Friday, May 14, 2004

Your ideology is showing

Here's a particularly egregious example of headline bias. From the Washington Post :

In Boost for Democrats, FEC Rejects Proposed Limits on Small Donors

This article has nothing to do with small donors. In fact, it has everything to do with extremely large donations. The subject is the FEC's 4-2 decision to refuse to regulate "527 groups", the organizations formed in the wake of the McCain/Feingold campaign finance reforms. The "boost for Democrats" mentioned in the headline is the fact that the largest of the 527 groups are raising enormous amounts of "soft money", banned under McCain/Feingold (BCRA), but legal for the 527 groups because the BCRA doesn't cover them. Labor organizations and super-wealthy Democrats are pouring vast sums of money to groups that were formed to hammer away at Bush.

In an attempt to fill the vacuum in Democratic Party finances created by the ban, top operatives, including former Clinton administration aide Harold M. Ickes and former AFL-CIO political director Steve Rosenthal, formed such 527s as the Media Fund and ACT.

These two organizations have already raised and spent more the $42 million, most of it soft money. The money has financed $23 million worth of television ads critical of Bush, and the formation of large-scale voter-mobilization programs in battleground states.

George Soros and his wife have contributed $7.5 million to ACT and MoveOn. Under the BCRA, they would be limited to $5000 in contributions to Kerry, but 527 contributions are unlimited.

In contrast with the headline, which implies that the Democrats are benefitting from many small contributions, there are absolutely no mentions of small contributions in the entire article. The regulations described would have limited the size of donations to groups attempting to influence federal elections, and would have required some groups to register with the FEC and disclose their expenditures.

I have written an e-mail to Mssrs. Edsall and Gettler asking who was responsible for the headline. If they respond, I will post it.

posted at 08:02 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

How well-read are you?

Well, the new meme is floating around, so I had to participate. (I got it from Dodd Harris.)

Of the 101 titles on the list, I have read 33 of them, and read parts of seven more. Six of the seven I just could not slog through; I just never got around to finishing the Poe selection. Of the ones I completed the hardest was probably Heart of Darkness; Conrad's dense, dull prose was a nightmare to read.

I agree with one of Dodd's commenters, whose assessment was that some of the choices are politically correct selections. Notably absent was Atlas Shrugged; it's another difficult read, as Ayn Rand's writing is not light, but the sweeping scope of the novel makes it significant. Dodd himself notes that Milton's Paradise Lost and Tolstoy's Anna Karenina are omitted; either would be a better choice than the Morrison and Plath selections.

In the self-congratulation vein, I must point out that I have no college credits in the humanities. About 10 of the books I sought out on my own; the remaining books were assignments by my high school English teacher. George Mitchell didn't teach to the high school level, he taught at a college level. He read the Cliff's Notes of the books he assigned to ensure that his assignments were areas not covered by the condensed versions. A memorable surprise assignment was "discuss the significance of the pistols over the fireplace in Hedda Gabler." We had 50 minutes to compose a five paragraph essay, and few of us were prepared, which was reflected in the grades on that assignment. He taught the AP English track, so we were in the same class for four years. By the time we graduated, over a third of the people we started with in ninth grade had dropped his class because they felt it was too hard, but those of us who stuck it out learned a lot from him. He was unquestionably the best teacher I ever had, and it's a shame he quit teaching and took a less politically motivated job.

My list is in the "more" section. The books I have completed are bolded; the ones I have partially read are italicized.

