July 25, 2014
Mein Gott im Himmel! How Can This Be????
This morning, Thomas Ricks (who, in 2006, bravely announced that Anbar province was "irretrievably lost" just as the Anbar Awakening was picking up speed) informs us that he is "moving leftward".
In the fullness of time, it turned out that Mr. Ricks hadn't actually read the classified report that so deliciously confirmed what he already believed to be true. But that didn't stop him from reporting its supposed contents.
Alas. If only the Obama White House had been there to warn him how unreliable those pesky anonymous sources can be:
What we knew of the report, by Marine intelligence office Col. Peter Devlin, and which instantly became “the conventional wisdom” on al Anbar, came via essentially a single source. That was Washington Post reporter Thomas E. Ricks, in a Sept. 2006 article “Situation Called Dire in West Iraq: Anbar Is Lost Politically, Marine Analyst Says,” and a follow-up in late November, “Anbar Picture Grows Clearer, and Bleaker.” It’s obvious now that either the report itself or the Ricks’ presentation of it missed the mark worse than an F-16 bombing Baghdad and hitting Basra.
Yet even at the time, articles from Al Anbar itself (not Ricks’ roost in D.C.) contradicted the Post’s presentation.
...As to Ricks, he admitted to NPR “I haven’t actually read [the report],” rather “I’ve had many people describe it to me.” You’d hardly guess that from his articles though, such that supporters of the war effort were just as likely to claim the report was “leaked” to Ricks as were opponents.
Instead what we got was a report as seen through two filters: First, Ricks selected his interviewees who, since by definition they agreed to discuss a classified document, probably held a grudge against current military actions. The second filter was Ricks himself, hardly the epitome of even-handedness as author of the best-selling book about Iraq whose title says it all: Fiasco.
...Perhaps Ricks was trying to pull off an Iraq version of the media’s Tet Offensive offensive, a battle that crushed the Viet Cong and yet the media declared it a terrible U.S. defeat. Life imitated art as portrayal sucked the life out of our war effort. In any case, others in the mainstream media seemed to have that idea.
NPR relied on Ricks to pronounce “we’ve lost the fight” in Anbar. “The message is, stay the course,” MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann declared, “But in the huge Anbar Province, word from our military is that we’ve already lost there politically.” Jim Miklaszewski told NBC Nightly News viewers that "The top secret report . . . says there’s no chance the U.S. military can end insurgent violence in al Anbar” and “the U.S. is preparing to eventually concede a large piece of Iraq to the enemy . . . ” CNN’s Michael Ware used Ricks’ “revelations” to opine “we only have a third of the troops there that are needed to even begin to make a dent in al Qaeda.” (Incidentally, some pundits have said success in Anbar was a direct result of “The Surge.” In fact, “The Awakening,” in which fed-up local Iraqi tribes turned against AQI and other terrorist groups, began a year before “The Surge” did.) So much for needing three times the troops to “make a dent.”
This is shocking news to those of us who have followed Ricks' journalistic exploits with leg-tingling anticipation. Drifting leftward???? Who could have predicted such a stunning volte face?
But perhaps more importantly, what caused this titanic shift in polarity? To hear Mr. Ricks tell it, the answer is simple. During the Evil Bush Years, he lost faith in government due to its corrupt, inept, and bumbling ways. Natürlich, meine Damen und Herren, the only rational response to incompetent governance is - apparently - more government.
Surely things will be different, this time. Admit it, knuckle draggers. The logic is well nigh irrefutable.
Unmarried conscripts don’t need such a safety net. And much of the labor currently contracted out to the private sector could be performed by 18-year-olds for much less.
... The pool of cheap labor available to the federal government would broadly lower its current personnel costs and its pension obligations — especially if the law told federal managers to use the civilian service as much as possible, and wherever plausible. The government could also make this cheap labor available to states and cities. Imagine how many local parks could be cleaned and how much could be saved if a few hundred New York City school custodians were 19, energetic and making $15,000 plus room and board, instead of 50, tired and making $106,329, the top base salary for the city’s public school custodians, before overtime.
Amazing how often the road to lefty Utopia involves government taking away other people's basic freedoms.
June 06, 2014
It's the only plausible explanation, n'est pas?
... why would the Times print Nixon's "sh**t" but not Obama's? Hard to say, especially since there's another presidential precedent: the Times didn't mince words in 2006 when George W. Bush was overheard saying, "What they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this sh**, and it's over." The unexpurgated quote appeared both in a news story and a Thomas Friedman op/ed.
And since then, there have been non-presidential exceptions as well. In 2007, the Times quoted the transcript of a call believed to be from Republican political consultant Roger Stone to Gov. Eliot Spitzer's father: "There is not a g****mn thing your phony, psycho, piece-of-sh** son can do about it."
More recently, "sh**" appeared in the Times in "Invisible Child," a multi-part story last December about a homeless girl in Brooklyn named Dasani. Part 4 ("Finding Strength in the Bonds of Her Siblings") includes this line from Dasani's mother Chanel: "I don't give a sh** if she's crying." The fourth installment was also notable for not one but two appearances of "f**k" in lines attributed to Chanel: "Shut the f**k up" and "She think she some-f**king-body." The F-bombs were noteworthy enough to warrant discussion by the Times's public editor Margaret Sullivan ("'Invisible Child': Behind the Scenes, Before and After," 12/12/13), though the S-bomb wasn't explicitly mentioned.
