Sunday, August 29, 2004

There she is

OK, I swore off blogging, but who else would tell you that Miss Montana now has her own blog?

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Bye-bye, blog

I've been blogging even less than usual of late, weaning myself for the long hiatus that is now overdue. I'll be teaching two courses at Rocky this fall (starting Tuesday!), plus working at the writing lab at MSU-Billings, plus trying to put out a newspaper and running a business. I haven't got time for this. It's bad for my health.

I may have some thoughts about it all in The Outpost next week. Otherwise, see you around.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Trib scoop

Here's news I couldn't find in today's Gazette. Look at the fourth paragraph.

Actually, it won't be in this week's Outpost either. It broke too late for our deadline.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Kerry update

After receiving endless grief in the blogosphere, the LA Times, Washington Post and New York Times all have weighed in with stories on the Swift Boats controversy. Sorry, I'm too lazy to track down the links for you, but it all strikes me as good work. The LA Times gave the best overall summary of the controversy I have seen, and the Post and NY Times both advanced the story with new information I had not seen elsewhere.

Are the anti-Kerry bloggers happy? Of course not. Pure spin, as they see it. I don't know. If I had to choose between what I have been able to find in the blogosphere and what has appeared in the big media, I'll take the big media.

Nothing to see here

Here's the no-news front page story of the week. The gist of it appears to be that a U.S. House candidate is adopting positions held by the presidential candidate of her own party and using language similar to his own to describe them.

Tip to reporter: When she starts claiming that she won medals on a Swift Boat, then it's a story.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Strike over

Just got a fax from City Hall saying that Teamsters Local 190 employees are going back to work beginning today.

The City Council is expected to ratify the contract on Aug. 23. The union will vote within the next couple of days, the news release said.

The union will continue to pursue an unfair labor practice complaint over the termination of three probationary and 11 seasonal employees.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

New blogger 2

I'm late on just about everything this week but should still take note that Kalamity Karen has started her own blog. She says she's "hoping for a PG-13 rating and serious lack of politics."

Grammatical bias

The debate over liberal bias in the media rages endlessly, but rarely does one hear much about other sorts of media bias. As, for example, the bias shown by the (ahem) editor of The Billings Outpost when he edited this letter.

The standard rule in newspapers is that letters to the editor are edited for typos and grammatical misfires, just like any other copy. But when a letter writer makes grammatical errors in a letter that criticizes the editor for having pointed out earlier grammar lapses, then, well, the editor tends to weaken. Call it bias. Or call it fair warning to readers who might be considering buying the letter writer's book.

Kerry redux

The other thing I wanted to say about Kerry and the Swift Boat vets was that, with each passing day, it gets harder to justify media silence on this. Even the Kerry campaign has deigned to acknowledge problems in Kerry's account of his alleged journey into Cambodia. But enter "Kerry Cambodia" into Google News and almost nothing turns up outside right-leaning websites, the Washington Times, the Telegraph and the New York Post.

A bit of caution is in order before trashing a candidate's biography. The blogosphere operates in an entirely different mode than the mainstream media: Among bloggers, the value of a story is determined by its volume. The more comments, the more links, the more buzz, the bigger the story. Reporters are restrained by their inability to opine endlessly. They have to find a way to move the story forward before they can write a daily story. And they are held accountable for what they write in ways that rarely exist in the bloggers' world.

But this story, whatever the facts, is taking on a political life of its own. Somebody, somewhere in the national press, had better be doing some hard digging.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Kerry's claims

Just as with Bush-AWOL claims, I have found myself utterly engrossed in the Kerry-Swift Boats controversy. I'm late getting to this, thanks to my technically challenged blog the last week or so, but perhaps it's not too late for a few observations.
1. A fair amount of hypocrisy exists among the Kerry critics. For many of them, Bush's honorable discharge was all the proof they needed that he had fulfilled his commitments. Kerry not only has an honorable discharge, but a fistful of medals (suitable for throwing) to boot. Does that settle the case? Not at all.
2. Whatever the merits of their claims against Kerry, the Swift Boat vets went over the line in their ad attacking him. Their biggest goof was their failure to clearly distinguish between their claims about Kerry's service and their distaste for his anti-war protests. Since Kerry has invited voters to judge his fitness for the presidency based on his service in Vietnam, their estimate of that service is relevant and useful. They are entitled to their opinions about his protests, but their opinions about that are no matter valuable or useful than anybody else's, including my own. But they are happy to leave the impression that his service itself was dishonorable, and even their most serious claims do not make that case.
3. The charge that appears most likely to stick is that Kerry was never in Cambodia, as he has repeatedly claimed. What would explain such a false statement? Beats me. He used the claim purely for rhetorical purposes, and why tell lies just for that? That would demonstrate a reckless nature that Kerry has not demonstrated in public life before. Could he be honestly mistaken? Perhaps. He is 60 (I think), and I am 53, and I am amazed at how inaccurate my own memory has started to become. It's scary. Perhaps he and I are both headed down a dark road into forgetfulness and confusion.
4. Mainstream media have been slow to move on this story. In the blogosphere, the slowness is taken as evidence of liberal bias. That's one possible explanation, of course, but not the only one. Here are a few others:
a. The Swift Vets book is published by Regnery, which has a history of advocacy for the right. That doesn't mean the book is a lie, but it does justify some caution.
b. The media generally are slow to move on challenges to military records. I thought the media moved awfully slowly on the Bush-AWOL claims when they surfaced in 2000, and that could hardly be blamed on liberal bias. If anything, I think the media's caution may be blamed more on their fear of being accused of liberal bias for attacking the bona fides of people with hard evidence of valor, such as medals or testimony of fellow soldiers. Some evidence for this argument can be found here.
Oops, have to go to a meeting. More thoughts later.

Sacred cows

The Outpost tries to milk one sacred cow: the Billings Area Chamber of Commerce.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Much better

I think comments are back up now. Sorry for the long hiatus.

Better now

I have had some nasty code redirecting this blog to another site, but I think it is fixed now. Don't have time at the moment to mess with it to say for sure. I suspect I will have to make more changes later to get comments working right, but I will work on it this evening. Sorry for the downtime.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Just wondering if this works.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Fox trot

How Fox News deals with journalists who write hostile stories about the news channel: It blacklists them.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Sun rises in east

Joseph Perkins solidifies his claim on the title of Dumbest Columnist in America with this piece, which ran in The Gazette this week. The columnist begins with the thesis that, contrary to the conventional wisdom that Americans are almost evenly divided in party allegiance, Republicans are much stronger than Democrats. Then he bumps into this fact: a Gallup poll finds that 45.5 percent of Americans lean Republican; 45.2 percent lean Democrat.

Gee, sounds pretty close to me.

So he abruptly changes his thesis. What's important, he says, is that Republicans have been gaining ground. Experts have overlooked that fact, and the mainstream media have ignored it, he says.

Amazing. Republicans have been picking up governorships, House and Senate seats and control of state legislatures all over the country, and IT HASN'T BEEN REPORTED! Thanks God that Perkins let us in on the secret.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Liberal schmiberal

More "liberal bias" foolishness at Patterico's Pontifications. My comments are near the bottom. What silly people.