Sunday, February 27, 2005

Reviewing the Strib's Iraq Coverage

Star Tribune reader's representative Kate Parry penned a column about the newspaper's coverage on Iraq. I won't reproduce any of it here (it is worth reading the whole thing), I just have a couple of comments.

First, she points out that the ratio of stories reporting problems vs. reporting progress are about 2:1 in favor of reporting problems, even though the period she surveyed included the Iraqi election (photos are just about even, with a slight edge on positive items). She considers this to be proof that the positive things in Iraq are not completely uncovered - true enough. Its the proportion and tone of the coverage that bothers a lot of people. She also writes that she viewed the tone of the Iraqi election coverage as "
somewhat subdued and grudging after weeks of speculation on the likelihood of big problems on election day." That is rather refreshing, given the unwillingness of many in journalism to even entertain the idea of unbalanced reporting from Iraq.

She then points out that the Strib gets its Iraq coverage mostly from the wire services and other newspapers, and the Strib's policy is to find stories "showing the full gamut of life in Iraq" and that bombings and deaths tend to dominate the wire services. Given that the Star Tribune does not have the resources of a New York Times or Washington Post, I can understand a dependence on wire service reporting. I also understand the reluctance of reporters to leave the relative security of the Green Zone in Baghdad to go to other parts of Iraq, as the Sunni triangle is a dangerous place these days. What I don't undestand is why the more peaceful areas of Iraq can't be covered by traveling through Turkey, Jordan,Syria, or Kuwait to get there. The Star Tribune may not be at fault for this, but the organizations reporting out of Iraq certainly are.

Update: I added the forgotten link to Kate Parry's column

And One More Thing

One more item from the editorial discussed in the last post:
It's not only the painful split over Iraq that continues to damage the Atlantic alliance. There is a deep and growing cultural divide between ordinary Europeans and the redder reaches of America. And Bush, with his cowboy swagger and patronizing manners, offers the perfect American caricature for European ridicule and distrust.

As a German journalist explained on National Public Radio, Europeans tend understandably to fear politicians who casually toss around big concepts like justice, liberty and "the untamed fire of freedom," then amass big armies to march off and enforce them on others. The continent enjoys a rare respite from two centuries of tyrants with big ambitions. So it naturally resists Bush's grand plan to democratize the Middle East, by force if necessary.

The region, after all, is not remote from Europe but constitutes its "near abroad." Indeed, as the European Union begins the process of absorbing Turkey, it anticipates its own insertion into the Middle East. Bush's strategy of global confrontation with Islam is not an option for Europe.

There are several things to take issue with in those paragraphs. It is true that many Europeans see President Bush as a caricature of a cowboy, at least in their media. The first misconception is that so-called "Red America" sees being called a cowboy an insult. Out here, cowboys are mythic characters that in the main stand for virtues - toughness, independence, standing up for one's self, endurance. What some Europeans (and the Star Trib) see as patronizing can also be seen as candor, and straight talk. If that is seen as patronizing, so be it. Maybe that's what it will take to get the attention of so-called "sophisticated" Europeans who have done such a wonderful job dealing with Islamic-flavored violence so far... .

As for Europeans being suspicious of politicians who preach freedom and have big armies - well, how many freedom-preaching politicians have there been on the Continent? Most of the history of European warfare that I remember didn't have much to do with the cause of freedom and liberty, including in my opinion the French Revolution. Most of them were about which elite (aristocracy, Nazis, intellectuals, various dictators etc. ) would rule various parts of Europe. If Euros don't like the idea of democratizing the Middle East, perhaps the various Euro governments should present an alternative that works better than the status quo that held before 9/11/2001. So far, ideas from their side (except for maintaining the status quo) have been somewhat lacking. If the Euros also have a better idea of how to deal with Islamic-fueled terror than confronting it, now's long past time to be speaking up.

The Star Tribune - Sore Losers of the Twin Cities

Here's another example of why I think the Strib's editorial board is populated by a bunch of sore losers. This is from Saturday's lead editorial:
In talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Bush rightly prioritized the urgency of securing Russia's nuclear material, a frightening threat to the security of both nations. His lecture on Russia's democratic backsliding, however, suffered the glare of his own questionable selection as president in 2000, as well as the high-boot political tactics of his White House staff and his choice (or need) not to confront the authentic flavor of European public opinion.

Note how the Strib's editors still cannot accept that George W. Bush was legitimately elected President in 2000. Isn't more than four years of whining about it enough? Not to mention the guy's re-election last November.

And again they complain about what the Strib refers to as "high-handed political tactics", while not even considering the idea the administration's tactics really are straight talk to governments who constantly lecture us about security when they are unwilling (and unable due to their own decisions) to help with the heavy lifting. Perhaps the Star Tribune should consider if their charges of arrogance are um, misplaced?

As a bonus, they also mention Iraq this way:
All in all, it's good that Bush has opened a charm offensive toward Europe, even though the results seem meager. The good cop-bad cop approach to Iran will continue. The sides will continue to disagree on ending the Chinese arms embargo. There will be no meaningful help to extricate Bush from the mess he's made of Iraq

So Iraq is a bigger mess than when Saddam Hussein was running it? The Strib should remember the mess Western Europe was in after WWII, and the mess left in Eastern Europe by the Soviets since 1945, only now being repaired. How about that premature judgment - it is far too early yet to know the outcome of America's gamble in Iraq. How about waiting to proclaim failure when the outcome is actually a failure?

