Saturday, April 21, 2007
Glenn Greenwald points us to a fascinating neocon disconnect from reality. Scroll down to update IV. On his site, Dave Gaubatz provides a long explanation of why all Muslims want to kill all Americans.
So the same people who vehemently argue against a national gun registry believe it essential to create a database of Muslim daycares. Never underestimate the stupidity of the neocons.
Dave Gaubatz is also evidently a white supremacist. Jim Henley provides information about Gaubatz's organization devoted to celebrating the unique "White Christians" -- "a distinct people and privileged as such" -- who founded the country.
Roy Blunt (R-MO) is House Minority Whip. Matt Blunt is governor of Missouri. Roy Blunt has been in Congress since 1997. Matt Blunt has been governor since 2005. With those facts in mind, read this from the Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle (free subscription req.):
"The federal government is not going to tackle a number of the big issues, whether it's litigation, the environment across the country, expanding access to affordable health care," said Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt, whose brother, Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., is in Congress. "I think there's a sense that the federal government is paralyzed and a lot of these solutions are going to be enacted on the state level."
Sharp-eyed readers should find the major factual error right away.
The Augusta Chronicle is one of the oldest newspapers in the United States, publishing since 1785. It is owned by the Morris Publishing Group, which also owns, among others, the Hannibal (Mo.) Courier-Post and The Examiner of Independence, Mo., both daily newspapers. So the company has a presence in Missouri. The Augusta Chronicle has a 74,567 circulation weekdays and 100,592 circulation Sundays.
One would think such a venerable publication would practice professional journalism. You know, like checking facts. If a reporter plans to explain the connection between a source for a story with the House Minority Whip she or he probably ought to check that connection before publication. It's quite simple to do. Use the Google.
One of my favorite journalism professors, a former managing editor of the Washington (D.C.) Star, taught me the three most important things in reporting: accuracy, accuracy, and accuracy. It's a pity so many news people have forgotten that lesson. But why let facts get in the way of a story, right? Some news people even believe it's OK to lie in print while scolding others.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Senate Testimony Edition:
"I recall making the decision, I [just] don’t recall when the decision was made."
"As someone who grew up in a poor neighborhood, I'm sensitive to the plight of minorities and the poor with respect to the right to vote. I don't want prosecutions to have a 'chilling effect' or that would discourage minorities from voting. Except when a Republican might lose an election."
"I'm not really aware of what input, advice and views went into compiling the list of fired US Attorneys. But I fired the US Attorneys based on that list. I'm certain no improper motives went into the compilation of the list. Even though I'm not aware of how the list was assembled. Or why different people's names were put on it."
Thursday, April 19, 2007
This song has been playing in my head today.
From: Automatic For The People
When the day is long and the night, the night is yours alone,
when you're sure you've had enough of this life, well hang on.
Don't let yourself go, everybody cries and everybody hurts sometimes.
Sometimes everything is wrong. Now it's time to sing along.
When your day is night alone, (hold on, hold on)
if you feel like letting go, (hold on)
when you think you've had too much of this life, well hang on.
Everybody hurts. Take comfort in your friends.
Everybody hurts. Don't throw your hand. Oh, no. Don't throw your hand.
If you feel like you're alone, no, no, no, you are not alone
If you're on your own in this life, the days and nights are long,
when you think you've had too much of this life to hang on.
Well, everybody hurts sometimes,
everybody cries. And everybody hurts sometimes.
And everybody hurts sometimes. So, hold on, hold on.
Hold on, hold on. Hold on, hold on. Hold on, hold on. (repeat & fade)
(Everybody hurts. You are not alone.)
Applicable copyright is implicit (Copyright © R.E.M./Athens Ltd. for all R.E.M. originals).
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
I've heard a number of people question why officials at Virginia Tech didn't close down the campus immediately following the first shooting. We keep getting more of the story and now know that police followed a bad lead, thinking the first shooting was "domestic" in nature. And with the release of information the shooter mailed to NBC News more pieces of the puzzle are being revealed. But I'd like to explore the failure to close the campus.
