Deadly force is encouraged

Everyone knows the facts of yesterday’s passenger shooting at Miami International Airport. I’m most interested in the responses to the shooting. ersonally, I’m inclined to assume the federal air marshal acted properly. Air security is essential and any air marshal must be allowed to act on the facts before him. We need to conduct an honest investigation and learn any lessons on how to improve air marshal response in the next incident. I have no doubt that it’ll occur. What we don’t need is shameful rhetoric.

“This shows that the program has worked beyond our expectations,” said Rep. John L. Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House transportation subcommittee on aviation. “This should send a message to a terrorist or anyone else who is considering disrupting an aircraft with a threat.”

Rep. Mica needs to shut up. The death of a man is beyond our expectations? How low were they before this incident? I can’t imagine we thought air marshals would just say “Excuse me, but could you please not blow up this plane?” Rep. Mica’s statement is posturing for the law-and-order crowd and should not be tolerated. He’s taking far too much glee in this incident.

Which brings me to Bill O’Reilly. Danielle and I watched the O’Reilly Factor last night because he had part one of his interview with Howard Stern. We wanted to watch and nothing else was on. We should’ve recorded it and fast-forwarded through the propaganda.

During the opening segments, Mr. O’Reilly spoke with a “reporter” at Miami International Airport. During the discussion, Mr. O’Reilly described the shooting as (I’m paraphrasing) “if the suspect doesn’t cooperate, the air marshal is going to blast him.” The rest of the discussion consisted of the “reporter” prosecuting the case and coming to the perfect law-and-order conclusion that any action of force by security forces are justified if the risk of terrorism exists. Rather than facts, we got glee that a man died and the remaining passengers were marched off the plane with their hands on their heads. Oh, and the luggage not belonging to the dead suspect blown up by the bomb squad was just a reminder that we take terrorism seriously.

The entire debacle disgusted me. That many people were watching, absorbing the propaganda as gospel pissed me off.

Freedom costs twelve bucks ninety-five

My complaining about the FCC and free speech infringement does not mean I don’t realize how much free speech we really have. Here’s why our First Amendment is spectacular.

… Sirius Canada, which plans to start beaming to your car and home before the end of this year, has no plans to include Stern and his no-holds-barred morning show that includes the likes of Stuttering John [ed. note: my strike-through], Baba Booey and butt-bongo stunts.

So, Sirius Canada, isn’t this like acquiring the Pittsburgh Penguins and deciding you don’t need Sidney Crosby?

“Well, what if Sidney Crosby was going to be arrested and put in jail within two weeks?” said Gary Slaight, the CEO of Standard Broadcasting, which co-owns Sirius Canada along with the CBC.

“The CRTC, who we are licensed to, would eventually force us to take Stern down, because we have standards we have to abide by in this country when you own a broadcasting licence.”

“When we applied for a licence, the CRTC pushed us about this,” he said. “(Stern) was definitely a topic of conversation. We (Standard) are a big broadcaster and have to deal with the CRTC on other issues. And the CBC obviously has a cultural mandate to be concerned with.”

Read that again. Arrested and put in jail. For words. Our system of fines is arbitrary and political, but there are no jail threats, aside from those from random idiot Congressmen who want to change our rules. This doesn’t mean we should be complacent in fighting First Amendment infringements, but we have it pretty good, eh?

Post Script: For what it’s worth, I’ve used my Sirius car kit when driving into Canada. I could see Toronto in the distance and my receiver still had a clear signal from the satellites serving the United States. Hint, hint.

(Source: Get Sirius Info)

Would repetition be bad and awful and dreadful?

Enjoy this article in The Washington Post, which could’ve ended much earlier than the writers ended it.

An 18-year-old student was arrested at a D.C. school yesterday for allegedly robbing a Metro passenger of an iPod, an expensive music-playing device that has become a pop-culture icon, a Metro spokesman said.

That should be enough to tell readers that Metro riders should keep their belongings close or whatever lesson one wants to take from that. Since it needs to fill more newspaper space, we’re treated to other iPod descriptions. Consider:

The electronic devices, which let people carry thousands of songs with them and listen to them through earphones, are about the size of a pack of cigarettes and have rapidly replaced the older portable Walkman-style stereos as the entertainment device of choice. Many people use them to alleviate the boredom of trips on crowded subway trains and the perceived tedium of many other activities.

…the rectangular metallic device…

I appreciate that the writers can form multi-syllabic groupings of symbols uniformly accepted to represent phonetic pronunciation, which, when grouped in a recognized manner, imply meanings to the otherwise arbitrary sounds. I prefer to call them words. And any decent editor should’ve crossed all that crap out, replacing it with something more familiar, like maybe “iPod.” But I could just have an exceptional understanding of what an iPod is and why people use it. I’m not jealous that both of the writers involved got paid like times infinity more than I did for these multi-syllabic groupings of symbols uniformly accepted to represent phonetic pronunciation, which, when grouped in a recognized manner, imply meanings to the otherwise arbitrary sounds words.

