Saturday, August 27, 2005

Do they dance in South Dakota in August?

Right now it's awfully hot in South Dakota but I'm thinking they're dancing up and down the prairie and across the Black Hills. Ellsworth Air Force Base, one of the state's largest employers, has been saved from a threatened Defense Department closure.

At Betsy's Page
she has background on the decision to keep Ellsworth open. Also, some savey thoughts regarding the threatened closure and S.D.'s freshman Republican John Thune. Take a look here.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Unbelievable even for Raleigh's N & O

When a powerful North Carolina state legislator told colleagues he'd suggested to the state's prison system director that the director create a special prison unit for imprisoned gang members and then "put them all in that unit and let them all kill themselves," how did Raleigh's News & Observer, a McClatchy paper with a long history of support for the Democrat Party, handle the story?

Did the N&O treat it as page one news with quotes from prison reform and prisoner rights advocates? What about an editorial concerning the legislator's remarks?

Well, here's how The N&O covered remarks made by Durham Democrat Rep. Mickey Michaux, an NC House member for more than 20 years, a co-chair of its appropriations committee, and a founding member of NC's Legislative Black Caucus.

The N&O first waited a few days before publishing anying. Then it placed a brief story in the paper's second section among a series of stories about such matters as the pensions of Utility Commission members and The NC Academy of Trial Lawyers' decision to hire yet another lobbyist.

Here's the start of The N&O's story (You have to scroll down past the story "Budget gives Utilities Commission a big plum" before you get to the Michaux story):

Harsh words for gangs

Rep. Mickey Michaux showed little sympathy for prison inmates locked up for gang activity as he pushed this week for a bill that would increase penalties for gang-related crime.

He said on the House floor Monday that he suggested to N. C. Correction Secretary Theodis Beck that he create a special prison unit for gang members.

"Put them all in that unit and let them all kill themselves," said Michaux, a Durham Democrat.

The story goes on for another two paragraphs. We learn that the prison system has plans it hopes will help incarcerated gang members reform.

As for any N&O editorial regarding Michaux's remarks, The N&O remains silent four days after he spoke. If it editorializes in the next few days, I'll tell you.

Usually, I can think of something to say about the sort of journalism The N&O often foists on readers. But right now, on its treatment of this story, I'm speechless.

I'll say something in a day or two.

Meanwhile, what are your thoughts about how to make The N&O a better paper?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

News and makeovers at The New York Times

Instead of "All the News That's Fit to Print." The New York Times should consider as it's motto, "News Sometimes, and Makeovers Too."

Maureen Dowd, arguably The Times' best-known makeover artist, is at it again.

The latest person to receive a Maureen makeover is Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Visit Michelle Malkin to learn more about how Dowd clipped, twirled, and colored Rumsfeld's remarks until she had just the perfect makeover for a Times debut.

Makeover Maureen's best-known creation occurred in May 2003. Her subject was the President of the United States. Here's what I said then in a letter published in Raleigh's News & Observer:

One element of McCarthyism involves making a false statement(s) about a person, then fabricating a quote(s) from something the person said to "prove" the falsehood. The theme paragraph of Maureen Dowd's May 15 column "Caught up in terrorism again" is blatant McCarthyism.

It begins with this falsehood: "Busy chasing off Saddam, the president and vice president had told us that al- Qaeda was spent."

President Bush has never said al- Qaeda was spent. He's often says the opposite.

For example, in a recent televised address he said, "Al-Qaeda is wounded, not destroyed. The scattered cells of the terrorist network still operate in many nations, and we know from daily intelligence that they continue to plot against free people."

Here is Dowd's fabricated quote: "'Al Qaeda is on the run,' President Bush said last week. 'That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly but surely being decimated....They're not a problem anymore.'"

Bush actually said: "Al-Qaeda is on the run. That group of terrorists who attacked our country is slowly, but surely being decimated. Right now, about half of all the top al-Qaeda operatives are either jailed or dead. In either case, they're not a problem anymore. And we'll stay on the hunt. To make sure America is a secure country, the al-Qaeda terrorists have got to understand it doesn't matter how long it's going to take, they will be brought to justice."

Bush can be criticized for many things but he shouldn't be subjected to McCarthyism. And neither should your readers.

