be producing jobs, an incumbent deemed vulnerable, the Democrats nominated John Kerry. John Kerry, who probably was the second-worst choice (next to a Dean-Kucinich ticket) they could have made. A somewhat thin-skinned guy with a twenty year Senate record of non-achievement whose sole qualification for office was his military service in Vietnam. A service which he personally trashed in front of the Congress. A guy whose fellow officers banded together to oppose his candidacy because they considered him unfit to be President. A guy with a speaking voice that is the all-natural equivalent of Sominex. There were other folks available - Lieberman, Clark, Edwards - all of which would have been better national candidates than Kerry. More proof that the Democrats are their own worst enemy.

Traffic, Revisited

I was wondering yesterday why a site that maybe gets 10 hits on an exceptional day has gotten 220 visits this week. It turns out the hits are coming from Google searches for the words "Ana" and "creed", which found this May 1st post highlighting a now behind the registration wall Star Tribune story about anorexia, religion, and the Internet. I suspect the searchers were just a wee bit disappointed to find this place. In any case, welcome to the site and feel free to browse around a bit.