Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Racism is racism is racism

Letter-to-the-editor writer James R. Mapp, no city given, is blamed for an especially egregious pile of nonsense: He urges the election of a particular city council candidate, in the words of the headline, "to avoid loss of black on council."
Many years ago, when I was still a child, but even then smarter than Mr. Mapp, I realized that voting for a candidate because of his skin color was just as bad as voting against a candidate because of his skin color.
Apparently Mr. Mapp accepts the racist notion that "all them blacks think alike."
Ironically, two black thinkers of a very different set appear with frequency on the editorial pages of the Free Press, Walter Williams (one of my particular heroes) and Thomas Sowell (for whom my admiration often palls).
One of the goals we who fought for Civil Rights sought was, as even Martin Luther King sometimes said, a color-blind America, one in which we judged people by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.
People like Mr. Mapp, and other racists, however well-meaning they might believe themselves, are setting back that possibility of color-blindness. They are furthering, instead, the cause of racism, and are helping to encourage racism from people of other racial and ethnic connections.
However, I offer this solution to warped-minded people who believe as does Mr. Mapp: Let's have a tri-cameral legislature; let's have a Senate based on geographical boundaries, a House based on population numbers, and a third house (and we need a name here) based on something else.
That third house (oh, what can we call it?) could be created by, say, petition, with people who belong to some group or other, including even racial identity, forming themselves into a bloc and choosing a representative.
We could have, say, blacks choosing a rep, plumbers choosing one, Rotarians choosing one, Presbyterians another, atheists still another ...
Oh the grouping are, perhaps, endless.
The advantages to a tri-cameral legislature are numerous, with the disadvantages being, to my belief, one: More tax money being spent on politicians and bureaucrats.
But, and this is one hope, a third house could slow down the legislative process so that the ultimate result would be far less spending.

Headline writers don't read stories

Robin Hood not so good? reads the headline, with this sub-head following:
Ancient Brits questioned outlaw, says history professor.
Then the story, on Page 2 of the Sunday, 15 March edition, is about one -- ONE -- notation in the margin of "an ancient history book."
Julian Luxford, identified as "an art history lecturer at Scotland's University of St. Andrews," said "a 23-word inscription in the margins of a history book, written in Latin by a medieval monk in about 1460, casts the outlaw as a persistent thief."
Regardless of what is true history, once again the TFP headline contradicts or ignores the content of the story.
Besides, it's funny to find a story in any way disparaging the legend of Robin Hood when "robbing the rich" is so much a part of the current political miasma which was very much foisted upon us by the lamestream media, as someone calls it.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Here's what's wrong with the country

Even for Chattanooga and even for the TFP, letter-writer Harry Geller stands out as dumb.
Here is the beginning of a letter published Sunday, 22 March:
"I do not claim any expertise on the economy. I am entitled to my opinion, however ..."
Yep, a glowing tribute to what's coming out of the government schools, Mr. Geller also has this: "I am sick and tired of the oft-repeated phrase 'redistribution of wealth' ..."
Yes, I can understand he would object strenuously to any cold water of facts splashed in his face.
Feelings, emotions, reactions to the demagoguery -- yessir, that's what Mr. Geller and his ilk, including many a "journalist," offer to the conversation.
But, holy cow, learning anything about the subject? Hah!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Can't find a cartoonist with a brain?

Very few newspapers today have the luxury of on-staff cartoonists.
Because there are, though, plenty of cartoonists, it would seem even a small-market publication such as the Chattanooga Times Free Press, specifically the left-wing side, the Times, could find a cartoonist who knew something besides how to draw.
Maybe the company just hasn't made the effort. Certainly the previous cartoonist, Bruce Plante, winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, was sorely lacking in knowledge of economics or political morality.
The current holder of the position, Clay Bennett, knows nothing about economics or how government should deal with the economy, though he is a good stylist.
For example, his cartoon of Thursday, 12 March, shows a burning building, labeled "economy," with firefighters hosing it down, and bystanders saying, "Just look at all the water they're wasting."
As one would expect with the Times, Mr. Bennett has everything backward. A better equivalent would be firefighters squirting gasoline onto a burning building, or pouring water onto someone drowning.
What is wrong with the economy is, in fact, government intervention, government coercion, government spending, government restrictions on a genuinely free market.
If Mr. Bennett is drawing from his own misunderstanding of the world, shame on him; if he is drawing according to orders from his bosses, shame on him and shame on them.
The United States economy could be improved if government, meaning politicians and bureaucrats, would get out of the way, remove the obstacles to starting and running businesses and factories, and let the free market operate, which means grow.
A reminder: Politicians are like cockroaches: It's not what they steal and carry away; it's what they fall into and mess up.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