There are many indicators, including polling results, which suggest that in the last few years The Times has lost respect among the American public and journalists here and overseas.

But with Maureen's Makeover Parlor right in the middle of The Times' editorial office, would you expect anything else?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Confederate Yankee is back up now

If you missed Confederate Yankee while he had some tech difficulty, weep no more.

He's up and running, something that won't please Cindy Sheehan, NPR, NY Times and BBC fans.

But that still leaves a lot of other people saying, "Welcome back."

SF Chronicle covers Air America's Al Franken

Blogger Brian Maloney at Radio Equalizer reports the San Francisco Chronicle has still not mentioned the Air America loan scandal.

BUT, the Chronicle's not ignoring liberal Air America's best-known talk show host, Al Franken.

There's a movement underway to convince the U. S. Postal Service to issue a stamp honoring the late Grateful Dead band member and composer Jerry Garcia. The Chronicle tells readers:

Talk show host Al Franken has mentioned the idea of a Garcia stamp on his Air America radio program, and a new Web site,, has just sprung up.

Almost all MSM editors say liberal bias has nothing to do with what and how they report the news.

So ignore any mention of the Air America loan scandal but tell readers about Al Franken's memorial stamp work and give readers a web address where they can learn more about it.

No liberal bias in any of that. Just good MSM journalism.

Brian and Michelle Malkin's blogs remain the places to go for anyone following the evolving Air America mess. If it gets much bigger, New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer won't have any spare time left to campaign for the Gubernatorial nomination.

Monday, August 22, 2005

What the McClatchy editor is saying now.

Regarding Melanie Sill, executive editor for news at Raleigh's News & Observer, a McClatchy paper, many readers made a prediction: Sill wouldn't answer questions concerning statements she made that were disputed by other news editors and evidence from the N&O's archives.

Sill's made her statements in response to readers' questions and comments regarding why the N&O delayed publishing on the Air America loan scandal for almost 2 weeks after other news organizations began reporting it.

While I don't disagree with readers' predictions about Sill's not answering important questions, I think Sill herself would.

So let's take a look at a few recent examples of how Sill’s responding to questions and comments.

(Note: If you're already familiar with the back-and-forth between Sill and readers, you may just want to scroll down to the paragraph that begins: "In the face of questions ... " I put those 5 words in bold as a marker. If you're new to the story, keep reading.)

When Sill claimed "(I)n checking our many news services I did not find a story available to The N&O for publication," her statement was promptly disputed by editors of major newspapers. They said it was common newspaper practice to use material from other papers, even those with whom a paper had no formal agreement, so long as credit was given to the paper originating the story and a whole story wasn't lifted. You can read more of what they said at this post.

Here's a quote from it:

“(R)egardless of any formal contract we (newspapers) have with one another, we can take stories from each other,” one editor explained. “We do it all the time. You can't lift the whole story; and you're supposed to give credit. But a few paragraphs? No problem. You can even take from a couple of different newspapers and blend.”

All four editors interviewed for the blog report said Sill could have published on the Air America story if she wanted to. One editor said, “If she’s really telling you something different … you’re getting stiffed.”

Sill’s credibility was further damaged when evidence from the N&O's archives directly contradicted her. LexisNexis searches of N&O archives revealed the N&O has frequently and recently used as news sources some of the same news organizations that had been reporting the Air America story. Examples are here on this thread at Sill's blog.

In the face of questions
and criticisms from many readers challenging what Sill has said, she's made a few responses. Here's an example you'll find on this post's thread at her blog.

Comment from:DeputyHeadmistress [Visitor]
08/20/05 at 15:40
I must be lacking in imagination, but I cannot see how these two statements could be characterized as anything other than falsehoods:

"We've checked our news services in recent days and do not find this story"

"(I)n checking our many news services I did not find a story available to The N&O for publication."

If you could explain to your readers how these were truthful, honest, and accurate statements, I am sure they would be glad to hear it.

Here's Editor Sill’s response in full on the same thread:

Comment from:Melanie Sill [Visitor)•
08/21/05 at 09:47
Dep.Headmistress: Can you say more about which part seems puzzling -- how the news service queues work?

Further along the same thread, I sent Sill the following comment referencing among other readers’ comments, those of the dep. Headmistresses. My comment in full:

Comment from: John [Visitor] •
08/21/05 at 23:01

You say J. Stuart "misunderstood" what you said.

