Thursday, September 25, 2003
Chaz at Dustbury caught this, which ties in with my earlier post on the subject last week. The JOA is still on with the P-I and the Times. As Chaz notes in the comments of my earlier post, Hearst has pulled this action before, in San Francisco. They owned the weaker of the two dailies, but used the company's leverage to buy out their bigger rival. They then essentially killed their paper, selling it to a small, underfunded publisher, who moved the Examiner to a weekly format. Either the Seattle Times failed to raise the issue in court, or the judge didn't think it was important. I suspect this is not over yet; we'll have to see how the papers perform this year. If the Times loses money again, they will be in court (again), and I am quite sure that this time they will prevail. In any case, they've warned Hearst to start preparing for the end of the JOA.
posted at 10:27 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
This AP story on a report by the left-leaning Center for Public Integrity, documents the rise of "527 groups", which are increasingly becoming an alternative to soft-money donations. The report documents how the Democratic Party is strongly outpacing the GOP in utilization of these groups. The story is quick to point out that the disparity may not be as great as it appears at first blush, because
The existence of these other tax exempt groups makes it difficult to determine whether Democrats or Republicans are spending the most money. The reason is that non-527 tax-exempt organizations do not disclose details about their fund raising and spending.
A graphic on the groups 527 gateway page, however, notes that just one component, labor unions, have spent more than all GOP-leaning PACS, and they are not the biggest spending left-leaning group (Democratic Party candidates and supporters are understandably strongly supportive of the Democratic Party).
The CPI article accompanying the report contained an interesting (if wrong) statement by a supporter of campaign finance reform.
People associated with labor groups, environment groups, abortion rights groups are all by definition of one mind on their issue, which is not true of a shareholder who invests in GM," said Trevor Potter, a former FEC commissioner who is part of the legal team defending the new federal campaign law before the Supreme Court.
If that was the case, how does one explain the fact that about 30% of union households vote Republican? (Greater than 85% of all union spending is spent on Democratic Party candidates and issues.)
It is also pointed out, in the same article, that labor groups spend more than six times as much as corporations through 527 spending. Corporations donate a lot through other methods, but they are still outspent (by a wide margin) by unions and union affiliates. The GOP's edge in fundraising comes through donations of less than $200, something the Dems have not managed to equal, despite their "party of the people" claims.
posted at 05:34 AM | permalink | Comments (0)
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
Emperor Misha notes a change of tune from the State Department in response to the continuing violence in Judea and Samaria. He quotes a Jerusalem Post article:
The Bush administration is disappointed with Israel's failure to halt settlement activity, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday but he also said that the US could not pressure Israel to limit settlement expansion unless Palestinian terrorism ceases.
He follows it up with some of his trademark pointed commentary. It is a subtle but significant change, and it is probably linked to the very public decision by Hamas to refuse to disarm or negotiate. It's an overdue but welcome revision of policy from State.
posted at 10:24 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
Blinded by Bias
This is billed as a news story, not as commentary or opinion. It makes James Carville sound like Rush Limbaugh, and makes Tom Harkin sound like a moderate. It is quite possibly the most biased "news article" I have ever encountered. Its source? The Independent, one of the pillars of Britain's Loony Left.
I was stunned speechless just reading it. I'm not going to rebut its claims, but I do want to pull some quotes out of it; the writers must be swathed from head to toe with tinfoil, because they obviously fear the orbital mind-control lasers the US government has in the skies...
Iraq was in effect put up for sale yesterday when the American-appointed administration announced it was opening up all sectors of the economy to foreign investors in a desperate attempt to deliver much-needed reconstruction against a daily backdrop of kidnappings, looting and violent death.
Sounds like they are talking about any of a number of western cities.
Wholesale privatisation is a dramatic departure from Saddam Hussein's centralised management of the Iraqi economy, which was reasonably successful in capitalising on the country's oil wealth to build modern hospitals, schools and other infrastructure, at least until the upheavals of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, the 1991 Gulf War and the imposition of United Nations sanctions after that conflict.
All of which were the result of Hussein's actions. Iraq started the Iran-Iraq war, started the Gulf War, and refused to comply with UNSC resolutions which would have ended the sanctions. In any case, the claim that centralized management worked is debatable, as much of Iraq's infrastructure was a Potemkin village; it looked pretty on the surface, but there was nothing to support it underneath. The difficulties faced by the new government and the military forces from the US, Britain, Poland and other nations is proof.
Five months after the overthrow of Saddam, there are no visible signs of reconstruction. Clean water and electricity are still not available to most people and entire neighbourhoods are still without phone lines.
And how many of these neighborhoods had phone lines, clean water, and electricity before the war? Anyone? Bueller?
Yes, that's what I thought.
