June 30, 2004, 09:33 PM

Chronicle: Where local news comes from the AP

By Kevin Whited

The Chronicle posted the following news story to the web earlier (although it may change later, because the Chronicle likes to do that):
Houston crime lab shows off new equipment Associated Press Houston Police Chief Harold L. Hurtt is hopeful the recent addition of 47 new computers in his department's embattled crime lab will be the start of renewed public confidence in the facility.
This is stunning for two reasons. First, why did the Chronicle have to run AP coverage of the police chief? The coverage is incoherent and rambling, and does not provide a good review of the problems with the crime lab. Second, why does the chief think new computers are going to solve the problems at the crime lab? The problems were managerial as much as technological, and it's far from clear that those problems have been solved. (Update) Now the Chronicle links to a non-AP story by Peggy O'Hare that begins similarly, but seems to be a slight improvement. Strange.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

June 30, 2004, 06:55 PM

Howard Stern is not welcome in Houston.....it's time for us to watch the President's back

By Dan Patrick

I did something on my show today that I have never done before, ask my listeners to take action and protest a show on another radio station, the Howard Stern Show. In our business, one doesn’t usually mention another station. Broadcasters fear they will have their listeners tune to that other station. This is particularly the case when the station with the larger audience mentions a station with a smaller audience. Another words, don’t give the little guy any free publicity. There is also a concern that some might think the station that is protesting another is actually concerned that the “other” station may steal some of its audience. I can assure you that first, KSEV has a much, much larger audience than the “other” station. Secondly, I am not afraid of their competition. Our listeners have been loyal to us for over 15 years and would never consider listening to trash talk on another station. My protest is based on two key points. First, we do not need the foul mouthed, low class Howard Stern espousing his filth on our public airways. He debases women, humiliates people and trashed the community standards. Secondly, he has vowed to defeat President George Bush. He is angry that the F.C.C. has clamped down on him and blames the President. He is against the President’s decision opposing stem cell research, is pro abortion and against the war in Iraq. He has made it a personal mission to get his audience to vote in bloc for Kerry. I am angry at Infinity Broadcasting bring Stern to Houston. It is a personal affront, to the city where the President’s parents live, to the state that the President calls home and to a community that largely supports the President, to air a host who has vowed to get the President. The local station that will carry Stern beginning in July, also owns KILT FM and KILT AM. I am asking all citizens to contact KILT FM, the biggest money maker for the company in Houston, and make your protest heard. Tell then you will not support KILT FM or KILT AM or their sponsors if they put Stern on the air. I ask the top officials at the Rodeo to tell KILT they will no longer be welcomed at the rodeo, if they allow Stern on the air in Houston. I am asking all the area Pastors to protest. This is an important issue. Stern must be stopped. He is the Michael Moore of radio. We don’t need his gutter trash talk in our community. We especially don’t need anyone who is out to get the President to be allowed air time in our city. We owe it to the President to fight for him in our town and watch his back. Call KILT FM today. Call the corporate office/investor relations today. If you own Viacom stock, tell them you will sell it. It is time for us to stand up to the Howard Sterns of the world. Investor Relations for Viacom: 1-800 516 4399 (ask them for the main corporate # to protest while talking with them.) KILT FM G.M Laura Morris: (713) 881-5100 KILT FM Listener Line: (713) 881-5180 Viacom owns CBS, Paramount Pictures and MTV as part of their holdings as well as Infinity Radio Group. This is an example of a huge company, thinking it can just steamroll into a community and dump their human waste on it. Stern is human waste.

Permalink | News and Views

June 30, 2004, 05:13 PM

Krugman's World

By Anne Linehan

The Chronicle runs a Paul Krugman column on Wednesday that caused a bit of a stir when it ran in the NY Times on Tuesday. Krugman is a Princeton economist who fancies himself a wise truth-teller, exposing Republican/conservative shams. You don't have to search far to find other commentators who regularly dismantle his columns, exposing the lies and distortions they contain. Today's column (actually yesterday's) is full of the usual stuff about how the US has done a terrible job in Iraq. But he goes a bit further with a brief mention of Simone Ledeen, who worked for the CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) in Iraq. Simone's father is Michael Ledeen, a former White House national security advisor and well-known expert on Iran, among many other things. Krugman calls him a neocon, using it as a pejorative, and implies that Simone Ledeen got her job because of her father's connections. This column was discussed widely in various blogs yesterday. Michael Ledeen, a contributor to The Corner, had this to say yesterday about the column:
RE: KRUGMAN [Michael Ledeen] It's a new low even for him. He never bothered to ask what Simone's qualifications were (she has an MBA), or even what she did (which included driving around the country, sometimes with vehicles filled with cash so that Iraqi security people could get paid). Then, does he think that Barbara and I lobbied in order to put our daughter's life in danger? Doesn't he have children? In fact we didn't know she had volunteered until she was ready for her shots... Just for extras, he quoted me out of context, thereby totally distorting what I said. Does “reckless disregard for the truth” have any meaning in this country?
Roger Simon, another well-known blogger, had this to say regarding the Krugman column:
Krugman engages in egregious character assassination in the article of Simone Ledeen, Michael’s daughter. This is the kind of personal attack I believe to be endemic to Krugman’s form of partisanship and should not have been allowed by The New York Times. Krugman implied that Ms. Ledeen benefited from nepotism and was not qualified to serve in Iraq. This could not be further from the truth. Simone Ledeen, who did accounting for the CPA, was a fully qualified MBA and exactly the kind of young person you would want to see serving in Iraq (not a simple thing to find, obviously, for a dangerous war zone). I met her for the first time last week, having dinner with her twice. I listened to her detailed analyses of what was going on over there that were in many ways as critical as Krugman’s, but far more subtle and educated because she had spent over half a year in Iraq, visiting many parts of the country, working with and training Iraqis with whom she became friends. I know nothing of the quotes that Krugman cherry-picked for his article or of their context, but can assure you and him that this young woman is no warmonger. The kind of reactionary (word chosen very specifically) character assassination he has engaged in is despicable.
Since Krugman has a long history of not being honest in his columns, there's even a Krugman Truth Squad, just to keep an eye on his “facts”. If you click on Author Archive to the right of Donald Luskin's picture you can see how busy Krugman has kept the Truth Squad. Oh, and did you know that Krugman is a former Enron advisor? Krugman and the NY Times don't like to make a big deal of that. The Chronicle editors would do themselves a service by branching out with some new columnists. There are many other writers out there who are not as factually-challenged as Krugman, both on the left and the right. And please, Chronicle editors, start reading blogs! Broaden your horizons! By choosing to use material from the NY Times and the LA Times so often, the Chronicle doesn't serve Houstonians well. Besides it's old stuff!

Permalink | Media Watch

June 30, 2004, 01:38 PM

Biased... or just World Class???

By Captain Chronicle

No doubt many of you conservative Neanderthals are still upset by Chronicle movie reviewer Eric Harrison’s wildly divergent reactions to Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” and Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 911”-- F9/11: (Moore) is an indispensable treasure, and his imperfections are part of the reason, because they mark him as real. Passion: It's awful because everything he knows about storytelling has been swept aside by proselytizing zeal. Please go easy on Eric—he was only trying to fit-in among his chums at other “World Class” papers… A.O. Scott, New York Times: F9/11: Mr. Moore's populist instincts have never been sharper...he is a credit to the republic. Passion: Gibson has exploited the popular appetite for terror and gore for what he and his allies see as a higher end. Ty Burr, Boston Globe F9/11: Should be seen because it takes off the gloves and wades into the fray, because it synthesizes the anti-Bush argument like no other work before it, and because it forces you to decide for yourself exactly where passion starts to warp point of view. Passion: If you come seeking theological subtlety, let alone such modern inventions as psychological depth, you'll walk away battered and empty-handed. Ann Hornaday, Washington Post: F9/11: Moore exercises admirable forbearance ... his finest artistic moment. Passion: Gibson has exhibited a startling lack of concern for historical context. Rex Reed, New York Observer: F9/11: There are multitudes of shattering, seminal moments in his brilliant Bush-whacking documentary. Passion: A movie that doesn’t say much of anything new. Been there, done that, and you know how it all comes out already. David Sterrit, Christian Science Monitor: F9/11: Is the label “documentary” appropriate for this openly activist movie? Of course it is, unless you cling to some idealized notion of “objective” film. Passion: The highly selective screenplay includes only a few of Jesus' words, spoken in occasional flashback scenes. Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: F9/11: Moore makes a persuasive and unrelenting case that there is another way to look at things beyond the version we've been given. Passion: A film so narrowly focused as to be inaccessible for all but the devout.
(Hat Tip: Beautiful Atrocities)

Permalink | Captain Chronicle

June 30, 2004, 07:38 AM

Stick to the Script

By Anne Linehan

If you are listening to Edd Hendee this morning, you heard him mention this story. A couple nights ago, Sen. Hillary Clinton gave a speech in San Francisco and the mask of moderate slipped.
“Many of you are well enough off that ... the tax cuts may have helped you,” Sen. Clinton said. “We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.”
(emphasis added) Now, this doesn't come as a surprise to many of us. We know she thinks this way, as do many Democrats. After all, that money you work so hard to earn really belongs to the government, don't you know. But, she has cultivated a more centrist stance these past few years. Every once in a while, though, she forgets the recorders and cameras are running and the light shines brightly on the true Hillary Clinton. According to the American Spectator, Sen. Clinton did not have a prepared speech and was winging it. (second item) That wasn't a good idea.

Permalink | KSEV Topics

June 30, 2004, 07:30 AM

Neil Cavuto has learned the ultimate lesson of life

By Dan Patrick

I have appeared as a guest on the Neil Cavuto Show on two occasions. When I do a live guest shot I go to a studio downtown and appear via a satellite uplink. It is a very odd set-up. I sit in a small room looking into a camera. I don’t see anyone. I don’t have a television monitor. I simply listen on an earpiece and answer questions. I’m never sure when I’m on camera. I’ve learned to always assume I’m on camera. I don’t want to be caught in an awkward moment. You have seen these guest shots on cable news shows countless times. It usually goes pretty smoothly. It always appears that the guests and hosts know each other on a personal basis. I did a guest shot on Hannity and Colmes a few months ago. Oliver North was sitting in for Sean Hannity. You would have thought we were old friends. I’ve had Ollie on my radio show a few times and once again, you would have thought we served together in the Marines. We’ve never met. I’ve also never met Neil Cavuto. However, I always felt very comfortable being a guest on his show. My last appearance on his show was in February, just before the release of the “Passion of the Christ.’ I was the only guest and had almost 6 minutes, a lot of time on one of the top rated news shows on cable, to discuss my theory on how the movie would help re-elect President George Bush. Normally, I appear with some liberal talk host and we divide 4 or 5 minutes and argue for most of the time. I have to fight to get my points across. Neil opened the segment suggesting my theory was rather bizarre, but he gave me plenty of time to develop my theory. By the end of the interview I think I had convinced him that my theory was not so bizarre after all. He was extremely gracious with his time and comments. A few days later, I got a personally signed thank you note from him. I have never received a thank you note from any other host. Yesterday, I had Neil on my show on KSEV, to interview him about his best selling book, More Than Money: True Stories of People Who Learned Life's Ultimate Lesson. In it, Neil tells the stories of very successful people who have overcome great obstacles and found the true meaning of life. Neil has also overcome great obstacles in his life. He doesn’t wear his problems on his sleeve. Many of his regular viewers have only recently become aware of some of the hurdles he has had to overcome and is still dealing with every day. In 1987 Neil was told he had cancer, which he overcame several years later. In 1996, just as his career was really beginning to take off with Fox News, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis; M.S. Neil shared with my audience that he had had his tearful moments and serious conversations with God. Many people would have not been able to handle the news. Many people would have become bitter and angry with God. Neil did not do either. Instead, Neil focused on what was really important in life, his family and his friends. He made a decision to spend the rest of his life making a positive difference in the lives of others. Instead of getting down, he rose up. Instead of wearing a perpetual frown, he decided to smile. His show is the most watched business show on television. He is regarded by those who know him best, as one of the “good guys.” That image comes across on the tube. I look forward to his show every day as I prepare for my show. In a world of bad news, Neil usually has a positive outlook on the events of the day. I have a chapter in my book, The Second Most Important Book You Will Ever Read, that tries to answer the question; why bad things happen to good people. As I discuss in my book, I believe in free will. God does not choose for any of us to suffer. However, when one of his children is in a crisis of any type, he looks for those who can serve him by being an inspiration to others. I believe Neil is one of those chosen people. Neil lives a life that is an example to all of us. Yes, he had gotten a tough break. He has had a few of them. But through it all, he keeps moving forward and making a positive impact on others. God has given him a huge platform. I’m not sure even Neil realizes how many people he influences and how many lives he can impact. I highly recommend the book. It will inspire you. I have gotten to know Neil a lot better through his book and my interview with him. Maybe one day I will meet him in person. Until then, I will keep watching his show. However, now I hav a better understanding of why Neil often brings a bright outlook into a world that is often in darkness. As his title suggests, he too has figured out the ultimate lessons of life.

Permalink | News and Views

June 30, 2004, 07:15 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Michael Moore can't distingush between fact and fiction and Westside High School's football program has struck oil. Read on these topics and more in today's Features section.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

June 30, 2004, 07:00 AM

It's about time somebody else said it

By Owen Courrèges

An op-ed which ran in Tuesday's Chronicle says a great deal that needed to be said. In it, Congressman John Carter criticizes Rep. Chris Bell for advancing conspiracy theories aimed at toppling House Majority Leader Tom DeLay rather than advancing the agenda of his constituents. For example:
Two weeks ago, Rep. Chris Bell, D-Houston, broke a 7-year-old ethics truce between Democrats and Republicans to not file frivolous complaints against either party's leadership by targeting fellow Texan and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land. It is too bad Bell has nothing better to do than demonize an effective Texas leader in an attempt to garner future political gain. Over the past 20 years, DeLay's work ethic and principles have led to the Contract with America, welfare reform, tax cuts, medical malpractice reform, a balanced budget in 1998 andother historic pieces of legislation. Without DeLay's leadership, there would not have been the key economic growth legislation that has created more than 102,000 jobs in Texas in the past nine months. Just last week, DeLay successfully championed provisions in the new American Jobs Creation Act that will permit Texans to deduct sales tax from their federal income taxes for the first time in 18 years. Bell voted against it. Bell's unfounded allegations are just the latest Democrat attempt to demonize DeLay. Less widely known is that Bell's new constituents dislike Bell, who was defeated in a Democrat primary this past March after only one term in Congress. Rather than using the time he has left in Congress to advance ideas, Bell advances conspiracy theories.
Needless to say, he makes a good point. I'm glad that for once the Chronicle bothered to include an opposing view.

Permalink | Chron Bias

June 30, 2004, 06:30 AM

Strayhorn calls for sales tax deductions

By Owen Courrèges

For the most part, I've been a tad perturbed with Texas Comptoller Carole Strayhorn lately. Specifically, she's been bucking the GOP in hopes of mounting a credible challenge to Governor Perry, something that doesn't exactly make loyal Republicans like myself very happy. However, I can't disagree in the least with Strayhorn's latest effort to push for federal deductions of state and local sales taxes, which heretofore have had none (from the Houston Business Journal):
Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn on Monday released a report indicating that the average Texas family would save $310 annually if they were allowed to deduct state and local sales taxes on their federal income tax returns. Strayhorn voiced her support for a bill pending in Congress that would allow residents in states like Texas that collect state and local sales taxes instead of state income taxes to deduct taxes paid. U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, sponsored bill HR 4520, which is currently in conference committee. In her original report released in March 2002, the comptroller argued that the average Texas family would save $284 a year if they could itemize their sales taxes. However, the updated report now tracks that figure at $310. Furthermore, the net tax savings would generate 16,573 new jobs and $923 million in Gross State Product in 2005, the report states. “The current system is unfair,” Strayhorn says. “It discriminates against Texans and the citizens of other states who have decided against a state income tax. As a result, Texans pay a higher percentage of taxes to the federal government than their neighbors in Oklahoma and Arkansas, which have a state income tax. That's wrong.”
There's really no refuting this argument, lest one admit to favoring a state income tax (which none but the most brazen Democrats will admit to). Honestly, hasn't Washington been pushing state income taxes for too long? Shouldn't there be some kind of balance?

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

June 30, 2004, 06:00 AM

New poll

By Owen Courrèges

We have a new poll question up today: “Was the invasion of Iraq a mistake?” You can respond to this question here. As for our last poll — “Do you support the death penalty?” — our respondents were highly monolithic. 93.1% answered “yes,” while a mere 6.1% answered “no.” This was also apparently a polarizing issue, as only 0.8% answered that they were “not sure.”

Permalink | Staff Notes

June 29, 2004, 11:35 PM

Searching for Good News from Iraq

By Anne Linehan

Trudy Rubin, of the Philadelphia Enquirer, writes a tired and negative piece in today's Outlook section of the Chronicle about the state of Iraq. Basically, according to Trudy, there is no good news. Iraq is a mess. The Bush adminstration has not done everything perfectly (imagine!) and often has had to revisit old plans and come up with new ones. Well, that has just never happened before in warfare. Ever! It would be very easy to get demoralized with the perfect, 20/20 hindsight the media employs, but there really is plenty of good news from Iraq. You just have to hunt a bit, because you'd be hard-pressed to find it in the Chronicle. First, you can read the words of real Iraqis, commenting on yesterday's historic events. (Here, here, here, and here) Iraq has bloggers! And if you want to know the truth about Iraq, reading their words is a good place to start. They are honest. When they think the US has messed up, they write about it, and when the US is doing something right, they are not afraid to say that, too. Somehow, one would imagine that these Iraqi citizens are more in tune with actual happenings in Iraq than dear Trudy is. Did you know that Iraq has talk radio? This is an AP story so let's give them credit for reporting it. So far, the Chronicle hasn't picked it up. For an in-depth look at all that has been accomplished in Iraq, check out Arthur Chrenkoff's blog. He has some terrific roundups on Iraq developments that the regular media avoids. (Here, here, and here) There really are some amazing things going on in Iraq and it is through the cooperative efforts of many groups of people. If you want to read some examples of how the media has influenced the war effort, check out this. The media has moved from just reporting the war to actually impacting the way the military fights the war. Here's a Marine reservist's experience with the Washington Post Iraq bureau. It's instructive of how reporters will skew stories and, when all else fails, manufacture stories. And it helps explain the frustration our military men and women have with the media. They are experiencing a totally different war! Less than 1 1/2 years after Saddam Hussein fled Baghdad, the people of Iraq are governing themselves and remaking their country. That's something to celebrate.

Permalink | Media Watch

June 29, 2004, 10:06 PM

Chronicle editor slams traditional marriage, claims gays value marriage more highly!

By Kevin Whited

Here is what passes for deep thought at MeMo, the Chronicle's idiotic attempt at a blog:
a. I was attending the annual conference of NLGJA, the gay and lesbian journalists organization. I was there as a recruiter. I had thought, up until now, that my plain-vanilla straight self was up to speed on issues of the LGBT community. I was not. There is far more anger and poignancy and nuance to these issues than I was aware of. All the talk was of marriage, an institution far more deeply cherished by those who can't have it than it is by those who can.
What do you think, Chronically Biased readers? Do you think Kyrie O'Connor/MeMo has accurately described marriage? Do you think it's accurate that gay people value “marriage” more than heterosexuals? Or do you think it's possible that because traditionalists do value marriage, we don't need Kyrie O'Connor, Jeff Cohen, or the rest of the liberal Chronicle editors to poke us (the majority) in the eye and tell us why we're wrong? If you have an opinion you'd like to share, you might find the following email addresses and other information useful. Not that we're telling you how to think or what to do. Unlike the Chronicle, we don't do that. We write, you decide. Kyrie O'Connor (author of the above) Jeff Cohen (editor in chief of the Chronicle) Viewpoints (the letters page) 713-220-7171 (Chronicle switchboard) Incidentally, why was O'Connor there as a recruiter? I thought the Chronicle didn't discriminate based on sexual orientation?

Permalink | Noxious Chron Columnists

June 29, 2004, 08:54 PM

Chronicle blames the internet for partisan views

By M. Wildes

In “Net helps widen rift between left, right” the Chronicle asserts that the growing trend of political web sites has led to a greater divide in American politics. The article is about web sites on the right and left that “experts believe h[ave] intensified the polarization of America’s electorate.” R.G. Ratcliffe gives extreme examples, such as, traitor lists from the right and advertiser boycotts of Limbaugh from the left and uses them as examples of where more people than ever before are going for information. However, the story diminishes the impact of such sites by stating that the sites are only for those who already agree with the site’s politics and have little impact. The Chronicle misses the point. The story indicates that:
A Pew Research Center poll conducted earlier this year also found the number of people who get presidential campaign news from the Internet grew from 9 percent in 2000 to 13 percent this year. The number of people getting campaign news from traditional sources such as television and newspapers has declined as much as 10 percent.
This poll does not prove that people are going to partisan sites as implied. It is not the extreme sites at all. In fact, distrust in the “traditional sources” has led people to go to the Internet for news. We are visiting multiple sources and inquiring further than paper will allow us. Gone is the day that we have to read spun drivel and ignore the resulting nagging questions in our minds. We can now read for ourselves. No doubt, this quest leads us to partisan sources. The difference is that most of these sources reveal their political leanings. Surprise mainstream media, we are smart enough to know sites are partisan. Readers can take what they wish and formulate their own opinions without your help. Gone is the day when we were stuck with very few outlets, all getting their news from the same source. No longer must ordinary people read a source that masquerades as balanced but spews its agenda between the lines or from a preconceive notion of the truth it only thinks is unbiased. America is more partisan, but it is because we have awoken to the fact that the mainstream media had created an artificial middle of the political spectrum on the left. For years, left of center was represented as the center. As new sources have emerged, we have been able to begin to redefine the political scale to more accurately represent people’s beliefs. The mass exodus will continue until the old sources take note or fall prey to their own arrogance. The Chronicle can try to portray those going to the web for news as extreme and even try to scare others away from doing so, but the truth is that Americans are smarter than that. The Chronicle should not fear that we will all become partisan from the web. We are smart enough to call an extremist when we see it. Perhaps the Chronicle should instead fear that more and more of us are becoming self-sufficient. (Note: Also see Anne Linehan's comments on this article).

Permalink | Chron Bias

June 29, 2004, 04:43 PM

Richard Justice underwhelms again

By Kevin Whited

It continues to amaze us that Chronicle reporter Richard Justice was actually promoted to columnist not so long ago, especially when he writes things like this:
All that saves Garrido is the fact he has represented the university well and runs what appears to be a clean program.
When I read this earlier, I wondered if Justice was smoking crack, or if he really was that clueless about Augie Garrido's record at Texas. To Justice's credit, he later posted this corrective from a local college baseball fan online:
Are you kidding? They are on probation for committing major NCAA violations in 2002. One such more violation and UT baseball is eligible for the death penalty: Story They had two players arrested during the Big 12 Tournament this year. They were again cited for NCAA violations this year for illegal practices. [snip] (This) is more sanctions than every Division I baseball program in the entire state of Texas combined over the last three years, and you think he runs a “clean program?”
Here is Justice's underwhelming response:
He did have that violation, and I should have pointed it out. I thought the violation itself was ridiculous — like a volunteer coach not doing work. The NCAA has too many of those silly rules. However, he did violate a rule. To me substantive rules violations involve academic fraud and things like that. My statement was meant to reflect the whole body of his career, which has been pretty remarkable.
The NCAA called it more than a rules violation, Richard! They called it a MAJOR INFRACTION. And it was a major infraction — using boosters to pay “volunteer” coaches for work not done so they can go out and recruit talent is fraudulent and unethical behavior, no matter how much DeLoss Dodds and Augie Garrido want to whine otherwise. Along with the other problems Justice chose to ignore, it suggests that Augie Garrido is running something short of a “clean program.” Question is, was Justice even aware of these facts? And did it even cross his mind to hit the Chronicle archives? Further, Justice's explanation that he was referring to “the whole body of [Garrido's] career,” is unconvincing, because he clearly was NOT referring to Garrido's entire career, but his time at Texas. To quote from above, “he has represented the university well and runs what appears to be a clean program.” There is no doubt that Justice was referring to Garrido's career at UT. He compounds the problem by misrepresenting what he clearly wrote. Justice blew this one, and his explanation is even more underwhelming than his lack of knowledge about Augie Garrido's troubled baseball program.

Permalink | Noxious Chron Columnists

June 29, 2004, 08:38 AM

Terrorist Is A Bad Word

By Anne Linehan

The Chronicle posts an editorial today about the handover of power in Iraq yesterday, an unexpected move that surprised just about everyone, including the media. The editorial dives right into the muck when it says Iraq has been plagued with attacks by insurgents. The word insurgent has become the favored media word to describe the terrorists, barbarians, butchers, whatever, who have killed so many Iraqis, Americans and other foreigners in the past 15 months. According to Merriam Webster, a terrorist is one who uses terror as a means of coercion and terror is defined as a state of intense fear. An insurgent is a person who revolts against civil authority and also a rebel who is not recognized as a belligerent. Okay, let's look up belligerent, just for fun. A belligerent is defined as one who is waging war and is inclined to hostility or combativeness. So, according to the Chronicle editors, the lovely people in Iraq who are fond of car bombs, beheadings, rocket attacks, and the like, are merely revolting against civil authority and are not waging war or inclined to hostility or combativeness. And, by all means, they are not terrorists. This sort of writing is just absurd. Most likely the editors have taken to using insurgent and insurgency because other mainstream media outlets have adopted these words, but it doesn't excuse them from actually looking up the defintions of the words. And if they knew the defintions beforehand and still chose to use those words, then their judgment is not sound. But, the editors aren't done. They move onto some of the more familiar media carping: success isn't guaranteed; the transition is only symbolic because our forces will still be there helping fight those insurgents; Iraqis are not really happy we are there, although they don't want us to leave; democracy can kill; blah, blah, blah. But the last sentence of the editorial is the most elitist of all:
With Iraqis focusing more on the politics of governing themselves and less on the U.S. presence in their country, democracy has perhaps an even chance.
It's the same old media refrain, tinged with racism - perhaps this Arab country can make democracy work, but the editors aren't really sure; they are merely hopeful. Did Japan and Germany have anything close to democracy in their countries before WWII? How in the world have they managed since then? Must be just sheer luck and hope.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

June 29, 2004, 07:58 AM

Robison reports “olds” as news

By The Houstonian

Chronicle Austin bureau chief and part-time partisan editorialist Clay Robison reports the following rumor today:
Secretary of Commerce Don Evans, a former Texas oilman and longtime friend of President Bush, is being encouraged to return home and run for governor, a Republican insider said Monday. The source, a longtime political player in Austin and Washington, said Evans hasn't dismissed the idea but doesn't plan to seriously consider it until after the November presidential election.
We wonder if he really talked to any such source. We wonder mainly because this rumor was first reported on the subscription only Capitol Inside report last week, after which several bloggers (here, here, and here) duly noted it. Since this broke several days ago, it's closer to “olds” than news at this point, and Robison's story added no new facts. Further, one can't help but wonder why Robison is usually following the lead of bloggers, the Quorum Report, and other subscription-only sources, instead of breaking stories himself. Maybe he's spending too much time on the partisan editorials that appear on weekends?

Permalink | Noxious Chron Columnists

June 29, 2004, 07:40 AM

Metro joins the pantheon of monumentally bad ideas through history

By Owen Courrèges

Permalink | Political Cartoons

June 29, 2004, 07:30 AM

Houston is nation's 'sixth-sweatiest city'

By Owen Courrèges

Old Spice has released its annual “Top 100 Sweatist Cities List,” and once again Houston ranks in the top ten, the Houston Business Journal reports:
Sweltering sweathogs may not notice much of a difference, but Houston apparently is less hot and humid this year compared to last. Houston occupies the No. 6 spot on Old Spice's “Third Annual Top 100 Sweatiest Cities List,” down four notches from the second-place slot a year ago.
Of course, the study's methodology is still highly dubious:
The sweat level was analyzed based on the assumption that the individual walked for one hour each day.
I'm sorry, but I don't walk for an hour in Houston every day. I don't believe I ever have, because frankly, Houston is a car town. We're smart enough not to go walking around in our three-button suits in 90 degree weather and 90% humidity. We have a little thing called 'common sense.' Methinks Old Spice needs to choose a different gimmick, one that doesn't malign our fair city of Houston so unjustly.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

June 29, 2004, 07:00 AM

Chron bias on health textbook controversy

By Owen Courrèges

The Chronicle has an article out in today's edition concerning some recent criticism of two health textbooks approved by the State Board of Education. Liberals charge that they fail to provide state-mandated information on contraception, that the books' focus is instead placed on abstinence (where it belongs, at least in my opinion). Now, at this point you're probably asking yourself: Did the Chronicle manage to avoid showing its well-known bias against social conservatives? The answer is, predictably, a resounding no. First, let's see how the Chronicle deals with the Texas Freedom Network, described on their website as “a mainstream voice to counter the religious right:”
[C]ritics, including a member of the review panel, said that the books shouldn't have been approved. They plan to take their concerns to the State Board of Education, which will hold a public hearing July 14. Dan Quinn, communications director for the Texas Freedom Network, said the books avoid any discussion of contraceptive methods.
Note that in this excerpt, which comes from near the beginning of the article, and no mention is made of the TFN's left-wing agenda. Now compare that with this excerpt from the article's conclusion:
Samantha Smoot, president of the Texas Freedom Network, said that publishers have become so wary of developing books that might prove controversial that they have engaged in self-censorship. “Publishers have been irresponsible in failing to meet curriculum requirements on barrier protection and other forms of contraception,” Smoot said. Cathie Adams, president of the Texas Eagle Forum, a self-described pro-family group, praised the publishers for consulting with interested organizations before submitting their books to the education agency. She said that abstinence-only for teens is “very much in keeping with policies from the White House, as well as policies that are wanted by parents.”
There you have it. The Eagle Forum's response is buried at the end of the piece. Their agenda is described while the TFN's remains a mystery to the reader. If not of bias, this is an example of incredibly sloppy journalism. Still, that's what we've come to expect from the Chronicle, now isn't it?

Permalink | Chron Bias

June 28, 2004, 09:24 PM

A reader rep who actually does something?

By Kevin Whited

The New York Times reader representative/public editor admits his newspaper blew it with a recent Iraq/Al Qaeda/9-11 Commission headline:
Stretching across four columns of the front page, the June 17 headline “Panel Finds No Qaeda-Iraq Tie; Describes a Wider Plot for 9/11” caused some readers, including Vice President Dick Cheney, to accuse The Times of “outrageous” (Cheney's word) distortion of the 9/11 commission's staff report. I don't buy “outrageous,” but “distortion” works for me - specifically, the common newspaper crime of distortion by abbreviation. The staff report was largely concerned with attacks on United States soil, whereas the headline bore no such qualification. The headline also leaned on two of those words whose brevity makes them dear to all newsrooms: the resolute “no,” and the imprecise “tie.” Assistant managing editor Craig Whitney, who oversees the front page, argues that “tie” in the headline is “a correct shorthand summary” of the report's conclusion that there appeared to be no “collaborative relationship” between Al Qaeda and Iraq. That's the problem with shorthand: If it's not written in your own hand, it's very hard to read. Headlines also pose two conundrums. The more complex the story, the more likely you are to get a headline that oversimplifies it. And the more complete the coverage associated with the headline, the less likely readers will find their own way to the gist of it. The main news section on June 17 contained eight separate articles on the staff report, consuming nearly 550 column inches. Unable to wander through all these glades and thickets of prose, many readers rely on headlines to provide as much of a summary as they are prepared to absorb. While headlines may be short, their impact is large. Willful distortion? I don't see it. Misstep? Sure. Is an apology needed, as Internet columnist Bob Kohn, one of the paper's most forceful (and, often, most incisive) critics on the right, demanded by e-mail? No. Good reporting and careful presentation are what's needed. If out-of-tune headlines required apologies, the newspaper business would soon turn into a cacophony of confession.
He doesn't quite get as far as he should have, which is to admit the newspaper blew its coverage altogether, but this should be considered progress at the New York Times. Closer to home, the Chronicle's Reader Representative James T. Campbell is not even allowed to write a column, let alone EVER be critical of his newspaper.

Permalink | Media Watch

June 28, 2004, 06:57 PM

The Chron editorial board lectures New York and Boston

By Kevin Whited

The Chronicle editorial board takes the opportunity today to beat up on convention planners and city leaders in New York and Boston:
Later this summer, when you read about or tune into the Democratic and Republican national conventions, have a moment of pitying reflection for the hundreds of thousands of your fellow citizens in New York and Boston whose life will have been made hell by the determined thoughtlessness of party leaders and civic boosters. To put it into local perspective, imagine, say, if officials blocked the Southwest Freeway and portions of the Loop 610 for four days, even intermittently?
And what if local officials, with the full support of the city's only daily newspaper, ran an expensive, underutilized, rain-challenged tram down Main Street, a system that decreases mobility by reducing traffic flow options and eliminating lanes that previously existed? What if those same local officials, again with the full support of the city's only newspaper, shut down half of downtown in the evenings to host a big Super Bowl Party? Oh yeah, no need for “what if.” Those things actually happened, and the Chronicle thought it was all part of making Houston world class! Now they have the gall to lecture Boston and New York? That's astonishing even by Chronicle standards.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

June 28, 2004, 10:56 AM

Polarizing? It's the Right's Fault

By Anne Linehan

In today's Chronicle, R.G. Ratcliffe writes a story about how the internet is polarizing web-surfers. Ratcliffe starts the piece with an anecdote about a San Antonio college student who signed an online anti-Iraq war petition. Now, Ratcliffe says, the student has been called an “enemy of America,” according to a “national conservative Internet site.” Ratcliffe says that since 9/11/2001 political internet sites have become numerous. But, according to Ratcliffe, those sites on the right “vilify” those who do not support President Bush and the Iraq War. Sites considered to be on the left merely “use common curse words” to describe opponents. Vilify vs. common curse words. Which sounds scarier? Ratcliffe lists three websites as examples of this polarizing, two conservative and one liberal. One of the conservative sites is well-known in internet circles, Free Republic. Free Republic is a self-described clearinghouse for conservative news, activism and discussion. In fairness, that site has had some radical postings in its discussion forums. The other two sites Ratcliffe lists, one conservative and one liberal, are lesser-known but very ideological. What is curious is that Ratcliffe chose not to write about any well-known liberal websites. Democratic Underground is listed on the sidebar in the online story, but is not discussed in the article and there isn't a sidebar in the print edition. DU has some very spirited discussion groups with many postings that could be considered polarizing, if not hateful. Perhaps the most famous left website is MoveOn.org. This site/group is often mentioned in mainstream media stories, unlike Free Republic, and has even sponsored speeches by Al Gore. In Gore's speech last week (yes, sponsored by MoveOn.org), he referred to President Bush's supporters as Nazis. Political websites are often extreme, on both sides, but Ratcliffe's story seeks to say that those on the right are more vicious. What Ratcliffe has left out of the story would provide a more balanced view.

Permalink | Chron Bias

June 28, 2004, 10:26 AM

Cox and Forkum: Ties

By The Staff

Cox and Forkum: Osama and Saddam Courtesy of Cox and Forkum

Permalink | Political Cartoons

June 28, 2004, 08:01 AM

Honoring Private Sandoval

By Kevin Whited

Look what the Chronicle buried in the Area Briefs section over the weekend:
Mexican restaurant to honor fallen soldier PEARLAND — Gringo's Mexican Kitchen is dedicating its newest restaurant in Pearland in honor of Marine Pvt. 1st Class Leroy Sandoval Jr. The 21-year-old Marine was killed March 26 in Fallujah, Iraq. “His service to our country is what allows this building to stand,” said Russell Ybarra, president of Gringo's. The dedication will be made at noon July 4 at the restaurant, 2202 East Broadway.
Our compliments to Gringo's Mexican Kitchen. No compliments to the Chronicle, however, for burying this news, and for handling the Sandoval story so poorly in the first place. Fortunately, in our first week of operation, we were able to help Private Sandoval's family set the record straight.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

June 28, 2004, 08:00 AM

Texas death sentence overturned

By Owen Courrèges

In what can only be described as a very rare occurrence, a death sentence in Texas has been overturned in federal court. ABC 13 reports:
A federal judge on Friday threw out the death sentence of a man condemned for his role in a 1993 murder in Plainview. The conviction of Joe Lee Guy stands, but U.S. District Judge Sam Cummings sent the sentencing part of Guy's case back to state district court in Hale County.
Now some death penalty opponents will undoubtedly view this as evidence that the system of prescribing capital punishment is flawed, since a sentence decided upon by a jury was slapped down in federal court. However, that proceeds from a false assumption — that there is an actual “death penalty system.” In truth, there is only one justice system that administers all punishments. We trust the justice system to do this because it has safeguards, and what we're seeing here is a safeguard in action. The appeals process is there to catch weak cases that fall through the cracks, and when it succeeds, it should make us feel more confident in administering the death penalty, not less.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

June 28, 2004, 08:00 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Bob Willems has had enough and explains why he doesn't want Moore and Dan Lovett briefs us on the art of golf in today's Features section.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

June 28, 2004, 07:59 AM

How will Mayor White vote on gay marriage?

By Owen Courrèges

The U.S. Conference of Mayors is slated to confront the issue of gay marriage today, as reported by Fox News:
The U.S. Conference of Mayors will vote Monday on a resolution that opposes a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The resolution was unanimously approved Saturday by the Criminal and Social Justice Committee, putting it on Monday's agenda for consideration by the larger conference, said conference spokeswoman Rhonda Spears.
My question here is, how will Mayor Bill White vote on this resolution? Will he support or subvert the institution of marriage? I believe that Houston voters would like to know one way or the other.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

June 28, 2004, 07:00 AM

New poll

By Owen Courrèges

We have a new poll question up today: “Do you support the death penalty?” You can vote on this question here. The response to our previous poll — “Should we have mandatory national service?” — was the most divided of any of the polls we've had thus far. Those responding “yes” edged out a plurality with 49.5%, followed by 43.2% saying “no.” A small but significant number of you, 7.3%, replied “not sure; it depends.”

Permalink | Staff Notes

June 27, 2004, 08:16 PM

Keep your eye on the financing

By Kevin Whited

Chronicle business columnist Bill Hensel reports on a federal study that suggests Hobby Airport will need expansion in the near future:
A new runway and other improvements will be needed at Hobby Airport in the next decade to accommodate growth, a study has determined. The findings by the Federal Aviation Administration mirror those already pinpointed by Houston Airport System officials in a new master plan for the city's second-largest airport. However, many of the improvements will rely on funding from the FAA, so the official findings by the federal agency are considered important.
One would prefer that the FAA will indeed kick in the funding. Because we wouldn't want a repeat of the financing of Continental's Terminal E expansion at Intercontinental, the bonds for which were downgraded in April 2004:
Thursday, April 29, 2004 Fitch Lwrs Houston Airport Sys Special Facils Revs Matching CAL's Sr Unsec Rtg 'CCC+'; Stable Outlk Business Wire SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE) — Fitch Ratings downgrades the rating on $323.5 million City of Houston, Texas, airport system special facilities revenue bonds (Continental Airlines, Inc. Terminal E Project) series 2001 to 'CCC+' from 'B-'. A Fitch 'CCC' category rating indicates that the potential for default is a real possibility. Special facilities rent, paid by Continental Airlines Inc. (CAL) secures the bonds and this transaction includes no access to liquidity or structural enhancements to avoid default if CAL fails to provide timely debt service payments.
Let's just hope for the best. Incidentally, a quick search of the Chronicle archives didn't turn up any reporting on this Fitch downgrade that took place months ago.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

June 27, 2004, 05:46 PM

Bureau chief during week, partisan on Sundays

By Kevin Whited

Chronicle Austin news bureau chief takes off his reporting hat this weekend, as he does most every weekend, and plays partisan editorialist. This time, he pens a column that largely strokes state Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, a recent favorite of liberals for her frequent attacks on conservative governor Rick Perry. I'm not going to excerpt from it, but the title of the piece pretty much gives away the game: One tough grandma, one tough fight. Aside from one sentence that (inadvertently?) admits that Strayhorn's office did award a contract that looked funny a few years ago, this column mostly serves as an edited press release for her, and subtly (or not so subtly) attacks the governor. I'll repeat something we've been saying since we launched — if the Chronicle's liberal Austin news bureau chief wants to write editorials, then he should step down from the news desk and move to the editorial page. It stretches all credibility for the Chronicle to suggest Robison can cover state politics fairly during the week and write partisan editorials on the weekends.

