Sunday, April 26, 2009

What? Defending the TFP?

No blog, probably no single public voice is as critical of the "news" paper as is this one right here, but, look, right is right, wrong is wrong, and blind stupidity is, yes, blind stupidity.
A letter to the editor, published Thursday, 23 April, is headlined "Slanted cartoons a daily onslaught." One might think it's a reference to the house editorial cartoonist, Clay Bennett, but no, this is what it says:
"I have been a subscriber to your paper ever since I moved to Tennessee. I, along with some other people to whom I have talked, are sick and tired of the daily political conservative slanted cartoons. Enough is enough! If this daily onslaught against our president continues, I will not be renewing my subscription. Not only that, I will be sure to address this issue with all of the Democratic offices in the state. ... When Mr. Bush was in office, you did not put such daily trash in the paper ..."
Ronald C. Merrill, of Dayton, Tenn., is listed as the author and in many ways I feel sorry for him. I mean, I'd hate to have my name in public attached to such ignorant nonsense.
Though it can't take credit for much, the TFP does deserve plaudits for one thing: Each day, and I mean seven days a week (so far), it runs two separate and different editorial pages.
Yes, on both sides, the editorials themselves are usually stultifying, boringly written, and betraying very little intellectual content.
But there ARE two pages, one "liberal" and one "conservative."
Though the Times side, the left page, carries mostly stultifying and dull (and often mean-spirited) columnists such as Ellen Goodman and E.J. Dionne, Jr., the right side will carry the brilliant Walter Williams, along with some not-so-brilliant columnists, too.
The left side has its own cartoonist, the aforesaid Bennett, and also carries the hate-filled Luckovich and others, but the point is this: Mr. Merrill is apparently blind as a bat.

Might makes right?

With readership and, thus, income dropping, "news" organizations are seeking desperately for SOMEthing to write about, ANYthing.
Except, often, news.
When Texas Governor Rick Perry used the "s-word," secession, naturally the intellects in the "news" media were all a-flutter.
In the TFP of 19 April, an article from McClatchy Newspapers, but with no other byline, was headlined "Secession talk strikes a chord."
A clever opening read, "Texas Gov. Rick Perry appears to have given new life to the state's two decades-old tourism promotion -- Texas: It's like a whole other country."
Here is a paragraph from the middle of the story: "The fact is, the treaty under which Texas joined the union provides that it could be divided into five states. But it is not empowered to leave the union, a question settled by the Civil War."
So forget common sense, ignore logic, turn away from more intelligent and knowledgeable historians and Constitutional authorities and concentrate on one thing: The Yankees had more soldiers, more and better weaponry, and an industrial base from which to wage war like that of Attila and Genghis Khan, destroying farms and homes and burning private and public buildings and looting and leaving homeless women and children by the tens of thousands.
But they won, and therefore must have had God and St. George and all other Right on their side.
That, gentle reader, is what passes for "news" coverage these days.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Dishonesty in advertising

A full page insert in a recent edition of the TFP shouts, with large red capitals,
SINCE 1776"
Right below is a picture of the Constitution (which was written in 1787), beginning "We the People of the United States ..."
This from a publication that on a frequent, if not regular, basis omits needed facts, distorts others, and on one of its editorial pages, and sometimes both, calls for more and bigger government -- is that hypocrisy, fraud, or merely inconsistency?

Doubly astonishing column in TFP

As noted here before, Leonard Pitts, Jr., is a left-wing racist columnist, but who must get at least partial credit for his column in the TFP Sunday, 12 April.
The headline is "Let's at least begin talking about leglizing" (sic) "drugs in U.S."
Obviously no one read the headline before sending the page to press, and there is probably a good chance no one read the column either since it almost makes sense, especially considering the source.
Naturally, being from Pitts, there is a racial element. Pitts blames the whole "War on Drugs" (also known as "The Insane War on Drugs" and as "The War on Some Drugs") as coming "into being under President Nixon, whose chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, once quoted the president as saying, 'You have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this all while not appearing to.'"
Pitts' silly and/or paranoid belief is just one among many, including the belief that William R. Hearst started the anti-marijuana war in order to make sure his forests in Canada would continue to be the prime source of wood pulp.
Another was that, when Prohibition ended, Harry Anslinger wanted to keep some kind of government job so the Federal Bureau of Narcotics was formed to help him.
Regardless of the nonsense from Pitts and the TFP, it really is way past time to do more than talk about "leglizing" drugs.
Look at the thousands of deaths just in Mexico because of the drug war -- NOT because of drugs, but because their illegality makes them so profitable. Even Pitts is able to see the comparison to the era of Prohibition and the resultant rise of organized crime in the United States. (But at least we got Las Vegas.)
My guess is very few people bother to read Pitts' columns any more, but this time he really has said something needing saying.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Correction: TFP did so write on Tea Party

I do apologize to you the reader and to the maligned Times Free Press: On 15 April, the paper did run a story on the Tea Party to be held that night, on Page B-3, and there was a related story in business, "Tax deadline a yearly ritual."
Well, the paper says it's related.

