Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

 
Wednesday, May 30, 2012

PolitiFact and Poland

I'm just waiting.

Over the holiday, President Obama went to Poland, and during a speech honoring a Polish freedom fighter, referred to the Nazi death camps as "Polish death camps."

Of course, the entire nation of Poland reacted with outrage, and Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski tweeted: "...It's a shame that this important ceremony was overshadowed by ignorance and incompetence."

From Hope and Change to Ignorance and Incompetence. What a let down.

But all is not lost. Remember, PolitiFact is on hand to make sure that every story is spun to Obama's advantage. I fully expect a story by PolitiFact to come out in the next day or two to show that Obama's claim was in fact, Mostly True. The following reasons will be given:
1. The camps were, in fact, physically located in Poland, so the president was geographically correct.
2. Some portion of the staff manning the camps were Polish.
3. The government administering Poland at the time authorized the construction and the operation of the camps and were fully aware of what those operations entailed.

Politifact will go on to state that any other interpretation of Obama's statement is based on partisan rhetoric, and is ideological in nature, and potentially racist.

Now obviously, I don't think that PolitiFact will actually issue something like this, but given what they've spewed out recently, I cannot honestly entirely rule out the possibility that they might.

And that says everything that needs to be said about PolitiFact.

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Progressive ‘Humor’

UPDATE: The author of the post discussed below, Stephen D Foster Jr., has taken exception to my claim that his piece has been revised. In a comment below, signed 'sdf' and from an email address linked to him, Foster says
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.
image

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.

Posted by Rich
Blogging • (6) CommentsPermalink


Monday, April 16, 2012

PolitiFact Tennessee Fails Again

Bartholomew Sullivan, one of PolitiFact Tennessee's most openly biased contributors, lays out a case that Lamar Alexander and others who oppose the changes in the FLSA are doing so because they want to continue to allow the children of migrant workers to work on farms, rather than out of concern for over reaching regulation from the federal government.

As with a lot of commentary on alleged over-regulation and government overreach into the realm of private business, we suspected there might be more to Alexander’s and many others’ concerns that do not involve wheelbarrows full of alfalfa or showing Bessie off at the county fair. Might the pushback be related to migrant child labor employed by big agribusiness concerns?


Apparently, Sullivan either did not read, or could not understand, the proposed rule, even though he linked it in his article because Section 570.123(b)2 specifically exempts from the new rules "An employee who is 12 or 13 years
of age and such employment is either with the written consent of his or her parent or person standing in place of his or her parent or his or her parent is employed on the same farm as the youth;(emphasis mine)

In other words, migrant workers can continue to bring their kids into the fields with them to work as long as it doesn't interfere with normal school hours in the district where the farm exists.

Given that almost half of his piece on Alexander's statement consisted of Sullivan attempting to show nefarious motivations behind the statement, rather than its accuracy, and that a five minute perusal of the rules demonstrated that Sullivan's assumption was without factual basis, maybe it's time for PolitiFact to give Sullivan a "Liar, Liar Pants on Fire" rating.

I won't hold my breath though.

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Why Nobody is Dropping Out of the Republican Primary

Here's a thought that I haven't heard expressed anywhere else.

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...

Posted by Rich
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Monday, March 12, 2012

Light Blogging for the Next Two Weeks

This week I'm still at work, and also trying to finish building the kitchen cabinets before starting the demo.

On Friday.

So yeah, no sleepy, no bloggy.

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, March 07, 2012

I Got a Bike

Not a motorcycle, a bicycle.

My last bike was a WalMart special, and special doesn't begin to describe it.

Short, heavy, slow, and a tremendous pain in the ass.

I can achieve that on my own; I don't need a bicycle.

So, I went online to see if they make bicycles sized for actual adults and it turns out that they do. I selected a moderately priced hybrid on Amazon, one with good reviews for quality and a reasonable price tag. It arrived last week, and I took it for a spin right after I put it together, and wow! What a difference! My knees no longer ram into my chin as a pedal, and my leg straightens almost completely on the down stroke. Even better, the bike is about 50% lighter than my old one.

Which by the way, is now available for the low low price of "Come and get it!"

While I'm very happy with my purchase, and I'm already starting to build up my endurance, I am in a quandary.