Michael Moore's "Minutemen"

So much for the idea that the "Iraqi insurgency" is home-grown. So Mikey, do you explain to us how Saddam's half-brother is an Iraqi patriot?

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Too little, too late

According to CNN, Doug Wead (who claimed to be a friend of GWB) is considering giving the tapes he recorded of conversations with George W. Bush to the President. That would be the right thing to do, but I don't see how it makes up for publicizing their existence in the New York Times. Or making the recordings without your friend's approval in the first place.

Moss traded to Raiders

Apparently Randy Moss has been traded by the Minnesota Vikings to Oakland for a linebacker and draft choices. I'm not making any guesses as to how good a trade this is, or how the Vikings must have been really motivated to get rid of Moss. (his travails have been well-covered in the local and national press) My question is, who is the driving force behind the trade? Technically Red McCombs still owns the team, although he has accepted a bid from Reggie Fowler to purchase the Vikings. Trading Moss is a major change to the makeup of the team that Fowler bought, so is it possible that trading Moss was something Fowler wanted to do?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


Hey Mr Meeks, when did Minnesotans get to vote on vouchers? I don't ever recall having the opportunity....

Monday, February 14, 2005

Matters of Life and Death

When I read this opinion piece (free registration required) in last Saturday's Star Tribune, I had some trouble digesting it. I still don't understand what she is advocating. The author (Mary Morse) starts out by mentioning what she characterizes as Hillary Clinton's attempt to find common ground between the Democratic Party's pro-abortion politics and the pro-life folk mostly found in the GOP. She mentions the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, describes her view of the basic pro-life vs. pro-choice/abortion positions, then declares that the arguments lack intellectual rigor.

She attempts to add 'intellectual rigor' by discussing the what she calls the gray areas in how we value human life. First, she defines murder for us. The first part of her definition goes like this:

Murder is defined as the unlawful, malicious or premeditated killing of one human being by another.

So far, it fits what my Webster's says pretty well. But she adds another part to her definition:
It is also defined as killing a person inhumanely or barbarously, as in warfare.
The problem is that she assumes that warfare meets her definition of murder, because there is killing, frequently barbaric and inhumane, whatever that is. The problem is that war is not unlawful. If so, we wouldn't have spent so much time over the centuries making and changing the rules for it.

She goes on to lump together the pro-life argument against abortion with warfare and capital punishment, as if there is no difference between them if pro-lifers are consistent. The problem is, they are not the same. War and capital punishment are both decisions that are undertaken after great consideration, with the rules for both making the decision and the rules for conducting warfare/legal executions having been created after serious discussion.(in the case of warfare, the Geneva Conventions, for example) The discussion of abortion, however, was short-circuited by a narrowly-divided Supreme Court in 1973 and never really took place. Instead, we've spent 30+ years arguing about the court decision instead.

I think that she is trying to make the case that because we practice and sanction murder, we cannot resolve the issues surrounding the value of human life (thus abortion) without some sort of discussion. This is incorrect on at least two counts. First not all killing is murder, even by her own definition. Self defense is not murder as she defines it above (although she claims self defense is murder, therefore not to be sanctioned). War is a legal (although tragic, sad, and unfortunate) activity. Second, we've been having discussions on the value of human life, defining when killing is justified for most of civilized history. That discussion is still ongoing, even if it does involve religion and ethics (which the author claims cannot be the basis for this sort of discussion due to some sort of multiculturalism). If religion and ethics are not a basis for this discussion, what is? Ms. Morse doesn't provide a starting point for the 'productive discussion' she claims we need to have. Her article ends up almost as big a confusing mess as this post.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Eason Jordan Quits

Eason Jordan has resigned from his position at CNN. Since I haven't seen any reports of him requesting the release of the World Economic Forum's video recording of his remarks, I would venture a guess that the contents are pretty much as reported by most of the witnesses in attendance there (or worse). Otherwise, why quit without even releasing the video?

I wonder if this would have been necessary had he asked for the release of the video tape and fessed up to (as well as apologized for) saying something stupid and wrong in public. Unfortunate. Perhaps if the professional news media would apply the same standards of transparency to itself that it demands of the people it covers, there wouldn't be as much distrust and disillusionment with journalists as there is now. But, that's about as likely as the Star Tribune demanding that Nick Coleman fact check his columns.... .

More links at the Instapundit's

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

CNN accuses US Military of Murder...

Eason Jordan of CNN accused the US military of targeting journalists for murder. I have one thing to say to you, Mr. Jordan - when you make that kind of accusation you had better have some proof. Talk is cheap, whiskey costs money. (via Forumblog)

2/15/05 - Updated to correct Mr. Jordan's name (Note to self: Preview is my friend...)


Congratulations to the people of Iraq for giving Zarqawi &Co the finger. (via Day By Day, who does this a lot better anyway).