July 31, 2004, 04:05 PM

Kudos to the Chronicle's Julie Mason

By Rob Booth

I'll bet you'd never thought you'd see that over here! Look at this article — Chronicle: 'Believe' tour off to a bumpy start It's an article about John Kerry that doesn't cheerlead for him. Wow! Further on in the story, there's this:
Kerry joined them inside and spied a table of Marines. But when he struck up a conversation, the Marines answered tersely and expressed irritation. “He imposed on us and I disagree with him coming over here to shake our hands,” said one, who did not give his name.
That's absolutely amazing that this is in a story in the Chronicle. This is normally the kind of thing we right-wingers find in our e-mail and have to wonder if it's true. So, a big Chronically Biased tip of the hat to Ms. Mason. I hope that this doesn't get you in hot water at the office.

Permalink | News and Views

July 31, 2004, 03:46 PM

Is it a ship or a boat?

By Rob Booth

AP via Chronicle: First lady christens sub named Texas
The Texas is the second boat in the Virginia class, which eventually could have 30 ships.
This AP article (reprinted in the Chronicle) refers to the USS Texas, a new submarine we mentioned here, as a “ship” and a “boat.” In the Navy, submarines are called “boats.” And then there's this weird line:
With President Bush hitting the campaign trail this weekend in Ohio and Pennsylvania, Mrs. Bush told reporters afterward that she was not worried the christening would be perceived as a campaign event.
So, did she volunteer that she wasn't worried? Not likely. She most likely answered a reporter's question as to whether the event would be perceived as partisan. The reporter had a pretty good idea of what the answer would be, one can assume. (What's she going to say? “Yes this event is partisan”?) I'm betting they just like to use the word “partisan” in any article dealing with Republicans.

Permalink | News and Views

July 31, 2004, 01:59 PM

Bush supporters cause FEAR

By Anne Linehan

This has to be one of the more off-the-wall pieces ever to grace the op-ed page of the Chronicle. And that's saying a lot! It begins like this:
I WAS recently out doing a bit of shopping at a local department store on a bright, hot Saturday afternoon in northwest Houston. I had unloaded my purchases into my car and was starting to return the shopping cart to the cart holding stand, when a man and his wife passed me and started unloading their cart into a truck one parking spot over from my vehicle. As I returned to my car, I saw that the man had placed his empty cart directly in back of my car. I looked over at them and spread my arms, hands up in question. The man, who was driving, rolled down the electric window on the passenger side and yelled out, “That's because you have a f#@%ing Kerry sticker on your car!” Then he peeled out of the parking space and raced away.
That's what this important piece of writing is about: A Kerry supporter who is a helpless victim and a Bush supporter who is a fear-mongering lunatic. She continues:
As a woman, shopping alone, I don't think that I need to tell any other woman that fear immediately rose in my throat at the hatred vented at me by a complete stranger simply because I professed a notion different from his. As a survivor of child abuse and physical abuse, I can't say that I am unfamiliar with the feelings of dread, fear and disbelief at what had just transpired — but I was unprepared to face such raw hatred on an otherwise uneventful shopping trip. It made me feel ill at ease, threatened, fearful. Thoughts flew through my mind as I quietly drove home. Should I remove my “Texans for Kerry” sticker, lest I find my property damaged by such hateful people? Should I take down my yard sign, lest my home be threatened? Should I take the “Kerry for President” button off of my soft briefcase, for fear of physical harm to myself?
Let's follow this line of thinking. The writer's life has been filled with abuse and now she feels terrified and threatened because someone vocally disagreed with her John Kerry bumper sticker. How many more ways can liberals find to paint conservatives as extremist wackos? She said the guy drove away. She doesn't say that he came back and stalked her! (As for the Chronicle's poor judgement in even publishing this piece, Kevin Whited has tackled that.) The courageous Ms. Prymmer goes on:
And now, the simple act of publicly showing support for a political candidate in what is supposed to be a free, democratic society seems to provoke such hatred. What can I expect from my fellow man now?
Well, whether Ms. Prymmer likes it or not, the guy she is busy excoriating was also exercising his right of free speech. She obviously disagrees with his way of exercising that right, but that's her problem. He didn't verbally threaten her or physically harm her, according to her recounting. He disagreed with her choice of a presidential candidate and expressed that, in a not so genteel manner. The First Amendment doesn't say we can only express ourselves in polite and inoffensive ways. And you know what, Ms. Prymmer? Conservatives have been verbally disparaged for years! Conservatives are called zealots, racists, homophobes, sexists, bigots, and extremists on a daily basis. Often by the self-proclaimed neutral and unbiased mainstream press. It's called the First Amendment. Live with it, or don't put up pro-Kerry signs that will invite dissent. But, it gets even better:
So, Mr. Hateful Bush Supporter, I just want you and all of your friends to know that, like the thousands of women before me, who courageously gave so much of themselves so that I could have the right and privilege to vote: No matter how hateful you are, no matter how much you try to scare me, or threaten me, or harm me or my family or property, short of murdering me before the elections, I will vote my conscience for a free, democratic society, just like my grandmother before me.
Ah yes. It's the Hateful Bush Supporters (who scare, threaten and harm, but stop short of murder) versus the Thousands Of Women Before Me. Can't you picture the Thousands of Courageous Women, led by Ms. Prymmer, marching at the Republican Convention, chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, Hateful Bush Supporters've got to go! Hey hey, ho ho...”. Strike up the band! Ms. Prymmer needs to get over herself already. If her abusive past has turned her into a quivering ball of fear then she needs to address that. But for her to say that no one has the right to challenge her support of John Kerry if it causes her to have flashbacks, well, that is called censorship. You either need to suck it up like an adult, Ms. Prymmer, or peel off the bumper sticker.

Permalink | Chron Bias

July 31, 2004, 10:38 AM

The Chronicle's Other Voice

By Anne Linehan

If this Chronicle editorial page addition is going to be a semi-regular feature, perhaps the editors should consider highlighting editorials that actually differ from their own. One did not have to search hard yesterday for reviews of Senator Kerry's speech that were not enthusiastic, even from traditionally liberal voices. Here is the Washington Post's editorial from yesterday:
Nor did Mr. Kerry's statements about future threats do justice to the complexity of today's challenge. “As president, I will ask hard questions and demand hard evidence,” he said, a well-aimed shot at the Bush administration's failures to do the same. For many in the hall last night, the intelligence lapses in Iraq prove the wrongness of Mr. Bush's preemption strategy, and Mr. Kerry seemed to agree, saying that “the only justification for going to war” would be “a threat that was real and imminent.” Yet a President Kerry, too, would face momentous decisions based on inevitably imperfect information, whether about Iran or North Korea or dangers yet to emerge. How would he respond? Will it always be safe to wait?
And this:
Yet in economics as in national security, Mr. Kerry missed an opportunity for straight talk. His promises to stop the outsourcing of jobs and end dependence on Middle East oil are not grounded in reality. And Mr. Kerry failed to acknowledge the fiscal challenge posed by the imminent retirement of the baby boom generation, with its call on Medicare and Social Security. To the contrary, he raised the issue of Social Security only to reaffirm that he would not cut benefits — a promise that a President Kerry might come to regret.
Here is Thomas Oliphant, from the Boston Globe:
At a Democratic convention planned to showcase a candidate and his basic approach to two huge situations — a bogged-down military adventure in Iraq and a fragile economy — Kerry obscured his presentation in a blizzard of hard-to-follow verbiage dictated by the clock. Perhaps the public will let him off the hook, but the fact remains that Kerry essentially blew an opportunity he may not get again until the debates with Bush this fall. He and his advisers can and will argue that the cold facts of economic and foreign policy life will dominate political opinion in the weeks ahead; nevertheless, a golden opportunity slipped away.
And this from The New Republic's Lawrence Kaplan:
A few weeks back, a colleague of mine at TNR joked that the Kerry campaign should create a miniature river in the FleetCenter, in which the candidate and his “band of brothers” could wend their way toward the podium in a swift boat. Then came news that the Kerry campaign had actually hunted for a Vietnam-era swift boat to plunk down in the convention center. Alas, none was found, and Kerry had to settle for a water taxi ride with his boat mates. In the end, it didn't really matter. No one who watched his acceptance speech last night could have missed the fact that, yes, John Kerry served heroically in Vietnam. Easier to miss was that, as a guide to what sort of approach to national security Kerry will enshrine in official policy--presumably the whole point of the exercise--last night's martial imagery and rhetoric told us nothing at all. Or, rather, worse than nothing.
The Chronicle acknowledges that its editorial page is liberal. But adding some balance once in a while would be appreciated by many Chronicle readers, and the Other Voice feature would be the perfect venue for that.

Permalink | Chron Bias

July 31, 2004, 07:13 AM

A helping hand

By Terry Bohannon

Too often, we don't hear of good news from Iraq. We hear about the car bombings, the trouble our soldiers are in, and even the assassination attempts against high officials. Yet, good things do happen. Iraqi schools have been refurbished, canals have been cleaned (before/after), and to many, life has been restored. Iraq is being restored from the immense help of the Coalition forces, private contractors, humanitarian aid organizations, and even smaller grassroots organizations. Sometimes though, help comes from everyday people. As seen in the following report:

Soldier's e-mail results in shoes for Iraqi children

As reported by KCEN-TV Channel 6 Temple, TX A Fort Hood First Cavalry soldier sees a need in Iraq and two states lend a hand. A truck pulled into Fort Hood Friday, carrying more than 2,000 pairs of flip-flops, all for Iraqi children. The shoes were donated by church members in Texas and Georgia. The idea for “Operation Flip-Flop” started when a First Cav soldier saw hundreds of children not wearing any shoes. Lt. Col. Tim Ryan says, “As I came back that night and was writing my newsletter back to all the families, I put in as a P.S. You know, we really don't need anything. We've got all we need in terms of soldiers and all the cake and candy we can eat, but if you want to do something for charity you ought to send some shoes or old clothes over, even flip-flops would be a great thing for the kids in the neighborhood.” Ryan's e-mail back to his friend in Conroe, Texas spread to other friends throughout Texas and Georgia.

Permalink | News and Views

July 30, 2004, 09:31 PM

Kerry To Reenact Balloon Drop (Satire)

By Matt Forge

Boston (CB) — As if waiting on manna from Heaven, John Kerry and his disciples hungrily anticipated the miracle of a hundred thousand balloons raining down on them at the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention Thursday night. But faith turned to frustration when the planned deluge fizzled to a drizzle. In partnership with DreamWorks SKG, the whole snafu is going to be reworked in order to give history a more aesthetically pleasing visual experience. According the effects supervisor, very little new video footage will have to be taken. “Sure, we may have to shoot Kerry, Edwards and their families in front of a blue screen pretending to be drowning in a sea of balloons and then superimpose them on the convention stage, but the rest can be done digitally. We have the technology to manufacture fake balloons falling down, millions of them, and they will look real. We can also smooth out Kerry's forehead if he wants.” John Edwards gave a thumbs-up to the proposal. Another embarrassing moment of that fateful night was when DNC director Don Mischer was broadcast to the whole world live on CNN blasting profanities in frustration at the crew in charge of freeing the air-filled bladders from their lofty perch. This too will be “reinterpreted” with the voice talents of movie star Ben Affleck. We have obtained a partial transcript of what Affleck is to recite on the piece, which is reportedly titled “Operation Do-Over”: (Mischer calmly speaking into two-way radio) “Please drop the balloons now. Please. Are they dropping? Am I just not seeing them? Please drop the balloons now. Standby confetti - thanks for your patience. You're doing great, balloon guys, but we can do better. Can we get more balloons? Please bring it on. People love balloons, tons of them. And who doesn't? I know I do. Is something stuck? If so, then it's not your fault and I understand. Let them all come down if at all possible. We're still not quite ready for confetti yet.” (Mishner pauses while looking up) “Thanks for waiting, confetti guys. All right, now would be a good time for the balloons to come down. Our guests are anticipating more balloons. Don't be apprehensive, you can drop them all. I'm proud of you! I think I need to pray now: Oh God please let all the balloons drop right now - amen. You may now drop the confetti if you like. Yay, confetti! More confetti, please. Don't feel left out, balloon guys. We still need you. Have you overcome the drop challenge yet?” (Mishner pauses again waiting for acknowledgement.) “Let no balloon be left behind. Where are the rest of them? Are you guys all right up there? Don't worry, help is on the way. Let's not disappoint our audience - the show must go on. Oh, what the heck is going on up there? Hotdangit, there must be some mechanical malfunction! Oh, sorry for the French you heard just now. I lost control for a second - please forgive me for cursing. We still would like it if more balloons were coming down, though. Please. Please. Please...” Another task in the current DreamWorks project is to visually correct a rare medical problem known as “thumb spasms” suffered by the vice presidential nominee as seen during the convention. Apparently when Edwards gets excited, his thumbs freeze in the extended (hitchhiker's) position. To cover this embarrassing involuntary reflex, he is forced to feign the universal “thumbs-up” sign of approval until the muscles relax and he regains control. This should be an easy fix for Spielberg's FX masters. In related news, Michael Moore has reportedly started on a new documentary documenting the fact that the person in charge of the balloon-drop taking orders from Mishner was in fact a spy/saboteur jointly planted there by Bush and the Saudis. (The above story, though based on actual events, is satire or parody. It is meant for entertainment only and is NOT true.)

Permalink | Humor

July 30, 2004, 01:21 PM

Texas Democrats: ignored?

By Terry Bohannon

It seems that some Texas Democrats are optimistic, as an AP release suggests:
“I think the Texas Democratic Party is on the rebound,” said Travis County Constable Bruce Elfant, shortly after watching presidential nominee John Kerry's acceptance speech. “We're seeing record primary voter turnout this year, we're seeing record voter registration drives and an interest level that I haven't seen in years.”
But the DNC didn't seem to put out the welcome mat for Texas' Democrats:
Last-minute attempts to recognize the state's “Killer D” Democrats, who fled the state last year to block a vote on congressional redistricting, were unsuccessful. The group that was so celebrated by Texas Democrats a year ago was hardly acknowledged. To make matters worse, Texans were angered when they woke up one morning to a front-page Boston Globe photo of a near-empty Texas section in the Fleet Center with an accompanying story indicating Texans were being all but ignored by the convention. The picture was taken during a recess between speakers, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Charles Soechting pointed out.
Other news reporting this can be found here and here.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

July 30, 2004, 10:22 AM

New poll

By Owen Courrèges

We have a new poll question up today: “What did you think of John Kerry's acceptance speech?” You can answer the question here. Just remember: Don't be too effusive in your praise, guys. The results from our previous poll are here. I'd like to comment on those results, because I found them rather disturbing. The question was “Is there such a thing as objective truth?” It seems that more than 30% of you don't understand simple logic, because that's roughly what percentage of you answered 'no.' If you answer 'no,' then you're placing yourself in a logical paradox. To wit, you're saying that there is no objective truth, although in order to say that you actually need to assert an objective truth, namely the supposed truth that there is no objective truth. To put it a less convoluted way, it's not dissimilar from saying “I am lying now.” It's the liar paradox, and no truth value can be derived from the statement. Such is the case with answering 'no' to the question of whether or not truth exists. So in conclusion, 'no' was wrong. Not “in my opinion, wrong,” but simply wrong. I hope this has led to everyone's edification.

Permalink | Staff Notes

July 30, 2004, 09:25 AM

Katy Freeway expansion set to begin

By Owen Courrèges

Love it or hate it, the Katy Freeway (1-10 West of downtown for you non-locals) will be expanded considerably beginning in October (from ABC 13):
Your next trip on the Katy Freeway could be just a little more complicated. State officials have cleared the way for construction crews to begin step four in the nine-step expansion project. Work will begin in October on the section between Kirkwood and Gessner, including the Beltway 8 interchange. That part of the project should wrap up in late 2008. The entire project will end up costing more than $2 billion and it'll widen the freeway from 11 lanes to 18.
Many people argue that this expansion will do nothing to reduce congestion, since within ten years the amount of congestion will probably be the same as it is now due to continued suburban growth. This is called 'induced growth,' meaning that the expanded freeway will encourage more people to live further out. However, this perception is wrong for two reasons: First, it ignores the fact that one of the main goals of freeway expansion is to accommodate new growth, something that is desperately needed. More new people will move into the city regardless of whether we expand our freeways, but if we're to keep our heads above water, we'll need more lanes. Secondly, it overlooks the innovations contained within the Katy Freeway expansion, most notably the addition of High Occupancy Toll lanes (HOT). HOT lanes essentially operate like a tollway within a freeway, thus allowing those willing to pay more to have a faster commute to work free of congestion. This will not defray maintenence costs for the entire freeway, but it will also improve overall mobility along the Katy Freeway well into the future. After all, if you're in a hurry, you can always pay the toll and get to your destination quickly. Moreover, transit vehicles and high-occupancy vehicles may still use the lanes free of charge. Everybody wins. In summary, then, the Katy Freeway expansion will benefit all Houstonians. Just try to avoid listening to all the nay-sayers.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

July 30, 2004, 07:51 AM

MetroRail's 54th accident! (corrected)

By Terry Bohannon

As reported this Thursday by Lucas Wall, MetroRail has been involved in its 54th accident. He says:
It was the 54th collision along the Main Street light rail line since it was completed in October, and the second within a 24-hour period.
Mr. Wall, however, fails to mention one thing. MetroRail has been operational since January 1, 2004, not October 2003. A fact Lucas Wall knows without a doubt. That is, if we take his recent article on monorail to be credible. In that article, Lucas Wall claimed that monorail would not have the “problems that have plagued Houston's light rail since it opened in January.” Lucas Wall, then, clearly understands that Houston's light rail system has been in place since January 1, 2004. The question remains: why did he leave out that fact when reporting the 54th accident? Perhaps he wanted to suggest that the accident rate is far less than it actually is. 54 accidents over 11 months does seem slightly better than 54 accidents over 7 months. If the current rate holds out, perhaps when the year is over, CB.com may be highlighting the 90th accident. Such an accident rate might embarrass Lucas Wall. So much, that he'd rather keep the whole truth to himself. An error was made in this article. The accident count does precede to the Fall of 2003. For the mistake I made in inferring that Lucas Wall was misleading, I recant. The post, however, will remain up because we don't cover up our mistakes. There is helpful information in the comments section. --Terry

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

July 30, 2004, 07:18 AM

The Chronicle approved of The Speech

By Anne Linehan

This will come as a complete shock, but the Chronicle thought Senator Kerry's acceptance speech last night was swell. Trying to show that they are not partisan, the Chronicle editors acknowledge that maybe the speech had some shortcomings, but they won't dwell on whatever those were. Here's a fun excerpt:
While Kerry called for civility and devotion to the common national interest, he pulled no punches while painting a portrait of his opponent. Kerry promised not to mislead the nation into an unnecessary war or allow his vice president to meet in secret with corporate polluters eager to undermine environmental protections.
Yes, Kerry wants the Republicans to be more civil, but it's ok for him to pull punches. Didn't we just go through this with the Chronicle? The editors harangued VP Cheney for his frank talk, but gave Mrs. Heinz Kerry a pass. And let's not forget Senator Kerry's own venture into the land of profanity. If you are going to preach civility, Senator, better look in the mirror first. The Presidential Candidate also had boatloads of promises to hand out. If you've got a problem, by golly, Senator Kerry has a government program that will fix it!
Whatever shortcomings Kerry's well-crafted speech might have had, it contained no shortage of promises. Fulfilling even one — providing universal and affordable health care — would make Kerry a success where Bill and Hillary Clinton failed. To that promise Kerry added more and higher-paying jobs at home; help for workers whose lives have been wrecked by corrupt executives; and cleaner air. The Democratic nominee borrowed Bush's vow to cut the federal deficit in half in four years while prosecuting a global war on terror.
Uh huh. Let's see the spreadsheet that shows how all that is going to work. Oh, that's right. He's going to raise taxes. Well, that will fix everything. After President Bush's acceptance speech, we look forward to highlighting an upbeat editorial from the Chronicle, because:
The truth is that The Chronicle's editorial policy is neither liberal nor conservative, but based upon principles and pragmatism that transcend, or, less grandly, avoid partisan ideology. A liberal paper would endorse a Democratic candidate for the presidency now and then. The Chronicle has endorsed the Republican candidate in every election since Lyndon Johnson ran in 1964.
Can't wait!

Permalink | Chron Bias

July 29, 2004, 06:59 PM

The Unknown Candidate Finally Unmasked (Satire)

By Matt Forge

Boston (CB) — To much trumpeted fanfare and ballyhoo, the mysterious Democratic presidential hopeful finally revealed himself with a rousing speech accepting the nomination of his party. The unknown candidate has become anonymously famous during his prolonged stint in public life. The climactic event was the crowning moment of a long and drawn out acquaintance process that had been building for thirty years, and frenzied delegates were fortunate enough to be present during the historic occasion. Reaction to the unmasking, however, was mixed. “He's just like, you know, like I thought he'd be - not like George Bush,” said Cinnamon Dust, a young female delegate from San Francisco. “I didn't like really have a clear picture in my mind of who he was. I just like, you know, knew who he shouldn't be like and he wasn't. You know? And I found his glistening forehead to be remarkably smooth. I like that.” Others were not as enthusiastic. Brad Shipman from Ohio shared his experience. “I still couldn't quite make him out. I'm not sure if something blocked my perception, or if it's just me. It appeared that he was still masked. Or maybe he's very similar to the mask and I couldn't differentiate between the two. Oh, this is just really ticks me off. I've waited many years to find out who the unknown candidate is and I still don't know.” And more others were downright frightened. “What on earth did that man think he was doing up there?” asked a rattled mother who didn't want to be identified. She was in the FleetCenter celebrating the political process with her six-year-old daughter when the incident occurred. She continued with the horrific details, “He was pulling the mask off and putting it back on repeatedly. After that he started flip-flopping like a flounder right up there on stage. Then one moment he's cooing like a dove, the next he's screeching like a hawk. Next he starts hee-hawing like a donkey, then acting like an elephant. I have to admit it was creepy. Ashley started crying and begging me not to let the monster-man get her, so I had to whisk her out the auditorium. She'll probably grow up a Republican now thanks to that weirdo!” (The above story, though based on actual events, is satire or parody. It is meant for entertainment only and is NOT true.)

Permalink | Humor

July 29, 2004, 05:00 PM

Texas, Our Texas

By Rob Booth

NNS: Navy Announces Christening of Submarine Texas
WASHINGTON (NNS) — The Navy’s newest attack submarine Texas (SSN 775) will be christened Saturday during an 11 a.m. EDT ceremony at the Northrop Grumman Newport News facility in Newport News, Va. Secretary of the Navy Gordon England will join a number of dignitaries, including Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, who will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Texas native Laura Bush, first lady of the United States, will serve as the submarine’s sponsor. The ceremony will be highlighted by a time-honored Navy tradition when Bush christens the ship by breaking a bottle of champagne over the submarine to formally name it Texas.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

July 29, 2004, 02:00 PM

A Response:

By Terry Bohannon

On Monday, Tim responded to an essay I wrote, The Mutated Marriage, and I think a response is necessary. The response I wrote up, however, is too long for a comment, so I have posted it here. He says:
I've thought a lot about this issue because, as a religious matter, I believe it is wrong. But as I found myself saying that, I started thinking that it is a purely moral objection that I have to same sex marriage. And that left me with the conclusion that government banning of same sex marriages would be an imposition of PURELY moral values as a matter of law. To me, avoidance of that is the very definition of separation of church and state.
And to that, I respond. Tim, I have tried to address the fallacy of your reasoning, as fully as is practical. My response is a bit long, but I ask for your patience. You state that “I believe [same-sex marriage] is wrong,” yet since an out-right ban of same-sex marriage is an “imposition of PURELY moral values as a matter of law,” so then, in correlation with the “separation of church and state,” we must not seek an amendment or a bill affecting a similar decree. This, I believe, is what you were arguing. If I misquote you or misrepresent you, please speak up. But from this, I will try to answer you as I can. You imply that the government should not act, should not impose a bill, or amend the constitution, because they're responding to “purely moral values”. I don't know what you mean with your phrasing. There are a few possibilities. You could be referring to morality within the Kantian framework of language, of ideas, of morality; or you could mean that the opposition to same-sex marriage is only moral. I will assume the latter reason to be what you meant — more so because the ideas of Kant would hardly be honestly developed by myself, let alone a specialist scholar in the short space allotted. You seem to imply that we should not have laws that only seek to enforce moral values. Yet, indeed, that is what most of our criminal laws do. The immorality of an individual, especially in how the Bible explains it, besides being a sin against God Himself, can do three things. Immorality can affect a whole society, as with David's affair with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:1–5), it not only afflicted the life of her husband, but later as the whole country was caught up in a civil war, spawned by familial conflicts that branched from this affair. Immorality can affect the immediate family. An example of this is what happened with Achan and his family. Who, besides bringing “trouble on Israel by violating the ban on taking devoted things” (1 Chronicles 2:7) by coveting “a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels” (Joshua 7:20-21), led to the destruction of his family. Now, that may seem outrageous, but indeed, that is what sin does; it destroys. As when a wife finds (and strongly objects to) her husband's pornography addiction, an individual's sin can surely split and destroy families. Immorality (as no surprise) affects the individual who sins. As with Solomon: he was the wisest man to live, yet his leadership helped to bring about the deterioration of Israel. Solomon's reign, at first, was very strong. He set in place political and economic alignments that lifted Israel in the glory of the world. Yet, near the end of his reign, Solomon got caught up into the idolatries and sins of the countries around Israel, through their daughters, his 700 wives and 200 concubines, and this eventually led to the splitting of Israel into the Northern and Southern kingdoms. Solomon, although humanly wise, was blinded by his sin, by his lusts, and by his desires to eventually lose his way from He who was his Lord, and the path He set before him. There is only one cure for sin, and the cure is He who conquered death on the cross for our sakes. We must turn to Him in faith. Murder, for example, is a sin. And it's for morality's sake that it is not allowed. Since the sin of murder is a sin against one's self, immediate family, the whole society and God Himself, we could claim that making murder illegal would impose our morals on society. However, since the social implications of murder are so heinous, even the amoral among us justifies its illegality — for, making it a crime protects potential victims. Money laundering, or stealing, is also a sin. The greed affects one's self, and can definitely harm the immediate family while affecting the society's economic integrity. That too, could be used to argue that we punish money laundering on purely moral reasons. Nevertheless, it is justified from how this affects those around them. Now with same-sex marriage, or the mutated marriage, a constitutional amendment is justified. Justified not only because of how the mutated marriage affects children and families, but because “Activist lawyers and judges are working quickly through the courts to force same-sex marriage on our country,” as the astonishingly brilliant and well read Sen. James Inhofe said on the Senate floor, from the congressional record for June 13, 2004 (S7966). http://www.gpoaccess.gov/crecord/index.html When we have activist lawyers and judges seeking to change the moral recognition of marriage that has been in place for thousands of years, there is no other option but to vigorously support traditional marriage over any of its mutated variants. It is a sad reflection on the imbalance of our judicial system when we have to amend the constitution (a constitution they ignore when it suits them), but there seems to be no other way to prevent renegade judges from fervently and blindly imposing their own religion of fundamental secularism on the society at large. A thrust to support traditional marriage helps heal our society's broken state, I only hope that when (or if) that thrust comes, it's not too late. Pax Christi, Terry Bohannon

Permalink | News and Views

July 29, 2004, 11:23 AM

Jeff Cohen to speak on “State of Journalism”

By Terry Bohannon

According to a press release by the Public Relations Society of America, this September during their PR Day:
Keynote speaker Jeff Cohen, vice president and editor at the Houston Chronicle, will discuss the “State of Journalism and How Things Are Changing.”
They must be joking.

Permalink | Chron Bias

July 29, 2004, 11:06 AM

The Chronicle's look at blogs

By Anne Linehan

Today's Chronicle carries a dismissive story about bloggers at the Democratic Convention:
Some believe that their loose, highly personal accounts of the convention on Web logs — known as “blogs” — may transform the way political conventions are covered, just as radio did in 1924 and television did in 1952. To others, they're a bunch of self-involved slackers whose impact has been inflated.
(Emphasis added) We can safely assume that others refers to media people! We know that newspapers sniff at blogs, but the Chronicle isn't immune to them. It has a convention blog, called Convention Watch, and, of course, we can't leave out the ever-so-hip MeMo. Blogs are popular for many reasons. First, bloggers usually don't hide their political leanings. That helps. Second, many good blogs write thoughtful pieces, using media stories to back up assertions. Blog readers can then decide the “fair and balanced” question for themselves. And, blog readers can communicate with bloggers. So concerns can be aired and corrections made - fast. Newspapers say they encourage reader feedback, but we all know how that goes. The Chronicle's reader representative doesn't even have his own weekly column! Please - get rid of Maureen Dowd and give Mr. Campbell some column space! Toward the end of the story it gets amusing:
No one should confuse blogging with mainstream journalism, which strives for objectivity and embraces professional standards of reporting, said Rem Rieder, editor of the American Journalism Review. “Off-the-top-of-the-head analysis can be interesting and a good part of the debate, but it's not journalism,” Rieder said. Even so, “some of the better blogs offer thoughtful, intelligent commentary. It's kind of like an instant op-ed page,” he said, referring to one of the opinion pages in newspapers. Most bloggers don't pretend to be journalists. They rarely do original reporting, instead offering observations and opinion.
Now that's just condescending. You can feel the reporter's disdain for bloggers. But, frankly, one doesn't have to be a trained journalist to write news pieces; that's the beauty of the internet. Bloggers can pick and choose from lots of news stories when writing and readers can judge for themselves. One of the biggest problems with newspaper reporters is they often have an ideological haze they are looking through as they write a story, but they claim they are not influenced by it. And we can all roll our eyes as Rem Rieder says mainstream journalism “strives for objectivity and embraces professional standards of reporting.” That's just laughable, and part of the problem: That's what the mainstream media actually thinks!

Permalink | Media Watch

July 29, 2004, 09:47 AM

Houston delegates call Laura Bush 'Stepford Wife'

By Owen Courrèges

Methinks Houston has failed to send its 'best and brightest' as delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Boston, at least judging by their reactions to Teresa Heinz Kerry's speech (from Click2Houston.com):
Not surprisingly, Houston delegates were impressed with [Teresa Heinz Kerry's] performance. “I think this woman brings an honesty, a world knowledge that I think is not as parochial as some other people's knowledge of the world,” an unidentified delegate said. “She's a nationalist. She understands diversity. She understands there's more to life and learning than just the American point of view,” another delegate said. “There's just a warmth about her. When she and Sen. Kerry are together, it's just a beautiful thing,” another unidentified delegate said. “You don't see that with George and Laura (Bush)?” News2Houston's Bill Balleza asked. “No, I do not,” the delegate answered. “She's smart, she's strong, she's independent. She's not afraid to speak her mind. I think Texans appreciate someone who's not afraid to speak their mind, say what's on her mind and has an opinion,” another delegate said. “I see her as a great first lady. As like she said, she speaks five languages. She's very cultured. I think Laura Bush is a Stepford wife,” another delegate said.
I hereby dub these people 'self-hating Texans.' This is because their praise of Heinz-Kerry all evokes common criticisms of President Bush, and frankly, Texans in general. Texans are supposed to be parochial — mainly concerned with our own state — while not being as liberal and cosmopolitan as, say, Europe. It's not a criticism I condone, but I'm also certain that it didn't escape the minds of these delegates. Ah, but here comes a woman from Massachusetts who speaks five languages to show us the way! Wow! Thank goodness for the Democratic Party! Of course, since Laura Bush doesn't spout off to reporters or marry golddigging senators, she's perceived by the Democrats to be doting, unthinking, subordinate spouse (i.e. a 'Stepford Wife'). I suppose we can't all become remarried and yet keep our dead husband's last name as a bizarre assertion of our independence. Frankly, I can't see how Kerry was able to deal with that; perhaps all those Heinz millions have made the humiliation easier to deal with. But to close, I'll simply reiterate: Houston definitely didn't send its best and brightest to Boston, and that doesn't surprise me in the least.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

July 29, 2004, 09:20 AM

Chron: Dems not liberal enough for us!

By Phil Magness

If there's any doubt that the Chronicle is rooting for the Democrats in this November's election, today's editorial should remove it. The piece in whole amounts to little more than a loosely coherent string of nonsensical garbage in praise of the party of the left plus the occasional shrill jab at the incumbent administration. Given the implications of such a poorly argued and thinly disguised piece of radical partisanship by an paper that annually touts its “editorial policy,” in an oft-recycled James Howard Gibbons classic, as something “close to the middle, not an unreasonable place for a mainstream, metropolitan daily newspaper to be,” a proper deconstruction is in order. A mainstream editorial page, one might think, would neither excessively praise nor criticize the activities of any one particular political party. Curiously, the only negatively connotated remark that today's Chronicle sees fit to print about the DNC's presidential nominating convention indicates that it has thus far been “boringly free of internecine warfare.” Before one nods off from the paper's concocted attempts at etymological sophistication (for the curious, the term “internecine,” when properly used necessarily connotes an instance of death occurring, hence “neci” from the root necro - a term that neither describes this nor any other DNC convention of recent memory), it should be noted that such grievances are pretty darn flimsy examples of complaint on which to justify the self-description of “centrist.” Then again, if one takes a different look the Chron does appear to lodge another grievance with the Democrats in the following sentence:
Perhaps more debilitating than policy disputes is the Democrats' lingering identity crisis. Few are comfortable calling themselves liberal — favoring reform, progress and individual rights. The term might be poised for a comeback now that the Bush administration has tarred conservatism with uncontrolled deficits at home and pre-emptive invasions abroad. Citing the Clinton era, liberal Democrats can lay claim to belonging to the party of growth and fiscal responsibility.
The obvious inadequacies of that passage's attribution of fiscal responsibility to Bill “1993 Tax Hike” Clinton aside, readers should pay close attention to the Chronicle's apparent complaint. The Democratic Party, it seems, is to be faulted because it is not yet comfortable enough with professing its liberalism! Hear that Democrats? Y'all aren't openly liberal enough for the Chronicle's tastes so you better proudly wrap yourselves in the mantle of the radical left, allowing it to be your new “identity” for the public! Some “centrist” grievance for an equally “mainstream” newspaper... Despite the obvious deficit of substantive editorial complaint for much of anything that the Democrats do (save, of course, that they evidently aren't liberal enough!), virtually no restraint was employed while heaping scorn upon the Republicans. Granted, we already learned that President Bush has “tarred” conservatism with “uncontrolled deficits at home” (of which the perpetually insolvent tax and spend leftist social programs of the Great Society and New Deal eras surely have no role) and “pre-emptive invasions abroad” (which, of course to the Chronicle, is evil...well just because it is, so simply saying “pre-emptive” suffices to make the point). But there's more in store for any Bush fans who might be reading:
Ron Reagan, son of the deceased Republican president, spoke to the assembled Democrats concerning the need to allow federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. He oversold the medical advances likely during our lifetime, but he rightly painted the Democratic Party as the party in which science and reason are more at home than irrational fears, cynically exploited for partisan gain.
Notice the strawman employed to tar the conservative position on embryonic stem cells. To any possessing the slightest familiarity with the issue, not to mention an interest in accurate portrayal, most conservatives oppose the embryonic form of stem cell research out of a perfectly rational belief in the origin of life at conception. While others could doubtlessly explain the intricacies of that position in greater detail, suffice it to say that the Planned Parenthood-funding Chronicle's disagreement on this position is no basis to dismiss it as irrational or its proponents as haters of “science” and “reason.” As for the subject of “irrational fears, cynically exploited for partisan gain” it takes a severe irony, not to mention a form of triadic disconnect most commonly known as obliviousness, to opt for that description of Republicans in an editorial about the DNC convention. The kicker is its appearance on the same day that Al Sharpton roused a crowd of hollering rabid leftists by asking, of the GOP no less, “where is our mule?” in reference to slavery reparations. The Chronicle continues...
What voter can deny that Democrats, divided on gay marriage, are more welcoming toward gays and lesbians?
Well, yes. I suppose if turning one's political rallies into a public display of unconventional sexuality in general, be it the celebration of a certain former president or the catering to the militant advocacy wing of a certain lifestyle, is to be commended, the Democrats have that market cornered. Fortunately only newspapers that profess to be mainstream, and not mainstream America, hold that view. The editorial continues...
Barack Obama is less significant for what he said Tuesday night than for what he represents: a political Tiger Woods whose ability inspires support so broad it makes blindness to race seem almost within reach.
With regards to Obama, one might identify the author of that statement as a reasonably strong example of innovative metaphorical gravitas had it not previously appeared here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, among other locations. Let's continue...
Most Democrats want to extend health insurance to families who don't have it.
Now wait a minute. Is not this the same organization that the same editorial urged, only a few sentences prior, to “lay claim to” its title as “the party of growth and fiscal responsibility”? So much for the editorial's internal consistency on matters other than a uniform tilt to the left. But wait, here comes the Chron's stirring conclusion...
Sen. John Edwards, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, Wednesday night urged Democrats to embrace the politics of hope and endless possibility. Perhaps they should, but they needn't reject the party's unifying core values in order to do so.
Curious. Only “perhaps” should they opt to embrace these “politics of hope and endless possibility” allegedly preached by Edwards? Or is, perhaps, a better question in order, to wit: Exactly what are these “politics of hope and endless possibility”? I ask because, to me, it appears to be a hollow soundbyte of gratuitously claimed, spuriously professed, and intrinsically meaningless political fluff.