Permalink | Noxious Chron Columnists

June 27, 2004, 05:36 PM

He gets paid for this?

By Kevin Whited

It's really hard to believe that the Chronicle actually pays Cragg Hines to turn out columns like this one. Surely if the paper is going to go to the expense and trouble of having a D.C. bureau, their chief D.C. columnist can crank out more original copy than “Here are some of the letters I get.” Even his usual fare of attacking conservatives is better than this. So, Hines goes lazy on occasional Sundays and writes about letters he gets. Meanwhile, the Chronicle doesn't even see fit to give James T. Campbell, their reader rep and the man who ought to write about such matters as letters and editorial practices, a weekly column to do so. Pitiful.

Permalink | Noxious Chron Columnists

June 27, 2004, 03:58 PM

Chronicle: Where local news comes from New York

By Kevin Whited

The Chronicle, which received widespread criticism in media circles for its inept coverage of the Enron scandal, runs excerpts of an interview with Ken Lay in Sunday editions. The article is apparently pieced together from an AP dispatch. The AP dispatch was pieced together from the original report by Kurt Eichenweld in the New York Times. Once again, the Chronicle is simply running “olds” as news, which begs the question why people wouldn't just go read the news and op-eds in the New York Times and LA Times (where the Chronicle picks up so much of its material) and ignore the Chronicle altogether. Amusingly, the Chronicle did report that Ken Lay has denied their interview requests repeatedly. I'm not so sure I would have admitted in print how useless my newspaper really is, even at covering local news. But the Chronicle editors (obviously) don't always share my judgment. A tip of the hat goes to Houston blogger Charles Kuffner for catching this one.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

June 27, 2004, 02:45 PM

Top 10% rule changes may make it worse, not better

By M. Wildes

In 1997, the so-called top 10% rule was enacted, after race-based admissions were found illegal under the 5th Circuit. The top 10% rule guarantees students in the top 10% of their High School class admission to a state university in Texas. Governor Rick Perry is currently seeking to reform the rule as it is causing many highly qualified students, not in the top 10% percent, to leave the state for other schools. The University of Texas, for example, had to enroll 70% of its incoming freshman class under the rule, leaving only 30% for admittance under other qualifications. Many are in favor of a cap on the percentage one university would have to admit and others want to abolish it all together, especially, since the ban on affirmative action programs has been lifted and schools like The University of Texas have started using affirmative action to admit minority students. The Chronicle has included a number of articles on the subject recently. In Thursday’s, “'10% law' revision plan is opposed”, LULAC and the NAACP were against any changes saying that it would hurt minority enrollment. Friday’s paper included an AP story, “Expert has idea for top 10%” in which an “expert” from Princeton University told a Senate committee on higher education that one fix would be to adopt California’s method of letting the state select a student’s school! Without even going down the argument path of social engineering, socialism, and communism, this would actually punish the student’s for doing well. Having the state determine the university for the top 10% of students takes further decision making away from students and universities. The state government should stay out. College should be merit based. If you have the right balance of grades, class rank, writing abilities, extracurricular activities, and test scores, then you get in. If not, then try again. There is always a chance to go to community college and transfer in later. Besides, Texas has countless excellent colleges and universities. You can apply to them all. Any rule that guarantees admissions to any student based on one criterion is wrong and state involvement in these equations is wrong. Somebody ranked in the 11th percentile, with a GPA one tenth of one percent lower than the top 10% should not be denied admission because 70 percent of the students being admitted are from the top 10%. Worse yet, somebody from an academically superior school and who is in the top 11% should not be forced out to a student in the top 10% from a school with far lower standards. The solution is not to allow the state to distribute students to the school it chooses nor is it the top 10% rule. We are a country of competitive markets. Those students in the 11th percentile should not be forced to go out of state, but perhaps those in the top 10 who are not as well rounded should be. This sort of system does not prepare students for the “real world.” What’s next? Everyone who graduates from college in the top 10% is guaranteed a high-salaried job at a top corporation? If too many students choose Dell, then I guess the state could always start distributing jobs among companies. Again, Texas has so many colleges and universities. No one is entitled. All should compete. What ever it is that makes an individual qualified or an inch above the rest should be considered, not just GPAs. We do not need the state involved in placing students where it chooses like in California and Europe. When I was studying law in Austria, I met an Austrian Law student and we exchanged stories as to how we became interested in being lawyers. I told him how I chose to become an attorney based on my interests and competed for admittance. He told me that in middle school, students were chosen for different careers thought to be well suited for each of them. Therefore, from that point onward he was assigned a special schooling track all the way into his twenties. I shudder to think what I would be doing now had someone determined my interests for me and taken away my choices based on looking at me in middle school.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

June 26, 2004, 12:26 PM

Dems rally around Michael Moore, Chron looks the other way

By Phil Magness

In a sense, Michael Moore has become a veritable Leni Riefenstahl for the Democratic Party's liberal wing. His latest film Fahrenheit 911, slated to open today, pushes several propagandist absurdities, among them the implication of a secret George W. Bush/Osama Bin Laden relationship. Moore, who recently used the term “minutemen” to praise the same Iraqi insurgents that cut off innocent captive's heads, currently enjoys celebrity status in the ranks of Washington's Democratic Party elite. Yet if one were to rely upon the Houston Chronicle for coverage of the DNC reaction to Moore's film he or she would recieve the impression that Democrats are trying to distance themselves from the extremist agenda of its director. Today's article on Moore's film by D.C. correspondent Julie Mason characterizes the reaction in Democrat political circles as restrained. John Kerry, she notes, has not commented on it. As for the rest she goes on to say the following:
“For most politicians Michael Moore is too hot to handle.”
Mason could not have been further from the truth. Due thanks are in order for members of the internet-based conservative organization “Free Republic” who attended Moore's star-studded Washington, D.C. premier to hand out leaflets on the film's dubious factual contents. These conservative pamphleteers also took time to keep tabs on which leading Democrat leaders showed up to the premier and published them on their website. Among the guests of honor observed by the Free Republic members were several political players on the left who evidently do not consider Michael Moore “too hot to handle” - Terry McAuliffe, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee Sen. Fritz Hollings, D-South Carolina Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa Sen. Bob Graham, D-Florida Rep. Charles Rangel, D-New York Paul Begala, former Clinton spokesman and liberal pundit Eleanor Clift, liberal pundit And, without doubt, many other lesser Democrats that Ms. Mason neglected to inform her readers about. Far from staying away, Democrat officials right up to the DNC chief himself seemingly can't get enough of Moore's radicalism. To Mason's credit though, she did mention a lone DNC insider and former Al Gore spokesman, Chris Lehane, who is now employed by Moore to provide positive spin for his political smears.

Permalink | Chron Bias

June 26, 2004, 10:55 AM

The Chron's latest DeLay-bashing nonsense

By Owen Courrèges

The Houston Chronicle went off the deep end a long time ago when it comes to their commentary on the activities of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, but even I didn't suspect that they'd lower themselves to these extremes. This latest staff editorial reads like it was written by Oliver Stone:
The DeLay-Bacardi connection, already written about and well known in political circles, is cited in a footnote to the extortion, bribery and abuse of power complaint against the majority leader filed last week with the House Ethics Committee by Rep. Chris Bell, D-Houston. The committee, without commenting on the merits, accepted Bell's complaint Tuesday, although it's not clear if the panel will move ahead with an active investigation or await conclusion of the grand jury's work in Austin. [...] DeLay's involvement should be more than a footnote to any House investigation. Who did what for whom and why should be of intense interest to more than just barkeeps and rummies.
Upon reading this editorial, a friend of mine remarked that it was “a rumor befitting of a London communist or a tie-dyed hippie, but not a major metropolitan newspaper.” I can't think of a better way to put it myself. What the Chronicle really has here is a grand set of unprovable charges, just like Chris Bell. They have no cause other than their well-known dislike for DeLay for repeating these charges, and no better evidence than the circumstancial dreck that typifies conspiricist paranoia. But that's the Chronicle for you.

Permalink | Chron Bias

June 26, 2004, 09:00 AM

We must behave at Fahrenheit 9/11

By Dan Patrick

For those of you who heard my show yesterday, I mentioned that I might be going to see the Michael Moore movie today and that if you wanted to join me, I would post what theater and time I was attending. I will not be able to attend today. If you were not listening, I stated that I had no interest in seeing the movie. However, I felt I needed to see it in order to respond to callers who had seen it or who had questions. I don't want to put one dime in Moore's pocket. Bill O'Reilly suggested that some people might actually buy a ticket for another movie and then change their mind and see the Moore movie instead once inside. That way Moore doesn't get the money. Some people also suggested leaving their cell phones on during the movie, (and having their wives check in with them every 20 minutes) or taking their crying babies to see it. I am clearly not endorsing or suggesting any such action. Heaven forbid, those who think Moore is an anti-American, Bush bashing, lying no good son of a gun, do anything to show their dislike for the film. I'm just passing along some comments others have made. Whether other film goers are communists, socialists or marxists, we conservatives must at all times be respectful of others and their right to see the film in peace and quiet. A listener coined a term for Moore calling him a “Hatriot.” That got me thinking that maybe the proper name for this film should be “ Un -fair -en-heit 9/11.” As Ebert and Roper like to say, see you in the balcony. When I do see it, I am sure I will feel an urge to speak out loud during the movie to point out any lies or distortions of the facts to those sitting around me, or 20 rows behind me. However, I would never be rude or disruptive.

Permalink | News and Views

June 26, 2004, 08:20 AM

Fahrenheit 9/11: Is it a documentary?

By Owen Courrèges

While reading the Christian Science Monitor's decidedly positive review of Fahrenheit 9/11, I was especially struck by the brazenness of the following passage:
Is the label “documentary” appropriate for this openly activist movie? Of course it is, unless you cling to some idealized notion of “objective” film that bit the dust at least as far back as 1922, when director Robert Flaherty passed off re-created settings and events as factual footage to enhance the realism of his generally true “Nanook of the North.” Moore makes no pretense of being “fair and balanced.” He makes a passionate case for his own perspective, and invites us to agree with him or not. “I fulminate, you decide” could be his motto.
The Monitor shouldn't be so confident. Nobody is claiming that a documentary cannot be the least bit biased, but it should never be the intent of the film to be biased. Documentaries are supposed to strive for objectivity by their very definition (courtesy of Merriam-Webster Online):
Main Entry: 1doc·u·men·ta·ry Pronunciation: "dä-ky&-'men-t&-rE, -'men-trE Function: adjective 1 : being or consisting of documents : contained or certified in writing 2 : of, relating to, or employing documentation in literature or art; broadly : FACTUAL, OBJECTIVE [a documentary film of the war]
See? 'Objectivity' is actually a defining trait of documentaries. The Christian Science Monitor only embarasses itself by referring to it in a dismissive way. Fahrenheit 9/11 is not a documentary, really, but a mere polemic against President Bush. Let us not pretend that it was meant as anything more.

Permalink | Media Watch

June 26, 2004, 08:00 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

What do cool dogs, Michael Moore and Jesus have to do with ChronicallyBiased.com? Read today's Features section to find out.

Permalink | News and Views

June 25, 2004, 02:44 PM

Biased Movie Review? A new low even for the Chronicle

By Edd Hendee

Could there be a Chronicle Bias…in the movie reviews? Absolutely! Eric Harrison gives Michael Moore’s politically charged 'documentary' a “B+”…but 4 months ago the Chronicle gave Mel Gibson’s blockbuster “The Passion” an “F”! The Passion opened at 2800 theatres nationwide and set records week after week. Fahrenheit opens at approximately 700 theatres nationwide (12 in Houston) and is doubtful to set any records. But that doesn’t stop the Chronicle for grading liberal films “up” and religious value based films as “failures.” The only failure here is downtown at the Chronicle – and I’m glad to point it out.
'Fahrenheit 9/11' takes wide aim in effort to provoke By ERIC HARRISON Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle Grade: B+ There is a moment in every Michael Moore movie — sometimes several moments — when I cringe. It's the point when his showman's instincts overwhelm his good sense, when his hectoring advocacy gets out of hand and he turns insufferable or maudlin. I didn't mind that he asked Charlton Heston hard questions at the end of Bowling for Columbine, for instance. But when he yelled questions at Heston's retreating back and then sat down a photograph of a girl who had been shot at an elementary school, I wanted to shout at him to get off the old man's property. He'd made his point. Fahrenheit 9/11 — an angrier, more pointedly political movie, and one every American should see — has similar scenes.

Permalink | Chron Bias

June 25, 2004, 09:38 AM

The Chronicle should call its reporting “olds” not news

By Kevin Whited

The Chronicle's Rad Sallee reports today on new METRO construction that will be funded through the efforts of Representative Tom DeLay:
The Metropolitan Transit Authority will build two new Park & Ride lots in the Cypress and Clear Lake areas, and expand its Fuqua Park & Ride lot on the Gulf Freeway, using a $16.7 million federal grant approved June 18. Metro President and CEO Frank Wilson credited U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, the House majority leader, with helping the transit agency shift the money to these projects. The Federal Transit Administration had awarded the money to Metro for other projects, one of which was canceled and the other completed under budget. Without DeLay's help, the unspent dollars would have been redistributed to other transit projects nationwide, Metro spokesman Ken Connaughton said.
On June 13, Chronically Biased reported the same information. Kudos to the Chronicle for finally covering this issue. However, here's a little friendly advice for Chronicle editor Jeff Cohen: When a local media watchblog actually scoops your newspaper BY 12 DAYS on hard local news, something is seriously wrong at your newspaper.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

June 25, 2004, 08:00 AM

Is Anti-Semitism Politically Correct Now?

By John Vaughn

According to this recent story from Reuters, Rep. Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat from Hawaii, thinks we ought not to use bullets made in Israel in the War on Terror.
Since the Army has other stockpiled ammunition, “by no means, under any circumstances should a round (from Israel) be utilized,” said Rep. Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii, the top Democrat on a House of Representatives Armed Services subcommittee with jurisdiction over land forces.
Apparently, at least one of his Republican colleagues agree.
Although the Army should not have to worry about “political correctness,” Abercrombie was making a valid point about the propaganda pitfalls of using Israeli rounds in the U.S.-declared war on terror, said Rep. Curt Weldon, the Pennsylvania Republican who chairs the subcommittee on tactical air and land forces.
The rest of the article goes on to describe how we are low on ammunition, what we can do about it, and how to manage the “risk-mitigation.” Two things really jump out at me about this. First, why are we taking any risks whatsoever with our military readiness in a time of war for something as patently ridiculous as this? The idea that if we use bullets made in the U.S.A. to kill terrorists we will somehow win hearts and minds in the Arab world hits me as absurd, prima facia. The undercurrent of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism in Arab countries is so strong and deep, this is not going to make any difference. The fact that we are there at all is justification enough for jihad. In the case of Israel, it is their mere existence that antagonizes the extremists. Making it official U.S. policy not to use Israeli bullets only gives credence to the assertion that the Israelis are somehow “dirty” and that we should not be associated with them. There is an ugly tide of anti-semitism rising in the world lately, not only in Europe but in our own country — including such centers of “tolerance” as Berkley. We should not encourage such thinking in our own country or the world — we should fight it. Israel is not only our staunch ally, but the only democracy in the Middle East. I think we should proclaim loudly and often our pride in our alliance with them, and encourage other states in the middle east to be more like them.

Permalink | News and Views

June 25, 2004, 07:30 AM

New poll

By Owen Courrèges

We have a new poll question up today: “Should we have mandatory national service?” You can respond to this question here. As for our previous poll, which asked “Do you support embryonic stem cell research?” the results were divided but still overwhelmingly opposed. 60.7% of you responded “no,” while 30.8% of you responded “yes.” 8.5% of you were “unsure.” It would appear that we're dealing with a fairly pro-life crowd here, but there are still some dissenting voices out there.

Permalink | Staff Notes

June 25, 2004, 07:00 AM

Republican infighting in Austin

By Owen Courrèges

I'm sure all of you have heard about the partisan infighting between Governor Perry and Comptroller Strayhorn which has been plaguing the Texas GOP. What you may not know about, however, is this little escalation of rhetoric, courtesy of ABC 13:
Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn on Thursday accused Gov. Rick Perry, a fellow Republican, of continuing a political vendetta against her by subjecting her agency to ongoing state audits. Perry's spokesman denied the allegation and said if the comptroller hasn't done anything wrong she shouldn't be worried about audits.
Perry may or may not be telling the truth, but this little train wreck is nonetheless interesting to watch. I expect further escalations as time drags on and Strayhorn has to decide whether or not to challenge Perry, be it in the primaries or even perhaps as a Democrat, a remote but real possibility that has been previously discussed in political circles. Still, Strayhorn does seem to be going off half-cocked. The state is in a financial pinch, and so many departments are undergoing several audits — including the office of the governor. She doesn't want to get a reputation for being paranoid, does she?

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

June 25, 2004, 06:00 AM

Transportation: Interest does not equal reality

By M. Wildes

John S. Jacob’s “Transportation: Which future is 2025 plan for?” in Thursday’s Outlook is a balanced and thought provoking piece. However, I reject his premise that government should force the hand of the market. Jacob’s idea is to use transportation planning to cause change in growth patterns rather than adapting transportation plans to fit growth patterns. I do not believe that it is the role of government to change the behavior of citizens.

Jacob’s plan for Houston would ultimately result in forcing people to live in a densely populated mess and perhaps even give up their vehicles for public transportation. I understand his point that we need to have more than one transportation plan, but it seems that a plan for mobility in a dense inner city is contrary to logic.

Most importantly, Jacob fails to consider the ever-increasing cost of living in the inner loop. What incentive does a citizen of Spring, for example, who owns a home of around 2200 square feet, at a price of $150,000 have to move into a similarly sized town home or high rise in the inner loop for well over $250,000. The difference in gas savings and commute time is not comparable. The entire scenario also misses the point that, besides the occasional stage show or favorite restaurant visit, many suburbanites, have no reason to come to the big city. Many suburban cities, like the Woodlands and Cypress, contain their own corporate centers. I do not dismiss the fact that most suburbanites still commute into Houston or another adjacent city for work. However, the same individual’s salary will not change based on his location.

The survey in the piece says that there is a rise in suburbanites interested in living downtown but an interest does not always translate into reality. When faced with a choice that includes; larger homes to raise ones children, quiet neighborhoods, safety, freedom to travel, and less crowded schools with higher standards, to name a few, why would one choose the opposite?

I would venture to say that the desire to live in the city is actually higher than the survey indicates. However, those who have the economic freedom to make the choice will (based on current trends) overwhelmingly choose the suburbs. Everyone else may choose or be forced (for economic reasons) to live in the suburbs where, I would argue, the quality of life is far greater. This reasoning has at least partially resulted in the current suburban trend. While suburban life has been thought of by some as the escape of the wealthy, in recent years the opposite has been true.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

June 25, 2004, 04:00 AM

Super Bowl streaker fined $1,000

By Owen Courrèges

The infamous Super Bowl streaker has been fined $1,000 for his misdeed in our fair city of Houston. CelebrityCafe.com has the grisly details:
Baring It All Costs $1000 In Houston. Nakedness doesn't pay in Houston. A jury found Mark Roberts of Liverpool, England guilty of misdemeanor trespassing for an incident that took place during the 2004 Super Bowl. Roberts, 39, scaled a fence and ran out onto the football field dressed as a referee just prior to the second half kickoff. Stripping off his clothes, he performed an exaggerated version of Michael Jackson’s famous moonwalk before New England Patriots’ running back Matt Chatham tackled him and security officers escorted him off the field.
This reminds me of an old Bloom County cartoon where somebody shouts “Pervert terrorism is the worst kind!” All I can say is, thank goodness we have meager fines to compensate the legions of viewers who were compelled to see this guy's nether parts as he paraded around doing a now-defunct 80's dance. Thank goodness indeed.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

June 24, 2004, 10:27 PM

KHOU: Metro wasting millions?

By Kevin Whited

KHOU-11 is breaking a big story about METRO tonight:
Has Metro been wasting millions of your tax dollars? You've probably never heard their name, but the Factotum Council was a group of Metro employees set up to help other transit workers solve on-the-job problems. Former and current Metro employees have made allegations that the council may have been helping themselves to tax money. A Metro bus driver spoke about a group of drivers who, he says, got away with special privileges. “It was just too easy to get away with. We were getting paid for things that we weren't actually doing.” The driver was talking about something called the Factotum Council, a group of drivers at Metro given special duties, who were supposed to be working on solutions to bus drivers' common problems. But some current and former employees said the group got special treatment, running up hundreds of hours and, worse, possibly putting down hours they never worked.
The entire story is here. KHOU's site requires registration.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

June 24, 2004, 06:41 PM

Dreher on blogs

By Kevin Whited

Conservative columnist Rod Dreher of the Dallas Morning News comments on weblogs and journalism today:
If you've been reading our Viewpoints page closely the past few weeks, you've run across a strange word every few days: blog. Get used to it. Blogs are here to stay. Simply put, they are the most exciting thing happening in journalism today. “Blog” is short for Web log, an online site where individuals or groups of individuals can post their own thoughts, arguments and observations. It makes every man and woman a publisher and is the most democratic form of journalism yet devised.
You can read the entire article here. It doesn't break any new ground for those who are already familiar with weblogs, but for those who are just discovering them, it's a good introduction.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

June 24, 2004, 06:33 PM

Bell lays the groundwork for next political race

By Kevin Whited

Houston blogger Greg Wythe calls attention to this blurb on lame-duck Congressman Chris Bell:
After taking a politically cautious stance on Rep. Chris Bell’s (D-Texas) new ethics complaint, a Democratic caucus meeting yesterday gave the retiring lawmaker a standing ovation. Bell, who lodged his ethics complaint against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), was invited to a weekly meeting by caucus Chairman Rep. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). Earlier yesterday morning Bell also addressed Rep. Frank Pallone’s (D-N.J.) “message meeting.” “I was heartened by the showing of support; it was a boisterous approval from our caucus,” Bell told The Hill.
One supposes it is somewhat more rousing for Democrats than, say, the image of their brethren fleeing the state and hiding in Ardmore, Oklahoma. And one further supposes that the opportunistic Bell will be rewarded well by Texas Dem leaders when he returns to our state and begins plotting his next political race.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

June 24, 2004, 09:00 AM

Mayor White's new trucking tax

By Owen Courrèges

Here's the skinny on Mayor Bill White's new 'truck tax,' courtesy of ABC 13 News:
The truck zone ordinance would require truckers to buy permits to use loading zones. A $1,200/year permit would allow parking in any one or two loading spaces downtown for up to two hours. A $300/year permit is for one space for up to one hour. A $150/year permit is for one space for 30 minutes. The $25 permits are for up to one hour, for a maximum of 21 days and $5 would get truckers one hour in a metered truck loading zone. Mayor Bill White says there's a shortage of curb space and unauthorized use of loading zones help contribute to the traffic congestion in downtown. The city council is expected to pass the measure.
Yes, I'm sure that this is designed to reduce congestion, and not as a revenue-generating device. Sheesh, does Mayor White really think that we were all born yesterday?

Permalink | Political Cartoons

June 24, 2004, 08:13 AM

Jeff Cohen's politically correct sports section

By Kevin Whited

I have long wondered why mediocre sports writer Richard Justice was promoted to columnist at the Chronicle, while longtime columnists Fran Blinebury and Dale Robertson were demoted. Richard Justice inadvertently answers the question today:
Astros and race: An issue that has to be addressed Q: Why is it necessary to write an article about “racial” subjects when there is not a problem? Why are you shining a light on a subject that is unnecessary? If you are going by numbers maybe you should ask why are there so many blacks in football and not many whites? What difference does it make what color a person is — as long as the best person is getting the job? You are perpetuating an issue and do not need to. You are guilty of reverse discriminating. Curtis in Magnolia A: I felt it was an issue that had to be addressed. The front office, including Drayton McLane and Gerry Hunsicker, is bothered by having so few African Americans in the organization. They've pushed their scouts to make sure they're not passing up opportunities to bring blacks into the organization. All of us come at this issue from different angles. It's difficult being a middle-aged white male writing about racial issues, but I was struck by the fact that the regular starting lineup is all white. I think the worse thing you can do is say you're colorblind. In truth, none of us is colorblind.
Did he mean to say the WORST (not worse) thing you can do is say you're colorblind? I think he did mean that. What a politically correct statement! And now we start to get a good sense of why Richard Justice was promoted to columnist despite consistently writing dreck: He's willing publicly to pander to Jeff Cohen's “progressive” liberal-white-guilt complex by writing politically correct pap on the Chronicle sports pages. Just as an aside, I object to the notion that the WORST thing one could do is say one is colorblind. Killing, raping, maiming, and having to read Richard Justice and Rick Casey are ALL surely worse things than embracing the language of our Declaration and the political philosophy of Abraham Lincoln that “all men are created equal.” I'm sure we can all think of many worse things. This is a good example why mediocre sports columnists should confine themselves to sports, and leave alone political and cultural issues. So we'll repeat the advice that Richard Justice himself gave to another sports columnist at his newspaper — leave the politics alone and stick to sports.

Permalink | Noxious Chron Columnists

June 24, 2004, 08:00 AM

Chron invents new sales pitch for sagging Clinton book sales

By Phil Magness

Shortly after discovering that Bill Clinton's new book is bombing at Houston-area bookstores, it appears that the Chron's editorial page writers have come up with a new marketting strategy: Don't buy Clinton's book because of the politics, buy it because of all the useful advice it offers on successful marriage counseling! As we learn from the editorial,
For those without the stamina — or just the stomach — to brave all 950 pages, Bill Clinton's memoir still offers some useful insights
The truly sad part about it all is that they appear to be making this suggestion in all seriousness. The editorial continues:
Even more useful, though, was Clinton's accurate portrayal of what counseling is really like: slow, difficult and without a guaranteed outcome.
It then concludes:
Clinton's account of therapy affirms that keeping real-life families intact needs patience, perseverance and hard work.
Aside from the self referential inconsistency of using the terms “Clinton” and “accurate” in the same sentence, the editorial's premise fails simply for its absurd and dangerous recommendations. It cannot be doubted that those who break their marital vows are all in need of reconciliation, repentance, and, I might add, some serious reconsideration of a destructive and wicked lifestyle. To those who commit the sin of adultery we must all pray for God's forgiveness and urge them to return to a moral life, and to those victimized by its strains we must offer our deepest sympathies. But to even suggest the Clintons as a model on counseling for other troubled families to follow is both bad advice and an affront to common sense. It is no understatement to note that the Clinton marriage has been adrift in a sea of adultery for perhaps as many as two and a half decades, itself drifting haphazardly between extramarital affairs, groping incidents, secret girlfriends, secret phone tapes, stained dresses, and even one accusation of rape dating back to Bill and Hillary's first venture into the public light. Bill Clinton is not, as the Chronicle says, a source of advice and consultation for other persons with marital problems. Bill Clinton — the same Bill Clinton who defiantly lied about his affair with Lewinsky to the entire nation and who spent the subsequent year pulling every political ploy, maneuver, and dirty trick imaginable to cling to his power when that affair threatened to undermine it — is a man in need of serious personal help himself. He stands as a prime example of what a lifestyle of vice and a career of shunning responsibility for one's own acts can produce. But underlying this basic reality of Clinton and the fallacy of the Chron's advised reference to the supposed insights of his book is another issue. Ask yourself: what kind of a newspaper devotes a lengthy staff editorial — the space allegedly reserved for its articulation of various positions on issues of importance to the community — to discussing a book? The likely answer — one that wants that book to sell.

Permalink | Chron Bias

June 24, 2004, 07:15 AM

Here's a new name to consider for Cheney's spot on the ticket

By Dan Patrick

Yesterday I wrote an article suggesting that V.P. Dick Cheney, step down from the ’04 ticket. We had a rather large number of comments on the article here and a feisty discussion on KSEV. The response was split almost 50/50 on the issue. Many responded that even though it might be wise for Cheney to step down, a pro choice Gulianni or a hot tempered McCain are not the answer. So the question is, who should be the choice if Cheney steps aside? Who is a pro-life conservative, who could help the President-who is trailing in most polls at the present-win the election? Some suggested J.C Watts, Condi Rice or John Danforth. Colin Powell wasn’t getting much support because of his pro-choice stand. The truth is, despite the fact,most Republicans are elected by the conservative wing of the party. The party has few high profile conservatives in the Reagan or Bush mold. The pickings are slim. Can you name more than six high profile true conservatives? Tom Delay is high profile and conservative. But, trust me, he won’t be on the ticket in ’04 or’08. The problem with the Republican Party is that the base is more conservative than most of the leaders. Yesterday, I posed the question about Cheney in an effort to open up the discussion on whether or not Cheney should stay on the ticket. When one examines the facts, Bush doesn’t have many viable options. There is one name that Bush could add to the ticket that would create quite a stir, Democrat Senator Zell Miller of Georgia. That's right, Zell Miller. You heard it from me first. Everyone has talked about a possible split-party ticket of Kerry/McCain as the dream ticket. The media elite talk about this “dream” split-party ticket as one that could help heal the country. What about Bush/Miller? I suspect the media elite would not see this split-party ticket in the same light. Miller is more conservative than many of his republican counterparts in the Senate. Would the republican base support a democrat as V.P.? I doubt it. There will not be a Bush/Miller ticket and there probably shouldn't be. But, it does point out a sad fact for the Republican Party; a democrat is one of the most high profile conservatives in the country who is supporting the President.

Permalink | KSEV Topics

June 24, 2004, 07:00 AM

My anti-submission to the 'Coolest Dog' Contest

By Captain Chronicle

I, Captain Chronicle, am refusing to participate in this bourgeoisie 'Coolest Dog' Contest of yours. I feel that to place animals in such base competition is an affront to the ideals of fairness and equality. Besides, my dog is the coolest anyway:
Meet Jacques. He is my French poodle. His hobbies include drinking wine, wearing berets, and surrendering to German Shepherds. Now some say that he is arrogant, but they're just jealous of his unscrupulous guile. Other dogs wish they were as cool as Jacques. But I will not debase Jacques by entering him into this vile contest. Competition... How ghastly!

Permalink | Captain Chronicle

June 24, 2004, 06:00 AM

The reasons for media bias

By Owen Courrèges

Bruce Bartlett of the National Center for Policy Analysis relays some interesting perspectives regarding the reasons for bias in the major news media. Here's a summary from the NCPA's policy briefs section:
Liberal bias is a tiresome subject; we have been hearing about it for at least 30 years. Although those who work in the media continue to deny it, they are having a harder and harder time explaining why so many viewers, readers and listeners believe it, says Bruce Bartlett. There are several opinions as to why the media remain so persistently liberal, says Bartlett: - Prof. Daniel Sutter of the University of Oklahoma points out that there are severe barriers to entry into the news business that make it very difficult to start a new newspaper or television network, thus allowing liberal bias to perpetuate itself. - Prof. David Baron of Stanford University theorizes that profit-maximizing corporations tolerate liberal bias because it allows them to pay lower wages to liberal journalists; by being allowed to exercise their bias, they are willing to accept less pay than they would demand if they were in a business where bias was not tolerated. - Prof. William Mayer of Northwestern University suggests that conservatives have adopted talk radio, which is overwhelmingly conservative, as an alternative news outlet; in other words, a key reason for the popularity of people like Rush Limbaugh is that they provide news and information not available elsewhere, not just conservative opinion. The dominant media is finally starting to realize that it has an economic problem from having a perceived liberal bias, even though it steadfastly denies any such bias. Editor & Publisher, an industry publication, is so alarmed that it has begun a study of the problem, says Bartlett.
Looks like we've got 'em on the run, boys!

Permalink | Media Watch

June 23, 2004, 12:21 PM

Religion of Peace

By Captain Chronicle

Some of you rabid right-wingers would probably watch this home video clip of 3 young children wearing Arab headdresses play-act the beheading of an Infidel hostage and suspect that maybe Islam isn’t quite the “Religion of Peace” we’ve been told it is. But that would make you a racist, so Captain Chronicle urges you to feel ashamed instead.

Permalink | Captain Chronicle

June 23, 2004, 09:55 AM

Chron says light rail helps Main Street businesses

By Owen Courrèges

Houston Chronical propogandist David Kaplan (I refuse to call what he does 'reporting'), has written one of the most slanted articles on light rail that the paper has ever published, and trust me — that's really saying something. Essentially, Kaplan decided to interview Andrew Alexander, general manager of Chipotle, who is a proponent of light rail. Alexander was supposed to represent, I gather, every single business-owner along Main Street. Here are a few of the more irritating excerpts:
What effect has light rail had on your business? I started as one of the naysayers: “No one will ride it. It won't bring people downtown.” But the first week there was a huge spike in business. Of course, it was free then. Starting the second week, business went down some but was still higher than before, and it's stayed at that level ever since, at least 10 to 15 percent higher. Has it caused a change in when people come in? Before light rail, our business was 80 percent lunch and 20 percent dinner. Now it's 70-30, and I'd say that has to be because of the train. Downtown is a little more accessible at night for some people, like those who live in Midtown. On holidays, we'd have no business. Now we do — from people riding the trains.
Gah! This guy sounds like he works for METRO! No, this is not journalism. This is no more journalism than what gets printed on the editorial page. This is an opinion piece masquerading as an interview. Think about it. Are we given any kind of contextual data? Did Kaplan venture off to the Chamber of Commerce to find out if, perhaps, there was a general increase in business along the Main Street rail line, as opposed to just at Chipotle? If so, did Kaplan bother to find out whether or not the experiences of businesses along the rail line are unique? Have other businesses in downtown away from rail experienced similar gains? Come on, Mr. Kaplan! Inquiring minds want to know!

Permalink | Chron Bias

June 23, 2004, 08:25 AM

Cox and Forkum - Memoirs

By The Staff

Cox and Forkum - Clinton Courtesy of Cox and Forkum

Permalink | Political Cartoons

June 23, 2004, 08:05 AM

What terrorists are

By Owen Courrèges

The source picture for this cartoon can be found here, and a discussion of this incident can be found here. Suffice to say, I view these people as being practically subhuman. There is no excuse for what they do. None.

Permalink | Political Cartoons

June 23, 2004, 08:01 AM

Did you rail boosters know you were voting for an expensive subway?

By The Houstonian

The Chronicle reports that METRO is now considering adding to its rail system with below-ground components:
Residents and businesses get another chance to voice their opinions about MetroRail's next two lines during a series of five meetings that start tonight. The gatherings could be more lively than originally anticipated because Metropolitan Transit Authority directors expressed displeasure last week with the proposed alignments and directed staff to revisit other routes that use freight railroad corridors. That would allow for less conflict with vehicle traffic and faster speeds than the envisioned on-street extensions from downtown to Northline Mall and southeast Houston. At the heart of tonight's meeting is whether the downtown segment of the Southeast rail line should be built as a subway. Robert Eury, director of the Houston Downtown Management District, said a consensus is growing that there should not be a second surface-level rail line in the city center. “The discussion at this point is that it needs to be grade-separated,” Eury said. “And when you look at the alignment, it forces you to put it below ground, not above ground.” An elevated trackway would likely require closing an entire east-west street to accommodate unsightly support beams and stations, Eury said, and thus is not an attractive option.
After nearly 50 accidents on the Main Street line, they are right about grade-separation being an issue. But the discussion at this point really needs to be whether rail is a good idea at all, and not whether an expensive subway solves METRO's esthetic concerns. More information on the meetings is available on METRO's site. It's your money they're wasting, so it couldn't hurt to go give them an earful at the meetings.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

June 23, 2004, 08:01 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Dick Morris critiques John Kerry and Matt Malatesta continues his series on athletic recruiting in Houston in today's Features section.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

June 23, 2004, 07:00 AM

AP Poll reveals voters ignorant of job gains

By Owen Courrèges

A new AP Poll has some bad news for President Bush. Apparently, even though the economy is now generating new jobs at a rapid pace, most Americans believe that the nation is still losing jobs:
An Associated Press survey of 788 registered voters conducted Monday through Wednesday shows that while they may be gaining confidence in the economy and Bush's performance, 57 percent said the nation has lost jobs in the last six months. The Labor Department has reported just the opposite - nearly 1.2 million jobs gained in half a year. “The message hasn't gotten out,” said Andy Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center. “It takes a while for national changes to get down to the people level.”
Who is to blame for this, you ask? I've got two words for you: THE MEDIA. After all, isn't it the media that hyped up the “jobless recovery” ad nauseum for months on end? You've been seeing very little out there to erase that impression. The media lept from the economy to Iraq, never bothering to substantively inform the electorate that the economic winds had shifted. People are still stuck with the same perceptions they had half a year ago. To say that the media has handled this irresponsibly is to perpetrate a grand understatement. When a majority of Americans believe that the economy is losing jobs during a period of accelerated recovery, it's difficult not to point fingers. Mine are pointed squarely at the evening news.

Permalink | Media Watch

June 23, 2004, 06:00 AM

It's time for Vice-President Cheney to step aside

By Dan Patrick

The editor of the Des Moines Register has written an open letter to Vice President Dick Cheney. The letter asks the V.P. to step down for the good of the Republican Party. He cites two reasons. One, Bush will be in a close race and needs help on the ticket and two, the party needs to groom someone for 2008. The editor states that although Cheney has been a good V.P., he will be too old to run for the top ticket position in 2008. The editor suggests that Rudolph Gulianni or John McCain are the people who could step in and help the President now and the Republican party in 2008. The subject of Cheney stepping aside is one I have talked about for the last year. He is one of the most capable Vice-Presidents we have ever had in that office. He has been of great assistance to the President. However, it is a fair question to ask if he is the best possible running mate for the President this year and if he is the apparent heir in 2008. Bush has already stated, for the record, that Cheney is his man. He will not ask him to step aside. The President made this statement some months ago to quiet those who were making the suggestion that Cheney should step aside. It would not be a precedent setting for the Vice-President to step aside, especially during times of war. Remember, we are at war. As the Register’s article points out and based on what I learned from studying history, there have been changes in the ticket during a run for a second term. During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln made a change when running for office the second term. He decided that he wanted Andrew Johnson to be his running mate. During WWII Roosevelt dumped Henry Wallace for Harry Truman while running for his third term. Ironically, both relief candidates became President. There are real questions about Cheney’s health that could impact him for 2008, so it’s more than just his age. Although conservatives like Cheney, either Gulianni or McCain, would add voters to the ticket without question. Former Senator, now pastor, John Danforth, who presided over the Reagan funeral, has also been mentioned as a possible replacement for Cheney. Danforth has been nominated to be the next Ambassador to the U.N. for us. There are also a number of Republican Governors, from key battleground states, that might make a difference in a close race if they were on the ticket. If Cheney stays on the ticket, which he probably will, he will make any V.P. choice of Kerry look weak by comparison. But, I agree with the editor from the Register that Cheney needs to do what is best for the President and the party and step aside. This election is one the Republican party cannot afford to lose. Our country cannot be turned over to the likes of Kerry and the cabinet he would select during this time of war. I realize that pro-life republicans would not be happy with pro-choice Gulianni. I also know that some would not be happy with McCain. I also believe that Bush is going to win with or without Cheney on his ticket. I think the President will carry the election with a wide margin of victory in the electoral vote and win a closer popular vote with Kerry. However, this is not the time to take any chances. There is simply too much at stake for the country and the party. And, the party must look at setting up the best possible candidate to run against Hilary in 2008. Therefore, I hope Cheney, who has been a true servant to his country and party, will do the right thing and step down. It would be very simple. All he has to do is simply say his doctors do not recommend he run again. If Cheney were to step down it would be of the greatest personal sacrifices anyone could make for his country. I’d like to know what you think, or whom you recommend as a possible replacement. Send your comments by clicking on the comment button below.

