Robb Allen Provides Perspective
The Path Through the Woods
First, let's remember exactly what Obama said, in full context:
“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
Grammatically, Obama said that you didn't build your business. He should fire his teleprompter. In context, he was clearly trying to say that as a small business owner, you didn't build the roads, infrastructure, the American system, or the education system.
I think we can all agree on that.
So let's look at what Obama meant to say and see if it holds up. Let's start with a simple story.
John and Tim are two 12 year old boys looking for something to do for the summer. They look around the neighborhood and notice that they can get to a convenience store quicker by cutting through an undeveloped wooded area than by walking alongside the road. Not only will it be quicker, it will be safer as well. So they spend a few days cutting brush, pulling logs out of the way, filling in ditches and holes, and make a nice path through the woods. Once the path is finished, they walk to the store, and celebrate with a cold soda.
John, who gets an allowance from his father, spends the next few weeks walking to the store, buying candy and soft drinks, and enjoys his summer. Tim, who doesn't get an allowance, decides to do neighborhood chores for money. As he walks from door to door, he finds that there are many residents who want their dogs walked, but are worried that such a young boy might have trouble controlling the dogs on the sidewalk, and that their dog might be in danger of breaking free and getting into the road. Tim tells them that he has a safe place to walk the dogs, the path that he and John built, and on that basis, he gets several customers who pay him to walk the dogs. Tim uses the money he earns to buy candy and soft drinks, and all is well.
Until Tim starts buying comic books as well. He's making more for walking dogs than John is getting in his allowance.
John goes to his father and asks for a raise in his allowance so he can buy comic books too. John's father, wanting his son to have the same things that other boys have, asks questions to find out where Tim is getting his money. When he finds out that Tim is making money from the path the boys built together, he decides that the only fair solution is that Tim should give a portion of his earnings to John.
And this is the Obama position. Tim is using a path built by him and John, and therefore owes John a portion of the proceeds of his work. The fact that JOhn has the same access to the path, the same opportunities to earn additional money by working, or that Tim's income is from work that Tim performs that John has no part in, is irrelevant to John's father.
Read what he said again carefully, and notice something. Obama claims that successful business people did not build the roads. Or the school. Or the American system. He's excluding them from the collective. The truth is exactly opposite. In America, where we ARE the government, we all built the roads. We all pay for schools. We all support and built the American system. That system is the path through the woods, and somebody else didn't build that; we ALL built that. That is the key fallacy in President Obama's philosophy.
We, the people built the path through the woods. The determining factor into how the path is used is not the existence of the path, but the will of the person who walks it.
Even in full context, President Obama is wrong.
We did build that.
Also, you say the first paragraph was edited to omit the word 'facts' but this is not true at all. The word was not in the piece. It always ended with 'following'.
Unfortunately for Stephen, the internet says "No, that's just not true."
I found his article when a friend of mine linked to it on Facebook. Facebook, as most of us realize, automatically publishes an excerpt from the article along with the link. At the time my friend linked the article, it did indeed say what I said it did and in the interests of good will, transparency, and demonstrating what the facts truly are, I present the following image of my friend's Facebook post.
Why is it that some folks feel the need to lie in order to make themselves look better? And over such a trivial thing? He edited his article, or the folks at the website did, because the claim that he was presenting facts was ridiculous. That's no big deal, but by trying to hide it, he casts doubts on any claim to journalistic standards he may have had.
Found this link on Facebook about facts to use to irritate Republicans. It's listed as humor, but just seems mean spirited and hateful to me.
The sadder part is the author, Stephen D. Foster Jr, apparently believes that all of these things are in fact the truth. The first version of the article read:
Conservatives are so easy to anger these days. Even the most insignificant statement can set off their tempers. If you want to enrage a conservative, I suggest you tell them one of these facts.
After somebody pointed out that some of the 100 statements were really matters of opinion, he revised the blurb to read:
Conservatives are so easy to anger these days. Even the most insignificant statement can set off their tempers. If you want to enrage a conservative, I suggest saying the following:
Sorry, Steve, but it takes more than typical progressive lies, slander, and insults to enrage me. And it also takes more than a list of tired, worn out liberal cliches to qualify as humor.
On the other hand, I did find some amusement in going through the list and finding the obvious cases of Progressive Derangement. For example: (My comments in bold; I let some stand without comment because, well, they debunk themselves.)
2. Jesus healed the sick and helped the poor, for free. And he didn't need a government subsidy or a tax on the rich to do so.
6. The Founding Fathers were liberals. Given that they are considered conservative today, what does that say about the massive ideological shift this country has taken over the last two decades?
