Saturday, September 17, 2005

E. J. Dionne got me smiling today

With his Washingto Post column today, E. J. Dionne got me smiling. He didn't mean to but he did.

Dionne was going on and on about how awful it was that Judge Roberts just wouldn't answer the Senators' questions. That, according to Dionne, is reason enough not to confirm him. "The Senate is under no obligation to give the president or Roberts the benefit of the doubt," he thundered.

Just so we'd all understand how darn uncooperative Roberts was, Dionne offered us this:

Schumer got so frustrated that he was reduced at the end of the hearing Thursday to asking Roberts what question he would ask himself that might be revealing. Roberts, with great affability, said he thought the committee had been "very effective" in the questions it had already asked.

Are you smiling too?

Friday, September 16, 2005

A little fun with Senator Schumer

I recently had a little fun at Senator Chuck Schumer's expense. I was helped by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and the Senator himself, although I should tell you Schumer's help was unintentional.

Schumer started it all when he wrote to President Bush advising him how to select judges. Schumer identified for the President a person whose method of choosing judges was so exemplary, Schumer wanted Bush to follow his example. The person Schumer was referring to was, you may have guessed, Schumer himself.

"I start by encouraging you to use the same principles that guide me in evaluating judicial nominees. I consider three criteria: excellence, diversity and moderation."

Well, you wouldn't expect someone as sharp as Scalia to pass on the chance to puncture an ego as bloated as Schumer's, would you?

Speaking recently at Chapman University Law School in California, Scalia said:

"Now the Senate is looking for moderate judges, mainstream judges. What in the world is a moderate interpretation of a constitutional text? Halfway between what it says and what we'd like it to say?"

When I read Scalia's remarks, I said it was understandable Schumer would oppose Judge John Roberts. After all, do any of us want people around who point out our foolishness, especially if they have lifetime appointments?

So there was all of that, and then along came National Review's September 26 issue in which it noted Scalia's remarks and added: Teach, Scalia, teach.

Yes, teach, Scalia; and we'll all understand if Schumer doesn't learn.

Hat Tip: Raymond Keating, Newsday.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Take a look at PEER Review blog

PEER Review has an incisive post that's part takedown of E. J. Dionne's latest effort to diminish President Bush and part analysis of how Bush uses power. Give it a look.

Gallup's reporting raises questions

One reason The New York Times’ reputation has sunk in recent years has been its willingness to use headlines to spin stories. “Fake but accurate” comes immediately to mind. Another reason is The Times' habit of placing far down a story important information that goes counter to its headline spin.

I thought about that yesterday when I visited The Gallup Organization’s website and read its report comparing poll results of blacks’ and whites’ responses to a range of questions related to Katrina.

Gallup headlined:

Blacks Blast Bush for Katrina Response
Most believe racism was responsible for delays in providing relief

Its lead paragraphs support the headlines:

Whites and blacks have sharply differing reactions to the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina, with blacks more likely than whites to believe that racial bias was a factor in slowing the government's response, and blacks especially critical of President Bush's performance.

Aside from Bush, whites and blacks have similar perspectives on how various entities handled themselves in the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Most whites and blacks agree that FEMA, state and local Louisiana authorities, and New Orleans residents did a poor job initially, but that in recent days each has been doing a good job.

Some questions are in order here.

Why did Gallup decide to headline: Blacks Blast Bush for Katrina Response? Haven’t blacks, by percentages sometimes in the 90s, been blasting Bush for years for just about everything he’s said or done? What’s headline-worthy about them blasting him for his Katrina response?

And what about the following information which isn't reported until the eighth paragraph of Gallup’s story:

The percentage of blacks approving of the job Bush is doing as president is 14% today, little different from the 15% recorded in August. Similarly, the percentage of blacks holding a favorable view of the Republican Party is now 16%, versus 18% earlier this year.

So in the aftermath of Katrina, Gallup’s own polling finds no statistically significant difference from pre-Katrina levels in blacks’ approval of the President or their favorable view of the Republican Party. Those are important findings given all that's been said these past few weeks.

Why didn’t Gallup think them worth a headline or at least a mention in one of the first few paragraphs?

The answer’s obvious, isn’t it? “No change post- Katrina in blacks’ approval of Bush or favorable rating of Republican Party” just doesn’t go with:

Blacks Blast Bush for Katrina Response
Most believe racism was responsible for delays in providing relief

In a similar way, when Gallup told people in its second paragraph that:

Aside from Bush, whites and blacks have similar perspectives on how various entities handled themselves in the Hurricane Katrina disaster

it had the problem of what to do with some of its findings that contradicted its "whites and blacks have similar perspectives" claim. Findings such as:

While only 17% of blacks have an unfavorable opinion of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, 38% of whites view him unfavorably.