Achebe, Chinua - Things Fall Apart
Agee, James - A Death in the Family
Austen, Jane - Pride and Prejudice
Baldwin, James - Go Tell It on the Mountain
Beckett, Samuel - Waiting for Godot
Bellow, Saul - The Adventures of Augie March
Brontė, Charlotte - Jane Eyre
Brontė, Emily - Wuthering Heights
Camus, Albert - The Stranger
Cather, Willa - Death Comes for the Archbishop
Chaucer, Geoffrey - The Canterbury Tales
Chekhov, Anton - The Cherry Orchard
Chopin, Kate - The Awakening
Conrad, Joseph - Heart of Darkness
Cooper, James Fenimore - The Last of the Mohicans
Crane, Stephen - The Red Badge of Courage
Dante - Inferno
de Cervantes, Miguel - Don Quixote
Defoe, Daniel - Robinson Crusoe
Dickens, Charles - A Tale of Two Cities
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - Crime and Punishment
Douglass, Frederick - Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Dreiser, Theodore - An American Tragedy
Dumas, Alexandre - The Three Musketeers
Eliot, George - The Mill on the Floss
Ellison, Ralph - Invisible Man
Emerson, Ralph Waldo - Selected Essays
Faulkner, William - As I Lay Dying
Faulkner, William - The Sound and the Fury
Fielding, Henry - Tom Jones
Fitzgerald, F. Scott - The Great Gatsby
Flaubert, Gustave - Madame Bovary
Ford, Ford Madox - The Good Soldier
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von - Faust
Golding, William - Lord of the Flies
Hardy, Thomas - Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - The Scarlet Letter
Heller, Joseph - Catch 22
Hemingway, Ernest - A Farewell to Arms
Homer - The Iliad
Homer - The Odyssey
Hugo, Victor - The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Hurston, Zora Neale - Their Eyes Were Watching God
Huxley, Aldous - Brave New World
Ibsen, Henrik - A Doll's House
James, Henry - The Portrait of a Lady
James, Henry - The Turn of the Screw
Joyce, James - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Kafka, Franz - The Metamorphosis
Kingston, Maxine Hong - The Woman Warrior
Lee, Harper - To Kill a Mockingbird
Lewis, Sinclair - Babbitt
London, Jack - The Call of the Wild
Mann, Thomas - The Magic Mountain
Marquez, Gabriel Garcķa - One Hundred Years of Solitude
Melville, Herman - Bartleby the Scrivener
Melville, Herman - Moby Dick
Miller, Arthur - The Crucible
Morrison, Toni - Beloved
O'Connor, Flannery - A Good Man is Hard to Find
O'Neill, Eugene - Long Day's Journey into Night
Orwell, George - Animal Farm
Pasternak, Boris - Doctor Zhivago
Plath, Sylvia - The Bell Jar
Poe, Edgar Allan - Selected Tales
Proust, Marcel - Swann's Way
Pynchon, Thomas - The Crying of Lot 49
Remarque, Erich Maria - All Quiet on the Western Front
Rostand, Edmond - Cyrano de Bergerac
Roth, Henry - Call It Sleep
Salinger, J.D. - The Catcher in the Rye
Shakespeare, William - Hamlet
Shakespeare, William - Macbeth
Shakespeare, William - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Shakespeare, William - Romeo and Juliet
Shaw, George Bernard - Pygmalion
Shelley, Mary - Frankenstein
Silko, Leslie Marmon - Ceremony
Solzhenitsyn, Alexander - One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Sophocles - Antigone
Sophocles - Oedipus Rex
Steinbeck, John - The Grapes of Wrath
Stevenson, Robert Louis - Treasure Island
Stowe, Harriet Beecher - Uncle Tom's Cabin
Swift, Jonathan - Gulliver's Travels
Thackeray, William - Vanity Fair
Thoreau, Henry David - Walden
Tolstoy, Leo - War and Peace
Turgenev, Ivan - Fathers and Sons
Twain, Mark - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Voltaire - Candide
Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. - Slaughterhouse-Five
Walker, Alice - The Color Purple
Wharton, Edith - The House of Mirth
Welty, Eudora - Collected Stories
Whitman, Walt - Leaves of Grass
Wilde, Oscar - The Picture of Dorian Gray
Williams, Tennessee - The Glass Menagerie
Woolf, Virginia - To the Lighthouse
Wright, Richard - Native Son

posted at 12:05 AM | permalink | Comments (0)

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