I am not attempting to defend what Virginia Tech authorities did or did not do. I am, perhaps, sympathetic to their dilemma having spent time as a student or teacher on six university campuses in my life. Three were small, private, liberal arts institutions. The other three were big state universities. One in particular covered more acres than Virginia Tech. All six have been surrounded by a metropolitan area.
If the Virginia Tech had closed the campus, and nothing else happened, would that have been a wasted class day? Should all the employees be paid for the day even though they had been sent home? What would you do with the 9,000 students living on campus? Many of them likely weren't even awake for the first shooting, some even for the second. College students like to sleep late.
So how long do you remove the residents from campus? Where do they go? You can't really lock them in the dorms because that's where the first shooting took place.
But let's say the university did shut down the campus. Perhaps by noon they would have reopened the campus for classes, thus bringing students, faculty and staff back to campus and to the scene of the second shooting. Who knows if the shooter might not have simply waited until such time and committed the same atrocities? Or, perhaps even worse, the shooter may have gone to another public venue to kill multiple victims. Like a mall. Or a public school.
Virginia Tech is a small city. It doesn't have a fence surrounding it. There are unlimited entry points for someone on foot. When people have guns and don't care if they're going to get caught or killed, if they wish to kill a bunch of people they're going to succeed. I don't believe any security arrangement is going to stop them. There aren't any general security measures a free and open society would want applied which could prevent this kind of thing. You can't prevent it. At most you can divert it.
The shooter was determined to end many lives, including his own. The weapons happened to be handguns and the location happened to be a college campus. It could have been a pipe bomb in a crowded restaurant, or an automobile crashing through a playground during recess. At some point he could not be stopped except by ending his life. And I don't know of anyone who could correctly predict or see when that point happened.
Yes, that could apply to so many this week. But I'm specifically calling out the managing editor of the Community Free Press, Mert Seaton. In the latest edition (April 11-24) the lead article is by Ryan Cooper, the MSU student trouble-maker who asked two (2) Greenwood parents about sex offenders on the MSU campus. You know that story.
(Side note--I wish those who are up in arms about registered sex offenders on campus would explain which of the possible six (6) they're upset about. According to the Missouri Highway Patrol's database, three registered sex offenders list MSU as their school address and three list it as their work address. Cooper focused on one professor, as did the university, and pretty much all the critics. Odds are you're working with or very near a registered sex offender and probably have been for some time.)
Back to the Community Free Press. In an "Editor's Note" next to Cooper's story on the front page, Seaton claims the CFP had no intention of running Cooper's story until after an MSU news release identified Cooper as writing the story for the CFP. Seaton goes on to state:
We have not published the names of any registered sex offenders on campus. As journalists, we seek to inform the public while minimizing harm. We wish that other media outlets would follow our example.On page 8 "Guest Columnist" Pat Nolan begins his column "MSU Follows Wrong Approach to Sex Offenders" with this:
Dr. Michael Hendrix has ample reason to ask when castigation will end.So managing editor Mert Seaton lied in print. The Community Free Press HAS published the name of a registered sex offender on campus, a mere seven pages after Seaton claims it has not.
Hendrix committed a sex offense more than 20 years ago, served his time, and registered as an offender. Hendrix has not re-offended and takes proactive measures to treat his addiction.
As a journalist, I'm offended by Seaton's sanctimonious tone and hypocrisy. The Community Free Press lost credibility with this edition. Of course, failing to label the column by that rabble-rousing radio jerk or letters to the editor as "Viewpoints" means there wasn't much credibility to begin with.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
We interrupt this blog for to note a couple administrative changes:
- a new "seal of approval" in the upper right hand column. I've taken the pledge not to take the pledge.
- The Out Of Iraq Bloggers Caucus Blogroll; a group of bloggers who work to get the message out as widely as possible that the Iraq Debacle must be ended as soon as possible. I'm a proud member now.
We now return you to our regularly scheduled blogging, already in progress.