Permalink | KSEV Topics

June 23, 2004, 01:17 AM

Reader highlights Chronicle errors

By The Staff

The following is an email from reader Chris Jorgenson. The analysis is so good that we didn't feel like changing a thing. Sunday, the Chronicle ran a page one story titled “U.S. Airstrike aimed at insurgency leader - Attack in Fallujah rekindles anti-American fervor.” The article starts with:
The U.S. military launched an airstrike in Fallujah on Saturday against a suspected hideout of the man labeled the mastermind of a wave of violence in Iraq, killing at least 16 Iraqis and reigniting anti-American passions in that stronghold of the insurgency
It goes on to say:
Witnesses and Fallujah leaders condemned the attack, saying an innocent family lived in one of the houses that was destroyed. At least two homes were leveled, and residents spent hours digging bodies from the rubble, including some women and children, according to witnesses. 'It seems that the Americans want chaos instead of stability,' said Hammad Dahash, 60, who said one of his relatives died in the attack. 'The people of Fallujah have condemned this. We have convened a series of meetings with the U.S. to calm down the situation here, but look what cowardly acts they have done.'
Monday, the Chronicle ran the following story (“23 foreign fighters killed in Fallujah”) on page 10 totally refuting the claims in the front page Sunday article:
FALLUJAH, Iraq — A day after an American air strike destroyed six homes in the flash-point city of Fallujah, a senior Iraqi official said Sunday that 23 of 26 people killed in the attack were foreign terrorists, including men from Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, The New York Times reported.
It's bad enough when the Chronicle puts an anti-American spin on everything we are doing in Iraq. But when they do so and it turns out their facts are 100% wrong, they should at least show enough responsibility to run a retraction. ON PAGE 1. After all, the lives of our soldiers, and ultimately our lives are on the line. Thank you for informing Houstonians and the rest of the country on how truly biased the Houston Chronicle is. America's security is only strengthened by media watch dogs like chronicallybiased.com. Sincerely, Chris Jorgenson Thanks to Mr. Jorgenson, for a big assist. We would note further that the first story was by Edmund Sanders of the LA Times and reproduced in the Chronicle (after being chopped for length). The second story was apparently rewritten by Chronicle staff from New York Times copy. A careful editor should have caught these discrepancies. Careful readers might just go get their news from the LA Times or New York Times directly, and avoid the Chronicle altogether.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

June 22, 2004, 09:48 PM

Covering the Dallas news important to Houstonians

By Kevin Whited

Dallas is closing its downtown pedestrian tunnels, and Thomas Korosec of the “Hoston Chronicle Dallas Bureau” (nice spelling, guys) has the scoop:
When city officials began considering one of Mayor Laura Miller's bolder campaign promises last month — closing the city's downtown pedestrian tunnels — Naim Alasaad wished he had been tapped for advice. “I'd tell her we have two seasons, cold and hot. Both are no good for business on the street,” said Alassad, who runs a bagel franchise in the tunnel, just off the marble-lined basement lobby of the Bank One building. “When it's hot, nobody is going outside for lunch.” Alassad should know. When he ran a street-level barbecue stand in the 1990s, Dallas' triple-digit summers shriveled his lunch trade by more than half, he said.
Pardon my bluntness, but why would Houstonians care? I think Korosec must have felt the need to answer that question halfway through his article, so this attempt at local relevance is spliced in:
“Clearly, [the tunnels] work like a giant vacuum. They suck people off the street,” said Jodie Sinclair, spokeswoman for the Houston Downtown Management District. “I had a woman visiting from Manhattan ask me, `Where are all the people? It's Wednesday at 1 in the afternoon.' I told her, `Dear, they're all underground.' ” Over the past decade, Sinclair said, Houston has come to terms with its tunnels, even though “behind the scenes, people wish they weren't there.” A loop in the system was completed in the 1990s, and the city's newest office tower, at 1000 Main Street, was designed to merge the tunnels and the outside world.
No they don't! Most Houstonians who actually earn a living downtown — instead of playing social engineer for METRO and other “planning” agencies — love the downtown tunnel system! Especially during our brutal summers, and during our downpours. Sinclair's comment is just way out in left field. But then, if that's out in left field, this article about Dallas's downtown being published in Houston's major daily newspaper is like something from outer space. By the way, did any of you even realize the Chronicle HAD a Dallas news bureau? And can anybody tell me why? An Austin bureau I can understand. A Washington, DC bureau seems like overkill for the quantity and quality of copy it actually produces, but I can understand that it makes the Chronicle feel like a major newspaper. But a Dallas bureau? I say relocate 'em all and create a Conroe bureau!

Permalink | Miscellaneous

June 22, 2004, 09:13 PM

Newspapers caught inflating circulation

By Kevin Whited

Alert reader Anne Linehan calls our attention to this article from Editor & Publisher, which reports on scandals over inflated circulation numbers at newspapers around the country:
It's been an embarrassing week for newspapers, especially for those in circulation departments at Newsday in Melville, N.Y. and at the Chicago Sun-Times. Both papers admitted, after markets closed for the day, to puffing circulation figures. And though the end results are the same, the two stories differ in how they got caught (or didn't). The ABC audit revealed the problems at Newsday and Hoy back in February, John Payne, senior vice president of communications for Audit Bureau of Circulations, told E&P. ABC plans to release its findings in July, though the Tribune Co., which owns Newsday and Hoy, essentially pre-empted ABC by announcing the overstated figures yesterday. “It's very unusual to talk about an audit that has not been released,” Payne commented. Newsday had inflated its circulation figures for the period ending September 2003 by approximately 40,000 daily copies and 60,000 Sunday copies, while Hoy jacked up its numbers by 15,000 and 4,000 respectively. On Friday, according to a report at Newsday.com, Nassau County (N.Y.) District Attorney Denis Dillon announced that his office had opened an investigation to see if criminal charges are warranted. “When advertising costs are inflated, those costs are passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices,” Dillon said. [snip] According to the Tribune Co., the two papers' inflated figures occurred because some copies that were distributed for free home delivery were counted as paid copies. And some single copy sales could not be verified because of inadequate record keeping by an outside distributor.
You don't think the Chronicle would inflate their figures by improperly counting all those extra copies they're throwing for free, and giving away at IHOP, and pushing off on transients on every street corner in town? Surely Jeff Cohen wouldn't cook his books that way. Pssst... Jeff... Free advice from your friends here at Chronically Biased. If your paper is doing this, it should stop. People are actually paying attention.

Permalink | Media Watch

June 22, 2004, 04:01 PM

Take that, Mr. Justice

By Kevin Whited

The Astro In Exile sportsblog has this to say about Chronicle columnist Richard Justice:
Richard Justice should be fired for being stupid and lazy.
Ouch! Go read the whole thing here.

Permalink | Noxious Chron Columnists

June 22, 2004, 08:01 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Michael Reagan gives his views on stem cell research, Bob Willems reviews the Terminal and Matt Malatesta talks football recruiting in today's Features section.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

June 22, 2004, 07:00 AM

Social Security's impending implosion

By Owen Courrèges

Normally I wouldn't refer to a staff editorial from the Houston Chronicle that I actually agree with, but this particular piece actually makes a valid point that many people seem to have a difficult time comprehending:
Little comfort should be taken from the Congressional Budget Office's report that Social Security is in better financial shape than even its trustees are predicting. Retiring baby boomers and those who will shortly follow them into their supposed golden years should remain concerned about the long-term soundness of the government retirement program, as should taxpayers. Social Security is in serious trouble. The CBO's projection that payments to retirees will not exceed revenues until the year 2019, rather than 2018, and will remain solvent until 2052, rather than 2042, as Social Security trustees have predicted, is no cause for celebration. The projection merely reflects the reality that forecasts into the future are based on various assumptions, and vary depending on who makes them. [...] The rubber will meet the road in 14 or 15 years. Those in their early 50s or younger ought to be talking to their congressmen and senators about Social Security's soundness.
The only real problem with this editorial is that it identifies a problem without offering any solutions. This is a pet peeve of mine. It's easy to stick out your finger and yell “IMPENDING DOOM!” It's far more difficult to actually offer workable solutions that have their own unique consequences. In truth, we need to do one of two things to keep Social Security solvent: 1) Increase the minimum retirement age (possibly by indexing the retirement age to the average American lifespan), or 2) Partially-privatize the system to allow individuals to earn money through investments. The former solution will be hard, because people will be expected to work for longer. Many senior citizens won't be able to, and will be forced to live off of their savings until their benefits kick in. The latter solution just plain seems to risky to many people (investments carry some risk, even if regulated), and would be difficult to effectively implement. And here's the kicker — neither solution is politically-viable at this time. What we need now are politicians with the political will to force reform through, politicians who are willing to tell Americans that tough choices must be made, and that the status quo cannot, and will not, be maintained. I'm not optimistic, but that's the real nature of the crisis we're facing.

Permalink | News and Views

June 22, 2004, 06:00 AM

Matthews guilty plea, a lesson for all of us

By Dan Patrick

Yesterday, Jon Matthews pleaded guilty to indecent exposure with a child. He also admitted to improperly touching the victim. He agreed to a plea arrangement that would require him to pay a fine, register as a sex offender, move from his home and be subject to a seven year adjudicated sentence. Even though the district attorney, Matthews and the family of the 11 year old have agreed to the terms of the plea arrangement, the judge in the case can reject the terms. If he does, Matthews can withdrawal his plea and take his chance with a jury, where he could face up to10 years in prison if convicted. The judge will rule on August 2nd of this year. Since this case first became public last October, people have asked me what my thoughts were about the guilt or innocence of Jon. At the time, some people immediately said the Jon they knew could not possibly be guilty. Others said just the opposite. I did not take a position. A few listeners criticized me at the time for taking Jon off of the air and for not defending him. My position was simple. I suggested that no one should make any conclusions about the case until the facts were known. Secondly, there was no way that I could allow Jon to stay on the air. Once he was officially charge, he knew he needed to resign. Since there is still a possibility, although remote, that this case could still go to a jury, I will limit my comments. I could possibly be called to testify. However, I feel I can make the following observations. First, this is a tragedy for the 11 year old, her family, Jon and his family. Jon has pleaded to a serious offense. We must protect our children and hold accountable anyone who harms them. He has lost his job and his reputation. He will wear the modern day version, being a registered sex offender, of the Scarlet letter for the rest of his life. He clearly deserves his punishment. My main concern is for the 11 year old, her family and Jon’s family. They will need time to heal from this ordeal. The lesson we have learned from this is that although we are warned constantly about sex offenders, we must be very protective of our children in the company of adults. Whether such crimes are a sickness or a willingness to simply break the law, is a topic I will leave to the experts. However, it is clear that there are adults in our society who cannot be trusted to be alone with children. They may be family members, coaches, friends or neighbors. We must not allow our children to be in a situation where they are alone with an adult. Let me be clear, I am not putting blame on the family. They felt they had known Jon for years and trusted him. However, this is another example of a family’s trust being violated. We’ve seen it many times in society recently. We’ve had sex scandals in our churches, youth organizations and in our neighborhoods. Jon’s case is another example of shock, surprise and disappointment for many. It is another sad comment on our times of the innocence of being a child is lost and other lives being destroyed. My daughter played competitive sports for years. She traveled the country. My wife or I was always with her, but I never considered that sex offenders would be stalking her or her teammates. Many years ago, a police officer told me one day that sex offenders often attend children sporting events, swimming, basketball, volleyball or little league games. They sit in the stands and watch our children. It just never occurred to me that this problem was so rampant in our society. As an adult you must also be careful, especially if you are a male. You should never be alone with a child who is not yours. Recently, there was a high profile case of a woman who was separated from her husband and convinced her two little girls to lie about their Dad being inappropriate with them. The children eventually told the truth and sadly a judge, under the law, had to take the children away from the mother and place them in a foster home. The final tragedy would be if all of us do not learn from this sad case. I will pray for healing for all who have been hurt, especailly the 11 year old. I will also pray for Jon.

Permalink | News and Views

June 22, 2004, 05:00 AM

New poll

By Owen Courrèges

We have a new poll question up today: “Do you support embryonic stem cell research?” You can vote on this issue here. The results for our last poll, “What should be done about Houston METRO?,” were very divided. A solid majority of you, 57.6%, felt that METRO “needs to be abolished.” A significant minority, 41.0%, felt that METRO merely “needs to be reformed.” Only 1.4% felt that “[n]othing needs to be done; METRO is fine.”Apparently our readers are at least in agreement that changes need to come to METRO.

Permalink | Staff Notes

June 21, 2004, 09:46 PM

¡Viva La Raza de Conroe!

By Captain Chronicle

Usted es un hombre muy malo, Kevin Whited. La Crónica del capitán quiere darle una azotaina.

Permalink | Captain Chronicle

June 21, 2004, 09:07 PM

Cohen covers the hard news... in Conroe

By Kevin Whited

Apparently, it's been a slow news day at the Chronicle. How else to explain the fact they've sent staff off to chase a hot story on Hispanic outreach in the city of... Conroe:
Spurred by a new mayor, this Montgomery County city is beginning to shine a neighborly spotlight on its fast-growing Hispanic population. Mayor Tommy Metcalf says it's time for the city to remedy years of community relations neglect. “This is a fairness issue — this is the right thing to do,” he declared in a recent interview. “These people have been left behind and dismissed for too long. They come here and work for us, but they're too often not getting acclimated to our community. We ought to make them welcome.” Among the mayor's near-term goals are recruiting local lawyers for no-fee work on Hispanic consumer complaint cases, providing better bilingual publicity for city and other governmental services, and encouraging the police to work even harder at polishing their image in Hispanic neighborhoods. With the city's population of roughly 40,000 now more than one-third Hispanic, the new mayor and others in leadership positions believe the city's future rests substantially in the hands of a minority group that a generation ago was barely on the political radar screen. People like Ruby Sanchez, a 66-year-old hairdresser who's lived here since 1972, see a new day dawning. “Things are different today. Things are changing. It's better today. It would be great if we (eventually) have political visibility, but that still may be sometime off in the future.”
A new day dawning? Good gawd. That cliched phrase alone ought to be enough to get this one spiked. At least at a serious newspaper. The Chronicle has lost one of its few serious reporters, in John Williams, who made a valiant effort at covering City Hall. It's hard to tell if anyone is trying to cover City Hall in his place. Why bother, when there are hot stories breaking on Conroe's Hispanic Outreach and the HCC Chancellor's Wife's Nationbuilding (one classroom at a time) efforts. You know, those stories really important to Houstonians. Chronicle editor Jeff Cohen's priorities are just confused. Now that we've had our dose of multicultural education from you Jeff, could we have some metro news tomorrow? Please?

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

June 21, 2004, 07:36 PM

Why not concentrate on educating HCC students?

By Kevin Whited

The Chronicle's Edward Hegstrom reports on Cheryl Leslie, the busybody wife of Houston Community College's chancellor Bruce Leslie, who apparently has entirely too much time on her hands:
Like Bowman, Cheryl Leslie has called on Houston's different international communities to help build rooms representing different countries of the world. The rooms would be built on an HCC campus, and would serve as active classrooms during the day and gathering areas for the ethnic groups at night. “This involves the college in community empowerment,” Leslie said. It also gives students a tangible sense of international exchange. “You could learn Spanish in the German room,” she noted. The idea has a long way to go. The HCC board has given approval to research the idea, but still needs to approve a formal proposal. It's not clear where the rooms would go, though Leslie said it might be logical to put them at the HCC Central campus in Midtown, which is due for renovation anyway. Still, Leslie says community leaders have been supportive. And the HCC board also appears to be behind the idea, according to board member Jay Aiyer. “It's a unique project to bring communities together,” Aiyer said.
Strange, but it strikes me that it might be a good idea for students to be learning German in the German room. And Physics in the Physics room. And Calculus in the Calculus room. And... well, you get the idea. So, these are your tax dollars at work, Houstonians. Apparently, the Chancellor's wife at your community college thinks by virtue of her marital vows that she has a mission to remake your community college system into some sort of odd international social experiment. If you have any feelings on the matter, I would encourage you to contact HCC and let them know how you feel. It's your money they're spending, after all. http://www.hccs.edu For the record, I'm not sure which is more vacuous: the Chancellor's busybody wife who may well be suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder, the Chron writer who treated the nonsense in such a celebratory manner, or the Chron editors who actually published the tripe.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

June 21, 2004, 10:02 AM

Chris Bell's ulterior motive

By Owen Courrèges

For an overview of this issue, please consult News 24 Houston's article here.

Permalink | Political Cartoons

June 21, 2004, 08:06 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Find out why Medicaid programs are getting the ax and why reading a product's warranty can save you money. Read about these topics and more in today's Features section.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

June 21, 2004, 07:00 AM

Rep. Chris Bell: “Boo-hoo! Tom DeLay is a meanie!

By Owen Courrèges

U.S. Representative Chris Bell is upset. You see, Congressional resdistricting in Texas caused him to lose his seat. He lost the District 9 primary to Houston NAACP President Al Green, because Republicans in Austin decided to seriously alter the racial makeup of that district — Bell's district. And who was the catalyst for Texas redistricting? Why, it was U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, of course. But Bell isn't bitter or anything:
U.S. Majority Leader Tom DeLay is the most corrupt politician in America. That will not come as news to those of you who have been paying attention in recent years. But it takes on added relevance this week in the wake of formal charges I have filed against him alleging criminal conspiracy, including bribery, extortion, fraud, money laundering and abuse of power. Predictably, to try and deflect attention from those charges, DeLay and his associates have opened fire with personal attacks and threats of political retribution against me and many of my colleagues.
Of course, the Chronicle decided that it would be appropriate to run this politically-motivated tripe, even though I can't think of anyone who takes it seriously. It's painfully obvious that Bell is attacking DeLay now because DeLay cost him his job, and he shouldn't be given a citywide outlet for his personally-motivated rantings. In any case, this kind of hyperbolic dreck is precisely why I'm glad that Bell will no longer be serving in Congress.

Permalink | Chron Bias

June 21, 2004, 05:00 AM

Ken Lay to be indicted

By Owen Courrèges

The Associated Press is reporting that former Enron chairman Kenneth Lay is likely to be indicted within weeks:
Kenneth Lay, Enron Corp.'s founder and former chairman, could be indicted on charges stemming from its 2001 collapse by the end of June, sources close to the case told The Associated Press on Saturday. Two sources who spoke on condition of anonymity said federal prosecutors are aggressively pursuing Lay, and witnesses with information about him have recently testified before a special grand jury probing Enron's December 2001 collapse.
This man caused a great deal of pain for a great many Houstonians. His indictment will be a welcome development.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

June 20, 2004, 10:41 PM

A tale of two conventions

By Kevin Whited

The Chronicle certainly didn't spend many paragraphs (7) covering the platform approved by Democrats in Houston. Nor is the coverage at all critical. It's fairly matter-of-fact. While the restraint is laudable, it should be noted that hyperpartisan Clay Robison's coverage of the Republican convention was anything but matter-of-fact, even breaking out the term “ultraconservative” as a pejorative. If the newspaper is going to do highly critical analysis of one party's convention, then its treatment of the other party's convention should be similar. It wasn't.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

June 19, 2004, 10:12 PM

Layout changes

By Kevin Whited

For several weeks, a handful of people have complained that the right sidebar was “bleeding” over into the content in the middle, obscuring it. I haven't been able to duplicate that problem, so I've been working with those folks on some test pages to try and solve the problem for them. The experiments with the test pages have been successful, and I've now implemented the changes for the entire site. You'll need to hit refresh on your browser to bring in the new stylesheet (and changes). You may even need to flush your browser's cache. The pages are now designed at a fixed width of 800 pixels. If you're running at lower resolutions, the site should be accessible, but you'll have to scroll right. If you're running at higher resolutions, you will have white space to the right. At all resolutions, if the text is too small or too big, you can change that on your browser and adjust to your preference. We've taken great pains not to introduce new problems with these changes, but it's entirely possible that we have. If you're experiencing new problems, a comment here would be appreciated and helpful.

Permalink | Staff Notes

June 19, 2004, 12:32 PM

Tomjanovich to Lakers? Not a story to the Chron sports editors

By Kevin Whited

The Los Angeles Lakers are imploding. Phil Jackson is out as coach. Shaq is making trade demands. Kobe Bryant appears ready to test free agency. And the Chronicle has yet to report on the most interesting aspect of the story: Houston basketball icon Rudy Tomjanovich is emerging as a lead candidate to take over the Lakers. Here's what the Chronicle pulled off the AP wire about the Lakers situation. At the moment, it doesn't mention Tomjanovich (sometimes they modify their copy online, so it could change). Here's what John Lopez wrote about the Lakers. Again, no mention of Tomjanovich. To get any indication that one of our local sports heroes may be leaving town to coach a dreaded rival, you have to turn to Kevin Ding's story from the Orange County Register as picked up by the Fort Worth Star Telegram!
After four trips to the NBA Finals in his five years, Jackson was told the Lakers are ready to move on with another high-profile coach - two-time champion Rudy Tomjanovich is emerging as a lead candidate - to help Bryant continue the Lakers' tradition of excellence, Buss hopes. Tomjanovich, 55, stepped down in May 2003 as coach of the Houston Rockets because the stress of coaching after being diagnosed with bladder cancer could have worsened his health. He now feels strong and ready to return to the game. The Lakers made calls Friday night to initiate their coaching search. Tomjanovich is already attempting overtures to placate O'Neal in hopes he can coach Bryant and O'Neal together, as Jackson did.
Scooped by the Orange County Register AND by the Star-Telegram on the story that one of Houston's most beloved sports figures may be heading off to coach a rival. That's about par for the course for the newspaper that missed the Enron story. (Update) ESPN notes that Tomjanovich is under contract to the Rockets for two more years, so some sort of compensation would have to be arranged for him to go to the Lakers. Don't look for that to be a stumbling block if Jerry Buss decides he's the Lakers' guy. (Update 2) The Chron finally posted on this subject at 7:15 pm on Saturday night. That's about 24 hours behind the rest of the world, but not quite as bad as their coverage of Enron.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

June 19, 2004, 11:30 AM

Prostitution and shame

By Owen Courrèges

ABC13 News has an interesting article regarding a 'shame' tactic being used in Dallas to punish men convicted of soliciting prostitutes:
Dallas police have a new tactic to crack down on prostitution. Pictures of so-called 'johns' arrested for soliciting prostitution are posted on their website. Since the site first went online June 7, there have been more than 35,000 hits to the department's web site. In fact, some people would like the Houston Police Department to have a similar site.
This reminds me of the punishments imposed by Judge Ted Poe. If you drive around the Galleria with any frequency, you've probably seen one of the many people who have appeared in his courtroom holding up a sign by the side of the road proclaiming their crime, usually something like “I'm a drunk driver.” They are subjected to scorn and ridicule from passing motorists, which is exactly what they deserve. In the end, shame can be a very effective tool, as these “johns” will think twice before using hookers if they have to endure a very public humiliation. So I'm all for having the HPD set up a similar database. Let these guys squirm.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

June 18, 2004, 08:31 PM

Fair descriptions from the partisan Austin bureau chief

By Kevin Whited

As regular readers of Chronically Biased know, we keep a close eye on Clay Robison, the Chronicle's Austin news bureau chief who doubles as partisan editorialist. Maybe the extra attention is starting to pay off. In a column today, Mr. Robison actually declined to take partisan shots. Rather he described two think-tanks according to their mission, rather than the frequent journalistic practice of identifying the “conservative” think tank, but leaving off such labels from liberal think tanks:
Further spending reductions aren't necessary because the economy and the budgetary outlook are improving, said Dick Lavine, a budgetary analyst with the Center for Public Policy Priorities, an advocacy group for low- and middle-income Texans.
and
Michael Quinn Sullivan, vice president of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a think tank supporting limited governmental spending, applauded further restrictions.
Those are fair descriptions, evenly applied. That wasn't so hard, now, was it Mr. Robison?

Permalink | Media Watch

June 18, 2004, 05:18 PM

Our reputation is spreading

By Dan Patrick

We reported yesterday that ChronicallyBiased.com was discussed on rocker, KKRW, the Arrow, one morning this week. Today the morning team on one of the top stations in Houston, FM 104, KRBE, asked callers to talk about their favoirte web sites. It wasn't long before a caller said they loved ChronicallyBiased.com. In fact, the caller said she liked it so much she told her boss to take a look, even though she was at work and not supposed to look at non-work related sites. Two members of the morning team, “Pyscho” Robbie and Maria Todd, had not heard of the site. However, the main anchor of the team, Sam Malone, was familiar with the site. I don't want to speak for Sam, but I've always considered him a conservative. He shares solid values with his younger audience on a regular basis. He would make a great talk host. The problem is that FM music pays a lot more than AM talk radio. I told him he has a standing offer to join KSEV whenever the music gets too loud. Lastly, there was sweet irony this morning. After talking about our web site they went to a break and the first commercial was a spot for the Houston Chronicle.

Permalink | News and Views

June 18, 2004, 02:48 PM

I blame the panties...

By Captain Chronicle

I hope you Bush-backing conservatives are happy. If it weren't for your Republican torture chambers in Abu Ghraib, Paul Johnson might still be alive. And don't talk to me about radical Muslims beheading people-- you put PANTIES on their heads!! What did you expect them to do in response? Everyone knows that Islam is in fact a Religion of Peace(c). But leave it to people like Dan Patrick and the listeners of KSEV to drive these poor, underprivileged, misunderstood souls to do such a terrible thing. You should be ashamed of yourself. I know I am ashamed of myself, and all Americans. By refusing to remove President Bush from office, we have brought this down upon ourselves.

Permalink | Captain Chronicle

June 18, 2004, 08:56 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Matt Malatesta gives us the scoop on why cougars mingle with lions and Greg Berlocher suggests what you should get the outdoorsman for Father's Day in today's Features section.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

June 18, 2004, 06:45 AM

Life aboard a United States carrier.

By Dan Patrick

This is the last of my series aboard the U.S.S. Carl Vinson.
Missing
An empty chair sits waiting for the return of a missing shipmate on the U.S.S. Carl Vinson. What is life like aboard an aircraft carrier? As we examined in previous articles, this is a huge ship with a lot of people on board. Measuring 1,092 feet, longer than the empire state building, almost as wide as a football field is long, 22 stories high and covering an area of over 4.5. acres, the Carl Vinson company contains almost 5000 sailors and airmen. Here are a few interesting ship facts: Its anchors weigh 30 tons each. There are 3000 rooms, 2000 telephones and 1500 computers. During the last deployment, which lasted almost 9 months, the ship’s crew consumed 724,000 eggs, 160,000 chickens, 157,000 sodas, 407,000 snicker bars and distributed 833,000 pounds of mail. The ship gets over 54,000 e-mails per day. The last number, 54,000 e-mails, is one key that helps keep the crew more relaxed about being away from home. Rear Admiral Evan Chanik told me that when he was a young sailor it took 2 weeks for a letter to reach home and another 2 weeks to receive a reply. Today every sailor can contact home everyday. They can also call from almost anywhere in the world for $1.00 a minute. The crew bought 43,000 phone cards during the last deployment. The crew works long hours. It is not unusual for crewmembers to work 12 and 18 hour shifts. As the Admiral told me there isn’t a lot to do on the ship during off-hours and the time passes much faster when you are busy. Each night at 10.pm. the lights go out and a prayer is said over the ship P.A. system.
LCDR Richard Inman and Dan Patrick
LCDR, Chaplain, Richard Inman and I visit at chapel. He surprised me at chapel when he told me he was a regular listener to my show.when he was stationed in Galveston. There are three chaplains on board during training and five during deployments, which usually last for six months or more when the crew has to be totally away from home. One of the chaplains, to my surprise, greeted me as a listener of my show. LCDR Richard Inman was a regular listener when he was stationed in Galveston. The food was very good. There are many dinning areas. The higher the rank, the nicer the dining room. I was having breakfast in one of the officer’s dining areas when I noticed a chair and a table tucked in a corner. I thought that was strange. I looked closer and saw a lone fresh flower and a piece of fruit on the table. It looked like someone was expected. Then I noticed a cover (hat) bronzed over in the middle of the table. There was a flag hung on the wall behind the table. It was the P.O.W.-M.I.A flag honoring those who were prisoners of war or missing in action. It was a touching tribute and reminded me of the haunting song from the play, about the French revolution, Les Miserables, “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables.” The song honored those lost in action who had not returned from battle. I was instantly reminded that those on this ship, and all ships, are involved in serious business. They can and do die serving our country.

Permalink | News and Views

June 18, 2004, 06:00 AM

Ah-ha! So that explains it!

By Owen Courrèges

Permalink | Political Cartoons

June 18, 2004, 05:00 AM

METRO: “Oops! Maybe at-grade rail is a bad idea!”

By Owen Courrèges

It's quite amusing that the Houston Chronicle can still lend so much support to METRO when it makes such blatant errors. It's gotten so bad, in fact, that METRO is beginning to admit its errors to itself on a variety of levels:
Metro's rail expansion plans, which had been zooming down the tracks since gaining voter approval in November, hit a sudden obstacle Thursday when board members expressed reservations about the alignments chosen for the next two lines. Directors ordered staff to take another look at previously rejected routes, which could delay the start of construction by more than six months because environmental impact statements are under way for those routes adopted by the prior transit board in December. “Looking at it, I say, 'Whoa!' ” said Chairman David Wolff. “I think there are just real problems with the way the analysis was done.” Members have raised concern lately about the wisdom of continuing to build light rail on the street, as done in the 7 1/2-mile Main Street line that opened Jan. 1. Though popular with many riders, MetroRail has been plagued by train-vehicle collisions and was shut down Sunday for an hour due to flooding.
Look, the high-accident rate should not have been unexpected. For light rail trains (as opposed to old-fashioned streetcars) accident rates tend to be high when the tracks are placed at-grade, meaning that they are at the same level as street traffic. This is because the trains run at slightly higher speeds and have considerable braking distances. I discussed this issue in a recent opinion piece I wrote for the Reason Foundation. The fact that the METRO Board is just now figuring out consequences that were forseeable strikes me as, well, pretty unnerving.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

June 17, 2004, 11:20 PM

President's numbers rebound, Kerry weaker among his base

By Kevin Whited

The elite media are probably going to be disappointed in the latest Pew Research Center findings. Despite a steady effort to blast the President and his Iraq policy over the last few weeks, American support for the President and the Iraq war has rebounded:
Americans are paying markedly less attention to Iraq than in the last two months. At the same time, their opinions about the war have become more positive. The number of Americans who think the U.S. military effort is going well has jumped from 46% in May to 57%, despite ongoing violence in Iraq and the widening prison abuse scandal. And the percentage of the public who believes it was right to go to war inched up to 55%, from 51% in May. The new Pew survey indicates that many Americans are becoming less connected to the news about Iraq and possibly more hardened to events there. Just 39% say they are tracking developments in Iraq very closely – down 15 points since April and the lowest level this year. In addition, 35% say that people they know are becoming less emotionally involved with the news from Iraq, a sharp increase from 26% last month.
I suspect that people are beginning to tune out the constant negative coverage because it has been so overwhelmingly lopsided, despite good news in Iraq. That's only a suspicion — these findings don't address that topic — but it seems like an arguable proposition, at the least. I'd further call attention to the President's stable numbers with his GOP base. Liberals continue to argue that the President is having troubles with his base, and the numbers consistently show that this is wishful thinking on their part. Senator Kerry, on the other hand, has much weaker support among his base, and his support among independents has slipped in recent months as well. Don't look for those facts to be reported very many places, however — maybe Fox News and quite a few political blogs.

Permalink | Media Watch

June 17, 2004, 10:52 PM

What the Chronicle left out

By Kevin Whited

Representative Martin Frost would have Texas voters believe that he's just a good conservative Texas Democrat who was unfairly targeted by the GOP establishment during redistricting, and forced into running against another incumbent Congressman, Republican Pete Sessions. The problem for Frost is that he is a Democrat in a Republican state, and therefore he must occasionally hang out with fellow Dems. Like Madeleine Albright. You wouldn't really know that if you're a Chronicle reader, because here's the extent of their coverage of the lady former Secretary's trip to Texas (from AP):
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who had feared the war in Iraq would distract from the war on terror, said Monday that she is optimistic the U.S. campaign in Iraq will prevail. Albright said that even though the transition to a stable Iraq has been far harder than the Bush administration expected, she believes “the pessimists are wrong” and that America's commitment to democracy, basic rights and dignity will help it succeed against anti-American forces in Iraq. “My optimism is based less on the wisdom of our tactics than on the power of our ideals, because while the extremists are peddling tyranny and poverty and terror, we're selling liberty and prosperity and peace,” Albright said at a fund-raiser for U.S. Rep. Martin Frost, D-Dallas. “But success will not come easily or inevitably or soon.”
It makes Albright sound pretty reasonable, and nearly buries the fact that this architect of President Clinton's policy of neglect of foreign affairs and one of the least impressive Secretaries of State in recent times was speaking at Mr. Frost's request. The Star-Telegram's more extensive coverage provided these revealing quotes:
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who served in the Clinton administration, said Monday that the war in Iraq was one “of choice, not necessity” and that it may have slowed America's hunt for Osama bin Laden. Albright, who was also U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said she agrees with President Bush that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was a despicable tyrant. She, too, thought that he was hiding weapons of mass destruction. But she said she questioned the timing of the war “because I felt we had him [Saddam] in a strategic box.” Albright also said she is uneasy about the Iraq war “because I didn't want anything to distract from the fight against al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden” in Afghanistan. “It was, after all, they, not the Iraqis, who had attacked America” on 9-11, she said. [snip] A native of Prague, Czech Republic, who immigrated with her parents to the United States in 1948, Albright acknowledged that Bush inherited a difficult job of protecting Americans once terrorists attacked. But, she said, the Bush administration's “lack of friendly cooperation with many of our allies has made it much more difficult to really move forward in fighting terrorism.”
The lady former Secretary goes on to insult Republicans:
Albright also criticized the congressional redistricting passed by Republican lawmakers in Texas that forced Frost to seek re-election in Dallas but said she believes that Frost will prevail. “I actually believe in the possibility of Republicans voting for a very good Democrat if they want their views properly represented in Washington,” she said. “You know, I believe there are smart Republicans out there.”
Message: smart Republicans vote for Democrats, Democrats like Martin Frost. Memo to the Sessions campaign staff: The way to win this election is to distinguish your guy who supports the President and his successful war on terror from the “moderate” Democrat who hangs out with Madeleine Albright. In fact, it's a little stunning the Frost people have made it so easy. They must need to raise money pretty badly. Now, one can surely understand that the Chronicle isn't that excited about covering a speech the lady former Secretary gave in Dallas, but their neglect of key aspects of the speech gives the wrong impression, and one can't help but wonder if that wasn't deliberate. They should have either run a lengthier article or spiked the story altogether. Substantively, friend Orrin Judd comments further on the Lady Secretary's strange ideas about Iraq.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

June 17, 2004, 10:12 AM

Beware my wrath, Dan Patrick!!

By Captain Chronicle

It was but a few days ago-- Tuesday to be specific, around 6:45 a.m.-- and since Al Franken's “Air America” was taking its one paid commercial break per hour, I flipped across the radio dial to catch a little classic rock on KKRW 93.7, “The Arrow”. Imagine my disgust upon hearing the morning team of Dean and Rog engage in the following conversation: (Note: Not a verbatim transcript) Rog: I am really angry at the Chronicle. I’d write a letter to the editor, but they would probably never publish it. Dean: Line two, you are on the air. Caller: Yeah, Rog, I know where you could send your letter. There is a website now that just would publish it. It's called chronciallybiased.com. Rog: Chronicallybiased.com? Caller: Yeah, chronciallybiased.com. Their whole website is devoted to monitoring the Chronicle and criticizing them for their liberal bias. Rog: Well that sounds like a good idea. Maybe I should send my letter to ChronicallyBiased.com. Later dude. Listen my powder-blue-painted, vasectomy-flaunting, piano-playing friend — it was one thing when your right-wing rants were restricted to the AM band… but now your reactionary plot to banish progressive journalism from this fair city is seeping over to the FM dial. For the love of Lanier, “classic rockers” are beginning to believe your nonsense!! Beware my wrath, Dan Patrick. Beware.

Permalink | Captain Chronicle

June 17, 2004, 10:04 AM

Bellaire garbage privatization

By Owen Courrèges

News 24 Houston is reporting on an issue that has risen to prominence in Bellaire — that of whether or not to privatize garbage collection:
It is a hot-button issue in Bellaire, with many residents showing strong opposition to the plan to privatize their garbage collection. Currently, the city's public works department handles the task and the cost is around $17 a month per household. However, the city claims they could knock around $3 off of that by using BFI. Despite the apparent savings, opposition is strong on this plan and hundreds of residents have signed petitions going against it. Apparently, they're very happy with the current system and with a lot of folks saying they “love” their garbage collectors.
For the record, I am of the opinion that all garbage collection ought to be privatized. There's simply no reason to be paying the government more for a service that private industry has already shown an infinite capacity to do both better and cheaper. Now personally, I grew up in a Northwest side neighborhood just beyond the city limits, and thus always enjoyed the benefit of private contractors performing trash collection. The sanitation workers actually collect the garbage from the driveway, no matter what the amount or the container. Accordingly, I was shocked when I later discovered that the city of Houston still has a public collection service that uses mechanical arms and uniform trash bins. It strikes me as horribly inefficient. The situation in Bellaire, it would seem, is little different. Residents shouldn't allow their fondness for their garbage men to get in the way of what is essentially an economic decision.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

June 17, 2004, 08:00 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Michael Reagan thanks America and Dan Lovett highlights this summer's olympiad in today's Features section.