Permalink | Chron Bias

July 29, 2004, 08:45 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Make sure you view our Features section for daily commentary on the War on Terror, entertainment “wonders and blunders,” the sports world's best and worst shots, the great outdoors and a little miscellaneous humor. Features section highlights: Dan Lovett - Pugilistic Plunder, Neal Jain - A True Patriot, and our most recent puppy pic entry.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

July 29, 2004, 07:53 AM

James T. Campbell was on the radio

By Anne Linehan

We received an interesting heads up at Chronically Biased yesterday. The Chronicle's Ken Hoffman was filling in for a local radio host recently, and he had the Chronicle's Reader Representative, James T. Campbell, on with him, taking some phone calls. No one on the staff at Chronically Biased heard the Hoffman and Campbell show, but we have had some emails and phone calls from Chronically Biased readers and we will pass on what we have been told. A caller said Mr. Campbell admitted that the paragraph in the Leroy Sandoval story that caused so much grief, probably should have been edited out. Now that's progress! And Chronically Biased reader David sends us this email:
I was the first caller and was able to explain that I canceled both my wife's and my subscriptions to the Chron because of its liberal bias. I mentioned Chronicallybiased.com twice and so did James! He half-way admitted to the mistake in the Leroy Sandoval story and a later caller got him to admit that the editorial board is liberally biased.
Another email, from Tobin, added that Mr. Campbell said the Chronicle has balanced its admittedly liberal editorial page with conservative op-eds, and has even published a Chronically Biased writer once. And Mr. Campbell is right! Our very own Owen Courreges wrote an op-ed that was published in the Chronicle. (The Chronicle doesn't archive editorials and op-eds, so we can't provide a link to it as it was published, but here is a link to Owen's original piece, that he submitted to the Chronicle.) Thanks for the mention, Mr. Campbell! And Owen's a great writer - you should publish him again.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

July 29, 2004, 07:00 AM

Parking meters on Saturdays ok'ed by city council

By Owen Courrèges

Well, Mayor White has finally gotten his wish. He's found a way to increase parking meter revenue, thus putting more money into the city coffers:
City Council passed the final three items of Mayor Bill White's traffic-management plan this morning with only one dissenting vote, marking another victory for the mayor on one of his signature issues. White had to amend several of his original proposals to quell opposition, however. One of the ordinances approved today authorizes parking-meter fees on Saturdays, raises maximum meter rates, and gives the administration flexibility in setting those rates.
Not exactly a victory for frugal government, is it? The city should be tightening its belt, not finding new ways to extract money from Houstonians in the midst of a poor local economy. And I need not even mention the negative effect this will have on downtown businesses. That's obvious enough to everyone. It's yet another little reassurance that I did the right thing by voting against Bill White.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

July 29, 2004, 06:23 AM

Count me out

By Rob Booth

I think Senator Edwards was trying to get my vote last night in his Democratic Convention speech. No, thank you. WaPo: Text: Sen. John Edwards Speech to DNC
And let me tell you, the 26 million veterans in this country will not have to wonder when we're in office whether they'll have health care next week or next year. We will take care of them because they have taken care of us.
I served in the Navy for eight years. I didn't retire, and I don't have a disability. I declined the GI Bill. I don't receive, and I don't seek any benefits from the federal government. Senator, I volunteered because I wanted an adventure and to serve our country. You, and the taxpayers of this country, owe me nothing. Thanks anyway.

Permalink | News and Views

July 28, 2004, 10:01 PM

Fun With Protesters

By Matt Forge

No one respects our God-given rights more than we do here at Chronically Biased. As Americans we have the right to congregate, to speak freely, to protest, and to make utter fools of ourselves - which brings us to the topic of “protesters.” They come in all shapes and sizes, nationalities, political persuasions, and mental states. There are some, though, who seem to be professionals. It appears to be their mission in life to sell their ideas (and t-shirts) to the public via eye-popping costumes, innovative musical instruments, homemade signs of poster board and duct tape, bed sheet banners, motivational chants that begin with, “Hey hey, ho ho...” and realistic effigies created with heaping gobs of paper maché liberally coated with cost-effective Tempera paint. Here we honor these living cartoons from the Democratic National Convention in Boston. We celebrate their unbridled enthusiasm, their selfless sincerity, their incessant need to express themselves, their progressive ideas based on a drug-induced worldview and most of all, their sky-high entertainment value.

Click on a caption to view the pic. Click the back button on your browser to return to this menu. Note: Do NOT view these powerful images if you don't want your current opinion changed! You have been warned...

 

Thinking outside the box...

Clash between a lefty-loosy and a right-winger ...

This way to the promised land...

Kids can enjoy themselves and test their skills at the apocalyptic dunking booth...

This one is obviously not from PETA...

Making good use of a stolen prop from the original Star Trek pilot episode...

Protesters getting their daily dose of fiber...

Uncle Sam would be proud of his great great grandson (or would he?)...

Organized anarchists plan their work and work their plan...

The left one works but the right one is a flop...

Training for nighttime ski jumping...

Doesn't walking with hands behind your back and head lowered usually look smart?...

Be taken seriously, wear protest panties...

Betsy Ross cloned, protests extra stars added to her masterpiece...

New movie coming out: "Scary Rally" (a comedy)...

Taking a break from changing hearts and minds...

Protest Jedi attempts to stop war with The Force...

Ooh, the double-diss...

David Bowie and Dr. Death join the protest...

Bowie & Death rock the rally...

Dr. Death jamming on his electric ukulele...

Patriotic liberal shows great respect for the American flag...

At least we don't have to listen to her...

Hey hey, ho ho, your silly costume has got to go...

Is billionaire John Kerry on the board...

W. joins in on the ever-effective "peace dance"...

What about books about bombs?...

The dead tree graveyard...

Regain your dignity, stop yourself...

Costumed politician raises awareness of safe sex through the proper use of condoms...

 

For more great pics, we suggest surfing overs to Protest Warrior's site.

Permalink | Humor

July 28, 2004, 08:04 PM

Chron Exclusive: Kerry's a “decorated veteran,” President Bush “lack[s] military service”

By M. Wildes

In the Chronicle’s latest free ad for John Kerry, “Kerry wants extension of Sept. 11 commission,” Julie Mason rehashes an old anti-Bush mantra, while repeating the only Kerry mantra there is.
The Bush administration had hoped the president’s wartime leadership would finally eclipse any lingering questions from the first campaign about his lack of military service. During the war in Vietnam, Bush was in the Texas Air National Guard.
(Emphasis added) Who has lingering questions and what does this have to do with a story about Kerry’s plans for the commission’s recommendations? This is an obvious attempt to minimize President Bush’s credibility as his administration reviews the commission’s recommendations. The administration has chosen to deliberate further rather than instantly implementing presidential orders and demanding Congress enact all of the measures immediately as Kerry suggested he would do. What is said of Kerry’s credibility?
But Kerry thinks the public’s growing uneasiness about the war in Iraq and his own background as a decorated veteran give him an opening to challenge Bush directly on national security, a traditional purview of the Republican Party.
Unbelievable. Maybe it is a good sign that the Chronicle and or the Kerry campaign think that the war and Kerry’s medals are still going to help him. They have been spouting uneasiness about the war while talking up Kerry’s medals throughout the entire campaign and it hasn't worked. In fact, these are the only things about which they have been speaking. The Chronicle could just as easily have said, “The Democrats had hoped Kerry’s military experience would have finally eclipsed any lingering questions as to their ability to defend the country…. But President Bush thinks his war time leadership and successes in the War on Terror will give him an opening to directly challenge Kerry on national security, since Kerry was a decorated veteran.” It did not. The greatest irony of the story and indeed the Kerry campaign, is that the above quotes from the Chronicle appear after the following quotes from Kerry on the commission report:
“Leadership requires that we act decisively to protect America.” … “Not talk. Not vague promises. Not excuses. Pedaling and backpedaling is something America can’t afford.” … “We cannot let politics get in the way of protecting the American people.”
Mr. Kerry, your offer to get out of the way, stop pedaling and backpedaling and let President Bush continue to act decisively, is accepted.

Permalink | Chron Bias

July 28, 2004, 03:41 PM

Al Qaeda suspect arrested in Texas

By Anne Linehan

Here is a story to keep an eye on:
A South African woman picked up in Texas almost 10 days ago may turn out to be a key, high-level al-Qaida operative. Her name is Farida Goolam Mohamed Ahmed. She was stopped at McAllen Miller International Airport on July 19 headed to New York. Eddie Flores of the U.S. Border Patrol office in McAllen, Texas tells FederalNewsRadio.com that a review of her papers raised some concerns. “In looking at her documents, they did not find any entry documents in her passport where she was legally admitted into the United States,” says Flores. Ahmed produced a South African passport to the agents with four pages torn out, and with no U.S. entry stamps. Ahmed reportedly later confessed to investigators that she entered the country illegally by crossing the Rio Grande River. Ahmed was carrying travel itineraries showing a July 8 flight from Johannesburg, South Africa to London. Six days later, Ahmed traveled from London to Mexico City before attempting to travel from McAllen to New York.
Here is the story referenced at the end of the above article, about terrorists having obtained South African passports. (Both stories via Little Green Footballs)

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

July 28, 2004, 12:41 PM

Happy soldier story is more Chronicle “olds”

By Anne Linehan

Today's Chronicle has a feel-good story about some American soldiers returning from Iraq who were given first-class airline upgrades, from fellow travelers.
A first-class passenger on American Airlines Flight 866 from Atlanta to Chicago on June 29 started a “domino effect” in first class when he decided to give up his seat to a soldier, according to American Airlines spokeswoman Jacquie Young.
It is such a nice story. Really makes you proud of your fellow Americans. The only problem is the Chronicle's timeliness. This happened a month ago. The Dallas Morning News reported it two weeks ago. And the Chronicle's story isn't even written by a Chronicle reporter - it's picked up from the Knight-Ridder-Tribune News Service.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

July 28, 2004, 10:01 AM

New poll

By Owen Courrèges

We have a new poll question up today: “Is there such a thing as objective truth?” You can respond to this question here. The results from our previous poll question are here. Given the recent remarks by Chronicle Interim Metro Editor Veronica Flores to the effect that “truth is all relative,” I think it would be nice to field some reader input on the subject of whether or not truth actually exists in any meaningful form. After all, if there is no truth, then the Chronicle gets off scot free for its gross corruption, bias, and penchant for lying. How terribly convenient for them! In any case, it's nice to know that Captain Chronicle, our very own parody of the Chronicle, apparently has the same motto as Flores. When our satire begins to mimic reality, you know we're dealing with an unfathomably bad newspaper.

Permalink | Staff Notes

July 28, 2004, 09:37 AM

Cragg Hines says Kerry is sitting pretty

By Owen Courrèges

Well, well, well... My old arch-nemesis Cragg 'Delay-is-Satan' Hines has penned yet another column for the Houston Chronicle. Apparently feeling as though his audience didn't already recognize that he is, in fact, a liberal Democrat, he decided to write about how good a position Kerry is in:
My colleagues in the punditocracy and I have sought to convince you how important John Kerry's acceptance speech will be. Some key Democratic strategists, including Kerry's pollster, don't fully agree. And they're not just lowering expectations. [...] The conventional wisdom has been that Kerry's convention-closing speech is crucial, his first real chance to introduce himself to uncertain voters who don't have a firm picture of him in mind. That seems uncertainly true. “There is a desire on our part to deepen their knowledge,” Mark Mellman, Kerry's pollster, said. But how high must Kerry jump? “I wouldn't even call it a hurdle,” Mellman said amid the uproar of the Democratic National Convention in FleetCenter.
Wow. And I thought Kerry's pollster would try to talk down his candidate. This is really news to me, Cragg. After all, Gore's pollster was always screaming 'WE'RE DOOMED!' Sorry. That's just more sarcasm, there. Kerry's people would love to believe that all their candidate need do is outline an agenda during his acceptance speech, and he'll get a massive 'covention bounce' that will rocket him straight to the oval office. But in reality, the electorate is fairly deadlocked right now. The idea that there exists an inestimable supply of undecided voters just doesn't wash. Moreover, the Democratic Convention is dullsville. Dan Rather is bored. The ratings thus far have been absolutely pathetic. Kerry needs to do a great deal with his acceptance speech if he's going to overcome that. Hines knows it too — that's why he sounds so overconfident while citing hopelessly-biased sources. And this guy is apparently the best the Chronicle can muster for their D.C. political columnist. Sheesh!

Permalink | Noxious Chron Columnists

July 28, 2004, 09:00 AM

Re: Chron fibs about UN Population Fund

By Michael Meyer

A staff editorial that ran in the Chronicle yesterday accused Bush of “going it alone” and shortchanging UN Programs. Is this entirely true? Of course not, it's the Chronicle. Owen covered a bit of this yesterday, but I think this issue merits further examination. This whole thing boils down to a tug-of-war over money promised to fund worldwide family planning, and whether pro-abortion activists should get the funding over an alternative non-abortion program. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), not satisfied with the $2.2 billion that Bill and Melinda Gates donated in 1999, wants another $34 million dollars from the US Government. Here's the background that the Chronicle did not cover: On August 1985, Congress passed the Kemp-Kasten Amendment to a foreign aid appropriations bill that says in part:
None of the funds made available in this bill nor any unobligated balances from prior appropriations may be made available to any organization or program which, as determined by the President of the United States, supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.
In other word, no funding to organizations that might result in coerced abortions. Reagan and Bush Sr. determined that under this rule, the UNFPA was ineligible for funds due to the UNFPA activities in China where abortions are coerced to maintain smaller family sizes. Clinton in 1993 resumed funding, basically saying that the UNFPA was never implicated in the coerced abortions. The Chronicle wants you to believe this stretch of the truth:
Wishing to nurture support among Americans opposed to abortion, the administration links the U.N. Population Fund to China's mandatory population controls. The opposite is true. The United Nation's family planning efforts reduce the number of forced abortions and sterilizations.
Here is what the US State Department actually said:
The team found no evidence that UNFPA has “knowingly supported or participated in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization in the PRC.” The team found that, notwithstanding some relaxation in the 32 counties in which UNFPA is involved, the population programs of the PRC “retain coercive elements in law and in practice.” The team noted a system of extremely high fines and penalties imposed on families that exceed the number of children per family approved by the government. In this connection, even if UNFPA did not “knowingly” support or participate in such a program, that does not mean that the Kemp-Kasten restriction would not be triggered, since that restriction does not rest on a finding of legal intent to fund the coercive program. The restriction is triggered if the recipient “supports or participates in the management or a program of coercive abortion” (or involuntary sterilization).
President Bush has “continuously called on China to end its program of coercive abortion” and has “repeatedly urged China and the UN Population Fund to restructure the organization’s programs in a way that would allow the United States to provide funding,” according to the US State Department. So did the UNFPA go without funding? Hardly. Two days after the State Department announced it was withholding funding, the European Union offered the UNFPA €32 million to compensate. And the $34 million pledged to family planning and reproductive health? The full $34 million was provided to the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to “offer a broad array of voluntary family planning methods, including contraceptives, natural family planning, information about the delay of sexual activity (abstinence), the delay of first birth for married teens, and linking it to the ”ABC“ initiative (abstinence, being faithful, and condom use) when appropriate.” In other words, everything but abortion. When one realizes that those for funding the UNFPA's funding include Planned Parenthood, Salon.com, National Organization of Women, and the Sierra Club, yet opposed by US Conference of Catholic Bishops and pro-life organizations, it becomes abundantly clear that this is merely an attempt to get the US government to fund abortions worldwide.

Permalink | Chron Bias

July 28, 2004, 07:47 AM

Chronicle runs op-ed by notorious Bush-basher

By Anne Linehan

Today's Chronicle runs an op-ed piece by Richard Clarke. Richard Clarke! The totally discredited former chief of counterterorrism for President Bush and President Clinton. If you'll recall, he sold out to publish a book and appear on 60 Minutes. After his appearance before the 9/11 commission, the media went into full drool-mode. He was interviewed everywhere and then hired by ABC News as an analyst. He is also said to be a John Kerry advisor. When the 9/11 Commission Report came out last week, there was a very interesting section that related to Clarke:
Even after bin Laden’s departure from the area, CIA officers hoped he might return, seeing the camp as a magnet that could draw him for as long as it was still set up. The military maintained readiness for another strike opportunity. On March 7, 1999, Clarke called a UAE official to express his concerns about possible associations between Emirati officials and bin Laden. Clarke later wrote in a memorandum of this conversation that the call had been approved at an interagency meeting and cleared with the CIA. When the former bin Laden unit chief found out about Clarke’s call, he questioned CIA officials, who denied having given such clearance. Imagery confirmed that less than a week after Clarke’s phone call the camp was hurriedly dismantled, and the site was deserted. CIA officers, including Deputy Director for Operations Pavitt, were irate. ‘Mike’ thought the dismantling of the camp erased a possible site for targeting bin Laden.
(Emphasis added) Richard Clarke leaked plans to attack a camp frequented by Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1999. The 9/11 Commission report says the CIA concluded this leak led to the camp being dismantled and that a chance to get bin Laden was missed. There are so many holes in Clarke's testimony to the 9/11 Commission; it isn't hard to find stories that point out numerous factual problems with Clarke's assertions that the Clinton Administration took terrorism seriously, but the Bush Administration did not, prior to 9/11. After the 9/11 Commission released its report, one of the commission members had harsh words for Clarke:
Lehman says that Clarke's original testimony included “a searing indictment of some Clinton officials and Clinton policies.” That was the Clarke, evenhanded in his criticisms of both the Bush and Clinton administrations, who Lehman and other Republican commissioners expected to show up at the public hearings. It was a surprise “that he would come out against Bush that way.” Republicans were taken aback: “It caught us flat-footed, but not the Democrats.” Clarke's performance poisoned the public hearings, leading to weeks of a partisan slugfest. Lehman says Republican commissioners felt they had to fight back, adding to the partisan atmosphere. “What triggered it was Dick Clarke,” says Lehman. “We couldn't sit back and let him get away with what he wanted to get away with.” He adds, “We were hijacked by a combination of Viacom and the Kerry campaign in the handling of Clarke's testimony.”
(Emphasis added) With this track record, Clarke's assessment of the 9/11 Commission report cannot be trusted. And the Chronicle should have had better judgement. But what can we expect of a paper that puts this on its editorial page today?

Permalink | Miscellaneous

July 28, 2004, 07:00 AM

Chronicle editor threatens to walk off T.V. show over the word truth

By Dan Patrick

I was asked to be a guest on the panel for the T.V. show, Connections, which airs on Channel 8. I have been on several times in the past. Ernie Manuse does a good job hosting the show and always welcomes my conservative opinions, even if he doesn’t agree with many of them. Yesterday, I arrived for the taping, that will air next Tuesday, and walked into the “green room.” I didn’t know the topic for the show. It didn’t matter to me; I’m always ready to take on any topic. When I arrived in the “green room,” the room where everyone meets to discuss the show, I was introduced to the other panelists, all liberals that would join me on the show. There was a liberal radio manager, the city editor from the Chronicle and a professor from U of H (sounds like Gilligan’s Island) The topic for the show; how can the public find the truth in the media? That sounded straight forward enough to me. Let’s roll tape. The Chronicle editor, Veronica Flores, spoke up and said she did not like the show title. She said truth was a relative thing. She said something like truth was in the eye of the beholder and that truth was whatever one thought it was. The professor, Garth Jowett, said there were many meanings to the word truth and that there is no eternal truth. The liberal radio manager from the Pacifica Network, it stands for pacifism, joined in, with some gibberish of her own, on the topic and agreed with her liberal cohorts. The Chronicle editor then added if the show title was not changed and did not leave out the word truth, she would not do the show. I was shocked at what I was hearing. I expected, at any minute, for someone to jump out of the closet and say, smile you’re on Candid Camera. Here were three liberals debating the issue of truth and concluding that one cannot define it. Then there was the Chronicle editor, Mrs. Flores, insisting that if the very word truth was not dropped from the title, she would walk out the door. She insisted that the host and producers drop the word truth and instead insert the word accuracy. The staff debated with her for a few moments and finally gave in to her demands and changed the title of the show topic. So there you have it. Liberals can’t only not agree on what truth is, they don’t believe there is such a thing as eternal, absolute or even the simple truth. How do liberals take the witness stand? They obviously can’t swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Now you know how liberals can easily embrace the likes of Michael Moore, Bill and Hilary Clinton, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry. Now you know why the Houston Chronicle can’t be trusted. I’m still shaking my head over the Chronicle editor who said she would walk off the show if the word truth was included in the title of the show. It was an unbelievable experience for me. I felt like I was a fly on the wall of a meeting of the secret society of the meeting of liberals. It’s these kind of people, with power and influence in the media, that truly endanger the future of America. And that’s the truth! Reminder: The show, Connections, will air Tuesday, Aug 3, 8:55 p.m. on channel 8

Permalink | News and Views

July 28, 2004, 06:42 AM

I'm at a loss for words

By Rob Booth

This can't really be in the Chronicle today, can it? If someone sees a paper copy, please let me know if this is actually on the editorial page:
The main problem with strict codes of dog etiquette is that, with the possible exception of the border collies, dogs cannot comprehend them, no matter how prominently the rules are posted. Unless society has gone completely to the dogs, an official reminder to dog owners to use common sense and common courtesy ought to suffice. Live and let live should be the order of the day.
This is a joke by their webmaster, right?

Permalink | Miscellaneous

July 28, 2004, 06:00 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Make sure you view our Features section for daily commentary on the War on Terror, entertainment “wonders and blunders,” the sports world's best and worst shots, the great outdoors and a little miscellaneous humor. Features section highlights: Matt Malatesta's local high school coverage (Every Week) and our latest pup pics!

Permalink | Miscellaneous

July 27, 2004, 04:37 PM

Did you know the Chronicle is liberal?

By Anne Linehan

Today's Chronicle has a puff piece on Teresa Heinz Kerry. That's not a surprise, but the very last paragraph of the story is a bit eye-catching:
The Pittsburgh paper is owned by conservative activist Richard Mellon Scaife, a wealthy bankroller of numerous Republican causes and candidates.
Good thing that was added! Otherwise, we might have thought the reporter from that paper was legitimate. But now that we have been told he's from a conservative-owned paper, well, we'll just forget the whole thing. Oh, that poor Mrs. Kerry, being bullied by that mean, conservative reporter - making her act all uncivil after that speech on civility. (The story basically shrugs off her outburst from the other night.) Since the Chronicle suddenly feels it is important to identify the political background of media outlets, how about this: A chart that shows the political contributions of the 25 largest media companies. Hearst Corp. (parent company of the Chronicle) is there, halfway down. Let's see - oh, the corporation and its employees contribute 68% to Democrats and 32% to Republicans. And let's not forget these stories on the Chronicle's support for the ultra-liberal Planned Parenthood. Maybe we should just discount all Chronicle reporters, since they are obviously tainted by the liberalness of their bosses at the Chronicle and at Hearst Corp.

Permalink | Chron Bias

July 27, 2004, 03:00 PM

The Mutated Marriage

By Terry Bohannon

There is a strong push within the Democratic Party to rip apart the traditional family. This push began with the pro-abortion movement to make parenting optional, and now quickens itself in an offensive that mutates marriage to the degree that the sacred becomes only an option. Indeed, as many have guessed, that push I'm referring to is no other than the push for same-sex marriage. In the DNC Convention, this issue will be brought to their platform with, “We support full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the life of our nation and seek equal responsibilities, benefits, and protections for these families.” They seem to claim that by having the “equal responsibilities, benefits, and protections,” same-sex couplings will be as beneficial to society as traditional marriage has been for thousands of years. However, same-sex marriage, as is evident from the effect it has had on Scandinavia and the Netherlands, only achieves to rip apart the traditional family. In a testimony before the Senate Judiciary committee, Stanley Kurtz makes a very powerful conclusion:
In short, since the adoption of same-sex registered partnerships [traditional] marriage has declined substantially in both Scandinavia and the Netherlands. In the districts of Scandinavia most accepting of same-sex marriage, marriage itself has almost entirely disappeared. . . . The social harm in all this is the damage to children. Children will suffer greatly[.]
Children, most certainly, will suffer greatly. They will suffer, yet once again, the Democratic Party will ignore their cries. The Democrats who support abortion, and anyone else who does the same, block their ears from the silent screams of those unborn children who are ripped apart limb by limb. So too when same-sex marriage is supported, directly or by resignation, we ignore the cries to come: the cries from broken homes. As I have said before, marriage as God intended it to be is a sacred bond. It is not something based on feelings or even founded on a piece of paper. Feelings change, paper burns. Marriage is a creative act of God where two become one. When marriage is mutated in Scandinavia, the traditional family is cloven in two. The reason is obvious. As Robert Bork pointed out in the August/September issue of First Things, is that:
The symbolic link between marriage, procreation, and family, is broken, and there is a rapid and persistent decline in heterosexual marriages. Families are begun by cohabiting couples, who break up significantly more often than married couples, leaving children in one-parent families.
As Americans, we cannot passively stand by and watch the gay lobby mutate our institution of marriage. We must stand up to them, we must make it clear how destructive same-sex marriage is to the chastity as well as to the well-being of our children, we must stand up and support the sacred bond of marriage. Or else the union will be just that, a mere union, a piece of paper. The push for mutated marriage is a catastrophe, and as the brilliant law professor Robert Bork wrote, it “ought not to be faced in a spirit of resignation.”

Permalink | News and Views

July 27, 2004, 01:00 PM

More pseudo-evenhandedness from the Chron

By Phil Magness

The Chronicle's penchant for dishing out attacks in a pretended bipartisan spirit has again exhibited itself. Only a week has passed since the last incident, first reported here on ChronicallyBiased.com. Today's editorial takes aim at linguistic abuse in the public arena, specifically citing a recent incident involving Vice President Cheney's use of profanity towards Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and a similar, albeit less reported, verbal lashing that Teresa Heinz-Kerry gave to an editor at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review over unfavorable editorial comments. The editorial's message seems innocent and agreeable enough at first: “professionals,” they say, “should acknowledge...and apologize” for verbal “meltdowns” of this sort rather than excusing them. Of course, these are sentiments that few persons would disagree upon. But then the Chronicle's legendary “evenhandedness” kicks in... Consider the paper's presentation of the two incidents, and commentary upon their circumstances, for Heinz-Kerry and Cheney. On Cheney's reported outburst they note:
Peeved when Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy “challenged my integrity,” the vice president offered a rapier-like riposte: “Go **** yourself.” Later he confided that after his outburst he “felt better.”
Notice that the Chronicle provides no circumstances and no subsequent details to Cheney's outburst beyond an unelaborated and unexplained quotation snippet from Cheney (Leahy had taken his own cheap shots at Cheney's business dealings). Now contrast that with Teresa Heinz-Kerry:
Teresa Heinz Kerry didn't like the newspaper, and she didn't like the question. So she said exactly what she felt. “Shove it,” the aspiring first lady snapped at the editorial page editor of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, whose right-wing publisher has bankrolled misleading stories about her for years. Heinz Kerry offered no apologies, but Sen. Hillary Clinton explained, “She is expressing herself honestly and openly ... I think a lot of Americans are going to say, 'Good for you! You go, girl!'”
Unlike Cheney, Heinz-Kerry is assigned a mitigating motive for her outburst, viz. years of bottled up frustration against a “right-wing publisher” who had “bankrolled misleading stories” about her. Adding to her defense is a full line quote from Hillary Clinton. The Chron's “evenhandedness” continues in the next paragraph, where we also learn that the outburst of Heinz-Kerry, apparent victim of an evil right wing newspaper publisher's smear job conspiracy, may be partially to blame on none other than Dick Cheney, who possibly “emboldened” her to do it!
In fact, Heinz Kerry may have been emboldened by the reception given to Vice President Dick Cheney's June tantrum on the Senate floor.
The tactic is a tricky one: They attack both the Democrat and the Republican for allegedly doing the same thing so that the editorial looks balanced and evenhanded. All the while they continue slipping in various excuses for the Democrat so she doesn't look quite as bad as the Republican. Of course they conclude it all with a series of blanket chastisements for both so as to maintain the original appearance of balance, but the damage is already done. One might also make a minor quibble with a line near the editorial's conclusion, itself indicative of the Chronicle's tendency toward sloppy journalism,.
At least our leaders have upgraded from the days of bludgeoning colleagues with walking sticks on the steps of the Capitol.
This, of course, is a reference to the famous caning of Senator Charles Sumner by Congressman Preston Brooks with his walking stick in 1856. The editorial's writers, no doubt, inserted this passage to provide intellectual weight for their otherwise simplistic argument. Sadly, they fumbled its attempted allusion in typical fashion. The caning of Sumner, well known for excessively inflamatory speeches, and Brooks, a famed duelist well known for his short temper, took place at a desk in the Senate Chamber, not on the “steps of the Capitol.”

Permalink | News and Views

July 27, 2004, 11:00 AM

Chron fibs about UN Population Fund

By Owen Courrèges

As Houston's resident shill for Planned Parenthood, the Chronicle feels obligated to voice outrage against President Bush whenever he does something entirely sensible concerning the politics of family planning. Case in point — Bush has withheld funding from the UN Population Fund, claiming that it has links to China's draconian 'one child' policy. The Chronicle finds this objectionable:
The [Bush] administration is withholding $34 million from the United Nations Population Fund. Wishing to nurture support among Americans opposed to abortion, the administration links the U.N. Population Fund to China's mandatory population controls. The opposite is true. The United Nation's family planning efforts reduce the number of forced abortions and sterilizations. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher gave the game away when he said, “We feel by funding these programs we would be indirectly helping the Chinese to improve the management of programs that result in coercive abortion.” But feelings are not facts. The State Department's own investigations found that the U.N. Population Fund took no part in coercion of any kind. The agency worked to counter China's childbirth quota system.
I've bolded the statement that, well, isn't quite true. As this May 2003 article from the National Catholic Register shows, the State Department has, in fact, discovered links between China's coercive family planning policies and the UN Population Fund:
The U.S. State Department has released a report accusing the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) of funding forced abortion and sterilization programs worldwide. The March 31 report says that forced abortion and sterilization policies exist in the 32 counties where the Population Fund has operations. And the report states that, despite the organization's claims to the contrary, its involvement in China's abusive programs is sufficient to deny the organization U.S. government funds under federal law. The provisions of the Cairo Program of Action of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development prohibit the United Nations from supporting forced abortion and sterilization programs. Evidence provided by State Department investigators shows that abuses also include the leveling of so-called social compensation fees for families having a child without government approval. These “social compensation fees” are fines amounting to several times a family's yearly earnings. The report calls these fines “draconian.” According to the report, “additional disciplinary measures against those who violated the limited-child policy by having an unapproved child or helping another to do so included the withholding of social services, higher tuition costs when the child goes to school, job loss or demotion, loss of promotion opportunity for one or more years, expulsion from the Party [membership in which was an unofficial requirement for certain jobs] and other administrative punishments, including in some cases the destruction of property.” As a result of these findings it was determined that funding the U.N. Population Fund would be in violation of federal law specifying that no U.S. government funds be used in a program that “supports or participates in the management of a coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.” An official of the U.S. State Department told the Register, “Our position is that UNFPA's assistance to the Chinese birth-limitation program amounts to support or participation of their program, and the program is coercive; therefore we cannot provide funding for the UNFPA.”
Now I'm not an expert on this issue, so I'm willing to admit that other State Department investigations may have yielded different findings. However, it would behoove the Chronicle to actually mention that fact were it the case. It's crucial information; if Bush is playing it safe by not providing funding to an organization where credible accusations against it exist, then his policy is perfectly sensible. This is yet another case of the Chronicle letting its own connections to Planned Parenthood, i.e. the 'abortion mill,' cloud its editorial judgment. This is why it's so difficult to take the rag seriously.

Permalink | Chron Bias

July 27, 2004, 10:00 AM

Homeowners associations superior to zoning

By Owen Courrèges

Houston is probably the only major city in the United States that has no zoning laws. Because of this, homeowners associations have had to pick up the slack, and as this article from the Houston Business Journal explains, they have done so with considerable success:
In Houston, which is distinguished by having little or no zoning, homeowners associations provide grassroots private zoning, says veteran Houston-area association manager David Regenbaum. Depending on the point of view, the rules and regulations of homeowners associations either provide indispensable structure for communities or provide heavy-fisted enforcement over various freedoms. According to Regenbaum, however, steps have been taken by homeowners associations to reduce the possibility of abuses homeowners have complained about in the past. “In the 1980s and 1990s,” he says, “homeowners complained about a lack of due process before enforcement and fines. Our state has changed the Property Code in favor of homeowners. In 2003, the Texas Residential Property Owners Protection Act became law, guaranteeing a right of redemption and mandating 180 days between notification and foreclosure. Associations have become much more sensitive to homeowners' needs, and that's a good thing.”
Some people still believe that zoning is inevitable for Houston, despite the defeat of several zoning referendums throughout the last century (Dr. Stephen Klineberg comes to mind). What these people forget, however, is that zoning is a highly-centralized and thus involuntary method for regulating property. With a homeowners association, a person knows what they're getting into. More than that, they can actually have a voice, since homeowners associations are extremely small and localized. They provide a necessary balance between community interests and individual property rights. Now there have undoubtedly been some abuses, which is why state law was changed. But the strategy is still sound. As usual, what makes Houston exceptional also makes it better.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

July 27, 2004, 08:01 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Make sure you view our Features section for daily commentary on the War on Terror, entertainment “wonders and blunders,” the sports world's best and worst shots, the great outdoors and a little miscellaneous humor. Features section highlights:Dick Morris - Kerry’s Quandary and Matt Malatesta - Honeymoon Over For Texans.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

July 27, 2004, 08:00 AM

News 24 Houston finally folds

By Owen Courrèges

Without much fanfare, News 24 Houston ceased operations as of Friday, July 23rd. News 24, for those who watched it from time to time, was an effort by Time Warner Cable to create a 24-hour local news network. Alas, this venture, although brave and innovative, was apparently far from profitable. I personally mourn the loss of News 24 not only because I was a viewer, but also because they tended to pick up on some local stories that fell through the cracks, the ones that the major news affilliates wouldn't pick up on. The launch of Chronically Biased, for example, was only covered initally by News 24. While other coverage came later, they were the first. Houston can use all the media competition it can get, and so I'm sorry to see yet another outlet go the way of the dodo. Everyone else in the game just became a little less honest, I think.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

July 27, 2004, 07:42 AM

The Chronicle's wishful thinking

By Anne Linehan

The following post was made before sufficient caffeine was drunk this morning. Please disregard what follows, and at least give us credit for correcting ourselves promptly! Rep. Dick Gephardt was Majority Leader from 1989 til 1994. Thanks to alert reader Mark, we catch this Chronicle boo boo, in today's paper:
Later, Bell appeared at a posh reception for former Democratic House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt at Boston's Wang Theatre, where several colleagues praised the Houston lawmaker for going after DeLay.
(Emphasis added) Of course, Rep. Dick Gephardt was never the Democratic Majority Leader. He rose to the top Democrat position in the House in 1994, the same year the Democrats lost control of the House, but Rep. Gephardt was the Democratic Minority Leader.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

July 27, 2004, 06:38 AM

Oh, we got trouble!