I see nothing where he "misunderstood" what you said, especially regarding your statements to readers about why the N&O couldn't publish on the Air America loan scandal.

J. Stuart's comments are based on LexisNexis searches of the N&O's archives.

Those searches produced information that directly contradicts statements you made to readers about news sources available to the N&O for publishing on the Air America loan scandal at the times in question and with the news sources available to it.

Why haven't you spoken to those contradictions?

And why have you said nothing in response to those editors of major newspapers who strongly disputed what you told readers about the sources available to you for use in the N&O on the Air America loan scandal?

Why are you silent on such important questions?

The dep. headmistress said to you:

"I must be lacking in imagination, but I cannot see how these two statements could be characterized as anything other than falsehoods:

'We've checked our news services in recent days and do not find this story'

'(I)n checking our many news services I did not find a story available to The N&O for publication.'

If you could explain to your readers how these were truthful, honest, and accurate statements, I am sure they would be glad to hear it."

Who does not understand what the dep. headmistress is saying.
And, Melanie, you responded:

"Can you say more about which part seems puzzling -- how the news service queues work?"


Sill responded this morning on the thread to my comment. Here, in full, is her response:

Comment from: Melanie [Member] •
08/22/05 at 09:30

John: I'm sorry you had to talk to people off the record, I would have said some of the same things on the record (the accurate parts, not the rest). Why won't these great editors use their names in discussing fairly straightforward issues? In general you've misrepresented much of what I've said, both here and in your own blog... an anonymous blogger quoting unidentified people in criticism of something I didn't say. In some cases I think you confused comments made by others in the thread with my responses. You also interpreted, or misinterpreted, my responses in certain ways. So be it... I expect some of this in blogging.

Meantime I think you'll understand there are other stories and other issues, and this blog is not intended to respond to just one or two people, no matter how persistent. I'm hopeful other readers will weigh in on many different issus and stories. Again, thanks for taking part.

Readers will quickly see Sill said nothing to actually dispute what the editors said.

Sill also said nothing to dispute the evidence from the N&O's archives which directly contradicts what she's told readers.

And Sill again ignored the real and important question the dep.
headmistress asked.

Anyone who goes to posts at Sill's blog here and here and here and reads the threads, will see that Sill has not responded to scores of informed questions and comments bearing on the same matters the dep. headmistress raised.

Her silence in the face of those questions is telling.

Sill's comment beginning: "John, I'm sorry you had to talk ....." is a reminder of the lawyers adage:

When the evidence supports what you say, argue the evidence.
When the evidence contradicts what you say, ignore the evidence and attack the witnesses.

Much more soon.

Update: What we can do to help our military

Yesterday I posted regarding something we could all do for our servicemen and women: Call at least one university or college administrator and ask: "How are you responding to the needs of students who may have special problems or needs as a result of their military service?"

I mentioned the returning serviceman in Texas who was denied an in-state tuition rate by a Texas community college because he had spent too much time out-of-state (Two tours of duty in Iraq with the Marines).

And there was a Betsy Newmark, guest blogging at Michelle Malkin, post concerning the extraordinary problems a university student experienced at his school when his National Guard unit was called to active duty, first in New York City after 9/11 and later in Iraq.

Things eventually worked out for both servicemen, thanks in the Marine's case to media attention, and in the soldier's case to his persistence and his university president's intervention.

But how to make sure student/military people don't have to face the needless problems those servicemen faced?

One solution the soldier and Betsy suggested: Assign a kind of ombudsman on campus to advocate for students with military backgrounds.

Another was that we each call or e-mail those administrators today. I said, "Let me know what happens. I'll update readers."

Well, here's what happened today.

I heard from people all over the country.

Their experiences?

As you would guess, it varied from "The person didn't seem to know what I was talking about" to "They said they have someone doing that."

One e-mail came from John Byrnes, the soldier/student Betsy told us about. He wrote in part:

I'm trying to figure out a good way to maximize efficiency on this. The obvious answer is some sort of organization.

Thank you for your service, John. And you're right. I'll get back to that in a minute.