Permalink | News and Views

June 17, 2004, 07:00 AM

Cragg Hines on the Pledge [in]decision

By Owen Courrèges

Cragg Hines once again reveals his antipathy for religion with this latest column, in which he expresses the idea that the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance do indeed violate the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. Characteristically, he resorts to snide, snarky commentary to drive his point home:
Perhaps none of the justices happened to be in vacation Bible school on Flag Day 1954. I was. If they had been with me at a Southern Baptist church in Dallas, they might recall that the addition of “under God” was for many Americans not merely an act of “ceremonial deism.” It was a victory of smug reassurance, much as when the recently adopted Texas Republican platform, in which the party “reaffirms the United States of America is a Christian nation ... .” That makes suspect and hollow the follow-on state GOP sentiment: “We also affirm the right of each individual to worship in the religion of his or her choice.” Yeah, sure, no matter how heretical it may be. “Ceremonial deism” may still be a sparingly useful concept in glossing over some of the continued incorporations of clearly religious (if only deist) themes into an increasingly secular society. But it doesn't make them any more acceptable in a government-ordained forum, either to many persons of faith or to the wholly irreligious.
First of all, I couldn't care less if “clearly religious themes” are honored in “a government-ordained forum” in the context of “an increasingly secular society.” None of that matters. What matters is whether or not it is legitimate for the government to place the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. The problem the secularists face is that the basis of American freedom is theological in nature. The entire notion of “inalienable rights” comes from the idea, explained in the Declaration of Independence, that men are “endowed by their creator” with certain freedoms that no government can legitimately take away. Those freedoms, then, come from God. They are beyond mankind's ability to eliminate, and that is why they are inalienable. They are inalienble precisely because America is under God. Disinclude God, and the entire philosophy of American freedom crumbles. So whether or not our society is becoming “increasingly secular,” the basis for our Constitution is clearly not. Our Constitution was the fulfillment of the Declaration, and the Declaration lays out a political philosophy with elements that are undeniably religious. But even if this weren't the case, the word “under God” is actually a historical phrase. It was first used by General George Washington in his orders during the Revolutionary War. It was later included by President Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address, perhaps the most famous speech ever delivered in all the annals of American history. You can't simply gloss over this entire legacy and label it as a piece of religious agit-prop. Frankly, I don't care what Hines experienced at Bible School on Flag Day in 1954 — that shouldn't be the basis for constitutional jurisprudence. Perhaps if Hines were operating off of more than his own prejudices, he might be inclined to agree.

Permalink | Noxious Chron Columnists

June 17, 2004, 06:30 AM

This is what a real resume looks like

By Dan Patrick

This is the third in my series aboard the U.S.S. Carl Vinson.
Capt Donegan 1
CAPT. Kevin “kid” Donegan, commanding officer of the U.S.S. Carl Vinson, Third Fleet Pacific (sitting) reviews flight exercises for the morning. Every ship needs a captain. The captain of the U.S.S. Carl Vinson is Capt. Kevin “Kid” Donegan. He looks too young, maybe that's why they call him kid, to command 3000 sailors and a five-billion-dollar ship. I told the captain he looked too young to command this ship. He looked to a sailor who was standing nearby and asked the sailor if he thought he looked too young to be the commander. It was a very funny moment. The Captain did not appear to be insulted by my comment, but the sailor surely felt he was on the spot when the captain asked him that question. Earlier in our series I talked about how sharp the young sailors, average age under 20, are, and this sailor was no exception. Without hesitation, he snapped back to the captain, not to young sir, but you are looking good. The three of us had a good laugh. Although there are almost 5000 crew on the ship, 3000 sailors are under Capt. Donegan's command. The other 2000 are a part of the air wing and serve under another captain. However, Capt. Donegan is in charge of everything that happens on the ship. It is a huge responsibility and only the very best are trusted for the job. What does it take to ascend to such a position of importance? What set of skills are the Navy looking for its ship commanders to have? The short answer is, to command one of only 12 carriers in the Navy, the most powerful mobile combat platforms in the world, you must be skilled in almost every area of the ship's operations and at the same time have the ability to lead men.
Capt Donegan 2
Sitting more than 15 stories above the water, CAPT. Donegan watches over his ship high atop his perch on the bridge (just under the yellow and green lights). Capt. Donegan has everything the Navy is looking for to command it's ships. He has been working towards this command for his entire Navy life. I have said in previous articles in this series, that the Navy leaders I met, while on board the Carl Vinson, are as impressive as any business or political leaders I have met and come to know in the civilian world. In fact, I have met very few in the civilian world who can match our Navy's top officers. When you look at Capt. Donegan's record, you see why, few in the civilian world could match his resume. Here's a look: 1980 Cum Laude Grad, University of Virginia, in aerospace engineering. Fighter Pilot Named “Wildcat Pilot of the Year.” Graduated at the top of his class in the Navy Test Pilot School. Named Test Pilot of the Year in 1989. Served at the Pentagon and in Europe working with NATO. Trained in nuclear power and served as executive officer on the U.S.S. George Washington. Commander of the U.S.S. Coronado. During his career he has logged over 3700 hours in 31 different types of planes and has had over 800 landings on 13 different carriers. Now you know what it takes to be selected for one of only 12 such jobs in our Navy, or the world for that matter. As impressive as Capt. Donegan's record is regarding the Navy, he possesses brilliant civilian type skills including communications and people skills that makes every sailor, including those who are only 19, feel important on his ship. Where others, with this impressive record, might appear consumed with themselves, he does not present himself as one who has accomplished so much in his life. He is obviously extremely confident, but comes across as just a great, easygoing neighbor next door. Above Capt. Donegan is Rear Admiral Evan Chanik and Vice Admiral Michael McCabe. Their resumes include Silver Stars, Bronze Stars, Top Gun School and various commands spanning a life in the Navy. Every officer in the command has a very impressive background. I came back from my weekend on the Carl Vinson very upbeat about the people I met, from 19-year-old sailors to 50-year old-plus Admirals. I have tried to communicate my impressions through my stories this week. I hope you now know why I sleep a lot better at night. It is because I know who is leading our fight against terrorism and protecting America each and every day. Tomorrow,in the last part of my series; life on board an aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Carl Vinson.

Permalink | News and Views

June 17, 2004, 06:21 AM

Letters to the Editor

By The Staff

The following are letters submitted by Chronically Biased readers. Confused Professor A piece by Prof. Turley of George Washington University in Monday's Chronicle suggests that rather than replacing Alexander Hamilton's portrait on the $10 bill with one of Ronald Reagan, we put Reagan on the $500, $1,000 or even $10,000 bill. Sorry Professor but we're not as easily fooled as you seem to think. The $500, $1,000 and $10,000 bills are no longer in print or circulation. The author should be ashamed of himself for such an attempt to mislead. The Chronicle, which chose to highlight this particular aspect of the article in an oversized font, should be embarassed for not checking the facts. This information is readily available on several different U.S. Government websites. Joe Cooke The Chron Doesn't Speak for Me Dear Houston Chronicle, Don't presume to speak for those you don't truly represent. I suffer from a severe case of Tourette's Syndrome, which is classified as an incurable neurological disorder. Treatment is spotty at best and still mostly experimental. Tourette's is characterized by motor and vocal tics, but severe symptoms include violent convulsions and thrashings that interfere with basic, daily functions. I've been told that Stem Cell Research is the only real hope for a cure in my lifetime. I honestly believe in my heart of hearts that an unborn child from the moment of conception has an immortal soul, just as I did when I was a zygote. To murder one of these simply so that I might one day be healthy is as appealing to me as skinning a helpless jew in a concentration camp and using his skin for a lampshade. If this trend has its way, perhaps my disease will be detected in children before they are born and then executed prior to birth lest our tainted genes affect the human population. I am one disabled American who is opposed to Stem Cell research. I would rather remain sick for the rest of my life than take medicine essentially brewed from the blood of innocent children. Now, I don't speak for everyone. AND NEITHER DO YOU: stop trying to guilt-trip traditional Christians on behalf of the disabled. We can speak for ourselves. Lars A. Doucet, American Citizen and Tourette's Syndrome Patient Friendly Site Thank you for making the site accessible to blind readers (and buyers)! I have had no problem navigating about each page, including the classified ads, using the Window Eyes screen reader. I can hear how many comments or how many ads there are for different categories. Pictures are well identified to the reader describing what they represent. A tip of the can to the web master! Thanks for an informative and fun product. I'm passing on the word to friends (and foes) alike. Mike Wilkens

Permalink | Letters

June 17, 2004, 06:00 AM

Dog Daze

By The Staff

Dog Daze - Cox and Forkum Courtesy of Cox and Forkum

Permalink | Political Cartoons

June 16, 2004, 09:44 PM

AP hatchet job

By The Staff

A reader points out the following problems in this AP article reproduced in the Chronicle today, starting with the following quote:
Bluntly contradicting the Bush administration, the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks reported today there was “no credible evidence” that Saddam Hussein had ties with al-Qaida.
But then they admit much later in the article:
President Bush has said there is no evidence that Saddam was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks.
So then they use the old “critics have said” response to legitimize the earlier claim:
But critics have alleged the administration has left a contrary impression with the public . Last fall, Cheney referred to what he called a credible but unconfirmed intelligence report that Mohamed Atta, one of the Sept. 11 hijackers, had met at least once in Prague with a senior Iraqi intelligence official a few months before the attacks.
What do they think the senior Iraqi intelligence official who met with Al-Qaida was doing on the two occasions? Just dropping in for tea? Even without hard evidence that Saddam funded, helped plan, or directly collaborated with Al-Qaida about Sept. 11, I think it's pretty safe to say they had ties to them. --- Sometimes our readers (this one asked not to be identified) do all of our work for us. Thanks! (Update) There's more on this topic from our friends at No Left Turns.

Permalink | Letters

June 16, 2004, 09:08 PM

Quanell X - cont'd

By Kevin Whited

The Chronicle's latest reporting on the Quanell X situation confuses more than it enlightens. Here is what was reported in Wednesday editions:
Changes will be made in the way the Houston Police Department handles situations in which citizens arrange to bring in fugitives, Police Chief Harold Hurtt said Tuesday. [snip] Hurtt said the arrangement between Quanell X and police “was spearheaded” by the administration manager in his office. Any further such arrangements, the chief told reporters, will be handled by a police officer with the rank of captain or higher. Quanell X, accused of failing to pull over for police while driving Forney to police headquarters, was charged with evading arrest. His lawyers have said Quanell X did not pull over because he was on the phone with Executive Assistant Chief Chuck McClelland at the time. On Friday, McClelland acknowledged he had spoken with Quanell X but would not say whether the two were talking while police were trying to pull over the vehicle. “The key issue is what time during this whole incident was he on the phone” with McClelland, Hurtt said Tuesday. Hurtt said he will attend a town meeting on the subject scheduled by the Rev. Bill Lawson at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church next week.
We all know that “key issue.” But here's another key issue: Why doesn't the Chief of Police KNOW by now whether one of his subordinates was on the phone with Quanell X when this took place, and what was said?

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

June 16, 2004, 08:29 PM

Military news with a local twist

By Kevin Whited

Major Woodard E. Nunis of the 451st Civil Affairs Battalion here in Houston passes along the following:
Attached is a link for an article done on a unit of civil affairs soldiers from Houston serving in Iraq. I was the team leader and the article details a day in the life of a typical CA team. The writer also works with the 82nd in Baghdad. Hope the article doesn't bore you. It also might help show the uninformed what soldiers are doing on a day to day basis.
Are you kidding? None of the readers here are likely to be bored. Quite the contrary. Thank you for the contribution. The link is here.

Permalink | News and Views

June 16, 2004, 07:18 PM

They wonder why Americans don't trust them

By Kevin Whited

As we noted last week, a recent Pew Research Center study indicates that over half of Americans do not trust the major media and nearly as many think the major media are “out of touch.” Those are staggering figures, but hardly surprising ones given recent trends in reporting. In an article for the Washington Times, Greg Pierce calls attention to some of those recent trends:
Sen. John Kerry “had the best press of any nominee we've ever tracked — 81 percent positive,” the nonpartisan Center for Media and Public Affairs said in announcing a content analysis of network evening newscasts in January and February. Meanwhile, the latest report from Media Tenor (www.mediatenor.com), an independent media analysis institute, found that “since April, the networks have practically abandoned coverage of President Bush's economic policy — even as the economy and labor market have shown signs of significant improvement.”
Senator Kerry is almost certainly the weakest Dem Presidential nominee since Michael Dukakis, and because of his liberal Senate record, he is perhaps even weaker than that (because of the many problematic votes on the record, as opposed to the executive leadership of Governor Dukakis, Kerry's mentor). There is no good explanation of the amount of positive coverage he managed to generate earlier this year. Further, the economy seems really to have kicked into high gear. The media spent extensive time earlier in the year criticizing the President's chief economic advisor Greg Mankiw for optimistic predictions over job growth. It appears the economy may well exceed those predictions that raised such a furor in the media months ago, yet reporting continues to ignore the good news and, consequently, American perceptions about the economy continue to lag. If this is not bias, it certainly is skewed reporting at an aggregate level, and it's having an impact on our national politics. For those who wonder why we maintain this media watchdog site, go back and re-read that last sentence. (Thanks to our friends at Brothers Judd for the link to this article.)

Permalink | Media Watch

June 16, 2004, 08:49 AM

Chronicle: A little flooding isn't so bad after all

By Phil Magness

Right on cue to do Metro's damage control dirty work, the Houston Chronicle editorial board has stepped up to spin away last weekend's light rail flooding fiasco in which water levels exceeding a mere 4 inches shut down several segments of the Main Street trolley line. The track flooding confirmed predictions that light rail critics have been making about Metrorail for the last five years. Yet according to the Chronicle, the “see I told you so” from critics is “premature.” Note that the editorial staff does not dispute the problem of flooding, nor do they even bother to address the concern of the Main Street line's poor design from the get go. Instead, they acknowledge the water delays and build them into a scarecrow falsely to portray the rail-critic position for a seemingly easy rebuttal.
Heavy rains temporarily washed out MetroRail line service this weekend, prompting proponents of building light rail above ground to say, “I told you so.” However, few responsible taxpayers would agree that spending millions of additional dollars on elevated tracks would have been worth it to avoid last Sunday's few minutes of transit downtime.
Note the strawman that the Chronicle has assembled here. Acknowledging the rail opponents' correct warning about Metrorail flooding, they falsely extrapolate the position that weather alone is cause for grade separated rail, assign it to their opponents with equal falsehood, and proceed to attack it by pointing to the cost-benefit shortfall of elevating tracks for weather alone. The suddenly cost-conscious Chronicle, which has been devoid of fiscal responsibility when it comes to anything involving Metro for the last ten or so years, believes itself to have found a rebuttal in the price tag. When considering flooding alone the price tag of elevated tracks may not be worth it. Add in safety, speed, and ridership potential in addition to an ability to escape flooding and elevated tracks are a completely different story. The Chronicle's scarecrow machine continues:
The interruption in service prompted a monorail advocate to point out that an elevated train would not have flooded. That's true, but taxpayers would have shelled out millions of dollars more per rail mile to have avoided that scant hour of disrupted service.
Take notice of the sleight of hand again. They begin with a concession about elevated track, but then, taking as an assumption that flooding is the only reason offered to elevate the tracks, they berate a monorail proponent over cost effectiveness. The editorial's argument ultimately fails, though, because it completely ignores the possibility of multiple reasons for an elevated transit system. Flooding is simply incidental to light rail transit lines in low lying areas and represents in itself only a tiny fraction of the case against street grade railways. Of other concern: SAFETY - At grade rail lines are substantially more prone to collisions with other vehicles than elevated lines. The reason is simple and self-evident. When a train is operated on a street for automobiles, the two necessarily interface and when they interface they can collide with relative ease. Elevating trains above automobile traffic virtually eliminates this problem, which, I might add, has become apparent in the 42 Metrorail collisions to date. SPEED - Grade-separated rail lines are generally able to travel at and maintain a higher rate of travel than mixed traffic lines at street level. Street level rail operators must adjust their rates of travel for a constantly changing set of surroundings and obstacles - not only automobiles and pedestrians that stray onto the tracks but also things like road debris and - yes - standing water. Considering that Metrorail on Main Street currently operates at an average speed (distance of 7.5 miles divided by the total travel time) equal to or less than a Segway Scooter (roughly 12 mph), the trains are in need of every extra second they can get and eliminating barriers that necessitate slow operation (such as road grade operations) could substantially alleviate this problem. RIDERS - The benefits of speed extend beyond simple time efficiency. In transit decision making, faster speed also tends to mean more riders. This fact is self evident because time is a scarce and desired commodity, thus giving it a value. As such, time figures heavily into any traveller's decision making process when presented with alternative travel modes. If a train takes almost twice as long to travel a distance reached easily by automobile on a parallel route (as happens to be the case with Main Street Metrorail right now), travelers who value time heavily will weigh its costs against taking the rail. Improve the rail system's speed, however, and some of those riders may substitute transit for an automobile. Thus elevated grade, and with it improved speed capabilities, becomes a long term investment in higher rider usage of the transit system.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

June 16, 2004, 08:45 AM

New poll

By Owen Courrèges

We have a new poll up today. The question is: “What should be done about Houston METRO?” You can vote on this question here. After all that's gone on with METRO lately, especially with the recent revelations that METRO understated the possible impact of heavy rains on the Main Street rail line, we're confident that all of you will have strong opinions on this issue. As for our earlier poll, “What was Reagan's greatest accomplishment?,” the results were fairly lopsided. Only 10.2% percent of you responded with “tax cuts.” 21.8% responded with “inspiring patriotism,” and a scant 3.8% responded with “cutting government programs.” Far out in the lead was “bringing down communism,” with 61.9% of you voting this way. Apparently disenchanted with the available options, 2.2% responded with “other.”

Permalink | Staff Notes

June 16, 2004, 08:21 AM

Why not just read the LA Times?

By The Houstonian

Why is the Chronicle editorial board taking cues lately from the LA Times? On 11 June, the LA Times ran an op-ed by John C. Yoo defending the Bush Administration's policies on terror. On 14 June, the Chronicle posted the same op-ed (it ran in the 15 June print editions). On 13 June, the LA Times ran an op-ed by Alan Dershowitz arguing that the U.S. needed clearly to define its policy on torture. Today, the Chronicle is running that same op ed. The content of the editorials isn't really objectionable, but why does the local newspaper have to be three days behind an average newspaper? Come to think of it, perhaps “Three days behind an average newspaper” is a good motto to replace “Houston's Leading Information Source.”

Permalink | Media Watch

June 16, 2004, 07:43 AM

The MeMo chronicles

By The Houstonian

In a post earlier this morning, Owen Courreges blasts the Chronicle's pitiful attempt at a blog, MeMo, for a recent post. Houston Press media critic Richard Connelly ripped the blog last week as well, and his comments are probably worth reproducing:
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Kyrie O'Connor was brought in earlier this year as a Houston Chronicle editor to rejuvenate the paper's tired features section. So far that's meant a lot of “breaking news” featurettes, such as laugh-free Top Ten career suggestions for whoever just got booted off a reality show. As a Zeitgeist Queen, she's also offering a daily “cultural blog” on the paper's Web site. The only words that can describe its bizarreness are her own; here are some actual selections from the past few weeks of the blog, minus the links to whatever sites she's found: I'm sorry about the Iran earthquake. But if you want to avoid earthquakes, don't go to Iran…And I love the idea that people step back and think. My buddy Joy's mother asked the other day, “What is the purpose of squirrels?”…It's just another sign of devolution that nobody uses the excellent words “dirigible” or “zeppelin” anymore, and opts instead for “blimp,” which is also a good word, come to think of it…There is nothing more frightening than watching a dozen dogs eat a doggy birthday cake…Does it bother anyone else that [The Bachelor] Jesse chose Jessica? That if someone yelled “Jess!” they'd both turn around?…Phyllis in “Gasoline Alley” has died…Absolute favorite weird new product: Newman's Own dog food…As you may know, I am obsessed with names that are complete sentences… And it goes on (and on) like that. Luckily there's no need to read the actual blog — here are some upcoming entries for July and August: Are your sneakers smelling worse to you these days? Mine are…When they outlaw Peeps, only outlaws will have Peeps…Ever notice how just when you think you're getting too self-obsessed, something great happens to you that you simply have to share with the world?…Dog lovers unite! Because then we could all get together and talk about dogs…Did you know that if you have a blog, all you have to do is check other blogs to come up with interesting links? But I guess that's a trade secret…Boy, those Astros are frustrating…Remember those toys or jingles from your youth? I do…
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind? Connelly's just priceless sometimes. It's almost beneath him, and us, though. Connelly's a great media critic, after all. And MeMo? It's just such an easy target.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

June 16, 2004, 06:59 AM

The Best and the Brightest

By Dan Patrick

This is the third in a series on the U.S.S Carl Vinson.
USS Carl Vinson deck
The deck of the U.S.S. Carl Vinson, early on a summer morning, as flight crews prepare the planes for another full day of flying. The ship can carry 70 fighters plus additional support aircraft. Seen here are F-18s. The U.S.S. Carl Vinson, Nimitz class carrier, has a crew of nearly 5000. Three thousand are sailors and almost 2000 are attached to the Air Wing Nine. The carrier first emerged on the scene over 70 years ago and for the last 50 years, the carrier has been the heart of the Navy fleet. The ship can carry over 70 aircraft and has nine different fighter squadrons on board. With exotic names like, The Argonauts, The Black Knights, The Blue Diamonds, The Death Rattlers, The Yellow Jackets, The Golden Hawks and The Screwbirds, the pilots who make up these squadrons are some of the best and brightest our country has to offer. A pilot has to be extremely intelligent, brave, fit and have a strong sense of commitment to getting the job done right everytime. They cannot afford to make the smallest of errors. One small mistake could get themselves, other fliers, or crew on board the ship killed. They fly in all kinds of weather, land at night on a space not larger than a dime on the deck and then get up and do it all over again day after day. In Afghanistan, they flew over 700 missions in only 7 months. 250 of those missions were combat missions. During their last deployment in the Pacific, they flew over 10,000 sorties. During the war in Afghanistan, they flew missions that had never been flown before by the Navy. The F/A-18C Hornet and the new F/A -18F Super Hornet, which fly off the Carl Vinson deck, has a range of about 450 miles. During the war, the pilots were flying missions that took them 700-900 miles. They had to refuel each way, sometimes twice each way. The pilots often spent 7-9 hours in the cockpit. They would fly the mission, return to the ship and do it all over again day after day for seven months. There were many times that they did not know exactly what their mission would be when they left the ship. They would fly in country and then be directed by a Special Forces soldier, in a hole somewhere on the ground below, via radio, to their target. They did not lose a plane during the war, but on one occasion, a freak accident forced one fighter down. During refueling in the air, the basket on the hose from the fueling plane struck the canopy and cracked it. It flew off of the plane. The pilot landed safely, but was hundreds of miles from the ship and alone on foreign soil. Within 24 hours the ship had sent a crew to the downed plane, repaired the canopy and the pilot flew the plane back to the ship. Movies often present fighter pilots as cocky young men who aren’t afraid of anything. The truth is that fighter pilots have to have great confidence and an absence of fear to do their jobs. Some are full of bravado. However, in meeting some of the pilots, they reminded me of the many astronauts I have come to know over the years in Houston, they are really humble men. They are confident in their abilities to be sure, but most do not see themselves as a modern day version of superman. They do not realize how special they really are in their abilities. The pilots of the U.S Navy and all branches of the service are supermen. They are some of the best and brightest people in our country. Today, many pilots move up the chain of command as their active flying days come to an end. The commander of the ship, CAPT. Kevin “Kid” Donegan, Rear Admiral Evan Chanik and Commander of the Third Fleet, Vice Admiral Mike McCabe, all have distinguished careers as fighter pilots. Any of them could be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or hold a high political office. (and would do a much better job, I might add) Instead, they have made a lifelong decision to serve their nation and put themselves on the frontline every day. Vice Admiral McCabe joked to me that we better watch out because both he and the Vice Admiral of the 5th Fleet, also in the Pacific, were ex- fighter pilots. That's just fine with me. In fact, I’ll sleep a bit better at night now, knowing we have the best and the brightest watching our back in the Pacific and all over the world.
Capt Spider Jones
Capt. “Spider” Jones, commander of the Argonauts fighter wing on board the U.S.S. Carl Vinson, flew over 700 missions, including 250 combat missions, with his team over Afghanistan in the war.
Lt. Dan Catlin and Paul Bettencourt
Lt. Dan Catlin, VFA-147, Argonauts Fighter Wing and Paul Bettencourt on board the U.S.S. Carl Vinson. Lt. Catlin, a native of Laporte, and all of the pilots are some of the best and brightest our country has to offer.

Permalink | News and Views

June 16, 2004, 06:00 AM

Chron tenders vapid criticism of Reagan funeral

By Owen Courrèges

A staff editorial run in the Chronicle yesterday criticized the Reagan family for its choice of eulogizers during the funeral proceedings of last week. Our readers can judge for themselves, but I consider their commentary to be both inappropriate and misguided:
Both the Rotunda ceremony on Thursday and the majestic religious service at the National Cathedral on Friday omitted any eulogy by a Democrat. To be clear: there is no protocol demanding such inclusion, even in a state funeral held for the entire nation. The Reagan family's selection of speakers was logical, from former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to President George W. Bush. Yet it was striking, during those days of tribute, how often Reagan's eulogizers spoke of his bipartisanship. Reagan's lack of spite made him a deft politician but also humanized relationships even with the lawmakers who fought him hardest. The recollections of Reagan sounded wistful at a time when U.S. politics has grown so harsh. There was not one official or legal reason to summon a Democratic speaker during the nation's official leave-taking of Ronald Reagan. But collegiality was an integral part of Reagan's gift of leadership. Too bad that gift could not have been shared one final time.
I'm certain that Nancy and the rest of the Reagan family resent the implication that they were somehow obligated to include a Democratic eulogizer to symbolize bipartisanship. The truth is that those who were closest to Reagan, and in the best position to honor him, were all Republicans. Including a token Democrat wouldn't have honored him; it would have been fake. I think the real question here is, why did the Chronicle even feel the need to write this? The funeral proceedings were beautiful and meaningful. Why tarnish that with mindless criticism?

Permalink | Chron Bias

June 16, 2004, 04:22 AM

Mayor White signs on to property tax cut

By Dan Patrick

Yesterday, Mayor Bill White agreed with Councilmen Michael Berry and Mark Goldberg to support a half cent cut in property taxes. Berry told Chronicallybiased that he believes with the Mayor's support , he will find the 8 votes needed to pass the tax cut. Berry acknowldeged that this is a small first step. However, he says it is important that the Mayor agrees that Houstonians need property tax relief. Chronicallybiased reported two weeks ago that the Mayor was also supporting a cut in the tax cap to 7%. With Mayors in other major Texas cities fighting any type of cut or cut in the cap,this is a significant step for Mayor White to take and will help CLOUT and Chronicallybiased in our fight to lower your property taxes.

Permalink | News and Views

June 16, 2004, 04:00 AM

MeMo links to vicious anti-Reagan screed

By Owen Courrèges

The Houston Chronicle's feeble attempt at a weblog, MeMo, has linked to one of the most insane, irritating, and inflammatory pieces I have ever had the misfortune to read. In the piece, a woman known only as “Ginmar” writes about Reagan in a highly derisive manner. She even begins by saying, almost comically, that “all this eulogizing of Ronald Reagan has made me remember just how much I disliked the guy...” What a heartless thing to say! Why would any eulogy ever evoke public scorn for a man? I must say, I don't believe that Carter was a good president. You might even say that I dislike the guy. However, I'm not going to be “reminded” of my ill-feelings for Carter's presidency by the inevitable public mourning that will undoubtedly follow his death. Even if it were otherwise, I wouldn't announce my ire proudly in the public sphere. That's just plain sick. The rest of the piece goes into a bizarre feminist rant, the gist of which is that any man who doesn't fully embrace radical feminism is some kind of vile sexist. Reagan, of course, is lumped into this category. Now it should be noted that Kyrie O'Connor, who writes MeMo, prefaced her link to this piece by saying “I am not linking to this for the politics.” However, the truth is that Ginmar's screed contains little else but politics. The bottom line is, it shouldn't have been linked to no matter what the intent. It's tainted goods, and its “perspective” is far from valuable.

Permalink | Chron Bias

June 15, 2004, 05:44 PM

Partisan advertisement posing as news

By Kevin Whited

Several readers called attention to this AP article that the Chronicle ran a few days ago: Help the Democrats: Bid on a Warhol, a Rothko or a Lichtenstein The article even conveniently provides a link at the end, for anyone who wants to go and contribute to this partisan effort. I'm not quite sure why this is news or why it merited inclusion in the Chronicle, but this snippet was amusing:
Politics and art have a history, especially in New York. Mexican painter Diego Rivera, a communist, angered industrial tycoon John D. Rockefeller's family in the early 1930s by including the image of Soviet revolutionary Vladimir Lenin in a mural the Rockefellers commissioned Rivera to paint at Rockefeller Center. After a standoff between Rivera and the Rockefellers, building workers destroyed the painting.
Unintentional message: Dems and Communist artists are natural allies?

Permalink | Chron Bias

June 15, 2004, 10:17 AM

Another installment of 'Captain Chronicle'

By Owen Courrèges

Permalink | Captain Chronicle

June 15, 2004, 08:01 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

What is the big hype behind reality television and what would Howard Cosell say about the Bayou City hosting the All-Star Game? Get the answers to these questions, your daily dose of “something good” and more in today's Features section.

Permalink | News and Views

June 15, 2004, 07:05 AM

Critical coverage of rail in the Chronicle?

By The Houstonian

Yesterday, we raised questions about one aspect of the Main Street rail's poor design, the fact that the trains can't handle the sorts of rain we regularly receive in Houston. The Chronicle decided to run with that story today:
The 7 1/2-mile line went under water in three stretches downtown, in Midtown and the Museum District. The line suffered minor damage from the heavy storm, which dumped up to 3 inches of rain along Main and adjoining streets between 6 and 7:30 p.m. Dozens of yellow reflectors placed along the tracks were washed away, and mud and debris were spread over the rails, streets and sidewalks. Sunday's rain again raises questions about the wisdom of constructing rapid transit at street level. “An elevated rail system would not have had any problems with this storm,” said Don Gallagher, a longtime advocate for monorail in Houston. Monorail trains run atop a concrete structure, similar to cars traveling on an elevated freeway. Gallagher said Sunday's incident proves the “weakness of at-grade rail in a flood-prone city like Houston. This topic had been brought up to the Metropolitan Transit Authority and the city years ago and went unheeded and largely ignored.” Some Midtown intersections were covered in a foot of water by 7 p.m. Sunday, with the worst flooding concentrated at Main and Elgin. A southbound train with about 10 passengers became stranded there for about 30 minutes as water rose around it. The tracks are built in the center of the street and a few inches higher than automobile lanes to help prevent such an occurrence. [snip] “We feel the performance of the (rail line) was good considering the magnitude of the flooding,” said Rich Krisak, senior director of rail operations. “Delays were present throughout the system.”
The METRO spokesmen also don't see a safety issue, despite 40+ collisions in the short life of the rail. Their press releases and comments would be comical if the whole experiment weren't so expensive and dangerous. It's good to know that METRO spent all that money on a system that still doesn't function properly, and still has to rely on buses:
Some stranded passengers were led to buses on adjacent streets that were passable. Electronic signs at three train stations, which are supposed to be able to notify riders of such service disruptions, still don't function correctly.
It would have been useful if the Chronicle had done some critical reporting on light rail before voters approved expanding the effort, instead of acting as a cheerleader for METRO through every decisive moment. The Chronicle failed its readers on light rail.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

June 15, 2004, 07:00 AM

Who is Quanell X?

By Owen Courrèges

In the wake of Quanell X's much-publicized arrest for evading arrest, many of you are probably wondering, “Who is this Quanell X guy, anyway?” Every Houstonian has probably seen Quannel X on the news at some time or another instigating some kind of protest. He's commonly called an “activist,” although his credentials lend themselves more to the characterization of “hate-monger.” His official position, however, is that of National Informational Minister for the New Black Panthers, a redux of the radical 60's group. If you want to make a case that monsters are not born, but made, then Quanell X will provide you with some valuable data. You see, Quanell Abdul Muhammad was born into a stable household on December 7th, 1970 (Pearl Harbor Day) in the City of Angels — Los Angeles. His parents were both members of the Nation of Islam, and both held down good jobs. His mother was a teacher, and his father owned a small business. All seemed well. The dream came crashing down when Elijah Muhammad, the founder of the Nation of Islam, died. Major changes were forthcoming. Imam W.D. Muhammad, Elijah's son, took over and began making 'reforms.' Among these was repudiating some of the racist overtones to the organization, especially its anti-Semitism. That was all well and good, but then he endorsed polygamy. This particular moral shift is what tore Quanell's family apart. His father brought his mother's best friend home to become his second wife, and his mother would have nothing of it. She abandoned the Nation of Islam along with their Muslim family name, and returned back to their 'slave name' — Evans. The Evans family also abandoned Los Angeles, moving eastward to Houston. Young Quanell eventually became a drug dealer, starting out with marijuana, and then moving up the proverbial ladder to crack. One day, however, Quanell X had a revelation upon seeing a speech by Louis Farrakhan, now the leader of the Nation of Islam. Farrakhan appealed to Quanell's deep-seeded prejudices. He largely rejected Muhammad's path of moderation, preaching a vitriolic race-hatred. For the youthful crack dealer, it was a very appealling philosophy. Upon joining the Nation of Islam, the newly-dubbed Quannel X quickly rose to become a spokesman. However, his over-the-top racist rhetoric continually got him in trouble. At the Gary Graham execution, for example, he said to Houston-area blacks that “[i]f you feel that you just got to mug somebody because of your hurt and your pain, go to River Oaks and mug you some good white folks.” This was not the kind of publicity that the Nation of Islam wanted, so they kicked him out. Not long after that, Quanell X joined up with the New Black Panthers, where he's basically been ever since. Yet despite his past and his current affiliations, Quanell remains a disturbingly influencial person. He's won kudos as a valuable voice in the community from City Councilwoman Ada Edwards. For a while, he was on the state payroll thanks to State Representative Ron Wilson (D-Houston). He even spoke before the Houston Area Young Republicans on one occassion. Political kryptonite he isn't. Perhaps with his arrest, Quanell X will finally become the utter outcast he deserves to be. (Information for this article from: Vitriolic Visionary, By Tony Freemantle, Houston Chronicle, March 2001).

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

June 15, 2004, 07:00 AM

At the heart of the Navy, our nation's youth

By Dan Patrick

This is the first in a series on the U.S. Navy from aboard the U.S.S. Carl Vinson, Third Fleet, Pacific You cannot appreciate the size of the U.S.S Carl Vinson, under the command of Captain Kevin “Kid” Donegan, until you step out on the flight deck of this massive aircraft carrier. If you look side to side, the vast space is wider than a football field is long at its widest point. That is 100 yards in width. To comprehend the length of the ship, imagine the empire state building lying on its side; the U.S.S. Carl Vinson is longer. The ship is 22 stories high. It ship weighs in at an impressive 95 thousand tons and travels at 30 plus knots. The ship can carry up to 70 aircraft and has a crew of over 5000.
Sn Robert M. Bloodsaw
Sn Robert M. Bloodsaw, Deck Dept. 2nd Division, a recent Houston high school graduate, at the helm of the four-billion-dollar aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Carl Vinson, Third Fleet, Pacific. Robert, is just one of the thousands of outstanding young and women who have volunteered to serve our nation and who have been entrusted with great responsibility. While the ship's enormous size is breathtaking, it is that last number, 5,000 crewmembers, that is the most impressive, not in size, but in the quality of the people. Most of the crew is made up of young people just recently out of high school and the prerequisite Navy training courses. The average age of the crew is just under 20, with a mix of 88% male to 12% female.
On the deck
The average age of sailors serving on board the U.S.S. Carl Vinson is just under 20. Here they are preparing the catapult for another day of flying. The deck of an aircraft carrier is considered one of the most dangerous work environments in the world. One might think that the Navy is taking a chance on entrusting a four-billion dollar ship and our nation's security to a bunch of kids. The Navy isn’t worried and neither should America be. The ship is in good hands. A Navy pilot on board the Vinson, “Spider” Jones, told me that one day he was sitting in the cockpit, just before being launched off of the deck, and looked down at a sailor on the crew. “Spider” said he thought to himself, here I am a college graduate with years of flight training, sitting inside a 100-million-dollar jet aircraft, and on the deck is a 19-year-old kid, fresh out of high school only a year and my life and my plane are in his hands. “Spider” added that he felt very secure. During my stay on the U.S.S. Carl Vinson last weekend, I met a lot of those kids, including quite a few from the Houston area. They were some of the most impressive young people I had ever met. Many came from broken homes or tough backgrounds, but you would never know it from their all around behavior. Each one was focused on his or her assignment. Each one obviously worked with a spirit of teamwork and pride. Each one was respectful and polite. At a time when many in this country worry about the future of our youth, the Navy has found a formula for taking young people right out of high school and training them to excel in difficult and dangerous work, and at the same time instilling in them a sense of pride and respect for others and themselves. What is the secret? I believe the secret is that today’s Navy, and the military as a whole, reflect the way civilian life was in America not all that long ago. There is structure, discipline, a hard work ethic, patriotism, moral standards and rules. People are held accountable for their actions. There is also the sense of family. The Navy becomes a family to these young people. And while many have great parents supporting them at home, many others are experiencing a family unit for the first time in their life. The XO of the ship, Captain Ken Norton, told me that the kids come into the Navy and are looking for structure and discipline. The kids want to be held accountable for their actions and they want to do something worthwhile that gives them a higher sense of self- esteem. We could go a long way in civilian society and in our schools, by following the example of Navy training and Navy life. Many people want to throw money at our schools, somehow believing that money is the only answer to solving the problems of our youth and education system. After my weekend on board the U.S.S. Carl Vinson, I am convinced of two things: first let’s consult our military on ways to make our schools better, and second, let’s seriously consider making every young person in America take 8 weeks of military training and then serving our country in some capacity for the next 44 weeks. This program would help fight the obesity problem and lack of physical fitness for many kids. It would teach kids teamwork and would help instill in them a sense of national pride and patriotism. And for some, it would give them a sense of family and a higher self-esteem. Our Navy and our country are in good hands.

Permalink | News and Views

June 14, 2004, 08:14 PM

Sorting out the Quanell X confusion

By Kevin Whited

A reader emails:
Why is the Chronicle ignoring the Quanell X story?? Not a word about it!
The Chronicle did report on the story, but I can't find it on their website either. Two Chronicle stories turn up on Google News, here and here. The local television stations, including Chronicle partner KHOU, have all covered the story: HPD chief weighs in on controversial arrest of local activist (KTRK 13) Protesters mark activist's court date for evading arrest charges (KTRK 13) Supporters rally around Quanell X (KHOU 11) Supporters Hold Rally For Arrested Activist (KPRC 2) Quanell X appears in court for evading arrest charge (News 24) It's far too early to say who is at fault for this breakdown, but it does appear from reports that Quanell X was cooperating with HPD to bring in this suspect, and that something went terribly wrong. The new police chief needs to get to the bottom of this, quickly.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

June 14, 2004, 11:09 AM

Why we don't quite trust city hall

By Owen Courrèges

For more information on the subject of this cartoon, consult these two postings from our founding editors: They want more of your money, By Kevin Whited Parking meter proposal raises ire of downtown restauranteurs, By Owen Courrèges

Permalink | Political Cartoons

June 14, 2004, 08:53 AM

Why not MetroBoats?