Three-quarters of blacks (77%), compared with only 44% of whites, consider the post-hurricane looters in New Orleans to have been mostly desperate people trying to keep themselves alive.

Half of whites and only 16% of blacks (viewed the looters) as mostly criminals taking advantage of the situation.

Gallup made no reference to those findings in its lead paragraphs.

I’m going to send Dr. Frank Newport, Editor-in-Chief of The Gallup Organization, a link to this post and invite him to respond. I’ll publish in full his response.

Like most Americans, I respect The Gallup Organization and count on it for objective presentation and interpretation of data scientifically obtained.

I hope those headlines and lead paragraphs aren’t a sign it’s drifting in the direction of The New York Times.

I’d hate to wake up one morning, go to Gallup’s site, and see the headline: Our latest poll results fake but accurate.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Novak: Owen frontrunner; met with Bush last week

At blog columnist Robert Novak is reporting:

The belief in legal and political circles is that President Bush will name a conservative woman, and the front-runner is Federal Appellate Judge Priscilla Owen (5th Circuit, Austin, Texas).

According to White House sources, Bush met secretly with Owen last week. While not decisive evidence, this was no mere get-acquainted session beginning a long exploration. The president knows and admires his fellow Texas Republican. The countervailing political pressure on Bush is to name a Hispanic American, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is a Texas Republican the president knows and likes even better than he does Owen. But signals last week that he might name Gonzales probably should not be taken seriously.

Read the whole thing here.

Hat Tip:

Sunday, September 11, 2005

No news bias at Raleigh's News & Observer?

Almost everyone I talk to at Raleigh's News & Observer, a McClatchy paper, insists there's no political bias in its news columns.

I thought about that as I read a July 26 N&O story off the Associated Press wire about Mike Blanton, a former North Carolina public official who went to prison for his part in a corruption scandal.

"I was guilty of withholding some things from the FBI," said Blanton, who has started his own public relations firm near Raleigh. "I was trying to protect my boss. I was trying to protect my job. I was being loyal."

Blanton's boss was former State Agriculture Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps who the AP tells us:

pleaded guilty last year to extortion, conspiracy and other charges tied to accepting thousands of dollars in bribes from carnival operators seeking lucrative State Fair contracts. She is serving a four-year prison term.

Phipps is the daughter and granddaughter of former North Carolina governors. Blanton said he knew all about his boss' political pedigree but wished he had done more homework on her before accepting a job in her administration.

Yes, Blanton knew about his boss' political pedigree including her party affiliation, which not surprisingly was the same as his. He knew her father and grandfather's party affiliation; also the same as his.

But N&O readers are never told the four's party affiliation.

What is it?

If your familiar with how most MSM news organizations operate, you're probably raising your hand right now and saying, "I know! I know! They're all Democrats."

You'd be right, of course.

And those people I talk to at The N&O? Well, I've already told you what they say.

On 9/11: Remembrance and Resolve

The following story from Steve Dunleavy's column in today's NY Post reminds us of the sacrifice and courage we witnessed on 9/11:

On that sunny day of Sept. 11, which will always be remembered as one of the darkest days in our history, Ed Beyea was trapped on the 27th floor of the south tower, imprisoned in his wheelchair.

Old Abe Zelmanowitz, Ed's co-worker and fast buddy at Blue Cross and Blue Shield, refused to leave his side. Capt. William Burke of Manhattan's Engine 21 had just evacuated his men from the approaching inferno.

He made his way to Ed and Abe, and Abe made a call to his family, telling them that it was OK because the firefighter was there.

"He would not leave these two friends and, of course, at 10:46, when the tower went down, we never saw him again," said Burke's sister Janet Roy. Janet will be one of today's recipients at the White House, at a ceremony presided over by President Bush, of the Medal of Valor.

All representatives of firefighters and cops killed on that day of monstrosity will be honored.

"I am honored, but Bill earned it," said Janet.

Along with sadness for the loss of Abe Zelmanowitz, Ed Beyea, William Burke and all the others comes gratitude and pride for who they were and what they did.

They're now part of our heritage. Our responsibility to them is to give life to America's heritage so that, as Lincoln would remind us, they will not have died in vain.