7. Fascism is a right-wing trait. Nope, it is an authoritarian trait evidenced by people who believe they know how you should live your life better than you do. Sound familiar?
12. Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency. Really, you want to claim Nixon? OK, you can have him!
14. Global warming is real. Have you been reading the papers over the last couple of years? It's Anthropogenic Climate Change, and it is getting less credence all the time as faked data, distorted models, and failed prediction continue to pile up.
20. The Republican Party began as a liberal party. See Item 6. What is to the left of liberal? Is it Communist?
23. President Obama saved the American auto industry, while Republicans wanted to destroy it. Yep, those Chevy Volts are just flying out of the showrooms. Back to Detroit for yet another recall.
24. Hate is not a Christian virtue. Neither is arrogance, pride or smug contempt.
25. Jesus was a liberal. So you now support faith based ministries? Good to know.
26. Republicans spend MORE money than Democrats. Math is not your strong suit is it? The current Democratic Administration has spent more in three years than any administration in history.
28. Public schools educate all children; private schools are for indoctrinating children. MMM MMM MMM Barack Hussein Obama. Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm.
29. The Constitution is the law, NOT the Bible. So now you support the Constitution. Cool. Tell me, have you ever actually read it? Or are the words unimportant?
36. Women control their own bodies. If only they would.
41. Health care is a right, not a product. And doctors, nurses, health care workers manufacturers of medical devices, drugs, and treatments are all slaves working for the benefit of others, and given wages determined not by the value of their work, but by government decree. And I thought you guys liked Lincoln!
42. Roe v. Wade was a bipartisan ruling made by a conservative leaning Supreme Court. Try reading the actual decision sometimes. Just about all of the original, conservative language has been stripped from the law by liberal, activist judges.
48. Republicans invaded Iraq for oil, so Iraq should be allowed to invade Texas to get it back. My money is on Texas.
49. Separation of church and state is in the Constitution, it’s called the First Amendment. The freedom to exercise religion is also part of the First Amendment. Funny how you keep leaving that part out.
53. America is a nation of immigrants, therefore we are all anchor babies. Immigration is not the problem; illegal immigration is. Learn the difference.
55. God is a particle. Say that to His face. Don't worry; you will get the chance.
58. The Founding Fathers did not free the slaves. Neither did Abraham Lincoln.
61. Federal law trumps state law. Not according to the 10th Amendment. Remember, that Constitution thing you were talking about earlier?
63. Corporations care more about profits than they do about people. And they give those profits to people called shareholders, so what you are actually saying is that people do not care about people. So how is your 401k?
72. Labor unions built this country. And they did it for free, with no investment capital needed, no bankers, and no professional services or management either. Just by the sweat of their brow and determination.
76. Inside every Republican is a Klansman or a Nazi waiting to bloom.
78. Republicans are hypocrites, they’re just too stupid to know it.
80. I think therefore I am NOT a Republican.
81. Republicans that oppose gay marriage are most likely in the closet themselves.
82. Churches should stay out of politics, or be taxed. Politicians should stay out of churches, or be damned.
85. Republicans hate education because they couldn’t hack it in school.
86. Greed is one of the seven deadly sins and Republicans wallow in it.
87. A little socialism on the Left is better than a little fascism on the Right.
94. Democrats will be working hard to bring jobs to Americans, while the Republicans tea bag each other in the middle of the aisles.
95. Voter disenfranchisement is immoral and un-American, that’s why Republicans do it. Voter fraud is the best way to win elections (It's the Chicago way) and that's why Democrats do it.
96. Republicans would let your house burn down unless you pay them to put it out. Nope; that's libertarians. Please try to keep your insults straight.
100. Republicans are idiots and arguing with them is a waste of time!
Folks, this is what some liberals read, and apparently believe.
Does this represent a vocal minority or a majority? I don't know. I don't even have enough data to hazard a guess.
But for a supposedly funny bit, there's a lot of anger and hatred.
Why Nobody is Dropping Out of the Republican Primary
Do you suppose the reason that Newt refuses to drop out of the race is because he knows that whoever wins the Republican primary has in reality won the general election?
Think about it. Obama's numbers are tanking, and there's no miracle on the horizon to lift them. There's a very good chance that whoever wins the Republican nomination will go on to win the election, which means the primary battles we're seeing right now are the real general election.
And given that it could come down to a delegate fight and a brokered convention, candidates with little or no money may have an excellent shot in August at winning the nomination they couldn't afford to win on the road.
And since I'm playing out on a contrarian limb here, let's move a little further out.
If Republicans don't select a candidate until August, doesn't that go a long way to negating Obama's huge cash advantage? There are only so many hours in a broadcast day. If the election doesn't start until August, he won't be able to bring his huge money advantage into play.
Just a couple of thoughts...
Light Blogging for the Next Two Weeks
So yeah, no sleepy, no bloggy.
The New Gatekeepers
As usual, they got the story half right.
The fad bloggers did fade away. They came, they blogged, they went, and now they Twitter, or play on Facebook, or share pins on Pinterest.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the extinction of blogging; it didn't happen. Some bloggers rose to national prominence based solely on their scribblings. Blogging organizations sprang up to harness the talents of these energetic individuals who, as it turned out, did have something to say that was worth hearing. Advertisers joined the party and suddenly, people were making a living writing a blog.
And all the while, traditional media continued to sound the death knell for blogging. Their favorite refrain was "You never get original content from bloggers. They are always writing about something we covered first. They're just parasitic wannabees with an ax to grind."
And again, they got it half right. For a long time, opinion blogging did dominate the blogosphere. A blogger would read something interesting, link to it, then provide their own thoughts about it. For a while, that was enough. The novelty of having this new voice was sufficient. But then, a man named Fisk changed things forever, and in the process, gained lasting fame as his name became a verb. Fisk wasn't a blogger; instead, he was a member of the traditional media. He wrote an article so egregiously biased, not to mention just plain bad, that bloggers took it apart line by line, revealing inaccuracies, logical fallacies, and incredibly stupid conclusions. The better bloggers did so with such skill and precision, and not a little humor, that "fisking" became a very popular past time in the blogosphere.
This is where blogging began to grow up, because in order to fisk an article, you had to know the subject in significant detail. In some cases, the blogger was already an expert in the subject, which was why they chose it to fisk. But in many cases, they had to do some research to accurately assess the story's strengths and/or weaknesses. The research could involve looking up past statements made by the writer, or a political figure, or digging into old stories to find accurate information, or even calling participants in the story to get their take on the article. This 'fact checking" process became very similar to that followed by traditional reporters as they built their stories. Bloggers began developing a skill set that would not be out of place in a traditional newsroom.
The ability to spot an evasion, or deception in a released statement.
A strong grasp of the history of the subject,and an ability to detect when that history was being misrepresented.
Knowledge of the resources needed to research background information.
The importance of providing source materials to allow the reader to fact check for themselves and to make up their own minds.
Bloggers learned these skills on the job, as it were, and given that most of them were driven by their own passion, they learned quickly and well.
At the same time, traditional media outlets began changing their approach to reporting. Profit became important, which led to downsizing, which meant fewer stories produced, and even less research. Speculative stories, ones that called for investigation and development before producers could determine whether they were publishable or not became more rare, replaced by easy stories based on public statements and press releases.
Traditional media began to produce less original content than the new media.
So they changed their argument. Bloggers were producing original content, but they were sloppy, inaccurate, and not subject to "the layers of editorial oversight" provided in the traditional media.
Jayson Blair, Eason Jordan, and Dan Rather took care of that argument fairly quickly.
Media budgets continued to decline, along with circulation and ratings, and bloggers continued to both break news and cover news, and the latter with a thoroughness and level of specificity that traditional media couldn't touch even in their golden age. Bloggers don't start as journalists; they start as experts in something else. Lawyers, doctors, scientists, engineers, teachers, all are represented among bloggers, leading to a communal level of knowledge far exceeding that available to traditional news media. In a way, every blogger is both a journalist and an expert source rolled into one. The traditional media can't compete with them.
The New Media, began to supplant traditional media as the 'go to' source for original news content. Consider that the story about the assassination of Osama Bin Laden was broken by social media on Twitter, not CNN. Traditional media outlets were trying to adapt, but faced tough climb. A Twitter feed is great, but if it is not updated frequently with additional information, it grows stale rapidly. People will look elsewhere for the breaking details, and once they leave a source, they don't come back. People read a paper to find out what happened yesterday. To find out what's happening today, they go to the new media.
The Knoxville News Sentinel is a prime example of this. They work hard to get the initial story posted to the web, but it might take hours or days for an update, especially if the event occurs after 5PM. They still march to the beat of the 24 hour news cycle, and they just can't shake it. Facebook is a better source for current information than KnoxNews.com.
Traditional media survived as long as they did only because there was no other option for the people. If they wanted news, they had a limited choice of sources. Because their choices were so limited, people believed that the service provided by the media was good.
They had no basis for comparison.
Now they do, and the people have woken up to the sad fact that the traditional media sucks at what they do. They got complacent, and worse, arrogant. They decided that not only should they report the news, they should decide what was news, and what wasn't. From there, it was a small step to start shaping the news, shading coverage to fit into a certain philosophy, or ideology. Papers, news channels and magazines developed editorial slants. The news became less about the facts and more about the narrative. Then bloggers came along and challenged the narrative and all hell broke loose.
So, why the history lesson?
Well, if you've been reading here much lately, you know that I've been following two closely related stories, the Richard Baumgartner mess, and the death of Henry Granju. While I am friends with Henry''s mother, I have no personal interest in the Baumgartner case, except for how it relates to the handling of Henry's case, but the link that interests me even more is how the KNS has handled both stories. In both cases, there has been a ton of information available to the KNS that they have chosen not to report, or to delay reporting. There is no doubt in my mind that they are shaping coverage in order to protect their interests, rather than serving the public interests. Just this week, the publisher of the paper, Jack McElroy wrote with approval on his KNS blog about how a reporter was "grabbing the spotlight." I always thought that in journalism, you were supposed to see only the story, not the journalist. But here he was, holding out this reporter as a shining example of the cream of his particular crop. What was really funny was the article he wrote just a day earlier, justifying why this same reporter was able to work in the courtroom for years with a judge who repeatedly reported to work drunk or stoned, yet she never noticed until the tail end of his last trial, and then accepted without question a lame excuse.
I'm not saying everybody at the KNS is inept or corrupt; I am saying, just as Eason Jordan said about CNN, that those at the top of the KNS food chain are working to shape their coverage of the news to maintain their access to the folks who run the Knoxville and Knox County government, and that they are more interested in covering their butts than the news. I am saying that the traditional media, KNS included, has as its first priority making a profit. After that comes shaping the news to fit their preferred narrative. Covering the events that make the news is further down the list. That shift in priority means that their coverage will be based on profit first, and accuracy/relevance second. It means that publishers will write self aggrandizing pieces to to cover up journalistic failures, and that puff pieces reinforcing established orthodoxy will replace investigative reporting. Speaking truth to power has been replaced by speaking pravda for power.
I am saying that traditional media has become what they accused bloggers of being all along, sycophantic parasites with an ax to grind.
Yeah, I know. That's pretty harsh. I'm tarring with a broad brush. So let me be more precise. I'm sure there are good solid ethical journalists out there, still working hard to write the truth, and not twist the facts to fit some preconceived agenda. I'm sure there are people out there dedicated to delivering the story as it happens, with opinion clearly separated from fact, and analysis clearly identified as such. I'm sure that there are individuals out there who will still take the time to do basic research, to seek out experts and become knowledgeable about a subject before they write about it. I'm pretty sure that all of these folks are out there, hammering away at their keyboards, and cranking out the words.
I'm also sure that most of them are bloggers.
We Don’t Serve Your Kind Here!
And there was much rejoicing.
I'm in the minority on this one.
First, a little background. State Senator Stacy Campfield has been pushing a bill for several years now regarding teaching about homosexuality is grade school. The text of the current bill is:
The general assembly recognizes the sensitivity of particular subjects that are best explained and discussed in the home. Human sexuality is a complex subject with societal, scientific, psychological, and historical
implications; those implications are best understood by children with sufficient maturity to grasp their complexity.
(2) Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, no public elementary or middle school shall provide any instruction or material that discusses sexual orientation other than heterosexuality.
Recently, Campfield was invited onto The Gist, a radio show by Mike Signorile to discuss the bill. During that interview, Campfield made some statements about the origin and transmission of AIDS that are not politically correct, including observing, correctly, that transmitting AIDS through heterosexual contact is much more unlikely than transmission through homosexual activity. Following the contentious interview, Mr. Signorile chose some of the more incendiary quotes and highlighted them in a blog post.
The blog post is a beautiful example of taking quotes out of context to make the subject look bad. For example, when Signorile asked Campfield why heterosexuality should be discussed in classrooms and not homosexuality, Campfield's answer was :
"The only reason well, natural reproduction. If you’re talking in science classes you need to be able to talk about how natural reproduction works XY chromosomes and that sort of thing. If you didn’t talk about heterosexuality, you would not be able to talk about natural reproduction."
Certainly not a controversial answer. Sexuality should only be discussed in a classroom when it is directly related to the science of the reproductive processes. The social aspects should be left to the family. You may disagree with that, but it isn't hateful by any means.
But in his blog post, Signorile substitute's this quote from a couple of minutes later in the interview as Campfield's answer:
"I just think there are situations where some kids maybe sexually unsecure [sic] in themselves or sexually confused and don't necessarily know clearly what direction they are. If someone, a person of influence, says maybe you're gay, maybe you should explore those things -- maybe the child, who is young and impressionable, says maybe I am gay."
Then juxtaposes this quote, also from another part of the interview:
"[Homosexuals] do not naturally reproduce. It has not been proven that it is nature. It happens in nature, but so does beastiality That does not make it right or something we should be teaching in school."
The two quotes above come from different sections of the interview, but Signorile uses them to try and make Campfield look hateful. Additionally, he misquotes Campfield in the second quote, in my opinion deliberately, to make him look like he's comparing homosexuality to bestiality. In fact, what Campbell said was
"It happens in nature, but so does bestiality That does not make it naturally, necessarily something we need to talk about with children."
Now that is quite a difference. Signorile not only repositions a quote, he changes it from a simple statement of fact (There are some aspects of sexuality we don't need to discuss with children) to a value judgment on homosexuality.
I'm not going to go through the rest of the blog post. It's more of the same and Campfield does get some facts wrong. But the post is a hit piece plain and simple. Of course, it got widespread attention, and I'm willing to bet almost nobody went back to the original interview and listened. They just believed what they already prejudged about Campfield.
So, fast forward to yesterday. Martha Boggs, owner of The Bistro at the Bijou, reacting to the Huffington Post article, refused to serve Campfield, and asked him to leave the restaurant. She then posted on the restaurant's Facebook page, "I hope that Stacy Campfield now knows what if feels like to be unfairly discrimanted[sic] against."
The irony of using unfair discrimination to protest unfair discrimination is amazingly obvious.
And amazingly stupid.
As the day has gone by, I've watched more and more people weigh in on this one, and they all seem to say the same thing. "Way to go Martha! That'll show 'em!"
Show them what? That prejudice and intolerance are okay, as long as the target is unpopular? How do we get to a point where we have people can say, and with a straight face, "Discrimination is evil, bad, hurtful, and ignorant. Unless I agree with it; then it's okay!"
After all, what Boggs did is no different than a bar owner throwing out a (insert minority of your choice here) and saying "We don't serve your kind here!" Does anybody think that this episode is going to do anything to cause Campfield to change his mind? Did it do anything to educate him? Did it show tolerance or acceptance? Or did it show that narrow minded jerks exist on both sides of the ideological divide?
Suppose a restaurant refused to serve the head of Planned Parenthood, or any of their supporters. Would that be okay?
Folks, tolerance isn't worth a flip if you only tolerate the folks you agree with. That's just good old high school conformity dressed up in flashier clothes.
Martha Boggs' actions were flashy, and drew a lot of attention, but ultimately petty, childish, and potentially actionable. I doubt Campfield will pursue it; his post on the matter is fairly simple and straight forward; certainly far more mature than Ms. Boggs.
I don't agree with everything Campfield says, and certainly not all of the legislation he produces. I do, however, believe that he should enjoy the exact same amount of protection under the law as everybody else.
And no less.
Knox County Sheriff’s Department Comes Up Short on Drug Busts
According to records kept by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's Crime Statistic's Unit, the Knox County Sheriff's Office has the lowest arrest rates for narcotics in the Knoxville Metropolitan area, and falls far behind the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department, a similarly sized county in East Tennessee. The KCSO has a lower proportion of total drug arrests when compared to the Knoxville Police Department than any of the other city/county groups in our region.
Last month, a grieving mother asked a simple questions. "How Often Does KCSO Actually Arrest, Charge Drug Dealers?"
Katie Granju's oldest son, Henry, died of a drug overdose two years ago. Tennessee Law states that anyone who gives drugs illegally to another person is guilty of Homicide in the Second Degree if that person dies from those drugs. Yet the Knox County Sheriff's Department closed the investigation into Henry's death without any arrests or charges being filed. Coincidentally, on the day Henry died, another Knoxville teenager, Amber Blizard, also died of a drug overdose. While her death was within a different jurisdiction, her mother received the same result. No arrests, no charges, no justice.
As Ms. Granju fought for Justice for Henry, the KPD responded. They looked into her allegations, and as a result, launched an investigation that resulted in felony indictments against the three adults involved with Henry's overdose. While those indictments were not specific to Henry's death, they did involve drug trafficking, including sales within protected areas, such as school zones. Additionally, the KPD is re-examining Amber Blizard's case, in the hopes of finally finding justice for her, and closure for her mother.
The KCSO, on the other hand, continued to insist that they did a thorough job, that there was no prosecutable crime, and that the folks who were present when Henry died were simple "Good Samaritans," trying to help a young man in trouble. Their arrests last September, combined with their criminal histories, put the lie to that claim. But the reluctance of the KCSO to conduct a truly thorough investigation led Ms. Granu to ask if Henry's case was unique, or if the way the KCSO handled Henry's case was standard operating procedure.
That question is now answered.
The records show a total of 276 Drug/Narcotics violations for the KCSO for 2010, while the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department notched 480 violations over the same time period. That difference is made more stark by the fact that roughly 250,000 Knox County residents are subject to KCSO jurisdiction while only 103,000 Hamilton County residents are outside city limits and subject to the County Sheriff's jurisdiction. Additionally, the budget for the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office was just under $30 million in 2010; while the KCSO spent over $70 million. With twice the number of residents, and over twice the budget, the KCSO recorded roughly half the violations.
A survey of other crimes do not show this same level of disparity. Hamilton County and Knox County show comparable rates for Murder, Rape, Aggravated Assault, and Burglary. However, Knox County does show elevated levels of Robbery, Shoplifting, and Auto Theft. In fact, the only major crime statistic surveyed that shows Knox County at a significantly lower level than Hamilton County is Drug/Narcotics violations.
The KCSO shortfall becomes even more obvious when city statistics are examined. In Hamilton County, the Sheriff's Department has jurisdiction over 31% of the county's total population and accounts for 23% of all Drug/Narcotics violations. In contrast, the KCSO has jurisdiction over 59% of the residents in the county, yet accounts for only 11% of the total Drug/Narcotic arrests.
The KCSO fares just as poorly when compared to the eight surrounding counties. The KCSO has the lowest Drug/Narcotic arrest rate (1.09) per 1000 residents of any of the contiguous eight counties. The KCSO also has the highest disparity between city and county drug arrests with the KCSO notching only 9% of the KPD's arrest rate per 1000 residents.
The combination of the KPD/KCSO comparisons, the relative crime rates between similar jurisdictions, and the comparison with other counties in the region make it clear that there is a drug enforcement problem within the KCSO. The numbers discount the possibility that drug traffic within Knox County is exceptionally low, especially since Knox County's position on the I-75 corridor tends to suggest a higher level of drug activity when compared to similarly sized communities away from the Interstate.
The traffic is there; it is the enforcement that is missing.
DISCLOSURE: I am a friend/acquaintance of Ms. Granju. While we have met in person less than five or six times, we have spoken extensively about this case, both professionally, as writers, and personally, as friends. It was this relationship that inspire me to dig into the records to find the answer to her question; however, the numbers come directly from state sources and are linked for easy verification. Statistics for this article came from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's Crime Statistic's Unit and the US Census Quick Facts page. This article is available for reposting or reprinting in its entirety as long as authorship (Rich and Lissa Hailey) is acknowledged. An image of the spreadsheet used is available here.
Mr McElroy Speaks…Says Nothing
In his answer, he reposted the question from Lissa, as well as Satterfield's response during the chat, then added the following:
When Satterfield broke the news that the TBI was investigating Baumgartner, she reported that he had appeared disoriented at the end of the Coleman trial. That report apparently triggered a subpoena for her testimony at the hearing over the motion for new trials in the Christian-Newsom case. The subpoena was waived after attorneys agreed that any testimony she gave would match what she reported in the story.
As it turned out, there was plenty of evidence of Baumgartner's problems beyond what a newspaper reporter could see from a courtroom bench.
That's the best he could do? Once again pointing his finger at the other people who should have done something, all the while refusing to notice that he and his staff also did nothing?
The phrase that really gets me is the last one, "...there was plenty of evidence of Baumgartner's problems beyond what a newspaper reporter could see from a courtroom bench." Is it too much to expect from our newspaper that its reporters occasionally get their butts up off the bench and actually do some real investigating? Or is that too hopelessly old fashioned?
Let's be clear; the newspaper does not have a responsibility to see that justice is done. That's the domain of the justice system. But the newspaper does have a responsibility to report the news, and to look for corruption in government before it becomes blindingly obvious and prohibitively expensive. And for future reference, a judge passing out during the delivery of a verdict in a major trial qualifies as blindingly obvious.
I left a comment on Mr. McElroy's post, a slight reworking of the tail end of my last post. I'll put it here just in case it doesn't make it through moderation:
Mr. McElroy, I appreciate that you are willing to address this issue openly, but your answer is lacking. While it is true that many people knew about Mr. Baumgartner's drug problem, it is irrelevant to the question of whether or not the News Sentinel should also have known.
Your paper is supposed to be the watchdog of the people. One of your highest functions, as you wrote so eloquently in your blog about the subpoena process, is to shine the light on local government, and to hold them accountable. The TBI report makes it very clear that many people in city and county government were aware of Baumgartner's drug use. It is just as clear that a fairly wide array of folks outside of the government knew as well; his doctor, his suppliers, his pharmacists, etc. Others were aware of how he was bending/breaking laws to protect his dealers, and other associates. In fact, what the TBI file makes most clear is that it appears that the only people who didn't know what was going on were employed by the News Sentinel.
So, how did your paper fail so badly at its primary function? How can so many people know about a prominent judge who is also a junkie, and your paper miss the story entirely? Why is it that you needed the TBI to release its investigation in order to find out what was going on when you had one of your senior reporters right there the whole time? More importantly, what steps are you taking to improve your performance?
On the other hand, if you believe that the KNS did a good job, then tell us why. How is it that you can miss criminal activity by a prominent judge that extends over a period of years and still claim that the KNS is doing its job?
Or to put it another way, what good is a newspaper that fails to find out and report the news?
Posted by Rich Hailey at December 5, 2011 7:51 PM
I Need Your Opinion
I have a couple of options.
- I can moderate comments. The advantage is that nobody has to sign up or do anything different. The only change would be that comments may take a while to show up as I don't have time to revewi comments all day. That could significantly hinder the discussion.
- I could set up moderation so that site members comments would post immediately, while guests would have their comments moderated. The benefits are that folks who signed in would be able to comment freely while others would have their comments moderated. The draw back is the sign in process.
I'm not sure which idea I like better or if I will implement this at all. I'm undecided which is why I'm asking for your input.
I've also thought about requiring people to post with their real names; there's nothing like a little accountability to get you to think before you type, which is one of the reasons I've always posted and commented under my own name. I've decided against that for now, since some people have valid reasons for maintaining their privacy, and hen you're discussing drugs, addiction, and criminal activity, discretion is extremely important.
So, you tell me. Comment moderation? Site membership? Or just keep it open and delete/archive where necessary?
Memorial Day Message
Ahhhh. That Felt Pretty Good!
Is This Thing On?
Wow, look at the dust!
Yeah, I know what I said, but there's just too much going on that's too important to just sit by quietly and let it happen.
The last time I posted here, I was tired of being angry at what I saw going on. I knew that nothing I said would make a difference, and that most of what I said was being said by other writers, and probably better, clearer, and certainly more concisely.
I've decided I don't care. There are certain things that need to be said, and if there's several of us saying it, then that just adds a bit more weight to what we say. besides, even though I consider America to be on an irreversible downward spiral into decadence, maybe, if we try hard enough, we can slow the inevitable decay down long enough for my kids and grandkids to have a shot at a decent life.
If nothing else, they'll know we tried.
So, hang on to your shorts. Shots is back!
The Last Shots Post
I had my fill of writing about politics about a year before the election, but just when I said I was through, Democrats launched one of the most offensive smear campaigns I have seen in my life, targeting the Palin family for destruction. Democrat campaigners showed no honor, no respect,and no restraint as they attacked each and every member of that family.
It was a disgusting display of partisanship made worse by the fact that so-called moderate liberals did nothing, giving their tacit approval to the process.
And so I go fired up again. I dug into Obama's past political campaigns, his history as an executive, short lived and unsuccessful as it was. I learned that nobody should have been surprised at the treatment the Palin family got because that was the standard M.O. of the Obama political machine. His ascension to power was waged as a scorched earth campaign, regardless of the cost to others. As he said when questioned about the ethics of one of his early campaigns, he simply said,"If you can win, win."
I put that information out, and was met with a collective yawn.
The far left thought Obama's tactics were wonderful, while the moderate left (all two of them) were upset that I and others who were presenting the facts were "muckraking."
But I kept on, thinking in the back of my head that there were liberals out there who were interested in the facts, who could handle a debate, and could put together a sound argument that would explain their position in a rational manner.
I was wrong.
My mistake has been thinking that liberalism,or more properly, progressivism, is an ideology, as is conservatism. That is, an idea, based on facts and reason, useful for describing te behavior of a society, and the best manner of organizing that society. It isn't. It has more in common with religion than anything else, complete with hierarchy, a rigid orthodoxy, excommunication for dissenters,and an intolerance for questioning.
And you can't talk a man out of his religion. All you will do is piss him off.
The Nobel Peace Prize was the final straw. There is no rational way to defend giving it to President Obama. Not without debasing everything the Prize used to stand for. The Committee has said that they wanted to help shape the direction of American policy by giving the award to Obama. Many progressives find nothing wrong with that. But let's think about it for just a minute. Here we have an external group attempting to shift the course of American policy by giving an award to the sitting President.
Is it just me, or did the Nobel committee just try to buy off the US President?
And the progressives are okay with it. Of course, we know buying and paying for politicians is the Chicago way,but even in Chicago they try to be a little bit more subtle about it.
Putting the whole bribery thing aside, the act that many progressives,including people I know and respect, are so caught up in the idea of an Obama Presidency that even this farce, that tops Pia Zadora's Golden Globe and Milli Vanilli's Grammy, must be defended.
And then I see CNN running a fact checking story on a Saturday Night Live skit about Obama. Yeah, a real news organization investigating a comedy sketch show for factual references because they dared to poke fun at Obama.
That's scary. It's not surprising; after all, we've seen other news organizations target critics of President Obama, both before and after the election. What makes it scary is how few people seem to mind.
If they don't care, then why should I? As the progressive agenda is crammed down our throats over the next few years, and as people trade away basic rights and liberties in exchange for government supplied security, they will quickly learn that when you put your faith in men, you will always be greatly disappointed. And government is nothing but a group of men.
I'm out of the fight. Not because I somehow think I'm too good to get my hands dirty, or that I'm above the fray, or that I'm debating the issue on a higher plane. All that crap is nothing more than the loathsome lies of a man too cowardly to stand on his principles. Rather than choose to stand, he chooses to abandon principle in favor of a deluded sense of self aggrandizement, based on his supposed ability to stand above it all. To those, I simply leave the words of Rev 3:16;
So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.
I'm out not because I refuse to commit but because the fight is lost. I used to hope that what I wrote might make a difference,even in a small way. I'm not egotistical enough to believe that I could change the course we're on, but that maybe I could contribute to a flood of writers that could energize people, get them involved, and maybe get this thing called Americaturned aroundand back on the right track. I no longer believe that can happen. I think it's too late.
Over a million people marched on Washington to demonstrate their anger at the course our government is taking. Most of these people had never demonstrated before in their lives. The march was a culmination of months of demonstrations and town hall meetings. meetings where the people spoke to their representatives, and voiced their concerns. And after this unprecedented display of grass roots activism, nothing has changed. The President claimed to be unaware of the march. The media downplayed it. The progressives caricatured the people,using offensive epithets to mock and demean the participants.
It was a shining moment, but it came too late. Most people are too ignorant or too apathetic to realize exactly where we are being taken by our dully elected government. (No, that isn't a misspelling.)
So, I'm not going to fight the tide anymore. We're going to get government health care whether we want it or not. That's the message Washington has sent and I'm getting it loud and clear. Cap and trade will pass as well, and I suspect Obama will then move on to education reform, to make sure he indoctrinates kids as quickly as possible. The world is sensing weakness, not just on the part of our President, although that's bad enough, but on the part of the American people, because we elected him. And folks, there's nothing worse than showing weakness to a pack of wolves. We're about to see the dollar fall like nothing anybody has ever seen before. We're about to see America become a laughingstock as our powerlessness is demonstrated over and over again. We're about to see Israel face extinction as she is hemmed in by enemies on every side, without the strong support of the United States.
We're about to see hard times like we've never seen before, and my efforts are going to be aimed at getting ready for them.
And that is what Stability For Our Time is all about. Isaiah 33:6 says that:
Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, And the strength of salvation; The fear of the LORD is His treasure.
I don't know about wisdom, but I do have a lot of knowledge. More importantly, I know here to find out things that I don't know, and I have the ability to help people understand these things. While the site is barely built and as ugly as the north end of a south bound mule, it is functional, and it's time I started using it .I'm sure that when she gets time,my lovely wife will drop in and spruce the place up a bit.
I'll still cover a lot of the same topics, but you can expect a lot more posts about what I'm doing, and why, and how, along with posts on natural philosophy, and most importantly, my journey as an awakened Christian. I also hope that as I purge the poison of politics from my veins, my sense of humor will return as well. I've been missing it.
And so, after 7 years, Shots Across the Bow is out of ammunition. The guns are silenced, but the ship is still afloat. I hope you all make the switch over to Stability, but more importantly, I am honored that so many of you have found my ramblings a worthy way to spend a little bit of your time.