By The Houstonian

We all know what happens when METRO decides to build a rail system without properly segregating it from traffic or properly taking into account existing traffic patterns on a busy traffic corridor: 40+ accidents so far (including a collision with a wheelchair). Some of us have been wondering what happens when Houston gets a good rain — which occurs frequently in our fine city. Now we know:
Stalled cars on light rail tracks led to a system shutdown from about 6:30 to 7 p.m., said Ken Connaughton, Metro spokesman. Trains were backed up until traffic could be cleared. Houston police were called to direct traffic to allow rail cars to pass safely at intersections.
It's good that HPD officers are being used as babysitters for the flooded train and as jailers these days. We wouldn't want them on the streets, deterring crime. Just one suggestion for METRO — we want to add MetroBoat service to our mass transit options! Where should we direct that request?

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

June 14, 2004, 08:01 AM

Classified section our latest expansion

By Dan Patrick

Thanks to the volunteer work of Geoff Gunter at Your Network Company, our classified section is now ready for primetime. My goal from day one was to give our readers and all Texans, an opportunity to sell products and services at a very low cost. The Chronicle prices are ridiculous. There is also a help wanted section for those with job openings or who are seeking jobs. These rates are also very low. Our rates start at just $10 a week for an ad. The Chronicle starts at about $16 for only 3 days. They give you about 3 lines, we give you 7-8 lines of copy. If you have items to sell, real estate, services to render, jobs that need to be filled or if you are looking for a job, click on our classified link on the left of our main page and place an ad. The first thing you need to do is to register. You pay directly with a credit card when you place an ad. You design the ad. You can add a picture or place your ad in boldface for a small additonal charge. It's easy. I've already placed 3 job openings on line and have listed a few items for sale. It will take a period of time to build up this section. So, get in early and help us build the best and most affordable classified ad section in Texas. To encourage you to participate, your first ad is FREE. All you need to do is fill in the information and our computer will automatically place your ad for free. After that, each ad is only $10 for one week for 7-8 lines. Your ads will automatically delete after one week, unless you list it for a longer period of time or renew it. It's all in your control. At $10 an ad, per week, you can list a lot of items. So, list today and buy today and come back again and again. Tell your friends and spread the word.

Permalink | News and Views

June 14, 2004, 07:00 AM

My View: Israel and Palestine

By Owen Courrèges

People have many views of Israel. Some consider it to be a belligerent, uncompromising nation whose own intransigence is the source of conflict between the Jews and the Palestinians. Others view Israel as a beacon of democracy in the Mideast, one which suffers under the constant threat of terrorism from a fanatical population that desires nothing less than to see it destroyed. Needless to say, these are very disparate views, and many intelligent people argue the merits of both. In general, however, I fall into the latter camp. I am a stanch defender of Israel. From its very origin, Israel has been fighting for its life. The rest of the Arab world has indulged a pathological hatred of its very existence. The legacy of this today is Palestinian terrorism, which is both funded and supported by many Arab governments, and has long been condoned by the Palestian Authority. Under these circumstances, negotiating for peace is difficult, but not impossible. What makes peace impossible, however, is the stubborness of the Palestinians, who have turned negotiations into an all-or-nothing game. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak actually offered the Palestinians approximately 97% of the territories they demanded, but his proposal was not even met with a counteroffer from Yassir Arafat. Instead, another spate of suicide bombings began. As much it may hurt for us to admit it, this much is clear — in general, the Palestinians don't want peace. Polls from Gaza and the West Bank place support for suicide bombings at more than two-thirds of the population. Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitic polemic “Mein Kampf” once made it to number six on their best-seller list. This is very strong evidence of a hate-sickened culture. In short, the solution to the Palestinian crisis has to come from within the Palestinian-controlled territories. Israel is not the problem. Terrorism is. I'm Owen Courrèges, and that's my view.

Permalink | Owen's View

June 14, 2004, 06:26 AM

On board the USS Carl Vinson

By Dan Patrick

Dan Patrick on the USS Carl Vinson
I have just returned from a remarkable weekend adventure aboard the U.S.S. Carl Vinson in the Pacific. The Vinson was one of our key carriers used in the war on Afganistan, flying over 250 combat missions and 700 over-all in that battle. I will begin a week long series beginning tomorrow on life aboard this 95,000 ton nuclear Nimitz class carrier. I will share stories and photos of Houston area sailors and pilots who are making a great sacrifice everyday to help keep us safe.
On board the USS Carl Vinson

Permalink | News and Views

June 14, 2004, 06:13 AM

Morning Show Links

By Rob Booth

Click [Read More] to see links related to the topics Edd Hendee is discussing this morning on KSEV. I've updated this post during the course of the show. Please click your Refresh button or F5 to see the latest information. President Bush 41 turns 80 AP via News 24 Houston: Former President George H.W. Bush marks 80th birthday with parachute jump
COLLEGE STATION (AP) — Former President George H. W. Bush successfully makes parachute jump to mark 80th birthday. Former president George H.W. Bush made his first parachute jump as a 20-year-old Navy pilot shot down over the Pacific during World War II.
The Battalion: Texas A&M students get involved at [email protected] event
Texas A&M students not only watched former President Bush skydive on Sunday to celebrate his 80th birthday, they were also involved with the entertainment and assistance during the day's events. “The day was absolutely amazing,” said executive vice president of student government association Chris Diem. “It was a great event honoring a great man, and I am very glad to have participated in it.”
Golden Knights: Official Site Bush Library: Official Site FWST: Thousands show for elder Bush's 80th
HOUSTON - With fireworks, a symphony and 5,000 supporters paying $200 a pop, George Herbert Walker Bush, the nation's 41st president, celebrated his 80th birthday at a baseball stadium Saturday. The whimsical fund-raising event featured an unlikely assortment of guests: TV celebrities Larry King and Dennis Miller, country singers Crystal Gayle and Randy Travis, sports legends Nolan Ryan and Pete Sampras — even former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.
Logging off at 6:40

Permalink | News and Views

June 14, 2004, 05:30 AM

Secondhand news, hearsay, and poor attribution

By The Staff

Last week was not a good one for two of the state's three major newspapers that decided to cover a story broken by the Quorum Report internet newsletter. Based on an interview with Highland Park ISD president John Carpenter, Harvey Kronberg broke the news in his subscription-only Quorum Report newsletter that the Governor had told a private gathering that included Carpenter that the Governor was confident that his conservative court appointees were going to rule in the state's favor regarding ongoing (West Orange Cove) school finance litigation. We verified with Mr. Kronberg that his interview and quotes were obtained in a personal, exclusive interview with Carpenter. We were not able to verify with Carpenter which newspaper reporters he talked to about this story (although not for lack of trying). Peggy Fikac of the San Antonio Express News reported Kronberg's quotes verbatim, while properly crediting the Quorum Report as her source and admitting that she was unable to contact Carpenter herself:
A state lawsuit challenging the public school funding system won't succeed, Gov. Rick Perry said last month, noting he has appointed several Texas Supreme Court justices and helped another get elected, a political newsletter reported Tuesday. Perry's comments at a meeting of Highland Park School District officials and others were recounted by the district's then-board President John Carpenter, according to the Quorum Report. [snip] The newsletter reported that according to Carpenter, Perry said, “I will have appointed five and helped get elected one of the judges, and I know where they stand on this, so you guys don't stand a chance in winning the litigation.” Carpenter didn't immediately return a telephone call from the San Antonio Express-News.
The bolded part is contained in the Quorum Report article, which we have in our possession but will not reproduce in its entirety because we do respect their copyright. In contrast, Christy Hoppe's reporting for the Dallas Morning News does not contain one reference to the Quorum Report as her original source, yet uses the facts as originally reported by Kronberg, implying that she did all the legwork. The quotes are changed slightly, so it does appear that Hoppe contacted Carpenter and at least verified Kronberg's quotes. Chronically Biased attempted to contact Carpenter all last week to verify that he actually talked to Hoppe, but he did not answer his phone or return our messages. At the very least, Hoppe should have credited the Quorum Report for the original story. The same is true with Clay Robison's reporting for the Houston Chronicle. Robison uses the facts from the Quorum Report in his story on the same topic, but never credits Kronberg as his source. It does appears that Robison contacted Carpenter, because some of the quotes are changed slightly from those contained in the Quorum Report. As above, we attempted to contact Carpenter to verify that he actually talked to Robison or someone else from the Chronicle, but Carpenter did not answer our calls. Robison did manage to chase down this quote that did not appear in the Quorum Report:
Carpenter said the governor also commented to him and one or two other people, as Perry was leaving, that he and state Education Commissioner Shirley Neeley “could cut 20 percent out of the school district budgets of the state.” “I think his perception is — and I think it's wrong — is that school districts across the state are inefficient and spending too much money,” Carpenter added. “I've supported him (Perry) in the past. But he doesn't have a clue about what's going on in school finance.”
As Texas Media Watch's Sherry Sylvester pointed out earlier, Robison apparently made no attempt to contact the “one or two other people” referenced in this report. Effectively, he's reproduced an unverified (and possibly unverifiable) quote from someone who is a partisan opponent of Governor Perry on school finance and given it credence, when in reality it should have been treated as unverifiable hearsay by any reputable reporter — and certainly by any reputable editor. Robison, of course, is a far-left partisan himself who seems not to like Governor Perry or conservatives. Inexplicably, he is also the head of the Chronicle's Austin news bureau. This is yet the latest illustration that Robison's partisan extremism clouds his judgment when reporting the news, a problem of his that we've pointed out previously. We second everything that Texas media watcher Sherry Sylvester says here:
There have been lots of journalism articles lately about the excessive use of unnamed sources. But so far, ethics experts have not weighed in on news stories based on second-hand accounts from non-reporters regarding statements heard from public officials at private meetings several weeks after the meetings occurred. The practice is so far out-of-bounds, journalism's professional ethics experts probably assumed no guidelines were required. But on June 9, the Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News all reported that John Carpenter, former president of the Highland Park School Board in Dallas, said Gov. Rick Perry told a group of 30 people that he believed the State Supreme Court would rule in the state's favor on a school finance case because he'd appointed most of the judges. The meeting occurred on May 13. The headlines and quotation marks in the Houston Chronicle report Carpenter's interpretation of the governor's statements as fact. The story seems designed to give the impression the reporter is characterizing comments he actually heard the governor make, while de-emphasizing the information that the report is a rehash from a source who admits he does not agree with the governor on the issue.
We would further criticize the DMN's Christy Hoppe and Chronicle's Clay Robision for running with the facts from a subscriber-only political newsletter without giving their readers any clue that's where they got their story. At the same time, the SA Express-News's Peggy Fikac deserves credit for properly attributing the source of her story, even if the merits of publishing such second-hand accounts in a major newspaper (as opposed to a political newsletter) are questionable. Kevin Whited and Mona Lugay coauthored this post.

Permalink | Media Watch

June 14, 2004, 04:00 AM

Cragg Hines thrashes Senator Cornyn

By Owen Courrèges

Everything you need to know about Cragg Hines is crammed into the title of most recent column for the Chronicle: “Cornyn reads for role of Torquemada.” Apparently, Hines believes that Cornyn is comparable to the leader of the Spanish Inquisition simply because he takes a different view of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. You see, Cornyn has the audacity to believe that federal funding of religious charities shouldn't come with strings attached vis-a-vis their employment policies. What temerity! Honestly, this is no different from, say, comparing Hines to Josef Stalin simply because they both seem to have some general distrust of religion. Hines, after all, wants to see it largely eliminated in the public sphere. Still, if I were to have titled this post “Hines reads for role of Stalin,” we'd get letters from readers saying that we'd stepped over the line, and justifiably so. That kind of inflammatory nonsense has absolutely no place in print. If Hines's argument actually held some merit, that might mitigate this criticism somewhat, but instead his column contains nothing more than a string of assertions and naked appeals to emotion. For instance, he notes that Chet Edwards (D-Waco), is “a Methodist with a Baptist preacher for a father-in-law,” as if his opinion is somehow better informed by the fact that his wife's father happens to be a preacher. In reality, this is irrelevant. That's Cragg Hines for you, though. He never fails to both disappoint and offend, which makes him right at home with Houston's leading misinformation source.

Permalink | Noxious Chron Columnists

June 13, 2004, 07:34 PM

No balance on the Chron editorial page

By Kevin Whited

The Chronicle runs three editorials today on the subject of stem-cell research. One of those editorials is a pro-stem-cell research piece from Ellen Goodman. Another is a pro-stem-cell research piece from Clarence Page. And the last is a piece from Dan Rather that, when read carefully, comes down on the side of the stem-cell advocates. Some diversity of thought there! At least the Dallas Morning News was balanced enough to run the Goodman piece beside Mark Shea's column arguing against the research. In the interest of providing the balance that the Chronicle will not, here are some additional articles that may interest our readers (and offer a little more depth than Dan Rather): For Reagan, All Life Was Sacred (Richard P. Clark, New York Times) Liberalizing His Legacy (George Neumayr, American Spectator) Of Stem Cells and Fairy Tales (Wesley J. Smith, Weekly Standard) Stem Cells and False Hopes (Maureen L. Condic, First Things) The Basics about Stem Cells (Maureen L. Condic, First Things)

Permalink | Chron Bias

June 13, 2004, 08:35 AM

Where is the positive coverage of Representative DeLay?

By Kevin Whited

Tom Bazan passes along this press release from METRO:
But METRO asked Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, for assistance, and DeLay inserted language in the 2003 Transportation Appropriations Bill redirecting the funds to the pending park & ride projects. The FTA formally awarded the new grant last Friday. “This is an excellent example of our elected representatives working with METRO to make sure our federal tax dollars return to our region for transportation projects that will improve mobility,” said METRO President & CEO Frank J. Wilson. “We are grateful for Congressman DeLay's help, and now we can start putting this money to work.”
The Chronicle is usually quick to attack Representative DeLay, especially on the rail issue, but seems less keen to print news that paints him positively. So, we weren't surprised that Mr. Bazan checked the Chronicle archives and found no mention of Representative DeLay's actions. I just searched the archives, and also didn't find any mention. Apparently, news that doesn't paint Representative DeLay as an unreasonable, anti-rail zealot isn't news at 801 Texas Avenue.

Permalink | Chron Bias

June 13, 2004, 08:14 AM

News we haven't seen in the Chronicle

By Kevin Whited

Here are three choice paragraphs from the Economist newsweekly:
For the past nine months America's economy has grown at an average annualised rate of 5.6%, the fastest nine-month growth since 1984. Not only do the latest figures show jobs being created apace, but new statistical revisions suggest that job growth has been stronger for longer than many had thought. Almost 1m jobs were created between March and May, the fastest increase since the giddy days of early 2000. Since January, the average monthly job gain has been 238,000—not blistering, but certainly healthy. With 1.4m new jobs created since last August, more than half the 2.7m jobs lost on George Bush's watch have now been recovered. According to Jim O'Sullivan of UBS Bank, recent revisions to income statistics also suggest that job growth at the end of 2003 will turn out to be stronger than the current numbers suggest. Earlier this year Greg Mankiw, the chairman of Mr Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, was ridiculed for a forecast that suggested America's economy would create 2.6m jobs this year. If job creation continues at today's pace, that forecast will prove too low.
Here's what Bennett Roth of the Chronicle's Washington bureau wrote in February 2004:
For the second time in two weeks, President Bush has distanced himself from his economic advisers' views on jobs while being being slammed on the issue in an election year. [snip] To hit the target of 2.6 million jobs, the economy would have to generate employment at a far greater pace than it did in January, when 112,000 jobs were added.
Roth also included this bizarre line in his reporting:
Bush's economic advisers initially forecast an average growth of 132.7 million jobs per month.
Emphasis supplied by me. No idea WHERE Roth pulled that one up, but we're pretty sure no Bush advisor EVER predicted that monthly job growth would produce more jobs than Americans in a little over two months! That figure actually referred to predictions about total jobs in the country on average, not monthly job growth. A careful writer and editors should have caught that.

Permalink | News and Views

June 11, 2004, 09:11 PM

People don't trust the media

By Kevin Whited

A new Pew Research Center study is out, and once again, the nation's major media receives very low marks. Indeed, over half the people surveyed don't trust major news organizations:
The public continues to express skepticism toward news outlets and those who run them. More than half (53%) agree with the statement “I often don't trust what news organizations are saying.” Nearly as many (48%) believe people who decide on news content are “out of touch.”
Sentiments like that should scare major news organizations to death, and should force them seriously to re-evaluate the product they're putting out. The rise of weblogs like this one, and ChronWatch, RatherBiased, and TexasMediaWatch should also serve as indicators of what they're doing wrong, and what they should be trying to fix. Locally (at the Chronicle), things just seem to get worse. But that's okay. We're not going anywhere, and we'll surely keep pointing out the problems. The VodkaPundit has some additional thoughts on the Pew study. Go give him a read if you're not already a regular reader.

Permalink | Media Watch

June 11, 2004, 03:43 PM

Reagan's funeral

By Owen Courrèges

“Life is a journey that is homeward bound.” -- Herman Melville
I went to see the funeral procession today, and caught this picture on 17th Street near Pennsylvania Avenue. It was a dark, dreary day, appropriate for mourning this fallen leader.

Permalink | News and Views

June 11, 2004, 07:00 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Learn the secrets of catching catfish and continue getting your daily dose of the Good News in today's Features section.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

June 11, 2004, 06:45 AM

Houston Chronicle owes city an apology

By Dan Patrick

Several weeks ago we broke a story that Mayor Bill White was considering giving two million dollars to a group to buy a building for an African American museum. Yesterday, the Houston Chronicle reported that the city council restricted the mayor’s ability to fund art programs through money that it receives from the hotel occupancy tax revenue. They failed to mention that a group is seeking 2 million dollars from the city for the museum and that that was one of the main reasons the council was concerned about how the money in this fund was spent. The Chronicle has not written about the museum story to date. This project was promoted by the former Mayor, their guy, Lee Brown. The Houston Chronicle did report yesterday that as mayor, Lee Brown used $40,000 of this same city fund, to throw a party for himself through the Ensemble Theater. It is time for the Houston Chronicle to apologize to the citizens of Houston for their unwavering support of Lee Brown for three terms. He accomplished very little during his six years in office and left the city in a mess at the end of his term. Had it not been for the Chronicle support in his last race against Orlando Sanchez, Brown would have most likely lost that race. It's time for the Houston Chronicle to admit their huge mistake of supporting Lee Brown for six years. All Houstonians have suffered due to the Chronicle's decision to back Lee Brown.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

June 11, 2004, 06:00 AM

Chronicle uses Reagan's death to push for stem cell research

By Owen Courrèges

The Houston Chronicle has a new staff editorial out in today's edition, on the day of Ronald Reagan's funeral, in which they shamelessly exploit his death to push for more stem cell research:
As Ronald Reagan is laid to rest today after a 10-year struggle with Alzheimer's, Nancy Reagan has the chance for a similar role, as an advocate for embryonic stem cell research. For several years, the former first lady has quietly but persistently lobbied for stem cell funding in Washington. Her dedication springs from the astonishing promise embryonic stem cells hold for treating illnesses from diabetes to Alzheimer's. [...] That the anti-abortion movement was nurtured by the Republican Party during Reagan's presidency lends some irony to Nancy Reagan's advocacy effort today. Despite the esteem her late husband commanded among many pro-life activists, it's unlikely his memory will sway them about stem cell research. Even so, Nancy Reagan, with her unique public persona, could make great strides as an advocate and fund-raiser among lawmakers and Americans still open to persuasion. Nancy Reagan represents a late president who impressed even rivals with his good faith in America. But she also represents something else. Once mocked for her patrician tastes, she now embodies the grit and will for change that come from living alongside incurable illness. Millions of Americans can identify with that. Promoting stem cell research on their behalf, Nancy Reagan would add a compassionate new chapter to her late husband's legacy.
Nancy Reagan does indeed favor stem cell research, and has campaigned publicly for easing restrictions. However, on the day of her husband's funeral, I would have hoped that the Chronicle could have mustered something more appropriate than a pro-choice polemic. After all, President Reagan was pro-life, while the Chronicle most certainly isn't, and I don't see them trying to emphasize that.

Permalink | Chron Bias

June 11, 2004, 05:25 AM

Buzzanco's reality is more than a little unreal

By The Staff

The Chronicle ran an editorial by extreme leftwing history professor Bob Buzzanco yesterday that never should have been published. The reason it should have been published is not because of the professor's (far left) politics, but because the facts he uses in his neo-marxist critique of Reagan do not hold up to close scrutiny. Indeed, they do not hold up to any scrutiny. Professor Buzzanco's thesis is that President Reagan's economic legacy is one of economic class warfare and that his policies “contributed to the greatest disparity between wealth and poverty since the Depression, caused huge reductions in real wages and income for most Americans, accumulated the greatest budget deficits in U.S. history, and, in 'reverse Robin Hood' fashion, redistributed wealth from working people to the rich.” Those are serious charges. However, the evidence Buzzanco marshalls in support of them is weak. Further, his work is riddled with additional factual errors. Let's take those in turn. All indented quotes are from Professor Buzzanco's op-ed, unless otherwise indicated:
Reagan ran for president promising massive cuts in taxes and social services but attendant increases in military spending, hence the “voodoo” label.
The “voodoo economics” label came from George Bush during the 1980 primaries. Bush was not referring to Reagan's proposed defense increases specifically. Rather, Bush was referring derisively to the supply-side notion that government could cut marginal tax rates yet still produce additional revenue over time. Bush never understood the simple proposition put forth by Art Laffer (not to mention Jude Wanniski, Bob Bartley, and Robert Mundell) and a handful of others who influenced Reagan's economic thinking. Apparently, Buzzanco is a little confused about his history as well, which might seem like a quibble on our part, except he is a history professor!
As president, he and his economic team were able to secure huge reductions in taxes, driving the top income tax rate down about 30 percent, from 38.5 percent to 28 percent, the lowest in the industrialized world.
When President Reagan took office, the top marginal tax rate was 70%, not 38.5%. This may seem like quibbling, but again, Buzzanco is a history professor, and these are facts of history. Economically, that 70% rate is important, because Art Laffer, Jude Wanniski, Craig Roberts, and other supply-side theorists contended such a high rate put the U.S. well to the right half of the Laffer Curve (meaning as tax rates increased, tax revenues actually would decline).
With this loss of revenue, and trillion-dollar Pentagon budgets, Reagan was forced to borrow to meet government financial obligations.
There has never been a trillion-dollar Pentagon budget in the history of this country. The Pentagon budget was $427.9 billion (2002 dollars) in 1987, the high point of the Reagan presidency. As a percentage of GDP, the figure was not exceptional considering it came at a critical moment in the Cold War, and especially when it is compared to the 442.3 billion (2002 dollars) spent in 1953 (when GDP was much smaller). In any case, the “facts” presented by the history professor about trillion-dollar defense budgets are simply wrong.
Personal debt, a result in cuts in social services, declining wages and a ramped up consumer culture, erupted, climbing to more than $3 trillion, while nonfinancial corporate indebtedness rose to more than $2 billion.
Presumably, the Professor means to say “a result of cuts in social services.” He could use an editor. Substantively, he provides no evidence that personal debt rose because of cuts in social services, which generally were not cut (a fact that largely explains the deficits accumulated during the Reagan Administration). Indeed, in 1980, federal outlays were $590 billion (1987 dollars). In 1989, they were 1,114 billion (1987 dollars). In real terms, outlays nearly doubled, and only part of the increase is defense. In reality, programs were not cut. Indeed, they grew. Significantly. The professor's facts, and therefore causation, are wrong.
Reagan, who ran and governed as a fiscal conservative and small-government advocate, had in fact created the greatest deficit and biggest government obligations in U.S. history.
As a percentage of GDP (which grew significantly over the Reagan presidency), the deficit and spending were not exceptional, especially (as we point out above) since the Cold War was being fought. We don't think the professor is suggesting this, but we will point out that as conservatives, we do wish non-defense spending had been cut. It wasn't. Hence the deficits the Professor is complaining about. We would also point out that Congress increased spending well above the President's requests all but ONE YEAR of the Reagan presidency.
Such policies, hailed by Reagan's supporters as an economic revival in the 1980s, created great wealth for one segment of the population, the top 20-30 percent, who saw their tax burdens drop and their incomes rise. The level of tax paid by the top 1 percent decreased from 31 percent to 23 percent between 1981 and 1984, while their income share rose from 41 percent to 44 percent.
The Reagan boom improved household income for EVERY income quintile group, not just “one segment of the population.” From 1980-1989, every income quintile group saw real gains in income, as illustrated by this chart originally compiled by National Review: In an accompanying column (which debunks many of Professor Buzzanco's contentions), Alan Reynolds explains the data:
The table shows the actual real income of households by fifths of the income distribution, for the most commonly cited years. There is no question that all income groups experienced significant income gains from 1980 to 1989, despite the 1981-82 recession, and were still well ahead of 1980 even in the 1990 slump. For all U.S. households, the mean average of real income rose b 15.2 per cent from 1980 to 1989 (from $33,409 to $38,493, in 1990 dollars), compared with a 0.8 per cent decline from 1970 to 1980. This table shows that the “income gap” did not widen merely between the bottom fifth and any “top” group, but also between the bottom fifth and the next highest fifth, the middle fifth, and so on. [snip] One thing that we know with 100 per cent certainty is that most Americans - far more than half - did very well during the long and strong economic expansion from 1982 to 1989. In those fat years, real after-tax income per person rose by 15.5 per cent, and real median income of families, before taxes, went up 12.5 per cent. That means half of all families had gains larger than 12.5 per cent, while many below the median also had income gains, though not as large. Many families had to have gained even more than 12.5 per cent, since the more familiar mean average rose 16.8 per cent from 1982 to 1989. Even if we begin with 1980, rather than 1982, median income was up 8 per cent by 1989, and mean income by 14.9 per cent. And even if we end this comparison with the slump of 1990, median family income was still up 5.9 per cent from 1980, and mean income was up 12 per cent.
Professor Buzzanco's assertions simply do not square with these economic figures. That doesn't slow him down, however:
The next 20 percent of income earners saw a nominal rise in wealth during the 1980s, while the rest, 60 percent of Americans, saw no rise at all or, in the case of the lowest two-fifths, actually saw a decline in income and savings.
As the table above demonstrates, Professor Buzzanco is, again, embarrassingly incorrect in his assertions. Every quintile group saw household income increase in real terms during the Reagan Presidency.
Adding to the economic burden of working Americans, public services were deeply cut at federal, state and municipal levels, and, because of the tight-money policies pursued by the administration and federal reserve system, wages remained low, if not falling.
As we have already pointed out, the federal budget roughly doubled in real terms during the Reagan Presidency, with only a portion of that massive spending increase being explained by defense. Public services were not cut. Further, the professor of history is off base when he suggests that tight-money policies caused wages to decline or fall (and real wages increased in any case, as the household income figures above demonstrate). The tight-money policies were a response to the Carter inflation, when Keynesian economists wedded to their Phillips curve models thought that employment could be boosted with massive inflation. That model failed and is now, thankfully, part of the ash heap of history. Apparently, economic history is not Buzzanco's field.
Median family income, about $31,000 a year in 1973, plummeted in the early 1980s until recovering to 1973 levels in the late 1980s....
Median family income does tend to decline during a recession, and the recession of the early 80s was a significant one. Still, the graph above and the following graph demonstrate that household income rose during the Reagan Presidency (although we see a levelling in 1990 as part of the economic slowdown that eventually cost President Bush the election): For once, the professor isn't quite wrong, but the graph really tells a more complete story.
Only the top 20 percent of Americans saw an increase in family income between 1977 and 1988, with the top 10th gaining an increase of about $17,000, the top 5 percent seeing an extra $31,000, and the top 1 percent with a whopping $134,000 increase. Middle-class and working Americans, however, saw declines in real income from about $600 to $1,600 in the Reagan era.
Note what the professor does in this paragraph — he starts in 1977, in the heart of the Carter presidency. The appropriate time period is the one covered in the graphs above. As we saw in the graphs above, every income group saw increases in real income in the Reagan era. Professor Buzzanco's assertions in this paragraph are based on incorrect assumptions, and as a result, are wrong.
Where the median pay for working men in 1973 was a little over $10 an hour in 1973, it fell to $8.85 by 1987. The average worker without an advanced degree might have made about $24,000 a year in the early 1970s, but by the end of the Reagan years, that was down to around $18,000. Exacerbating such economic problems, millions of jobs were “downsized” or fled overseas, while unions, traditionally the source of better wages and working conditions, were further crushed.
Professor Buzzanco does not cite his source for these figures, but it seems that he's influenced by Lester Thurow, a left-leaning critic of the Reagan economic policies (and one-time advocate of “industrial policy”). In the previously referenced article, Alan Reynold's tackled Thurow's critique as follows:
In his new book, Head to Head, Lester Thurow writes that “between 1973 and 1990, real hourly wages for non-supervisory workers . . . fell 12 per cent, and real weekly wages fell 18 per cent.” Yet these averages include part-time workers, which his why average wages appeared to be only $355 a week in 1991, even though half of all full-time workers (the median) earned more than $430 a week. Because many more students and young mothers were able to find part-time jobs in the Eighties, that diluted both the weekly and the hourly “average” wage. It most definitely did not mean that the wages of the “average worker” went down, but rather that otherwise unemployed part-time and entry-level workers were able to raise their wages above zero. The increase in part-time jobs also does not mean that families are poorer; rather, they are richer. Out of 19.3 million part-time workers in 1991, only 1.2 million were family heads, and only 10 per cent said they were unable to find full-time work.
We would further add that even if millions of jobs were “downsized” or “fled overseas” as the professor contends, that only illustrates the extent of the Reagan boom, since nearly 20 million jobs were created here at home during his Presidency, and the economy grew by roughly one third — even with the drag on productivity caused by direction of resources towards fighting and winning the Cold War. Professor Buzzanco concludes with more questionable assertions unsupported by evidence:
So, as we listen to the testimonials to Reagan, as we reflect upon his visions, presidency and goals, we must, for the sake of historical integrity and political realism, acknowledge his economic policies. [1]“Reaganomics” took wealth and income from working people and reallocated it to the wealthy via huge tax cuts, job losses and debts. [2]He caused a reduction in wages for the majority of Americans. [2]He spent trillions on the Pentagon but cut services to the average American.
As we have demonstrated, the assertions numbered one, two, and three are simply false. The professor's reference to “historical integrity” is laughable, since he has presented a fantastic account of the Reagan Presidency that is not supported by facts. Apparently, the Chronicle's editors printed this piece simply because they agreed with it, and did not bother to check any of the facts. Perhaps they believed that a university professor would not make such errors. However, he did — and the Chronicle's editors failed their mission as a guardian of the truth. They owe their readers a retraction and an apology. The brilliant legal scholar and judge Richard Posner once wrote:
[W]hen academics speak off the cuff, especially about matters outside their areas of expertise, quality tends to go to hell. And there is no accountability for their pratfalls. A tenured professor who makes a fool of himself in the media can always retreat to the security of the academy.
In this case, the good professor has made a fool of himself writing about historical facts, presumably his specialty. Parents who have kids attending the University of Houston might want to steer them away from one Professor Buzzanco in the Department of History. If this professor of history has this many problems with historical facts in an op-ed, it's hard to imagine what his classroom must be like. It doesn't seem to be one where “historical integrity” has the meaning that most of us would assume, however.

Permalink | Chron Bias

June 11, 2004, 04:30 AM

Parking meter proposal raises ire of downtown restauranteurs

By Owen Courrèges

News24 Houston has the scoop on the response from downtown restaurants to the recent proposal in the city council to begin charging for parking in downtown after-hours. Needless to say, they're quite upset:
...Michael Massa, owner of downtown's Massa Restaurant, says the city's plan to charge for parking meters after 6 p.m. through 2 a.m. and on weekends will drive business away. “In a nutshell, the restaurant association and downtown businesses are concerned that this is just not the right time to start charging for meters. Charging after 6 p.m. is our main concern right now,” said Massa. “We compete with the suburbs, which — everywhere there's free parking in the suburbs,” said Massa.
Conservative Councilman Michael Berry, who favors the parking proposal, has done little to allay these concerns. Indeed, he seems to simply brush them aside:
“We want to hear from the restaurants. And obviously they have some reasons to be concerned. What I would tell you is, the changes that we're considering — we have not yet voted on — are designed to improve traffic flow and improve the commercial environment downtown,” said City Council member Michael Berry.
I would like to reiterate what Kevin Whited said before. As conservatives, we should be supporting efforts by the government to do more with less. If there are improvements to infrastructure that need to be made in downtown, then they should be done through more judicious spending habits, and not through opening new revenue streams. After all, in the end all the traffic improvements in the world wouldn't make up for the revenue losses to downtown businesses if this parking proposal is implemented. This is simply a bad plan, Mr. Berry. The founding editors of Chronically Biased both agree.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

June 11, 2004, 02:15 AM

Reagan Memorial service today in Houston

By The Staff

Pastor Donn Moomaw, was personal pastor to President Reagan from 1964 to 1993. He first pastored President Reagan at the Bel Air Presbyterian Church in California, when Reagan was still an actor. He stayed on to pastor the President through and after the White House years. He gave the prayer at both inaugurations and was with the President immediately after the assassination attempt. Today, Pastor Moomaw is the interim pastor at St. Andrews here in Houston, at the corner of Bissonet and Buffalo Speedway. He will hold a special service from 10:20 am today until 12:45 pm today. He will speak from 10:20 to 10:30 and then the memorial service from the nation's capitol will be played live on big screens in the church. Afterward, Pastor Moomaw will answer questions and pray with those in attendance.

Permalink | News and Views

June 10, 2004, 09:27 PM

Chron: Bush = Nixon

By Kevin Whited

After a few days of playing nice because a great leader had passed away, the major media are getting back to their old habits of criticizing the Bush Administration. And so is the minor media, in the form of the Chronicle. Here's a staff editorial from earlier:
The United States' moral authority to call for the rule of law and respect for human rights has been undermined by legal machinations the Bush administration undertook to justify torturing prisoners taken in the war on terror. Administration officials have attempted to downplay the significance of a March 6, 2003, Justice Department memorandum that concluded that, as commander in chief in time of war, President George W. Bush is bound neither by federal law nor the tenets of the Geneva Conventions that ban torture as a means of extracting information from detainees. [snip] [T]he memos reinforce the perception that this administration recognizes few if any limits on its behavior. By seeming to reject the Geneva Conventions and federal laws banning torture, the administration set the stage for the prisoner abuse in Iraq and endangered captured U.S. troops and civilians who otherwise might have been treated less harshly. Surely the United States would not stand for another country using the memos' arguments to justify torturing American POWs. After he resigned in disgrace, Richard Nixon told an interviewer that, “If the president does it, it's not illegal.” Nixon was wrong, and this administration is equally wrong to make a similar claim of executive immunity.
The comparisons to the Nixon Administration are not accidental. The editors of the Chronicle want their readers to associate the imagery of a disgraced administration with an administration whose conservative policies they hate. I'll try to put this in simple terms for the editors of the Chronicle (although maybe a coloring book would be best for them): Terrorists who attack innocent civilians and who do so in civilian guise, without a military uniform, are themselves committing crimes under international law. Terrorists who do so are legally entitled to NONE of the protections of the Geneva Conventions, which apply to the treatment of prisoners of countries at war. As decent and civilized people, we may choose to extend certain protections to terrorists whom we capture as a matter of policy. But there is no reason to believe they are legally entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions. White House counsel Alberto Gonzales lays this out clearly in a USA Today article yesterday:
The president has been and remains firmly committed to our military's observance in Iraq of the Geneva Conventions and our other international agreements. The conflict with al-Qaeda and the Taliban presents a situation very different from the conflict in Iraq. The Third Geneva Convention confers the protected status of “prisoner of war” on captured combatants from armed forces that fight on behalf of states that are parties to the convention and meet the convention's standards. It does not confer POW status on terrorists, such as al-Qaeda, who fight on behalf of no state and seek to kill innocent civilians. Although Afghanistan is a party to the convention, the president determined that the Taliban fighters were not entitled to POW status under the convention. It provides that combatants must, among other things, distinguish themselves from civilians, which the Taliban clearly did not. While determining that al-Qaeda and the Taliban were not entitled to treatment as POWs, the president, nevertheless, reaffirmed that our armed forces were to treat al-Qaeda and Taliban detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in keeping with the principles of the Third Geneva Convention.
That's so simple that one would think even members of the Chronicle editorial board could understand after a day of reflection. But their latest op-ed isn't really about understanding — it's about smearing the Bush Administration with unfair references to Nixonian chicanery.

Permalink | Chron Bias

June 10, 2004, 07:41 PM

They want more of your money

By Kevin Whited

The White Administration seems keen to enhance city revenues in unusual ways, whether it's installing cameras on traffic signals to ticket misbehaving motorists or turning previously free after-hours downtown parking into a nearly 24-hour revenue source. Some of us — conservatives mainly — would prefer the city spend the money it's already taking in more wisely, instead of relying on these sorts of revenue sources. What we don't especially favor is fellow conservatives on council coming out for such revenue enhancements, and then trying to convince us it's not about the money:
“I assure you the reasons for these changes is to make a positive difference downtown and not to make more money or install more parking meters,” said [Councilman Michael ]Berry.”
In politics, when a politician says it's not about the money, it's almost always about the money. We do invite Mr. Berry to submit a guest editorial to Chronically Biased, however, if he cares to elaborate as to why hard-working Houstonians need to spend more of their hard-earned money for the privilege of visiting our downtown attractions in the evening (some of which, in the case of the sports facilities, are already being supported by your taxes), and why conservatives should support such plans.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

June 10, 2004, 06:02 PM

Sugar Land City Council Runoff Election

By Rob Booth

Just a quick note to let readers in Sugar Land know that there is a runoff election in the city council race coming up soon. Mike Casey and Tom Abraham are facing off for At-Large Position One on the Sugar Land City Council. Election Day is Saturday, June 19th. Early voting has begun and runs through June 15th. You can find your Election Day voting location here. Here are a couple of Fort Bend/Southwest Sun articles on the race: Too many 'if's in runoff
The runoff election for Sugar Land City Council at large position 1 will be held June 19. The May 15 election, with three candidates, resulted in the elimination of Naomi Lam, leaving Mike Casey and Tom Abraham in the field.
Sugar Land council candidates question and answer each other
How to deal with Sugar Land's aging infrastructure, future developments, including apartments, and tax exemptions for senior citizens were among the topics discussed by Sugar Land City Council candidates at a forum last week.
Thanks to Young Conservatives of Texas for reminding us.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

June 10, 2004, 05:10 PM

...in the details

By Rob Booth

When the media gets little details wrong, I just have to point it out. This demonstrates how little attention they pay to things like facts. DentonRC.com: The apostate Republicans
Witness the fact that state Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, a potential Perry opponent in the 2006 GOP gubernatorial primary, got scheduled to speak in the closing minutes of the two-day convention, when almost half the delegates had already fled the jurisdiction.
It was a three-day convention (if you count the days with general sessions). Houston Chronicle: Reagan makes final return to Washington
“Along with my father, it was President Reagan who inspired me and countless others to serve our government and that fundamentally American calling,” said Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston, who is serving his first term in the House.
Rep. Culberson is serving his second term.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

June 10, 2004, 09:00 AM

President Reagan returns to Washington

By Owen Courrèges

As I am currently in Washington DC, I decided to take the opportunity to pay my respects to former President Reagan by viewing the transfer of his casket from the hearse to a carriage led by many horses, but only one missing a rider to signify the loss that this event was meant to commemorate. I will relay my experiences here, along with the pictures I took along the way. I arrived on Constitution Avenue at 5:15pm, and noticed that the horse-drawn carriage was arriving at precisely the same time. I took this picture of the carriage working its way towards 16th Street, as I followed shortly behind:
I finally came to 16th Street, where throngs of onlookers had already gathered. I noted that the transfer point was exactly between the White House on one side, and the Washington Monument on the other. I thought to myself just how fitting it was that Reagan's funeral procession would begin in the place he made the most difference, the place where he did his work — the White House. The entire event was very well planned. After positioning myself to take more photographs, I waited for the hearse to arrive, which it did to much fanfare. The carriage then moved into place next to the hearse. Shortly after that, military dignitaries began to arrive, and the honor guard came to life, readying itself to begin the ceremony:
Taking their time, the honor guard removed Reagan's coffin from the hearse, and marched it over to the waiting carriage:
The casket was then placed on the carriage, as everyone stood steadfast. The Joint Chiefs were all saluting. It was a truly beautiful sight:
After pausing for some time, the procession moved out along Constitution Avenue, beginning its journey to the capitol building, where Reagan now lays in its rotunda. He is being viewed by countless citizens who have taken time to pay their respects to a man who they never knew personally, but who impacted them just the same. They come because he was important. They come because he was Ronald Wilson Reagan. I left through the courtyard that spans the front of the White House. Although the heat had been oppressive, I did not regret that I had come. As I looked towards the White House, I wished that Reagan was still there today. But then I realized that we're all still living in Reagan's America, an America of which we can be proud, and an America worth protecting. Ultimately, that was his legacy to us all. That was his gift to all of us, and that is why we mourn him today.