. . .and the cow fell off the stool. Hahahahahahahahaha!
Posted by Larry Burkum at 12:57 AM
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Monday, April 09, 2007
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Evidently, if you've ever protested for peace, or made public speeches criticizing the Bush administration your name may well appear on the Terrorist Watch List. Doesn't matter if you've served in the military, are critical of Roe v. Wade, and supported the Alito nomination. You still may be classified as an enemy of the people. Read what happened to Professor Walter F. Murphy, emeritus of Princeton University:
"On 1 March 07, I was scheduled to fly on American Airlines to Newark, NJ, to attend an academic conference at Princeton University, designed to focus on my latest scholarly book, Constitutional Democracy, published by Johns Hopkins University Press this past Thanksgiving."I wonder if tossing a snowball at the vice-president's car 20 years ago has my name on the Terrorist Watch List?
"When I tried to use the curb-side check in at the Sunport, I was denied a boarding pass because I was on the Terrorist Watch list. I was instructed to go inside and talk to a clerk. At this point, I should note that I am not only the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence (emeritus) but also a retired Marine colonel. I fought in the Korean War as a young lieutenant, was wounded, and decorated for heroism. I remained a professional soldier for more than five years and then accepted a commission as a reserve office, serving for an additional 19 years."
"I presented my credentials from the Marine Corps to a very polite clerk for American Airlines. One of the two people to whom I talked asked a question and offered a frightening comment: "Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that." I explained that I had not so marched but had, in September, 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the Web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the Constitution. "That'll do it," the man said. "
"After carefully examining my credentials, the clerk asked if he could take them to TSA officials. I agreed. He returned about ten minutes later and said I could have a boarding pass, but added: "I must warn you, they're going to ransack your luggage." On my return flight, I had no problem with obtaining a boarding pass, but my luggage was "lost." Airlines do lose a lot of luggage and this "loss" could have been a mere coincidence. In light of previous events, however, I'm a tad skeptical."
"I confess to having been furious that any American citizen would be singled out for governmental harassment because he or she criticized any elected official, Democrat or Republican. That harassment is, in and of itself, a flagrant violation not only of the First Amendment but also of our entire scheme of constitutional government. This effort to punish a critic states my lecture's argument far more eloquently and forcefully than I ever could. Further, that an administration headed by two men who had "had other priorities" than to risk their own lives when their turn to fight for their country came up, should brand as a threat to the United States a person who did not run away but stood up and fought for his country and was wounded in battle, goes beyond the outrageous. Although less lethal, it is of the same evil ilk as punishing Ambassador Joseph Wilson for criticizing Bush's false claims by "outing" his wife, Valerie Plaime, thereby putting at risk her life as well as the lives of many people with whom she had had contact as an agent of the CIA. ..."
"I have a personal stake here, but so do all Americans who take their political system seriously. Thus I hope you and your colleagues will take some positive action to bring the Administration's conduct to the attention of a far larger, and more influential, audience than I could hope to reach. "
With regard to Iran’s kidnapping of the 15 British soldiers. Fox News pundit Bill Kristol this morning complained that the U.S. was “very passive.” Juan Williams then questioned, “Well, what was the alternative? To go in and strike them while the hostages were there?” Kristol said “yes.”
Funny how a man who's never served in the military can be an unceasing proponent of war. He's got a couple of "draft age" daughters. Perhaps they could go.
Of course, in 1984 Kristol voted for the Communist candidate for Tip O'Neill's House seat. So maybe all his arguments are a communist plot.
Posted by Larry Burkum at 3:28 PM
So, Nine Inch Nails label Interscope intentionally "leaked" an advance track of NIN's new album, deliberately giving it away to drive new sales. Fans who got the track spread it around the web.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which has become notorious for suing anyone from high school students to retirees for downloading music from the web, is going after web sites which posted the INTENTIONALLY and LABLE APPROVED LEAKED track for piracy.
Nope, the RIAA isn't out of touch. No more than aWol, Darth Cheney or St. John McCain.