You see, I blew my whole budget on the bike, and I don't have enough money for a helmet.

And that's a bad thing, because I will be riding my bike a lot on the roads, and without a helmet, well, even a small spill could have drastic consequences. I could be laid up in the hospital for months with a severe head injury.

I tell you, I'm really worried about what might happen if I crash. Not worried enough to quit riding until I can afford a helmet; that's just crazy talk. I bike is meant to be ridden, and ride it I shall. After all, it's Spring, and that's the best time for riding. But I am worried, and that worry is beginning to affect my work. I know I've got a good job, but after paying for my expenses, cable, internet, cell phone, NetFlix, etc, there just aren't enough dollars left over at the end of the month to pay for a helmet.

And that's just not fair!

I mean, I have a bike, but I can't ride it safely because I can't afford a helmet, even though I'm working hard and doing my best to get ahead. And when you think about it, I'm not the only one facing the risk. If I get hurt, my medical bills will be covered by insurance, but that will make premiums go up for me, and for everybody else. And that's just not fair to me; I'm already having to stretch my budget.

I have a bike, and By Golly, I have a right to ride it safely, without having to risk my health, or my future, or to place an undue burden on the health care system if I get injured. I deserve...no...I DEMAND that my benefits package at work covers free bicycle helmets.

And a water bottle so I don't get dehydrated.

And little flashy lights so I don't get hit by a car when I'm riding at night wearing my nifty black riding outfit.

Which I also demand.

After all, it will save money in the long run, and make me a safer more productive citizen. Not to mention healthier.

So come on America! Pay up! I have a right to ride my bike in safety, and you have a responsibility to make it happen. if you don't act now to support me and keep me safe, then you are a mean, nasty, hateful, boogerhead.

(Oh, and I want a bell too! Rinnnng riinngg!)

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, March 06, 2012

I Voted

I didn't pick the guy I thought most likely to win. I didn't pick the guy with the most money, or the best hair, or the coolest website. I didn't try to pick strategically, waffling over which candidate would have the best shot at beating the other guy in November. I simply selected the man I believe is most capable of filling the job of President of the United States given our current economic and geopolitical situation. I'm not going to tell you who I voted for, except that it was not Obama, just in case there were any doubts.

Posted by Rich
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It’s Time for the KNS to Put Up or Shut Up

But they probably won't do either.

The Knoxville News Sentinel editorial board published yet another editorial calling for the results of all TBI investigations to be made part of the public record once the investigation is closed. This is a completely asinine (No Mr Campfield, I'm not calling them asses) idea, and I'll explain why.

Using small words, in deference to the KNS.

Imagine for a moment that you are the target of an investigation. You've done nothing wrong, nothing illegal at least, but circumstance places you squarely in the sights of the TBI, and they run a full investigation into every facet of your life. They look into everything, your finances, your associations, your movements, your habits, hobbies and internet usage, and in general, everything about you. In the end, they find no proof of wrong doing and close the investigation. You are off the hook.

Yet the documents created by that investigation still exist, and if the KNS gets their way, will be public record, available for everyone to see.

Is your life a completely open book? Would you be comfortable with the general public knowing everything about you, your habits, your activities, your finances, your social activities, etc? What about that episode a few years back, you know the one. It would be pretty embarrassing if that became common knowledge. And that place you went that time? What if there were cameras following you? It wasn't illegal, what you did, but it sure could be embarrassing. Don't forget that fight between you and the missus that night. That was ugly! And let's not forget those teenage years!

Heck, how many of you would be comfortable with the list of every website you visited over the last 6 months becoming public record?

Let's get even more basic; how many of you would like it to be public knowledge that you were even investigated in the first place?

Not many of us. We all have things we want to keep quiet; things we don't want to see made public. I have an extensive public life based on this blog; I talk about a lot of things in my life. I have an active Facebook page; I share lots of personal information there. But there are things I don't share; things that don't belong to the public. They are private, and I want to keep them that way.

There's a reason these investigations are not part of the public record. Unless criminal activity is found and prosecuted, the information contained in them is nobody else's business. There is no compelling public interest that overrides our basic right to privacy. Why should your dirty laundry be aired for everybody to see if you've done nothing wrong? Why should our lives be used to satisfy the voyeuristic tendencies of a bunch of self appointed 'guardians of the public trust' or whatever blather journalists use to help themselves sleep at night?

The short answer is that it shouldn't. Records are sealed by default for this very reason, and that's why opening them requires evidence of wrongdoing. It's basic protection of privacy.

Now, if the folks at the KNS have any integrity at all, this should be fairly simple to demonstrate.

I challenge the editorial board of the KNS to put their money where their mouth is.

Pay for and publish, both in print and online, a full background investigation for each member of the editorial board. Include all the typical information pulled in a TBI investigation. Credit history, associations, movements, criminal background, educational records, tax filings, etc. All of it. Addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, charge slips, surveillance reports and so on. Show us you aren't hypocrites; put the information about yourselves into the public record that you are demanding the TBI place into the record about the rest of us.

Put up, or shut up.

Given that the editorial itself was unsigned, I doubt they will have the courage to take up the challenge.

But I can hope.

Posted by Rich
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Creation Mythology

Every culture comes up with a myth about how the world was created. The Mayans have one. American Indians have several. Greeks, Persians, Hindu, Chinese, Japanese, all of them have a rich tradition of creation myths. Each age does its level best to observe the world around it and to devise a story that makes sense of it.

Of course, Christians have their own stories about creation, but I don't want to talk about that right now because I want to spend time with one of the more peculiar myths out there. It stands apart from all the others, both in content and context. You see, it doesn't really explain anything.

It just is.

In the beginning was nothing. And then, for no reason and without cause, there was everything.


Kinda dry, huh?

Let's dress it up a bit.

In the beginning, there was nothing.

No light and no dark.
No hot or cold.
No materials to use for creation; no energy to drive it.
No space and no void, because a void is empty, and with no space, there is nothing to be empty.

No time.
Time is space; space is time.
No space, no time, and no way to change.
Because change occurs over time.
No was. No is.
And certainly no will be.

No here because there was no there.

And then, change.
Occurring where change was impossible.
Nothing became something in a fraction of a fraction of a blink of an eye,
In a segment of time so small as to be unfathomable,
Particularly since there was no time at all.
The endless now became before and after.

No reason. No cause.
Cause and effect cannot exist without time passing.
And there was no time.

But in that one miniscule moment
The moment that did not, could not exist
(Except it must exist)
Nothing became void and void became chaos.
Everything that ever would be came to be,
Including 'ever would be.'

And from the chaos sprang order
Because everything includes order as well as chaos.
Because if you have everything,
You have to have a place to put it.
And time to put it there.


Can any of you guess which culture came up with this creation myth?

"I'll take modern physics for $1000, Alex."



Posted by Rich
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Monday, March 05, 2012

Meanwhile, Back in the Real World

While everybody in the United States is obsessing over the sex lives of law students, the US is cutting defense spending significantly, reducing our capabilities to protect our interests around the world. As we all know, power vacuums are always filled quickly, and the best candidate to take over the role as the world's dominant military power is the Chinese, who are increasing defense spending by 12% or so in order to more readily expand their interests in the world.

But that's okay, because the Chinese commitment to personal liberty and freedom is legendary.

Like unicorns.

But by all means, let's have a national discussion over whether it is appropriate to demand that a church buy rubbers for its employees.

Posted by Rich
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I’m Pro Choice

Yep. You read that right.

I'm pro choice.

In fact, I'm all about choice. I think everybody ought to have the freedom to choose for themselves what they do and how they do it, as long as those choices do not negatively impact those around them.

And I think most women would agree with me.

They get to choose whether to have sex or not. They get to choose who to have sex with. They get to choose which acts they will perform. They get to choose when they will have sex.

And I'm all for it. Sex is a choice.

That being the case, then why in the wide wide world of sports should I have to pay for them to have sex?

Women are so strongly against men paying for sex, but they want us to pay for them to have sex?

I don't get it.

Look, I get that you want free contraception. You want to have sex without strings, without guilt, and without consequences. I get it; I really do. That's been the male fantasy for centuries.

But here's the deal. If you want it, great; go out and get it. But don't expect me to pony up for the rubbers/pills/IUDs/Norplants etc.

Unless it is my penis entering your vagina, I'm not responsible for any potential outcomes.

Your choice means your responsibility. If you choose to have sex with a guy who refuses to use a condom, then it is your responsibility to protect yourself. It is not my responsibility to run you down to the drugstore and pay for your birth control.

This is not a war on women; I happen to like women. A lot. My wife is a woman. I know that seems old fashioned in this day of gay marriage, open marriage, and gender transference procedures, but hey, I'm a sucker for traditionalism.

And my wife is not the only woman in my life. My mother is a woman, as is my sister, and my daughters, and I love them all very much.

I'm not at war with them, nor do I want to oppress them.

I just don't think it is my responsibility to fork over $20 so Sheila down the street can hang with the frat boys on the Strip without worrying about potential consequences.

If she chooses to have sex, then it is her responsibility to choose responsibly, and that means choosing a partner who will wear a condom.

After all, the pill doesn't protect against STD's.

If she can't make a responsible choice, then maybe, just maybe, she shouldn't be choosing to have sex.

Ya think?

Posted by Rich
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Friday, February 17, 2012

You Must Choose Wisely

In Tennessee, if you are opposed to teaching 12 year old kids about sexuality, safe and unsafe sex practices, and the societal implications of different sexual preferences, you are an intolerant hateful bigot who needs to be shunned, and driven from polite society.

On the other hand, if you think your 12 year old child should be able to read his Bible, and talk to other children about it while at recess, you are a religiously intolerant hateful bigot who needs to be shunned, and driven from the public school system.

I'm sensing a trend here. What do you think? And do you want to be on the side that our society has apparently chosen?

About 10 years after Jesus was crucified, James, His brother, wrote:
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

(James 4:4 ESV)


And in case you think I am selectively quoting or cherry picking, the same idea is expressed elsewhere. For example,
  • John 15:19

    If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

  • 1 John 2:15

    Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

  • Matthew 6:24

    No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.


A lot of Christians want to ignore these verses because they are hard. They require us to stand for God even when our world stands against Him. Sooner or later, everyone who names themselves after Jesus the Christ will be called to stand for Him against the world.

Where will you stand?

Posted by Rich
Religion • (3) CommentsPermalink


Thursday, February 16, 2012

The New Gatekeepers

I've been blogging since 2002. My output has waxed and waned from time to time, but I'm still here, pounding the keys and cranking out the words. And during that time, I've heard many stories from the traditional media outlets about how blogging was a fad that would fade away, and would never produce anything of lasting significance.

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.

Posted by Rich
Blogging • (0) CommentsPermalink


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cognitive Disconnect or Misplaced Priorities?

A Libertarian will say:

"I could never vote for Rick Santorum because he's against federal funding for rubbers."

And then say:

"I am voting for Ron Paul because he respects the Constitution."

Last time I checked, there was nothing in the Constitution about providing high school kids with condoms so they can have sex without consequences.

There's also the whole "I don't care if radical Islamist nations get the atomic bomb. It's none of our business" thing. That just scares me. If you can honestly say that ending funding for rubbers is a down check but allowing an enemy nation to acquire nuclear weapons is not, then I have to say that your grasp on reality might be a tad loose.

Posted by Rich
Politics • (1) CommentsPermalink


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Law and Order: East Tennessee Style

Donk Donk

In a story ripped from the headlines, a criminal court judge presides over the trial of a the woman accused of killing her second husband. In a bizarre twist that could only be true in Hollywood, the woman is suspected of also killing her first husband, the former District Attorney General, an act that propelled the sitting judge to his current position. Coincidentally, the death of the former DAG resulted in the current DAG, a man who ran against the former and lost,being awarded his position by the governor.

During the trial, the judge is abusing alcohol and prescription pills, causing his staff to cover up for him and reschedule trials for days when he is sober. The trial ends in a hung jury.

In the meantime, the woman is charged with the murder of her first husband as well, and the judge makes sure he gets that case as well, then proceeds to block all motions favorable to the prosecution, including exhumation of the body for forensic examination.

The episode closes with the judge in retirement on a full pension, the woman being convicted of murdering her second husband, but charges dropped on the first, and the first conviction in danger of being overturned based on the inebriation of the judge.


You know, Hollywood would never buy this story. It's too unbelievable.

Donk Donk

Posted by Rich
News • (1) CommentsPermalink


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