"Truth" advocate manages to mis-lead

TFP publisher Tom Griscom likes to pretend he is, or was, a Republican, and in one of his Sunday columns, referenced below, he tried to say it was his policy the paper always tell the truth.
Once again, though, he shows why we should hesitate to believe either him or the rest of his writers.
For some reason, there is currently a "controversy" about people, and especially members of the legislature, who are licensed to carry firearms and, more to the point, the public listing of their names.
Here is a sentence from the "truth-teller": The more pressing issue, under the direction of the National Rifle Association, a Washington-based lobbying group, is to approve a series of handgun measures.
"Lobbying group" is a phrase that means "you don't have to think about this slimy outfit; just know it's bad."
For those, though, who are slow, he later adds this sentence: But the issue that has rallied the gun supporters and brought in the well-heeled Washington lobbyists ...
It is always possible, though highly unlikely, that Mr. Griscom is just ignorant or, to be more polite, uninformed.
But the NRA is more than just a lobbying organization. It is composed of about four million members, including probably a few people who are about to cancel their subscriptions to the TFP.
As do many other pro-freedom individuals, I have problems with the NRA; I much prefer the Gun Owners of America and the Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership.
But I much prefer the NRA to the TFP, and to any other inaccurate and/or dishonest misrepresentative person or publication.
Whether gun permits are records that ought to be made public is an interesting issue, but one TFP reader made an even more interesting counter-proposal: Make public the records of people drawing welfare or other taxpayer-funded checks.
Obviously the real basis for "controversy" is the neurotic opposition to any ownership of guns.
Here is another counter-proposal: Pass a law that everyone who opposes the individual right to own firearms must post a sign reading "No Guns in this House."

What does it mean?

Among the many problems at the TFP is the headline writing.
Often it seems the layout people haven't read the article for which they are supposed to be writing headlines -- but then more and more people in the tri-state area are not reading them.
But here is a puzzler: For what is apparently the major story (slow news day?) on Monday, 9 March, under the main head, "Saddling up for safety," is this apparently intendedly cute subhead: "Sheriff's office has 'neigh' old time with new mounted patrol."
The word is pronounced "nay," so I have no idea what is meant.
I hope someone will enlighten me.

Propaganda labeled as "news"

Probably the most frequent gripe about "news" papers is that they editorialize in what are supposed to be news pages.
Here is an example in the TFP of 8 March. Headline: "Both Parties love big government -- just different programs."
It begins: Strip away the political finger-pointing over President Obama's proposed budget and the fight boils down to a clash of values. Both major parties are really for big government -- just big in different places.
Republicans say they're outraged that Obama would "borrow and spend" his way to a new behemoth government. But they borrowed and spent their way through the '80s and the current decade. And they love big government -- when it's at the Pentagon.

Really there is not a thing a rational observer can criticize, except it is "analysis" and not "news," and should have been so labeled.
Unusually, in the piece there is even a comment from the relatively libertarian Cato Institute.
This article was by Steven Thomma of McClatchy Newspapers.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Look for this reader to stop, too

Letter-to-the-editor writer Barbara S. Arthur, of Rossville, is likely another soon to drop her subscription.
She wrote a letter titled "Article about Poe had many errors," published 23 February.
Responding to an article titled "University of the South to mark 200th Birth of 18th-Century mystery writer," published 12 February, she says, in part:
Poe was not an 18th-century mystery writer. Mystery writers in the modern sense were unknown in the 18th century and in Poe's day. In his short life, lived entirely in the 19th century, Poe invented the detective story ... Contrary to your reporter's fatuous remark, his poems and stories do not produce in the reader anything so banal as goosebumps, but, at their best, a profound sense of dread. ...
Certainly Poe did not undergo 200 births, yet this is what the headline says. Another poet, Dylan Thomas, said that after the first death, there is no other. Likewise everyone, including Poe, is born but once.
Must the reader of the newspaper point out these things, or is this the duty of the reporter and editor?

Bless her heart, she answered her own question.