[mortar-board tip Steve DeGroof]
cross-posted at Watching Those We Chose
It's nice to finally read a Washington columnist calling Bush a liar when he lies. New York Times Op-Ed Columnist Frank Rich (subscription required for full column) does just that:
As if to confirm we’re in the last throes, President Bush threw any remaining caution to the winds during his news conference in the Rose Garden that same morning. Almost everything he said was patently misleading or an outright lie, a sure sign of a leader so entombed in his bunker (he couldn’t even emerge for the Washington Nationals’ ceremonial first pitch last week) that he feels he has nothing left to lose.Emphasis mine.
Incredibly, he chided his adversaries on the Hill for going on vacation just as he was heading off for his own vacation in Crawford. Then he attacked Congress for taking 57 days to “pass emergency funds for our troops” even though the previous, Republican-led Congress took 119 days on the same bill in 2006. He ridiculed the House bill for “pork and other spending that has nothing to do with the war,” though last year’s war-spending bill was also larded with unrelated pork, from Congressional efforts to add agricultural subsidies to the president’s own request for money for bird-flu preparation.
Mr. Bush’s claim that military equipment would be shortchanged if he couldn’t sign a spending bill by mid-April was contradicted by not one but two government agencies. A Government Accountability Office report faulted poor Pentagon planning for endemic existing equipment shortages in the National Guard. The Congressional Research Service found that the Pentagon could pay for the war until well into July. Since by that point we’ll already be on the threshold of our own commanders’ late-summer deadline for judging the surge, what’s the crisis?
The president then ratcheted up his habitual exploitation of the suffering of the troops and their families — a button he had pushed five days earlier when making his six-weeks-tardy visit to pose for photos at scandal-ridden Walter Reed. “Congress’s failure to fund our troops on the front lines will mean that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines,” he said. “And others could see their loved ones headed back to the war sooner than they need to.”
Let's be very clear. Congress passed a supplemental spending bill. Congress funded our troops. George W. Bush says he'll veto that bill. So it is George W. Bush, president, commander in chief, who is failing "to fund our troops on the front lines [meaning] that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines."
In fact, it is Congress who is trying to bring ALL military families' loved ones home from the front lines and prevent any from heading back to the war. Forget about the "sooner than they need to." Congress wants to make sure NO military families' loved ones head back to the war.
This is George Bush's war. Congress has funded the troops. George Bush is the one shortchanging them.
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Gonzo tries out a new career. . .
"The Geneva Conventions. What's up with that? Why's everybody worried about some quaint, outdated and obsolete treaties? Doesn't the country have more important things to deal with, like top-rated U.S. Attorneys who are incompetent?"
Friday, April 06, 2007
Ron Davis pointed us toward a recent Newsweek poll which shows almost half of Americans (48 percent) reject "the scientific theory of evolution." That surprised me, so I clicked over to exam the poll. Here's what Newsweek says:
Nearly half (48 percent) of the public rejects the scientific theory of evolution; one-third (34 percent) of college graduates say they accept the Biblical account of creation as fact.That is misleading. Newsweek did not ask respondents if they accept or reject the scientific theory of evolution. Nor did they ask if respondents "accept the Biblical account of creation as fact."
Rather, they asked:
12. Which one of the following statements come closest to your views about the origin and development of human beings? Humans developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process (or) Humans developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process (or) God created humans pretty much in the present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so?And:
30% God guided process
13% God had no part
48% Created in present form (the Biblical account of creation)
9% Other/Don't Know
13. Do you think the scientific theory of evolution is well-supported by evidence and widely accepted within the scientific community?So 48 percent of respondents said "God created humans pretty much in the present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so" comes closest to their views about the origin and development of human beings. And 48 percent of respondents "think the scientific theory of evolution is well-supported by evidence and widely accepted within the scientific community."