There's a mindset at work here, the "America must fail at any cost" mindset that cannot conceive any good coming from the overthrow of one of the most corrupt and evil men of the last 50 years. As James Lileks noted last week, the same people who decry American support of dictators are frothing at the mouth because we forcibly removed one. There is a place fro this mindset, but it is not the news section of a paper (yes, the title for the page is simply "News"). Shame on the Independent for pushing such tripe without a disclaimer.
posted at 04:57 AM | permalink | Comments (1)
Austrian Writer gets it
Bill Dawson, an American living in Vienna, links to an article in the Austrian magazine Format, in which writer Christian Ortner takes to task the German and Austrian intellectual, anti-American crowd for their sneering towards the Anglo-American efforts in Iraq, while simultaneously ignoring the 10,000+ dead in France (from the heat wave). He pulls a pair of quotes from the piece:
France's poor and old would probably have had a better chance to survive in Baghdad than in Paris
The ignorance of the political class led to more deaths than the U.S. war against Saddam Hussein.
He quotes several sections from the article (no link), and adds some relevant commentary of his own. Give it a look.
(Link courtesy of Pejmanesque.)
posted at 04:32 AM | permalink | Comments (0)
Monday, September 22, 2003
A random thought
Building on the link to Instapundit below, I want to address a post made by David Adesnik, at Oxblog. David links to a New York Times piece written by a disillusioned soldier, and wonders if he represents the true views of the troops. A relevant portion of the post:
Purely from anecdotal experience, American soldiers are very
disillusioned. From high ranking officers to grunts, they are incredibly
cynical (especially for Americans) about why they are there, hate being
there and take advantage of every opportunity they can to tell journalists
this, and that they want to go home.
This is quite possibly true. However, it is not the same thing as the "Iraq is a disaster" that we have been hearing from the media since May, nor is it a repudiation of what we intended. It is a reminder that military people (especially reservists) are frustrated when the timetable for exiting keeps shifting, and they end up spending long periods away from their family. The media, however, push this (and similar quotes) as justification for their cries of "quagmire" and "Vietnam redux".
My personal take on this: We had to call up reservists to fight a single-theater war, proof positive that we need to expand the size of the military. The projections dating from the late 80s and early 90s (at the height of the drawdown), were off-base and overly optimistic. They took into account the force necessary to accomplish half the task (defeating the Iraqi military), but failed to take into account the whole cleanup procedure, which is far more lengthy and nervewracking. This is the fundamental flaw in the Iraq situation, not the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld "callous disregard for our troops" trope the left has been tossing around more frequently.
Most of the more vociferous complaints (including the one I quoted above), are from reservists. Most people who join the reserves are not expecting a protracted deployment far from home. Many don't expect to deploy at all (other than for a two-week period), and a year-long deployment is not what these people expected. Some are losing a significant portion of their income, while the bills continue to come in.
We need to rethink the structure of the military, and after retooling it, increase its size so that the next time we have to deal with a tin-plated dictator, we can do it with the active duty troops, rather than relying on reservists. The reserves should only be used in cases where an expanded military needs to be augmented (or where we are attacked by another force in another location), not one where they are essential to our effort in the primary theater.
I emphasize that this is my personal opinion, and add that I am not some bigwig with all the facts at my disposal. However, I do understand the morale issue, and know from firsthand experience how hard deployments can be, especially for those with families.
posted at 04:26 AM | permalink | Comments (3)
Andrea Harris, at Too Much to Dream, has a pair of excellent posts on anti-war activism and how it affects those in Iraq, and how it colors the perceptions of the rest of the world in regards to the United States. Read this post first, and then read this one. (I know they were posted the other way, but they read better in reverse order.) She lays out why our problem is not arrogance, but rather a craving for affection. She also provides yet another anecdotal piece on why the media-sanctioned view on Iraq is wrong. As the VodkaPundit would put it, they're today's required reading.
posted at 03:19 AM | permalink | Comments (1)
JOA ruling on Thursday
Seattle's two newspapers, the Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, have been operating under a Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) since 1983. Now, that agreement is in jeopardy, and a judge is set to rule on a lawsuit filed by the Hearst Corporation (owners of the P-I) on Thursday. If he dismisses the suit, the P-I is toast. (I first blogged on this issue in this post.)
There has been a history of acrimonious relations between the two corporations, according to this article in Editor and Publisher. Both sides have been looking for ways to profit from the agreement's provisions, sometimes resorting to sub-rosa scheming. The P-I's position has been steadily weakening, and since the Times owns all the physical assets for publishing the papers, Hearst has little leverage. They have put the paper up for sale, but it is unlikely that it will find a buyer, and Hearst will have to settle for collecting 32% of the profits of the Times (until 2083), as opposed to the 40% they receive from the joint profits of both papers. The P-I's circulation is dwindling because they are simply not as good as their competition. They are reflexively liberal on almost every issue, which should go over well in a city such as Seattle, but they don't have the talent the Times can draw upon, and Hearst doesn't seem willing to make the investment in the paper that would be needed to keep it competitive. The idea of having two independent newspapers is a nice one, but if only one can survive, I'd prefer the Times over the P-I any day.
posted at 03:05 AM | permalink | Comments (1)