Permalink | News and Views

June 10, 2004, 08:27 AM

2 AM trains to join 2 AM bus routes

By Phil Magness

Per today's Houston Chronicle, Metro will soon be adding weekend light rail service until 2:15 AM on Saturdays and Sundays, reportedly to carry downtown bar and club clients from their watering holes to the Metro parking lots. Rail service will also begin earlier at 5:30 AM on Saturday and Sunday. Aside from announcing that empty light rail cars will soon be joining all of those ubiquitous empty Metro buses making the rounds to empty stations at all hours of the night, today's article prompts two issues in need of address: FIRST: Exactly what kind of demand is there for light rail service at 5:30 AM on the weekend? Common sense tells us that it is doubtful that trains operating at these times will draw more than a handful of customers if any at all. Yet by extending its hours, Metro also ups its annual operating costs on the trains (i.e. more employees and train operators working longer hours plus electricity and all the things that make the trains go 12 mph), which are already projected to run about $13 million short of the line's revenue capacities for a year by conservative estimates. With boondoggle operations of this sort, Metro resembles less of a transit agency and more of the notoriety found in leftist Keynesianism run amock, viz: paying people to dig holes and fill them up with dirt again just to make “work” on the public dole. After all, that is essentially what Metro does when it runs empty buses and now trains at wee hours of the morning when virtually nobody is using them. So tell me taxpayers of Houston, why is Metro paying its employees to drive trains around at low-demand and uneconomical hours like 5:30 AM on Saturday for seemingly no particular reason at all? SECOND: We have to ask ourselves - at what point does the Houston Chronicle's coverage of Metrorail activities cease to be reporting and instead become full fledged advertising for Metro's various “services” and activities? Today's article contains eight paragraph breaks and eleven sentences just to announce a time schedule change in weekend train operations. Keep in mind that this is from the same paper that is seemingly hard pressed to devote more than about two sentences in a tiny back section news brief when a Metrorail train actually does something newsworthy, as in plowing through an automobile on one of its many dangerous street crossings.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

June 10, 2004, 06:00 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Dan Lovett wants some answers, and whose side are the terrorists really on? Read more on these two topics in today's Features section.

Permalink | Staff Notes

June 10, 2004, 05:30 AM

Dallas, crime, and coddling criminals

By Owen Courrèges

I admit it: I'm a proud Houstonian, and so when I get the opportunity to criticize our rival of Dallas, I usually can't help but take it. However, there are still times when Dallas just seems to be asking for it. Namely, these two “stupid factoids” from Kim du Toit show what I believe is a wholesale lack of common sense on the part of Dallas policy-makers:
Stupid factoid of the week #1: Dallas police officers aren't allowed to carry [Colt] 1911s. Know why? Because those big guns are too intimidating (and no, I'm not making that up). Stupid factoid #2: Dallas police cars no longer have cages which separate the officers from the goblins in the back seat. Know why? Because the cage makes people feel like trapped animals, and they don't deserve to be treated that way (and I'm not making that up, either).
Given this, is it any wonder that Dallas has had the highest crime rate of any major US city for the past six years? All of us on ChronicallyBiased.com may criticize the inefficiencies in Houston's local government, but I think we can all agree that we're better off not being Dallas. I'm biased, of course, but in this case the facts do seem to speak for themselves.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

June 09, 2004, 11:59 PM

News analysis: editorials that pose as news

By Kevin Whited

One of the more unfortunate developments in journalism in recent years has been the rise of “news analysis” pieces in newspapers. Typically in these sorts of articles, editorial commentary is mixed with reporting. The problem is that the “news analysis” is usually conducted by journalists who may be expert at their craft, but most of whom are intellectually ill-equipped to analyze complicated issues. All too often, the analysis turns out to be ignorant, or turns out to reflect the bias of the writer. Patty Reinert's column on Ronald Reagan posted to the Chronicle website on 6 June 2004 exhibits the worst qualities of this type of “journalism.” I'm going to review some of the more egregious paragraphs from her article. The title itself, of course, signals that it's not going to be news reporting, but rather news analysis: Reagan convincingly offered new brand of conservatism: Decades later, politicians still follow his legacy. The first four paragraphs are mostly inoffensive, as they fairly accurately represent the late President's positions (although Miss Reinert's reference to “family values” in quotations in the third paragraph was an unnecessary editorial intrusion). In the fifth paragraph, Miss Reinert turns to the first of five direct quotes from Lee Edwards that she will use throughout her article, carefully identifying him with the Heritage Foundation, a “conservative think tank” (we would note that liberal think tanks are rarely identified as such):
“Up until 1980 and his winning campaign, the debate was still going on whether America should turn first to government or first to the people. Ronald Reagan believed government was the court of last resort, not the first resort,” said Lee Edwards....
Edwards may be a distinguished fellow at a respected conservative think tank, but that quote — the first one chosen by Reinert — is simply erroneous. From FDR until 1980, the debate most certainly was not about whether America should turn first to the government or first to the people. The only real debate was how much more money government should spend on social programs. From FDR to 1980, there was steady growth in the assumption of more and more responsibility by the government (and, consequently, more and more spending as a result). Ronald Reagan changed the terms of that debate by standing and shouting — Enough! If anything, the government is doing too much, not too little. Until Reagan, there had been a steady progression of larger government. There was no debate. In the seventh paragraph, Reinert begins her assault on Reagan:
Sworn in at age 69, Reagan resisted tampering with Social Security. But he barely hesitated gutting Lyndon Johnson's anti-poverty programs and Jimmy Carter's environmental initiatives. He even tried to convince nutritionists that ketchup should suffice as a vegetable for school lunch programs.
Resisted tampering with Social Security? Resisted whom and what? Gutting Lyndon Johnson's anti-poverty programs? Talk about a biased statement without much factual basis! It's worth recalling that the major reason the Reagan Administration ran the deficits it did was that it ultimately proved unable to reduce government spending, or to shrink the welfare state at all. About all hateful liberals can come up with is the unfortunate ketchup reference. However, one silly incident is not evidence of “gutting.” It's just evidence that Reinert doesn't much like Reagan. The assault continues in paragraph eight:
Declaring big government evil, he tried, but failed, to get rid of the federal Departments of Education and Energy. Appealing to supporters in “the greatest generation,” those from the World War II era, he created a Department of Veterans Affairs.
Note how Reinert portrays the creation of the Department of Veterans Affairs as a cheap ploy to buy votes. There's no evidence presented to support such a smear. It gets worse in paragraph nine:
He cut taxes for the rich and the middle class, promising that the benefits of his economic plan would “trickle down” to the poor. And he ran up a $3 trillion federal deficit, pouring money into defense in a successful drive to break up the Soviet Union and Eastern European communism.
Opponents of President Reagan often referred to “trickle-down” economics derisively, and here Reinert embraces their view with her use of the term. The proper economic term is “supply-side economics” or even neoclassical economics, as opposed to the Keynesian paradigm that dominated post-FDR economic thinking. Whatever one's view of supply-side economics, Reinert's embrace of the most negative term used to describe it is an indicator of her bias. It's also worth noting — since Reinert did not — that when Reagan took office, the top marginal income tax rate was 70%. A proposition of supply-side thought was that such high rates discouraged risk-taking with capital. Many would contend that Reagan's tax cuts (and the associated boom) proved the point that high top marginal tax rates were choking economic growth. Reinert shows her ignorance of macroeconomics in the ninth paragraph:
After a deep recession early in his term, Reagan's tax cuts and massive military spending got the economy moving again and were credited with creating millions of jobs, reducing inflation and sparking a stock market boom in the “go-go '80s” that remained strong until 2000.
Few economists would credit the tax cuts and military spending with reducing inflation. Many economists would say inflation was reduced because of Federal Reserve activities to control the money supply, initiated by Paul Volcker and continued by his successor, Alan Greenspan. That Reinert is clueless on this topic is indicative of what can happen when journalists try to tackle subjects well outside their areas of expertise. Reinert seems confused in Paragraph 15:
While critics of “Reaganomics” and those furious over the Iran-Contra scandal retained a fierce hatred of the man and his policies, Reagan left the White House in 1989 with a 68 percent approval rating, the highest of any retiring president in modern times.
Hardly anyone hated Reagan, even if they disagreed with his politics. There's hardly any disagreement on that basic fact. In paragraphs 16-17, Reinert tries to move from her unimpressive assessment of Reagan to a comparison with President Bush:
GOP candidates following in his wake have been forced to play to the party's conservative base, a nod to Reagan's legacy, Edwards said. “Bush is trying to be Reaganesque, emphasizing national defense and tax cuts,” he said.
Reinert uses five direct quotations of Edwards in her article. Paragraph 16 is the first paraphrase used in the article. Things get interesting in Paragraph 18:
But the current president is not nearly as successful in reassuring conservatives as Reagan was, Edwards said. Political observers are now noting the rise of a new phenomenon — the “Kerry Republicans” — conservatives unhappy with Bush's increased spending, mostly on the war in Iraq, and perhaps voting for Democratic Sen. John Kerry in this year's presidential election.
Whereas Reinert has mostly relied upon direct quotations of Edwards to this point, now she relies upon a paraphrase. One is left wondering if Edwards really did say something like this to her. Several days ago, I emailed him to check this quote, but he has not responded to my email. If he indeed did say this, he's again mistaken. Just about every analysis that's been undertaken shows that President Bush's base is holding very solidly, despite some wishful thinking to the contrary from liberals. And Reinert is just way out in left field when she suggests the emergence of “Kerry Republicans.” That seems to be more wishful thinking by liberal journalists and activists (hence the unnamed “political observers”), because John Kerry is not to the right of George Bush on any single issue (unlike Bill Clinton, who did get to the right of the first President Bush in the 1992 election, and was able to neutralize issues where he was to the left). In reality, there's been no rise of “Kerry Republicans” to date, and most analysis shows that candidate Kerry has greater problems with his base than the President has among his. It was clever of Reinert to splice that “Kerry Republicans” bit of editorializing to her paraphrase of Edwards. It makes it seem as if Edwards is the one editorializing, not her — at least to the inattentive reader. What is most amazing about Reinert's snide attack piece posing as Reagan-legacy “news analysis” is that the Chronicle Washington Bureau has had roughly ten years now to prepare for Reagan's death. Surely Reinert should have been able to come up with a better critique of Reagan than this! In his Reagan column on the same day, even Cragg Hines managed to forego his usual vitriol in favor of a few subtle jabs at the former president. It's truly an unusual day when there's a Chronicle columnist showing less tact and judgment than Cragg Hines.

Permalink | Noxious Chron Columnists

June 09, 2004, 08:29 PM

Chronicle/ AP miss chance to trumpet good news from Iraq

By M. Wildes

Under the headline “U.S. Special Forces free 4 hostages,” Jim Krane of the Associated Press gives an extremely limited account of the rescue of foreign abductees by U.S. soldiers. Mr. Krane gives as much coverage, if not more, to attacks by insurgents, other kidnappings, and Iraq war abduction statistics. I am not against a balanced article, but with all of the stories that are entirely about the abductions, killings and attacks in Iraq, this story, under this headline, should have been about the rescue. The first three paragraphs set the tone for the entire article:
BAGHDAD – U.S. Special Forces freed four hostages in a raid Tuesday after staking out their captors’ hideout for a day – the first military rescue of foreigners caught up in Iraq’s wave of kidnappings.

But there was no word on the fate of a U.S. soldier held hostage and two other Americans missing since an attack on a fuel convoy nearly two months ago. But the news was not all good Tuesday as Iraq saw a flare-up of bloodshed three weeks ahead of the handover of sovereignty on June 30. Car bombers blasted targets in two Iraqi cities, killing 15 people – including a U.S. soldier – and wounding 50. Six European soldiers died when munitions they were transporting exploded south of Baghdad.

No editing was done to the order of these paragraphs. They appear above exactly as they did in Wednesday’s paper. The article is not only misleading, but also poorly written. The Chronicle and the Associated Press missed a chance to herald the accomplishments of U.S. soldiers and tell the stories of the rescue and the people involved. This page 12A story - with a mere reference on the front page - is a far cry from the treatment of bad news on the war, which almost always appears on the front page and is rarely balanced by good news.

Permalink | Chron Bias

June 09, 2004, 05:00 PM

Draft?

By Rob Booth

There's an e-mail going around warning that the Bush Administration is planning to reinstitute the draft after the 2004 election. It appears to be more alarmist than reality-based. First off, here's one version of the e-mail, as posted to congress.org:
Dear Young Citizens, Recently, many of you have become aware that there are a couple of bills in Congress (S89, HR163) which raise the question of an equitable draft. If passed, they will draft women, as men, and will disallow college deferments. Escape to Canada has already been pre-empted by Ashcroft.
Tip of the hat to reader Sam for sending us the story. Note that congress.org is not the official site of the US House of Representatives, house.gov is. A quick search at Thomas, Congress' web site for tracking bills, shows that the last action on the House bill was on 2/3/2003. This was the bill that Rep. Rangel (D-NY) introduced over a year ago. It garnered a bit of press attention then and Rep. Rangel made the rounds of the talk shows arguing that the draft was a more equitable way of finding servicemen than the current volunteer system. Here are a few articles/columns from that time: Town Hall: Rangel's draft proposal dodges the facts CNN: Rangel calls for mandatory military service The bills were sent to committee, seemingly to die. The only recent activity was Sen. Hagel's pronouncement that the draft is an option he is considering advocating. This could be the impetus for the recent e-mails going around. Knight Ridder reporters researched the story and found not much there: Myrtle Beach Online: Rumor mill churns on draft:
WASHINGTON - (KRT) - Following urgent measures that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has taken to maintain troop strength in Iraq, government officials are fending off a wave of fears about a possible military draft. The Pentagon, the Selective Service System and news outlets have received a flurry of e-mails inquiring about a supposed secret plan to bring back the draft after the November elections, so 18-to-25-year-olds could be inducted in 2005. Reports also have circulated that the administration plans to change the law that limits any possible draft to men to allow for the induction of women.
Snopes.com thought it unlikely as well: Draft Fear
Origins: As U.S. military involvement in Vietnam came to an end in 1973, so did the draft. For the first time since the days of World War II, the U.S. military shifted to an all-volunteer force; all vacancies in the armed forces were filled through recruitment and re-enlistments rather than conscription. (The requirement for young men to register with the Selective Service was not abolished until 1975, however, and it was reinstated in 1980.) As recent U.S. military involvement in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq has required the largest commitment of American troops since the mid-1970s, and the military has had to double the deployment periods of some units, call up additional reserves, and extend tours of duty by a year in order to maintain adequate staffing levels, the specter of a resurrected draft has been looming on the mind of many a young person. Although the possibility of a reinstatement of conscription cannot be ruled out, a renewal of the draft anytime soon appears unlikely, and one implemented as early as June 2005 seems rather improbable.
The Administration was even made to respond: Press Gaggle
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President supports the voluntary military force that we have now.
And the Selective Service responded: SSS.gov
Notwithstanding recent stories in the news media and on the Internet, Selective Service is not getting ready to conduct a draft for the U.S. Armed Forces — either with a special skills or regular draft. Rather, the Agency remains prepared to manage a draft if and when the President and the Congress so direct. This responsibility has been ongoing since 1980 and is nothing new. Further, both the President and the Secretary of Defense have stated on more than one occasion that there is no need for a draft for the War on Terrorism or any likely contingency, such as Iraq. Additionally, the Congress has not acted on any proposed legislation to reinstate a draft. Therefore, Selective Service continues to refine its plans to be prepared as is required by law, and to register young men who are ages 18 through 25.
So, based on the rumors making the rounds, it appears that someone is egging this story on. Who knows who could be behind it — anti-draft activists, Bush opponents, etc. What seems clear is that the alarm is greater than the chance of fire.

Permalink | Media Watch

June 09, 2004, 04:01 PM

The Reagan legacy

By Kevin Whited

Despite an outpouring of outstanding revisionist works on Ronald Reagan (The Age of Reagan and Reagan in his Own Hand are notable examples) that aim to set the record straight on any number of misconceptions about the man, liberals still cling to and promote the notion that Reagan was an amiable dunce, a fine actor/communicator of little real substance. Our friends at No Left Turns point to this transcript of a 1967 debate between Ronald Reagan and Robert F. Kennedy as an example of Ronald Reagan's grasp of both principle and fact. Print it out, kick back in your favorite reading chair, and give it a look. I think you'll find that Reagan had a grasp of detail much more compelling than we see from most contemporary politicians these days, or from condescending journalists who sat in judgment of him during his Presidency. In fact, I'd like to call attention to the fact that Reagan was calling for the removal of the Berlin Wall in this debate — many years before his famous speech that so many people want to call the words of a speechwriter and not the words of a truly great leader.

Permalink | News and Views

June 09, 2004, 08:00 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Tired of reading bad news? Get the “Good News” in today's Features section.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

June 09, 2004, 07:52 AM

Refresh your browser

By The Staff

We've made some changes to the advertising layout overnight, in hopes of solving a few of the problems that have been reported, and we're still working on a couple of other changes. If the layout is behaving strangely today for you, you will almost certainly benefit by forcing your browser to refresh completely (which will reload the modified stylesheet that controls the layout). It may even be useful to clear your browser's cache (which should be done periodically anyway).

Permalink | Staff Notes

June 09, 2004, 07:00 AM

My View: The ACLU

By Owen Courrèges

I've run upon a great many liberals who claim that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a non-partisan organization dedicated solely to defending the integrity of the US Constitution. As common sense dicatates, all of them have been utterly, unfathomably wrong. The best evidence for the ACLU's left-wing bias comes from the dichotomy concerning their views regarding abortion and gun control. To wit, the ACLU supports Roe v. Wade, a decision that legalized abortion despite its absence from the constitution, while at the same time holding that the right to keep and bear arms is held only by select state militias. In other words, they take a non-explicit right seriously while summarily ignoring an explicit right. It's the very definition of hypocrisy. Much has been made of the fact that the ACLU defends groups that have been traditionally challenged by the left on First Amendment issues, groups such as skinheads and the Ku Klux Klan. It is often charged that this proves that the ACLU is an unbiased defender of the Constituion. However, all it proves is that the ACLU takes a strong position on certain issue pertaining to the First Amendment, and is willing to take on relevant cases when it suits them. It does not prove objectivity. In truth, the facts are plain for all to see, and they reveal that the ACLU adheres to a left-wing ideology. If the case were otherwise, than the ACLU would be defending the rights of gun owners as we speak, yet as things are, they hold that the Second Amendment is essentially an irrelevancy. From any honest perspective, that's bad constitutional doctrine. While the ACLU does some decent work, it is hardly unbiased, or even nonpartisan. In the future, political pundits from both sides of the aisle need to keep that in mind. I'm Owen Courrèges, and that's my view.

Permalink | Owen's View

June 09, 2004, 06:07 AM

44

By Rob Booth

Action America points out that KTRK is reporting light-rail crash number 44.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

June 09, 2004, 05:59 AM

Chronicle Starts Reagan Criticism

By Rob Booth

Yesterday I pointed out some Leftist political sites where the celebration of President Reagan's death had begun. The Chronicle isn't to that point, but today they're running a column in the Business section critical of RWR. Houston Chronicle: We'll still be paying for Reagan's legacy for decades
Don't be surprised if Ronald Reagan's death inspires members of Congress to try once again to put his face on the dime, replacing Franklin Roosevelt. Hard currency, though, isn't the best place for Reagan's likeness. A credit card would be a more fitting homage. Reagan reshaped our popular view of economics, and with it, our view of debt. He transformed us from the world's largest creditor to its largest debtor.
That's comforting. After seeing Cragg Hines tribute to President George H.W. Bush today, I was worried we wouldn't have anything to write about.

Permalink | Chron Bias

June 08, 2004, 09:31 PM

Chronicle cannot help but to bring in Iraq

By M. Wildes

On the front page of Monday’s Chronicle appeared the headline “U.S. heroes who ‘heard the guns’ form ranks for perhaps last time,” by Bennett Roth. The story is almost entirely about last weekend’s D-Day ceremonies, Bush’s speech, and D-Day itself. However, several remarks are made in an attempt to bring the Iraq war into the forefront. Roth begins with a borderline appropriate reference:
As Bush wrapped up a four-day European trip that sought support for rebuilding and protecting Iraq, he did not refer to the current conflict in his address at Colleville-sur-Mer, where some 9,386 U.S. servicemen are buried. Nor did he repeat his recent assertion comparing World War II to the war on terrorism.
After this quote, several paragraphs return to talk of the ceremonies and the speech, then the article flounders into opinion:
Both Bush and Chirac took pains to put aside their recent quarrels over Iraq.
The only support provided for this assertion was that 1) the two leaders stood next to one another during a wreath laying ceremony, and 2) Chirac made comments that France “would never forget its debt to America, its everlasting friend.” After continuing with D-Day statistics and more of Bush’s speech, the article briefly discussed an interview with Parnell Corry, a D-Day soldier. Mr. Corry spoke of his former Lieutenant who “died in his arms” and whose grave he was visiting. Miraculously, as if out of thin air, Mr. Corry began discussing the president’s speech. Although indicating that Mr. Corry felt it was one of Bush’s best speeches, because “it was not political,” Roth (or whoever originated the interview) managed to do what even the politicians thought inappropriate—he made D-Day political:
Corry and other veterans said they did not agree with the president’s recent comparison to the current war on terrorism that is centered in Iraq.

Said Lester Baumann, 83, of Parma, Ohio: “we had 9,000 people die on this beach in one day. And how many have been killed in Iraq? There is no comparison.”

After more than one year of holding the deaths in Iraq over Bush, is the Chronicle now using the relatively low number of deaths in Iraq to discredit him, as well? After all, admitting that the current crisis resembles World War II would almost certainly turn the Chronicle’s coverage of the war on its head. I must credit Roth for using this quote, but in my opinion, his intent was not to highlight the low number of deaths in the Iraq War. I believe Roth’s point was to assert that veterans do not agree with Bush’s claim that the two wars are of similar importance. In contrast, the Baumann quote seems to illustrate that veterans disagree for other, more specific reasons.

Permalink | Chron Bias

June 08, 2004, 06:03 PM

Democrats Can't Wait

By Rob Booth

We've all seen many glowing tributes in the media for the late President Reagan. Those of us who are old enough to remember the Reagan administration, and the press coverage they got, are furrowing our brows, trying to reconcile what they're saying now, and what they said then. Thank goodness for the Internet. A little poking around takes us to a few web sites where the Leftist nutcases are gloating over President Reagan's demise. Warning! If you have blood pressure problems or are sensitive to foul language, do not go read what I've linked to. Democratic National Committee Blog: Comments
I am gettin sick of all the reagan revisionist. He gave us Iran-Contra, Voodoo Economics, Plausible Deniabilty, Deficts, and Substance over Form. He was not a good President even when compared to the idiot we have now. You can go ahead and mourn his death but please remember he proved That “The Good Die Young” Posted by tony jones
Palast: KILLER, COWARD, CON-MAN | GOOD RIDDANCE, GIPPER ... | MORE PROOF ONLY THE GOOD DIE YOUNG
You're not going to like this. You shouldn't speak ill of the dead. But in this case, someone's got to. Ronald Reagan was a conman. Reagan was a coward. Reagan was a killer.
Ted Rall: How Sad...
...that Ronald Reagan didn't die in prison, where he belonged for starting an illegal, laughably unjustifiable war against Grenada under false pretenses (the “besieged” medical students later said they were nothing of the sort) and funneling arms to hostages during Iran-Contra.
I was wondering if the Left in this country had all put on their best faces to the public and hid their true feelings. It would seem so.

Permalink | News and Views

June 08, 2004, 06:00 PM

The part of the story the Chron neglected

By Kevin Whited

OpinionJournal makes the following point about the elite media and Iraq. We're certain they won't mind if we reproduce it:
A myth has developed that Iraqis aren't grateful for their liberation from Saddam. So it's worth noting that the leaders of Iraq's new interim government have been explicit and gracious in their thanks, not that you've heard this from the U.S. media. First in Arabic and then in English, Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said in his inaugural address to the Iraqi people last Tuesday that “I would like to record our profound gratitude and appreciation to the U.S.-led international coalition, which has made great sacrifices for the liberation of Iraq.” In his own remarks, President Ghazi al-Yawer said: “Before I end my speech, I would like us to remember our martyrs who fell in defense of freedom and honor, as well as our friends who fell in the battle for the liberation of Iraq.” Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told the U.N. Security Council much the same thing last Thursday: “We Iraqis are grateful to the coalition who helped liberate us from the persecution of Saddam Hussein's regime. We thank President Bush and Prime Minister Blair for their dedication and commitment.” We thought our readers might like to know.
Likewise, we thought our readers might like to know, because the Chronicle ran coverage of Allawi's inaugural comments from the New York Times, coverage that neglected Allawi's words of appreciation to the U.S. in favor of telling a much different, some might even say biased, story.

Permalink | Media Watch

June 08, 2004, 05:42 PM

Ronald Reagan Remembered in Russia

By Rob Booth

There's a couple of interesting articles in the Russian press concerning Ronald Reagan. Fortunately, they're in English. RIAN: Reagan as Remembered by Russians
MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political analyst Vladimir Simonov) - There was a mixed reaction in Russia to the news of Ronald Reagan's death. This is hardly surprising, because the late US president was in some ways like a coin for Russians, with one side glittering with the light of freedom and toppled tyranny, and the other soiled by the hatred kindled in US-Soviet relations during his first term in office. New generations of Russians will remember Ronald Reagan as a superman who advanced the establishment of democracy in their countries. Yet for those who feel nostalgic about the Soviet Union's former influence, and, according to some estimates, they number up to 40% of the population, the 40th US president will remain a firm, almost possessed enemy of communism.
Izvestia via MosNews.com: The Man Who Scared the Empire to Death
It seems it is possible to make history without even paying much heed to what you are doing, without even being aware of the implications and without taking any pride in what has been achieved, as if everything that happens does so naturally. And yet, the late Ronald Reagan was the man to whom the Soviet Union owes its demise, and Eastern Europe for the end of what it called “the Soviet occupation” and its accession to quite a different Europe.

Permalink | News and Views

June 08, 2004, 05:06 PM

Show Notes

By Kevin Whited

On today's show, Dan Patrick has been talking about Tom Brokaw's televised interview with President Bush. Reader Anne Linehan forwards this link to a blogger who discovered that the video shown on television didn't match the transcript of the interview. As this blogger points out, some questions and answers were omitted entirely (which doesn't change the meaning necessarily). More troubling, however, is the fact that some of President Bush's answers were edited, and shortened. There may have been no malicious intent, but this should not have been done to the President's commentary. Indeed, it's a little shocking that the White House press shop would allow an interview to take place under such conditions. This is yet another black mark on the elite media in this country, which is already suffering horrible credibility problems. Thanks to the New England Republican weblog for catching this one, and for helping to keep the elite media honest.

Permalink | Media Watch

June 08, 2004, 09:40 AM

Eyewitness to #43

By M. Wildes

I do not normally write about Metro’s Light Rail. I leave that to Owen Courrèges and the others who know far more than I do about the little engine that shouldn’t. However, today (Monday) I found myself directly behind the latest casualty of the Fannin left-hand turn. I was on my way to an appointment in the Medical Center, and I needed to make a left-hand turn.However, for three or four lights I was forced to ride along side the silver bullet. One after the other, the turn lanes became unavailable, which was apparent to me due to helpful (albeit somewhat confusing) electronic signs indicating the train was near. Unfortunately, the person in front of me had already passed the signs when they changed and was several hundred feet ahead of the train. In this case, this was not an excuse, since the driver turned from a non-turn lane on a street with an everyday, run-of-the-mill “no left turn” sign.” Although the train's horn was blaring incessantly, and the engine was reducing speed as much as possible, this poor individual was smashed and turned 90 degrees onto the adjacent track. The train could not have been traveling at more than five or ten miles an hour, but the damage to both vehicles was apparent. Overall, it was kind of a shocking experience. When I was calmed, I wondered aloud to my wife, “How long will it be before someone is knocked by one train onto the other track, only to be struck again by the train traveling in the opposite direction?” A simultaneous sandwich of car and trains would be even worse. While this accident is not directly Metro's fault, it certainly makes me wonder why this system was not elevated. At the very least, the tracks could have been placed somewhere other than the middle of the street in the nation's largest and busiest medical center. The time has passed for those decisions, but I guess it is time for Metro to put in an order for a few dozen more front bumpers.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

June 08, 2004, 07:00 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Dan Lovett sums up his thoughts on the Kentucky Derby and Bob Willems pays tribute to President Reagan's acting career in today's Features Section.

Permalink | Staff Notes

June 08, 2004, 07:00 AM

My View: The Second Amendment

By Owen Courrèges

The Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights reads: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” These are words every American should commit to memory, because they are among the most important in the entire Constitution. The founding fathers wanted to ensure the efficacy of the militia, and because of this they guaranteed a nearly unfettered right to keep and bear firearms. The militia, you see, encompasses every person capable of using a gun (a 'select militia,' on the other hand, refers to a state-organized and sponsored militia). The militia is not the National Guard nor the army; it is the collective body of the citizenry armed and ready to defend the rights of the people against any tyranny, foreign or domestic. I am a member of the militia, and it is very likely that you are as well. Alas, proponents of gun control have propogated a fiction that the first clause of the Second Amendment was designed to place restrictions on the second, that the “right of the people to keep and bear arms” was actually reserved only for a select militia. This is ahistorical, and frankly, a violation of basic grammar. The way the Second Amendment is constructed, a justification is given followed by a right. Even if one disagrees with the justification — that the militia is not “necessary to the security of a free state” — it doesn't change the fact that this is written plainly into the Constitution. It's gospel as far as the law is concerned. The second clause, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” is also quite unequivocal. The reference to “the people” is the same as in the First Amendment, and is thus a direct reference to all individual citizens. If the intent was to refer to a select group of citizens acting only in a certain capacity, the language would have been far different. It would have read “the right of the militia to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The founders were trying to tell us something by specifically referencing “the people.” The courts today do not generally recognize the Second Amendment, and so it has no force of law. Yet we as citizens can still become good members of the militia. This year I applied for and received a concealed handgun license. I also took classes and began going out to the shooting range. Remember, the Second Amendment guarantees a right, but it implies a responsibility. We are all responsible for defending ourselves and our country. A well-armed citizenry is the bullwark of freedom. We should never forget that. I'm Owen Courrèges, and that's my view.

Permalink | Owen's View

June 08, 2004, 06:15 AM

Behind the Quote

By Rob Booth

In today's Houston Chronicle, Lucas Wall reports from the American Public Transportation Association meeting in Miami.
William Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association, whose members are gathered here this week for their annual Rail Transit Conference, said, “The question is: Will any money be there to implement those projects? Without a bill, it means that the transit systems and local officials won't know what funding levels will be, won't be able to effectively compete for new projects that are necessary for the expansion of existing systems. And gridlock is just going to get worse and worse.”
So, is Mr. Miller a public policy advocate who thinks that public transportation is the best means of reducing traffic? He may very well be. So who's paying the bills for the American Public Transportation Association? Fortunately, their web site provides the answers. Go to www.apta.com and click on E-Business. You'll find the Catalog of Member Products and Services (COMPS). It provides a directory of the companies that are members of APTA and lists them by industry. There are some rather benign categories like Document Management, eLearning, and Fatigue Management. There are also companies that are engaged in Rail Parts - New & Used, Rail System Management, and Railcar - Mfgr./Dealer. So when you read a quote from someone from American Public Transportation Association, just remember who is paying the bills.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

June 08, 2004, 04:00 AM

New Poll

By Owen Courrèges

We have a new poll question up: “What was Reagan's greatest accomplishment?” You can vote here. Our last poll ended up very lopsided. The question was: “What is the most pressing issue facing Texas today?” 83.1% of you answered “property taxes.” 5.9% responded “school finance.” 2.1% each responded to both “criminal justice” and “transportation.” Finally, 6.8% responded “other.” Some readers wrote in arguing that immigration should have been among the selections, indicating that many of those choosing “other” had immigration in mind.

Permalink | Staff Notes

June 08, 2004, 12:30 AM

Ronald Reagan (1911-2004)

By The Staff

Reagan - Cox and Forkum Courtesy of Cox and Forkum

Permalink | Political Cartoons

June 07, 2004, 09:57 PM

The Times v. Ronald Reagan

By Kevin Whited

Matthew Continetti has penned an interesting comparison of the coverage of former President Reagan's death by the New York Times versus the Washington Post. It's a quick, if hardly surprising, read.

Permalink | Media Watch

June 07, 2004, 09:19 PM

Callous DMN liberals

By Kevin Whited

More than once on these pages, I've praised the Dallas Morning News for their editor's weblog. I think that it allow readers to get to know the editors of that newspaper, and that it provides transparency. I still think it's a good idea, and over the last few days it's certainly proven me right on my point about transparency. The liberals on the DMN editorial board (in particular, John Chamless and Jim Frisinger) have been falling all over themselves to post (mostly negative) letters about President Reagan, as well as their (mostly negative) impressions about his presidency. Perhaps the fact that these liberal editors are having to take their revenge on Reagan in a little-read weblog instead of on the main print pages is another good sign that the Dallas Morning News (unlike the Chronicle) is under mature editorial leadership these days. And maybe these particular liberal editors are just doing what some liberals think they have to do — provide the rest of us ignorant rubes “perspective” on major events. But I can't help but think they're revealing themselves as callous and shallow human beings. There will be time enough for historians, political scientists, and even relatively ignorant journalists to evaluate the Reagan Presidency. Would it be too much to ask of liberal journalists that they let the Reagan family, our nation, and the world put a good man and a great leader to rest before starting their petty nonsense? Apparently so. Interestingly, the conservatives on the DMN editorial board — and Rod Dreher most notably — have been uncharacteristically silent. I'm guessing they'd rather let the DMN liberals look like callous fools than give them any credence by rebutting them during this time of national mourning.

Permalink | Media Watch

June 07, 2004, 10:34 AM

John Williams's farewell column

By The Staff

Last week, we broke the story that political columnist John Williams was leaving the Chronicle. Today, John Williams announces his departure in a farewell column. We didn't always agree with Mr. Williams, but we thought of him as a professional. The Chronicle has quite a few problems in its newsroom, and losing Mr. Williams only adds to those problems. We wish him him well in his new endeavor. We also renew our call to Jeff Cohen to use this opportunity to bring some (conservative) diversity to his newsroom. We've even taken the liberty of placing an ad for him, on our right sidebar.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

June 07, 2004, 10:00 AM

Remembering Reagan Locally

By The Staff

Several readers have emailed to ask if there are any locations in Houston where they can pay tribute to former President Reagan. KPRC-2 reports that Dignity Memorial Providers is providing memorial registers that will be forwarded to the Reagan family, for those who want to go by any of their locations to sign. If anyone knows of any public memorials in the Houston area for former President Reagan, please leave a comment here or drop us an email and we'll be happy to publicize them.

Permalink | Staff Notes

June 07, 2004, 07:00 AM

My View: John Kerry

By Owen Courrèges

I'm going to be be frank, and I seriously doubt that I'm the only one who believes this: Senator John Kerry is an aristocratic jerk. The man exudes arrogance from every speech he gives, and every position he outlines. The fact that this man leads in many polls is very disturbing. For starters, Kerry appears incapable of emphasizing his military background in a responsible manner. Instead, he plays it up to a comical degree, making a mockery of his veteran status. Furthermore, one cannot ignore his baseless condemnation of America's military throughout his speech before Congress as a an anti-war spokesman. He claimed that American soliders had “raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war...” It was later revealed that this information was based largely upon false testimony. Because of this, an organization called 'Swift Boat Veterans for Truth' has been formed to challenge Kerry's presidential bid and remind people of his lies concerning the actions of of American soliders. A Houston-area attorney, John O'Neill, has been leading this effort. For the record, I wouldn't oppose just any Democrat. I'd even find some virtue in certain liberal Democrats. Dennis Kucinich may have been unelectable, folks, but he wasn't arrogant to the degree that John Kerry is. Kerry has attempted to co-opt the mantle of “most concerned about national security” simply by pointing to his medals, the same medals which he supposedly threw away during a symbolic anti-war protest. Isn't this man a phony? Is is really hard to see through the charade? These are the questions I'm asking. I'm wondering how this unethical man rose to become the Democratic nominee for president of the United States. I'm wondering how, even today, he stays competitive in the polls. When we have a man like Reagan to mourn, I wonder how any of us could ever consider voting for a man like John Kerry. I'm Owen Courrèges, and that's my view.

Permalink | Owen's View

June 07, 2004, 05:49 AM

Everything is like Enron (to leftists)

By The Staff

Chronicle metro/state columnist Rick Casey penned a typically lazy column last Wednesday. We've noted before that Mr. Casey has a bad habit of pulling the bulk of his material off the internet, sometimes even refusing to give proper attribution. We'll give Mr. Casey the benefit of the doubt this time — although we do sometimes verify that he actually talked to his sources — that he interviewed Rice University's Professor Linda M. McNeil about her views on educational testing in Texas. We would point out that it's not hard to find Professor McNeil's views on the matter all over the internet. She seems to have made a bit of an industry out of being opposed to educational testing. That's the part of the story Casey omitted. If we're to believe Casey, Professor McNeil is just your typical objective academic, focused on education from her perch in the Ivory Tower. As he puts it, the good professor is the “longtime head of Rice University's Center for Education.” What he didn't tell the Chron's declining reader base is that Professor McNeil is a left-leaning partisan who has some, shall we say, curious views on education policy. For example, a quick peek at some of Professor McNeil's writings on Amazon reveals an academic who's highly concerned about issues of critical pedagogy and critical social thought. We'd translate that into English if we could. But we didn't cut our academic teeth at the People's University of Wisconsin-Madison in the 70s like the good professor. Intellectually, though, we're pretty sure it's part of the problem in education these days, not the solution. Fortunately, it's easier to translate the FEC records of Professor McNeil's activities, as they're already in English. And she is active! From 1992 on, she's donated to Clinton for President, Michael Andrews for Congress, the Texas Democratic Party (multiple donations), Bob Krueger, Fisher for Senate, Ken Bentsen (multiple donations), DNC Services Corp/Democratic National Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Susman Godfrey, Gore 2000, and Emily's List. To the tune of more than $20,000. Pretty good change for an academic. Even more change, considering she listed herself as a homemaker on some of her donations. Perhaps we simply overlooked her publications on the critical pedagogy of baking cookies! We don't begrudge her the fact that she's a hard-left political partisan — we're a little partisan here after all — but wouldn't it have been useful if Mr. Casey had identified her political leanings? We think so. Because most partisans on the Left oppose any sort of standardized testing. Vigorously. It's not exactly news. Especially coming from Professor McNeil. The Enron twist is clever. We'll grant the professor and the metro/state columnist that. But it's not particularly accurate. Enron was, effectively, an arbitrage con job built upon artificially inflated stock prices. Stock price was crucial. Casey and McNeil aren't wrong about that. However, it's a real stretch to suggest that the only thing that matters at HISD is TAKS scores. We'll concede they're important. But the “only measure that counts?” Are we to assume that grades no longer matter at HISD schools? We hadn't heard that one. Did we also miss the fact that they've abolished GPAs (since grades no longer matter)? We missed that also. We understand that partisan extremists on the Left (like Casey and McNeil) have long been opposed to any sort of educational testing, even if they don't always admit their biases. We conservatives have our own reservations about standardized tests imposed by members of the educational bureaucracy, and certainly would never advocate them as the only measure of success. However, we're hard pressed to come up with an alternative method of accountability for our schools. Maybe Mr. Casey can google search that for his next column and get back to us with “his” solution. Kevin Whited and Mona Lugay co-authored this post.