Why do you need to wreck this company?

I’ve jumped into the media bias argument before. Usually, I explain it with a rant about media being a business determined to make a profit. If there’s a slant, it’s because the business people within the media organization think they can make a profit from it. (Either that, or they’re bad business people. I leave that option open.) If you, as the consumer of that media bias, don’t like it, stop buying. Flip the channel, put your money in another newspaper box, whatever action makes you no longer a consumer of the bias you don’t like. It’s that simple, really. Especially in the age of the Internets, where there’s a web site for everything. It’s not complicated.

Yet, some still wish to pretend like it’s more. Consider this question from a college football chat hosted by The Washington Post:

Silver Spring, Md.: So since Virginia Tech fans alway [sic] come on here and whines [sic] about coverage in the paper, do you think they are happy with the number of stories in there the last few days while Maryland has received little coverage. And on that note, since Philadelphia and New York City are closer to D.C. then [sic] Blacksburg, I was wondering when the Post was going to start covering Delaware, Penn State, West Virginia, Pitt, Temple, Towson, St. Joe’s, Rutgers and St. Johns as hometown schools, too.

The individual has a point in the “MSM is biased” worldview. Unfortunately, the facts don’t hold up to scrutiny when scrubbed with that nonsense. I could offer my own analysis with wonderful wordplay, but I’ll just leave it to the reporter’s response. Enjoy:

Dan Steinberg: The Rutgers-UConn tilt will likely lead the sports section on Sunday.

No, actually, we’ve answered this before but are happy to answer it again. We cover Tech not because of their proximity to D.C. but because of the large and rabid fan base that lives in our readership area, which we judge in part by our readership surveys. For further evidence, check out the stands in Byrd on Thursday night. It’s unfortunate that people in Maryland might have to read Tech stories that don’t interest them, but it’s the challenge of putting out a paper in this market, and we try to be as diverse as possible based on reader interest. Tomorrow’s game preview story will be about the quarterbacks Ralph Friedgen and Charlie Taaffe have produced over the years.

Also, I think you forgot to demand more Delaware State coverage.

It really is that simple. There are many Hokies in the D.C. metro area. They want to read about the Hokies. They have quarters. The Washington Post knows that Hokies will insert quarters into the coin slots of newspaper boxes throughout the region. The Washington Post has a preference for which newspaper boxes receive those quarters. So they cover Virginia Tech football. (As well as Maryland, Virginia, and Navy.) You say bias, I say economics.

Yes, I know I offered my own analysis with wonderful wordplay after I said I wouldn’t. So what? Go Hokies!

Softening butter vegan shortening, not America

Good grief, where to begin? I’ve written a number of times about the nonsense that is the sweeping generalization of a liberal bias in media, usually the MSM. I’ve also written against policies and actions of President Bush. I guess I’m a raging ideologue for the leftists. At least that’s the way I interpret John Fund’s logic while opining on the liberal fantasy not-so-subtly called Commander in Chief in today’s Opinion Journal. Consider:

The series pits Academy Award-winner Geena Davis against the patriarchal world of national politics until her “You Go, Girl!” attitude puts to rest the doubts of her many detractors. The creator of “Commander in Chief,” Rod Lurie, is apparently trying to broaden the show’s appeal by promising that he won’t be using it as a soapbox for his admittedly liberal views. He is quick to note that Ms. Davis isn’t playing a Democrat. Instead she is an independent who landed on a Republican ticket in order to offset a conservative candidate’s low approval rating among women.

Mr. Lurie insists that red-state viewers need not shun the show. He admits that he “can’t write to a belief system that I can’t swallow myself,” but he says that he has hired some conservative writers to make up for his deficit. Not that a balanced approach was evident at last week’s series-celebrating parties, in Washington and New York, hosted by the feminist White House Project.

Marie Wilson, the founder of the White House Project, told attendees how she struggled for years to convince Hollywood to do a show about a woman in the Oval Office. “We offered a prize, we offered to pay for a script. But they still didn’t think it would interest people,” she lamented. “Then like out of some Zen moment they suddenly decided the time was now.” And maybe the time is now: The latest Rasmussen Poll finds that more than three-quarters of voters are comfortable with the idea of a female president. All the Hillary-Condi talk clearly means something.

But Condi had nothing to do with the conversations at the White House Project parties. Attendees made it abundantly clear that they see the show as a liberal fantasy. Much as “The West Wing” portrayed the White House that liberals wish Bill Clinton had run, “Commander in Chief” will look forward to something resembling a Hillary Clinton presidency, or so its fans presume.