Then there was this e-mail:

In California, military stationed here from other states pay tuition at the out-of-state rate, while illegal immigrants pay at the in-state rate. Somehow, the word "injustice" seems woefully inadequate. I doubt California is the only state giving preferential treatment to illegals while sticking it to our military, but of course the problem is bigger here. Having all military pay the in-state rate wherever they are stationed would be the right answer. And stopping subsidies of illegal activities would be a common sense approach reducing incentives to illegal immigration.

I hope California-based military will tell us more about the situation there. It would also be important to hear from university administrators and state legislatures there.

Illegals getting in-state tuition rates? Our military stationed there being denied in-state tuition rates? Who will stand for that?

As John Byrnes says, we need organization to help our student/military. And we need organization to pursue questions concerning the California in-state tuition situation. We need to be asking what's happening in other states.

So how to organize to keep the ball rolling and get the job done?

As so often when we think of helping the military, Mudville Gazette comes to mind. Let Mr. and Mrs. Greyhawk know what you think, especially how they might help as the organization John Byrnes talked about or ideas about who could set it up.

I can't for lots of reasons do it, not least because I don't have the experience to do what's needed.

What I will do is serve as a place where people can send e-mails that will get some attention. I'll stay in touch with John and pass things to him. I'll e-mail Betsy and ask if she will do an update post.

Finally, I'll report tomorrow on my phone call today to University of North Carolina System President Molly Broad's office.

Here's a quick summery: Helpful responses from administrators. Lots positive to report. This is a very informative site. Note especially how North Carolina treats for purposes of in-state tuition, military personnel assigned here and their dependents who reside with them.

When I read through the site, I was proud of the 'ol Tar Heel State.

I'll update tomorrow night.

Post delayed

I'd planned to post by noon Eastern concerning N&O matters relating to statements made to her readers by the paper's executive editor for news, Melanie Sill.

The post is being delayed because of what journalists call "late breaking developments."

I plan now to have post up by 8 PM Eastern.

I think it will interest you.

Please come back then.


Sunday, August 21, 2005

Cindy Sheehan: Something MSM won't say

MSM has said a lot about Cindy Sheehan. But they keep leaving out the fact she's an anti-Semite.

Confederate Yankee gives us background and a link about the lady who may hate Jews even more than she hates the President.

Something you can do to help our military

There’s a chance for every one of us to do something tomorrow for the men and women who defend our freedoms. But first a little background.

You may have read about the returning serviceman in Texas. A state community college there denied him the reduced in-state tuition rate. The university decided he was no longer a Texas resident. He had spent too much time living in Iraq (Two tours of duty with the Marines).

Well, thanks in part to the Fort Worth Star Telegram and other news organizations shining a little light on things, the college decided the former Marine was a resident of Texas after all.

Now, Betsy Newmark, guest blogging at Michelle Malkin, posts concerning the extraordinary problems a university student experienced at his school when his National Guard unit was called to active duty, first in New York City after 9/11 and later in Iraq.

The problems were not unlike what many experience in higher ed (Profs who don’t respond to messages, administrators with an “I’ll find a rule to make this harder” attitude, etc.). But in this case, they were shameful because they were so obviously hurting a student/soldier serving his country.

Example, the soldier got knocked for not having a small check in to the bursar's office by a certain date. Why not? He was in transit to Iraq at the time, and his duffle with checkbook was on a ship he could not reach. Not good enough for us, the bursar's office declared.

A little common sense? Even some gratitude, maybe?

Things eventually worked out, but not before the university president got involved.

The student/soldier seems to have no bitterness toward his university. In fact, he’s offered a constructive suggestion: Assign a kind of ombudsman to advocate for students with military backgrounds.

Betsy likes that idea. I’ll bet most of us do too.

Now here’s something we all can do.

Tomorrow morning call or e-mail the office of a top administrator at a university or college to ask what the school is doing to take care of the special needs of the people who defend this country?

Is there an administrator assigned to do that?

As the academic year begins, what's being done? Is more planned? Has a memo been sent to all administrators and faculty reminding them of how the school treats students whose military service may create special needs?

You get the idea.

Tomorrow, I plan to call the office of the President of the University of North Carolina system, Molly Broad.

I’ll post on what happens. Let me know what you experience. I'll include at least some of your comments in a post.

If you make the call or send the e-mail, tomorrow evening when you put your head on the pillow you’ll be able to say, “Today I did a good thing for our great military people in Iraq and all over the globe.”