Permalink | Noxious Chron Columnists

June 07, 2004, 05:45 AM

More slanted coverage from the Austin “news” bureau chief

By Kevin Whited

The Chronicle's Clay Robison continues to illustrate the slanted coverage that can result when a newspaper allows an openly leftwing partisan to write for its editorial page AND head up the news bureau in the state capital. We pointed out this problem last week by comparing his coverage of the GOP Convention with other coverage in state newspapers. Last Friday's column also stands out as biased journalism. Note the headline: Taxes, gays, abortion targeted by state GOP The Chronically Biased crew scans state news pretty carefully, but nobody called my attention to any news that the GOP conventioneers were shooting at gays. Indeed, two Chronically Biased contributing editors were over at the proceedings, and they didn't let me know of any such activities. It is true that the GOP Convention did come out against gay “marriage.” Perhaps for liberals like Clay Robison, who are sensitive to that issue, that's the equivalent of targeting gays. Then again, conservatives believe they are merely defending the sanctity of traditional marriage, and feel that marriage is actually being “targeted.” There are two sides to that story. Now, we'll grant that someone else probably wrote the headline for Robison. But that doesn't explain away this line:
Texas Republican delegates on Friday adopted an ultraconservative party platform that attacks a wide range of targets — from taxes and homosexuality to abortion and the United Nations — and gives a mixed review to Gov. Rick Perry's priorities.
Note how Robison and his coauthor use the term “ultraconservative” in a pejorative sense, painting the subject matter negatively (the GOP “attacks ... targets”) instead of pointing out the positive principles embraced by the platform (defense of innocent fetal life, defense of traditional marriage, promotion of limited government). We'd like to point out to Mr. Robison that what he's condemning as “ultraconservative” (legal protection for innocent fetal life, legal protection for the sanctity of traditional marriage, support for limited government supported by a low tax regime) is mainstream conservative thought. Robison is a liberal partisan, and it's clear that he does not like mainstream conservative thought, or the fact that mainstream conservative thought is much more popular in this state than mainstream liberal thought. But Mr. Robison's likes and dislikes have no place on the Chronicle news pages. We would also point out that a search of “ultraliberal” turns up not one reference in the Chronicle's recent archives. Surely if Mr. Robison is going to attach “ultra” labels to mainstream conservative thought, he could at least attach the “ultraliberal” label to the party and affiliated organizations that advocate abortion-on-demand, gay marriage, and other positions that most Texans consider more radical than the ones he labels “ultraconservative.” Finally, we would note that the party platform doesn't give a “mixed review to Governor Rick Perry's priorities” at all. The party platform is a statement of principles. As such, it doesn't critique Governor Perry's priorities or politics. Granted, it does come down strongly against gambling in the state of Texas, and the governor did propose expanding gambling (where it already exists) to fund his property tax reform proposals. It would be accurate to point that out. But it simply is inaccurate to imply that the party platform says anything specific about the Governor's performance or proposals. Robison and coauthor are simply taking the opportunity to take a shot at the Governor with that line. The time is long past for Mr. Robison to be replaced as head of the Chronicle's Austin news bureau. If Robison prefers to editorialize, Jeff Cohen should move him to the editorial page. Permanently. The editors of the Chronicle — if any exist — shouldn't allow him to continue to editorialize in his news copy.

Permalink | Noxious Chron Columnists

June 07, 2004, 04:00 AM

Chronicle: “Compassionate conservatism” is “Reagan-averse”

By Owen Courrèges

In an article running in today's Chronicle, R.G. Ratcliffe describes the “compassionate conservatism” of George W. Bush as being “Reagan-averse.” Although that point may be debatable, it is an obvious example of editorializing within what is essentially a news piece. At the very least, this is not dispassionate journalism. I'm certain that President Bush would argue that his agenda has in no way been “Reagan-averse,” and that conservatism itself is inherently compassionate. I'm sure that he would argue that compassionate conservatism is more a way of marketing traditional conservative ideals, rather than a rejection of all that Reagan built. I seriously doubt that he would ever publicly attempt to refute Reagan. This being the case, I think that that the Chronicle has seriously overstepped its bounds. Granted, it isn't the first time, but this is an especially egregious example. At a time when the nation is mourning the passing of a great leader, we don't need to be reading this kind of deceptive tripe.

Permalink | Chron Bias

June 07, 2004, 02:00 AM

Layout problems

By Kevin Whited

Some of you have reported problems with content from the left and right sidebars “bleeding” over onto the content area. I think we've managed to track down and fix the problems on the left side, and we've not been able to duplicate the problems on the right. Could those of you having a problem do us a favor? Please click on this test page and take a look at it. Then come back here, and leave a comment or email if you're also having the problem on that page? Also, if anyone else clicks over and has problems with that page, a comment or email would be most useful! Thanks for helping us improve the site!

Permalink | Staff Notes

June 07, 2004, 12:05 AM

Reagan Memorial

By The Staff

Reagan Memorial By Mike Keefe (Denver Post), reproduced with permission.

Permalink | Political Cartoons

June 06, 2004, 04:18 PM

Ronald Reagan (1911-2004)

By The Staff

Ronald Reagan By Daryl Cagle (Slate.com), reproduced with permission.

Permalink | Political Cartoons

June 05, 2004, 05:07 PM

Memories of Reagan

By Dan Patrick

Ronald Reagan As a young man, working as a lifeguard, he saved 77 people from drowning. His public life began when he became a sportscaster. That led to him becoming an actor and then Governor of California. The man, Ronald Reagan, who is considered by many to be the greatest conservative in our history, after three attempts, finally became President. He died today, June 5th, at the age of 93 at his home. Reagan was a man who was uncomplicated in his views. His conservative principles led him to believe in smaller government, lower taxes and a strong military. He viewed Russia as the evil empire and helped fight Communists across the globe. After surviving an assasination attempt in March of 1981, he led the nation and the world over the next seven years, achieving almost all of his goals, despite harsh criticism from the Democrats and much of the media for much of that time. He cut taxes in 1981 and was criticized when unemployment reached over 10%. Although spending increases plunged the government into budget deficits, Reagan never wavered from his conservative principles. He believed that lower taxes would eventually propel the economy upward, erasing the deficits. By 1984, he was proven correct as the stock market doubled and the economy flourished. After re-election in 1984, he focused on taking on the evil empire. He spoke in Berlin and asked the soviet leader to “tear down this wall.” In fewer than two years the wall came down and Russia began to break apart. Reagan had won again. I never met President Reagan, but over the last several years I have become good friends with his adopted son, Michael. I am scheduled to work for Michael this Thursday and Friday on his national radio show. Michael was scheduled to have a hip replacement this week. That may now be canceled. Michael also writes a column for us each week in our web paper. Michael has shared stories with me about his dad over the years. I would like to share a few with you now. Michael told me how, after Reagan lost the nomination in 1976 to Gerald Ford, he asked his father what one thing he would have liked most to do as President. Reagan told his son that we needed to stand up to the Russians and that he wanted to tell the Soviet Union nyet (no) on their constant demands on America. Reagan felt the U.S. had allowed Russia the upper hand over most of the last 25 years and it was time to stand up to them. After 1976 many thought his chance to be President would never come again. He defied the critics and after a terrible four years under Jimmy Carter, Republicans and all Americans were willing to give the conservative from California a chance. Six years later, in his first meeting with Gorbachev, the Soviet leader made demands of the President. Reagan had had enough and leaned across the table and whispered in the ear of Gorbachev, nyet-no. Reagan then got up and left the room. Gorbachev knew that things were about to change in the relations between the two countries. In fewer than three years after that meeting, Gorbachev was gone and the evil empire had crumbled. Another story that Michael told me concerned the night of the inauguration in the first term. Michael said he and his father were getting dressed and he peeked into his father's bedroom at the Whitehouse. There he saw his father tighten his bowtie, look in the mirror, cast a wide smile and then, thinking that no one was watching, jumped in the air and clicked his heels in delight. The last story he told me was about visiting his dad over the last few years. His dad sometimes didn't recognize him or know his name, but would always greet him with a huge hug and give him a hug when Michael would leave. One day Michael was walking down the driveway and had forgotten to give his dad their usual good-bye hug. Michael's little daughter told her dad to turn around and look at grandpa. Michael said he turned and there was his father, standing in the drive with his arms wide open waiting for that hug, as if to say, “I love you son.” Every time I tell that story, or as I write it now, tears well up in my eyes. Ronald Reagan was our greatest conservative and one of our greatest Presidents. Most of all, he was a man who loved his wife and his children and his country. We have been deprived of Reagan's wisdom over the last 10 years due to his illness. I would like to know what he would have said about Clinton, 9-11 or Iraq. I believe I already know. He would not have backed down from his beliefs and principles that guided him his entire life. Now, more than ever, our nation needs another Ronald Reagan. Maybe in Reagan's passing, our current President, who many have said is the closest person we have in the Reagan tradition, will be re-inspired to lead us as Reagan did, never backing down in what he believed and inspiring America to follow him.

Permalink | News and Views

June 05, 2004, 05:05 PM

Ronald Reagan, RIP

By Kevin Whited

Ronald Reagan America is a better place because of Ronald Reagan. Thank you, good man, and godspeed.

Permalink | News and Views

June 05, 2004, 04:10 PM

Ronald Reagan dies

By Owen Courrèges

President Ronald Reagan has died. He was 93 years old. I was born shortly after Reagan was elected. I've always known that growing up in his America, and living with the legacies of his administration, has provided an enormous amount of inspiration for what I've done as a political activist and journalist. He was a great man of great character. He will be missed. We've been missing him for a long time.

Permalink | News and Views

June 05, 2004, 03:01 PM

Choice where it really matters

By John Vaughn

Governor Perry should be applauded for his leadership on school choice. He even had a great quip on the subject. He said, “For all their talk about being 'pro-choice,' the liberals don't seem to mean it when it comes to the choice in a child's education.” The legislature ought to follow his lead and get something done. There has been plenty of wrangling going on in Austin lately over how much we should limit the taxes that support our schools, but not enough discussion on how to control the costs and address the poor quality of education. Furthermore, schools don't simply teach children to read and write, they teach them certain values. Those values determine what sort of citizens the children grow up to be. Our education system is therefore something that should concern us all for reasons well beyond the cost of the system and the results of standardized test scores. The enemies of school choice, most notably the public school teachers' unions, have painted horrible pictures of the consequences of reform. Opponents of vouchers warned of a return to segregation, damage to public schools, and of the overall danger of “unregulated” private schools. The results of several test programs around the country have proven these naysayers wrong. A comprehensive review of research on the subject of school choice (A Survey of Results from Voucher Experiments: Where We Are and What We Know) done by Jay P. Greene, a Senior Fellow at The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and former University of Houston Professor, found that school voucher programs offer demonstrable positive, or at least neutral, effects on participants. This report was a kind of “metastudy” that analyzed the studies of many different researchers in order to get a broad sampling of the credible research available. Dr. Greene summarizes his review of school choice studies as follows:
There is a positive consensus among all eight studies, of five existing choice programs, conducted by four different groups of researchers. To be sure differences exist among these studies, but all have found important benefits of choice for the families that participate in them.
The studies examined demonstrated that private schools not only produce better test results, they are also “more likely to be integrated . . . and less likely to be segregated” and that “choice contributes to higher levels of racial integration and civic values are consistent across several studies.” There is even evidence cited in one of the studies, which indicates that the public schools in competition with the private schools benefit from the competition. The worst these studies seem to have to say about school choice programs is that there is no measurable difference in results for school choice program participants. However, when you consider that the school choice vouchers in the programs studied average one-half the cost of educating a child in the public school system, this must still be considered a positive outcome. And keep in mind those are the more critical studies. The majority show significant improvements. There is tons more research and information on the excellent website for the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice for anyone interested. School choice is as close to a universal good as we are ever likely to see in a major public policy question. Poor people would get access to a better education. The better off would not have to pay twice (once in property taxes, once in private school tuition) for educating their children. And taxpayers could see very significant relief. Most Texans seem to agree. The Texas Public Policy Foundation conducted a poll last year and wrote about the results in an article entitled “Texans Want to Give Choice a Chance”. A very solid majority of Texans, across all demographic groups, desires to see school choice implemented. Why is it that nothing ever seems to get done? The teachers’ unions feel threatened by it, and are fighting it tooth and nail. In an article on school vouchers, the Economist wrote that “It is only a small exaggeration to describe the Democratic Party as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the teachers' unions.” That's why the Democratic party consistently opposes school choice, even though the poor (for whom they claim to be champions) would benefit the most. The teachers' unions do not want their members held accountable for their actions, as they would be in a free-market system. The agenda of the teachers' unions is to provide job security for teachers and to increase funding for education. There would be nothing wrong with this if the present system weren't broken, and if increased funding would improve it. However, even though we in the United States have increased per pupil spending to seven times the amount it was in the 1940s in constant dollars, we have not seen any significant improvement in results since testing began in the 1970s (see “Dollars in the Classroom”). In Texas, according to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, “Over the last thirty years . . . we’ve tripled spending on top of enrollment growth and inflation” (see More Money, Less Education). Our kids are not significantly better off. However, if you read the legislative agenda for the Texas Federation of Teachers, you should not be surprised that “Increase public school funding” is quite literally at the top of their list. The school system we have now is not only failing to educate our children properly, it is also indoctrinating them in a belief system many of us find abhorrent. From radical secularism to a nihilistic and relativist postmodern view of morality and history, much of what is taught in the public schools is in direct opposition to the values we wish to pass to our children. The textbooks in our public schools are a case in point. To quote from a recent article in The Washington Times (Textbooks Flunk Test):
Most textbooks, produced by a handful of giant commercial publishers, are exposing generations of children to cultural and history amnesia that threatens the very basis of American free institutions and liberties, warn leading historians who are calling for better-defined, more rigorous state teaching standards.
A whole generation is growing up while being spoon-fed politics from the left. This is not consistent with the free and open exchange of ideas, something which is necessary to the function of our democracy. School choice would allow parents to select schools where the subjects taught, and the methods by which they are taught, are consistent with their own beliefs. It is time for Texas to lead the rest of the country to a better education system that allows parents to decide on the values with which their kids should be raised; that is more cost-effective; and that produces better objective results in teaching the basics. It is also time for a system which encourages diversity of the most important kind in a democracy — diversity of ideas.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

June 05, 2004, 10:58 AM

Movie Disaster

By Kevin Whited

Day After Tomorrow - Cox and Forkum Courtesy of Cox and Forkum

Permalink | Political Cartoons

June 05, 2004, 10:46 AM

Re: BBC bashes Bush

By Owen Courrèges

Below, Dan notes how the BBC has recently exhibted a pronounced bias against President Bush. Actually, the BBC has done far worse. A while back the BBC published a particularly scathing piece from financial correspondent Mark Gregory slandering our fair city of Houston and the great state of Texas. It's about as over-the-top as any hit piece can get. The title of that piece? “Houston: City of Scams.” Here are a few choice excerpts:
Houston is a great place if you like shopping malls, congested 10-lane highways and suburban sprawl. There's plenty of all of these to choose from spread over a vast plain so flat it looks as if the ground has been ironed. The air shimmers with heat and humidity. At the heart of this monster of a city is a small downtown district that's different in character, dominated by towering skyscrapers, many of them weirdly futuristic in shape and strangely coloured. [...] The city is named after Sam Houston, the founder of modern Texas. His motley little army of settlers won independence from Mexico by beating a vastly larger force of professional soldiers under the Mexican general Santa Anna. Sam Houston won his battle in less than 20 minutes by the flagrant abuse of generally accepted cultural norms. He waited until siesta time and ambushed the Mexican army while its soldiers were asleep. Modern Houston may look like a nondescript lump of suburbia, but not all is as it appears. This, remember. is a city where even the traffic wardens carry guns. Indeed any adult in Texas can normally carry a gun so long as it's not concealed. A permit to carry a concealed weapon is subject to checks but is not generally hard to obtain.
Well, you get the idea. The BBC apparently has some odd stereotypes in mind when it thinks of Houston. What's more irritating, however, is that Gregory's piece is factually inaccurate on two points. First of all, it is actually difficult to get a concealed carry license in Texas. In other states, all that is required is a background check. Texas requires 10 hours of training and class time. It has relatively strict standards. Secondly, contrary to what Gregory says, there is no 'open carry' in Texas. Failure to conceal a handgun is a crime under Texas law. The relevant statute states that “[a] person commits an offense if he intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his person a handgun, illegal knife, or club.” Given that this slipped by their editors, methinks there isn't good fact-checking at the BBC. Dan was right. Ultimately, the BBC is just another worthless left-wing media outlet with a three-letter acronym.

Permalink | Media Watch

June 05, 2004, 08:00 AM

BBC bashes Bush

By Dan Patrick

No matter where President Bush goes he is attacked by the media. The President is on a tour of Europe to commemorate the liberation of Europe. Yesterday, the BBC took a page out of the notebook of the liberal, elite media in this county in reporting on the trip. The following opinion was included in what should have been a news story. The BBC reported that the President met with the Pope. Here is what actually happened. With the President present, the Pope spoke of wanting peace in Iraq and criticized the U.S. military for the prison abuse scandal. The President then gave the Pope the Medal of Freedom. Here is how the BBC reporter told the story. He stated the following: “after the President sat there ticked at the Pope's comments, he gave the Pope the Medal of Freedom.” How could this reporter possibly know how the President felt. The President surely did not say to anyone that he was ticked at the Pope. The BBC reporter just made it up. Later in the same story the BBC showed video of thousands of Italians protesting the visit of the President and the occupation of Iraq. The reporter then said that “out of respect for the celebration of the liberation of Italy, most did not protest, despite the fact that Italians dislike President Bush.” He didn't say some Italians. He implied all Italians disliked the President. Once again, how did this reporter know the mindset of all of the Italian people and why they chose not to join the protests? He could have said that most in Italy did not protest because they respect the President. He could have said almost anything. He chose to present the President in the worse possible light. This BBC reporter is obviously a mindreader. He knows what the President is thinking as well as the entire population of Italy. The left in America and around the world have decided they hate our President. They try to destroy him at every opportunity. Bush is not their man;Clinton was. Sadly, much of the media in this country and around the world are controlled by those on the left. Reporters no longer report the facts, they insert their opinion into stories. Most of the time that opinion is liberal in nature. It appears we can add one more member to the alphabet network of good old boys, ABC,CBS and NBC. The BBC has now joined their comrades across the pond. We've seen this style of reporting before in the Houston Chronicle. Like their liberal friends in the electronic media, Chronicle reporters have employed this technique many times to criticize the President and other conservatives. The motto of all of these liberal reporters must be, don't let the facts get in the way of an opportunity to criticize the right.

Permalink | News and Views

June 05, 2004, 07:55 AM

Hanson on the conventional ignorance

By Kevin Whited

Victor Davis Hanson has penned an informative column for NRO that takes on what he calls the media's “conventional ignorance” on the Iraq war and broader war on terror. Specifically, he takes on four media canards: 1) That there was “no plan” for Iraq; 2) that the “Neoconservatives” have blown it; 3) that our obsession with Israel is the root of our problems in the Middle East; and 4) that Saddam Hussein's Iraq had no links to Al Qaeda. None of these are the problems the media horde claims, but there is a problem:
We are becoming a crazed culture of cheap criticism and pious moralizing, and in our self-absorption may well lose what we inherited from a better generation. Our groaning and hissing elite indulges itself, while better but forgotten folks risk their lives on our behalf in pretty horrible places.
Go read the entire piece. It's worth keeping in mind while listening to so many of TV's talking (air)heads, or the Chron editorial board for that matter.

Permalink | News and Views

June 05, 2004, 07:00 AM

Reader bashes Texas A&M

By Owen Courrèges

An anonymous Chronically Biased reader has written in response to my criticism of the Chronicle's editorial position on racial diversity at Texas A&M. I believe his attitude towards this issue demonstrates exactly why our current approach to racial issues is so misguided:
As a Black Man, I cannot imagine why any Black kid would want to attend a school like A&M. This school is the largest university in America that does not offer any Black studies. The social life is bland and lacking in anything but backwoods behavior. Watching a bunch of nuts burn down a forest is not that appealing, tradition or not. This diversity issue is more about sports than anything else. Without Black athletes, universities cannot compete in track and field, football or basketball. I wonder why people like yourself, was not writing about discrimination when my people were not allowed to even go to the same restrooms as Whites, 100 years after slavery ended! You are too young to comment on discrimination!
Texas A&M is a good university, and deserves better treatment than this. The author of this letter treats the issue of race relations as a matter of tit-for-tat, and indulges his own crude racial stereotypes in order to make his point. His claim that a university cannot compete in certain sports without black athletes is no less offensive than saying that a university cannot compete academically without white scholars. Ultimately, this is the wrong way to be looking at this issue. It is precisely because people look at things through the lens of race that society must give race less prominence. We cannot solve the problem of racism by obsessing over race. It simply won't work.

Permalink | Letters

June 04, 2004, 11:49 PM

A plan after all?

By Kevin Whited

Reader Duane Chandler sends this astute observation about Iraq, and a link to a longer piece by David Warren:
The key point is how the Bush administration seems to have effectively gotten the new government in Iraq launched ahead of schedule and by surprise so that the extremist nutballs didn't have a chance to react beforehand. Formal handoff is still June 30, but de facto handoff has pretty much already happened.
Many fellow conservatives have been so busy beating the “total war” drums that they've missed this critical strategic development. It's worth noting that the move took place with UN cover, but Paul Bremer and the U.S. called all the shots. The move took place so long before June 30 as to make assassinating the leaders (and newly emerging political class) and creating a crisis much more difficult. And the move empowers Iraqis — particularly, Kurds (who have been running their own quasi-democracy for years) and Shiites (who have not) — to get on with the business of taking back their country and purging the small number of militant Baathists and other extremists giving us (and them) trouble. One can't help but but marvel at how well the Administration pulled it off. Not that it will stop ignorant media outlets from continuing to repeat Dem talking points that there is “no plan” for Iraq. In this case, there was a plan, and it was skillfully executed. Most media outlets have either missed or ignored the importance of this early transfer of sovereignty.

Permalink | Letters

June 04, 2004, 09:24 AM

Convention Coverage

By The Staff

The coverage of the state GOP convention from major newspapers across the state is interesting. Yesterday, the highlight was Governor Perry's address to the convention. By most accounts, he was received enthusiastically. The Chronicle account was the most negative, and somewhat misleading (if we are to believe the other major accounts). Here are some links with excerpts: Perry draws cheers with convention speech: governor touts school vouchers, opposes same-sex marriage (Ken Herman, Austin American Statesman)
Gov. Rick Perry, revered by most Republicans for his redistricting efforts but resented by some for supporting slot machines, got a rousing reception Thursday at the state GOP convention by offering a speech heavy on the party's core values. Perry drew enthusiastic applause by razzing probable Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, calling for protection of the unborn, opposing same-sex marriages and urging approval of a pilot program for school vouchers. “As the governor of the greatest state in the nation, I make no apologies for being an optimistic conservative who is pro-jobs, pro-growth, pro-family and pro-life,” Perry said, drawing a standing ovation.
GOP Convention Opens (Peggy Fikac and Rebeca Rodriguez, SA Express News)
In language often referring to God and country, Republicans celebrated religion, George W. Bush and the conservative fruits of their Texas-government takeover as they opened their state convention here Thursday. Arleen Albers of Amarillo shows on her hat who she's voting for in November's presidential election. “Texas is better and stronger than it was two years ago, and we are headed in the right direction,” Gov. Rick Perry said. “I know who elected me, and I know why they elected me, and I will always stand my ground.” Thousands of delegates from around the state gathered at the Convention Center to applaud Perry as he slammed gay marriage and abortion, bragged about the GOP-led Legislature balancing the state budget “without a tax hike,” and called for school vouchers.
Perry: All Families Deserve School Choice (Kelley Shannon, AP)
Republican Gov. Rick Perry has again proclaimed his support for a private school voucher program, telling the state GOP convention that all children deserve school choice. Children of privilege already have the chance to get a quality education, but those raised in poverty or working-class homes need a similar opportunity, Perry said Thursday. “Our children deserve the best education possible, whether in a public school, a private school or in a home school,” Perry said. “For all their talk about being 'pro-choice,' the liberals don't seem to mean it when it comes to the choice in a child's education.” [snip] Perry gave one of the first major speeches of the three-day Republican Party of Texas convention, which continues through Saturday. He fired up the thousands of convention delegates with attacks on gay marriage, abortion and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.
GOP convention finds Perry mum on gambling plan: Reassures critics of conservative stance (Clay Robison and John W. Gonzalez, Houston Chronicle)
Gov. Rick Perry assured Republican Party activists on Thursday that he is a conservative after their own hearts and, in a campaign-style speech kicking off the GOP state convention, he sidestepped a controversy over gambling that could become an issue against him in the 2006 primary. U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who will address the convention on Saturday and hasn't ruled out a re-election challenge of the governor, is already drawing a line against Perry's proposal to expand legalized gambling to raise money for Texas schools. “She opposed the lottery when it was established (in 1991), and she opposes future expansion of gambling in Texas,” Hutchison spokesman Dave Beckwith said. State Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, who also is considering a race against Perry in the 2006 party primary and will speak to the convention today, has endorsed video lottery terminals. Perry is believed to enjoy strong support from the party's conservative base, from which most of the convention delegates and alternates are drawn, and whom he has been courting with anti-tax, anti-abortion and anti-big government policies.
Note that the non-Chronicle coverage gives evidence of support from the participants (cheering and the like). Robison and Gonzalez ignore this evidence, and instead slant their article to suggest otherwise (“believed to enjoy strong support”). This is subtle shading, but it is shading, and contrasts sharply with the other reporting.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

June 04, 2004, 08:17 AM

Bettencourt

By The Staff

The Chronicle is running an op-ed from Harris County Tax Assessor/Collector Paul Bettencourt today, on the topic of property taxes in Texas. Go read what Bettencourt has to say about this growing problem faced by Texans.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

June 04, 2004, 07:00 AM

My View: Iraq

By Owen Courrèges

There are those who say that war with Iraq was not justified, that the failure to discover stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction within Iraq renders the only possibile justification for the war null and void. As you might expect, I am not in agreement with these nay sayers. In my mind, there were always two main justifications for the Iraq War: 1) The actual and potential threat posed by Saddam Hussein against the United States and Israel, and 2) The ongoing humanitarian crisis in Iraq caused by Saddam's brutality and the maintenance of economic sanctions. The first justification has hardly been disproven. Although Saddam Hussein may not have possessed WMD stockfiles, his position in power still resulted in too great a risk for the US. Just think about what we do know. Saddam was concealing MIG jets under the sands in the desert. He had Sarin gas shells, and didn't report them to the UN. I could go on in this vein. It is clear enough that Saddam hadn't given up on striking against foreign targets. The only thing he lacked was the capacity to do so at this particular juncture. The second justification is even stronger, since it involves the virtual guarantee of death and destruction. You see, Saddam's regime was personally killing tens of thousands of Iraqis every year. This would not have ended had we not invaded. Writing in London's Independent, columnist Johann Hari makes this point as best as I've seen:
The Human Rights Centre (HRC) in Kadhimiya has been set up by Iraqis themselves from the ashes of Baathism. They have been going methodically through the massive - and previously unexplored - archives left by the regime, which document every killing in cold bureaucracy-speak. The HRC have found that if the invasion had not happened, Saddam would have killed 70,000 people in the past year. Not sanctions: Saddam's tyranny alone. “Even once you factor in the war and everybody who has died since, it's not as many people as that,” Sama explains. “So this war has indisputably saved lives over the past year. Saddam's victims might not have been appearing on your TV screens, but they would be just as dead.”
Remember: the sanctions were killing even more. Kofi Annan himself has all but admitted that the Oil for Food Program was a farce, and as a result the people of Iraq were starving. It's small wonder that they don't entirely trust the West — for years the world had watched as Iraqis suffered and died, and it did nothing. That's a difficult thing for any society to deal with. The occupation of Iraq has had its ups and downs, and mostly we've been seeing the downs. We've heard of American soldiers dying, of prisoner abuse, and of the increasing radicalism of certain elements within the Iraqi population. In short, it's been hard. However, we should never forget what we have saved and what we are there to create. If Iraq can eventually evolve into a stable, democratic state, it will shine as a beacon to all the totalitarian states in the Mideast. And even if we fail at accomplishing that, we've still saved countless lives from the depredations of a tyrant, and sent a message to any other despot who would dare to thumb his nose at America. I think that America is safer today because we invaded Iraq, but more than that, I believe that we've added something to our national fiber. We did the right thing for people that we don't even know. We should never, ever lose sight of that. I'm Owen Courrèges, and that's my view.

Permalink | Owen's View

June 04, 2004, 05:18 AM

Letters

By The Staff

Although comments are fully functional, please feel free also to submit letters to the editor. Liking Lovett I enjoyed the articles written recently by Dan Lovett about Houston's own A. J. Foyt. However, in the pieces Mr. Lovett mentioned that A. J. had two grandsons at Indy this year. In fact, he had one grandson, A. J. Foyt IV and one son, Larry Foyt racing there last Sunday. Unfortunately for both of them and us fans, both wrecked. I've enjoyed Mr. Lovett for more years than I care to remember, and am glad that he is working with this fine publication. Keep it coming. Charles Quinn No, Lovett Was Right Another reader writes today that Dan Lovett was correct after all. Posting of [the above] letter has added more confusion to the truth. Mr. Lovett was correct that Foyt had 2 biological grandsons in the race. Larry was adopted by Lucy and A.J. and raised as a son. I've attached a couple of links for your reference. http://espn.go.com/auto/news/2001/0117/1021732.html http://www.racingone.com/article.asp?artnum=6276 [Name Withheld by Request]

Permalink | Letters

June 04, 2004, 04:00 AM

Chron boosts A&M 'diversity'

By Owen Courrèges

As many of you may already know, the Houston Chronicle is a big proponent of affirmative action. What's even worse, however, is that they can sometimes be a bit flippant about it. Just take today's staff editorial on Texas A&M's recent gains in terms of racial diversity. The subtitle reads: “If diversity improves, it won't matter how they did it.” Really? It doesn't matter? Well, this explains why the Chronicle supports affirmative action — they think that the ends always justify the means. I suppose it's hard to justify a policy that involves racial discrimination without raising the ideal of racial diversity to some absurd level. After all, if you're willing to justify racial discrimination under the law, you may as well be willing to justify anything in the name of diversity. In the end, it does matter. It matters whether or not college admissions are colorblind. It matters whether or not all applicants are treated fairly. These things may all be subservient to 'diversity' for the Chronicle, but for the rest of us, injustice is an actual concern.

Permalink | Chron Bias

June 03, 2004, 09:35 PM

Confused AP copy

By The Houstonian

The Chronicle ran an AP story earlier with the following line:
During the economic slump, gains in productivity came at the expense of workers. Companies produced more with fewer employees. But with the economy rebounding, companies have slowly stepped up hiring and are boosting their efficiencies.
Here's an example of journalists simply not knowing much about economics. If you think about it, ALL gains in productivity come at the “expense” of workers, since fewer workers are required to produce the same goods. That's the very definition of a productivity gain. Productivity gains also reduce the labor cost of goods, making those goods more affordable (assuming other inputs remain constant), and freeing workers for other tasks. The cited paragraph confuses more than it enlightens, because it suggests a simple relationship between productivity and employment, which really isn't the case. The Chronicle isn't to blame for the sloppy AP copy, of course, but a careful editor might have cleaned up the text.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

June 03, 2004, 08:30 PM

Internally inconsistent? That's the Chron

By Kevin Whited

There's a curious statement in a staff editorial in the Chron today:
The rash of terrorism in Saudi Arabia, however, reminds Americans that the overthrow of the Saudi monarchy is the prime objective of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida.
The statement is curious for a couple of reasons. First, it's highly questionable that the overthrow of the Saudi monarchy is the prime objective of Osama bin Laden (if he's still alive) and Al Qaeda. So far as I know, there were no Saudi royal palaces in the World Trade Center, for example, or in the wing of the Pentagon that was struck on 9-11. And for reasons I can't go into here (because clients actually pay me for the analysis), I think it highly unlikely that Al Qaeda truly wants to overthrow the House of Saud, despite some public rhetoric to the contrary. Second, and most important, the Chronicle editors don't even seem to believe their thesis statement. Here is the sentence that precedes their thesis:
Terrorists such as the ones who targeted Westerners and non-Muslims in Saudi Arabia over the weekend, killing 22 people of various nationalities, excoriate America as the great Satan.
Wait a minute. They targeted Westerners? And non-Muslims? And excoriate America? It that's all true, then how is the primary target the Saudi royal family, which is not Western, which proclaims to be the rightful guardian of Muslim holy places, and which has (over the past few years) been intent on at least getting the American military out of the regime? Apparently, the Chronicle editorial writers can't even maintain internal consistency in consecutive sentences. After an intervening paragraph, they're back at it:
Since 1995, militants have attacked Westerners numerous times in Saudi Arabia. A June 1996 attack killed 19 American soldiers at a U.S. military housing complex in Khobar, situated on the Persian Gulf 250 miles northeast of Riyadh. A 2003 suicide bombing on housing compounds in Riyadh killed 35; another that year at a Riyadh residential compound killed 18. On May 1, gunmen killed five Westerners and two police officers in a shooting spree in the oil town of Yanbu; on May 29, gunmen attacked oil company and housing compounds in Khobar and took hostages at the Oasis housing compound.
So, the attacks are directed mainly against Westerners (and no royals) — but the thesis is that they're primarily directed at toppling the royal family. Huh? Here's the conclusion:
Even if the terrorists achieved their goal of driving the American “crusaders” from “the land of Islam,” as al-Moqrin threatened, the Saudi government would still remain in al-Qaida's sights.
It almost seems as if someone read this thing, realized it didn't really support the thesis offered at the beginning, and just decided to reassert the thesis anyway. It does seem clear that Wahhabi Islamists do want Western “infidels” off Arab holy land, and that these same Islamists are not pleased with Saudi royals who have grown Westernized. But that's a far different statement than the unsupported and overreaching thesis proposed by the Chron's editorialists (that the overthrow of the House of Saud is the Islamists' primary goal).

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

June 03, 2004, 09:41 AM

The latest light-rail collision

By The Staff

Look what's buried towards the bottom of the Area Briefs in today's Chronicle:
A Houston man was ticketed this week after his Mercedes-Benz and a Metropolitan Transit Authority light rail train collided in the Museum District, Metro police reported. The car was westbound on Rosedale about 7 p.m. Monday and failed to stop at the proper distance from the track along Fannin as the southbound train passed, Metro said. There were no injuries and the car was not towed, the report said. It was the 42nd collision involving a MetroRail train since the rail line began test operations in October.
Failed to stop at the proper distance from the track? Sounds like a safety flaw to us, not that METRO will ever admit that about its precious little “world-class” tram. In other news, the Westpark Tollway/Southwest Freeway ramp re-opened today after Harris County Toll Authority officials determined there were safety issues at hand, shut it down, and acted swiftly to resolve those issues. As we pointed out recently, METRO could learn from that example.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

June 03, 2004, 08:49 AM

Republican state convention coverage

By The Houstonian

The Republican State convention opens today. Our own Rob Booth is participating, and will give us a wrapup when he returns. Meanwhile, there's coverage in the state's major newspapers. In the Fort Worth Star Telegram, John Moritz focuses on the race between Tina Benkiser and Gina Park for Republican chair. It looks to be a tight race. In the Dallas Morning News, Christy Hoppe focuses on Governor Perry and the solid support he is expected to receive from party activists at the convention. The Chronicle's Clay Robison weighs in with an otherwise unspectacular column that is notable for this little biased tidbit:
Headlining the meeting, which ends Saturday, will be the most contested race for state party chairman since social and religious conservatives seized control of the party leadership 10 years ago.
Doesn't he make that sound ominous? Of course, social and religious conservatives are the backbone of the Republican party, and when considered in that context, it's hardly surprising that they would work to lead that same party. Unless you're a liberal who doesn't much like conservatives. Then it's scary! Inexplicably, Robison remains the Chron's Austin bureau chief, even as he moonlights as a liberal flamethrower on the Chron editorial pages. As we've noted before — and this latest story confirms — we have real concerns about how objective any columnist can be when he's allowed to wear both of those hats, let alone when it's part of his job description.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

June 03, 2004, 07:05 AM

President compares War on Terror to WWII

By Dan Patrick

On Tuesday I wrote an article in ChronicallyBiased.com that made the argument that the stakes in this war on terror are just as high as the stakes in WWII. They may be even higher. Yesterday President Bush made the same point in a speech he made at the Air Force Academy when he compared the war on terrorism to WWII. Let there be no mistake that the stakes are that high. However, there is a difference. Most Americans and possibly the administration, do not realize that we must fight this war just like we fought WWII. President Bush needs to officially declare that the United States is at war. The President needs to do this so that he will have a free hand in dealing with enemy combatants that are being held in camps. The President needs to declare that we are at war in order to emphasize how serious this struggle is. The President also needs to fight this war using all of our power and resources, as President Roosevelt and President Truman did. We should not be turning over Iraq to the people this soon. We should not let them decide when we leave the country. We should conquer Iraq and take over the oil fields. We should take out Syria and Tehran with massive air strikes. We should then turn to Saudi Arabia and tell them to close down the mosques that preach hate toward America and pump cheap oil, or we will take over their country. Some may think my view is extreme. However, if I am right, and the President does agree with me by his remark yesterday, and this war is every bit as serious as WWII, then let’s fight it like we fought WWII. Our only goal in WWII was to win at any cost. Our leaders used all of the power and resoures available to them. Defeat was not an option. I keep hearing that we need to be concerned about what is said on the Arab streets. Why? Did we care what was being said on any streets in WWII? Did Truman care what any other country thought about his decision to drop the bomb? The only thing that terrorists understand is brute force. They are determined to kill us. If they can get their hands of a bio, chemical or nuclear weapon and drop it on our troops or on our soil, they will do it without hesitation and dance in their streets as our blood run through ours. Why are we messing around with these people? After the war, we can bring democracy to these countries. First, we have to defeat them soundly and destroy their will to fight, as we did to the Germans, Italians and Japanese. President Truman could have dropped the atomic bomb on a deserted island to show what we could do. However, the Japanese may have thought he lacked the will to use the bomb and the demonstration would have been meaningless. Truman knew this and that is why he dropped the bomb on a city. Even then, the Japanese were not convinced, and Truman had to drop a second bomb. To defeat a brutal enemy, Hitler, the Japanese Army or the terrorists of today, you have to show that not only do you have the means to defeat them, but also the will to use all of your force. As much as I respect our President he is not fighting this war in a manner that will convince our enemies that we have the will to do whatever we must do to win. For weeks our troops have had a holy leader surrounded. This leader is wanted for murder and has urged violence against all Americans. He should have been taken out in 24 hours. America has the means, but not the will. We should be taking our share of the oil revenues to help pay for the war. We are not. Now we are setting up a government that can eventually tell us to get out of their country. Our enemies see this as a sign of weakness. What will it take for the President and the American people to understand we cannot win this war until we decide to demonstrate we have not only the means, but also the will to win? How many Americans will have to die in our streets??? It will take a major attack on this country, before we fight this war like our lives and the survival of the great nation depended on it?