By Rob Booth

Right here in Bayou City! Lucas Wall has been on a monorail kick as of late. (Whenever I hear the word “monorail,” I think of that Simpsons episode. It's a take-off on The Music Man, but instead of selling musical instruments the con artist sells them a train.) The Chronicle's recently run two stories on the new Las Vegas monorail. I havn't noticed any anti-war sentiment in the stories, but I did have a question about these two comments: Chronicle: Sin City's new attraction has one-track mind
Some in Houston are again yearning for monorail after seeing 6 1/2 months of slow speeds along the Main Street light rail line, along with numerous collisions and a few closures because of flooding and large special-event crowds downtown blocking the tracks.
Chronicle: Monorail a big hit in Vegas, but here?
Those troubles have some Houstonians lamenting that the city didn't follow through with its ambitious 1991 plan to build a 14-mile monorail line between downtown and Westchase.
The folks who campaigned against the METRO light-rail proposal (I was one) probably wouldn't object to a Vegas-style project in Houston. It doesn't use taxpayer money. I've got to wonder what circles Lucas travels in though. I've never heard any one of my friends say we should build a monorail. Then again, I've never heard any of my friends advocate using the Disney “It's a Small World” ride as the basis for a mass-transit system either. Lucas does specialize in transit issues though, so I guess he's talking to some people I don't socialize with. I wonder if the purpose of this talk is to soften us up for a change to METRO's light-rail plans. Hmmmm.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

July 26, 2004, 03:00 PM

The Flipflopstress...

By Matt Forge

It seems Mrs. Kerry has adopted the liberal public speaking method.

Permalink | Political Cartoons

July 26, 2004, 10:57 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Make sure you view our Features section for daily commentary on the War on Terror, entertainment “wonders and blunders,” the sports world's best and worst shots, the great outdoors, your daily devotional and a little miscellaneous humor. Features section highlights: Dan Lovett - Le Tour de Lance and Barry Chambers - Take One: Say It Again Sam.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

July 26, 2004, 09:56 AM

Chron publishes anti-blogger screed

By Owen Courrèges

The 'Houston Chronicle News Service' has copyrighted and published an opinion piece from Alex Jones of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. We quickly discover why. In his piece, Jones rips on 'bloggers,' purveyors of web logs such as the one you are now reading. He claims (shudder!) that we're not actually journalists:
The Democrats and the Republicans are inviting a limited number of bloggers - those witty, candid, irreverent, passionate, shrewd and outrageous Internet chroniclers - to their 2004 conventions. It's a gesture of respect for the growing influence of the blogosphere, and if ever there were events ideally suited to bloggers, the heavily scripted and tensionless conventions top the list. But make no mistake, this moment of blogging legitimization - and temporary press credentials - doesn't turn bloggers into journalists. Political conventions have become festivals of faux harmony and candidate image-building, which makes them marvelous targets for blogging's candor, intelligence and righteous wrath. But bloggers, with few exceptions, don't add reporting to the personal views they post online, and they see journalism as bound by norms and standards that they reject.
Oh, I agree. It really is a pity that we bloggers reject the 'norms and standards' of the Houston Chronicle, the same 'norms and standards' that permit a major metropolitan newspaper to contemplate publishing a whole slew of articles portraying opponents of light rail as vicious and corrupt. Yes, it's a real pity that we're open with our biases, so that people won't have to discover them through leaked memos. That's sarcasm, of course. Jones is correct in one regard, at least. Bloggers aren't disapassionate; we aren't objective. We have the decency of not pretending to be. That makes us superior to the 'traditional reporting and journalism' that Jones places on a pedestal. We keep those guys honest by being watchdogs, and if better informing the public isn't journalism, then I'd really like to know what is.

Permalink | Chron Bias

July 26, 2004, 09:40 AM

New poll

By Owen Courrèges

We have a new poll question up today: “Which word best describes the Democratic National Convention this year?” You can answer this question here. The results from our previous poll can be found here. Think long and hard about this one, folks. It's a toughie.

Permalink | Staff Notes

July 26, 2004, 09:39 AM

Chron fields 'Another View' from Boston

By Owen Courrèges

As all of you are probably already aware, one of the Chronicle's newer features is to crib staff editorials from other Hearst newspapers, calling them 'Another View.' Today that other 'view' comes from the Boston Globe, and it contains some no-so-subtle hints as to the Chronicle's views on urban planning issues:
Boston's transformation shows that urban decline is not immutable, that a combination of government leadership and private initiative can create livable communities that respond to and shape economic change. Boston is far from perfect, but it is a living example of the sound urban policy choices that should animate the Democratic Party.
Whenever anyone starts talking about 'livable communities,' my stomach always twists into knots. It's one of those trite phrases uttered only by those who wish to communicate at little as humanly possible to the layman, while making their meaning perfectly clear to those who actually know the issue. What the Globe is trying to communicate is this — “We support heavy-handed government intervention that curbs suburban growth and ensures higher population density within the urban core.” That's what they consider livable. It's also the urban planning strategy preferred by the Houston Chronicle, but it doesn't make for a vibrant, growing city. Not by a long shot. As I wrote in an op-ed a while back, one that the Chronicle admittedly published, Boston has some serious problems:
[I]f you earned $70,000 per year in Houston, you would need to earn more than $134,000 in Boston, the largest city in Massachusetts, just to maintain the same standard of living. That’s nearly double. Just imagine what a person could save for retirement with an extra $64,000 in disposable income every year. [...] According to the US Census, between the 1990 and 2000 travel-to-work times increased by 17.9% in Boston, but by only 10.4% in Houston. Moreover, Houston increased in population by approximately 8.7% during this period, while Boston grew by a mere 2.2%. Put these together, and it’s clear that Boston is experiencing far greater increases in commuting times despite anemic population growth. Massachusetts as a whole, in fact, is losing population. According to a study by MassInc released in December 2003, “over the last 12 years — including those of unprecedented economic expansion — Massachusetts lost, on net, 213,000 residents to other states.” What is the reason for this migration? According to MassInc’s survey, the number one motive for migrating was “to go somewhere with a lower cost of living or taxes.”
Clearly, Boston is not a city whose urban planning policies anyone should want to adopt. However, the Democratic Party already endorses most of them, as does the Houston Chronicle. And they have the gall to praise themselves for their compassion towards the poor and disadvantaged, the same people that they want to hurt with high taxes and restrictive land use controls. If you want to see reckless government intervention in action, look no further than Boston. If you want to see its cheerleaders, look no further than the DNC or the Chronicle.

Permalink | Chron Bias

July 26, 2004, 09:15 AM

Is Michael Moore A Desperado?

By Matt Forge

Recently Linda Ronstadt, one of the most successful and beloved artists in popular music, as well as one of the preeminent vocalists and song interpreters of our time (according to her website), caused a bit of controversy when she dedicated a song to one of the most successful and beloved artists in popular documenterydom, as well as one of the preeminent directors and truth interpreters of our time, Michael Moore. The song was Desperado. And according to this University of Wisconsin W-Eau Claire website, the Eagles ditty is best suited for someone with “shame-based anger” issues. Does this correctly reflect all that is the character and essence of the famed “Fahrenheit 9/11” filmmaker? Yes and no. This eating disorder website lists the aspects usually associated with someone who has shame-based anger. Let's take a gander and see which of these we can get Mr. Moore to fit into. “Based on a poor self image, is also an explosive form of anger.” - Does not describe Moore. He obviously has a high self-image, especially after winning the prestigious Palme d'Or best film award at the Cannes festival in peace-loving France. And I can't see him exploding (as in a “quick” reaction). “When someone ignores them or criticizes them, they take it as proof that the person disapproves of them as much as they disapprove of themselves.” - Does not describe Moore. The more heat he gets, the better he feels about himself due to all of the received attention. And again, Moore approves of Moore. “They avoid their own feelings of shame and inadequacy by shaming, criticizing and blaming others.” - Does not describe Moore. Though he does shame, criticize and blame others, he has no personal feelings of shame or inadequacy. Those are masked by his greed for attention and money. “The trouble is that they often end up attacking the people they love which causes them to feel worse about themselves.” - Does not describe Moore. Moore never attacks Moore, whom he loves very much. “Excessive shame and guilt are common problems for individuals with eating disorders.” - Describes Moore. He definitely has an eating disorder (though opposite of that Olsen twin, but an eating disorder nonetheless). According to the new Medicare guidelines, obesity is now classified as an illness. Moore was obviously ill when he shot F-9/11. He still doesn't look well. Maybe he should see a physician (at your expense). By carefully reviewing the data, it is apparent that Michael Moore has a little shame-based anger, but not very much. Mrs. Ronstadt should stop dedicating Desperado to him since he doesn't clearly fall into that category. But all is not lost, Linda. I have “retooled” the lyrics, based on the original ones, to better fit the character and essence of your favorite filmmaker. Feel free to use them. Feel free to comtemplate them, too. Feel free to look into the facts behind the film. And we know you will as we are sure you're interested in the truth.
Commie Pinko
Commie pinko You've taken leave of your senses You've been pushing offenses for so long now Oh demented one Don't you know that you're courting treason These things you're falsifying will hurt us somehow Don't you draw the wrong conclusions boy They'll kill us if they're able Your lies and deceptions are their best bet Well it seems that all the right things Have been shoved under the table And you only show things that you counterfeit Commie pinko You know you're just pimping slander It's pain and anger that you're bringing home And freedom, what freedom Well that's just simple folk squawking Our prison is watching your movie make drones Don't their feet go marching lockstep in time Shove that show where the sun don't shine It's hard to tell truth when it's in the way But we'll defuse your lies and blows Ain't too funny how your footage goes astray Commie pinko You've taken leave of your senses Count down your pretenses At any rate You may be reigning But there's a new show behind you We better let somebody stop you Somebody better stop you Before it's too late

Permalink | Humor

July 26, 2004, 08:15 AM

Fortress Boston-New York-Athens, the world still doesn't get it

By Dan Patrick

You have seen the stories; Boston has become a fortress city this week as it hosts the Democratic convention. The estimate is that over 50 million will be spent on extra security. Fourty-miles of highway have been closed, the subway has been shutdown and one of the busiest ports in the U.S. will have limited traffic. The terrorists have not struck the U.S. since 9-11-2001. However, they have managed to cost us hundreds of millions on our homeland defense. We can no longer hold any major event without spending millions on security, creating nightmare traffic changes for those who live in the event city and creating major headaches for those attending the events. How long will America have to endure this type of siege mentality? The precautions for this weeks convention, the upcoming Republican convention in New York next month and Olympics in Athens have reached a ridiculous level of caution. If our country and the world are so concerned about terror attacks that we have taken on a fortress mentality, then why doesn’t everyone in this country and in Europe realize what a serious war we are involved in. Never before have such relatively few people had such an impact on the world. When will this country and the world figure out that it is time to stop messing around with these guys and take them out once and for all. We spend hundreds of millions at every event in the world today for security, we have changed the way we live and in the meantime we and the world allow some, who support terrorists, to still survive without a response. The U.S. and the world should take out Iran and Syria tomorrow. Major air strikes should take out the major cities and military commands in both countries. They are the two biggest supporters of terror in the world today. They are holding the world hostage. In Iraq, the U.S. should flatten Fallujah and Najaf and take out any Mullah or insurgent who is leading attacks on our soldiers. The contrast is stark to me. The world is at war with the terrorists, they fear an attack at a major event and yet the world stands by and allows those in the world who support terrorism to go without punishment. The irony of “Fortress” Boston is that the Democratic convention is the LAST place the terrorists would attack. They want Kerry to win. We could have saved millions.

Permalink | News and Views

July 26, 2004, 08:00 AM

The Airport Rangers: safe for Houston?

By Terry Bohannon

A security 'expert' has recently jeered at a security initiative at George Bush Intercontinental (IAH) Airport. Bruce Schneier wrote a column for the UK's Register. In this column, he said:
Security is far more effective when it's based on well-trained smart people, instead of on rote-trained people checking photo IDs and X-ray machine screens, or implementing database-driven profiling. The idea of trained guards patrolling a secure perimeter is a good one. But as a security professional, I see two major problems with the program as described. The first is the lack of training. The program encourages “licensed law enforcement officers” to participate, but that's not a requirement. [snip] The second is the new security vulnerability that this program creates. The perimeter around the airport used to be a no-man's land; anyone on the property was immediately suspicious. Now there is a group of people allowed around the airport perimeter. [snip]
What Mr. Schneier is forgetting is that there still will be a no-man's land, but since IAH is not in the middle of a metropolis, there is a lot of open space for the Airport Rangers to ride. On their webpage, the Airport Rangers say that “Upon completion the George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) horse trails will extend approximately 25 miles spanning almost the entire perimeter of the airport.” This, indeed, is quite a vast area, with trails winding 25 miles around IAH. The length of the trails makes it clear that, contradictorily to what Mr. Schneier implied, there still is a safe boundary around the airport. Houston's William P. Hobby Airport, by contrast, has a footprint nearly 3 square miles. Outside this footprint are private businesses with acres of warehouses. If the horse patrol around the immediate vicinity of the airport were a problem, then I would think that these businesses would be even a greater threat to national security. Yet I don't hear him complaining about that, and the security people at TSA seem rather confident in the security at Hobby. However, for the Airport Rangers, since the “equestrians have a pristine location, including wooded trails to ride and the airport has extra eyes and ears in areas that most security patrols can not easily access,” and since the riders have through background checks that are perhaps as rigid as those for concealed handgun licenses, what's the problem? I think we should trust the Airport Rangers, and even if some security expert writing in The Register can't trust them, we shouldn't allow that to affect a grassroots effort in protecting our airports. The Register is the only newspaper to mention this program, the Chronicle has yet to notice. To their credit, the Chronicle did report last week the TSA's statement that the “two internal investigations turned up no evidence that unscreened luggage was loaded onto passenger jets.”

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

July 26, 2004, 07:40 AM

Mrs. Kerry's lack of civility

By Anne Linehan

On this morning's show, Edd Hendee is discussing Teresa Heinz Kerry's outburst directed at a reporter right after she gave a speech asking for more civility in politics. Here is the story from the Drudge Report with the video link.

Permalink | KSEV Topics

July 26, 2004, 07:24 AM

Kerry's well-scripted spontaneity

By Anne Linehan

Dan Patrick notes below that Senator Kerry made an appearance at the Red Sox game last night. The American Spectator's Washington Prowler (second item) tells us that this “surprise” visit required careful prepping of the candidate and some strategic manning of Fenway Park's trash cans.

Permalink | News and Views

July 26, 2004, 07:01 AM

Saddam, the green thumb

By Anne Linehan

Saddam Hussein enjoys writing poetry, eating American cookies and muffins, and gardening. These are a few of the insights we get from this story, about the daily life of Iraq's mass-murdering, former dictator. (Via No Left Turns) And here is a story about the man who talked Saddam Hussein out of that spider hole last year. (Via Blackfive)

Permalink | News and Views

July 26, 2004, 06:45 AM

Kerry dodges pitch on ESPN

By Dan Patrick

Last night ESPN carried the Red Sox-Yankee game as their Sunday night game. The game was in Boston. John Kerry was in attendance. If you watched the game you could not have missed him, ESPN camera showed him time and time again as he re-acted to various plays in the field. In the 6th inning the play-by-play announcer interviewed him live for almost 20 minutes. Even in talking about baseball, Kerry would not take a stand. He was asked if Pete rose should be in the Hall of Fame. Kerry said he would leave that to the writers who vote. He was asked about steroids in baseball and he replied his main concern was the economy and keeping America safe. I’m sure the fans, primarily the young men who watch ESPN, were shouting at home, enough-get him off of the air! Kerry was even booed by the hometown fans whenhe threw out the first pitch; a normal re-action to any politician who steps into a sports arena. Kerry tried his best not to take a stand on any issue, but he did clearly tick off one group of viewers, Yankee fans. There is a deep rivalry between Red Sox and Yankee fans. Kerry is obviously a Red Sox fan and made it clear in the interview with his” Go Red Sox.” Cheer. New Yorkers don’t take kindly to anyone who takes a stand against their beloved Yankees. Remember the flack that Hilary Clinton received while running for the Senate when she donned a Cubs cap and said she was a Cubs fan? She got so much heat the next day she was wearing a Yankees cap. Too bad New York is not a battleground state. Kerry’s support for the Red Sox doesn’t matter no matter how much he ticks off Yankee fans. It would have been interesting to see how he would have re-acted if New York was in play. Like everything else, he would probably dodged rooting for either team, or said something nice about each. Kerry never takes a stand unless he is absolutely sure it will not cost him any votes.

Permalink | News and Views

July 25, 2004, 11:38 AM

The Kerry campaign is fun to watch

By Anne Linehan

Today's Chronicle has an unintentionally humorous look at Senator John Kerry's convention preparations:
For Sen. John Kerry, this week's Democratic National Convention could be his best shot at giving Americans a reason to vote for him, other than just as a protest against President Bush. [snip] He's not a natural schmoozer, he lacks the sparkle of a born candidate. And his speeches can sometimes go flat. [snip] Packaging is essential. During the convention, Kerry will be showcasing his family, including two photogenic daughters, Alex, 30, and Vanessa, 26. Also on hand will be Kerry's fellow Vietnam veterans, and his ebullient running mate, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina. The speech also is key, and political watchers are weighing whether the reserved and often somber Massachusetts senator can deliver a barn-burner speech for delegates and the all-important television audience at home. [snip] Kerry spent last weekend at his oceanside retreat in Nantucket, drafting his convention speech in longhand. Somewhat ominously, aides spent the same time lowering reporters' expectations about the kind of lift the Kerry campaign hopes to get from the convention.
He might be better off going back to Nantucket, and let Senator Edwards and former President Clinton do the heavy lifting instead. From the Washington Times we get this story demonstrating Senator Kerry's ability to relate to the Average American Voter:
Sen. John Kerry spoke about the plight of the American worker when he traveled to Detroit earlier this week, a safe message for the blue-collar workers who build cars there. So it was a little strange that the campaign picked as its press-pass logo for its Motor City tour the gleaming showcase car of a foreign auto company — Rolls-Royce — that makes cars priced far outside the financial reach of any middle-class voter.
And how did the Kerry campaign respond to this “oops” moment?
Asked about the press-pass logo, Kerry spokesman David Wade said it was unintentional error by a campaign volunteer and then criticized President Bush's economic policies. “I could say that the Rolls-Royce is the perfect symbol of who got the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, but sometimes objects in the rearview mirror are closer than they appear,” he said.
Oh man! Don't you feel sorry for that poor campaign volunteer? And as for the Rolls Royce on the press pass - it's all President Bush's fault! If he hadn't pushed through tax cuts, Senator Kerry wouldn't be able to afford a Rolls Royce and undoubtedly would have had a nice Suburban on the press pass. Okay, that's not true, because SUVs are very un-politically correct and we all know the Senator doesn't own an SUV. His family does, but he doesn't.

Permalink | News and Views

July 25, 2004, 09:03 AM

The minority vote

By Anne Linehan

It's interesting to look at how the Chronicle reported President Bush's speech at the National Urban League meeting on Friday:
President Bush urged a polite but skeptical black group Friday to weigh his record on education, faith and family issues before voting in November. “Ours is a solid record of accomplishment. ... I've come to ask for your vote,” Bush told the National Urban League's annual convention. The speech was partly a fence-mending gesture by Bush, who declined to speak to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People last week. Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate, spoke to the National Urban League on Thursday, trying to stoke black support for his party. Bush took the opportunity Friday to make his case for re-election to a segment of voters that rejected him by a 9-1 ratio in the 2000 election and has been largely unimpressed by his policies since.
(Emphasis added) Apparently these Chronicle reporters are blessed with the ability to read minds, because they state, right in the first paragraph, that the audience was “polite but skeptical.” What backup do we find in the story for this claim of skepticism? Well, the two Chronicle reporters found one attendee to quote:
The Urban League audience received Bush politely. Afterward, some said they had not been moved. Clyde Adams, 68, of Indianapolis, said Bush's rhetoric about Republican policies being good economics for blacks did not conform with his life experiences: “I've been in business all of my life, and Democrats have traditionally been better for working people.”
(Emphasis added) One = some and everyone. It would be unfair to call this outright bias. More likely, it is the reporters' mindset and their natural inclination to lean the story negatively. But unless the reporters have more than just one anecdote of a skeptical attendee, it becomes editorializing on their part to say the whole group was skeptical. The other problem is that anyone who has heard or seen excerpts of the President's speech knows that there were definitely times when the audience was more than polite. When President Bush started asking questions about what the Democrats have done for blacks, there was strong applause and even some shouts of encouragement. (As Rob Booth noted, the Chronicle reporters did find one attendee who thinks the President gave a good speech and hoped people would think about what he said.) In the third paragraph the reporters tell us that this speech is “partly a fence-mending gesture by Bush.” Why do the reporters think that? Was there a majority of blacks supporting President Bush before this media-generated scandal? The media loves to tell us how blacks overwhelmingly vote for Democrats. Did someone tell the reporters that this is a “fence-mending gesture”? And it's not as though the President accepted the NAACP invitation and then suddenly changed his mind and went to the National Urban League meeting instead. “Fence-mending gesture” is a poor choice of words. As for the media's unending faith in minority support for Democrats, John Kerry is no Bill Clinton. While the Senator polls much higher among blacks than President Bush, that support is not passionate for him. It's more of an anti-Bush vote. The Chronicle reported some polling numbers at the end of the above story that points to the Senator's problem. And the Chronicle ran a story Friday about Senator Kerry's speech at the National Urban League that highlights the lack of enthusiasm:
The audience greeted him gustily at first, then petered off to polite applause that grew more or less enthusiastic as Kerry went from gang violence to home ownership to the poetry of Langston Hughes. That lack of emotional engagement with black voters, one of the more loyal of the traditional Democratic Party constituencies, is a concern for Democrats as Kerry closes in on next week's national convention in Boston. “I haven't been excited at all,” said Carroll Robinson, associate dean of public affairs at Texas Southern University and a convention delegate from Houston. “I haven't been moved and he hasn't struck that chord.”
Ruben Navarrette of the Dallas Morning News has some thoughts on John Kerry and the minority support he is counting on:
I had almost forgotten just how condescending Democrats could be in going after the votes of minorities. Then along came John Kerry. Accustomed to seeing minority voters as naturally in their corner, many Democrats seem to resent having to pursue votes to which they consider themselves naturally entitled. The feeling only intensifies when Democrats think that minorities have nowhere to go because the Republican alternative is considered to be insensitive, divisive or hostile.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

July 24, 2004, 06:45 PM

A good idea in the Chronicle

By Rob Booth

Houston Chronicle: President tries to woo black voters' support
“Lyndon Rose, a Houston attorney and Bush supporter, said his fellow blacks should closely review the president's speech. "I've talked to lots of friends, including Democrats, who said it was a thoughtful speech," Rose said. "I strongly believe he'll do better (among blacks) in this election than in 2000. He has extended an olive branch to the African-American community," Rose said.”
You can read the President's remarks here.

Permalink | News and Views

July 24, 2004, 03:29 PM

Baylor President stays

By Anne Linehan

Today's Chronicle reports that Baylor University President Robert Sloan's job is safe, for now:
Three months after Baylor regents voted 18-17 to retain Sloan, the board declined to discuss or vote on Sloan's future at the three-day meeting that ended Friday, said chairman Will Davis. “The regents feel very strongly that we have a responsibility to move forward with the university,” said Davis, who described himself as a Sloan supporter. “No discussion means no discussion.” Instead, the board reaffirmed its commitment to “Vision 2012,” Sloan's controversial plan to remake Baylor as a top research university where faith is integrated into the curriculum. The plan — and Sloan's style implementing it — have alienated some Baylor people on campus and off.
Here is an American Spectator article from Thursday, before this decision was made, that shines the light on Sloan's critics and the campaign they have waged to shove him out, in spite of Baylor's many successes under his leadership. Not surprisingly, the problem for the critics, many of whom are faculty members, is religion. At the world's largest Baptist university. Go figure.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

July 24, 2004, 09:40 AM

Mental Meltdown?

By Matt Forge

Is the better judgement of Ben Cohen (of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream) softening a bit?

Permalink | Humor

July 24, 2004, 09:30 AM

A double standard for Sheila Jackson Lee?

By Phil Magness

An unusual yet intriguing series of events has unfolded in the politics of Texas' 18th congressional district in recent weeks. The district's infamous incumbent is well known to most Houstonians as the camera-hungry Sheila Jackson Lee, who also ranks among the House's most liberal members. The latest news item to involve Jackson Lee stems from a lawsuit recently filed against her by opponent Tom Bazan, who is running as an independent and obtained a spot on the ballot by petition earlier this summer. Bazan's suit alleges the illegalities in the handling of Jackson Lee's filing form for a place on the ballot as the Democrat's nominee last January. If found to be true the alleged improprieties could potentially disqualify Jackson Lee's candidacy. The case has naturally prompted the media coverage found today's Chronicle, but also gives rise to another issue: it was not until Bazan filed the suit against Sheila that the Chronicle even acknowledged or reported on his candidacy! Granted, most political analysts concede the against-the-odds status of an outsider challenge to Jackson Lee in what is considered a safe Democrat seat. But the Chronicle's treatment, or should I say outright neglect, of Bazan's run against a well known local Democrat stands out in marked contrast to the friendly reception they regularly provide for “long shot” opponents of Republican Tom DeLay. DeLay's district is about as safely Republican as Jackson Lee's is Democrat, but that has not stopped the Chronicle from printing lengthy “news” stories about his challengers in at least the last two election cycles (this year's included), both prominently placed in the Metropolitan section. Thus any excuse premised upon electability, as some might be inclined to offer, (for example, “the odds of winning are heavily against him”) doesn't hold up to the Chron's past record with similarly situated challengers to DeLay. So why would the Chronicle jump to its feet to cover DeLay's opponents while failing to even notice Jackson Lee's until one of them files a suit alleging election improprieties against her? The answer, of course, is that DeLay is a conservative Republican and Jackson Lee is a liberal Democrat. DeLay is also a favorite “Public Enemy” figure for the Chronicle, a veritable scapegoat for all their METRO-sexual angst upon encountering a snag in the latest light rail scheme. Sheila, by contrast, has always enjoyed a seemingly friendly relationship with the Chronicle, having earned what appears to be but a single mildly critical editorial against her (if it could even be described as that) since the 2000 election. DeLay, of course, has faced the editorial page's vitriolic wrath some three dozen or more times for that period and Republican John Culberson, of recent, has not fared much better. Returning to the present case of Bazan's suit, a simple textual analysis of the Chronicle's coverage reveals a bias toward Sheila. The first one from last week, which was also the very first time the Chronicle said so much as a word about Jackson Lee's challenger, did at least quote Bazan in addition to local Democrat Chairman Gerry Birnberg, who got the last word in the article. Today's article once again returned Bazan to his previous state of neglect, quoting counterarguments from Jackson Lee's attorney and paraphrasing yet another statement from Birnberg yet never once quoting Bazan much less allowing him to respond. Given what we know of the Chronicle's past, it takes little suggestion to picture what could occur if the roles were reversed and Mr. Bazan, rather than challenging Sheila “the queen,” was running against the paper's old nemisis Tom “the hammer.” For starters his candidacy would be highlighted from day one in a full length profile disguised as “news” on the front cover of the Metropolitan section. If he filed a suit alleging the same improprieties against DeLay it is not out of the question to envision a team of Chronicle attorneys descending upon GOP headquarters, intent on filing public information requests and scouring over DeLay's candidacy filing documents in hopes of returning evidence of an uncrossed “t” or undotted “i” to an editor's board of foaming mouthed leftists, all of them wishfully hoping that they will finally catch the big fish they've been after for years. Who knows, if they thought there was a case the paper might even jump into the suit themselves, much as they did in the 2003 METRO bond election when Chronicle lawyers filed trumped up criminal complaints against an anti-rail advocacy group so that they could “report” that Metrorail opponents were under “criminal investigation.” The approach is always different, however, when it involves one of their own. Sheila Jackson Lee, you see, is a hero to the radical left. And Tom Bazan, you see, though running as an independent, hails from the conservative side of the political spectrum.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

July 24, 2004, 09:20 AM

Far Fetched Hype: Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911

By Mona Lugay

Ron Maxwell is a major Hollywood director/writer and producer. He is one of the few outspoken conservatives in Hollywood. His most recent credits include the two Civil war epics, Gettysburg and Gods and Generals. We live in an age of dubbing down and hyping up - an age of mush media and mass hysteria. There have been other such times, when civilization declines, when barbarism creeps to ascendancy. Only in such times can charlatans pose as sages, can deceivers pose as deliverers. “Deliver us from evil” goes the prayer. “Deliver us from George Bush” goes the slogan. So it is, that the deranged teenager of 17th Century Salem becomes the 21st Century's enfant terrible, pointing the accusatory finger at the witch - the witch who must be burned. The screaming adolescent girls have morphed into the cacophonic voices of film critics and columnists, of ranting heads and party hacks. The whole self-righteous chorus baying for blood! The lunatic crowd wanted only its ring master, someone to smartly crack the whip so that they could obediently jump through the fiery box-office ring. This clown, this fop, this slovenly base echo of once more dignified circus tramps has taken his ramshackle carnival wagon on the road. From it he pulls his bag of tricks, his carpet bag of elixirs, his cure-alls and snake oils, his salves and lotions and perfumes. He tosses a little incense here, sprinkles a little fairy dust there, sprays a noxious stream of toxins over all and into this celluloid broth he ladles the poisons of innuendo, of false juxtaposition, of rumor, of conspiracy theory, of outrage tinged lies. The impresario is none other than Michael Moore, who dazzles the credulous and the ignorant, who inspires the fawning partisans and emboldens the timorous hyena horde. This modern day Pied-Piper is leading thousands of our children into the abyss of self-loathing, self-doubt and nihilism. His shrill pipes plead the cause of moral equivalency and confusion. In his cinematic song the world is indeed turned upside down - the heroes are the villains, our enemies are merely misunderstood and we have nothing to fear but our own corrupt society. Indeed, Michael Moore's mantra is identical to Osama Bin Laden's and the Ayatollahs of Iran - “America is the great Satan.” RF Maxwell, July 20, 04

Permalink | Miscellaneous

July 24, 2004, 07:28 AM

Chronicle: We are not partisan

By Anne Linehan

The Chronicle did it again. In Friday's editorial on the 9/11 Commission report, the editors added a nice dig at Vice President Cheney. The Chronicle really doesn't like our Vice President and makes that clear at every opportunity:
While the report blames neither President Clinton nor President Bush, it states that neither focused enough attention and resources on America's prime enemy — large and growing bands of fanatics who pervert Islam to justify killing Americans whenever opportunity presents itself. Perhaps only Vice President Dick Cheney could read the report and conclude that invading Iraq made the best use of the nation's money and might.
(Emphasis added) Did that make you feel better, Chronicle editors? Adding that did nothing to bolster the editorial, which, unsurprisingly, is tepid at best. An example of a better editorial on the report can be found in Friday's Wall Street Journal, on the Opinion Journal page. But, let's stick with the little editorial aside to Vice President Cheney. According to the Chronicle, the Iraq war took America away from what should have been its focus - “large and growing bands of fanatics who pervert Islam to justify killing Americans whenever opportunity presents itself” - and this misplaced focus is all the Vice President's fault. We tackled this once already last week. An editorial on Tuesday threw in a little jab at the Vice President regarding Iraq and al Qaeda and for some reason the Chronicle editors are not interested in deviating from this idea. If they would expand their reading horizons, they might stumble upon the facts. Here is Byron York, at National Review Online:
After the commission's last hearing, in mid-June, the Washington Post published a front-page story headlined “Al Qaeda-Hussein Link is Dismissed.” The New York Times ran a page-one story — topped by a four-column headline — called “Panel Finds No Qaeda-Iraq Tie.” Both reports strongly suggested that Vice President Dick Cheney had been wrong when he said on many occasions that there were extensive links between Iraq and al Qaeda. The reporting, and the commentary that followed, so angered Cheney that he said, on June 18, “What the New York Times did today was outrageous. The fact of the matter is, the evidence [of an Iraq-al Qaeda link] is overwhelming.” Further coverage and commentary criticized Cheney for stubbornly sticking to his position. [snip] Now, with the release of the commission's final report, it is clear what Hamilton and Cheney were talking about. The final report details a much more extensive set of contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda than the earlier staff statement. It also modifies the original “no collaborative relationship” description, now saying there was “no collaborative operational relationship” (emphasis added) between Iraq and Al Qaeda. And it suggests a significant amount of contact and communication between the regime of Saddam Hussein and the terrorist organization headed by Osama bin Laden.
(Emphasis added) Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard has more analysis of what the report says about the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. Jon Henke, of the QandO blog, has looked at all references to Iraq in the Commission's report and what he found would probably surprise the Chronicle editors, if they actually read the report. Conventional media wisdom is that President Bush is controlled by Vice President Cheney and that both of them were obsessed with invading Iraq. Here are several excerpts from the report:
Page 335 - Bush decides Iraq is off the table, barring new information. President Bush told Bob Woodward that the decision not to invade Iraq was made at the morning session on September 15. Iraq was not even on the table during the September 15 afternoon session, which dealt solely with Afghanistan.69 Rice said that when President Bush called her on Sunday, September 16, he said the focus would be on Afghanistan, although he still wanted plans for Iraq should the country take some action or the administration eventually determine that it had been involved in the 9/11 attacks.
And:
Page 336 - Blair asks about Iraq; Bush tells him Iraq is not the immediate problem. On September 20, President Bush met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the two leaders discussed the global conflict ahead.When Blair asked about Iraq, the President replied that Iraq was not the immediate problem. Some members of his administration, he commented, had expressed a different view, but he was the one responsible for making the decisions.
And:
Page 336 - CENTCOM/General Franks wanted to plan for possible movement against Iraq. Bush rejected it. Franks told us that he was pushing independently to do more robust planning on military responses in Iraq during the summer before 9/11—a request President Bush denied, arguing that the time was not right. (CENTCOM also began dusting off plans for a full invasion of Iraq during this period, Franks said.) The CENTCOM commander told us he renewed his appeal for further military planning to respond to Iraqi moves shortly after 9/11, both because he personally felt that Iraq and al Qaeda might be engaged in some form of collusion and because he worried that Saddam might take advantage of the attacks to move against his internal enemies in the northern or southern parts of Iraq, where the United States was flying regular missions to enforce Iraqi no-fly zones. Franks said that President Bush again turned down the request.
On its own website, the Chronicle explains how its editorials are fairly balanced and how they avoid “partisan ideology”:
Some newspapers are known for the liberal or conservative slant of their editorials, but The Chronicle's editorials manage to be different things to different people. For liberals, they have a conservative bent; for conservatives, they are undeniably the products of the liberal media. The variety of these perceptions places The Chronicle's editorial policy close to the middle, not an unreasonable place for a mainstream, metropolitan daily newspaper to be. The truth is that The Chronicle's editorial policy is neither liberal nor conservative, but based upon principles and pragmatism that transcend, or, less grandly, avoid partisan ideology.
Yeah, right.

Permalink | Chron Bias

July 23, 2004, 05:00 PM

Is coverage of Sandy Berger helping Kerry?

By Terry Bohannon

It is often assumed that, as Terry McAuliffe claimed, since “the criminal investigation [of Sandy Berger] only came to light three days prior to the release of” the 9/11 Commission report, the Bush Administration has, as McAuliffe wrote, “politicized an ongoing investigation.” Yet, if this leak happened any time later, closer to the election, it might very well have ended up immediately affecting Kerry in Nov. 2004. Though as it stands, with the release preceding the DNC convention, I think this leak can actually help Kerry. Even though Berger has been a former aide to Kerry, the media and those around Kerry are dismissing any influence that Berger might have had as inconsequential. What Sandy Berger does to help Kerry, though, is get the media attention off the “next KFJ”. Generally, as it seems, is that the less people see of Kerry, the better it is for him in the polls. Kerry's handlers know this. The less voters hear Kerry speak, the better it will be for him. And the more they focus on his hairdo, or how he skis, or even Edwards, the better it will be for Kerry in the polls. Sandy Berger has diverted a lot of media attention from the presidential campaign onto this newest “trousergate” scandal. I imagine that this is a great relief to Kerry, who before he selected Edwards, could be found hiding on his wife's pickle farm. Perhaps Sandy has only delayed the inevitable. One day the American voter will have an idea who Kerry claims to be, and perhaps who he really is, but that day is not today.

Permalink | News and Views

July 23, 2004, 04:50 PM

Big Donors

By Anne Linehan

No Left Turns highlights this interesting article from the Boston Phoenix, which details who the biggest donors are to 527 groups, such as MoveOn.org and Americans Coming Together. Peter Schramm, of No Left Turns makes this point:
[...]the article lists 12 donors who have given more than $1 million each during the first 18 months of the election cycle. Collectively, this dozen has donated just over $50 million. Welcome to campaign finance reform.