In her column on the Dasani series, Sullivan quoted Philip B. Corbett, associate managing editor for standards, as saying, "Our basic guidelines about avoiding vulgarities and obscenities haven't changed, but we all recognize that there are cases where an exception is justified."
Villains (usually Republican, but we repeat our ownselves) are foul mouthed (*&^%s. When they do it, it's relevant because it reveals deeper insights into their character.
The utterances of legitimate leaders with gravitas are edited after the fact to use more dignified terms. Like "stuff". Sure, they used the same bad word, but we wouldn't want to leave readers with a bad impression.
February 05, 2014
Write Your Own Headline
Reportedly, the Oink Cadre were not available for comment:
Police responding to reports of screaming coming from a home in Maine didn't find a victim of domestic violence as they feared. Instead, they found an amorous pig.
State police say a woman called last week after hearing what she believed to be a fight coming from a neighbor's home in the town of China. The caller said she heard screaming and thought there was a domestic assault.
The Morning Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1jafexV ) reports that four state troopers responded and talked to the neighbor.
The neighbor explained that she raises pigs and the screaming was coming from an overjoyed male pig that had been placed in a pen with five sows in heat.
Police say there was no assault and no disturbance "other than the screaming male pig."
June 17, 2013
Is Congress Smarter Than the WaPo's Editorial Board?
In an overwrought editorial about the "epidemic" of military rape, the Washington Post Editorial board once more show that they can't even get basic facts right:
Of the 26,000 unwanted sexual contact incidents in 2012 contained in a recent Defense Department survey, only 3,374 were reported and, Ms. Gillibrand said, only one in 10 ended up going to trial.
The Post links to a list of DoD surveys. Apparently, selecting (never mind reading) the correct source and linking directly to it was a bridge too far. Had one of the Post's editorial board actually read the survey (you can stop laughing now), this paragraph in the summary section might have given them cause to doubt that the report describes an "epidemic" of rape. Can you spot the refrain running through the cited statistics?
Unwanted Sexual Contact. Overall, 6.1% of women and 1.2% of men indicated they experienced unwanted sexual contact in 2012. For women, this rate is statistically significantly higher in 2012 than in 2010 (6.1% vs. 4.4%); there is no statistically significant difference between 2012 and 2006 (6.1% vs. 6.8%). There is no statistically significant difference for men in the overall rate between 2012 and 2010 or 2006 (1.2% vs. 0.9% and 1.8%). Of the 6.1% of women who experienced unwanted sexual contact, 32% indicated the most serious behavior they experienced was unwanted sexual touching only, 26% indicated they experienced attempted sex, and 31% indicated they experienced completed sex. There were no statistically significant differences in the most serious behaviors for women between 2006, 2010, and 2012. Of the 1.2% of men who indicated experiencing unwanted sexual contact, 51% indicated the most serious behavior they experienced was unwanted sexual touching only, 5% indicated they experienced attempted sex, and 10% indicated they experienced completed sex. There were no statistically significant differences in the most serious behaviors for men between 2006, 2010, and 2012.
So much for the layers of editorial oversight and rigorous fact-checking that separate the pros from the wannabes.
January 07, 2013
Obama's "Read My Lips" Moment
I can make a firm pledge, under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.
- Barack Obama, 2008
Mein Gott im Himmel! As much as it pains us to admit it, Paul Krugman was right!
... whenever the president says that there’s an issue on which he absolutely, positively won’t give ground, you can count on him, you know, giving way — and soon, too.
Fortunately, The Editorial Staff are absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when the media grew a spine and began to hold the powerful to their promises:
Obama, before heading to Hawaii for a vacation, praised Congress for supposedly fulfilling his campaign promise of not adding burdens to middle-class families.
“I want to thank all the leaders of the House and Senate,” he said. “Under this law, more than 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses will not see their income taxes go up.”
It would be more accurate to say that 77 percent of American households will see an increase in their federal tax burden, the Tax Policy Center noted.
This was the moment when journalists put duty and country above covering for their guy. This was the moment when they finally said, "We see what you did, there." This was the moment when they pointed out the utter shamelessness of the White House's dishonest community organizing:
Starting in late November, Obama encouraged Americans to use the hashtag #My2k on Twitter to tell lawmakers what the estimated average tax raise of $2,000 would mean to them if Congress failed to reach a deal in advance of the fiscal cliff deadline.
The official White House page for the campaign also featured voters explaining what $2,000 meant to them: “#My2k is keeping this house and keeping it warm for my growing family this winter”; “My2k … means food on table, co-pays at the Drs office, gas in the car & our kids extra activities”; and “#My2k means I won’t have to choose between life-saving meds or food.”
Obama’s official account retweeted others such as, “My2K will just about cover out-of-pocket costs for my cataract surgery” and “My2K helped me to support my parents, pay for their health and pay my car loan.”
Turns out, it wasn't really #their2K, after all. Who could have predicted this?
April 17, 2012
Dude, That's Harsh....
From a story about the Secret Service prostitution debacle:
The 11 Secret Service agents and officers involved in the prostitution scandal ahead of President Obama's visit to Colombia have been stripped of their security clearances, CBS News reports.
All have been accused of misconduct, placed on administrative leave and barred from entering Secret Service facilities worldwide, CBS says, citing an unidentified law enforcement official. They also have surrendered their equipment.