Finally, TFP sees a story

"Tax Day Tea Party draws big crowd" is the inane headline on the story of the Chattanooga gathering.
Reporter Adam Crisp's story was pretty fair, but there is this error: "The tea parties were promoted by FreedomWorks, a conservative nonprofit advocacy group based in Washington and led by former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey."
In fact, there were probably dozens, even scores, of organizations and thousands of individuals promoting the nationwide tea parties.
Whether it's Mr. Crisp's intent, or an "editor's," making mention of only one backing group terribly misleads the readers and terribly distorts the meaning of the phenomenon.
Otherwise, the too-short article gave a nice overview, quoting local organizer Mark West and some others in attendance.
So why did the TFP not give any advance mention?
Will the rag give future coverage?
We'll keep looking.
ADDENDUM: Mr. Crisp did NOT intend any bias. The lack of good background is not his fault. The "news" media in general can be faulted, and the TFP in particular, but not Mr. Crisp.

One more reason it's called a "news" paper

Probably the biggest domestic story this month is the widespread "Tea Parties" phenomenon.
Until Tuesday, 14 April, the Times Free Press published NOT ONE WORD about it until a letter to the editor made mention of the local party, giving time, place, and date.
Millions of people throughout the country have been expressing opposition, even anger, and thousands of people locally have joined in.
Yet NOT ONE WORD has appeared in the miserable excuse for a "news" paper that is the Times Free Press.
Even some of the more leftish "news" organizations have at least made mention, and even the Fox News Channel -- which went out of its way to avoid mention of, for example, Ron Paul and his presidential candidacy and has bent over backward to avoid mentioning the Libertarian Party -- has broadcast stories leading up to the event.
But good ol' "without fear or favor" TFP has managed to miss the biggest story.

Irony and lousy editing

On Page 1 of the Metro section, 14 April, there is this sentence: "Ray Diaz, 46, was pronounced dead on arrival at Earlanger hospital after police responded to 1653 Fernwood Circle on a domestic disorder call and found Mr. Diaz laying unresponsive in the front yard."
The story doesn't say what kind of direct object "unresponsive" is, whether it's like a brick or an egg.
Right above, in a story of a fatal traffic accident, is this sentence: "Neither the driver, who was not wearing a seat belt, nor the boy were identified by police."
"Neither ... were" is, of course, more semi-literate writing and/or editing.
Here's the irony: On the back page of the Life section is a story by James Yolles of Columbia News Service; its headline is, "Obsessive about possessive's? Youve got company out there (sic)"
The story refers to, among other errors, the common mistake of making plurals by adding apostrophe s ('s). (You see it a lot in genealogy circles and on mailboxes: The Smith's, the Johnson's, the Jones's. It is, I believe, further evidence the American republic is doomed.)
Apparently SOMEone at the TFP knows the rules of punctuation, and apparently even has a sense of humor.
Too bad that someone isn't given more to do, since obviously the TFP is in desperate need of someone who knows how to edit.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Does anybody read this? Not its "editors"

Though I've commented before on the waste of space taken up by "late nite laughs" in the TV Times, I want to give you one more example.
From the issue of 5-11 April, here is the entire section of quotes from "The Late Show with David Letterman (Mar 18 09)":
*Friday is the first day of spring. You know it's spring in New York City when the rats come out of hibernation.
*You know it's spring in New York City when the street vendors start putting chlorine in the hotdog water.
*They say in 150 years, when he gets out, the recession will likely be over.