Permalink | News and Views

June 03, 2004, 07:00 AM

Why light rail doesn't work

By Owen Courrèges

Chronically Biased reader David Emerson sent us a link to this op-ed written by Dennis Mccuistion, a former bank CEO and host of his own show on PBS. Writing for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Dallas Morning News, Mccuistion points out just what an abysmal failure Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) has been. He does so by showing that fixed rail itself is an inherently ineffectual means of transportation:
DART is out of money because fixed rail systems are money pits whose costs are spread over too few riders. DART is truly not mass transit, as it carries approximately the same number of passengers using mass transit prior to DART's formation. This is in spite of huge population growth and billions in tax subsidies. Here are today's realities: • Transit ridership in America peaked in 1945. • Transit commuting in the Metroplex takes more time, not less, than does driving an automobile. • New York subways are the only transit system in America more productive than a single-freeway lane. • Subsidies for light rail are 250 times greater than highway subsidies. • Commuters primarily travel from suburb to suburb, not downtown. • There is no evidence that any light rail system reduces congestion or reduces pollution. • The Texas Transportation Institute shows that cities that have concentrated on rail transit in the past 20 years (including Dallas) have experienced more congestion rather than less.
What's interesting about all of this, obviously, is that former Mayor Lee Brown and the Houston Chronicle both held up DART as the model for transit in Houston. They held that it was a “success” and “wildly popular.” Today, it is now virtually bankrupt and ranks among the most cost-ineffective transit networks in the entire country. To call it a debacle doesn't begin to describe it. The people of Houston have been sold a bill of goods, and neither our politicians or the local media are getting the word out. The fact that this kind of subterfuge could go on should infuriate all Houstonians.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

June 03, 2004, 05:00 AM

My View: The founders and religion

By Owen Courrèges

It is often said that there are two things you should never bring up in polite conversation — religion and politics. Here on Chronically Biased, I can't help but indulge the latter topic, and yet so far I've always managed to ignore the former. I think this is generally a good policy. However, religion and politics often conflict, and when this occurs the founding fathers are often invoked, like the long-dead arbiters of political disputes speaking from the grave. This brings me to a letter from a reader, Donna Smith Cude, who points out that the Houston Chronicle has recently been publishing articles concerning the Unitarian Universalist Church. She raises a very valid objection concerning how this coverage deals with the church's history, as explained in this excerpt:
The Houston Chronicle seems to be having a lot of articles of late on the “Unitarian Universalist Church”. This is the “church” which essentially states that any belief system is as good as any other (although it denies the divinity of Christ and his substitutionary atonement). There was a false statement in the article, when it stated “The Unitarian Universalist Church traces its lineage back 200 years. Presidents John and John Quincy Adams were members.” First of all, I do not believe that the church in Texas is the same as the Unitarian church which existed in the early 1800's in New England.
Smith is partially correct. Although not necessarily false, the Chronicle's characterization is completely misleading. The Unitarian Universalists may be able to trace their lineage back to John Adams and John Quincy Adams, but the fact is that their beliefs are entirely different today. In fact, the Unitarian Universalists actually represent the merger of to separate religions — the Unitarians and the Universalists. The Unitarians were a Christian sect that denied the trinity, thus holding that God was one unitary figure. That was their defining characteristic. It is what John Adams believed, and he was a man quite rigid in his moral and theological beliefs. After the Unitarians merged with the Universalists in 1961, they became increasingly radical. Today, in fact, the Unitarian Universalists refuse to have an official church policy upholding the existence of God or anything at all supernatural. This has led many to question whether or not they really qualify as a religion at all. Given their propensity to take positions on political issues but not on theological ones, many consider the Unitarian Universalists to be little more than a political advocacy group disguised as a genuine faith. Again, both John Adams and his son, John Quincy, were very devout Christians. To even mention them in the same breath as a church that accepts atheists is grossly deceptive. Yet sure enough, that's exactly what the Chronicle did. They allowed the Unitarian Universalists to invoke the Adams's, knowing full well that this was not their faith. I find this very upsetting. Now I'm not here to pass judgment on the Unitarian Universalists. I question their status as an actual religion, but I trust that they have a positive influence on their members by encouraging moral introspection. However, I do object to those who would abuse the memory of the founders in order to gain a theological edge. A man like John Adams, who gave so much for his country, does not deserve to have his legacy distorted by this false association. I'm Owen Courrèges, and that's my view.

Permalink | Owen's View

June 02, 2004, 11:16 PM

How about some good news?

By Kevin Whited

The Ashbrook Center's Robert Alt continues to post good news — and occasionally bad — from Iraq. While many in the mainstream media continue to beat the quagmire/failure/scandal drum they've been determined to beat since the President decided he would fight terror with military force, the alternative press — bloggers, talk radio, even Fox News to an extent — continue to provide a useful counterweight. As Alt goes, his collection of photographs can be found here. You probably won't be seeing any of them in the Chronicle soon. I'm kind of fond of this one.

Permalink | News and Views

June 02, 2004, 10:16 PM

Liberals try to flip the argument by claiming a conservative media bias

By M. Wildes

In recent months, there has been an attempt to reverse the liberal media bias argument to make it seem as though there is a conservative media bias. Al Gore has railed against conservative talk radio and Fox News and has even attempted to start a liberal cable news network. Al Franken and friends have created Air America, which features liberal talk radio shows as a response to the media dominance of the O’Reillys, Reagans and Limbaughs of the world. The latest attempt has come from the New York Times. The Times has admitted that it was misleading when it came to its coverage leading up to the Iraq war! Do not get excited just yet. The newspaper is now saying, in effect, that it was too supportive of the war and did not question government officials' and Iraqi defectors' assertions enough. The Times says that it was too eager for scoops and therefore did not check information about terrorist training camps, secret nuclear facilities and weapons of mass destruction provided to the newspaper by Iraqi defectors and the administration. They claim that the stories making these assertions were prominent on the front pages and that those challenging them were buried in the paper. Convenient for the paper, Howell Raines was executive editor at the time. Mr. Raines resigned in the aftermath of the Jayson Blair controversy. It seems that the Times has found a scapegoat that allows them to reverse the bias argument without implicating any current editors. If what they say is true, then that is poor journalism. However, this appears to be an attempt to change public opinion about the paper. New York Times’ columnist Paul Krugman’s piece “To tell the truth about media and Bush,” which also appeared in the Chronicle, continues the push to reverse the impression that the media is liberally biased. Krugman says:
But it's not just Iraq, and it's not just The New York Times. Many journalists seem to be having regrets about the broader context in which Iraq coverage was embedded: a climate in which the press wasn't willing to report negative information about George Bush.
He claims that readers must be confused because the media portrayed Bush as a “moral” and “righteous” “straight shooter” in the two years following 9/11. Now, he says people are seeing a man who cannot tell the “straight story,” lacks accountability and cannot learn from or admit to mistakes. He does not even acknowledge the fact that many people would disagree with the basis of his argument that the media ever portrayed Bush as a “straight shooter.” In fact, he ignores the reality that the mainstream media has always scoffed at Bush’s morals. Krugman’s explanation for the change:
The answer, of course, is that the straight shooter never existed. He was a fictitious character that the press, for various reasons, presented as reality.
Krugman does not provide any supporting examples as to why he feels that Bush was not a “straight shooter.” As to why journalists would participate in this alleged misrepresentation, Krugman says:
One answer is misplaced patriotism.... Another answer is the tyranny of evenhandedness. Moderate and liberal journalists, both reporters and commentators, often bend over backward to say nice things about conservatives. Not long ago, many commentators who are now caustic Bush critics seemed desperate to differentiate themselves from “irrational Bush haters” who were neither haters nor irrational — and whose critiques look pretty mild in the light of recent revelations. And some journalists just couldn't bring themselves to believe that the president of the United States was being dishonest about such grave matters. Finally, let's not overlook the role of intimidation. After 9/11, if you were thinking of saying anything negative about the president, you had to be prepared for an avalanche of hate mail.... [Y]ou had to worry about being denied access to the sort of insider information that is the basis of many journalistic careers.
Without addressing the sheer hilarity of Krugman’s comments, if one is to believe Krugman’s assertion that the media was nice to Bush and even helped portray him as “infallible,” the analysis lacks certain considerations. Mr. Krugman does not consider that the liberal media could have actually seen Bush as he really was. That 9/11, if for but a brief moment, shattered their bitterness about Republicans and the 2000 election and allowed them to put aside their agendas for the greater good. He does not consider that what his fellow journalists saw was the true man behind the cloud of lies they had created during the election of the previous year. Krugman ignores the media's constant criticism of Bush and the war over the last year and states that “amazing things have been happening lately” with the lack of suppression of the abuse photos. Krugman even cites the accusation by an ABC reporter at the announcement of the recent terror threats, that “there is a disturbing possibility that you are manipulating the American public in order to get a message out.” In fact, Krugman’s assertions completely ignore the possibility that the photos and the questioning of the terror threat announcement are a result of election-year politics. If Krugman believes that the post 9/11 treatment of Bush was “misplaced patriotism” and one even gives him the benefit of the doubt, one might have to call the continuous coverage and misrepresentation of the abuse photos and the belittling of terror alerts by reporters misplaced aid to our enemies, and a disservice to the public and our troops, or at the very least misplaced partisan politics.

Permalink | Media Watch

June 02, 2004, 05:57 PM

What is a neocon?

By Kevin Whited

Rod Dreher, a conservative writer on the Dallas Morning News editorial board, recently posted this comment to their blog:
What is “neoconservatism” anyway? I'm worn out over the way so many people who oppose the war in Iraq grinch and groan about the “neocons” driving the war policy. Several of you here do it, but I'd like to ask you how you distinguish neoconservatism from plain old mainstream conservatism? Neoconservatism had a specific meaning 30 years ago, when certain Eastern intellectuals, most of them Jewish, left the Democratic Party because they saw it going soft on communism and embracing a social philosophy they found destructive. But so much of what they stood for is now mainstream within American conservatism, as Zachary Selden explains in this must-read essay. Neocons are not foreign-policy isolationists, as are the paleoconservatives, led by Pat Buchanan. The majority of Americans who identify themselves as conservative agree with the so-called neocons on this. Some in the paleocon camp, and others, use the sneer term “neocon” to mean “those pesky Jews in power.” Let me be clear that I'm not accusing anyone here of doing that. But I think many more people use the term “neocon” to mean “conservatives around Bush” which is sloppy and ahistorical thinking. Any conservative who is not an isolationist — that is, most conservatives — qualify as neocons. If that's so, what is the point of the expression?
Dreher's fellow editors don't really jump in and say what they mean when they use the term. Maybe they figure it's best to keep quiet rather than reveal they really don't know the exact meaning of this term they throw around so much. I've voiced Dreher's complaint (elsewhere) for quite some time now. For the most part, people who toss around the term “neoconservative” — especially journalists — don't have any good sense of the term's origins, or the fact that it's become so broad a term that it doesn't really imply all that much. That doesn't stop them from using it, unfortunately, and quite often using it in a pejorative sense.

Permalink | Media Watch

June 02, 2004, 04:41 PM

A familiar makeover

By Kevin Whited

Richard Connelly, the media critic over at the Houston Press, doesn't sound much more impressed than we were with the Chronicle's recent design changes:
For years, San Antonio was that city south of Austin that most Houstonians gave hardly a thought to. Then Jeff Cohen became the editor of the Houston Chronicle. Cohen, who cut his journalistic teeth in San Antonio, brought in San Antonio Express-News columnist Rick Casey to much fanfare. The fanfare didn't include any warning that the Chron's Metro column would now be devoting a lot of space to San Antonio, but that's all right. Because Casey isn't alone — these days the Chron newsroom is looking like an Express-News alumni party. And suddenly Chronicle readers are supposed to be fascinated by what is apparently called the “Alamo City.” (In the two years before Cohen came here in June 2002, the phrase “Alamo City” showed up in news sections just four times. Since then, 20 times.) Not content to simply sound like the San Antonio Express-News, the Chron is apparently determined to look like it, too. The sports section is the latest to introduce the long-planned makeover of the paper's design, and it's really, really innovative. If you haven't seen the San Antonio paper. Or any recently redesigned paper, for that matter.
Nothing against San Antonio, but the largest city in the state and the fourth largest city in the country really ought to be able to do better.

Permalink | Media Watch

June 02, 2004, 09:35 AM

See Ya, Chris!

By The Staff

Dan Lovett says farewell to Channel 2's Chris Wragge today, and notes that the names may change, but the process remains the same. Check out Dan's column on the Features page.

Permalink | Staff Notes

June 02, 2004, 08:44 AM

Watching The Media

By The Houstonian

Here are snippets from an interesting roundup of recent media-criticism articles that are circulating around the blogosphere. You can read them all by clicking on the hyperlinked headlines: Liberal Media? I'm Shocked (John Leo, Town Hall):
Why does the news business keep hiring more and more people who disagree sharply with the customers, many of whom are already stampeding out the door for a variety of reasons? One explanation is that national journalism is now an elite profession, staffed by people­ — black and white, female and male — ­who went to elite colleges and who share the conventional social views of their class. This was not true a generation ago. When I was at the New York Times, the leadership was full of people who had gone to the wrong schools and fought their way up with brains and talent. Two desks away from mine was McCandlish Phillips, a born-again Christian who read the Bible during every break, no matter how brief. Phillips was a legendary reporter, rightly treated with awe by the staff, but I doubt he would be hired by most news organizations today. He prayed a lot and had no college degree. The news business is deeply concerned­ — I would say obsessed­ — with diversity, but it has a narrow and cramped view of the word, rarely applying it to background and social attitudes. Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Pew survey, said the fact that “conservatives are not very well represented” is having an effect. He added: “This is something journalists should worry about. Maybe diversity in the newsroom needs to mean more than ethnic and gender diversity.” Do tell. A great many thick skulls still must be penetrated by this idea. But eventually it will get through.
Who's Misleading Whom? (David Limbaugh, Town Hall; also see Byron York in NRO on a similar topic)
The partisan media had a particularly productive Memorial Day weekend run at Bush-bashing. John Kerry obviously isn't doing well enough to suit them, so they sent in their big guns to rescue him. On Memorial Day, Dana Milbank and Jim VandeHei splattered the Washington Post's front page with “From Bush, Unprecedented Negativity, Scholars Say Campaign is Making History with Often-Misleading Attacks.” The next day, Milbank piled on with a solo piece — another polemic disguised as a news story: “Making Hay Out of Straw Men.” On the same day, the Post ran a story by Dan Froomkin, “White House Going Negative,” in which the author cited various writers, including Milbank, trashing the White House. Amazing. Democrats have been assassinating Bush's character nonstop since 2000, and especially during the primary season, and the media are exercised over Bush's alleged negativity?
Elite, Arrogant, Condescending (Roger Ailes, OpinionJournal)
Mr. Carroll's pathetic attempt to smear Fox News Channel will only drive his paper's circulation down, as it should. Fox News Channel's audience in Los Angeles is increasing daily. The Los Angeles Times is becoming less relevant in people's lives, so Mr. Carroll is trying to flog health back to a newspaper by attacking television news. Most Americans, of course, get their news from television. In fact, the Fox News Channel today has 53% of the audience share of cable news. CNN and MSNBC divide up the rest. According to Mr. Carroll, that proves most Americans are therefore stupid and gullible. It's that elite, arrogant, condescending, self-serving, self-righteous, biased and wrongheaded view of Americans that causes viewers and readers to distrust media people like John Carroll. He owes the fine journalists at the Fox News Channel an apology for his insulting comments. However, we will never see that. He treated Fox News Channel worse in his newspaper than he treated the terrorists who recently beheaded an American. But of course, he sees Fox News as more dangerous.
Then and Now (David Lewis Schaefer, NRO):
Six days before the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings, the A&E network, to publicize its Memorial Day movie Ike, ran a reproduction in the New York Times of the Times's front page for June 6, 1944. Anyone comparing that day's wartime Times with today's had to be struck by the way earlier Times editors and headline writers, unlike their current counterparts, openly identified with the cause of America and its allies. Front-page subheads included “Nazis Say Their Shock Units Are Battling Our Parachutists” and “Allies Pass Rome, Cross Tiber as Foe Quits Bank Below City;” the caption of a map showing the reported site of the landings cited broadcasts of the German “enemy”; and the summary of an NBC pool reporter's story on the parachutists' landings quoted him as saying that he had flown across the English Channel with the first group of planes “to take our fighting men into Europe.” By contrast, the Times's Memorial Day editorial for 2004 observed that what the deaths of America's soldiers in its past wars “accomplished is written into the fabric of this country, no matter how purposeful or purposeless they may have seemed at the time.” (Nothing in this sentence indicates that deaths that seemed purposeless then appear any more purposeful now, and what the deaths accomplished is unspecified.) The Times editorialist maintained, for no apparent reason, that “many grieving families” must deal with the “shock” of suddenly discovering that “the devotion of soldier to their unit...was stronger than anything the family itself could offer.” (How could the editorialist know that?) And he (or she?) added that “soldiers fighting in the large causes tend to die for the small causes — for a sense of duty to one another, the building block upon which armies are built.” (How can one separate the sense of duty to one's fellow soldiers from the broader sense of duty to one's country as well as one's family that led war hero Pat Tillman to spurn a lucrative NFL contract to sign up for service that led to his death in Afghanistan?)
The Media and GI Joe (Chris Bray, Reason):
Reporters who cover the military without understanding it don’t just muff a few basic facts about what kind of soldier carries what kind of gun, or which service does what. They also fail to apply the right skepticism in the right places, or even the right credulity in the right places, and so end up swinging in a wild arc between breathless adulation and naive condemnation. They surrender many of the necessary tools for questioning the authority of the armed forces, and render nearly useless the check and the balance of the Fourth Estate on a major power of government. They create confidence where there should be wariness, and fear where there should be strength. They get it wrong, and it counts.
Impromptus (Jay Nordlinger, NRO):
From lovely Reuters comes a news story, featuring this sentence: “Bush, who avoided combat in Vietnam while serving as a pilot in the Texas Air National Guard, calls himself a war president for his re-election campaign against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, a decorated Vietnam veteran.” Read that a few times, and keep gasping. That sentence is from a wire service, mind you. George W. Bush doesn't merely call himself a war president: He is a war president. And he is one through no choice of his own, or ours: He is one because our enemies, the Islamic fundamentalists and their supporters, some of them governments, have made him that. And he called himself a war president — knew he was one — long before this presidential campaign kicked off.
Patriotism and Populism in Journalism (Jonah Goldberg, Town Hall):
Fox News offers a lesson here. I know the network's detractors think it's a rightwing propaganda factory. And, I certainly agree that much of Fox's programming is conservative (though liberals' sudden concern with ideologically loaded coverage is ironic). But at least one of the things that has made Fox News successful isn't that it's rightwing, it is that it's populist. This is an important distinction. From the beginning, Fox anchors weren't ashamed to wear American flags on their lapels. They aren't afraid to refer to American troops as “our brave fighting men and women” or some such. They aren't terrified that they will lose their objectivity merit badges if they sound like they hope America wins.
The Real Story of Fallujah (Robert Kaplan, OpinionJournal):
We live in a world of burning visual images: As Marines assaulted Fallujah, the administration should have been holding dramatic slide shows for the public, of the kind that battalion and company commanders were giving their troops, explaining how this or that particular mosque was being militarily used, and how much was being done to avoid destroying them, at great risk to Marine lives. Complaining about the slanted coverage of Al-Jazeera--as administration officials did--was as pathetic as Jimmy Carter complaining that Soviet Communist Party boss Leonid Brezhnev had lied to him. Given its long-standing track record, how else could Al-Jazeera have been expected to report the story? You had the feeling that the Pentagon was reacting; not anticipating. And had the administration adequately explained to the public about what the Marines were doing after Fallujah, there might have been less disappointment and mystification about quitting the fight there. But instead of a gripping storyline to compete with that of the global media's, spokesmen for the White House, Pentagon, Coalition Provisional Authority and the Baghdad-based military coalition, in their regular briefings about events in Iraq, continue to feed the public insipid summaries, with little visual context, that have all the pungency of watery gruel. This is not to say that the Abu Ghraib prison scandal should be forgotten, that our government should deceive the public, or that the overall direction of events in Iraq is positive: far from it. I have been to towns and villages in the Sunni triangle where the CPA has no demonstrable presence, where the inhabitants have no functioning utilities, where crime is rampant, where the newly constituted police are powerless and only sheikhs have the power to haul in criminals, and where it is only the social glue of tribe and clan that keeps these places from descending into Middle Eastern Liberias. But I also found that there are many different Iraqs and different levels of reality to each of them. Presently, the administration lacks the public relations talent and the organizational structure for conveying even the positive elements of the Iraqi panorama in all their drama and texture. Because the battles in a counterinsurgency are small scale and often clandestine, the story line is rarely obvious. It becomes a matter of perceptions, and victory is awarded to those who weave the most compelling narrative. Truly, in the world of postmodern, 21st century conflict, civilian and military public-affairs officers must become war fighters by another name. They must control and anticipate a whole new storm system represented by a global media, which too often exposes embarrassing facts out of historical or philosophical context.
Flaming The Messenger (Matt Welch, Reason) Left-of-center blogger and journalist Matt Welch suggests that conservative criticism of the media might be overblown.

Permalink | Media Watch

June 02, 2004, 07:00 AM

My View: Abolish METRO

By Owen Courrèges

It would appear that we've all come to accept on faith that having a municipally-owned transit company is the best way of managing public transit in Houston. Although many people challenge the Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority, known blandly as METRO, there are few voices out there actually calling for its abolition. METRO is, at worst, seen as a necessary evil. We're long overdue for a paradigm shift, and we should be taking our leads from the past. METRO was created by referendum in 1978, after financial troubles rocked HouTran, the private corporation that had managed Houston's public transit system for over a century. It started out in the 1870s as the Houston City Street Railway Company with mule-driver streetcars. In the 1890's, electric streetcars were added and the company was renamed Houston Electric. In the 1940's, following the “all-bus modernization program,” they simply became Houston Transit, which was later shortened to HouTran. What all of this proves is that the old paradigm of public transit being managed by a private company was indeed workable. It only hit a snag in the 70's, which was used as a pretext for a municipal takeover. We've been paying for that decision ever since. METRO has been obsessed with massive, cost-ineffective transit projects since its inception. It first pursued a commuter rail project in the early 80's that would have cost more than a billion dollars to complete and achieved only scant ridership. Voters rejected it by a 2:1 margin. After that failure, METRO didn't give up on rail, but it never mentioned rail in another referendum. A private corporation wouldn't be doing this. They'd look for the most cost-effective solution, and pursue that in the most efficient way possible. Undoubtedly there would be shortcomings, but unlike METRO, they would actually run the risk of going out of business or losing their charter. That's the strongest incentive there is not to waste money, and it's one that METRO lacks. Accordingly, we need to either privatize METRO, or restructure it in such a way as to prevent them from seeing transit projects as ends in and of themselves. Houstonians deserve frugality in government, and they're getting nothing of the kind from METRO. I'm Owen Courrèges, and that's my view.

Permalink | Owen's View

June 02, 2004, 05:30 AM

Exclusive: John Williams leaving the Chronicle?

By The Staff

Multiple sources tell ChronicallyBiased.com that political columnist John Williams is leaving the Chronicle, to take a position at Baker and Botts. We don't tend to think of Mr. Williams as a hyperliberal extremist, nor do we think of him as one of their terribly sloppy journalists (certainly not when compared to the people Jeff Cohen has brought on board). Could it be that Mr. Williams has enough respect for his craft to desert the sinking ship now, rather than continue to practice Cohen-style journalism? Whatever the case, we sympathize with his decision to get out, and wish him all the best in his new endeavor. Unlike the Chronicle, Baker and Botts is respected locally, nationally (and internationally). And, here's a chance for Mr. Cohen to put his progressivism to work. We assume he's all for diversity in the newsroom — so why not diversity of ideas? We'd like to see Mr. Cohen recruit a young, sharp conservative to the newspaper. The Dallas Morning News recently picked up Rod Dreher, which was a great move on their part. Houston should be able to do at least as well as that little cowtown to the north. Cohen's run Joel Mowbray's column before — maybe he's a possibility. We'll be happy to do our part. If you're a conservative polemicist with an interest in politics, please send your resume to: Jeff Cohen Re: Political Columnist Opening Houston Chronicle 801 Texas Ave. Houston, Texas 77002 Be sure to give him our regards. (Update) John Williams comments below, and informs that he will be assuming a position at Baker and Botts. We have corrected the statements above that indicated he would be assuming a position at the Baker INSTITUTE.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

June 02, 2004, 04:00 AM

New poll question

By Owen Courrèges

We have a new poll question up on Chronically Biased today: “What is the most pressing issue facing Texas today?” You may vote here. The results from our previous poll — “Do you believe that America will suffer a terrorist attack between now and the November election?” — were as follows. 25.7% of you answered “yes,” 51.5% of you answered “it's likely, but not certain,” 6.4% answered “no,” and 14.6% of you answered “it could happen, but it's doubtful.” Apparently, our readership is somewhat pessimistic in this case. For once, I think we can all hope that the majority is wrong.

Permalink | Staff Notes

June 01, 2004, 05:01 PM

Westpark and MetroRail: responsible government in action?

By Phil Magness

Over the last several weeks, county infrastructure officials closed a major ramp from the new Westpark Tollway where it merges onto the southwest freeway. According to the Chronicle's story on the closure,
Art Storey, the county's executive director of public infrastructure, closed the ramp Tuesday out of concern that a combination of heavy traffic in multiple lanes, a tight space for merging and lane-changing, and bad driving habits added up to a recipe for collisions.
Although the toll road itself does not appear to have any major design problems, officials noticed that the merging area on this exit could potentially become a safety issue. Note that not a single accident had to occur before the county observed a couple of close calls via TranStar and decided to close the merging area until better safety features could be installed. A plethora of angry Smart-Growthers wrote their favorite newspaper today to voice complaints about the toll road's alleged poor design, but the fact that Harris County saw a potential problem, stopped it before it was actualized, and promptly took measures to correct it tells me that they are governing responsibly. In other news, our World Class City's (TM) beloved MetroRail system had its forty-first accident with a car on Thursday. Contrast the way Metro has handled its ubiquitous collision problem to the Westpark case. The situations are certainly similar. Both involve a new transportation system featuring (presumably) new and relatively unfamiliar technologies on new commuter routes. Both have had some bugs to work out in the early days of operation. And both have experienced safety issues including some where the new transportation system itself was not entirely at fault (i.e. the driver erred). On Westpark, the fact that a safety issue arose merited a prompt response from the county that immediately shut down the problem ramp until modifications could be made. They did this even with full knowledge that the safety problem was being created, in large part, by “bad driving habits” and did not try to pass the safety buck onto those drivers when the potential for a wreck was observed. Metro, on the other hand, let its train mow down cars on a weekly basis for a couple of months before responding with an $80,000 “study” that simply told it to shift a couple traffic lights around. They presumably did as they were told and the collisions are still happening on a weekly basis. As of the present they have no announced plan to make any safety modifications and the count keeps racking up. Unlike Westpark, no effort was ever made to close the line for safety improvements and virtually nothing has been done safety-wise to keep the vehicles and trains separated - an issue that they should address even if the vehicles are frequently at fault for meandering onto the tracks at improper places. After all, did not the Toll Road supervisors shut down the problem ramp in part because motorists were crossing into the ramp lane before they were supposed to? I suppose Harris County could take the Metro attitude on its toll road: let the accidents accumulate for months on end and then complain about how horrible Houston drivers are while they remain silent on a real solution. I also have no doubt that many of the people complaining about Westpark's design are from the same crowd that responds to the faultless MetroRail by blaming the cars and looking the other way. But no matter how inconsistently one views the two, a simple unavoidable reality remains: the county toll road people saw a potential problem and immediately fixed it. Metro saw a potential problem, saw that problem materialize some 41 times over the last six months, and has been AWOL in providing a real solution from day one.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

June 01, 2004, 01:19 PM

Rail Changes

By Kevin Whited

At Chronically Biased, we've certainly directed some criticism at Chronicle columnist Lucas Wall, and we think it's been deserved. However, I'd like to call attention to this bit of honesty in today's column, in which Wall discusses the reworking of downtown bus routes and what it's intended to accomplish:
The changes to 65 bus routes, mostly designed to beef up ridership on MetroRail, will take an estimated 1,200 bus trips out of the Main Street corridor each day. Some of those spare buses were to be positioned at transit centers today for use in case of glitches on the rail line, where trains will start operating every six minutes during peak periods. They had been running every 12 minutes.
The bolded portion is a bit of editorializing on Wall's part that probably shouldn't be in the column (something for which we've criticized him before), but I don't disagree with him substantively. It does seem that METRO is more interested in herding additional passengers to the train (to boost its ridership numbers) than necessarily making life more convenient for downtown mass transit patrons (in a private business, those would be called customers, but METRO doesn't seem to think of them that way). Some of these riders aren't very happy, and Wall gives them column space:
Most commuters were likely to notice only slight changes to their routes. Nine bus routes, however, have been shortened and now end at rail stations. Riders must transfer to the rail to complete their commutes. Some bus users have complained about having to make the switch, potentially increasing their travel time. “With these route modifications, Metro is forcing commuters to use the train by providing no other routes to downtown,” said Zac Nelson, a Route 15 rider. “This is a terrible idea and is nothing but an inconvenience.” Route 15 previously ran from southwest Houston through downtown to Northline Mall. It has been split into two routes, with the south section (Route 14) ending at the Texas Medical Center Transit Center and the north section (the new Route 15) ending at the Downtown Transit Center. Both have rail stations. Nelson, who rides from Main Street at the South Loop to Houston's north side, will now have to ride the Route 14 bus to the Medical Center, walk across a sky bridge, hop on the train to downtown and then transfer to the Route 15 bus. “This is just a way to force people to use that train,” he said. “Then they can say, `Wow, look at all the people who ride this train every day. Houstonians love the train. Let's build it all over Houston!'”
The city's other news sources who chose to cover this issue were much more upbeat about METRO's changes (see News24, ABC-13, and KHOU-11). This may well be a case in which the Chronicle, one of rail's biggest cheerleaders, inadvertently cast a little doubt on METRO's intentions. (Update) In the short time since the story first appeared in morning editions, the Chronicle has updated the story online and removed the passage cited above. Good thing we grabbed it before it disappeared.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

June 01, 2004, 09:00 AM

Whither old media?

By Owen Courrèges

The Daily Telegraph has an article out today noting that print newspaper circulation has been declining worldwide, while the distribution of free newspapers has been rising (via Drudge):
The world's newspapers enjoyed buoyant advertising sales in 2003 but overall reader numbers were in marginal decline, according to a report on the state of the industry delivered at the 57th annual World Newspaper Congress today. [...] In the United States circulation remained stable in 2003, but the country registered a slight downward trend over five years, with a 1.4-per cent drop. [...] The distribution of free newspapers - not reflected in the overall figures - grew spectacularly in 2003, rising by 16 per cent.
Given our relationship to the Chronicle as a free online news and commentary website, this trend is encouraging. Perhaps the “old media” will be kept more honest and responsive if their circulation numbers continue to decline. We can only hope!

Permalink | News and Views

June 01, 2004, 07:00 AM

Morning Show Clips

By Rob Booth

Dan Patrick is sitting in for Edd Hendee on KSEV this morning. Click [Read More] to see news clips related to the topics Dan is discussing today. I've updated this post during the course of the show. Please refresh your browser to see the latest links. 1. Newspapers World Association of Newspapers — Official Site WAN News Release: World Press Trends: Advertising Rebounds, Circulation Down Slightly
Newspaper advertising revenues are finally on the upswing as the world economy rebounds, but global newspaper circulation is slightly down, according to the annual survey of World Press Trends published Monday by the World Association of Newspapers.
2. Death AP via Casper Star-Tribune: World's oldest woman dies
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Ramona Trinidad Iglesias Jordan, who at age 114 was recognized as the world's oldest person, has died after a bout with pneumonia, her family said Monday.
CDC: Life Expectancy 3. Dan Patrick Chronically Biased Article on Bush Win CB: Bush will win in November, history guarantees it
On Saturday, the news networks covered the dedication to the new WWII Memorial in Washington D.C. It was an emotional event. For at least a brief moment , our nation was one. There was a stunning shot of former Presidents Clinton and Bush (#41) standing side by side, with hand over heart, singing the national anthem.
U.S. Newswire: Dedication of World War II Memorial
Nearly 60 years after the war ended, President George W. Bush today will accept on behalf of the American people the newly completed National World War II Memorial. More than 120,000 people representing all 50 states — most of whom are members of the World War II generation — are expected to attend the formal dedication ceremonies on the National Mall in Washington D.C. Millions of others will watch the day-long tribute from their homes and at thousands of sites across the country. The National World War II Memorial honors those who sacrificed for their country both here and abroad.
PRNewswire: Remarks By President Bush at National World War II Memorial Dedication
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. I'm honored to join with President Clinton, President Bush, Senator Dole and other distinguished guests on this day of remembrance and celebration. And, General Kelley, here in the company of the generation that won the war, I proudly accept the World War II Memorial on behalf of the people of the United States of America.
Bob Dole — Official Site Logging off at 7:45

Permalink | News and Views

June 01, 2004, 07:00 AM

My View: Property taxes

By Owen Courrèges

In the special session on education that collapsed in Austin recently, property taxes were the elephant in the room. The average appraised value of a home in Houston, for example, is over $125,000 and constantly rising, which tends to draw strong reactions from homeowners who cannot afford to pay more every year. What's worse is that these appraisals may often be higher than is justified, but still remain unchallenged. A recent study by O'Connor & Associates LP showed that 90% of Texans don't challenge their appraised values. A substantial percentage of these homeowners could probably lower their appraisals considerably, if they bothered to mount an official challenge. However, that shouldn't be the only avenue for Texans to experience tax relief. Governor Perry has proposed a perfectly valid solution — lowing the appraisal cap to 3%. This would permanently solve to the problem of rising property taxes. Others have proposed cutting the tax itself, which would be a stopgap solution at best. Clearly, Perry's solution is the superior. Anything less than a reduction in the appraisal cap is little more than a political distraction. I do not for a moment believe that the issue of school finance is resolved, but the issue of property taxes is currently far more pressing. Homeowners are suffering out there. Many have written in to ChronicallyBiased.com to express their dismay over the problems they've faced in keeping up with the rising tide. If the property tax issue isn't resolved, they'll soon drown. I'm Owen Courrèges, and that's my view.

Permalink | Owen's View

June 01, 2004, 06:30 AM

Ike didn't have CNN on his back

By Dan Patrick

I just finished watching the A&E special about Dwight Eisenhower. The two hour made for TV movie, starring Tom Selleck as Ike, focused on the general and his decision to invade Normandy on D-Day. Ike is portrayed as being absorbed with both victory at all costs and the realization that he would be sending thousands of young Americans to their death. At one point he is told that the paratroopers could suffer seventy percent losses on the first day. That would total over 20,000 killed in their ranks alone in the first 24 hours. He also knew that the entire invasion could fail and thousands more could be lost on the beaches. Can you imagine a general today having to make the type of decision that Ike faced? It would be very difficult considering the 24 hour scrutiny of the media and the second guessing by all of those retired general experts on television? Yes, our generals did send thousands into combat last year in original ground war in Iraq. However, no one believed our military would actually lose thousands of troops in the entire battle, let alone in one day. There were concerns of chemical warfare and other weapons of mass destruction being used on our troops. But losses, of the magnitude of those expected by Ike on D-Day, were not seriously comtemplated by anyone in our military. Would America be willing to lose thousands in one day of battle in the war on terror? At a time when Democrats and the media denounce the loss of 800 in over a year of fighting, one can only imagine what the outcry would be if we lost 10 to 25,000 troops in one day of fighting. Yet, is this war not as important as WWII? Are the stakes not as high? I would argue they are just as high and maybe even higher. Any day, thousands of Americans could be killed on our own soil in an attack from terrorists. The question, does America has the stomach for the fight. Most importantly, do we have any Ikes in our ranks?

Permalink | News and Views

June 01, 2004, 06:00 AM

Neal Pierce misses the issue

By Owen Courrèges

Neal Pierce is a syndicated columnist who normally writes on urban development issues from a decidedly left-of-center perspective. Accordingly, it should be of little surprise that the Houston Chronicle opts to run his pieces from time to time. In today's edition, for example, the Chronicle runs a column by Pierce in which he writes about an redevelopment project in Detroit — “The Far Eastside Plan.” Pierce makes it appear as if this plan is a boon to Detroit, which has long been a city in decline. He paints it as a virtual panacea for all that ails the city. What Pierce doesn't mention, however, is that the city of Detroit has been using eminent domain to condemn private property for the purpose of supporting redevelopment projects such as this. Imagine, for a moment, that the government wants to completely redesign an area in which you own property. It decides to force you to sell your property at a price that is less than you could probably get for it on the open market, and then it turns around and sells the property back to a private developer. That's what's occurring in Detroit, and elsewhere, as we speak. It's called eminent domain abuse, and it's an epidemic. Is that not hideously corrupt, to say nothing of a violation of our Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to property under the US Constitution? Yet Pierce doesn't concern himself with such trifles. For him, it's enough that the government of Detroit is forcing high-density redevelopment, the kind preferred by left-leaning planning experts. And if a few property owners are oppressed in the process, then that's merely the price of progress. It ought to be clear, then, that Pierce isn't telling us nearly the entire story. You always have to look harder to find the truth.

Permalink | Noxious Chron Columnists

June 01, 2004, 06:00 AM

Back to work

By The Staff

Don't you wish every weekend was a three day holiday? Well, it's time to get back to work. Here at chronicallybiased.com, we were working all weekend and posted some pretty interesting articles. We also got a lot of good comments from our readers. So, settle back and read all you have missed the last few days on chronicallybiased.com. Don't miss Dan Patrick's article that guarantees a Bush win in November. After reading the main page, be sure to check out our feature section with great articles on A.J. Foyt, the Outdoors and the 10 best war movies of all time. Then after reading everything on chronicallybiased.com, you can offficially get back to work.

Permalink | Staff Notes

SITE MENU

Home

Archives

Bias Indicators

Features


SEARCH

Use the form below to search for articles on Chronically Biased: