Friday, January 31, 2003

Euro-Anti-Semitism or valid satire?

The Independent (UK) was recently taken to task in Little Green Footballs, and elsewhere, for publishing a grotesque anti-Semitic cartoon of the Israeli Prime Minister. The cartoon appears to many, including The OmbudsGod, to clearly invoke the ancient blood libel against Jews (that Jews eat and/or drink the blood of non-Jewish children) – which is still in common use in the Arab media.

Today, The Independent asks “the question: was this cartoon anti-Semitic?

Coercive marketing and the PTO

A lot has changed in school since I was a kid, some of it for the better, a lot for the worse. One thing that is really ticking me off is the use of children as a marketing arm for various goods and services only vaguely related to school.

For example, our local PTO routinely holds “contests” where classes that make a certain sales quota are rewarded with an ice cream or pizza party. In other words, little Jimmy and Sarah and LaToya are being used to coerce Mom and Dad into buying stuff so that the PTO can get a kickback from the ACME Over-Priced Products Company of P.O. Box, New Jersey. This is all coordinated through our local taxpayer-funded schools – attendance mandatory by law.

It used to be just Scholastic that had penetrated this market, and the books they sell are reasonably priced and closely related to education, but it’s gotten worse. For example, Wednesday (or is it Thursday?) is grocery day. Yep, every week you can have your kid schlep home groceries from school, as though his usual load of books and papers isn’t enough. Now they’re selling “discount cards” good for I don’t know what, but if 20 kids (virtually the entire class) sell one they get a pizza party. Guess who little six-year-old Tommy expects to buy this latest swindle?

This isn't just my local school district. An entire industry aimed at marketing through the public schools has cropped up. Only unlike the crops of well-educated students the schools are supposed to be producing, this industry deserves to be ploughed under and the fields salted so that it will never happen again.
posted at 10:56 AM

Going to war without France
Dean Esmay reports that the:

Line of the week comes from Jed Babbin, former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense:

Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion. You just leave a lot of useless, noisy baggage behind.

As stated on last night's Hardball with Chris Matthews.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

International A.N.S.W.E.R.: "It's us against them.”

Would an “anti-war” front group for the Stalinist Workers World Party fib about the number of protestors at a demonstration?

Many newspapers have received complaints about under-counting the number of demonstrators at the recent International A.N.S.W.E.R. sponsored demonstrations in Washington and elsewhere. The experience of Minneapolis Star Tribune ombudsman Lou Gelfand appears to be typical of what was happening. Here are samples of the fifty-something “vibrations” he received:

"Your Sunday piece about the protests in Washington mentions that there were only 30,000 people in the march. I attended and there were at least 500,000. C-Span was reporting 700,000." -- Zachary Jorgensen.

"I attended the rally in Washington [and] there were over 700,000…" -- Elizabeth Tellen…

Complainants often said that the Washington Post reported 500,000 rallied.

In fact, as Gelfand notes, The Post reported that:

U.S. Capitol Police suggested the march drew 30,000 to 50,000 people. Protest organizers said that the number was closer to 500,000. The truth might fall somewhere in between the guesses, or it might fall somewhere beyond the edges.

As a rule, the larger the demonstration, the more seriously it is taken. So whose number are we to accept?

I don’t know about the Capitol Police number, but this piece in The Nation, about an experience from an earlier A.N.S.W.E.R. protest, shines some light on the numbers used by the protest organizers:

"I'll make a deal with you," said an ANSWER organizer at the Capitol rally to Terra Lawson-Remer of Students Transforming and Resisting Corporations (STARC), who was coordinating media outreach for the NSYPC event. "We won't play the Mumia tape again"--ANSWER had already broadcast a taped speech by Mumia at the Ellipse--"if you'll tell the press we had 150,000 people here." Lawson-Remer was in a bind; she didn't want them to carry out this threat, but she believed the turnout was in the 50,000 to 75,000 range. The ANSWER organizers pressed the point, arguing that whatever they said, the media would report fewer. This was not a difference of opinion about the truth. "It's not about accuracy. It's about politics. It's not about counting," said ANSWER's Tony Murphy condescendingly. "It's us against them. [The pro-Israel] demonstrators had 100,000 here last week." (Responding to a web version of this article, ANSWER's legal counsel called this account a "disgusting fabrication," but I can attest to its accuracy because I was there.)

ANSWER is notorious for inflating its demonstration numbers…

I certainly know whose numbers I won't be accepting at face value. And if they're willing to lie about basic stuff like this, what else are they willing to lie about?

Analysis of the State of the Union Address

If you have a little time, rhetoric scholar Andrew Cline analyzes the State of the Union Address.
posted at 12:27 PM

Wycliff’s latest screed against Bush
Don Wycliff, ombudsman for The Chicago Tribune, launches into another of his patented anti-Bush screeds today, focusing on the State of the Union address. After informing us that:

We led the coalition that kicked Hussein (sic) out of Kuwait, devastated his country and his army, clamped a crippling and demeaning regime of sanctions on Iraq and maintained it for the last 12 years. We've bombed his country routinely, cordoned large sections of it off from Baghdad's control and now have breathed new life into the effort to disarm Iraq--by force of arms if necessary.

None of this is any more than Hussein (sic) deserves (although his people do not), but it does give one an idea why he might be angry enough to want to lash out in the nastiest possible way at the United States.

Wycliff then minimizes all this by his misleading characterization that:

There is no evidence that Hussein (sic) has acted on that impulse--at least none that the Bush administration has seen fit to share with the American people.

Hmm. Saddam attempted to assassinate a U.S. President, has enormous stockpiles of deadly weaponized chemicals and biological agents (which he specifically promised to get rid of), is attempting to obtain a nuclear bomb and is known to harbor, fund and supply terrorist groups – several of which have targeted Americans. Nope, no evidence. Move along. Move along.

One curious point Wycliff makes, in an attempt to tar the second President Bush with the first, is that in 1990 Saddam Hussein sounded out the United States about how we would react if he invaded Kuwait, or at least the disputed area then claimed by Iraq, and U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie informed him that:

We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary (of State James) Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960's that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America.

When questioned later, she stated:

Obviously, I didn't think, and nobody else did, that the Iraqis were going to take ALL of Kuwait.

But what this shows is that Saddam does respond to signals. And if the signal is that he can continue to do what he is doing without fear of American intervention, then he will continue. It shows the folly of sending ambiguous or mixed messages to Baghdad.

The unambiguous message must be do as you promised to do at the end of the Gulf War or we will remove you. Had it not been for the ambiguous message Ambassador Glaspie delivered the first time, we probably wouldn’t have had to fight the First Gulf War, or a second one. Now is not the time to be signaling Saddam that we aren’t serious.

As an aside, Saddam’s full name is Saddam Hussein al-Majd al-Tikriti. He is usually called either Saddam or Saddam Hussein. Hussein is Saddam’s father’s first name. You’d think the ombudsman of a major regional newspaper would get his name right. Yet week after week, month after month, Wycliff persists in calling Saddam by the brutal dictator's father's name.

Oh, and don’t miss Wycliff’s little dig against the U.S. and Israel at the end of his column.

As I listened to the president speak … my mind went back to one of the hit movies of last summer, "The Sum of All Fears."

…the movie depicted a terrorist group's successful effort to acquire and smuggle into the U.S. a nuclear bomb, which is detonated in Baltimore and devastates that city.

Interestingly, the nuke in that instance … was made in Israel, with fissile material supplied by the United States.

It’s a f-ing Hollywood movie, Don. Get real.

Monday, January 27, 2003

Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet

Poughkeepsie Journal ombudsman Kathleen Norton advises readers on writing letters to the editor. She cautions that:

Editorial Page Editor John Penney also reminds readers that Internet sources of information are not always credible. He urges readers to state their opinions, but not to state facts in absolute terms unless they are sure they are true.

Sometimes media columnists need reminding, too.

Those sophisticated Europeans

The main fixture of the Dutch football season is the match between Ajax, from Amsterdam, and Feyenoord, from Rotterdam… I had the misfortune once — through an error at the ticket office — to find myself sitting in the midst of the Feyenoord fans. It was a profoundly disturbing experience. Imagine thousands of football supporters screaming ‘Fucking Jews!’, or ‘To the gas chamber!’, or ‘Next stop Auschwitz!’ every time a player from the Amsterdam side touches the ball. Imagine, if you can bear it, thousands of people making hissing noises, mimicking the flow of gas…

Something very strange is going on here…

Ian Buruma in The Spectator.

via Tim Blair

Guardian policy on the Iraq situation
Ombudsman Ian Mayes reports that an “updated statement of the Guardian's position is likely this week to coincide with the Blair-Bush meeting at Camp David.” The current position is that:

We support a multilateral resolution, primarily through the United Nations, involving the final, verified destruction of all and any Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, Iraq's compliance with other UN resolutions, the concurrent phased lifting of non-military sanctions, an end to the no-fly zones and to UN controls on Iraqi oil and the opening of Iraq's borders to free movement...

We have not ruled out our support for the use of force as a means of last resort... We have condemned the Saddam regime on numerous occasions... We support containment, deterrence, diplomatic isolation, targeted sanctions pending a change of government...

But lest you think the Guardian might have a realistic policy for accomplishing all this:

We do not support the US policy of forcible “regime change”; we have condemned targeted assassination...

Mayes informs us that the Editor’s morning conference:

was not an anti-war rally, either in tone or atmosphere, although there were perhaps speakers who had hoped it might be, calling for the paper to declare itself unequivocally against the war in the way that it had declared itself against Suez in 1956…

The leader then…, "The world must be told clearly that millions of British people are deeply shocked by the aggressive policy of the Government. Its action in attacking Egypt is a disaster of the first magnitude. It is wrong on every count - moral, military, and political...”

Which brings us to an observation by Iain Murray, in The Edge of England’s Sword, reminding us of the impact of the Suez debacle:

Let's not forget that it was America's refusal to back Britain, France and Israel over the Suez crisis that is probably the defining moment that set the Middle East along the road to ruin. If Nasser had been dealt with then, we probably wouldn't have Saddam now. Moreover, that incident helped cause the British and French empires to break up prematurely, I think, a process America encouraged, leaving a legacy of suffering and war in Africa and other areas (the legacy is not nearly so bad in areas that had come to independence gradually and thoughtfully, such as India). Finally, it was also the cause of the splitting of France from the Atlantic alliance. Dulles and Eisenhower have a lot to answer for, and simply blaming Europe for it is just not good enough. I also have a suspicion that it will be looked back at by historians as probably the biggest delay in encouraging true Anglospheric feeling. It certainly made at least one generation of British Tories more suspicious than they should be of America.

Forcing an end to the attack, which also resulted in the downfall of the Anthony Eden's government, was arguably the low point of Eisenhower's presidency.

OmbudSunday: a partial roundup of ombudsman columns

# The Oregonian: Columnist Arianna Huffington has “taken a step too far,” according to The Oregonian’s associate editor Doug Bates, who produces The Oregonian's daily Commentary page, and ombudsman Dan Hortsch agrees. She has formed:

the Detroit Project, in which she personally appeals for money to place broadcast ads on the air.

Her columns, Bates said, remain "snappy and readable." However, he added, "She has dragged herself across the line from being a commentator to being an [anti-SUV] activist . . . . She loses the status of sideline observer."

Huffington disagrees, stating that, “she does not ‘in any way’ see a conflict between her role in the Detroit Project and her role as a columnist. ‘It is a movement to raise awareness.’"
# Fort Worth Star-Telegram: David House reports on the results of a reader survey to determine the popularity of each of the 34 comic strips and eight single panel cartoons they publish daily:

Family Circus appears to be the most-read feature (71.7 percent) followed by For Better or For Worse (65.4 percent) and Hagar the Horrible (65.3 percent).

Rounding out the bottom were new edgier strips:

Get Fuzzy (15.1 percent), Jump Start (12.7 percent) and Frazz (12.2 percent).

The once-entertaining, now annoying, Doonesbury came in at fifth from the bottom with 23.8 percent, and Cathy, which was recently almost dropped from the Salt Lake Tribune before ombudsman Connie Coyne mounted a campaign to save it, came in at seventh from the bottom with 25.1 percent. Changes in the line-up are in the offing.

# Minneapolis Star Tribune: Responding to an AP piece, which quoted the U.S. Capitol Police chief who said, "About 30,000 people moved out on the march route" for the recent anti-war demonstration in Washington, there were “50 or more reader vibrations” reports Lou Gelfand. Zachary Jorgensen wrote claiming “I attended and there were at least 500,000. C-Span was reporting 700,000," which must be news to C-Span. Elizabeth Tellen testifies that, “I attended the rally in Washington [and] there were over 700,000.” Joe Sehl accuses the paper of “minimizing the demonstrations for peace,” and alleges that “The newspaper's conservative slant is showing more and more all the time,” which will certainly come as a surprise to conservative readers.

While crowd estimates can be notoriously tricky, “U.S. Capitol Police suggested the march drew 30,000 to 50,000 people.” The pro-totalitarian Stalinist Workers World Party front, International ANSWER, which organized the demonstration, chose the unlikely figure of 500,000.

Gelfand criticizes the AP piece for lack a paragraph summing up crowd estimates, and notes that, “At Twin Cities rallies where law enforcement often shuns an estimate and the sponsor's figure is suspect, it is the reporter's obligation to estimate the crowd,” which strikes The OmbudsGod as problematic. If you are standing inside a demonstration, even a few thousand protestors can seem like a million because you cannot accurately judge overall crowd density and how much ground is covered.

# Richmond Times Dispatch: Jerry Finch has some thoughts on coverage of the Washington anti-war demonstration and on crowd estimates.

# The Virginian-Pilot: Marvin Lake reports receiving a complaint from a marcher:

[Portsmouth resident Lawrence J.] Fagan saw a conspiracy, an intentional effort on the part of both the Associated Press photographer and the editor who selected the shots to perhaps undermine the anti-war effort.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Go ahead, eat that beef!

NumberWatch is reporting that:

The ten million deaths once projected for [variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease] vCJD have shrunk according to The Times to a couple of hundred. Is this the end of the CJD scare? goes the headline. It just joins the list of what was called (in Sorry, wrong number!) The incredible shrinking statistic (e.g. US Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala “Soon because of AIDS we might not have any Americans left.”).

In case you’ve forgotten, vCJD is what people were supposed to get if they ate an animal infected with Mad Cow Disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), which had infected large numbers of cattle in the United Kingdom due to the way in which animal feed was being processed.

Saturday, January 25, 2003

OmbudSaturday: a partial roundup of ombudsman columns

# The Washington Post: Michael Getler reports that an inaccurate story in The Post, which reported that “"National security adviser Condoleezza Rice took a rare central role in a domestic debate within the White House and helped persuade President Bush to publicly condemn race-conscious admissions policies at the University of Michigan," prompted Rice to "put out a statement saying, in part, that she agreed with the president's position, ‘which emphasizes the need for diversity and recognizes the continued legacy of racial prejudice, and the need to fight it.' But, she added, 'I believe that while race-neutral means are preferable, it is appropriate to use race as one factor among others in achieving a diverse student body.’"

# The Salt Lake Tribune: Connie Coyne has had it with the Raelians. She acknowledges that “covering a group whose leader sports Star Trek-like uniforms can be a fun diversion. But this latest round of stories is too much. There, I have said it: No more Raelian stories until this group offers some kind of proof about its claims.” She offers her “ personal theory on why this group is getting so much coverage: It's that biologist's teeth. The woman Raelian who heads Clonaid has a set of choppers that could serve as a poster for what will happen if you fail to brush and floss.” You know, I think Brigette Boisselier’s teeth match her eyes and hair quite nicely.

# Toronto Star: If you don’t want to see your name in print, then don’t talk to the press is the unstated lesson in Don Sellar’s piece about the Star’s violating the confidentiality of a dozen “weight-loss challenge participants, including a few who gave their weight or other sensitive personal information.” It seems that a screw-up resulted in publication of their names and hometowns along with their tales of “struggles and successes.”

# Orlando Sentinel: In its never ending quest to identify Americans by dubious categories of race and ethnicity, the “most recent census ... expanded that list to more than 200 groups -- combining race, ethnicity and nationality -- with Hispanics becoming the nation's second-largest population group.”

As Manning Pynn observes, “that complicates things because, although most Hispanics are white, that ethnic category can include people of all races.” What then do government bean counters call the nation’s largest population group? By what it is not, of course. They are Non-Hispanic whites.

Not The OmbudsGod. I refuse to answer questions relating more to the color of my skin than the content of my character. I’m a non-hyphenated American.

# The San Diego Union-Tribune: Gina Lubrano explains that:

When editors select what news stories they are going to use on a particular day, their only agenda is to keep readers informed. Sometimes, of course, they make mistakes and fail to give a story the prominence it deserves or give a story too much prominence.

Those human failings aside, you know when you read a news story that it has been written by a reporter, a professional whose purpose is to gather information, verify it and provide all sides of the story. Reporters know when writing news stories, they are to set their biases aside. And should their biases betray themselves, it is up to editors to make sure they are cut out of stories.

Friday, January 24, 2003

In the Bill’s Content tradition of posting gratuitous pictures in order to boost traffic…

With Gary Hart (formerly Hartpence) looking to make another run for the Democratic nomination for President, I though I’d beat the rush and post links to some gratuitous pictures of the Senator and a certain Donna Rice, with whom he sailed on the good ship “Monkey Business.” While technically the story was broken by the Miami Herald, as usual you can count on the National Inquirer, which informed readers that the married candidate had asked her to marry him. Here’s the 29 year old “model and actress” getting a nice tan.

Just to be fair, here’s a link to a list that includes Republican indiscretions.
posted at 3:53 PM

Another classic New York Post front page headline
The New York Post is famous, some would say infamous, for its headlines. For example, there’s Headless Body in Topless Bar, The Hunk Flunks and, of course, Gotti’s Greatest Hits.

Taking a clue from Scrappleface, The Post has produced another classic.

via cut on the bias

UPDATE: The Dissident Frogman has new, interesting wall paper
posted at 1:37 PM

Mikey Update
Exposing the Exposer’s Zachary takes issue with What Really Happened’s Michael “evidence links Israeli spies to 9-11” Rivero, who asserts that "Who wants peace? The Palestinians."
posted at 12:00 PM

Anti-war demonstrations and “listeners” who give “NPR a piece of … someone’s mind"
Despite extensive, and I might add very positive, coverage of the recent anti-war demonstrations, NPR ombudsman Jeffrey A. Dvorkin reports that the website incorrectly accused NPR of giving only “5 Minutes to Massive Anti-war Protests, and 4 Minutes to the Queen's Trousers," which prompted “more than 500 outraged ‘listeners’” to give “NPR a piece of their -- or someone's -- mind.”

No word on whether NPR mentioned that the demonstrations were organized by a Stalinist group that has favored the Soviet invasion of Hungary, and such brutal despots as Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong Il and Slobodan Milosevic. Or, for that matter, why causes such as freeing cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal have anything to do with opposing a war against Saddam Hussein.
posted at 10:58 AM

More on the significance of the Workers World Party organizing the anti-war movement
Responding to my debate, with Blog on the Run’s Lex Alexander, about the significance of the Workers World Party sponsoring anti-War demonstrations, Lex Communis’s Peter Sean Bradley observes that:

There is nothing admirable about the Communists that you can't also find in Nazi ideology. Wear a swastika and you're walking leprosy; wear a red beret and it's a fashion statement. You know, I have never met a Nazi or a Klan member, but I went to law school with a card-carrying Communist. Nobody harassed him. He fit right in. But - jeez - the Gulag, the Katyn Massacre, the Ukraine famine, know, that stuff. Nonetheless, you have to hope that this weekend perhaps saw the start of a healthy process which will result in consigning the Communists to the moral plague ward with the Nazis and the Klan.

Meanwhile, at Front Page Magazine Stephen Schwartz asks who foots the bill for The Workers World Party, “a minuscule Stalinist group” with some rather expensive programs. He observes that Nazi Germany subsidized the American peace movement prior to Pearl Harbor and the Cold War-era peace movement was covertly funded by the Soviet Union. Of the Workers World Party, he inquires:

Who stands behind them? Americans have a right to know, and if these phony peaceniks really desire respectability, they should be willing to publicly account for their financing, especially for air travel and hotel hospitality enjoyed while they serve as camouflage tourists in states committed to terrorism.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

To what extent does it matter who organizes the anti-war protests?

Responding to my post on Sheltering readers from what happens in the world, Lex Alexander, proprietor of Blog on the Run, writes that:

I agree that because ANSWER was the main organizer for the march, its background should have been explored in more detail. Absolutely no argument there.

But I have to wonder how much difference doing so would have made to those who had chosen to be there.

This is sounding familiar -- perhaps you and I discussed this before -- but I think a lot of people who participated in the march did so for reasons that had little or nothing to do with ANSWER's larger agenda. I also think that even participants who agreed in their opposition to attacking Iraq fell at many different places along a spectrum of reasons, terms and conditions. (For one example, see Mary McGrory's column in today's WashPost; the Valerie Lucznikowska quoted therein was my employer in 1982-83.)

We've only got one national capital, and the fact that people felt a need to assemble there in numbers to express their viewpoint does not mean, and should not be taken to mean, that every participant agreed with every other participant, or with the main organizer, on every detail. Besides, how many people do you think a rally consisting only of ANSWER and its sympathizers would have drawn? Surely nowhere near as many as marched this past weekend.

To which I responded:

Yes, but I think that misses the point. Don't you think that conservatives would be justly criticized if they held large demonstrations organized by a front group for the Klan or for the American Nazi Party?

To my mind, the anti-war movement deserves all the opprobrium it is getting for allowing itself to be organized by an odious group. Moreover, the message of speakers at the demonstrations appears to be as much, or more, anti-Americanism than anti-war.

By allowing itself to be co-opted by the Workers World Party, the anti-war movement discredits itself.

I’ll allow Lex the last word:

But -- and we're wandering a bit far afield of journalism here, but I can't help asking -- EVEN IF the whole country had been properly informed about the background and views of the organizing group, is it not possible that many participants might not have cared? I think it is. For one thing, I suspect that many marchers, and perhaps many who did not march and would not have, probably would consider the American Nazi Party and the Klan much closer to being a clear and present danger to the public than ANSWER is or ever has been.

For another, the specific viewpoints of the participants were so varied that I doubt many of them felt it logical or rational to speak of "the anti-war movement" as an entity so cohesive that it could or should worry about its associations. Just among people I know who participated, the viewpoints include:

--No attack on Iraq, period.
--Rebuild Afghanistan and keep after bin Laden and al-Qaeda first, while monitoring Iraq for possible future action.
--Attack Iraq if needed, but only with UN sanction.
--Atack Iraq if needed, but only with UN sanction AND allied military support.

My point is not that the motives of some organizers aren't questionable. But I suspect that a big chunk of the participants didn't know and wouldn't have cared if they had known, because they were there for their own reasons, with their own messages for the government and public.

posted at 2:55 PM

NNNNobody expects the Danish Committee for Scientific Dishonesty!!!
Responding to the Pythonesque holding of the Danish Committee for Scientific Dishonesty (shouldn’t they be against dishonesty?), that his book, The Skeptical Environmentalist, is “clearly in violation of the norms for good scientific behavior," Bjorn Lomborg defends himself in today’s OpinionJournal.

What makes the committee's holding truly Pythonesque are the procedural irregularities committed by the committee in order to issue its denunciation. To summarize points originally made by statistician Iain Murray:

1. The committee did not reach a consensus on the premise that Lomborg’s book was a work of science. Hence they should not have proceeded to apply standards applicable only to works of science and should have stopped right there.

2. In order to label conduct as “scientifically dishonest,” the committee’s guidelines state that “it must be possible to document that the person in question has acted deliberately or exercised gross negligence in connection with the activities under consideration.” Instead the committee invented a new standard, finding that they had “not found-or felt able to procure-sufficient grounds to deem that the defendant has misled his readers deliberately or with gross negligence.” As Iain observes, the committee ”cannot find him guilty of scientific dishonesty. They therefore invent a distinction between objective dishonesty and subjective dishonesty, thereby inventing a category of unconscious dishonesty.” Iain coincludes that this is “such a blatant contradiction in terms [that the committee’s] work should be referred to the Danish Committee on Philosophical Dishonesty.”

The good news is that rather than burying Lomborg, the committee appears to have done the opposite. He has been defended, inter alia, in the pages of The Economist and, as he notes:

The baseless denunciation by the Danish committee--which some have called Orwellian--has led to an academic outcry. In Denmark alone, 280 professors have signed a petition rejecting the decision.

Seeking to punish an apostate, the Danish committee has instead given him greater prominence than ever. Lomborg's reputation survives the denunciation. The question is will the committee's?
posted at 1:15 PM

Proofread that bill!
One clue that proposed legislation isn’t to be taken seriously is when it’s obvious that no one has proofread it. I count no fewer than four instances in which Rep. Charles Rangel’s bill to reintroduce the draft (HR 163) refers to “reverse” when it should read “reserve.” For example:

In this Act:

(1) The term `military service' means service performed as a member of an active or reverse component of the uniformed services.

via The Edge of England's Sword
posted at 10:11 AM

Smug and ugly at the BBC?
Cut on the Bias reports on a BBC article on the recent shooting of two Americans in Kuwait. She observes that “It was a fairly straightforward piece, until you get to the very last paragraph,” which she describes as “so flagrantly biased, so clearly opinion, so disgustingly smug and ugly. And it doesn't even make any effort to portray itself as anything but that - it's not a quote, not even an extrapolation from what anyone else said. It's just editorializing in the guise of a hard news story.” The paragraph in question?

Whatever they decide, the expat communities of both countries will chew on the irony that they were probably safer before their nations decided to fill up their adopted homeland with tanks and soldiers.

The tacit assumption the BBC makes is that terrorism against westerners is a result of our buildup in the Middle East, as opposed to a consequence. Yet there is a history of increasing violence against westerners (particularly Americans) in the Middle East that substantially predates the events of 9/11/01 and the subsequent military buildup and showdown with Iraq, so that assumption is questionable at best.

Good catch Susanna!

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Sheltering readers from what happens in the world

Michael Kelly takes issue with the left's embrace of islamofascism and tyranny, and the failure of the media to report that the so-called peace marches are organized by International ANSWER, a front for the Stalinist Workers World Party, which isn't so much pro-peace as anti-freedom and anti-American. He observes that:

Last weekend, the left held large antiwar marches in Washington, San Francisco and elsewhere. Major media coverage of these marches was highly respectful. This was "A Stirring in the Nation," in the words of an approving New York Times editorial, "impressive for the obvious mainstream roots of the marchers."

There is, increasingly, much that happens in the world that the Times feels its readers should be sheltered from knowing. The marches ... were chiefly sponsored .. by a group the Times chose to call in its only passing reference "the activist group International Answer."

via The Corner

UPDATE: Providing another example of "sheltering readers," Thor Halvorssen writes, in The Washington Times, that:

Reporters have so controlled the flow of information and disfigured the truth that their coverage of Venezuela is a caricature of what conservative critics call the "liberal media bias." What we are seeing in media coverage of Venezuela is not liberal bias, but totalitarian bias.

He provides plenty of examples.

via the ever vigilant PostWatch
posted at 1:15 PM

The BBC profiles The United States
# The BBC’s description of America “stinks,” notes Biased BBC reader Monica Law, who describes herself as a “Brit living in France.” Here are some lowlights from the description:racial violence, discrimination and segregation have been and continue to be a feature of American life.
# Without the levels of social welfare enjoyed, for example, in western Europe, this wealth gap could translate into a potential for social unrest
# American foreign policy has always mixed the idealism of its "mission" with elements of self-interest. The latter is exemplified in its international record on the environment
# the US has taken the pre-eminent role in the war on Afghanistan and in attempts to isolate and mobilise its allies against countries which it claims are havens to terrorists.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Take the The WildMonk War Personality Test!

The OmbudsGod is either a Capitalist Stooge or a Realist depending on your point of view.

via The Truth Laid Bear
posted at 9:16 PM

Mikey update
That’s Mikey Rivero, not Mikey Moore, for any OBG novices out there. Michael Rivero is a Free Republic outcast who has apparently found his new calling by spreading anti-American conspiracy theories. Need a "source" to prove that Washington knew about what was going to happen on 9/11/01 ahead of time, or that the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center were the work of Zionist agents, then Mikey's your man. Needless to say, he's picked up an eclectic following on both the left and right.

S. Boyle continues his exposure of Mikey. This week we’re back to the recurring theme of Mikey’s anti-Semitism. Responding to a Holocaust denial letter posted on his website, Mikey repeats the discredited claim that Anne Frank’s diaries are a forgery. He also links to a hidden story on Indymedia that “Zionists associated with the Mossad have applied for and now work at Indymedia,” but that “don't let it deter you from your pro-Palestinian activies. The cat is out of the bag! Israel will soon fall like a house of cards…”

Okay, I didn’t know that there are “hidden stories” on Indymedia, either, but apparently if you click on the button labeled “View Hidden Stories” on San Francisco IndyMedia – that’s where they’ve hidden it. Given the crap they often run, I’m surprised that they hide this piece, but then maybe even the Indyidiots are embarrassed by it.
posted at 2:03 PM

Scott Ritter update
According to CBS affiliate WRGB and MSNBC, former weapons inspector, turned Saddam apologist, Scott Ritter was caught twice trying to pick up underage girls through the Internet. In 2001, he tried to lure what he thought was a 16 year old girl to meet him, but the jailbait turned out to be just that – a cop. The charge was dismissed and the case sealed. Four months before that, he was arrested for trying to meet a 14 year old girl he met online, but the cops let him go.

So, not only is Ritter an Internet sexual predator, but an idiot as well, having been nailed not once but twice. The only thing more reprehensible is that he was never truly held accountable for his actions.

via Drudge Report

UPDATE: Tim Blair thinks that "Ritter would fit right in with the UN's present Iraq inspection team..."
posted at 1:06 PM

Banned in Europe!
No stories about German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's affair, please. The "Audi chancellor" (4 wedding rings, get it?), has obtained a German court order barring publication of information by a British newspaper, the Mail, that he is having an affair, on the grounds that such information about the high government official violates his right to privacy. The British press is naturally flouting the order and going to town with the story, which is setting the stage for a showdown on the efficacy of transnational censorship in Euroland.

The penalty for violating the German court’s order is a whopping €250,000, if, of course, it can be enforced.

Considering that, for example, Germany has one of the worst records for honoring foreign child custody decrees, including those from Britain, despite being a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, a finding that European national courts have transnational jurisdiction could have profound consequences for other areas of the law.