I didn’t watch Commander in Chief for a number of reasons, not least among them the simple fact that I don’t like Geena Davis. But also not least among them is that I think the concept for the show is dull. “Let’s take the president and make him a… her!” I can’t think of a more brain-dead attempt at creativity on network television now. If I landed on ABC while Commander in Chief was on, I’d turn the channel as fast as my thumb could move for fear that my brain would be infected by stupidity. Not liberal stupidity, just generic stupidity.

Consider how Mr. Fund developed his argument. He constantly referred to Hillary-Condi as a possible presidential confrontation in 2008. He even uses a 75% acceptance of a hypothetical female presidency. Remind me again what the election results were last year? Did 75% of voters choose the crazy liberal who can’t wait for Hillary to be dictator for life? By basic reasoning, this acceptance bleeds across political affiliations and ideology. It may be more prevalent in one party, but that doesn’t change the underlying reality. On paper, at least, most Americans say that the shocking idea of a woman as president deserves a yawn. Right, liberal conspiracies abound.

But more than that, I want to focus on Mr. Lurie’s specific statement. As he said, he “can’t write to a belief system that I can’t swallow myself.” Oh. Now I’m convinced. Even I’m willing to ignore the idea that hiring conservative writers will make it a “balanced” show. So what? Mr. Lurie’s statement told me everything I needed to know. If it turns out I’m wrong and the show is moderate, oops. I prejudged and missed out. Along with every other American, I do that every day. Somehow I survive.

That’s not to say I don’t get Mr. Lurie’s point. I’ve written fiction in which I’ve had one character murder another character. I’ve never killed anyone, nor would I ever do so. Does that make me unqualified to write such a scene? Of course not. But if I can’t, that’s different. Incompetence means an inferior product, unless he gets other writers, which he did. The vision still suffers, though, because as the creator he sets the foundation. Perhaps he did and I missed it. Again, if that’s so, oops, but that’s not a ringing endorsement for the show.

Extending this further, imagine reading a novel in which it’s clear the author had a moral axe to grind. He’s convinced that we should outlaw the military, for example. That’s going to be a story with few, if any, well-developed characters and interesting conflicts. The essence of good story-telling will involve interesting characters and interesting conflict. The “lesson” should flow from the story, and be evident from how the main character changes. The message as the foundation doesn’t work in literature, whether it’s books, movies, or television.

In the unfolding execution of the show, Mr. Fund will find that Commander in Chief will not further the President Hillary Clinton liberal fantasy. Viewers will watch, but if the show sucks, they’ll stop. If it preaches, they won’t. If ten million viewers tune in and that’s sufficient for ABC, the show will continue. But how are ten million viewers to an allegedly biased show sufficient to propel Senator Clinton to the presidency? Didn’t President Bush receive sixty million votes last November? And do you really believe that those undecided about Senator Clinton for president are too stupid and brainwashed to separate her from a television character? If people are that stupid, the hundred-plus million dollar box office for Fahrenheit 9/11 should’ve easily propelled Senator Kerry to the White House. Have you seen who calls 1600 Pennsylvania home? Stop worrying and trust America.

Reason 2,146,316 why I love Sirius

My brother doesn’t have Sirius in his car because it didn’t come standard and he doesn’t want to “destroy” the visual appeal with his old receiver. Thus, driving home from work the other day, we listened as a local deejay blathered on about his oh so amusing pet peeve. Punch yourself in the head:

Never end a sentence with a proposition. I just said “Where’s the party at?” That’s bad. Never end a sentence with a proposition.

People that stupid really exist. Hide the women and children.

Hubie and the truth have a way of not gettin’ along with each other.

From the article about California’s Assembly passing a same-sex marriage bill, I want to point out this example of quality reporting, unlike the Reuters article I mentioned earlier. Here, the journalist presents the arguments without adding snarky comments or approving adjectives. Consider this analysis about the decision facing Governor Schwarzenegger:

Focus now turns to Schwarzenegger.

“Schwarzenegger can’t afford to sign the ‘gay marriage license’ bill,” said Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families, which helped lead the statewide battle against AB849. “He’ll actually become a hero to the majority of Californians when he vetoes it. The Terminator should announce without delay that this bill is dead meat.”

But Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California, said the governor would be deciding his legacy when he decides whether to sign or veto the bill.

“He will determine whether he will be the first governor to do a little heavy lifting and support equality for all or whether he will become the first governor to terminate our rights,” he said. “We know in his heart he wants to do the right thing.”

How hard is that? Biased journalists everywhere should study that example.

One thing is not like the others

Many seem to be going bananas about FEMA’s decision to deny journalist requests to photograph corpses as they are recovered from New Orleans. While I don’t personally want to see any of that, I understand the journalistic push to capture the whole story. I don’t believe that’s all that’s driving it, of course, because photographs (and video footage) of corpses would be a ratings winner, but I’m going to believe the best about people right now. The ideals of journalism win out as their prevailing reason.

Yet, I genuinely believe that any censorship concerns are overblown. Recovery teams are searching through hazardous conditions and should not be hampered by taking care of journalists and photographers. I understand that journalists are embedded in war zones and that our government has experience with that. However, Iraq isn’t flooded. The journalists can’t move around by foot with the recovery team. They’ll occupy space in boats better served by individuals trained for this crisis. Also, the potential for spreading disease is obvious. The mayor ordered a forced evacuation of all remaining residents. Why should we exclude journalists from that evacuation? Ultimately, we know New Orleans is a wasteland. We don’t need further proof.

That’s my spiel on the FEMA censorship non-story. This is what I find fascinating. From the article, there is this basic statement:

An agency spokeswoman said space was needed on the rescue boats and that “the recovery of the victims is being treated with dignity and the utmost respect.”

“We have requested that no photographs of the deceased be made by the media,” the spokeswoman said in an e-mailed response to a Reuters inquiry.

Perfect, basic journalism works to get the story. So why does this next paragraph follow the above excerpt in the story?

The Bush administration also has prevented the news media from photographing flag-draped caskets of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, which has sparked criticism that the government is trying to block images that put the war in a bad light.

The Iraq war photography ban angle is suspect, at best, but it’s possible to see that as relevant. Strained logic because corpses and caskets aren’t equal in photography, but the connection is possible. “Which has sparked criticism…” is pure bias, though, attempting to frame the story to highlight that this isn’t the first time the “evil” Bush administration has screwed up and tried to hide it. It’s unnecessary, tiresome and distracting. No doubt this could (will?) be used as an example of the “liberal MSM”.

When I want facts, I read news. When I want opinion, I read editorials. Logic suggests the two should remain separate. I still contend that individual organizations perpetuate such bias, rather than some grand conspiracy. Regardless, today, Reuters failed in its journalism.

Shut your mouth, funny guy, and make it.

I’ve taken on the potentially misguided task of refuting liberal media bias claims by partisan hacks over the past few months. I’ve tried to make it clear that I can accept bias in individual media outlets, but for every liberal bias, there’s a corresponding conservative bias. My argument, even when poorly stated, is that bias is bad, regardless of its blue or red tint. The facts are what matters. Anyone who claims otherwise isn’t interested in learning, just propagandizing.

Perusing through the Internets (I’m making the Ha Ha there, people) this morning, I stumbled upon an interesting article relating to the perpetual nonsense that is the media bias argument. Consider:

Pardon me for being either ignorant or naive, but isn’t a reporter’s first responsibility the finding–and publishing–of the truth? And isn’t it at least possible that this drive “to make the world better” is at the core of the media’s current malaise? My point here is that if one goes into a job with a zeal to transform the world, instead of a zeal to tell the world’s stories, isn’t it more likely that one would search for and “find” those stories that serve to support and reinforce one’s own prejudices?

I’m not abandoning my underlying assumption that bad news sells (“if it bleeds, it leads”), but yeah, I think that paragraph highlights a contributing factor. Report on facts with a view of how the world “needs” to be and the reporting will slant to a bias. That’s as true for conservative media outlets as it is for liberal media outlets. Any journalistic notion disappears when facts become soapbox-support.

I may be reaching here, but I consider myself sufficiently intelligent to understand what’s going on. I don’t care about non-stories. Blather on about how America is run by imperialistic, capitalist pigs and I’ll turn away from your news. Shock me with the latest missing pretty blonde and I’ll turn away from your news. Give me the facts because that’s what I want. Then, because media is a business, sell me an extension (news) product, such as interviews, features, or even something radical with a blogging mentality. Give me a reason to stay tuned. Call-in radio shows succeed for more reasons than just the opportunity for listeners to shout “Baba Booey” over the phone.

However, make certain that there’s a difference between the two. The first, I can get anywhere, or better stated, elsewhere. The rest is the part that gets my brain going and makes me a (semi-) participant in the process. Treat me as though I’m intelligent and I might not hate media outlets. Educate me without pandering to a lowest common denominator mentality, or what some blow-hard thinks I should think, I might even stay tuned.

(Hat tip: Donklephant)

My belief system is in flames

For everyone who believes the media has a liberal bias, I’ve found irrefutable evidence. I rescind every previous statement I’ve made. This statement from the BusinessWeek story in my last post is all the proof I need. Consider:

More than 260 domain name suffixes exist, mostly country codes such as “.fr” for France. Recent additions include “.eu” for the European Union and “.mobi” for mobile services.

Dot F R. I’m shaking my head. How can I deny the bias any longer? And dot E U! BusinessWeek clearly hates George W. Bush and can’t even keep its bias out of a story about the Internets.