39% Not well-supported
13% Don't Know
Which 48 percent "rejects the scientific theory of evolution?" Is saying the "scientific theory of evolution is well-supported by evidence and widely accepted within the scientific community" the same as saying one believes the scientific theory of evolution?
Is saying "God created humans pretty much in the present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so" the same as rejecting the scientific theory of evolution? Or can one believe both? Is saying "God created humans pretty much in the present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so" the same as accepting "the Biblical account of creation as fact?"
We don't know if the questions provided on the web site are all the questions asked. I assume the research firm also gathered basic demographic information (age, gender, education, polltical affiliation, etc.) but Newsweek does not provide it. So it is impossible to tell from where came the conclusion "one-third (34 percent) of college graduates say they accept the Biblical account of creation as fact."
This is a perfect example of why journalism students should be required to take a statistics course or two, and news outlets should have a survey expert on staff to insure the conclusions match the data.
Posted by Larry Burkum at 11:53 AM
Thursday, April 05, 2007
. . .why are dead people teaching courses in Drury University's Continuing Studies program? Dr. Stephen Good and Dr. Terry Hudson remain on the College of Graduate and Continuing Studies' faculty list. Both have been deceased for several years.
Posted by Larry Burkum at 11:17 PM
The News-Leader ran a story on Wednesday, with a follow-up on Thursday, about a Missouri State University professor with a history of pedophilia. The News-Leader also provides a PDF of the MSU news release regarding the questioning of Greenwood Lab School parents by a student working on a class assignment.
The student involved, Ryan Cooper, has a history of, as Ron Davis puts it, "stirring it up."
He sued the university in 2003, claiming his conservative group, Young Americans for Freedom, was being discriminated against because of its "political and religious viewpoints."
Cooper is executive director of Missouri State Conservatives. In his Facebook profile he lists his political views as "very conservative," though he has insisted that he's more of a Libertarian than a Republican.
Cooper says he didn't intend for the professor's past to become public knowledge, and that he did not mention the professor's name when talking to parents. But Cooper does acknowledge that he found the professor's "name on a list and decided to talk to parents about the issue of having a sex offender on campus."
In Thursday's article, MSU administrators said there are possibly two students who are registered sex offenders. Why then did the university assume Cooper was referring to the professor as being the sex offender?
In the news release, "Nietzel said he assumed the person's questions relate to Dr. Michael Hendrix...." What led to that assumption?
I spent less than an hour going through the Missouri Sex Offender Registry kept by the Missouri Highway Patrol. Three persons list 901 S. National (MSU's address) as their "school address." Two others (in addition to Hendrix) list MSU as their work address. This means there are possibly six registered sex offenders at MSU, twice the number indicated in the News-Leader article. It is also entirely possible that not all six are still at MSU.
Cooper implies he found Hendrix's name only. That could mean he had an ulterior motive. Could it be that Cooper once took a class with Hendrix and didn't like something about it and this is his way of "paying back?" Because Hendrix teaches biomedical sciences and Cooper appears to be a journalism major, this seems highly unlikely.
Is MSU throwing Hendrix under the bus to distract from the other registered sex offenders on campus? Probably not. But why not fully disclose all known registered sex offenders? Why just Hendrix?
And finally, why didn't the News-Leader do what I did and check the sex offender registry list? They could also have pointed out that six registrants list Ozarks Technical Community College as their school address.
There is more to this story. We have all the information we need about Dr. Hendrix. We should have more about the other parties involved.
Two weeks ago the News-Leader included seven (7) copies of Sears' "2 Day Sale" flyer. I questioned then the wisdom of providing me, and possibly others, with extra copies of an ad. Now I wonder if Gannet is trying to make more money by charging for the number of ad flyers they go through, rather than the actual number of papers they sell.
Today's edition came with eight (8) copies of Kohl's "2 Days Only" flyer. While the Sears ad was but four pages, the Kohl's ad is 24 pages and thus adds some weight to an already thick-with-ads paper.
Following this emerging pattern, I should receive nine (9) copies of a 144-page JC Penney catalog in two weeks. I sincerely hope my carrier doesn't toss that one onto the roof of my house. Or car. Heck, it would probably crack my driveway.