The first two inanities (obviously I'm no Letterman fan) might stand alone, even though they're not very funny. The third, though, makes absolutely no sense.
With so many people out of work, surely the Chattanooga Publishing Co. could find one real editor, someone who would actually read the stuff he puts onto the pages.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Even glucosamine won't help this knee jerk

Alaska's former senator Ted Stevens was investigated and prosecuted by the federal "Justice" department, and Stevens was found guilty. That decision was announced in time for him to lose the senatorial election last November.
Well, surprise, surprise, the new "Justice" department found all kinds of misbehavior by the prosecutors, threw out the charges, and has said there will be no further action against Stevens.
The Times editorial writer of 8 April said this: "During the Bush years, the Justice Department" (sic) "was known for its cavalier ways. There is much to support that view. ... Politics, not the rule of law, prevailed at that time."
Yeah, yeah. The editorialist apparently missed the fact that Mr. Stevens was himself a Republican.
In the winter of 1976-77, I visited in Tennessee and Virginia and was inundated by snow, three and four times a week.
I got back to California just in time to see the beginning of what became a 10-year drought.
I phoned a local radio talk show to comment, "We never had weather like this until Jimmy Carter got elected."
The host, the legendary Hilly Rose, laughed.
Sad to say, Democrats and other lefties, including in the media, have made similar statements for the last eight years, but weren't intentionally joking.
Such as, we never had hurricanes like Katrina until George W. Bush was president.
Everything bad, storms, plagues, wars, boils, can be blamed on the other party, but it is only mean-spiritedness that allows any blame to befall our side.

Journalist Karl Marx would feel right at home

Devaluing the individual, submerging individuals into the mass was not exactly invented by Karl Marx. The idea goes back to at least Plato, who liked to say it was Socrates'.
Still none of those ancient people had the additional stigma of being a writer for "news" publications.
The old joke about Karl Marx was that the paper he wrote for is to blame for communism: If it had paid him less, he would have starved to death; if it had paid him more, he would have been a capitalist.
Well, though his flesh is gone, his spirit lives on, in the soul of headline writers and in the scribblings of Associated Press ... uh, journalists.
For example, tighten your upper esophageal sphincter and read this headline in the TFP of 8 April: "Do smokers cost society money?"
The problem begins with two problems: Defining society and accepting as a given that, whatever "society" is, it controls and governs and pays for the individuals, who apparently have no other function than to be a component thereof.
I believe it was a Reason -- either Foundation or Magazine -- writer who first promulgated the notion that smokers actually saved the government -- NOT, note, "society" -- money by dying early and thus not costing Medicare as much as the longer-lived non-smokers.
This AP article, by one Erica Werner, hashes over some of that thought but, of course, phrases it this way: "Smoking takes years off your life and adds dollars to the cost of health care. Yet nonsmokers cost society money, too -- by living longer."
So, according the the obvious collectivist Ms. Werner, whatever you do, smoke or don't, live long and prosper or die early, you ought to be ashamed: You are just a burden.
Funnily enough, though, I'll bet if you met Ms. Werner and tried to lump her in with all the other Obama supporters and the general run of leftist members of the race of journalists (which formerly also included Benito Mussolini), she would be horribly offended and try to defend her individualism.
Sad, though, it is that people like her can't see the rational answer: Quit operating on the collectivist approach to everything. Let a free system operate, and let individuals live their own lives freely.
For those who don't have adequate resources, there are many voluntary organizations who could do a much better job of helping -- and genuinely helping, really assisting -- the needy than any government in the whole sad history of the world has ever done or been able to do.

Lefties of the species more vicious than ...

"Mean-spirited" was one of those cliches thrown around by the media during the time of Republican ascendancy.
Surely no one, though, has ever matched the left for sheer nastiness.
In the 8 April edition, on, naturally, the Chattanooga Times side, there is a cartoon I haven't in a long time seen matched for ugliness -- or stupidity.
Don Wright, of the Palm Beach Post, writes "Loose lips ... " then writes in, around a toothy open mouth, the names Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Michele Bachmann, and "Chuck Norris, etc."
First of all, I'd be awfully hesitant about attacking Chuck Norris. Even though he now qualifies for membership in AARP (born 10 March 1940) and other "senior" groups, he is still in better shape than ... well, especially any editorial cartoonist I know or know of.
Otherwise, of course, the cartoon is right on the money: The man despondent because his wife was leaving killed his family only because of something Glenn Beck said.
The fellow in despair because his employer closed down murdered his family because he had been listening to Rush Limbaugh.
Come on. Seriously. Does any rational person think any of those multiple murderers even knows who Michele Bachmann is?
Especially that poor immigrant in Binghamton?
I know various right-wingers have also used guilt by association over the years, but for sheer viciousness, it's hard to beat this kind of garbage.
The cartoonist ought to be ashamed, but the "editor" responsible for putting this on a TFP page should too.