News-Leader, are you listening?
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Ron Davis told me the sad news Wednesday morning. Others have written posts about Stoner. Here's mine.
Stoner's Flickr profile lists his interests as "science, photos, bad poker players with lots of money." I love his response for favorite books and authors: "Books?? I was born in Texas, and live in Springfield -- get serious -- ."
The man flew several-million-dollar fighter jets, was a biologist and geneticist, but couldn't spell worth a damn. I ribbed him about that. He knew he couldn't spell, and didn't care. And that explains John Stone. He knew who and what he was, and he didn't care what other people thought about him. To the people who mattered, his flaws weren't important. And the people who thought his flaws were important didn't matter.
I admired Stoner's love of photography. He loved taking and sharing photos with everyone. His Flickr account contains nearly 3,500 photos. Some are flawed, some are quite beautiful.
Stoner did "still life" photography.
He shot sunrises.
He took photos of flowers;
He took photos of the study animal for his Master's degree, cryptobranchus alleganiensis. We know it as the hellbender. Stoner called it "gawd's ugliest animal."
But more than any other subject, Stoner liked taking photos of people.
He was a big fan of college volleyball.
He liked to photograph young people,
and pretty women,
especially if he was in the photo with them.
He even enjoyed photographing bloggers drinking Liberally.
Stoner was very proud of his Flickr Pro Photographer card.
And I am very glad to have known him. Farewell, Stoner.
Monday, April 02, 2007
The triple-name radio talker despised by Curbstone Critic wrote a column for the latest (March 28-April 10) edition of Springfield's Community Free Press. The immigrant is also an advertiser, which leads me to wonder which came first...the ad or the column? Would the station only advertise if the CFP agreed to print the column?
Like the radio show, the column is full of self-aggrandizing bluster and no substance. Didn't know the CFP was this hard up for material. Pity.
Check the headline from today's top story:
SIDE NOTE: The headline in the print version is "Greene County home values soar", which is also the hed on the web page for the story. I guess "Home values soar in Greene County" filled more space...giving the page a block look.
The subhead declares "Average sale prices jump 40 percent in assessment." Reading no further one might think Greene County is bucking the national trend of a drop in home values. In fact, it would seem that, as the News-Leader declares, home values are soaring, increasing by 40 percent. Property owners might find that disturbing since it means a substantial increase in property taxes.
The third graf says "60 percent of the 115,000 real estate parcels in the county increased in value." Wow! As a new property owner I'm rather concerned about how I'm going to pay those extra taxes. My salary hasn't increased 40 percent this year. And considering we just bought the house last summer and haven't made any improvements, we either got a great bargain, or we're about to be royally ripped off.
But wait! There's more!
According to the Springfield Board of Realtors, the average home sale price in Greene County jumped 40 percent from 1998 to 2006 — from $101,249 to $142,176.
Wait a minute. What's this? That 40 percent increase is from 1998 to 2006...an EIGHT YEAR PERIOD. And then:
More recently, the average home sold for $127,271 in 2004 and $139,558 in 2005 — an almost 10 percent rise.(emphasis mine)
In 2006, the average selling price rose again, although more slowly, to $142,176 — a 1.9 percent increase.
What's this? The average selling price (or home value) increased only ONE-POINT-NINE PERCENT in 2006. Let's see, 1.9% most recent year, versus average of 5% per year for the past 8 years. Does that really sound like "Greene County home values soar?" According to the math I learned in public school, 1.9 is less than half of 5. So while the average home value did increase last year, the increase was LESS THAN HALF of the average annual increase for the past 8 years. And it is LESS THAN ONE FIFTH of the increase of the previous year.
I'd be OK with the headline if it was used last year. . .a 10 percent increase may be classified as soaring. But 1.9 percent? C'mon!
So why'd the News-Leader do this? What was the motivation to sensationalize this story? And did I really need that jolt this morning?