Permalink | News and Views

July 23, 2004, 01:42 PM

President Bush's National Urban League speech

By Anne Linehan

President Bush gave a much-anticipated speech today at the National Urban League meeting. Here's an excerpt:
I believe you've got to earn the vote and seek it. I think you've got to go to people and say, this is my heart, this is what I believe, and I'd like your help. And as I do, I'm going to ask African American voters to consider some questions. Does the Democrat party take African American voters for granted? (Applause.) It's a fair question. I know plenty of politicians assume they have your vote. But do they earn it and do they deserve it? (Applause.) Is it a good thing for the African American community to be represented mainly by one political party? That's a legitimate question. (Applause.) How is it possible to gain political leverage if the party is never forced to compete? (Applause.) Have the traditional solutions of the Democrat party truly served the African American community? That's what I hope people ask when they go to the community centers and places, as we all should do our duty and vote. People need to be asking these very serious questions. Does blocking the faith-based initiative help neighborhoods where the only social service provider could be a church? Does the status quo in education really, really help the children of this country? (Applause.) Does class warfare — has class warfare or higher taxes ever created decent jobs in the inner city? Are you satisfied with the same answers on crime, excuses for drugs and blindness to the problem of the family? (Applause.) Those are legitimate questions that I hope people ask as this election approaches. I'd like to hear those questions debated on talk radio, I'd like it debated in community centers, in the coffee shops. It's worthy of this country for this debate to go forward and these questions to be asked and answered.
I'm here to say that there is an alternative this year. There is an alternative that has had a record that is easy to see. If you dream of starting a small business and building a nest egg and passing something of value to your children, take a look at my agenda. If you believe schools should meet high standards instead of making excuses, take a look at my agenda. If you believe the institutions of marriage and family are worth defending and need defending today, take a look at my agenda. (Applause.) If you believe in building a culture of life in America, take a look at my agenda. If you believe in a tireless fight against crime and drugs, take a look at this agenda. If you believe that our men and women in uniform should be respected and supported 100 percent of the time, take a look at my agenda. (Applause.) If you're struggling to get into the middle class and you feel like you're paying plenty of taxes, take a look at my agenda. (Applause.) If you're a small business owner who is trying to expand your job base and are worried about excessive lawsuits, increasing taxes and over-regulation, take a look at this agenda. (Applause.) And finally, if you believe in the power of faith and compassion to defeat violence and despair and hopelessness, I hope you take a look at where I stand. (Applause.) You see, I believe in my heart that the Republican party, the party of Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, is not complete without the perspective and support and contribution of African Americans. (Applause.) And I believe in my heart that the policies and actions of this administration, policies that empower individuals and help communities, that lift up free enterprise and respect and honor the family, those policies are good for the nation as a whole. That's what I believe. And I'm here to thank you for giving me a chance to come and express those beliefs.
There is much more to the speech and it is worth reading in its entirety.

Permalink | News and Views

July 23, 2004, 11:30 AM

Bush v. Kerry on Social Security

By Owen Courrèges

Let's contrast two opposing views, shall we? President Bush supports a partial-privatization of Social Security, a plan which, if implemented, would radical change the structure of Social Security to keep it solvent. Senator Kerry, on the other hand, favors doing basically nothing, a course of action that will require budget cuts or deficit spending. The Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis elaborates further:
A report released yesterday by the Congressional Budget Office “gave passing marks to two of the leading plans for restoring Social Security solvency through private accounts, including one proposed by a panel set up by President Bush,” reports the Wall Street Journal. National Center for Policy Analysis analysts contrasted the proposals for diverting some of workers' payroll taxes into personal accounts that would be invested in stocks and securities with the lack of a plan by presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry to reform the program. The CBO found that the plan proposed by the President's Social Security Commission would: - Through 2050, add to annual federal budget deficits by 1 percent to 2 percent of gross domestic product, or roughly $100 billion to $200 billion in today's dollars. - But then the program would become solvent long-term due to lower costs overall, compared to current rules, because retirees would receive an increasing proportion of their benefits from [private accounts]. - By contrast, the CBO estimates that as currently designed, Social Security will run into financial problems starting around 2019 and be unable to pay all its promised benefits by about 2053. Kerry has said he wouldn't privatize Social Security, cut benefits or increase the retirement age. The alternative, said the NCPA, is that he must intend to increase national debt by $11 trillion or cut other government programs by 20 percent to pay for scheduled benefits.
Do I even need to ask who has the better plan?

Permalink | News and Views

July 23, 2004, 10:00 AM

Presidential race growing tighter still

By Owen Courrèges

A new L.A. Times poll reveals that Bush and Kerry are still locked in a dead heat. If anything, the race has become even closer:
The presidential race is a virtual dead heat between President Bush and Democratic candidate John Kerry as the Democratic convention approaches, according to a Los Angeles Times poll released Thursday. Kerry leads Bush by 2 percentage points nationally in both a two-way race and in a three-way contest including independent candidate Ralph Nader, according to the poll posted on the newspaper's Web site. In a three-way contest, Kerry led 46 percent to Bush's 44 percent, with Nader at 3 percent and 7 percent undecided. Kerry's lead is within the poll's margin of error and smaller than his advantage last month in a Times poll.
If early indications bear out, this looks to be a squeaker. Pollsters have been voicing the opinion that external factors are having a subdued effect; the electorate seems fairly firm in its choice of candidates. This may mean that Kerry will get far less of a convention 'bounce' than many have predicted, leaving us with continued tight numbers. Still, with Kerry being the awful candidate that we all know he is, I'm still cautiously optimistic for Bush. Keep your fingers crossed!

Permalink | News and Views

July 23, 2004, 08:45 AM

Democrats whine over 'Marriage Protection Act'

By Owen Courrèges

Liberal Democrats are all in a tizzy over the recent passage of the Marriage Protection Act in the US House, which prohibits federal judges from applying full faith and credit to same-sex marriages. Here's the skinny from AP:
The Republican-led House voted today to prevent federal courts from ordering states to recognize gay marriages sanctioned by other states. The Marriage Protection Act was adopted by a 233-194 vote, buoyed by backing from the Bush administration. Last week, the Senate dealt gay marriage opponents a setback by failing to advance a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex unions. Federal judges, unelected and given lifetime appointments, “must not be allowed to rewrite marriage policy for the states,” Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., said. Democrats said the bill was an election-year distraction, calling it an unconstitutional attack on gays in America and the federal judiciary. They said it would set a precedent that Congress could use to shield any future legislation from federal judicial review. “They couldn't amend the Constitution last week so they're trying to desecrate and circumvent the Constitution this week,” Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said.
“Circumvent the Constitution?” My, that would be serious, now wouldn't it? However, Congress is actually doing nothing of the sort. Article III of the US Constitution, which outlines the scope of judicial power, actually permits Congress to regulate the appellate jurisdiction of federal courts. Specifically, it says that “...the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.” This means that Congress has the authority to deny the federal courts the authority to accept appeals from gays attempting to get their marriages recognized in other states. And these cases would have to be on appeal, since the state in question would have to refuse to recognize the marriage in its own courts prior to any intervention from federal courts. Perhaps Rep. McGovern hasn't even read the Constitution that he's supposedly defending, hmm?

Permalink | News and Views

July 23, 2004, 08:43 AM

Media criticized in Commission report

By Anne Linehan

The media was on the receiving end of some criticism in the 9/11 Commission report released yesterday:
The very end of a chapter titled “Foresight — And Hindsight,” reads, “Between May 2001 and September 11, there was very little in newspapers or on television to heighten anyone's concern about terrorism. Front-page stories touching on the subject dealt with the windup of trials dealing with the East Africa embassy bombings and [Ahmed] Ressam. All this reportage looked backward, describing problems satisfactorily resolved. Back-page notices told of tightened security at embassies and military installations abroad and government cautions against travel to the Arabian Peninsula. All the rest was secret.” The commission also, at one point, appears to castigate the media in general. It says that terrorism, specifically Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda, was not an important issue in the 2000 presidential campaign, and the media “called little attention to it” at the time. At another point, on page 359, it describes how Jordan arrested 16 terrorists planning bombings in that country, including two U.S. citizens, but the news “only made page 13 of The New York Times.”
And here is the Commission's concern about the effect of the 24/7 news-cycle on the CIA:
The commission also offered an interesting media-related insight regarding pressures on the CIA. In its evaluation of the intelligence agency, the commission reports that starting in the 1990s, the CIA found it had to move more quickly, in response to, and then reflecting, “the culture of the newsroom. During the 1990s, the rise of round-the-clock news shows and the Internet reinforced pressure on analysts to pass along fresh reports to policymakers at an even-faster pace, trying to add context or supplement what their customers were receiving from the media.” This led to weaknesses “in all-source and strategic analysis.”
And this famous leak is in the report:
In other specific notes, the commission found that after a leak to The Washington Times in 1998, al Qaeda's senior leadership almost immediately stopped a particular method of communication, which made it increasingly difficult to intercept Bin Laden's conversations.
One can guess that the media will not be happy to turn a critical eye on itself.

Permalink | Media Watch

July 22, 2004, 05:15 PM

Readme

By Rob Booth

Texas City Sun: The media is no longer the press
There's been a great deal of fuss as of late regarding the standards of media in our society. A recent lawsuit filed by a liberal political action committee against the Fox News Channel has sparked a bigger debate about the media's “fairness doctrine.” Of course, as we have touted in these pages for years, the media, or the press as listed in our Constitution, has certain freedoms afforded to it thanks to the Founding Fathers. We say it is one of the more important freedoms of this country because it is included with religion and speech in the First Amendment.
An excellent editorial, go read the whole thing.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

July 22, 2004, 12:00 PM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Make sure you view our Features section for daily commentary on the War on Terror, entertainment “wonders and blunders,” the sports world's best and worst shots, the great outdoors, your daily devotional and a little miscellaneous humor. Features section highlights: Neal Jain - A Right-wing President in a Left-wing Society and Andy Adams - New York Times to Anne Jacobsen – Relax You Paranoid Bigot!

Permalink | Miscellaneous

July 22, 2004, 09:56 AM

Newspapers and blogs

By Anne Linehan

The Dallas Morning News has a new blog feature, called Vox Pop which looks like it will highlight posts from around the blog-world. The Houston Chronicle, of course, already has its own way-cool blog, MeMo, a deep-thinking, issue-oriented feature that tackles the important news of the day. Way to be ahead of the curve, Chronicle!

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

July 22, 2004, 09:00 AM

New poll

By Owen Courrèges

We have a new poll question up today: “Why did Sandy Berger smuggle out classified terrorism documents?” You can respond to the question here. The results from our previous poll are here. For those who aren't up to speed on this, here's some background information. Berger, a prominent Kerry campaign advisor, is the subject of a criminal investigation for removing classified materials during the preparations for the 9/11 hearings. He claims that the whole thing was an honest mistake, and that he never intended to smuggle out classified documents... in his pants. Not to make this a push-poll or anything, but... come on!

Permalink | Staff Notes

July 22, 2004, 07:51 AM

Chronicle: Berger story isn't that important

By Anne Linehan

There is more detailed information available about how former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger was able to get classified documents out of the National Archives. Unfortunately, it's not in the Chronicle. What the Chronicle does have is two short AP stories on page A12. The first is about the House Government Reform Committee beginning an investigation into this “mishandled” document mess and another short piece describing the rules at the National Archives for researchers. It's too bad the Chronicle couldn't have picked up this Washington Post story that smacks down Berger and his “accidental” excuse:
The government source said the Archives employees were deferential toward Berger, given his prominence, but were worried when he returned to view more documents on Oct. 2. They devised a coding system and marked the documents they knew Berger was interested in canvassing, and watched him carefully. They knew he was interested in all the versions of the millennium review, some of which bore handwritten notes from Clinton-era officials who had reviewed them. At one point an Archives employee even handed Berger a coded draft and asked whether he was sure he had seen it. At the end of the day, Archives employees determined that that draft and all four or five other versions of the millennium memo had disappeared from the files, this source said.
(Emphasis added) Drafts that had hand-written notes from Clinton Administration officials are all missing? This is much more serious than Democrats want us to think. And Terry McAuliffe is filing a Freedom of Information Act request to find out who leaked news of this investigation to the press. Of course, it would be nice if McAuliffe were interested in finding those missing drafts so we could see the contents of those, too. Over at the Kerry Spot, there is an interesting post about some documents that have disappeared from the Kerry Campaign website, and some thoughts on why. UPDATE: There is another update at the Kerry Spot that says the documents might have been missing due to routine website maintenance. The documents seem to have reappeared.

Permalink | Chron Bias

July 22, 2004, 07:00 AM

'Newsday' Publisher, Embroiled in Circulation Scandal, Retires Amid More Controversy (Satire)

By Matt Forge

New York (CB) — Tribune Co. today threw out its publisher at Newsday — a newspaper embroiled in a circulation scandal. Newsday Prez and Chief Operating Officer Timothy (Dragonslayer) Knight has been labeled publisher and CEO, effective Aug. 15 (which is also Assumption Day, a Christian holiday commemorating the Virgin Mary's assumption into heaven), succeeding 'Honest' Ray Jansen, 65*, who Tribune said “is assuming into oblivion.” *Note: Further digging has uncovered that Mr. Jansen originally lied about his age on his resume, and that he is actually 93 - scandal #2. In a communiqué* to Newsday laborers, 'Honest' Ray claimed: “I had planned on leaving before yearend and under other circumstances I probably would have done that - you can trust me on that. But, understanding what our, I mean, your management has to do to repair the damage to our, I mean, your circulation credibility, it became apparent that my departure date should be sooner than anticipated.” *Note: His initial claim was that he sent out over 150 communiqués, but further digging has uncovered that only 2 were released with one being faxed to his own house - scandal #3. Jansen, who embodies all that liberal journalism has to offer, has allegedly served as publisher for the non-partisan non-biased Newsday for 10* years, and turned 93 (65 by his ciphering) yesterday. *Note: Jansen's original claim had been that his publishing tenure spanned 15 years - scandal #4. A worker* who suspiciously requested not to be revealed said, “He's ('Honest' Ray) always been a great leader with unequaled qualities, like honesty,” the staffer stated. “Jansen grew up** with Newsday,” before it was taken over by the Tribune Co. *Note: Further digging has revealed that the “worker” is actually Jansen's wife who is not an employee at all, but was planted there today to build up his reputation for a post-Newsday career - scandal #5. ** Note: Further digging has revealed that Jansen actually grew up with his parents in a house, not at the newspaper's building - scandal #6. In a statement, the liberal journalist Knight, taking over for 'Honest' Ray, claimed he would confront the circulation scandal “honestly and openly.” Jansen has since been taken in on the Kerry/Edwards campaign as Media Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer of post-election chad counters. (The above story, though based on actual events, is satire or parody. It is meant for entertainment only and is NOT true.)

Permalink | Humor

July 21, 2004, 08:53 PM

A Sales Pitch, or the Writing on the Wall?

By Rob Booth

We received an e-mail here at Chronically Biased tonight from Randy, who was recently visited by a Chronicle salesperson. Here's what he was told:
I was just visited by a chronicle salesman wanting me to subscribe again. I told him like I tell every one that I might do so if they fire lucus wall and he said that they had fired him and 10 other reporters and were replacing them with different ones.
So, we have three possibilities: 1. Randy is making this up. 2. The Chronicle salespeople are getting pretty desperate. 3. Lucas should be getting his resume in order. I'm guessing, but I'm thinking #2 is the most likely. Lucas had a piece in the Chronicle today. How about them apples if what Randy says is accurate? The Chronicle salespeople have to lie about who works for the paper to sell subscriptions.

Permalink | Noxious Chron Columnists

July 21, 2004, 08:03 PM

Berger Didn't Resign, Was “Misplaced” By Kerry (Satire)

By Matt Forge

Washington (CB) — When news of the investigation of Sandy Berger's removing, from the National Archives, copies of documents about the government's anti-terror efforts surfaced, Berger on Tuesday allegedly quit as informal adviser to Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and left town immediately. But thanks to an observant reporter, Berger was found to be stuffed down Kerry's pants. The presumed Democratic presidential nominee hopeful, caught red-handed, then said he regretted the way he handled Berger and told reporters he was not guilty of any criminal or social wrongdoing. “Yesterday, when I was on my campaign jumbo jet talking to Sandy about all this, I made an honest mistake and misplaced him. It's a faux pas that I deeply regret,” Kerry said. “Everything that I have done in this campaign has been for the purpose of benefiting the United States, and any suggestion to the contrary is simply, absolutely wrong.” But Republicans say the whole situation raises questions about whether Kerry tried to hide an embarrassing colleague, since he was reportedly seen stuffing Berger down his pants. “What event could be so embarrassing that a man with years of experience in the U.S. Senate would risk being caught cramming a former national security adviser into his trousers?” House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) asked. Kerry later said, “Sandy Berger is my friend, and he has tirelessly served the Democratic Party with honor and distinction. I respect his decision to sacrifice for the team and lie low, until all this blew over, in my britches.” A smaller controversy has erupted from the other side questioning the timing of the release of this information and wanting to know who released it. An unidentified reporter, only known as “Deep Eye,” claims responsibility. “I had noticed that he (Kerry) looked a little 'hippy',” said Deep Eye. “And when I saw what I believed to be cellulite jiggling more than it should, I alerted the authorities who uncovered Mr. Berger clinging to life... and to Kerry's leg.” It is unknown as to what the former national security advisor's fate will now be. (The above story, though based on actual events, is satire or parody. It is meant for entertainment only and is NOT true.)

Permalink | Humor

July 21, 2004, 01:38 PM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Make sure you view our Features section for daily commentary on the War on Terror, entertainment “wonders and blunders,” the sports world's best and worst shots, the great outdoors, your daily devotional and a little miscellaneous humor.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

July 21, 2004, 12:05 PM

He was a National Security Advisor?!

By Anne Linehan

The Democrat and media spin machines are in high gear, trying to downplay or totally explain away why former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger apparently, inadvertently, mistakenly, unknowingly, confusedly, thoughtlessly, carelessly, unintentionally, unpremeditatedly stuffed classified documents into his briefcase and pants. First, former President Clinton finds the whole thing hilarious:
“We were all laughing about it on the way over here,” the former president said of the investigation into Samuel “Sandy” Berger on classified terrorism documents missing from the National Archives. “People who don't know him might find it hard to believe. But ... all of us who've been in his office have always found him buried beneath papers.”
Yes, well, the Clinton Administration was inclined to treat national security as a less-than-serious matter. Dan Rather thinks this is all a “carefully orchestrated leak.” The NY Times says that Democrats are worried this will hurt Berger's chances to become Secretary of State Sandy Berger. Ya think? Katie Couric frets that this might look bad for the Kerry Campaign. What the major media seems to be missing is this:
A government official with knowledge of the probe said Berger removed from archives files all five or six drafts of a critique of the government's response to the millennium terrorism threat, which he said was classified “codeword,” the government's highest level of document security.
And this:
The documents Berger took — each copy of the millennium report is said to be in the range of 15 to 30 pages — were highly secret. They were classified at what is known as the “code word” level, which is the government's highest tier of secrecy. Any person who is authorized to remove such documents from a special secure room is required to do so in a locked case that is handcuffed to his or her wrist.
So, five or six drafts of the millenium threat critique were taken, each draft containing 15 to 30 pages. Well, that's not coming through in the mainstream media reporting. And this didn't happen just once, by accident:
Three government officials who have been briefed on the investigation said Berger was seen placing some of the material in his clothing. The officials declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the investigation. After one of his visits to the Archives last fall, one of the government officials said, Berger was alerted to the missing documents and later returned some of the materials. On subsequent visits by Berger, Archives staffers specially marked documents he reviewed to try to ensure their return. But the government official said some of those materials also went missing, prompting Archives staffers to alert federal authorities.
And what was in those 70+ pages that accidentally made their way into Berger's briefcase and pants?
Written by Richard Clarke for the NSC, the key document was called the Millennium After-Action Review because it dealt with al Qaeda attacks timed for the eve of the Millennium celebrations. In his own 9/11 testimony, Mr. Berger described these al Qaeda plans as “the most serious threat spike of our time in government.” He went on to say that they provoked “sustained attention and rigorous actions” from the Administration that ended up saving lives. But Attorney General John Ashcroft, who has the advantage of having read the document in question, had a different take. In his own 9/11 testimony in April, Mr. Ashcroft recommended that the Commission “study carefully” the after-action memo. He described it as laying out vulnerabilities and calling for aggressive remedies of the type he and the Bush Administration have been criticized for. Mr. Ashcroft further noted that when he took office, this “highly classified review” was “not among” the items he was briefed on during the transition. Maybe that is because of the potential for embarrassment at the mentality the memo reveals. Mr. Ashcroft testified that the Justice Department's “surveillance and FISA operations were specifically criticized for their glaring weaknesses.” The most glaring, of course, were the restrictions on the sharing of critical information between intelligence and law enforcement--even within the FBI itself. This was the infamous “wall of separation” that Clinton Deputy AG Jamie Gorelick instructed the FBI director should “go beyond what is legally required.”
Uh oh. This doesn't reflect well on the Clinton Administration's insistence that it was totally on top of terrorism and the al Qaeda threat. Maybe if the Democrats' media friends keep spinning this into nothing, it will all go away.

Permalink | Media Watch

July 21, 2004, 12:00 PM

Sharp Spike In Air-Pollution Has Houston Officials Worried (Satire)

By Matt Forge

Houston, TX — Pollution monitors in the Bayou City are baffled about an unexpected accelerated increase in air pollution starting about six in the morning on Monday and quickly dissipating around 11a.m. the same day. This world-class city's Air Quality Index (AQI) tipped the scale for five hours. The AQI is an index for reporting daily air quality. It tells you how clean or polluted your air is. The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution. For example, an AQI value of 50 represents good air quality with little potential to affect public health, while an AQI value over 300 represents hazardous air quality. Houston sustained a whopping 497 yesterday. That's enough toxicity to wipe out an entire generation, including their pet bulldogs. This comes at a bad time when Houston is trying to recover from the rep of being one of the worst polluted cities in the nation, one of the fattest cities in the nation and the worst overall in downtown driving satisfaction and safety. Another bizarre note of interest to experts is that the pollutants were pouring out of stereo and radio speakers in the possession of males between the ages on 18 and 34 who were tuned in to one certain location on the AM dial. These victims, though it was polluting their insides, were actually taking in as much as possible and enjoying it seemingly unaware of the dangers - like a fruity sweet poisoned Kool Aid. City officials and the good people of Houston can only wait until tomorrow, the next day, and the next to see if this will become a daily occurrence. We can only hope and pray not. If we're lucky, it'll only be a short-term exposure, like back during the Super Bowl when everyone was temporarily blinded by a flashing star. (The above story, though based on actual events, is satire or parody. It is meant for entertainment only and is NOT true.)

Permalink | Humor

July 21, 2004, 11:26 AM

The Chron's 'evenhandedness'

By Owen Courrèges

Whenever the Houston Chronicle makes some vain attempt to be evenhanded in their staff editorials, it always still comes out biased. In today's editorial entitled “Washington Values,” which discusses ethics and the presidential campaign, the Chronicle actually attempts to criticize both Bush and Kerry in fast succession. However, you'll note that the criticism of Republicans is both broader and more substantive:
At the behest of the White House, Republicans in the U.S. Senate are using a doomed constitutional amendment proposing a ban on single-sex marriage to symbolize their commitment to traditional institutions and resentments. An amendment proposing penalties for the odd flag-burning is meant to suggest unrivaled patriotism. The Kerry campaign, displaying an optimism rarely seen in nature, wants voters to identify the fabulously wealthy, privileged, East Coast-dwelling Kerry with the heartland and the experiences of average Americans.
Bush is condemned on policy. Kerry is condemned for having a background that your average Joe can't identify with. Which is the more serious criticism? The criticism of Kerry was clearly added as an afterthought. It's a single sentence condemning Kerry for factors that are, admittedly, beyond his control, with no reference to any of Kerry's policies that the Chronicle finds objectionable. Hmmm... Could it be that the Chronicle actually agrees with Kerry's agenda, and that's why they held their tongue? Perish the thought!

Permalink | Chron Bias

July 21, 2004, 11:00 AM

Oopsies...

By Matt Forge

Permalink | Political Cartoons

July 21, 2004, 09:00 AM

Honoring a man of true principle

By Dan Patrick

ChronicallyBiased.com began two months ago out of the frustration many of you felt towards the liberal bias of the Houston Chronicle. The spark that lit the fire of our web paper was an interview on KSEV with the family of a fallen Marine, Leroy Sandoval Jr. and their disgust with the manner in which the Chronicle handled the story of the memorial service. During that interview, one of the Chronicle editors called into the show and came across as heartless and uncaring in his attitude regarding the story. Thousands of listeners were outraged and thousands cancelled their subscriptions. To this day, the Houston Chronicle has still not recovered. They have begun an advertising blitz (not on KSEV), reduced rates and offered incentives to get readers to subscribe. They have even re-designed their paper’s look. However, they still have not changed their liberal approach when reporting and commenting on the news. ChronicallyBiased.com has been successful because people believe in our cause, which is simply to bring balance, honesty and a conservative view to the news. Many of you have supported us by spreading the word to your friends, making a contribution to our tip jar and supporting our advertisers. Our advertisers have stepped forward to help us be a viable business. Our volunteer staff has given countless hours to put out the web paper out each day. Yesterday, I was informed of a story that made me realize just how important our cause is. William Harvard Ethridge, a longtime KSEV listener, who I did not know, and an avid reader of ChronicallyBiased.com passed away this past weekend. He asked his family not to place his obituary in the Houston Chronicle. He did not want his name to be associated with the paper. His family wanted to write about his life and to be sure that all who knew him, over his 62 years, were aware of his passing. He would only agree if a special message was placed at the bottom of the notice. That message would be in code - PCCS (Please Cancel Chronicle Subscription). When people would ask what the letters meant, his family could tell them of his last wish-for his friends to cancel their subscription to the Houston Chronicle. This was obviously a man of great principle. He felt so strongly about what he believed, that even in death, he did not want his name associated in any way with the Chronicle. He wanted to be sure that all of his friends knew of his strong feelings towards the Chronicle. That is a man of principle. The Chronicle may offer reduced rates, free offers and other incentives to get people to subscribe. However, until they stop attacking conservatives and Christians and begin giving both sides of the story in their paper, they will never convince or persuade thousands of Houstonians to read their paper. The editors and owners of the Chronicle should be very worried. When people are willing to make a deathbed statement about your paper and encourage others not to read it, it shows the depth of distain people have for your paper. The last wishes of Mr. Ethridge will encourage all of us involved with chronicallybiased.com to go on each day doing the best we can to be sure that the Chronicle does not get away with telling only one side, their side, of the story. On behalf of all of us on the staff, our advertisers and our readers, I want to offer our condolences to the Ethridge family. I never met William, but I know I would have like him a lot! William Harvard Ethridge WILLIAM HARVARD ETHRIDGE, July 17, 2004. We celebrate the life of our Almighty Father whom without we would not be born. Visitation Tues. 7/20/2004, 6-9 p.m. Rosary @ 7:00 p.m. Funeral Mass Weds. 7/21/2004 10:00 a.m. Interment Following at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church. Houston. PCCS. In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to “Adopt A Student”, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic School, 6725 White Friars St., Houston, TX 77087, In care of Elizabeth Silva.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

July 21, 2004, 08:31 AM

The Chronicle's intelligence lapse

By Anne Linehan

In the “Top Spy” editorial from Tuesday, the Chronicle offers this:
As the Senate report pointed out, the CIA correctly downplayed links between Saddam and al-Qaida. But Vice President Dick Cheney continues to make the connection despite the lack of evidence. No organizational reform could correct that defect.
It's not clear what the Chronicle is referring to here. Are the editors saying there was no connection period between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda? Or are they saying that Saddam had no connection with al Qaeda in the 9/11 attacks? If the editors are saying that Saddam was not a part of the 9/11 attacks, then there is no disagreement with the Bush Administration:
“This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al Qaeda,” Bush said. “We did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.”
If the Chronicle editors are saying that there was no connection whatsoever between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, well, then they have a problem, because there is plenty of evidence backing up that relationship. Here is a Stephen Hayes article from last year that details what was known at that time. And here is a Stephen Hayes article from June of this year with even more details, including examples of the media and the Clinton administration asserting the connection. Bill Kristol, also of the Weekly Standard, dismantled the NY Times claim that there was no evidence of a Saddam/al Qaeda link:
Here is the New York Times, editorializing in high dudgeon on June 17: Now President Bush should apologize to the American people. . . . Of all the ways Mr. Bush persuaded Americans to back the invasion of Iraq last year, the most plainly dishonest was his effort to link his war of choice with the battle against terrorists worldwide. . . . Mr. Bush and his top advisers . . . should have known all along that there was no link between Iraq and Al Qaeda. Here are excerpts from a front-page article by Thom Shanker in the New York Times one week later, on June 25: Contacts between Iraqi intelligence agents and Osama bin Laden when he was in Sudan in the mid-1990s were part of a broad effort by Baghdad to work with organizations opposing the Saudi ruling family, according to a newly disclosed document obtained by the Americans in Iraq. . . . The new document, which appears to have circulated only since April, was provided to the New York Times several weeks ago. . . .
The original Shanker story is no longer available for free online, which is undoubtedly a relief to news organizations everywhere, but there are more excerpts from it in the Weekly Standard story linked above. Also, here is Oh, that liberal media's dissection of the NY Times editorial in relation to the subsequent Thom Shanker article. Even Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi says there was a connection between Saddam and al Qaeda. And finally, we have Jacob Laskin, writing in the American Spectator, who points out that the NY Times has written another editorial about the Iraq war and again gets it wrong:
Topping the list is what the Times terms the Bush administration's “misleading the American people about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and links with Al Qaeda.” What is immediately striking about this charge is not that it is wrong, which it is, but that as much would be obvious to anyone who had cast even a cursory glance at the paper's own coverage — in particular its coverage of the Senate intelligence panel and Thom Shanker's reporting on Iraqi intelligence documenting potential Iraq-al Qaeda collaboration in Saudi Arabia, both of which belie the paper's insistence that the Bush administration was misleading on either point.
Taking editorial direction from the NY Times and adding cutesy digs at the Bush Administration which can be proven wrong, are sure-fire ways for the Chronicle to lose what's left of its credibility.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

July 21, 2004, 08:00 AM

KHOU evokes the Chronicle

By Owen Courrèges

KHOU, our local CBS affiliate, has generally established itself as having a decent news bureau. Alas, that reputation is sullied by the following tripe, which travels down the road forged by the Houston Chronicle:
“Only about 20 percent of all trips are going to work and coming home from work.” says urban planning expert David Crossley. ”So all the rest are essentially errands,“ he adds. Crossley says it's only by taping into the 80 percent of our trips that city's can begin to reduce traffic and street congestion. But to do that, the trains must go when only cars and man have gone before.
First things first: David Crossley is not merely an ”urban planning expert." He is, in fact, the president of the Gulf Coast Institute, a left-wing political advocacy group that lobbies in favor of things like, oh, light rail. This means that Crossley isn't some dispassionate academic, as KHOU seems to imply. He's actually a heavily-biased political hack who prostitutes the truth in order to secure a political edge. He knows quite well that light rail doesn't reduce congestion (a joint Harvard-MIT study proved this), but he also knows that nobody will support light rail if they believe that it won't ease highway traffic. As a result, he trots out a lie, and the plucky reporter from KHOU writes it down as if it were gospel. This is supposed to be quality journalism? More like yellow journalism if you ask me. I certainly hope that KHOU isn't becoming 'the Chronicle II.'

Permalink | Media Watch

July 21, 2004, 07:00 AM

Liberal Media Joyfully Reports Decline in Protestants

By Michael Meyer

The liberal media sound almost besides themselves with glee.
The United States will no longer be a majority Protestant nation in years to come, due to a precipitous decline in affiliation with many Protestant churches, a new survey has found.
What excellent news for the liberal media, no longer bothered by those pesky Protestants and their “morals.” Or that's the way the story reads. Read further, though, and it appears that most of the Protestants now call themselves “Christian.” The story, of course, doesn't identify whether the number of Christians increased. Of course not. That might spoil the story. The study also says that the number of Protestants stayed steady for years before declining from 1993 through the Clinton administration. Oops, that part wasn't in the story - that while Clinton was leading by example and debating was “is” is throughout his term, the number of Protestants decreased. While prior Presidents always wore a jacket in the Oval Office, Clinton had trouble keeping his pants on. Is it just coincidence that his behavior and a decline in Protestantism happened simultaneously? Or did Protestants just start identifying themselves as Christians? There's no was to tell from this incomplete story.

Permalink | Media Watch

July 20, 2004, 06:20 PM

Part 3 of the Kerry puff-piece series

By Anne Linehan

Today the Chronicle's Campaign 2004 News Bureau gives us this installment of its Go Kerry/Edwards series, where we learn that the Senator is going to introduce himself to the American people. Again. This is about the third or fourth introduction tour for Senator Kerry.
NANTUCKET, MASS. - In a journey sentimental and symbolic, presumptive Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry soon begins the important run-up to next week's Democratic National Convention with a tour of America aimed at defining many of his core campaign themes. Kerry hopes to evoke a family feeling at his birthplace of Aurora, Colo., optimism in Sioux City, Iowa, and thoughts about the future in Cape Canaveral, Fla. “I think the focus of the trip is really highlighting the values that built America,” Kerry's daughter, Alexandra, 30, told reporters in a conference call that constituted the family's main media output for the day.
Oh, please. We know all about Senator Kerry's American values. But, sadly, there's more:
Kerry plans to talk about optimism and overcoming adversity in Sioux City because it was a stop for American explorers Lewis and Clark. In Columbus, Ohio, a center of industry, Kerry will focus on opportunity. [snip] At Cape Canaveral, home of Kennedy Space Center, Kerry plans to discuss how science and innovation can be used for better health care and other advances. In Norfolk, Va., Kerry plans to appear alongside fellow Vietnam veterans and talk about his military service. His last stop will be Philadelphia, where Kerry will use the historic backdrop of the cradle of democracy to outline how he would forge alliances with other world nations, particularly regarding the war in Iraq.
It's just depressing. No questions. No skepticism. No follow-up. Just swallow the Kerry Campaign press release and spit it out as a Chronicle article.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

July 20, 2004, 05:50 PM

Newspaper circulation woes

By Anne Linehan

Here are three stories about the continuing newspaper circulation scandal. This article is about an internal Newsday report that details the specifics of inflating the circulation numbers at Newsday and Hoy:
The article uncovers many methods used to puff up the numbers including one program tagged “Code 51.” The program essentially force-fed subscribers that had stopped taking the paper and then billed them for it. Even if people refused to pay, Newsday would continue to deliver copies. Executives made sure to spread the practice around so agents wouldn't be “overburdened fronting the weekly cost of the papers.” Many times they were compensated with a credit, according to the story. Agents finally stopped the aggressive behavior after one former employee told Newsday, “People would come out of their houses saying 'I don't want it! Stop it!'”
Next is this story about how the publishers of Newsday and Hoy have been replaced. And finally, this article is questioning the supposed watchdog of the newspaper and magazine industry, the Audit Bureau of Circulations:
It quoted a former, unnamed ABC employee: “ABC sends their best auditors to the biggest newspapers, like the Chicago Sun-Times and Newsday,” two papers embroiled in the current circulation scandal. “So what this is saying is, if their best auditors went into these papers, they kept signing off on no-good circulation year after year. ”You guys are cheating, granted, but ABC's going in and saying you are correct. How come they're not the ones who have to pay the advertisers now?"
Something smells kind of fishy in this circulation numbers game. Advertisers depend on valid numbers to base ad rates. But, if it is so easy to fudge these numbers, how can advertisers ever trust newspapers, or the ABC, which is supposed to be verifying those numbers?

Permalink | Media Watch

July 20, 2004, 02:10 PM

More than one way to kill a cat...

By Captain Chronicle

Captain Chronicle's most cherished goal since the creation of this KSEV message board has been to crush the spirit of Uber-blogger Kevin Whited. I can't help but notice that it has been 30-plus hours since his latest post—- telling evidence that my campaign of canine psychological warfare is succeeding brilliantly. It promises to be a long, hot summer... BWAHAHAHAHA!!!

Permalink | Captain Chronicle

July 20, 2004, 09:00 AM

Schwarzenegger calls Democrats 'girlie men'

By Owen Courrèges

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has trotted out his ultimate insult against California Democrats. He has called them... GIRLIE MEN!
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is taking some heat this week for mockingly calling Democratic lawmakers “girlie men” in a speech, but a spokeswoman for the governor said he wouldn't apologize. The zinger was tossed out at a rally on Saturday, where the Republican governor blamed state Democrats for delaying the state budget by catering to special interests. “If they don't have the guts to come up here in front of you and say, 'I don't want to represent you, I want to represent those special interests, the unions, the trial lawyers ... if they don't have the guts, I call them girlie men,” Mr. Schwarzenegger told a cheering crowd at a shopping mall in Ontario, Calif.
Now I'm not saying that that he's wrong (he isn't), but shouldn't Schwarzenegger make a concerted effort to be a bit less evocative of Hans and Frans from Saturday Night Live?

Permalink | News and Views

July 20, 2004, 08:01 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Today's Features section has a new addition. Chuck Muth's News and Views is a daily composite of all the “political going-ons that you won't find in the 'mainstream' press.” Get the scoop on what movies make the cut when Barry Chambers gives you his take. Read on these topics and much more in today's Features section.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

July 20, 2004, 07:00 AM

Construction to shut down six downtown blocks

By Owen Courrèges

I'm really glad that I don't have to travel to downtown very often, because past years have not been pleasant for motorists there. I'd like to report that the situation is about to improve, but alas...
Another construction project started downtown Monday, blocking six blocks from traffic. The first leg of the 20-block project along Travis Street is supposed to be finished by the holiday season, but for some business owners in the area, that's not soon enough. The barricades are already up and traffic is already slowing down. For some drivers, though, this is good news because the beginning of this project signals the end of some other construction work. [...] “Just bear with us and this will be over with before too long,” METRO's Ken Connaughton asked drivers.
For some reason I imagine Mr. Connaughton cackling maniacally after saying that. METRO seems to revel in impeding downtown motorists, a pastime at which they've been remarkably successful. I just have one question, though: As a city, are we 'world class' yet? Sometimes I wonder how much traffic we'll have to impede before that title is finally bestowed upon us.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

July 19, 2004, 10:22 PM

Sandy Berger Being Investigated?

By Rob Booth

This is from an obviously partisan source, but it's based on a CBS story, so you can decide for yourself. Blogs for Bush: Kerry Campaign Adviser Guilty of “3rd Rate Burglary”
John Kerry's chief foreign policy adviser, Democratic Committee Platform member and someone seen as short-listed for a Kerry administration secretary of state, Sandy Berger, is being investigated for removing classified documents and keeping them from the 9/11 Commission
Amazing.

Permalink | News and Views

July 19, 2004, 06:13 PM

Electronic Voting

By Rob Booth

There's a letter to the editor today that caught my eye: Houston Chronicle: Viewpoint: E-slate vulnerable to fraud
In response to the Chronicle's July 16 editorial “An accurate vote”: We must challenge all voters to examine “ballot box fraud.” As a former precinct judge during the last general election, I received the required training. However, my experiences were quite different from what I was trained for. At my polling place, I was shocked to hear a Republican judge's instructions to voters who were using the new e-slate machine.
The fraud that the writer is concerned about would probably exist under any form of voting. The arguments in favor of a paper ballot are cogent, but I don't think she made them.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

July 19, 2004, 06:04 PM

Chronicle on Stored Value Cards

By Rob Booth

In today's online version: Houston Chronicle: Riding the Rail
Metro is no longer accepting Stored Value Cards as proof of fare payment on its light rail system. Until the policy changed Sunday, holders of the cards could ride MetroRail free. The transit authority had planned to eliminate the cards in January when the rail line opened and replace them with a MetroRide 'smart card' fare system that would work with the rail Ticket Vending Machines. When it realized those MetroRide cards wouldn't be ready for the rail opening in January, Metro announced it would allow those holding old cards to ride trains without charge until the new fare system began.
This would be the first I've seen mention of this in the Chronicle. Alert Chronically Biased readers would have noticed Tom Bazan's comments on the issue in this article: Chronically Biased - Metrorail found at fault in accident
Will METRO now also admit that it concocted the ridership numbers for the first six months, going so far as devising a way to allow “free fares” for many, if not most of the daily riders working in the Medical Center area by issuing Stored Value Cards which can not be debited on METRORail?
There is also a good deal of info at this web site. Also of interest is this story that appeared online back in December: Houston Chronicle: All aboard
Stored Value Cards will be accepted as proof of payment aboard the train until Metro's new Smart Card system replaces them in April.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

July 19, 2004, 07:46 AM

Hard-hitting Chronicle reporting

By Anne Linehan

Chronicle reporters are using all their journalistic skills these days. Sunday's paper, on page A3, has this in-depth look at Senator John Edwards. Today, the Chronicle gives us this story, on page A9, about Senator John Kerry's much-deserved mini-vacation. We even get a handsome picture of the Senator in the ocean. And we are told that Nantucket is nothing like Crawford, TX. Who knew? Apparently, the Chronicle has opened a Campaign 2004 News Bureau; these stories were written by Chronicle reporters - not picked up from the NY Times or the Washington Post. Unfortunately for Chronicle readers, the Campaign 2004 News Bureau has not yet been able to publish any fluffy, puffy stories on President Bush or Vice President Cheney. But those should be ready any day now, right, Chronicle editors? And, here's a tip for Mike Tolson, who wrote the Senator Edwards story: The Senator is so well-liked in his home state of North Carolina that he decided not to run for a second term because he knew reelection would have been tough.

Permalink | Chron Bias

July 19, 2004, 07:21 AM

Ortiz: McLane is swell!

By Kevin Whited

One would think that a writer for a major daily newspaper — even a sportswriter — would be capable of writing a more sophisticated column than one that picks a sports figure and says, “Gee, he's swell!” But in the case of Jose de Jesus Ortiz, one would be wrong:
McLane accepts the challenge of trying to find qualified black candidates so the baseball side of his organization looks as inclusive as the business side, which is the one where his expertise has been put more to use. The first general manager he hired was Bob Watson, a former Astro who is black. Beginning with president of business operations Pam Gardner, the Astros have several female, Asian, Latino or black personnel in top business operation positions. McLane cannot be expected to oversee all the details of his baseball operations. He is a businessman who delegates except in rare instances. [snip] McLane doesn't pretend to be a scout. He is a salesman who walks around the stadium trying to make fans think they have an ownership in the ballclub. He wants whites, blacks, Latinos, men, women and children to feel the same entitlement. He made sure 30 percent of the concessions at Minute Maid Park went to minority businesses. He guaranteed 30 percent of the contracts to build Minute Maid Park were given to minorities. And he's the one tired of some officials telling him blacks just aren't interested in baseball. [snip] Former major-league outfielder Darryl Hamilton, who lives in Houston, said last week he would accept a meeting with McLane to discuss career opportunities. Hamilton is bright and articulate. He's black. He could be a start. “It's going to take time,” McLane said. “We're going to get there.” McLane, one of the most powerful owners in baseball, wants to find the African-American candidates Smith hasn't found. Now it's up to the black community to bring out the candidates. If you want to start paying your dues like Hunsicker did, McLane urges you to mail a résumé to P.O. Box 288, Houston, 77001-0288.
Mr. McLane is SWELL! And Jose de Jesus Ortiz likes him a lot! What a strange column. And the Chronicle's recent interest in “diversity” on the Astros is getting tiresome. Why not spend the energy on covering sports news, and leave the politics out of it? The Chronicle does neither subject very well, and combining them is just disastrous.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

July 19, 2004, 07:19 AM

A father, a hero, a winner:

By Terry Bohannon

Jeff Wasserman, a father of two and a customer of Fuddruckers, recently found himself crowned “The World's Greatest Dad”. His youngest daughter, Ivanna Wasserman, recently sent in an essay to Fuddruckers; an essay chosen among thousands of submissions to be the most touching. By winning the contest, Ivanna's father now has a new 42“ plasma screen. That new TV is a prize that Jeff definitely deserves. Especially when we read what his daughter wrote, that he ”has put us first and him last for the past nineteen years. He has been through so much and gotten so little in return." Even after a debilitating accident at work, and brain surgery, he is his daughter's hero. And that is why I'd like to share with you her essay. Heroes, of any shade, of any type, deserve our praise. Fuddruckers World’s Greatest Father Winning Submission: http://www.fuddruckers.com/scrapbook/fd-essay.html Many people claim that they have the best dad, but I truly have the world’s greatest dad. My dad is a single parent who has done a terrific job raising me and my sister for the last nineteen years. I am eighteen and my sister, Tiffany, is in nineteen years old. My mom left us when I was one and Tiffany was two. My dad has done a wonderful job at teaching us morals and what is truly important in life. He has given me and my sister everything we could afford and has put us first and him last for the past nineteen years. He has been through so much and gotten so little in return. Nine years ago my dad fell off a tractor-trailer at work and broke his arm. When he went to the hospital they put his arm in a cast instead of operating, and permanently damaged the use of his right arm. Now, eight surgeries and a plastic elbow later, he still cannot fully extend his right arm and is in constant pain. Then, to make matters worse, two years ago my dad starting having seizures and the right side of his body was in a numbing state all the time. A cat-scan confirmed a problem and the doctors found broken blood vessels in his brain. So, immediately they had to perform brain surgery on him to get the blood vessels out so he would not die. He ended up being out of work for eighteen months with no workman’s compensation or any type of income. Me and Tiffany got jobs to try and help out during a very rough time. Even through all this my dad still manages to keep food on the table and a roof over our head. My dad is my hero for not giving up. I love him so much would love to see something good happen to him for a change. My dad is truly the world’s greatest dad and deserves this more than anyone. Ivanna Wasserman, Age 18

Permalink | Miscellaneous

July 19, 2004, 07:15 AM

Doggy Heaven

By Mona Lugay

A Day in the Life of Good Ole Dippy . . .
I like to drive myself around occassionally ...
But most of the time I'm chauffered around ...
What I enjoy the most, however, is down time. It's just me, the remote and my trusty Corona waching the Astros.
If you have haven't submitted a picture of your “coolest” dog you still have time. Find out more information in today's Features section.

Permalink | Humor

July 18, 2004, 08:28 PM

Journalists should not be part of the story

By Kevin Whited

One of the more distressing practices in journalism today is the recounting of how major figures treat journalists privately. For instance, take this tidbit being reported by Newsweek:
The Cheneys have been inadvertently amplifying the noise. Interviewing Dick and Lynne Cheney at the vice president's mansion, C-Span's Steve Scully asked, “What is it going to take for reporters to stop asking the question whether you are going to be on the ticket?” Cheney muttered, through barely open lips, “In the run-up to the convention, people don't have much to talk about, so you get speculation on that.” He laconically added, “When we get to the convention, I think that'll put an end to it.” A suitably low-key, dismissive answer. But after the camera was turned off, Lynne Cheney, who had been forcefully interjecting herself throughout the interview, lit into Scully. She chastised the interviewer for questioning her husband's place on the ticket, according to a source who has spoken to the Cheneys. The outburst seemed uncalled for; Scully is about the most mild-mannered, nonconfrontational talk-show host in Washington.
Who cares? The journalist's job is to get the story. Part of the job is taking flack from people who don't like the questions, and this doesn't seem particularly out of line, even if true (which is unverifiable, thanks to the use of a single anonymous source). It's often the case that interviewees object to a line of questioning or treatment from the press. It is hard to imagine there is a prominent political figure who has not criticized a journalist at some point. Unless the press is going to start reporting every such incident — heaven forbid — journalists should really focus on themselves much less, and on covering people and events much better than they do now. And they should not be so thin-skinned.

Permalink | Media Watch

July 18, 2004, 07:23 PM

Sheila Jackson Lee's candidacy challenged

By Kevin Whited

Tom Bazan, a candidate for Sheila Jackson's Lee's Congressional seat and a regular commenter here, has filed a lawsuit contending that the Congresswoman missed the filing deadline to run for office. She denies this is the case. No idea what will come of the matter, but it should certainly be interesting to watch.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

July 18, 2004, 11:00 AM

Homeless 'war' impending in Galveston

By Owen Courrèges

A war is on the horizon. Following attacks by vile hoodlums, the homeless in Galveston are vowing reprisals against any who would dare attack them:
After suffering weeks of attacks at the hands of baseball bat-wielding teenagers, homeless men who congregate at a shopping center just blocks from this resort city's tourist-packed beaches vowed to arm themselves and wage “a war from hell.” “There's going to be a bloodbath,” warned Michael Seesman, 50, informal spokesman for the men and women who camp in the area around 61st Street and Stewart Road. In the past few months, the men said, African-American and Anglo youths have beaten them with bats as they slept, cut them with knives, threatened them with guns and pummeled them with fists. “These kids attack us almost every day,” Seesman said.
On the whole, I usually don't have a great deal of sympathy for most homeless persons. A large proportion of them are scam artists, drug addicts, or alcoholics. They often accost people in the streets. Too many are professional beggars with no incentive or will to climb their way out of the whole they've dug themselves into. That being said, however, the homeless definitely have the right to be left alone, as well as to defend themselves. The Galveston police are pleading ignorance to the problem of these attacks, but now they need to take action in order to prevent the coming vigilantism. I'd find it very troubling if they didn't.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

July 18, 2004, 10:14 AM

Bias by willful omission

By Kevin Whited

The Chronicle apparently is determined to push Carol Keeton Strayhorn's rumored primary run against Governor Perry in 2006. Their Austin news bureau regularly posts rumors that she might run. Their partisan Austin news chief who doubles as editorialist on the weekends has effectively used his column as PR space for her in the past. We can only assume that the newspaper's dislike of Governor Perry trumps all editorial sense on the matter, since Strayhorn is not a popular figure among Republicans these days (for her attacks on the governor and for sounding like a Democrat a little too often). Indeed, Texas Media Watch's Sherry Sylvester has criticized ALL media outlets for their uncritical fantasizing over a Strayhorn run. On July 2, she wrote:
It's been 277 days since Dallas Morning News writer Wayne Slater wrote the first real story on Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn potential challenge to Gov. Rick Perry in 2006. Since then, 143 news reports in the big five Texas papers have reported that Strayhorn is considering a challenge to Perry in 2006. Fair enough. However, inquiring minds still want to know if the Comptroller has garnered any substantial financial backing within the GOP. As Strayhorn herself might say, going after a sitting governor is one expensive political challenge and it will take big money to do it. When is some enterprising reporter going to contact the big wallets in the Republican Party, many of whom funded both Perry and Strayhorn in the past, and find out which way they are leaning? We continue to raise this question, in the context of bias, because it appears that either the Capitol press corps does not have the sources in the Republican Party to determine the strength of Strayhorn's challenge - or they are willfully avoiding doing so.
Christy Hoppe of the Dallas Morning News finally picked up on Sylvester's suggestion, and discovered that Strayhorn will be overmatched in a race against Governor Perry:
Some big Republican givers are choosing sides in the battle between Gov. Rick Perry and state Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, campaign finance reports filed Thursday indicate. Four of the biggest GOP donors, who regularly sign $25,000 checks to politicians, declined in the last six months to give to Mrs. Strayhorn. [snip] In the campaign reports, noticeably absent from the contributors to Mrs. Strayhorn was Mr. Leininger, who had donated $100,000 to her from January 2000 through June 2003. Also missing are Dallas oilman Louis Beecherl, who had given $65,000 over the same period; Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, who had provided $160,000 previously; and chemical company executive William McMinn, who had given $125,000. All four men gave to Mr. Perry this time, for a total of $175,000. Bill Miller, whose Austin public relations and lobbying firm represents Bob Perry, said the omission was purposeful. “He's unhappy with her criticism of other Republican leaders,” Mr. Miller said of his client.
At Chronically Biased, we've been suggesting for some time that party faithful are none too pleased with Strayhorn's behavior. Empirical evidence now backs us up. However, if you read the Chronicle, you'd get a very different picture. Here's the hacked up AP version of the story that they chose to run in their newspaper:
Gov. Rick Perry and Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Republicans who may compete for the state's top job, have a combined $8.7 million in the bank for upcoming elections, their campaign finance reports showed Thursday. Perry has the advantage in campaign cash on hand with $5.1 million, compared with $3.6 million for Strayhorn, two years before the Texas governor's race of 2006. They and others who are raising money for possible candidacies had to file six-month campaign finance reports by Thursday with the Texas Ethics Commission. “In my decades of public service, I have never had this level of support this far out from the next election,” Strayhorn said. She has not said whether she will challenge Perry in a GOP primary, though she is considering it. James Huffines, chairman of the Texans for Rick Perry committee, said Perry enjoys “wide, broad-based support.” The state reports were for the period ending June 30.
In chopping this AP story down, the Chronicle's editors have withheld the real “news” from the story, giving the distorted impression that these filings show strong support for their favorite anti-Perry voice, Miss Strayhorn. In reality, the filings show just the opposite — that Strayhorn has no support among major Republican donors, and that Governor Perry enjoys a commanding advantage at this point. The Chronicle's editors should be ashamed of themselves for this latest example of misleading journalism. It's another grave disservice to their readers.

Permalink | Chron Bias

July 18, 2004, 10:00 AM

Elton John Too Afraid To Speak Out (Satire)

By Matt Forge

New York (CB) — Huddled in a fetal position on the floor between his bed and wall in a New York hotel with nothing but a plush white towel hugging his middle-aged waist, a terror-stricken Elton John had some unmentionable thoughts on the US regime. With curtains drawn and lights out, he silently pondered to himself, “There's an atmosphere of fear in America right now that is deadly.”

The Sir of Songdom, with glistening beads of chilled sweat pouring down his face, dare not utter a word about this. But he still had his secret opinions believing performers could be “frightened by the current administration's bullying tactics” and likened the current “fear factor” to McCarthyism in the 1950s.

The ticking of the clock and humming whir of the air conditioner were his only companions as the shivering Brit silently assessed to himself, “There was a moment about a year ago when you couldn't say a word about anything in this country for fear of your career being shot down by people saying you are un-American.” He longingly reflected that things were very different back in the 60s.

”People like Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, The Beatles and Pete Seeger were constantly writing, taking drugs and talking about what was going on. That's not happening now. As of this spring, there have been virtually no anti-war concerts, anti-war songs that catch on, or pro-marijuana rallies for that matter,” he thought.

In fight-or-flight mode, John's pounding heart flooded his veins and arteries with energy-producing oxygen preparing his body for the possibility of having to lunge out in a moment's notice if the room was invaded by the secret police looking to torture him for his traitorous ideas. But he lay there on the floor waiting, under a silk bedsheet, with one eye staring out and a flashlight at the ready.

Elton prayed and prayed hard, but though he tried, he couldn't stop those thoughts from making their way into the flickering light of his consciousness. He had concern that it seemed acceptable to voice your opinion if you were pro-Bush, remembering that hick country singer Toby Keith, but not if you were critical of the President, like that sweet country rock band, the Dixie Chicks.

He continued reasoning, ”On the one hand, you have someone like Toby Keith, who has come out and been very supportive of the Bush administration and the war in Iraq - which is OK because America is a democracy and Toby Keith is entitled to say what he thinks and feels. But, on the other hand, the Dixie Chicks got shot down in flames last year for criticizing the president. They were treated like they were being un-American, when in fact they have every right to say whatever they want about him because he's freely elected, and therefore accountable.”

Bush has since replaced Cheney with Toby Keith as his vice-presidential running mate. The Dixie Chicks' bodies have yet to be located.

Then he had one last shocking thought. “What if they can read my mind? I suppose it's possible with an evil regime like Bush's. Oh no, what if these thoughts become public? What if they get published on the internet?! They'll come after me! They'll--” Derailing his train of thought, there was a light tapping on the door with a low voice announcing, “Room service...”

Sir Elton was in New York to play a series of concerts, but they've been postponed until the missing singer (or his dead lifeless corpse of a pasty white body) can be found. (The above story, though based on actual events, is satire or parody. It is meant for entertainment only and is NOT true.)

Permalink | Humor

July 18, 2004, 09:12 AM

Forbes tells a different story than McLane on Astro finances

By Kevin Whited

Drayton McLane regularly cries that he's losing money as owner of the Astros, and the Chronicle uncritically prints whatever figure he gives the newspaper, without fail. However, as KHOU-11 reports, Forbes tells quite a different story about the Astros. Not only are they not losing money, but they are in the upper tier of teams in terms of revenue generation:
According to Forbes, the Astros are in the upper tier of teams, ranking 11th, with earnings revenue of $128 million last year. Still, Astros owner McLane has claimed that the team has been losing money for years. “That depends on how you define 'red ink'. I think that they are cash flow positive. But as a former Major League executive with the Toronto Blue Jays once said, 'he can take one plus one and have it equal four and have every accounting firm in the country agree with it',” Ozanian said.
And so long as he refuses to open his books to scrutiny, fans and journalists should treat Drayton McLane's claims with extreme pessimism, since they clash so significantly with the conclusions presented by Forbes. Incidentally, Forbes says the Astros are now worth $327 million, a nice return on the $103 million that McLane paid for the team in 1992. With major rebuilding facing the team in future years — a process that will dampen fan attendance — one suspects that McLane may well be looking to sell the team after he milks all the revenue he can out of Roger Clemens's remaining starts this year.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

July 18, 2004, 08:00 AM

Dallas PD eschews officers involved in shootings

By Owen Courrèges

In a previous post, I pointed out how Dallas has some strange, pro-criminal policies for its police deparment that likely contribute to Dallas's dubious distinction of having the highest crime rate in the nation for the past six years in a row. Well, it appears that Dallas has responded to the problem by placing further restrictions on police officers:
[In Dallas] [p]olice officers involved in shootings or deaths will now be placed on desk duty until the case goes before a grand jury. The new policy, enacted by new Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle, was greeted with enthusiasm from civil rights activists who have protested the recent deaths of several men in police custody. But Officer Michael Walton, president of the Fraternal Order of Police's Dallas chapter, said he believes the change places an unfair stigma on officers. “Chief Kunkle's new policy gives officers reservations in how they need to do their jobs,” Walton said in Saturday's edition of The Dallas Morning News. “Officers are very disappointed in Chief Kunkle's stance towards them. ”They feel like he has not listened or addressed any concerns that we have and he's only playing to the community groups."
Despite the incompetence of Houston officials on occasion, I still thank providence that we have avoided much of this reckless pandering. This is the kind of reaction that makes the police bitter and gives moral support to the criminals they're charged with stopping. It may be good PR, but from a law enforcement perspective it is remarkably conterproductive. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm really glad that we're not Dallas.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

July 18, 2004, 07:51 AM

Surprise! Chronicle slams Bush for NAACP “snub”

By Anne Linehan

In today's Chronicle, the editorial staff thinks President Bush is showing how un-inclusive the Republican party is by not speaking at the NAACP annual meeting. Well, we couldn't have predicted that editorial was on the way, huh? What a surprise! It is the usual tiresome tripe, filled with junk like this:
N [sic] his first White House campaign, President George W. Bush said the Republican Party was a “big tent” under which there was room for Americans of every stripe. It's a wonderful political metaphor, but like the big-top circus it was built on, the big tent packed up and left after the 2000 campaign.
And:
Bush cited scheduling conflicts, but the excuse of being too busy to meet with the nearly century-old black civil rights organization is even more insulting than the real reason Bush didn't go: He was offended by NAACP president Kweisi Mfume and NAACP Chairman Julian Bond's harsh criticisms of his administration. The president showed himself unattractively thin-skinned. Whatever Mfume and Bond say about the president and his policies, their remarks do not universally represent the political opinions of the half million or so black Americans who are NAACP members.
Right. It's all President Bush's fault. Come on, Chronicle editors. Let's review what the NAACP leadership did after President Bush spoke there during the 2000 presidential campaign:
[Background sound: deep, eerie metallic; later fade in low clanking] Renee Mullins (voice over): I’m Renee Mullins, James Byrd’s daughter. On June 7, 1998 in Texas my father was killed. He was beaten, chained, and then dragged 3 miles to his death, all because he was black. So when Governor George W. Bush refused to support hate-crime legislation, it was like my father was killed all over again. Call Governor George W. Bush and tell him to support hate-crime legislation. We won’t be dragged away from our future.
This may come as a news flash to the editors at the Chronicle, but there are other groups that represent the interests of black Americans besides the NAACP. There is the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, whose first president was Rev. Martin Luther King, and the Congress of Racial Equality, and the National Urban League, to name just three. The editorial makes mention, at the end, that the President will be speaking at the National Urban League's meeting, but dismisses that as just window dressing:
Bush is set to speak this week in Detroit at the annual convention of the National Urban League, a black-membership organization dedicated to economic empowerment. That appearance might dampen some black Americans' irritation at his failure to talk to the NAACP, but it will do little to rebut the notion that this is a president who prefers holding grudges to trying to bring his critics around.
The question is why does the editorial board at the Chronicle assume that the NAACP is the only group that should be addressed by the President? The National Urban League is hardly in the back pocket of Republicans and has a long history of working on issues that concern the black community. It is apparent the President wants to speak to black Americans, just not through the NAACP filter, with all the hate-filled rhetoric that comes out of its leadership:
The group's chairman, Julian Bond, said in a June 2 speech that Republicans' “idea of equal rights is the American flag and the Confederate swastika flying side by side.”
(Via Brothers Judd blog) That's nice. And the Chronicle says that no matter what Julian Bond says, President Bush should shrug it off and speak before the NAACP anyway. The onus should not be only on President Bush to be civil. The leadership of the NAACP has a responsibility to be civil, as well, if it is to be of service to its members. Other groups that represent the black community are often supportive of Democrats, so it's not about disagreement. President Bush has shown numerous times he welcomes addressing people who disagree with his positions. What it is about is the level of discourse. And the NAACP has taken the discourse to a place that is hard to climb back up from. There are other groups who, while not agreeing with the President, are still civil and courteous. And that is why the President will address the National Urban League and not the NAACP.

Permalink | Chron Bias

July 17, 2004, 02:17 PM

Media Stereotypes Republicans

By Rob Booth

The Chronicle decided to run a piece by Mr. Bob Herbert of the New York Times. Here's one part: Houston Chronicle: Guess who didn't come to dinner this week?
What is troubling is Bush's relationship with blacks in general. He's very good at using blacks as political props. And the props are too often part of an exceedingly cynical production. Four years ago, on the first night of the Republican convention, a parade of blacks was hauled before the television cameras (and the nearly all-white audience in the convention hall) to sing, to dance, to preach and to praise a party that has been relentlessly hostile to the interests of blacks for half a century. I wrote at the time that “you couldn't tell whether you were at the Republican National Convention or the Motown Review.”
The picture below was taken at the recent GOP convention in San Antonio. The people pictured are the chair of the Congressional District 9 GOP caucus, the delegates/alternates, and the presidential elector. The delegates were selected by the caucus to represent GOP voters at the August/September GOP national convention in New York. Congressional District 9's GOP Delegation Left to right: James White (CD09 Chair), Leo Vasquez (Delegate), Mona Lisa Chambers (Delegate), Bob Blackmer (Delegate), Anna Clare Rice (CD09 Presidential Elector), Joe Ann Clack (Delegate), Rex Lamb (Delegate), Juluette Bartlett Pack (Delegate) Note: Three of the delegates are actually alternates. Mr. Herbert, like many in the mainstream media, can't get over the fact that not all minorities are Democrats and some are active in the Republican Party. When they see an exception to their rule they freeze up, it doesn't compute for them. Mr. Herbert, the delegates in the picture are going to be in New York for the convention. You should go meet them and hear what they have to say. They're not props, they've worked very hard for the honor of being a delegate.

Permalink | Noxious Chron Columnists

July 17, 2004, 12:23 PM

More on our lady Senator's anti-Holmes vote

By Kevin Whited

A little over a week ago, we criticized Senator Hutchison for her vote against a qualified, conservative judicial nominee, a vote that the pro-abortion Chronicle editorial board had urged her to make. Longtime Arkansas Democrat Gazette columnist/editor Paul Greenberg has some further thoughts on the Senate's untimate confirmation of Leon Holmes:
In this case, the Leon Holmes whom critics painted as a woman-hating religious fanatic bore no resemblance to the real man, the man folks here in Arkansas know and respect. I myself first met Mr. Holmes as a client and, like so many, became a fan. Watching the ordeal he's undergone over the past year and a half, you come to understand why some fine people who've been nominated for the federal bench wish they hadn't been. And why some presidents settle for second-best instead of going for the gold. The Clinton administration missed an opportunity-one of many-by failing to nominate the Arkansan jurist Richard S. Arnold to the Supreme Court of the United States. As chief judge of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Arnold had become a byword far beyond Arkansas for his incisive opinions. But his was entirely too keen a mind, and Bill Clinton would in the end settle instead for what's-his-name or what's-her-name, content to add to the surfeit of mediocrity already on the court. Better to nominate the forgettable than someone whose light no bushel could hide. Such a nominee could be-a damning word in Washington-controversial. As if greatness is not regularly controversial. Let it be said for George W. Bush, whom no one would confuse with an intellectual, that he recognizes intellectual courage in others. He had the courage to nominate someone like J. Leon Holmes (along with outstanding talents like Miguel Estrada and William Pryor) even though he knew such selections would unleash a mudstorm of criticism in the Senate. And then he had the guts to stick with his nominees till the end. Or until they themselves tired of all the hassle. Unfortunately, it's easy to smear a judicial nominee if he's been conscientious enough to take an active role in politics or the law. Indeed, the more he has contributed to the public dialogue, the more of his statements can be wrenched out of context and distorted. The Ted Kennedys and Patrick Leahys are experts at this low art, as demonstrated by their campaign against Leon Holmes' confirmation.
The pro-abortion Chronicle has fairly well mastered the art also. It's shameful that the lady Senator from Texas, who likes to call herself a conservative, fell for it. Or worse, voted against Holmes because of her view on a single issue.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

July 17, 2004, 12:10 PM

A subtle (or not so subtle) smear

By Kevin Whited

To the extent that this Chronicle editorial is simply a call to establish a backup paper trail for possible audits of electronic voting machines, I couldn't agree more. But it seems to me they're up to a bit more than that. In fact, it seems to me that the editorial attempts a subtle smear:
In a Monday meeting with Hearst Corp. executives, news directors from the company's television stations, and editors from its magazines and newspapers, including the Houston Chronicle, Kerry said he is putting together a team of lawyers to “go after” election officials who purge eligible voters from election roles or use intimidation to bar potential voters.
The editorial's implication overall seems to be that Republicans try to steal elections, and might even resort to cheating electronically. They don't come right out and say that, but that seems clearly to be implied. And it's an unsubstantiated smear that a reasonable editorial board should have avoided. In reality, it's the Dems who have become very skilled at suing over elections when they don't like the outcome (or even, in the case of New Jersey, the candidate they had nominated to run for Senate). However, one hopes that the fine liberals at Hearst pushed Mr. Kerry on his commitment to fair elections for all without regard for party affiliation, and also asked him if he was equally concerned about numerous complaints about voter fraud on, say, numerous Indian reservations across the country, or in places like Miami-Dade and St. Louis, which have long been known as havens of voter fraud (that tends to benefit Dems). The Chronicle editorial board is right that we need to have confidence in our elections and in our electoral procedures. However, it's counterproductive and dishonest for them to intimate that one party is devoted to fair elections and one is not. And typically clueless on their part.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

July 17, 2004, 09:36 AM

The obesity disease?

By Matt Forge

Battle O' Da Bulge
Click HERE to get the skinny on this pic.

Permalink | Political Cartoons

July 17, 2004, 08:59 AM

More Chronicle front page looniness

By Anne Linehan

Yesterday, the Chronicle ran a front page story on what it said were rumors that President Bush would dump Vice President Cheney as his running mate. Today, on page A10, in a box titled “Around the Campaigns” is this:
Arizona Sen. John McCain gave a strong endorsement of Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday as “not just another pretty face” as he worked to squelch any concerns that Cheney might be dropped as President Bush's running mate. McCain campaigned with Cheney in Michigan - a state McCain won over then-candidate Bush in the 2000 Republican primary. “In short my friends, Vice President Cheney is not just another pretty face,” McCain said at a rally, in an indirect slap at Democrat John Kerry's running mate, John Edwards, once named People's [sic] magazine's sexiest politician.
Online the Chronicle has a NY Times story about Senator McCain and Vice President Cheney campaigning together. If the Chronicle thinks yesterday's event squelches any concern that the Vice President won't be the President's running mate, then why isn't that story on the front page today? Maybe because there wasn't any room after this Big Headline Story.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

July 17, 2004, 08:09 AM

Chronicle hides the cholesterol story update

By Anne Linehan

On Tuesday the Chronicle's Big Headline Story on the front page was about a panel of “experts” calling for a war on cholesterol. We highlighted that here. Today, look at what's inside the Chronicle, on page A4: “Groups blast source of new cholesterol guidelines.” It seems those experts on the panel that made the recommendation for more people to be put on cholesterol-lowering drugs, have received money from the drug companies that make the drugs.
The new guidelines would add about 7 million more Americans to the 36 million already encouraged to take the pills, according to Dr. James Cleeman, coordinator of the National Cholesterol Education Program, which drew up the guidelines. NCEP is run by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Cleeman said regardless of connections to the drug industry, the advice to high-risk heart patients to lower their LDL, or “bad cholesterol,” is sound science. The new guidelines were based on results of five drug studies since 2001.
The consumer group quoted in the article that is questioning the lack of disclosure in this study is the Center for Science in the Public Interest. We have noted CSPI recently, but this a case where CSPI is right. The disclosure of who has been funding these scientists should have been noted. If that information wasn't provided, reporters should have asked, instead of relying on press-release journalism. Today's story also should have been on the front page of the Chronicle. It could have taken the place of the Bobby Fischer story, or even the little blurb at the bottom directing the reader's attention to an inside story about the Pentagon developing new detention procedures.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

July 16, 2004, 07:59 PM

Recent media criticism from around the web

By Kevin Whited

Although we consider this (main) section of Chronically Biased primarily to be a Chronicle watchdog weblog (or “watchblog”) with a dose of conservative commentary thrown in for good measure, we do sometimes like to link to broader articles about the media. Without any further introduction, here are a few such articles from around the web. You can read the articles in their entirety by following the links. High Bias (Orson Scott Card, OpinionJournal)
One recent morning--the Sunday before Memorial Day--I picked up the Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times and started looking through national news coverage. You know, the stuff that is filtered through the lens of liberal bias long before it even reaches local papers, which rarely revise what they get off the wire services. In a story on Donald Rumsfeld's remarks to the graduating class at West Point, here is the lead paragraph: “Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, making no mention of the prisoner abuse scandal that has led to calls for his ouster, told a cheering crowd of graduating cadets Saturday that they will help win the global fight against terror.” Let's see, how could there be any bias in that? Every word is true, right? Except for this: The first thing mentioned, the lens through which we are forced to view the rest of the story, is something that did not happen and that only an idiot would expect might happen: Mr. Rumsfeld mentioning the prisoner-abuse scandal at a commencement address at West Point. The lead, in other words, is not the graduation that is supposedly being reported, but rather Mr. Rumsfeld's failure to resign in the face of events that happened weeks ago. How is Mr. Rumsfeld's not resigning news? It's mentioned in this story only because the reporter does not want to let go of it. This is bulldog journalism: Once you get hold of a story, you never loosen your grip until your victim dies--at least politically. Does it happen to everybody? Or just Republicans? Well, try this fictitious opening paragraph: “Senator Hillary Clinton, making no mention of the $100,000 she once made by trading cattle futures with astonishing perfection, told a cheering crowd of activists that President Bush's globalist economic policy is hurting poor people in other countries and costing American jobs.” Nope. You've never seen it, and you never will. Because bulldog journalism only goes one way in our “unbiased” mainstream media.
Blogging the Watchdogs (John Leo, Town Hall)
On June 28, Paul Bremer gave a farewell speech as he stepped down as U.S. administrator in Iraq. Some Iraqis, at least, found the talk moving. Ali Fad­hil, 34, a resident in pediatrics at a Baghdad hospital, watched it on television with a group in the cafeteria. He said Bremer’s words choked up even a onetime supporter of April’s Shiite upris­ing. We have this information about the Bremer speech because Fadhil and his brothers are bloggers who file their own reports on the Internet (http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com). I had never heard of “Iraq the Model,” but Margaret Wylie of Newhouse News Service produced a good story June 29 about Fadhil’s blogging and Bremer’s talk. Word that Bremer actually gave the speech is something of a collector’s item among American reporters. The Washington Post said Bremer left without giving a talk. The Los Angeles Times did worse. It missed the speech, then insulted Bremer for not giving it. A July 4 Times “news analysis” said: “L. Paul Bremer III, the civilian administrator for Iraq, left without even giving a final speech to the country — almost as if he were afraid to look in the eye the people he had ruled for more than a year.” This is a good one-sentence example of what readers object to in much Iraq reporting — dubious or wrong information combined with a heavy load of attitude from the reporter. Not sorry. Bloggers in the United States have been all over this story, quoting one another, leaning on the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times for an apology or a correction. Last Thursday, the Times published a correction of sorts. No apology, though, and no regret for the zinger aimed at Bremer. The Times said that Bremer taped an address that was given to Iraqi broadcast media and “not publicized to the Western news media.” So nobody at the Times watches Iraqi TV or reads blogs? One blogger wrote: “Bremer’s farewell address had been common knowledge among readers of Internet blogs since at least June 30,” four days before the Times criticized Bremer for having given no speech. Apparently nobody at the Times reads the American press either. Margie Wylie’s Newhouse piece discussing the Iraqi reaction to the Bremer talk ran five days before the Times said the speech hadn’t been given. The blogging world cackled a bit about the mess the Times made, mostly because many bloggers think the most powerful big-time news outlets are becoming more and more partisan. The Times may be on its way to becoming Exhibit A for this belief.
Chicago Tribune and WLS-TV revel in humiliation (Dennis Prager, Town Hall)
The news media have awesome power, yet there are virtually no checks on that power. There are far more checks on the power of every elected official, for example, than on any news organization. Politicians are beholden to courts and to the electorate; they are constantly monitored by the press; and they often must retire due to term limits. But aside from talk radio, there is virtually no public criticism of any newspaper, TV news program or news magazine; and they never have to run for re-election. They also have little competition. In Los Angeles, as in almost all cities in America, there is essentially one newspaper. If power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, how shall we describe the news media, which are more powerful than anyone but the president of the United States and have no checks on their power? One description that comes to mind is unparalleled hubris. There is no other rational explanation for the contempt the news media have for individual lives.
Knight Ridder Gets It Wrong (Steven F. Hayes, Weekly Standard)
The news service giant puts words in the president's mouth and then looks the other way on connections between Iraq and al Qaeda.

Permalink | Media Watch

July 16, 2004, 11:45 AM

Houston job market getting worse

By Owen Courrèges

Although the job market has been improving both state and nationwide, our own city of Houston is still faring quite poorly (from the Houston Business Journal):
The number of people in the Houston metropolitan area signing up for jobless benefits climbed last month as the unemployment rate rose to 7 percent in June, the highest since registering 7.3 percent in July 2003, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. In May the unemployment rate was 6.1 percent. About 165,000 workers were looking for jobs in June, compared to 143,000 people out of work in May. Texas' seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped by two-tenths of a percentage point to 5.7 percent from May to June. During that same period, Texas employers added 22,834 jobs.
Ouch.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

July 16, 2004, 11:39 AM

Sex-ed conference in Waco condemned

By Owen Courrèges

Planned Parenthood has been continuing its never-ending battle for abortions, condoms, and the contraceptive way. Thankfully, they aren't unopposed:
Taking her two teenage daughters to a sex-education seminar Thursday, Marilynn Dieterich walked by about 40 protesters and few dozen large red signs declaring “Stop Planned Promiscuity.” One of the Pro-Life Waco members handed Dieterich a pamphlet saying the Planned Parenthood-sponsored conference for fifth- through ninth-graders used sexually explicit materials. “It gave me second thoughts about what I was doing, but I thought, 'o, I'm doing the right thing.' Kids aren't babies; they're old enough,” said Dieterich, smiling at her 13- and 14-year-old daughters. About 350 children attended the Nobody's Fool program, now in its 15th year. Organizers said attendance didn't drop this year, despite the protesters and recent radio ads lambasting the one-day conference in Waco.
Look, I frankly don't care what anybody thinks about the relative merits of abstinence-only education versus comprehensive sex education, because I'd like to think that we can all agree that fifth graders shouldn't be learning about condoms and 'the pill.' That's more than a bit too early to be hearing about sex and contraception from total strangers. Besides, I don't want an organization so highly-invested in abortion to be sponsoring sex-ed conferences for children. I need not even mention the conflict-of-interest there.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

July 16, 2004, 10:14 AM

News that's not in the Chronicle: President Clinton backs Iraq war

By Anne Linehan

Senator Kerry may not be able to figure out if the Iraq war was a good idea or not, but former President Bill Clinton says there was really no other choice:
Bill Clinton says that no government could have failed to act against Iraq after the 11 September 2001 attacks in view of intelligence provided. The former US president told the BBC that UK intelligence on the activity of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was more “aggressive” than Washington's. [snip] The former president told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that before the war everyone had thought that Iraq still had chemical and biological weapons stockpiles.
(Via Captain's Quarters blog)

Permalink | Media Watch

July 16, 2004, 08:50 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Bob Birner explains the importance of having a certified remodeler, Michael Reagan addresses whether or not President Bush has done everything he can to make the Republican party happy and Bill Cosby's remarks are praised, much to the dismay of many Black-Americans. Read on these topics and much more in today's Features section.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

July 16, 2004, 08:36 AM

Missing Elf?

By Mona Lugay

These are our most recent entries in our Coolest Dog Contest. Have you submitted a picture of your coolest dog to our contest yet?
Looks like Santa forgot one. I think Binky Blough Hough would rather be in movies than wrap presents. Binky IS ready for a close up Mr. Demille.
Can you find Lance? Hard to tell the difference between the stuffed animals and this “cool” dog.

Permalink | Humor

July 16, 2004, 08:18 AM

For and Against

By The Staff

Cox and Forkum: Wafflers 04 Courtesy of Cox and Forkum

Permalink | Political Cartoons

July 16, 2004, 08:00 AM

Rumors = news

By Anne Linehan

The Chronicle today decides to follow yesterday's NY Times lead and run its own Front Page Story on rumors about Vice President Cheney's future. Both stories have no substantive news, except to find quotes from a few people who say the President would be better off with a new VP. Why is this front page news? Or any news at all? This is the stuff of opinion pieces. In fact, the Chronicle's story quotes two Republicans who say the Vice President should be replaced, one of whom is former NY Senator Alfonse D'Amato. He's not exactly representative of the whole Republican party. You can always find someone to agree with whatever idea you are pushing. The real truth here is that this rumor the media is feverishly fanning is popular mostly with Democrats and the media. We all know the media will not miss an opportunity to get the public to dislike the Vice President. Reporters do this by using Halliburton in any sentence that mentions the Vice President. In turn, we readers are naturally supposed to nod our heads and say, “Ah, yes. Halliburton and Cheney. Very bad.” To that end, we now have front page stories telling us that Vice President Cheney might be on his way out the door. Republicans who are supportive of the War on Terror and President Bush's fight to keep our country safe, tend to think Vice President Cheney is an asset. And yes, the debate has been held here on Chronically Biased. But it is fair to assume that conservatives will support President Bush with Vice President Cheney on the ticket. And don't believe all those polls reporters like to quote. Often the polls are weighted to favor Democrats. The media will keep pounding this at every opportunity because that is how media people like to generate stories. If they can get an idea planted and then repeat it over and over, they think the public will believe it. How many Front Page Stories have we seen these past two weeks on the intelligence reports out of the Senate and the UK that have cleared President Bush and Prime Minister Blair of wrongdoing? All those “Bush lied” and “Blair sexed up intelligence” stories have now been refuted. And what do we get? War on cholesterol. Obesity is a disease. Mexicali is hot. Rumors that the Vice President will be replaced. Newspapers can give themselves a facelift, but if their content is still suspect, readers will be forced to search for real news elsewhere.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

July 16, 2004, 07:12 AM

Parody: Kerry Receives Intel Briefing At NAACP Convention

By Matt Forge

Philadelphia, PA (Satire) — The white billionaire Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry Thursday addressed the 95th annual NAACP convention. He wasted no time in putting Bush where he belongs, and rightly so. The President, who has a very open schedule, and has a hard time finding a way to keep from getting bored, dissed the formal meeting where ninety-five percent of the delegates were warmly looking forward to hearing his ideas and engaging in thoughtful dialogue on their merits.

Kerry started out saying, "Thank you for that wonderful introduction. I understand that you've been having trouble getting some speakers. As a campaigner, I know a little something about scheduling conflicts and hostile environments. But when you're president of the United States, you can pretty much say where you want to be." Then he made what was a stunning announcement to the audience.

"I have personally scheduled and paid for my senatorial bretheren to be with us here today as I need to be present for the terrorist intelligence briefing. I couldn't take you (the convention leaders and delegates) to the briefing, so I, with my scheduling expertise, brought it to you." Thunderous applause erupted and Kerry basked in the warmth of love poured out from all those hands slapping together.

All of the other senators except one (Kid Edwards) then disembarked off Kerry's campaign jumbo jet, which had landed in the parking lot, and huddled into a tight circle on the stage where secret service personnel erected a sound-proof barrier around them. With curtains drawn, they all had their little pow-wow. After about thirty minutes or so, the curtains whisked open and they all boarded the plane (except Kerry who was stopped at the door).

He then went on to finish his speech talking about how he's just a regular guy, spending the people's money wisely, how Hollywood elitists represent the heart and soul of America, and so forth and so on. No misgivings were evident in the convention hall as Kerry was interrupted more than two dozen times by applause, cheering and a standing ovation. At one point, somebody called out, "We love you."

Then Kerry left. "He came through the crowd and touched people," said Zack Eius, an NAACP delegate from Palestine, Tx. who had to climb a rail to get a glimpse of the popular figure who promised to set them all free from the bondage of forgotten America "He's real. ... This felt like Clinton. He's not as great as Clinton, but he felt like it."

(The above story, though based on actual events, is satire or parody. It is meant for entertainment only and is NOT true.)

Permalink | Humor

July 15, 2004, 07:17 PM

Misstating readership can be costly

By Anne Linehan

The Tribune Co. is reporting that it will have to pay an estimated $35 million to settle complaints about inflated circulation numbers at two of its newspapers.
The company also said an internal investigation had identified additional circulation misstatements at the two papers — Newsday of Melville, N.Y., and Hoy, a Spanish-language newspaper in New York — which were punished this week by the Audit Bureau of Circulations for breaking circulation rules. It said further misstatements had been uncovered for the same period where earlier problems were detailed — the 18 months that ended in March — in addition to misstatements affecting 2001 and 2002 numbers.
Misstatements? Must sound better than “inflated numbers” or “padding the books.” Whatever. It's awfully expensive to lie. And, in related news, the Audit Bureau of Circulations has censured Newsday and Hoy, as well as the Chicago Sun-Times for misstating circulation figures:
-- They will be required to submit their circulation claims to more frequent audits: for the next two years, their records will be audited every six months, rather than annually. -- For the next year, their circulation claims will be excluded from FAS-FAX, ABC's semi-annual report of “top-line” publisher circulation claims. There will also be a notation in FAS-FAX explaining this exclusion is a result of the “censure.” -- They will be required to submit to the ABC Board a plan of action for correcting their practices.
Gosh. Those punishments sound harsh.

Permalink | News and Views

July 15, 2004, 07:05 PM

Seattle Times: Better for Houston than Chron?

By Terry Bohannon

Today, the Seattle Times broke news about a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) investigation at Hobby Airport. Back in March, as the Seattle Times said today, “a baggage conveyor belt jammed,” and to prevent any delays, “two managers stepped in and threw bags onto the outgoing conveyor belt” without screening them. Then, on “on June 21, a power outage led to a similar problem,” but during that power outage, “managers told screeners to unload a conveyor belt and leave more than 200 bags piled on the floor.” To then take “the bags onto baggage carts and took them to waiting planes,” I assume unscreened (Seattle Times is a bit ambiguous on that point). This is major news. That the TSA is investigating one of Houston's airports is definitely something that affects all Houstonians; whether they travel or not. When we go to the airport, we trust our lives to these baggage checkers, that they stop any bomb from taking down one of our commercial planes. Yet, up to this posting, the Houston Chronicle has yet to cover the news. They haven't even whispered about the TSA's investigation. They did not even report the security breaches from March and June. Maybe it would be better for Houstonians to subscribe to the Seattle Times; they seem to be more concerned about Houston's airport security than the Chronicle.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

July 15, 2004, 07:01 PM

Another Kerry mistake?

By Terry Bohannon

From images that the Drudge Report has correlated, Kerry appears to be presenting himself as a black activist at the NAACP convention.
Black power button, with fisted arm raised. Kerry with his fisted right arm raised.
I wonder what the implications of this could be; especially if what Kerry appears to be doing is what he intends to communicate. I imagine that some in the audience were truly offended, as many were when Clinton called (and calls) himself the first black president.

Permalink | News and Views

July 15, 2004, 10:14 AM

AP: Texas ranks below average in teachers' salaries

By Owen Courrèges

The Associated Press has an article in today's Chronicle that would seem to present some bad news. In fact, the article does its utmost to ensure that the reader will percieve this as bad news:
Teacher salaries in Texas rank significantly lower than the national average and 30th in the country, according to a study by the American Federation of Teachers. The average pay in Texas was $39,972 in the 2002-03 school year, compared to the national average of $45,771. Texas' ranking did not change from the previous year, despite a 1.9 percent increase in average salaries. “Texas historically has not kept pace with the rest of the nation on teacher salaries,” said Lonnie Hollingsworth Jr., director of governmental affairs for the Texas Classroom Teacher Association. “We move forward, then fall back. Nothing is more important than teachers in delivering a quality education to students.” Teachers' groups have pleaded for higher salaries and improved health insurance benefits this year as Texas lawmakers grapple with overhauling the school funding system. The Legislature has not yet agreed on a new funding plan.
Context! Please people, can we have some context? What I'm getting at here is that AP neglects to mention how bringing cost-of-living into account leads to the opposite conclusion, that Texas is compensating its teachers more than most other states. As of the first quarter if 2004, in fact, Texas had the fourth lowest cost-of-living in the country. You can't tell me that this wouldn't make up for five slots in the teacher salary rankings. But no, AP decided to take the 'gloom and doom' route that makes it appear that Texas is using its teachers as slave labor. While it may be true that teachers in general are underpaid, it was wrong to single Texas out. We're squarely in the middle. Go pick on Mississippi or something.

Permalink | Media Watch

July 15, 2004, 09:45 AM

Chron rips on gay marriage amendment; GOP

By Owen Courrèges

The Houston Chronicle has a staff editorial out today on the failure of the amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Needless to say, they're elated, and taking the opportunity to pile on the GOP. The entire piece is rife with illogic and misguided rhetoric, so I think it merits an extended response:
The Senate vote Wednesday to derail a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage is strong testimony to the lack of national sentiment that this is an urgent problem or one that must be addressed at the federal level. Throughout U.S. history, questions of family law have been left to states. As recently as 1979, the U.S. Supreme Court observed: “Insofar as marriage is within temporal control, the states lay on the guiding hand.”
This isn't true. Remember, in 1965 the Supreme Court established a “right to marital privacy” in the case of Griswold v. Connecticut for the purpose of slapping down a state ban on contraceptives. That certainly involved issues concerning the family. This “right” was later applied again in Roe v. Wade to strike down laws against abortion. The point here is, the federal government meddles. They have not left the American family alone. Yet the Chronicle, in all its hypocrisy, has the unmittigated gall to condemn the legal efforts of those who would amend the constitution rather than simply enforce their will through the courts. They claim the mantle of federalism even as they abjectly refuse to do so in the matter of abortion. And it gets worse:
National polls capture the majority opposition to gay marriage, but the surveys also reflect the ambivalence about using the nation's basic legal document to outlaw or address it. As was pointed out many times in the Senate debate, the driving issue for Republicans pressing the amendment was not public policy or family law; it was partisan advantage. Republican senators who usually are staunch federalists, including Texas' Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, were willing to depart from their position in order to provide the Bush-Cheney campaign what it believes can be made a wedge issue, especially in the South.
This is a logical fallacy. It holds that one can either be a principled federalist or one can be a principled supporter of the anti-gay marriage amendment, but one cannot be both at once. However, that's a false choice. Adherents of federalism are not required by any reasonable standard to hold that all policy questions must be resolved at the state level. To be a staunch federalist, then, one does not have to hold that federalism is always the highest good. Take the issue of civil rights — I'm certain that many people who consider themselves stanch federalists still believe that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was justified in light of the magnitude of the issue at stake. What we're discussing here is no less serious. The institution of marriage has survived in its current form in almost every human society for the past 5,000 years. Now it is suggested that individual states ought to be able to fundamentally alter that institution on modernist whims. These changes cannot occur in a vacuum — they will have side-effects that ripple throughout Western culture, effects that conservatives and many “staunch federalists” believe will be quite negative. But for the Chronicle, it's always enough to perform a character assassination. Anybody who challenges their heartfelt views is imputed with bad motives. Their stands couldn't be principled; it must be political pandering. And just to prove to us how biased they are on this subject, the Chronicle then proceeds to quote a Democratic lawmaker, chanting a tired old mantra:
Also, as Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., pointed out just after the vote, the issue was a Republican attempt at “changing the subject” from domestic issues, including jobs and health care, as well as from the continuing loss of life in Iraq.
“Changing the subject?” This is an issue of major importance to conservatives. Conservatives are the main constituency, the “base,” for Republicans. So please tell me, how on Earth can a party legitimately be accused of “changing the subject” when it is so clearly responding to the demands of its constituency? The answer is, it can't. And the Chronicle gives us no reason to see the situation in a different light. They only harp on the amendment's failure:
“The roll call tells the story,” Durbin correctly observed. Amendment proponents could not even scare up a majority to shut off debate. The 48-50 vote was 12 short of the number needed to invoke cloture and 19 fewer than needed for the Senate to adopt a constitutional amendment. What part about “no” do the proposal's proponents not understand?
It would appear that the Chronicle is faulting Republicans for their persistance. This strikes me as rather pathetic. I would rather that Democrats always take “no” for an answer. I would rather than proponents of gay marriage had stopped fighting with their first defeat — then we wouldn't be here debating the issue of an amendment banning gay marriage. Alas, they fought onward, as people who believe in a cause are wont to do. I fail to see what the Chronicle is railing against, here. All of their arguments are either wrong on their face or even — dare I say it — intellectually dishonest. Their condemnation of conservative Republicans is based on nothing more than a policy disagreement, and it shows.

Permalink | Chron Bias

July 15, 2004, 08:01 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Think your dog's the “coolest” send in a photo of its “coolest” pose and we'll be the judge. Read critiques of Bill Moyers and this summer's funniest blockbuster “Anchorman” and find out the answers to Dan Lovett's Why. All this and more in today's Features section.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

July 15, 2004, 06:46 AM

Where's Hillary?

By Anne Linehan

Tuesday's surprising news that Senator Hillary Clinton will not be a speaker at the Democratic National Convention has stirred up many of the party's faithful:
“It's a slap in the face, not personally for Hillary Clinton, but for every woman in the Democratic Party and every woman in America,” said Judith Hope, a major party fund-raiser. Hope said she would appeal to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry to “correct this omission” and would send an e-mail message to more than 1,000 New York women - “many of them major donors to the Kerry campaign” - complaining about the slight. The Kerry campaign had no immediate comment.
But, contrary to the Kerry campaign's position that Senator Clinton never requested a speaking role, the American Spectator's Washington Prowler says the opposite is true:
According to the DNC source, party chairman Terry McAuliffe presented a list of potential convention speakers to the Kerry-Edwards campaign weeks ago. “Some of the names were identified as people who had requested a speaking role,” says the source. “Others on the list were only suggestions by the party, but did not specifically request a role. No one could look at that list and not see that Hillary was both suggested and that she had requested a role. It's an out and out lie that she wasn't suggested or pushed for a speech.”
Senator Clinton is a major party fundraiser and can get the base worked up in a way Senator Kerry can only dream about. It would be surprising if Senator Kerry's campaign doesn't fix this real soon. UPDATE: It didn't take long for Senator Kerry to end this mini-brouhaha. He has asked Senator Clinton to introduce her husband, former President Bill Clinton, on the first night of the Convention.

Permalink | News and Views

July 15, 2004, 06:15 AM

Our Government no longer represents the will of the people

By Dan Patrick

Once again the so called public servants, who are supposed to represent the people, have shown their utter contempt for the people by not supporting an issue that the majority of Americans support; marriage between a man and a woman. Not only would the Senate not support the issue, they would not even vote to bring it up for further discussion and a vote on the floor. As I watch the “white old men’s club” in the Senate, I get more disgusted by the moment at their complete failure to represent the people. They posture and pontificate, they pretend to care for the values of this nation, they talk as if they actually have a deep faith-which they obviously do not- and they strut around pumped up by their own self-importance; yet time and time again do nothing that the people sent them there to do. The United States Senate, Congress, Federal judges and many state elected officials in both parties, may pose more of a threat to the future of this country, then the enemy outside our borders. At least the enemy outside our borders has made it clear they are dedicated to destroying our country. We know where they stand. We are powerless to fight our elected officials. They are protected by the power of incumbency, their great wealth and a system rigged so that they have lifetime jobs. America has become a nation of the people against the people they have elected. Democrats ruled this country for decades and finally the people had enough and gave the Republicans power. Sadly, the voters who helped the Republicans get their power, are more conservative and principled than those they elected. The elected officials say they stand for the protection of the unborn, the protection of our country and the protection of marriage. Their words are not supported by their actions. There is a small group of elected officials that truly try to represent the will of the majority, but they are outnumbered and outmaneuvered at almost every turn. Yesterday all of the Northeast Republican Senators joined the Democrats (all but 3) to stop debate on an amendment that would state that marriage is between a man and a woman. One notable Republican, John McCain, voted with the liberals to stop the debate. Polls clearly show that the vast majority of Americans accept the fact that some people are gay. There is no hatred or bias against a person because they are gay in America. Americans support the idea that gays can live together and have the same rights as non-gay Americans. But, America clearly believes that gays should not be married in the eyes of the state. The Senate could have brought an end to the out of control federal bench that is dictating their views to America on this and many other subjects. Instead, the Senate has now opened up a full-scale war between the gay and straight community on this issue. It is clear that states cannot handle this issue. The gay political movement will target each state and sue for the right for gays to be married in each state. Our country cannot operate with 6-12 states allowing gay marriage and other states prohibiting gay marriage. The truth is we should not even be having this debate. No nation can stand when the basic family unit is undermined. A child needs a father and mother, not two dads or two moms. Today America does not protect the life of innocent children in the womb and now the very fabric of our country, the family unit, is under attack. A house divided cannot stand. History has proven this principle to every empire and great nation that thought they could exist without a moral foundation. The terrorists are an immediate threat today to every American. We will eventually defeat them. However, our elected officials are a threat to America’s future. They lack the moral clarity to govern. It is matter of time before America, which began turning it’s back on God and moral principles in the 60’s, collapses from within; just as all great nations have done throughout history, when they began to believe they could live without the Word of God and the Law that was handed down to Moses that was to serve as the foundation for civilization.

Permalink | News and Views

July 14, 2004, 10:10 PM

Parody: Senate Votes Not To Vote

By Matt Forge

WASHINGTON (CB) — Votes to consider a vote failed in the Senate Wednesday afternoon, but supporters vowed to keep fighting for the vote. “Ultimately, we will win the vote to vote,” said Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas. “Voting is the union of a man and his choice.” The proposed vote was voted down for this session after another vote to move the measure of voting to the Senate floor failed 48-50, just 12 votes shy of the 60 votes required by Senate rules (rules which were agreed upon by a previous Senate vote). Six Republicats, including Sen. John McCain (who won office by receiving a majority of votes by people who were allowed to vote), joined 43 Democrats (all vote winners too) and one independent (who voted for himself) to defeat the voting measure. Three Democrats and 45 Republicans voted for the vote. Republicans had hoped to muster the votes needed to at least advance the vote, if not the 67 votes required to win the other vote. They also expected to force the alleged presumptive possible Democratic presidential ticket — Sen. John Forbes Kerry and Sen. John (The Kid) Edwards (who are courting votes as we speak) — to vote against the vote. A constitutional amendment requires two-thirds majority votes of both houses of Congress to pass. Then the proposal would need the approval of three-fourths votes of the state legislatures' votes to be ratified. Opponents denounced the failed vote as a “political tool” during an election year. “Today, we saw President Bush and the Republican leadership attempt to take a vote to American and it backfired,” said Cheryl Jacques, president (by winning votes) of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization. “We saw the politics of voting fail and fail handily.” Kerry was in Boston Wednesday and did not vote against or for the vote to vote, but he expressed opposition to the vote in a written statement. “Throughout history, amending, with a bunch of votes, our Constitution — the foundation of the nation's values and ideals which are usually voted on — has been serious voting business,” he said. “However, even Republicats concede that this vote to vote is being offered only for political gains. The unfortunate result is that the important work of the American people who vote for us — funding our homeland security needs (votes needed), creating new and better jobs (votes needed), raising the minimum wage (votes needed), and appointing federal judges (votes needed) — is not getting done because votes keep getting in the way,” Kerry said. At a campaign rally in Iowa where he was asking for votes, Edwards also noted that Republicats joined the Democratic leadership in rejecting the vote via today's vote. “The president and the vice president tried to use our Constitution and the voting process that's a part of amending that Constitution as a political tool, and the United States Senate today voted, 'No, we will not vote to bring it up to a vote,' ” Kerry said as he waved a 'Vote For Me!' placard. (The above story, though based on actual events, is satire or parody. It is meant for entertainment only and is NOT true.)

Permalink | Humor

July 14, 2004, 10:01 PM

Chronicle editorial is little more than press release for advocacy group

By Kevin Whited

The Chronicle's liberal editorialists outdo themselves today, with a sloppy editorial decrying the Bush administration's alleged politicization of science — an editorial that is the newspaper's ONLY coverage of the topic. Here's an excerpt:
Prompted by cases like this, more than 4,000 distinguished scientists — including 48 Nobel Prize winners — recently signed a petition decrying the Bush administration's egregious politicizing of the nation's scientific research. Under the rubric of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the signatories complained that entire research panels and their findings have been blocked, distorted or manipulated in the service of political goals. The administration, the scientists charged, has engaged in “wholesale manipulation of the process through which science enters its decisions.” This month, responding to administration critiques that the complaints were not specific enough, UCS released a long list of examples categorized according to scientific discipline. Weinstock's experience — one of the mildest episodes — was part of the report. The scientists' complaints echo a marked pattern of an administration that is either sloppy or disdainful in its duty to inform the public. One needn't assume conspiracy to be appalled at the standards that must have guided a recent, supposedly definitive State Department report announcing that terror attacks had plunged to the lowest levels since 1969. Research by outside scholars and a Democratic congressman prompted a State Department recalculation — its admission that terror had, in fact, mushroomed since 9/11. Yet such instances of shoddy information-gathering pale next to the administration's assault on federally funded science. The UCS list includes outright dismissal of findings on the environmental effects of mountaintop removal mining; an advisory panel on endangered game fish that was ordered to excise recommendations that countered administration policy; the 2003 perversion of an Environmental Protection Agency report on climate change, including forced elimination of a statement that “climate change has global consequences for human health and the environment.”
The bolded portion is curious, since it has nothing to do with science, but is simply criticism of the Administration for a mistake that has nothing to do with science and for which the State Department apologized. Any sensible editor would have struck that from this opinion piece, but the Chronicle doesn't seem to have sensible editors, only partisan ones. So partisan shots like this show up in odd places (editorials about science!). Leaving that aside, this editorial is effectively a reworded press release from the Union of Concerned Scientists! For those who don't know the background of the Union of Concerned Scientists, it is hardly an organization of well-meaning, politically neutral scientists, which is the impression the Chronicle hopes to convey. Rather, it is an activist political organization that supports MANY far-left political causes, and its membership is open to all (or at least all who want to send $25). Over the years, it has argued for nuclear disarmament (a political position, not a scientific one), it has argued against ballistic missile defense (a political position, not a scientific one), it has argued for the Kyoto Protocol (even though the Greenhouse theory remains hotly debated among environmental scientists and there is no scientific consensus that the political policy of the Kyoto protocol would have the intended effect), and it has a keen interest in population control. Further, the Union of Concerned Scientists draws funding from a number of organizations on the Left. This is an organization of political activists, with membership that includes scientists (some of whom are, no doubt, perfectly reputable). Now, I'm not about to argue that scientists are not entitled to their opinion on political matters, or that liberal activist groups are not entitled to argue in favor of preferred policies. Of course they are. However, liberal political activist organizations are not entitled any special deference on policy questions simply because they wisely chose a name that included “scientists” (and “concerned” ones at that)! Interestingly, the Chronicle's editors seem not to recognize the irony of criticizing the Bush administration for allegedly politicizing science when they rely upon the Union of Concerned Scientists — a liberal political advocacy group — for their own argument! The Union of Concerned Scientists is a highly political organization, and in that sense is “politicizing” science to promote a leftist agenda. There's no shame in that necessarily, but it is what it is. We have frequently mentioned the dullness of the Chronicle editors, who seem to pull all of their ideas (if not entire stories and editorials) from the Washington Post, New York Times, and LA Times. Will it surprise anyone to know that the LA Times ran this story on the Union of Concerned Scientists on 9 July 2004? It shouldn't. They can't seem to come up with anything on their own. Even worse, the Chronicle never actually ran a news story on the accusations of the Union of Concerned Scientists. Had they run a news story, proper journalistic practices (not always observed at the Chronicle, of course) would have required that they provide some balance to the story, and at least seek out a response from the Bush Administration and perhaps give some background on the political activism of the Union of Concerned Scientists. Instead, Chronicle readers only get “news” of this story in the form of an editorial, where a partisan slant is perfectly appropriate. What is inappropriate is that most readers will never have any idea that the Chronicle editors deliberately slanted a “news” story by presenting it in a partisan fashion, on the editorial page only. People will read this and form judgments based on incomplete information. That's a public disservice, frankly, and intellectually dishonest. For those who would like a little more background on the Union of Concerned Scientists — background the Chronicle didn't share — the following links may prove interesting: No Room For Science at the Union of Concerned Scientists (John Carlisle, National Policy Analysis) The Politicization of Science (Jerry Gramckow, CitizenLink) Enviro-Politics (Roger Zion, Washington Times) Science Fiction (Sally Satel, AEI) Environmentalists Launch Campaign Against Bush Record (Steven Milloy, Heartland Institute) Researchers Accuse Bush of Manipulating Science (Ken Masugi, Claremont Institute)

Permalink | Chron Bias

July 14, 2004, 06:52 PM

Parody: GOP Hires Michael Moore

By Matt Forge

Washington (CB) — In an unholy alliance that has LA, New York and every cocktail party in-between abuzz, Republicans have commissioned the famed Fahrenheit 9-11 director to concoct another documentary. To everyone's surprise, Moore reluctantly accepted the offer on the condition of complete artistic control, which he was given.

Michael defended his decision to receive GOP funding stating, "Everything must be done to defeat this current administration. Anyone but Bush. I'm a slave to my conscience, so how could I refuse?" Other sources reveal, however, that he first declined the GOP bid, which was a seven-digit sum, but later changed his mind when the booty offer was tripled (as if he needed a bigger booty).

Many on the right have questioned why the Bush administration would offer assistance to a hostile political enemy. Washington insiders report that it's a strategy born out of recent events involving the documentary king's latest flick and this poll. The survey found that 55% of all Americans currently approve of the way Bush is handling the campaign against terrorism, up five points since Fahrenheit 9-11 was released, which is good news to conservative hopefuls.

An additional five-point gain would definitely help the President's bid for a second term. Moore, however, boasts that this time it will be no-holds-barred as he pulls out all the stops and no punches claiming that he has new evidence of a cover-up involving a pre-White House Bush and another former President. A unidentified Republican spokesperson replied, "Great. The wackier the better. We say go for it."

The prequel, titled Fahrenheit 11-22, will paint a young George W. Bush as a bad seed and chronicle his upbringing which eventually lead to his involvement in one of the most tragic events in American history - the assassination of JFK.

Details are sketchy at this point due to tight security guarding Moore's premise, but so far it has been learned that the filmmaker will present the theory that it was a seventeen-year-old teenage W. who fired the fatal shot in Dallas on November 22, 1963. The movie will show then Bush's hatred for books and higher learning claiming that's why he chose the Texas School Book Depository as a sniper's perch hoping it would spawn a hostility for the written word and incite mass book-burnings across the land.

A secondary motive, which dictated choice of target, was his animosity towards the highest office in the land, which evolved out of his despondency of never possibly becoming President unless he could figure out a way to steal it. Obviously this was not ever going to happen given W's stiff intellectual agility, thus the rest, as they say, is revisionist history. Daddy Bush, with CIA connections, devised a mass conspiracy to conceal his son's "bad decision" and pin the blame on and smear the spotless reputation of an unknown young free-thinking documentary artist named Lee Harvey Oswald.

Republican strategists, upon hearing all of this, pledged another 1.5 million dollars towards Moore's effort, predicting an additional ten-point bump for the President after its release. (The above story, though based on actual events, is satire or parody. It is meant for entertainment only and is NOT true.)

Permalink | Humor

July 14, 2004, 04:06 PM

Inside Senator Kerry's campaign

By Anne Linehan

The Kerry Spot has an amusing observation about a Washington Post article today:
JUST HOW MUCH REINTRODUCTION DOES KERRY NEED? From the Washington Post: “Democratic Party leaders said yesterday they plan to make their nominating convention in Boston later this month a four-day reintroduction of Sen. John F. Kerry, enlisting his wife, children and former war comrades in Vietnam to make the case for a man they acknowledge remains an opaque figure for millions of Americans.” Kerry first burst upon the public scene in 1970. He's been a U.S. senator since 1985. He's been laying the groundwork for this race since 2000. He won his party's nomination earlier than any other non-incumbent Democrat in history. He's been on Larry King, Sixty Minutes, MTV, and back in the 1980s, “Cheers.” And he's spent more on “biographical” ads so far than any other candidate in memory. Just how much more “reintroduction” does this candidate need?
One tends to think most Americans already know Senator Kerry very well, and that could be the problem. ---------------------- The media and other supporters of presidential candidate John Kerry, like to tell us that the senator is not a waffler; he's just very nuanced. He appreciates the intricacies of issues, likes to see all sides, wants to analyze the pros and cons, is open to new possibilites, etc. With that in mind we have this fabulous Washington Post article that tells us exactly how Senator Kerry's campaign manages all that nuance. This is not a good indicator of how he would run this country. (Via Captain's Quarters blog)

Permalink | News and Views

July 14, 2004, 01:35 PM

Williams Out

By The Staff

It's official. Jimy Williams is out as manager of the Astros, and Phil Garner is in. Pitching coach Burt Hooton and hitting coach Harry Spilman were also booted. Jim Hickey takes over for Hooton, and Gary Gaetti takes over for Spilman. They come from the the Astros' AAA affiliate at New Orleans. Gaetti is rumored to be a hot prospect in coaching circles, and with this slumping lineup, he's getting a great chance to prove himself.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

July 14, 2004, 10:11 AM

Suggestions for the Chronicle

By Anne Linehan

The Chronicle is fond of using LA Times material, and Chronically Biased likes to point that out, but here are two LA Times pieces the Chronicle should consider running. First is this editorial from Tuesday that says Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards are not helping themselves when they criticize President Bush on the Iraq war:
[...]If they say they stand by their pro-war votes, this makes nonsense of their criticisms of Bush. If they say they were misled or duped by the administration, they look dopey and weak. Many of their Democratic Senate colleagues were skeptical of the administration's evidence even at the time. If Kerry and Edwards tell the probable truth — that they were deeply dubious about the war but afraid to vote no in the post-9/11 atmosphere and be tarred as lily-livered liberals — they would win raves from editorial writers for their frankness and courage. And they could stop dreaming of oval offices.
Second is this commentary in today's LA Times by Jacob Heilbrunn. Heilbrunn argues that Senator Edwards' time in the Senate “is marked by intellectual slovenliness and opportunism.”
Edwards, elected to the Senate five years ago, has been on the Senate Intelligence Committee since 2001. But what has he made of it? When PBS' Margaret Warner asked Edwards on May 16, 2002, whether the committee had been briefed before Sept. 11 on possible hijackings and on Osama bin Laden's role, Edwards responded: “We're just responsible for sort of broad oversight.” Warner pressed harder: “So you don't really remember?” Kerry replied: “I don't remember the specifics of what we were told about this.” That may sound banal but, in fact, it's astonishing. Not only was Edwards unaware, half a year after the worst terrorist attack in our nation's history, what he'd been told on the subject, but he apparently didn't even believe it was his job to look into it.
Since the Chronicle has a history of running olds (here, here, here, and here, to list just a few), there is still plenty of time for the Chronicle to decide to run these two pieces. And, they would make a nice balance to this, this, and this.

Permalink | News and Views

July 14, 2004, 09:00 AM

The Philippines kowtows to terrorists

By Owen Courrèges

When threatened by terrorists, the Philippine government folded like a pair of deuces. They're currently coordinating a pullout of their humanitarian forces from Iraq in complicance with demands from terrorists holding a Philippine national hostage:
The Philippine government Wednesday began to coordinate a pullout of its humanitarian contingent from Iraq as it promised to do for the release of kidnapped Filipino Angelo de la Cruz, who is reportedly “alive and well”. “The Foreign Ministry is coordinating the pullout of the humanitarian contingent with the Ministry of National Defense,” Foreign Secretary Delia Albert said in a television statement in the presidential palace.
I'm not sure who is more pathetic — the Philippine government, or the terrorists themselves. It's always been a cardinal rule of governance that terrorists are not be negotiated with, and that if that rule is broken, terrorist demands must never be complied with. To go along with terrorist demands is to encourage more terrorism, meaning that the Philippine government has made itself complicit in future terrorist acts. After all, now that the Iraqi 'insurgents' have discovered that hostage-taking pays off, why on Earth would they ever stop doing it? President Bush was right when he said “you're either with us or against us.” From my standpoint, the Philippines just sided with the terrorists.

Permalink | News and Views

July 14, 2004, 07:00 AM

USA Today, New York Times spar over the state of Houston

By Owen Courrèges

Let's have a comparison here, shall we? Here's a story that ran in USA Today the day before yesterday:
Business boosters here [in Houston] are looking ahead. The proud frontier boomtown of Houston, hit hard in recent years by the Enron scandal and tough economic times, is staging a rousing comeback. Tuesday night's Major League Baseball All-Star Game here and football's Super Bowl earlier this year have given Houston a huge boost of prestige and publicity, plus a one-time shot of hundreds of millions in revenue from visitors. Beyond the sports mega-events, a new economic spirit and civic pride are filling the air, according to business leaders and residents. The old downtown district is enjoying a revival. Most local companies expect upticks in sales and profits this year. The energy industry, long a stalwart of the Texas economy, is showing signs of life. Exports from Texas, mostly to Mexico, Asia and Europe, are up for the third consecutive quarter. Houston added 10,000 jobs in the first half of this year, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas predicts slow but steady job growth in the Houston metropolitan area in the coming year or two.
Wow! Sounds good, doesn't it? Now let's read an excerpt from a story that ran in today's New York Times:
As soaring energy prices over the last year have produced bonanzas in the world's oil patches, many people in Houston, which has the largest concentration of energy companies anywhere, are perplexed. In a departure from past oil booms, this one is having an unusually subdued effect here. Signs of Houston's sluggish response to high oil prices are evident throughout the city, with disappointing indicators for real estate, job creation, corporate philanthropy and even auto sales - an oddity in a spread-out metropolitan region where conspicuous gasoline consumption is regarded by some as a birthright.
Er, ok... According to the New York Times, things are bad. According to USA Today, things are looking up. Is it any wonder that people don't trust media spin?

Permalink | Media Watch

July 14, 2004, 06:45 AM

What were you doing 18 years ago?

By Dan Patrick

Everyone has dissected the game from last night by now. Conventional wisdom says Roger Clemens stayed up much too late, not partying, but trying to be a good host to his friends and family. He felt he had to be the good will ambassador of Houston for the last few days. All of that work and late hours sapped him of his good stuff last night and he was rocked for 6 runs in the first inning and was tagged with the loss. It should be noted that Sammy Sosa should have caught at least one of the doubles hit his way and Jeff Kent made an error in the inning. With a little help from his friends, Roger could have gotten out of the inning giving up only a run or two. The American League has won 13 out of the last 15 and 7 in a row in All Star competition. They will get home field advantage in the World Series for the second year in a row. However, that is not the big story from last night. The fact that Clemens started the game is the big story. Why is the fact that Roger started the game, the big story to me? It’s simple. The last time the All Star game was played in Houston in 1986, that is 18 years ago, Roger also started the game. I took my son to that game in 1986. He was only 7 at the time. I took my son to the game last night. He is now 25. I was 36 in 1986. Today, I’m 54. Ronald Reagan was President in 1986. Today, his V.P in 1986, George Bush, was watching from behind home plate. His son is now President. The Berlin Wall was still standing in 1986, Today, the wall is gone, and the former Soviet Union is a shell of its former self. I could go on for paragraphs, writing about how much has changed in the world and how much older all of us are, but you get the point. If my 7-year-old son had told me back in 1986, that in 2004 Houston would host another All Star game and Roger Clemens would also start that game, I would have told him it just wasn’t possible. I would have told him that few pitchers last 18 years in the majors and even if Roger was still around, he would not be pitching at that same All Star level performance. I would have told him that by 2004, Roger would be in his forties and that some young gun would be the on the mound in 2004. to start the game. The fact that Roger Clemens started both the 1986 and 2004 Houston All Star games is one of the most remarkable feats in sports history. Now you know why, the simple fact that Roger started the game last night, is THE STORY. What were you doing 18 years ago? What are you doing today? Chances are that no matter what you were doing then and are doing now, the level of your performance is not the same. Roger Clemens has accomplished so much in his career, but above all, his most incredible career achievement has been his longevity and his consistency of excellence.

Permalink | News and Views

July 14, 2004, 06:00 AM

All Star game completed, Astro changes may just be beginning

By The Staff

Less than 10 days ago, Astro owner, Drayton McLane was being interviewed after a game. At the time, the team was only 5 games out of first place. He was asked if manager Jimy Williams job was in jeopardy. He said the manager can only do so much and it is up to the players to play. He also said he thought the team would be only 2 or 3 games out of first by the All Star game. Astro G.M Gerry Hunsicker was asked the same question and he said Jimmy Williams job was safe. At the time, neither seemed to be giving Willliams a solid endorsement. Since those interviews, the Astros have fallen to 10 and a half games behind the first place Cardinals and are on the brink of being out of the playoff race altogether. (see Dan Patrick article from yesterday) The talk around the ballpark last night centered on how long it would be before Williams was fired. Some insiders gave him 2 weeks at the most to turn the team around. Others said he would be gone before the Astros played again this weekend. The root of the Astros downfall this season has been a lack of hitting. Williams could not solve that problem and in the end he may get blamed for what Drayton just recently said was the “players job.” A press conference could be called within 24 hours to name a new manager.

Permalink | News and Views

July 13, 2004, 10:32 PM

Blowing Smoke

By The Staff

Cox and Forkum: Blowing Smoke Courtesy of Cox and Forkum

Permalink | Political Cartoons

July 13, 2004, 09:39 PM

Another voice?

By Kevin Whited

The Chronicle editors serve up so much inadvertent entertainment on a daily basis that it makes a watchblog site a little too easy. And a little too much work some days! Apparently, they have this notion that there's not enough external content in their newspaper. Never mind that they regularly feature days old “news” from wire sources, and days old syndicated columns. Apparently, Houstonians just aren't getting enough material from outsiders. How else to explain this editorial: ANOTHER VOICE: The Washington Post on Lay's indictment By the “Another Voice” tag, one can only assume this is going to become another one of Jeff Cohen's regular features on the editorial page. And, after editorials like the one on Iraq yesterday, one can understand why he might want to borrow the house editorials from another newspaper. Still, if they're going to run “another voice” — even though it ran last friday (olds!) and is available on the WaPo website — shouldn't it at least BE the other voice? The Chron's version of the WaPo editorial runs only 335 words. The WaPo version is 552 words. Why did the Chronicle even bother? And why would readers bother with the Chronicle, when it's so much easier just to bypass the Chronicle's text choppers (editors?) and read the Washington Post, LA Times, and New York Times online (along with the Washington Times, Daily Telegraph, and other Texas newspapers to balance things out)?

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

July 13, 2004, 09:26 PM

Letter to the Editor

By The Staff

From time to time, we publish reader emails. Please feel free to email us at [email protected]. Respect the President in Print Dear Editor and Staff, Please consider referring to President Bush as “President Bush” rather than just “Bush” in future Chronically Biased articles. I know that your staff is not showing deliberate disrespect for President Bush. I submit that with the significant level of disrespect that is being displayed through out media-land for our president an open show of respect by Chronically Biased would be refreshing. Thank you for being. Gerry Rodrigue Note: Thanks for the reminder. We do believe the office of the President does deserve that respect, but sometimes we do slip up. We'll try to keep an eye on it!

Permalink | Letters

July 13, 2004, 09:19 PM

Readers take apart the Chronicle

By Kevin Whited

Several readers emailed today to point out problems with Chronicle copy: Greg Gotlieb notes the following:
Cleland, a fellow Vietnam veteran who lost three limbs during the war, was defeated in the 2002 election after Republicans questioned his patriotism. Cleland has been a political martyr of sorts for Kerry as he accuses Republicans of trying to tear down real American patriots.
That excerpt came from an AP story that ran in the Chronicle and in many other news outlets. It shows just how pervasive the bias in the mainstream news media is, and never should have made it into print. No Republican questioned Max Cleland's patriotism. What Republicans questioned was his record on the issues. Lo and behold, voters also questioned that record — and decided to retire him. Jerry Kobos emails the following:
The Sunday, July 11, 2004 Houston Chronicle posted an article (page A3) on the expiration of the “assault weapons” ban. The so called “assault weapons” ban does not ban assault weapons, firearms capable of automatic fire (machine guns), but bans semiautomatic firearms (one trigger pull = one shot) that look like assault weapons. Fully automatic firearms (machine guns) were banned in 1934. Semiautomatic actions are common in shotguns, rifles and pistols legally used by civilians in the United States. The writer, Gebe Martinez, correctly states, in the body of the article, that the assault weapons legislation “bans 19 types of semiautomatic weapons.” However the pictures to the right of the article display weapons that are “automatic,” “ submachinegun,” “machine guns,” “automatic pistols” and “Avtomat Kalashnikovs.” This is a blatant attempt to make people think that machine guns will be loosed in the general population.
Those who pushed the “assault weapons” ban in the first place knew they had a PR battle as much as a legislative battle. They won both. The name “assault weapons” ban conjures up scary images of really nasty weapons (never mind those really nasty weapons are already illegal, and have been for years). In reality, as Mr. Kobos points out, what was banned were semiautomatic weapons that looked scary (to people who hate guns). And so the campaign continues, with either gullible or partisan media outlets fully engaged. The anti-Bush spin in that article was notable, as well.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

July 13, 2004, 02:15 PM

Muhammad Ali: Boycott today's game?

By Terry Bohannon

At today's All-Star Game in Minute Maid Park, Muhammad Ali is scheduled to throw the opening pitch. But there is a problem. The Houston Astros have no African-American players, and from this, a few have called Muhammad Ali to boycott. They have asked him to not throw the first pitch. One group that is calling for this is People for Justice. In a long-winded statement that the AP picked up, this group says that they plan to protest the All-Star game because of “the disrespect and negative socialization that African-Americans have been subjected to by the power structure in Houston that has no respect for the needs of black or poor people.” They appear to claim that since there are no blacks on the Houston Astros roster and because many poor blacks can't afford to attend a game, the “power structure”, the management of the team, has no respect for the needs of “blacks or poor people.” I don't see how this is necessarily the case. Suggesting that we apply Affirmative Action to our baseball team, where we will have more blacks on the roster, is unfair. This takes much of the control of choosing players out of the hands of the owners and managers of the team, and into the hands of people who would act like commissars. If there is a habitual problem, and it can be proven that Astros' management ignores qualified blacks because of their skin color, People for Justice would have a good reason for their protest and call to boycott. But that doesn't seem to be the case, and we already have fine people, like those who are organizing South Central Little League, who are trying to bring the love of baseball to inner-city kids. But, as of yet, this is something the Houston Chronicle has ignored. Even though they're cited as a source on AP's press release, which could mean they're sitting on the news, they have not mentioned People for Justice's protest or their call for Muhammad Ali to boycott the game before he throws the first pitch. I wonder how long we have to wait for this news to show up in the Chronicle. Perhaps we'll see it when it's “olds”, a few days or a few weeks after today's All-Star game. News Sources: News 24 Houston, “Ali's first pitch controversy” http://www.news24houston.com/content/top_stories/default.asp?ArID=32359 KPRC, “Activists Urge Muhammad Ali To Not Throw First Pitch” http://www.click2houston.com/sports/3522087/detail.html KHOU, “Blacks in baseball: Fair game?” http://www.khou.com/sports/stories/khou040712_cm_blackbaseball.2f02778fe.html News 24 Houston, “Group says Houston unresponsive to needs of African-Americans” http://www.news24houston.com/content/headlines/?ArID=32403&SecID=2 What the Houston Chronicle did cover: Mickey Herskowitz, “Ali's everlasting greatness proof MLB made right call” http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/special/04/allstar/2677485 David Barron, “Ali to throw out first pitch for All-Star Game” http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/sports/2667581

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

July 13, 2004, 12:24 PM

The media has found a war it wants to fight!

By Anne Linehan

Blogger Patterico notices a front-page LA Times story:
A front-page story in this morning's Los Angeles Times reports that America went to war based on faulty information: information that understated the extent of the threat faced by Americans. The story makes it clear that — according to up-to-date information just published by a committee studying the issue — America must, if anything, escalate its previous efforts in order to have any chance at victory. However, the war in question is the war on cholesterol. You didn't think the Times would say something like that about Iraq, did you??
Well, that's odd. The front-page of the Houston Chronicle has an above-the-fold, Big Headline Story on — want to guess? Cholesterol! You were right! Certainly nothing in the news yesterday was more important than a panel of “cholesterol experts” calling for lower levels of bad cholesterol in high-risk heart patients.

Permalink | Media Watch

July 13, 2004, 08:14 AM

Rice to open gay resource center

By Owen Courrèges

Ugh. After Rice brought in David Leebron to serve as its president, I didn't think there was anything that my alma mater could do to make it appear more effusively politically-correct. Alas, I was apparently and unfortunately wrong:
Daniel Lenhoff wants to put Rice University on the map as a college that is openly welcoming to gays and lesbians. This fall, the private school will open its new lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender resource center, making Rice one of only a few U.S. colleges to house such an office. “We wanted a place that was confidential, a place people could go to deal with questions about sexuality and not be afraid of being stigmatized,” said Lenhoff, 21, a senior and co-president of Pride, Rice's gay and transgender student organization.
These 'resource centers' are nothing more than a naked attempt by universities to spread a specific political message, in this case the social acceptance of homosexuality. After all, conservative sociologists probably feel stigmatized at Rice, but you don't see the university creating a resource center for these marginalized students. That would be admitting something the university would rather keep quiet. Regrettably, this kind of discrimination isn't anything new either. The Rice Women's Resource Center, for example, has proven itself to be a beacon for radical feminist thought, including the promotion of abortion. The Houston Review reported on this years ago:
Marisa Jennings, a biochemistry senior at Rice and one of the student leaders of the Rice WRC, said the Center “does not have any particular political agenda and that they welcome students with diverse perspectives.” She said the Center is “not separatist” and “many of their best volunteers are men.” However, UT Government Senior Sonia Mohammed, co-founder of the UT student organization Society for Constructive Dissent, is outraged by the activities of the WRC at both UT and Rice. She told the Review, “The advancement of the Women's Resource Center is an attempt by left-wing feminists to indoctrinate impressionable young women with their self-loathing, morally bankrupt, anti-family drivel.” To support her position, Mohammed cites the fact that the WRCs at Rice and UT distribute information about how students can get an abortion from Planned Parenthood. She also expressed concern about the fact that the Rice WRC website features links to Emily's List (a fundraising group for Democratic pro-abortion candidates), the Feminist Majority, the National Organization for Women (NOW), Isle of Lesbos, A Dyke's World, and many other left-wing, feminist groups. She notes the Feminist Majority website is filled with propaganda supporting abortion rights, the “feminization of power”, and government quotas for minorities and women.
I don't expect the situation to be any different with the new “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender resource center.” To the contrary — I expect the rhetoric and advocacy to be all the more extreme, with the intent of crushing any dissent to the cultural normalization of homosexuality. Ultimately, though, that's always the goal of the politically-correct, to kill open discourse. I'm just sorry to see it playing out this way at Rice.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

July 13, 2004, 07:41 AM

The NY Times' creative writing on WMD's

By Anne Linehan

Here's an example of reporters skewing what President Bush says. The Chronicle today runs a NY Times story (intriguingly edited by the Chronicle) that deliberately misstates what the President said (the Chronicle's handy subtitle gets it wrong, too):
President Bush on Monday vigorously defended his decision to go to war against Iraq, saying the invasion was the right thing to do even though no banned weapons have been found there, and claiming progress against terrorism and the spread of unconventional arms.
(Emphasis added) But according to the quote used in the article, fourth paragraph from the end, that is not what President Bush said:
“Although we have not found stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, we were right to go into Iraq,” Bush said. “We removed a declared enemy of America who had the capability of producing weapons of mass murder and could have passed that capability to terrorists bent on acquiring them. In the world after September the 11th, that was a risk we could not afford to take.”
(Emphasis added) There is a big difference between finding no WMD's and finding stockpiles of WMD's. The reporters know this, but reporters tend to have little regard for the intelligence of their readers. The truth is that Saddam Hussein was in violation of UN Resolution 1441 in numerous ways. And President Bush never said that our only reason for going to war with Iraq was because of stockpiles of WMD's. Here's an in-depth article by Kenneth Timmerman on the many instances of banned items or activities that have been uncovered in Iraq:
When former weapons inspector Kay reported to Congress in January that the United States had found “no stockpiles” of forbidden weapons in Iraq, his conclusions made front-page news. But when he detailed what the ISG had found in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence last October, few took notice. Among Kay's revelations, which officials tell Insight have been amplified in subsequent inspections in recent weeks: *A prison laboratory complex that may have been used for human testing of BW agents and “that Iraqi officials working to prepare the U.N. inspections were explicitly ordered not to declare to the U.N.” Why was Saddam interested in testing biological-warfare agents on humans if he didn't have a biological-weapons program? *“Reference strains” of a wide variety of biological-weapons agents were found beneath the sink in the home of a prominent Iraqi BW scientist. “We thought it was a big deal,” a senior administration official said. “But it has been written off [by the press] as a sort of 'starter set.'” *New research on BW-applicable agents, brucella and Congo-Crimean hemorrhagic fever, and continuing work on ricin and aflatoxin that were not declared to the United Nations. *A line of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, “not fully declared at an undeclared production facility and an admission that they had tested one of their declared UAVs out to a range of 500 kilometers [311 miles], 350 kilometers [217 miles] beyond the permissible limit.” *“Continuing covert capability to manufacture fuel propellant useful only for prohibited Scud-variant missiles, a capability that was maintained at least until the end of 2001 and that cooperating Iraqi scientists have said they were told to conceal from the U.N.” *“Plans and advanced design work for new long-range missiles with ranges up to at least 1,000 kilometers [621 miles] - well beyond the 150-kilometer-range limit [93 miles] imposed by the U.N. Missiles of a 1,000-kilometer range would have allowed Iraq to threaten targets throughout the Middle East, including Ankara [Turkey], Cairo [Egypt] and Abu Dhabi [United Arab Emirates].” In addition, through interviews with Iraqi scientists, seized documents and other evidence, the ISG learned the Iraqi government had made “clandestine attempts between late 1999 and 2002 to obtain from North Korea technology related to 1,300-kilometer-range [807 miles] ballistic missiles - probably the No Dong - 300-kilometer-range [186 miles] antiship cruise missiles and other prohibited military equipment,” Kay reported. In testimony before Congress on March 30, Duelfer, revealed that the ISG had found evidence of a “crash program” to construct new plants capable of making chemical- and biological-warfare agents. The ISG also found a previously undeclared program to build a “high-speed rail gun,” a device apparently designed for testing nuclear-weapons materials. That came in addition to 500 tons of natural uranium stockpiled at Iraq's main declared nuclear site south of Baghdad, which International Atomic Energy Agency spokesman Mark Gwozdecky acknowledged to Insight had been intended for “a clandestine nuclear-weapons program.”
Here is Mr. Duelfer's actual testimony before Congress. You can read it for yourself and reach your own conclusion about what has been uncovered in Iraq, instead of relying on the media filter. Another Front Page Magazine article shows that banned weapons components were, and still are, being shipped out of Iraq:
Demetrius Perricos, acting chairman of UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), recently disclosed that his inspectors have been busily tracking shipments of illicit Iraqi WMD components around the world. The Associated Press announced that UNMOVIC inspectors have found dozens of engines from banned al-Samoud 2 (SA2) missiles, which were shipped out of Iraq as “scrap metal.” Most recently, UNMOVIC agents found 20 SA-2 engines in Jordan, along with a great deal of other WMD materials. Officials discovered an identical engine in a Rotterdam port in the Netherlands and believe as many as a dozen extra SA-2 missile engines alone have been transported out of Iraq and remain unaccounted for. Inspectors believe at least some of these engines have also reached Turkey and hope to search Turkish ports in the near future.
Here's the AP article on those missile engines being found outside of Iraq. Here's a story about a sarin shell that exploded near a couple of US soldiers in May. The press has basically pooh-poohed this story, but it shows that terrorists managed to get their hands on a weapon that was banned by UN Resolution 1441.
Three liters is about three-quarters of a gallon; four liters is a little more than a gallon. “A little drop on your skin will kill you” in the binary form, said Ret. Air Force Col. Randall Larsen, founder of Homeland Security Associates. “So for those in immediate proximity, three liters is a lot,” but he added that from a military standpoint, a barrage of shells with that much sarin in them would more likely be used as a weapon than one single shell.
And then there were those rockets found by Polish troops. Even though the Washington Post tries to skate over what was found, it is true, nonetheless, that two rockets had banned chemicals in them, in violation of UN Resolution 1441. And for those who think that Iraq probably sent WMD's to Syria, there's this article. Of course, we have the confirmation from a few days ago that Iraq did attempt to buy uranium from Niger. (The Financial Times article is no longer available online; the link is to the Google cached article.) It is clear that the intelligence provided to President Bush by the CIA was faulty, but there was plenty of intelligence from other countries that said Saddam Hussein wasn't complying with the UN. And there have been discoveries in Iraq that prove Iraq was in violation of UN resolutions. The premise for the Iraq war was not based solely on stockpiles of WMD's and it is not truthful for the media to keep saying that no WMD's have been found.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

July 13, 2004, 06:45 AM

A World Series or a new owner.....what lies ahead for the Astros

By Dan Patrick

It’s been quite awhile since I opined on sports, but with the collapse of the Astros and the All Star game in town, I thought it was time for me to pull out my old blue cowboy hat, dust off my sports expertise and voice my opinion. Plus, no one in the Chronicle has the insight to predict how the Astros can still realistically win the World Series and at the same time be on the brink of being sold. After the Astros signed both Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens during the off-season, they became the odds on favorite to win the division and possibly the World Series. Everyone in baseball, and especially in Houston, assumed the Astros would be in first place by the time tonight’s All Star game was played. Instead, the Astros find themselves ten and a half games out of first, behind the St. Louis Cardinals. Their chance to win the division is now a long shot at best. However, in the new world order of baseball playoffs that include a wild card team, the Astros can still make the playoffs and win a the World Series. However, for this scenario to play out, the Astros will have to start winning immediately after the All Star break. The Astros are one of nine teams in the wildcard race. The wildcard team is the team that doesn’t win their division, but the team that has the most wins of all of the teams that don’t win their division. Of the nine teams, the Astros are ninth in that race; three teams will be tough to overtake. The Astros are only four and a half behind the leading team, the Giants, but with the Braves and the Cubs also ahead of them, it figures that at least one, maybe two or all three of them will get hot. In short, the Astros can’t waste anymore of their season losing games. They will fall out of the wildcard very quickly if they continue to lose at the pace they have been losing over the last month. Even if they start winning, they will have to overtake one of the eight teams who will also get hot. During the second half schedule, with the exception of games against Arizona and Montreal, every game is against one of the eight teams in front of them through the end of August. If the Astros don’t put together a win streak very shortly, their once promising season will be over by early or mid August. The question begs to be asked, what went wrong. There are a few glaring answers to that question. First, they let one of the best closers in baseball, Billy Wagner; get away. In today’s game, no matter how good your starters are, most only pitch into the 6th or 7th inning. If you don’t have a quality bullpen and a solid closer, you will not win. Last year the Astros had three quality relief pitchers in Dotel, Lidge and Wagner. Wagner and Dotel are gone and Lidge has been forced from being a set up man to a closer. Instead of having three tough pitchers who could pitch in the last three innings, the Astros barely have one solid pitcher they can call on after the 6th or 7th inning. Secondly, Pettitte has not been a factor. The vaunted duo of Pettitte and Clemens has seldom been in the same rotation. Lastly, in the area of pitching, stars from last year, Oswalt and Miller have either been ineffective or injured. In short, the starting pitching has not been as good as everyone assume it would be and the bullpen has been terrible with the exception of a few good performances by Lidge. The Astros defense is average at best and the team has very little speed in the field or on the bases. Biggio is an incredible and unselfish athlete. He has been an all star catcher and second baseman. However, he is not a great outfielder. Berkman doesn’t have a strong arm in right. You can’t win pennants with average and slow players in the outfield. A team might be able to get by with one, but not two. However, the biggest problem for the disappointing Astros, Brad Ausmus called the team embarrassing over the weekend, has been the hitting. After a great career, Jeff Bagwell’s best days at the plate may be behind him. The team waited a long time for him to start hitting and it hurt them. Hildago was traded last month. So, two of the hitters the team counted on at the plate never got it done. Biggio and Kent have hit well, but not in key situations. The rest of the line-up is average. The only bright spot is Berkman and he can’t win every game by himself. The Astros have also not been able to settle on a regular third baseman. That position is usually one of a team’s best players in the field and at the plate. When you look at the bullpen and pitching problems, lack of speed, average defense and hitting problems, the Astros are exactly where they should be-out of the race and barely hanging on to a hope of making the playoffs. Did everyone over-estimate the team after the signing of Clemens and Pettitte, probably? I thought from day one that the loss of Billy Wagner would be a huge problem. I also wondered at what point would veteran players like Biggio, Bagwell and Kent hit the wall and see their skills decline. I didn’t see them running away with the N.L.Central, but I didn’t think they would be out of the race by the All Star game. What next? The Astros still could get hot in the second half. If Pettitte can stay healthy and the Astros avoid any other major injuries in the second half, that will be a huge plus. Bagwell could get hot and the other hitters could start hitting in the clutch. With Clemens, Pettitte and Oswalt in the starting rotation, if the Astros start to hit, they could run off 10 wins in a row and 15 out of 18. As mentioned, they do have a tough schedule playing the teams ahead of them. However, wins over those teams will help them climb over those teams. The Astros should be better than the Reds, Brewers, Padres and Mets. They will have 6 key games with the Phillies and Braves. The biggest games will be the six they have left with the Cubs. If the Astros can find a way to win the wildcard, they could easily win the World Series. In a short series, pitching is the key. In a short series, Clemens and Pettitte could pitch 2-5 games. The bullpen will still be a key, but if the Astros can just get into the playoffs, they could be very tough. If the season ends quickly for the Astros, expect massive changes before next season. Despite never winning a playoff series, the Astros have given the fans lots to cheer about and lots of wins. However, every team goes through cycles of good and bad times. If the Astros can’t make it happen this year, the downward cycle may begin as the team rebuilds. If that indeed is the future for the Astros, don’t be surprised if Drayton sells the team. He doesn’t like to lose and he doesn’t like to be booed, as he was at the Homerun Derby, may decide he has had enough. He will make a huge profit on selling the team in large part due to the taxpayer-funded stadium. So, the next 6-8 weeks could well determine much of the future of the Astros. Will it be a World Series this year or maybe a new owner in a year or two?

Permalink | News and Views

July 13, 2004, 06:00 AM

Parking meter proposal finally fails

By Owen Courrèges

As Kevin noted earlier, the proposal by Mayor Bill White to expand parking meter hours has been on its last legs following Councilman Berry's decision to withdraw his support. Today, the infamous parking meter proposal finally gave up the ghost (from ABC 13):
The City of Houston has ditched a plan to keep parking meters running until 2am. The Office of Mobility is changing the meter system but said late-night customers won't have to dish out extra money for after-hours parking. Earlier last month the office was thinking about having downtown patrons pay for parking after 6pm and on Sundays. The Greater Houston Restaurant Association was against the plan. They argued extra parking fees would only keep customers away.
This is great news, because frankly, this was never about what is best for downtown — it was about what is best for the city's coffers. Yes, we heard canards about how charging for parking after dark could conceivably increase restaurant patronage by forcing people out of their spots, thus allowing for new customers to move in, but ultimately the restauranteurs themselves didn't buy that particular bill of goods. All they saw was an added cost to their customers, which would not have made them happy. It's always good to see bad public policy stopped in its tracks. It almost renews my faith in the integrity of the legislative process. Almost.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

July 12, 2004, 10:44 PM

Getting Iraq wrong, Chron style

By Kevin Whited

A Chronicle staff editorial on Iraq running in Monday editions illustrates once again that Jeff Cohen's merry little band probably ought to stick to praising choo choo trains and colorizing their newspaper, and leave more serious topics of international politics alone. Here's the beginning:
Armed masked men have threatened the life of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, arguing that the Jordanian militant has killed innocent Iraqis and disgraced Islam. Wouldn't it be grand if this indignant band of Iraqis took out al-Zarqawi? After all, al-Zarqawi is believed to have masterminded attacks that killed 100 people just before the U.S. handed authority to the interim Iraqi government. His group claims to have beheaded American Nicholas Berg and South Korean Kim Sun-il. No, it would not. As much as doing in al-Zarqawi might provide major headache relief for coalition forces, the interim Iraqi government and long-suffering Iraqi citizens, the last thing Iraq's fledgling democracy needs is free-roaming vigilantes taking it upon themselves to bring outlaws and perceived outlaws to justice.
Were they describing a functional western constitutional democracy, then yes, most sensible people would readily agree that the rule of law should trump vigilante justice. However, the Chronicle editorial board doesn't seem to understand that we are not talking about a functional Western constitutional democracy. We are talking about a fledgling regime. We hope it will turn out to be a constitutional democracy. We have given the Iraqi people a great gift in providing an opportunity for that to happen. But ultimately, that depends on the Iraqi people. That's why instead of viewing this as the Chronicle editorial board does — through the prism of well-to-do educated liberals sitting downtown in a big American city — we should instead view it as an encouraging sign, a sign that Iraqis themselves are fed up with those who would threaten their chance at democracy through acts of terrorism, and who will take matters into their own hands if necessary. That's not “vigilante justice” — that's heroic. Some things are worth fighting for. Let's keep in mind also that Zarqawi and associates aren't litigants in downtown Houston. They're not using the mechanisms and apparatus of Western systems of justice. They are attempting, through terrorist acts, to destabilize Iraq and turn it literally into a hellhole. They are nihilists and destroyers. It is no requirement of “justice” that a people commit suicide rather than deal with nihilists and destroyers by any means necessary, including extralegal. Again, this is not a courtroom in downtown Houston. This is a fight for survival (and for a better life) for Iraqis. And it's mainly their fight. It is heartening to see Iraqis standing up for their nation, and I'm opposed to calling it “vigilante justice.” In reality, it's what we expected of Iraqis after we handed over sovereignty. Indeed, some of us thought the handover should have come sooner, so as to give everyday Iraqis more of a stake in taking back their country from terrorists (and to make it so that terrorists would then be seen as attacking Iraqis, not American occupiers). That's a matter of strategy, of course, and debatable. But it seems craven for the Chronicle editors to condemn Iraqis who understand the threat and have vowed to put it down, while said editors are sitting in their comfy air-conditioned offices in downtown Houston lecturing on justice. Speaking of craven, there's this notable line:
The lawyers have put off a planned trip to Baghdad, further calling into question the Iraqi court's ability to offer the deposed former leader a legitimate trial.
I suppose it comes natural for good liberals sitting in downtown Houston to worry about giving Saddam Hussein a fair trial. Those Iraqis who now reside in mass graves, or were gassed, or perished in Saddam's sadistic prisons don't have that luxury. We're not talking about a Western white-collar criminal, but a wicked man who we know committed many many crimes against humanity. The Chronicle's concern for a fair trial is misplaced. They should be more concerned about delivering justice. Finally, there's this:
“We have started preparing to capture him and his allies or kill them and present them as a gift to our people,” said the man, who reportedly has a distinctly Iraqi accent. The last was a reference to U.S.-led air strikes on hiding places used by al-Zarqawi and his followers, who are alleged to have al-Qaida connections.
I can't even parse that. Maybe some reader who's smarter than me can help out. Does anybody have a guess as to what “The last” is referring to? Is it to “Iraqi accent?” Is it to “the man?” Or what? How is anything in that preceding sentence a reference to US air strikes? What does it even mean? I can't figure it out. Finally, since the Chronicle doesn't really have room for actual news now that they've colorized and added sidebars and a jungle gym and a trapeze to the front page, here are some interesting articles about the situation in Iraq: Iraqi security forces show early successes (Thanassis Cambanis, Boston Globe) Iraqi rebels dividing, losing support (Dan Murphy, Christian Science Monitor) Iraq's Rebellion Develops Signs of Internal Rift (IAN FISHER and EDWARD WONG, New York Times) A Tough Guy Tries to Tame Iraq (DEXTER FILKINS, New York Times) It's not won, and there's still much to be done, but there's plenty to suggest that things may be turning positively in Iraq. Those who rely solely upon the Chronicle for their news and views wouldn't know.

Permalink | News and Views

July 12, 2004, 08:23 PM

Jeff Cohen remodels

By Kevin Whited

Several readers have emailed wondering if we've seen the Chronicle's redesigned layout and editor Jeff Cohen's explanation of same. Yes, we have. In fact, Anne Linehan and I have batted several emails back and forth about it. I don't think either of us could really believe what we were reading. Specifically, there's this paragraph:
A daily newspaper is a lot like a house. Every now and then it needs a thorough inspection, a complete cleaning and some redecorating. That's what you're seeing in the form of different typefaces, headline styles and new ways to give you the latest information either in depth or at a glance.
Sometimes though, the house needs a lot work. The foundation is sagging. The roof needs to be replaced. The HVAC system belches mold. The wood is overrun with termites. The house is on the verge of collapse. That's how I would describe the Chronicle's house. But instead of fixing the major problems at the Chronicle — things we've been describing from day one (lazy reporting, biased news coverage, a partisan liberal writing editorials on weekends and playing news bureau chief during the week, “olds” posing as news, errors in copy, an invisible reader advocate, lack of political diversity on the editorial board, a lead columnist who thinks it's okay to take phrases and quotes from the Washington Post's Dan Morgan without citing him by name, hacking of AP wire copy, hacking of syndicated columnists, and more) — Jeff Cohen apparently decided that some crown molding, a paint job on the outside, and some new curtains would do the trick. It's laughable, really. Anne and I couldn't really come up with anything better than “laughable.” I don't feel like I'm doing the topic justice even now. In a strange way, maybe their decoration will improve the newspaper. To those of us who haven't spent years redesigning newspapers, it looks very much like the Chronicle actually eliminated a significant amount of text from the pages, in favor of sidebars and splashes and photographs. Since there's less substantive content, maybe their editors will have so much less to do that they'll actually get that right. BWAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Or maybe not. If recent posts here are any indicator — and I believe they are a very good indicator — things have actually gotten worse. But bless 'em, they have color! Now if they just had some (editorial) sense.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

July 12, 2004, 08:22 PM

Dead Weight?

By Matt Forge

Dead Weight?
John Kerry's choice of John Edwards as his running mate was received favorably by the public, polls suggest, but it has made little difference so far in the race with President Bush.

Permalink | Political Cartoons

July 12, 2004, 06:43 PM

News odds and ends

By Anne Linehan

Here's a news analysis we can read without rolling our eyes, for a change. It doesn't bash President Bush. ---------- The American Spectator's Washington Prowler notes that Senator John Kerry has not taken advantage of numerous opportunities for security briefings. This famously came to light last week when Kerry told Larry King that he's been too busy for a security briefing related to the terror warning Tom Ridge gave last week. The Kerry campaign's response:
“If we're talking about the same intelligence that got us into this war in Iraq, why would we listen to them?” asks a Kerry campaign source. “The Senator has his own intelligence and security advisers who brief him regularly. This is just more political gamesmanship, and we aren't going to play.”
Oh good. Kerry has his own advisors. And one of them is Joe Wilson. We would assume that the Kerry campaign will be ending that relationship, soon, if it hasn't done so already. ---------- According to this article, several advertisers in Chicago and New York are suing two different newspaper publishers for inflated circulation numbers. Tribune Company-owned Newsday and Hoy, a Spanish-language newspaper, and the Chicago Sun-Times have both recently admitted to inflating circulation numbers. ChronicallyBiased.com assumes the Houston Chronicle has all its circulation numbers in order with backup, in case this idea spreads. ---------- In related newspaper news, a group of publishers and advertisers, at an Audit Bureau of Circulations meeting, has come up with a list of ways to address the current circulation scandal.
Specific details about items currently on the table and waiting for approval were not disclosed, but one attendee, John Murray, vice president of the Newspaper Association of America, told E&P that the industry wants to find out if the current episodes involving the Chicago Sun-Times, Newsday and Hoy were isolated incidents. He also said that newspapers executives are eager to assure advertisers that the industry is taking this problem very seriously. “The mood is constructive,” he said. “It was a well-timed forum for advertisers and publishers to talk about their concerns.”
Right. Newspaper execs are eager to reassure advertisers? We'll take their word for it.

Permalink | News and Views

July 12, 2004, 05:20 PM

Daily “olds” watch

By Kevin Whited

Today, the Chronicle continues its practice of either reporting or reproducing old material and presenting it as news — with the newspaper's usual bad judgment and poor practices, of course. Those wondering about the glitches/delays with the fireworks at Miller Outdoor Theater can consult this column by Joe Stinebaker to find out what went wrong. Today is July 12. The fireworks malfunctioned on July 4. No wonder the Chronicle's coverage of the collapse of Enron was widely panned by media critics nationally. If it takes over a week to report on local Independence Day fireworks malfunctions, why expect that oldspaper to be any better at getting to the bottom of big stories. Heck, we still don't know exactly what happened between HPD, Quannel X, and the officers who arrested him several weeks ago. Maybe the Chronicle will break that one in a few months. Today's editorial page runs a George Will column that's worth a read. Problem is, most people have probably already read it. It appeared on TownHall.com and other online sources on July 8. Even the Fort Worth Star Telegram ran it on July 9! It's not news, but “olds” at this point. Unless you're a Chronicle editor casting about for a “conservative” column to run, and then it's apparently hot. Oh, and the Chronicle cut 18 words from the version run by Town Hall and Star Telegram, according to my software. I didn't read carefully to see if they were important. Obviously, George Will thought they were,though, and I tend to trust his judgment more than that of Jeff Cohen's crew. Elsewhere in the olds department, Lucas Wall reports in the metro section that the mayor's office has backed down on plans to expand parking meter fees to cover nights and Saturdays/Sundays downtown. News24 reported that bit of news last Friday, and we noted it here. As they pointed out, however, the proposal to expand collection to include Saturdays still go to council for a vote, and we would still urge council to vote no to ANY expansion of days/hours for downtown meter collection. The city needs to trim its budget, rather than finding creative new ways to tax patrons of downtown. Further, Wall's story gives the mayor's traffic czar a little too much leeway to spin his earlier proposals:
Saperstein originally proposed having some meters running at night in busy downtown entertainment district areas. He said that would discourage employees from using on-street spaces, and he expected businesses to support the idea because it would mean easier access to close parking. But several groups, including the Greater Houston Restaurant Association, opposed the plan. They were nervous that if free parking at night vanished from downtown streets, many customers would choose to patronize establishments elsewhere. They also didn’t want to see enforcement officers making rounds at night, slapping tickets on cars whose drivers took a bit too long eating dinner. “We always want what’s best for the people to do business in the city,” Saperstein said. “If they don’t want it, there’s no reason for us to push it.”
Mr. Saperstein, you don't really expect us to believe that, do you? Especially when councilman Berry already admitted to News24 on Friday that the original impulse was that there was a lot of money to be collected, which seemed like a good idea (before anyone started paying attention)? Come on now. And shame on you, Lucas Wall, for letting him throw that out without the quote from councilman Berry to balance it. Not only did the Chronicle give the mayor's office free space to spin the fee increase that's coming downtown, but the headline is entirely misleading: Meters still expire at 6: Mayors office decides not to charge fees on Saturdays. The actual story says the mayor's (note the apostrophe!) office IS proposing to charge fees on Saturdays. The headline writer blew it! In an exceedingly dishonest, inaccurate way. That's Jeff Cohen's Chronicle: Your daily source of errors and “olds” (not to mention bias).

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

July 12, 2004, 04:38 PM

The legal system blows a cyberspy's cover

By Anne Linehan

Today's Chronicle has a story about a Montana woman who is a mom, wife, judge, and cyberspy, searching the internet to root out terrorists.
Rossmiller — petite, blond and 34 — assumes one of several unlikely false identities, all angry, violent, Muslim men, nurturing hatred of the United States. In that guise, she combs the Internet through the late evening and early morning and sifts through the messages and declarations on extremist Islamic Web sites. During those hours, Rossmiller is on a quest that consumes hours of each day, days of each week. It’s one that will place her on the stand Thursday as the government’s primary witness against a National Guardsman accused of offering information to help Muslim extremists kill U.S. troops. It’s a quest that has already placed her in danger. Rossmiller works with an exclusive group, a coalition of seven civilians, international “cyber spies” who chase terrorists on the Internet.
Columnist Michelle Malkin has some questions on her blog about why this brave woman's cover has been blown, first by the courts, and second by the Chronicle. To be fair to the Chronicle, this is not the first time Rossmiller's story has been told. There are also a couple of updates at the end of Malkin's blog post, including some thoughts from Andrew McCarthy, a former chief assistant US attorney. He places the blame on our “generous due process standards.”

Permalink | News and Views

July 12, 2004, 04:25 PM

New Professional Soccer Team in Utah

By Rob Booth

According to the national sports media and the local papers in Utah, Major League Soccer's next expansion team is going to be in Salt Lake City. Bad news for soccer fans in Houston, good news for people who don't like taxpayer-funded stadiums. AP via ESPN: Newspapers - Salt Lake City on deck
SALT LAKE CITY — Major League Soccer will award an expansion team to Utah next week, according to newspaper reports. Salt Lake City will be home to an MLS team starting next spring, the Deseret Morning News and Salt Lake Tribune reported. Dan Checketts, a partner in the ownership group trying to bring Utah a second major professional team, told The Tribune for a story Sunday that the official announcement will come Wednesday at a news conference.
Houston was under consideration for a new franchise, according to the Seattle paper and several other sources. There has been a good deal of chatter on the soccer fan message boards about this likely decision. Various venues had been under consideration in Houston for a stadium, notably Reliant Stadium (considered by some to be too big), and Robertson Stadium on UH (considered by some too hot for a summer sport, there's no AC there). Major League Soccer's stated goal is to have special soccer-specific stadiums (SSS) in each market. Given the recent history of stadium building in the US, it seems a pretty safe bet that local governments would be asked to build the SSS. Major League Soccer plans for two more expansion teams in 2006, so the issue of building a new stadium in Houston is likely to come up again.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

July 12, 2004, 09:35 AM

Bad law/bad science

By Anne Linehan

Sunday's Chronicle carries an article about Iowa Senator Tom Harkin's five billion dollar proposal to battle obesity.
Capitol Hill crusaders in the war on obesity aim to steer children away from vending machines and toward physical education classes, curb kid-targeted advertising, prompt businesses to offer rewards for employee fitness, require restaurants to label food content and build more bike paths and sidewalks.
The level of intrusion this bill would impose is astonishing. It would be a nanny-state program at its worst. There was a glaring ommission from the Hearst News Service article, though. The article quotes Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI supports Harkin's proposal):
[Wooten] argues the legislation “doesn’t interfere with personal responsibility, it supports it.” “No one has pulled together such a comprehensive and important piece of anti-obesity legislation,” Wootan said.
Anything that is supported by CSPI should immediately set off alarms. That group has, through a willing media, worked diligently to become our nation's food police. If it tastes good, CSPI wants it labeled, taxed or banned. And that's where the problem is. The article simply states that CSPI is a “nonprofit nutrition and food safety watchdog group.” CSPI is the group that has teamed with attorney John Banzhaf in several lawsuits aimed at fast food restaurants, among many other dubious activities. It is disingenuous to label CSPI a “watchdog group.” It would have been more accurate to label it “a left-leaning activist group” or “a radical food watchdog group.” Here are two sites that have more background on CSPI. Update: CSPI has only sent legal notices, not filed lawsuits. Thanks to Crow for the correction.

Permalink | Media Watch

July 12, 2004, 09:00 AM

In Houston, Dr. Pepper reigns supreme

By Owen Courrèges

The next time you go for jury duty, know this: You'd better like Dr. Pepper (from the Houston Business Journal):
Soft drink giants The Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo. Inc. lost out to Texas-based Dr Pepper/Seven-Up Inc. this week in a battle to gain exclusive control over beverage vending operations in City of Houston facilities. In granting its first exclusive contract, Houston City Council expects to garner $5.7 million over 10 years from Dr Pepper Bottling Co. of Texas and Houston-based Fresh Brew Group USA LP, giving the Texas companies total control over the city's beverage and snack vending operations.
Obviously this was a smart move for raising revenue in the context of a tight city budget, but I can't help but feel sorry for the Pepsi drinkers, left without their somewhat-tangy beverage of choice. (Sigh)... I suppose you can't please everyone.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

July 12, 2004, 08:04 AM

The UN and the Israeli wall

By The Staff

Cox and Forkum - UN and Israel Courtesy of Cox and Forkum.

Permalink | Political Cartoons

July 12, 2004, 08:01 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

There will be a “Rumble in the Jungle” in Houston and in Boston and have you submitted a picture of you “coolest” dog? Find out what the chaos is all about and how to send pics of your dog in the cutest and “coolest” summer poses in today's Features section.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

July 12, 2004, 08:00 AM

Klineberg: Ethnic diversity a 'pull' for the inner-city

By Owen Courrèges

Dr. Steven Klineberg, a sociology professor at Rice University (this should already be setting off red flags), has penned an op-ed for the Chronicle in which he parses certain results from his much-vaunted Houston Area Survey. And suprise, suprise — the results just happen to support his own left-of-center political views on urban development:
In this rapidly changing city, the annual Houston Area Survey continually reveals something unexpected. One of the biggest surprises in the 2004 survey of Harris County residents was the sudden surge of interest among Anglo sub-urbanites in moving to the city. [...] One of the attractions of Houston’s urban scene is its burgeoning ethnic and cultural diversity. Feelings of solidarity and comfort with that diversity appear clearly to differentiate the potential movers in the suburbs from those who prefer to stay where they are. Suburban Anglos are more interested in someday moving to the city if they approve of the city's affirmative action program. They are more likely to want to move if they believe that Houston’s increasing ethnic diversity will eventually become “a source of great strength” rather than “a growing problem” for the city.
Ok, first of all, where does Klineberg get off citing support for affirmative action as evidence of “[f]eelings of solidarity and comfort with ... diversity?” I don't like affirmative action one bit, but it doesn't mean that I feel one way or the other about ethnic or cultural diversity. If this is the way Klineberg chooses to parse his own data, you'll forgive me if I already begin question his objectivity. Secondly, Klineberg doesn't even so much as mention one important fact: His own survey reveals that the suburbs are still more popular among city residents than the other way around! Now I know guys like Klineberg are big cheerleaders for inner-city development, but wouldn't academic integrity demand that this fact at least merit a passing mention? And last, but far from least, is the obvious issue of the 'halo effect.' This is a phenomenon common to polling that all pollsters should be mindful of. It works like this: When you have a poll question that has a single socially-acceptable answer, you will get that socially-acceptable answer from most respondents whether they agree with it or not. For example, if you polled people on whether or not they use racial slurs, you'd probably find few people who actually use them and are willing to own up to it. Many would simply lie, and your data would be utterly tainted. This applies to Klineberg's study in a big way. He essentially asked people whether or not ethnic diversity was a major 'pull' for the inner-city, and ultimately concluded that many people were interested in moving inside the loop just to be with people of different ethnicities. But let's be honest — just how many people are actually going to move just to join up with a more ethnically diverse crowd? Isn't is more likely that the respondents were simply giving the politically-correct answer? Don't get me wrong, though. There is some interesting and valid data in Klineberg's Houston Area Survey. The problem is distinguishing Klineberg's personal expectations from the actual results, and reading these kinds of politically-charged op-eds doesn't help.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

July 12, 2004, 06:52 AM

Bush's mysterious absence from NAACP convention

By Anne Linehan

The Chronicle carries an AP story today about the NAACP's effort to vote President Bush out of office in November:
NAACP chairman Julian Bond condemned Bush administration policies on education, the economy and the war in Iraq on Sunday, imploring members of the nation's oldest civil rights organization to increase voter turnout to oust the president from office. “They preach racial neutrality and practice racial division,” Bond said Sunday night in the 95th annual convention's keynote address. “They've tried to patch the leaky economy and every other domestic problem with duct tape and plastic sheets. They write a new constitution of Iraq and they ignore the Constitution here at home.”
That's some pretty over-the-top rhetoric. Then, in the middle of the short article is this:
Leaders of the group are upset that President Bush has no plans to attend the convention. Bush spoke at the 2000 NAACP convention in Baltimore when he was a candidate but has declined invitations to speak in each year of his presidency, making him the first president since the 1930s to skip it, officials said.
That's it. No context is given for why the President is not accepting the invitation. The reporter starts off the story with the acrimonious words of Julian Bond and then provides no hint as to why Bush has not been to an NAACP meeting for four years. The blogosphere had a busy weekend with this story and the NAACP's outrage that a sitting president won't speak at its annual meeting, again. The AP article doesn't explain a major reason why the President declined the invitation, but blogs will: a particular political ad the NAACP ran after Bush spoke at the group's convention in 2000 - an ad that associated George Bush with the murder of James Byrd.

Permalink | Media Watch

July 12, 2004, 06:15 AM

Casey misses the point on the real Ken Lay

By Dan Patrick

In Sunday’s Chronicle, Rick Casey wrote a very confusing article comparing ken Lay to Mohammad Ali. It is not very clear to the reader if Casey is praising or chastising Lay. In one sentence he raves about Lay as one of the city’s greatest business and civic leaders. He actually offers an excuse for Lay, that because he was so involved in helping make Houston a better city, he was distracted from his job as head of Enron. Casey then writes that no matter what excuse Lay may have had, his first priority should have been to take care of his company. What is Casey actually saying? Is Lay a noble leader or a negligent C.E.O. It is interesting to note that Casey does not consider a third possibility: that Lay was involved in illegal activity as he has been charged. I saw Lay up close and personal. As his principal opposition to building the baseball stadium with tax dollars, I debated him on several occasions and got to see the man behind the scenes of his polished, upbeat, smiling public persona. I saw him as a mean-spirited, mega-rich, powerful businessman who was not used to being challenged. I have known other businessmen like Lay. They grow their business, becoming rich and powerful beyond their wildest dreams. They soon begin to start believing they are infallible. They believe they are always right and surround themselves with yes men who would never dare to challenge their opinions or decisions. This was the Lay I got to know. He despised people like me who challenged him. He ridiculed any view that was not in agreement with his. If you disagreed with Lay you were either a fool or evil person. In the end, I believe this personal flaw was part of the reason for the downfall of Enron. Whether Lay was negligent or a crook remains to be determined in a court of law. Maybe he was neither. However, various people like Enron employee, Sherron Watkins, warned him that Enron had huge financial and accounting problems. He apparently ignored all of the warnings. Casey makes the point that Lay had the city’s best interest at heart in building a baseball stadium downtown. Casey makes the point that Lay believed in a vibrant downtown. Casey, who didn’t live or work here during those years, is completely wrong and naïve. Lay was looking out for only one person, Ken Lay. I believe Lay wanted a new stadium so that he could name it after his company. He wanted to elevate his company name onto a larger world stage. Naming the new ballpark Enron field would be a relatively inexpensive way to promote his company. That marketing idea would hopefully raise the stock price. The higher the stock price, the wealthier he became. As far as revitalizing downtown, he had a motive for that also. Enron was in the process of building two new towers downtown. A revitalized downtown would increase property values and once again he would benefit. I am not suggesting that Lay didn’t believe that revitalizing downtown would be good for the city. However, I believe his main agenda was more about enriching himself than the city at large. I also believe that Lay had a grander plan. He was positioning himself to run for Mayor. Had Enron not fallen, it would have been businessman Ken Lay instead of unknown businessman Bill White running for Mayor in 2003. He then would have used that office as a platform to run for either Governor or Senator at the appropriate time. Lay may have even seen himself as a Presidential contender one day in the future. Ken Lay was very high on Ken Lay. Rick Casey missed the real story in his lame excuse for a column. He obviously doesn’t understand the city’s recent history, the inside political and power game of Houston, or the real nature of Ken Lay. The people, who do know the real story, know I am on the mark. The Chronicle continues to worry about lost circulation and blames me for much of their recent cancellation problems. They apparently share a little bit of the Lay personality problem at their highest levels. The Chronicle doesn’t like to be criticized and they don’t believe they are ever wrong. Like Lay, they see anyone who opposes them as either a foolish or evil person. Instead of comparing Ali to Lay, maybe they should take note of the similarities between Lay's shortcoming and their own.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

July 11, 2004, 05:08 PM

President Bush's Radio Address: Support Traditional Marriage

By Terry Bohannon

The Associated Press and other media outlets have and are writing op/eds and news releases of President Bush's most recent radio address. Unfortunately, they often skew and thwart the power of the words Bush spoke (audio) during his weekly address yesterday. Bush's radio addresses are a good way to learn about our President and what he supports and what he values. Often, many go without hearing them. I suggest that anybody interested in politics take a look at some of his addresses, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/radio/index.html (you can even listen to or look at the touching and heart-breaking speech he gave on September 15, 2001)
President's Radio Address: July 10, 2004 (audio) http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/07/20040710.html THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. The United States Senate this past week began an important discussion about the meaning of marriage. Senators are considering a constitutional amendment to protect the most fundamental institution of civilization, and to prevent it from being fundamentally redefined. This difficult debate was forced upon our country by a few activist judges and local officials, who have taken it on themselves to change the meaning of marriage. In Massachusetts, four judges on the state's highest court have ordered the issuance of marriage licenses to applicants of the same gender. In San Francisco, city officials issued thousands of marriage licenses to people of the same gender, contrary to the California family code. Lawsuits in several states, including New Jersey, Florida, Nebraska, and Oregon, are also attempting to overturn the traditional definition of marriage by court order. In 1996, Congress overwhelmingly passed the Defense of Marriage Act, and President Clinton signed it into law. That legislation defines marriage, for purposes of federal law, as a union between a man and a woman, and declares that no state is required to accept another state's definition of marriage. Yet an activist court that strikes down traditional marriage would have little problem striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. Overreaching judges could declare that all marriages recognized in Massachusetts or San Francisco be recognized as marriages everywhere else. When judges insist on imposing their arbitrary will on the people, the only alternative left to the people is an amendment to the Constitution — the only law a court cannot overturn. A constitutional amendment should never be undertaken lightly — yet to defend marriage, our nation has no other choice. A great deal is at stake in this matter. The union of a man and woman in marriage is the most enduring and important human institution, and the law can teach respect or disrespect for that institution. If our laws teach that marriage is the sacred commitment of a man and a woman, the basis of an orderly society, and the defining promise of a life, that strengthens the institution of marriage. If courts create their own arbitrary definition of marriage as a mere legal contract, and cut marriage off from its cultural, religious and natural roots, then the meaning of marriage is lost, and the institution is weakened. The Massachusetts court, for example, has called marriage “an evolving paradigm.” That sends a message to the next generation that marriage has no enduring meaning, and that ages of moral teaching and human experience have nothing to teach us about this institution. For ages, in every culture, human beings have understood that traditional marriage is critical to the well-being of families. And because families pass along values and shape character, traditional marriage is also critical to the health of society. Our policies should aim to strengthen families, not undermine them. And changing the definition of traditional marriage will undermine the family structure. On an issue of this great significance, opinions are strong and emotions run deep. All of us have a duty to conduct this discussion with civility and decency toward one another. All people deserve to have their voices heard. And that is exactly the purpose behind the constitutional amendment process. American democracy, not court orders, should decide the future of marriage in America. The process has now begun in the Congress. I urge members of the House and Senate to pass, and send to the states for ratification, an amendment that defines marriage in the United States as a union of a man and woman as husband and wife. Thank you for listening.

Permalink | News and Views

July 11, 2004, 05:05 PM

Flash: Dallas is a great place!

By Kevin Whited

One would think it would be enough for the Chronicle constantly to boost Houston as a “world class” city and act as inane cheerleader. Apparently, the Chron's Dallas news bureau is caught up in the same spirit, albeit on behalf of the city four hours north of us:
With a new image campaign, tourist officials here are anxious to retire thoughts of big hair, cowboy hats and the TV soap opera question, “Who shot J.R.?” They appear uncomfortable as well, more than 40 years later, with the matter of who shot JFK. The Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau recently unveiled a new city tag line, “Live Large. Think Big,” and an upbeat, four-minute promotional video. The goal, said Phillip Jones, the bureau's president and chief executive, is to give the city a fresh “brand identity” and “put it back on the radar screen as a top-tier visitor destination.” The new pitch, designed to wrest convention and tourist business from more popular destinations such as San Antonio and Las Vegas, sells Dallas as “a city of big things, where big things happen,” Jones said.
I've asked this before, but I'll ask again: Why should readers of “Houston's Leading Information Source” care? Still, we don't want to be left out of the fun. We've just about decided if the Chronicle can run a single columnist and call him the Dallas news bureau, we can too. We might just have to roll out our Dallas news bureau sooner than planned. We can't have the Chron scooping us constantly with such informative reporting from Dallas.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

July 11, 2004, 05:01 PM

John Kerry and His Heresy

By Michael Meyer

John Kerry's fence straddling on the issue of abortion is starting to catch up to him. Earlier this week, Kerry said that he believes life starts at conception.
"I oppose abortion, personally. I don't like abortion. I believe life does begin at conception.
But then he tried to explain why he doesn't vote that way:
“I can't take my Catholic belief, my article of faith, and legislate it on a Protestant or a Jew or an atheist,” he continued. “We have separation of church and state in the United States of America.”
That's hogwash, of course - Protestants and Jews don't believe in abortion, either. On John Kerry's website, he doesn't call abortion a religious issue. Over there, it's a woman's issue which of course, is also hogwash. The issue of abortion doesn't split along gender lines - women are nearly split evenly on the issue of abortion, as are men. He also voted against the ban on partial birth abortions because George Bush's administration didn't include wording to allow it if necessary to protect the health of the mother, despite no indication that this procedure is ever necessary to protect the health of the mother. So what view does Kerry really have? If he truly believes life begins at conception, then killing that life is...what? Right, it's murder. In order to justify abortion, one has to take the stance that life does not begin at conception. That, of course, would put him at odds with the Catholic Church.
“It's hard,” Kerry told parishioner Frank Ward, a father of five and an abortion opponent. “It's a difficult line to walk.”
That's an understatement. These opposing views are starting to converge into a non-sustainable position - Marc Balestrieri, a canon lawyer, has filed suit in the Ecclesiastical Church of the Archdiocese of Boston. His criminal complaint alleges that John F. Kerry, as a baptized Catholic, has committed a court-martial offense ender Cannon Law by professing the “Right-to-Murder heresy,” commonly known as the “Right to Life” doctrine. Already, Marc has told other Catholic faithful that he's come under heavy fire from several sources - the Democrat machine, some heavy players within the Catholic hierarchy, other Catholic canonists, and even some Republicans. John Kerry should be forced to get off of that fence - he can't be campaigning as a good Catholic boy and a follower of the Catholic faith and at the same time voting against what the Catholic Church is teaching. Kerry's made no secret of the fact that if he's elected, he'll only nominate judges that are pro-abortion. He's going to have to choose when it comes to abortion - his faith, or his politics. Having it both ways is unsustainable.

Permalink | News and Views

July 11, 2004, 04:55 PM

The Whoopigate Scandal: A Special Report

By Matt Forge

New York (CB) — “Whoopigate” is a general term used to describe a slopilly woven tapestry of political insults and profanity directed at the President of the United States between 8pm and 3am on Thursday, July 8th, 2004 at a liberal star-studded political fundraiser for the two Democratic challengers at Radio City Music Hall. The word specifically refers to a crude comidienne named Whoopi Goldberg and her mouth which is the wide open gate. Chronology of Events The story of Whoopigate has an unusual social and political background, arising out of political events of the 2000s such as the war in Iraq, and the publication of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse photos. But the chronology of the scandal really begins during 2000, when then Texas governor George W. Bush narrowly won the election defeating then sitting Vice President Al Gore with the losers crying foul and claiming a stolen election. By 2004, Bush had been President for nearly a full term, but the storm clouds had been brewing and there were repeated calls for his late-term abortion. By Friday, July 9th, the nation was consumed by Whoopigate. John Forbes Kerry John Forbes Kerry (known as “Big John”) is one of the most forgettable political figures of the early 21st Century. His stealthy political career began in 1984 when he was elected to the Senate. By 2004, he was known as the alleged presumed possible Democratic Presidential candidate nominee and former Vietnam veteran war hero/anti-war activist. He picked as his running mate John Edwards (known as “Little John”). Kerry Reacts To Whoopigate Kerry's campaign Manager Mary Beth Cahill told reporters, “The views expressed by the performers were their own views. It is not what Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards would say and they don't approve of some of the comments that have been made.” There are those, however, who believe orders to perform the lewd acts came straight from the top - from Kerry himself. Little John's Wife Reacts To Whoopigate Mrs. Edwards defended Goldberg's highly creative and original juvenile routine which included repeated mentions of Bush's name mixed with references to female genitalia stating, “A lot of people are going to be angry - there's a lot to be angry about. It's a free country and people are going to express that anger.” Whoopi Reacts To Whoopigate The 54-year-old washed-up Goldberg was unapologetic to the crowd of about 6,200 homeless and orphaned who paid up to $25,000 a ticket for the gala. “C'mon, you knew this was coming. This is what I try to explain to people,” she said. “Why are you asking me to come if you don't want me to be me? I mean dang, doesn't everyone know what my name means?!” It was later learned that she never was invited, but crashed the party after tailing Chevy Chase the whole evening hoping to hear and steal his new super-secret “egg-timer” joke to use on Hollywood Squares. Side note: There has been a class action lawsuit slapped against the Whoopstress alleging theft of the “Bush/female genitalia” material. It has been filed by an unidentified sixth grader from Nashville, Tennessee claiming he first made up the joke and scribbled it on the bathroom stall of his school about three-and-a-half years ago. The lawsuit also represents some 3,000 other students from across the U.S. (including Guam) with the same claim and is legally represented by none other than John Edwards himself, a trial lawyer. The Investigation Initial investigations of Whoopigate were heavily influenced by the new-and-improved media, particularly the work of one reporter from the Drudge Report, Matt Drudge along with his mysterious informant, Anonymous Tipster. Further digging uncovered $1.35 in loose change and the existence of “secret tapes.” The Controversy Of The Secret Tapes Political investigations began Friday when the the Bush campaign called for the Democrats to publicly release the videotapes of the private event. “Why would we do that?” asked Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill in a shrewd move of misdirection which thwarted investigative reporters. She said she saw no reason to release the tapes, but she did release the dogs which further thwarted investigative reporters. Apparantly the Kerry campaign has no intention of proudly and unapologetically releasing the tapes despite Republican calls to do so, and despite the fact that the remarks and gestures supposedly convey the heart and soul of America. (The above story, though based on actual events, is satire or parody. It is meant for entertainment only and is NOT true.)

Permalink | Humor

July 11, 2004, 08:19 AM

Bad Chronicle editing is good for Kerry

By Anne Linehan

Today's Chronicle has a Washington Post story on the sunshiney, values-oriented team of John Kerry and John Edwards. What's interesting is the difference between the Washington Post article and the Chronicle's version, no doubt edited for space constraints. If you read the Chronicle article, you will probably come away thinking the reporters were the willing lapdogs of Kerry and Edwards:
“The value of truth is one of the most central values in America, and this administration has violated” it, Kerry said in an interview with the Washington Post aboard the Democrats’ campaign plane Friday. “Their values system is distorted and not based on truth.” Edwards said anti-Bush attacks such as Thursday’s Democratic fund-raising concert in New York and Michael Moore’s new film Fahrenheit 9/11 reflect an “expression by folks with genuine feelings,” adding, “Thank goodness in our country they have a right to express those feelings.”
But, if you read the Washington Post story you will find more. This is what was left out of the Chronicle version, between those two paragraphs:
The Democratic nominee and his running mate said it was that kind of anger toward the president that prompted entertainers at Thursday's Democratic fundraising concert in New York to attack Bush as a “cheap thug” and a killer. “Obviously some performers, in my judgment and John's, stepped over a line neither of us believes appropriate, but we can't control that,” Kerry said. “On the other hand, we understand the anger, we understand the frustration.”
Funny, Kerry and Edwards didn't show any dismay at the fundraiser. News accounts of the event describe Kerry as “laughing uproariously.” Continuing on with the we-are-the-nice-guys-theme, there's this whopper:
The Democratic duo also vowed to forgo negative advertising in this presidential campaign — an assertion that draws scoffs from Republicans who note that independent Democratic groups have pounded the president with millions of dollars in negative ads.
That was in the Chronicle. Here's what was left out:
“We have not stood up and attacked our opponents in personal ways,” Kerry said. This week alone, Kerry has criticized Bush personally in speeches for lying, professional laziness, waiting until right before the election to indict Enron Corp.'s former chief executive, Kenneth L. Lay, lacking values and even having worse hair than the two Democrats. Some advisers are privately counseling Kerry to tone down his attacks on Bush.
Nice editing. But let's check out how Kerry is embracing positive ads. MoveOn.org, which everyone knows is doing all it can to get President Bush out of office, has done a fine job of making less-than-positive and uplifting ads in support of John Kerry. And then there's this little gem that ran on the back of the liberal The Nation magazine. So far, no regrets from the Kerry campaign for any of these. The last bit in the Chronicle story is rather amusing:
With Republicans questioning Edwards’ fitness to serve as a wartime president, given the fact that he has less than six years of government experience, Kerry defended his vice-presidential pick as more qualified for the job than Bush. “Don’t get suckered into the how many years you’ve been in one job or this job” debate, Kerry said. “You’ve got people in (Washington) who have been in one job (for) 30 years of what you call experience and they have done nothing, they don’t stand for anything and they don’t know how to fight.”
Uh, who is Kerry talking about here? John Kerry has lots of experience in DC but has a history of weak leadership, well-documented indecisiveness, and waffling. Talk about channeling. Now, if you go back to the Washington Post story, there was more to that line of discussion:
Yet it was Kerry himself who challenged Edwards's readiness during the Democratic primary elections, saying it's not a time for “on-the-job training.” He mocked Edwards's youthfulness — the vice presidential candidate is 51 — and later asked aides what made Edwards think he was ready for the presidency. “I challenged my level of experience against his, as I will challenge my level of experience against George Bush's and Dick Cheney's,” Kerry said. “That was a fair challenge . . . in the context of the primaries. But that doesn't mean [Edwards] isn't qualified against George Bush.” Kerry added, “Does [Edwards] have as much experience as me? No. But I am running for president; he's running for vice president.”
There's plenty more. The Chronicle edits the story (we know, we know, space constraints) into a very fluffy article. But, if the Chronicle had just removed the picture of John Edwards catching a football from the print edition, there probably would have been room to run the whole Washington Post story, which is actually more in-depth and fair.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

July 10, 2004, 06:58 PM

Slanted implications

By Terry Bohannon

Yesterday in the Chronicle, La Monica* reported that the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) is sponsoring a voter registration in the Third Ward this Sunday. From what I have read of this group's charter, their voter registration initiatives appear to be quite honorable and good for our society at large. However, La Monica doesn't focus on this group and doesn't even mention the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation with whom the NPHC is largely collaborating with. She chooses to focus on another group altogether, Unlock Your Vote! (UYV), which appears to have a minor play in Sunday's events. This group reaches out to ex-felons, the “disenfranchised, and is headed by J. Goodwille Pierre, a patent lawyer and political activist. Pierre was employed by Lee Brown's Affirmative Action Division and is currently a board member of the The Houston [Black] Lawyers Association. UYV claims that ex-felons should vote
Because the majority of these unregistered ex felons are Black or Latino, increasing the number of voting ex felons increases the power of the Black and Latino vote.
And also that by voting, felons ”become reinvested in civil society." Even though I do not see anything necessarily wrong with Unlock Your Vote's charter and stated intentions, how La Monica presents the group in her article is offensive. By immediately shifting from NPHC, which reaches out to all Blacks, to UYV, which reaches out to ex-felons, La Monica implies that many of the Blacks targeted by Sunday's outreach are ex-felons. I suspect that many of the Blacks at this event Sunday will not be ex-felons. Assuming that a large percentage of them will be, is unfair to them and African-Americans at large. If La Monica were not assuming that many of these people were ex-felons, she would write the article as Danny Perez wrote his on July 6th, and focus on the two groups which are sponsoring the event, instead of UYV's ex-felon outreach. *La Monica Everett-Haynes is a recent transplant to the Houston Chronicle from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

July 10, 2004, 06:45 PM

Council backing away from proposed parking meter expansion?

By Kevin Whited

A few weeks ago, we criticized the White Administration and conservative councilman Michael Berry (here, here, and here) for floating a proposal to increase the number of parking meters downtown, and to begin charging at all downtown parking meters for after hours and weekend parking that is currently free. We contended that none of the politicians were being forthcoming about how they proposed to spend the revenues they proposed to collect, and that councilman Berry's defense at the time was not convincing:
“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.
We didn't buy it, and instead warned you, Houston taxpayers, that whenever a politician says it's not about the money, it's almost always about the money. We applaud councilman Berry, who seems to have gotten the message and is backing away from the more comprehensive proposal to something that appears more limited. Here is what he told News24 yesterday:
There is a lot of money to be collected by increasing parking meter rates or by adding a number of parking meters,” City Councilman Michael Berry says. “But I think you’re doing it in sort of a backdoor way and the public really resents it. Not only was it not popular, it probably wasn’t a really good idea.”
That's a complete turnaround from his earlier position, and one that we applaud. We further applaud councilmember Carol Alvarado:
“We are just coming out of that recovery stage of all the construction and the setbacks we’ve had,” City Councilwoman Carol Alvarado says. “We don’t need to add anything that can hinder anyone’s decision to come downtown and have fun.”
That's correct. The focus of the new proposals is to expand the coverage to include Saturdays, according to News24. That's still an expansion that is not justified until the Mayor and councilmembers explain exactly what will be done with the additional revenue. The proposals will be considered on Wednesday. Feel free to contact your elected officials if you have an opinion on the topic.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

July 10, 2004, 05:01 PM

“Baby killer!”

By Michael Meyer

Those words ought to frighten you - one of our country's biggest mistakes was treating returning Vietnam soldiers with contempt. It weakened our military, drove a wedge down the middle of America, and abused tens of thousands of Vietnam veterans. Are those days long gone? Are the days when people like John Kerry organized groups like Vietnam Veterans Against the War and said that soldiers “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 Ghengis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam” and protested, not against the politicians, but against the soldiers trying their best to protect American citizens? Apparently not - here's a story of a soldier's rude treatment in Seattle this week during the annual Grand Old Fourth of July parade.
That's when Jason Gilson, a 23-year-old military veteran who served in Iraq, marched in the local event. He wore his medals with pride and carried a sign that said “Veterans for Bush.” Walking the parade route with his mom, younger siblings and politically conservative friends, Jason heard words from the crowd that felt like a thousand daggers to the heart. “Baby killer!” “Murderer!” “Boooo!”
If you ever witness people treating our soldiers this way, shout them down. Yes, they're using their freedom of speech - but you have freedom of speech, too, and the right and responsibility to support that soldier that protects that freedom of speech. Soldiers don't just follow orders, they risk life and limb on behalf of the United States and her citizens like you and me. Demoralizing our soldiers with the ugly whispers from Vietnam is the worst thing we can do to our country's and our soldier's morale. When soldiers return from the battlefield, they should be welcomed as heroes, no matter what the politics are. If you're the kind of person that has venom like that spitting out of your mouth, save it for the day the terrorists are having a parade down main street.

Permalink | News and Views

July 10, 2004, 01:48 PM

Chron blows coverage, must speculate on Quannel X story

By Kevin Whited

Owen has addressed the Quannel X controversy in some detail in the past, and I imagine he'll have some substantive thoughts on this Chronicle editorial later, but I just want to focus on the startling journalistic admission that the first sentence represents:
In arresting a prominent black activist and charging him with evading arrest, Houston police mismanaged what might have been a simple miscommunication into a community relations disaster.
Might have been? Guys, YOU are the ones who came up with the description “Houston's Leading Information Source” for yourselves. But readers of the Chronicle STILL don't really know much about the communications between Quannel X and HPD that day, who promised what to whom, and why officers in the field weren't similarly communicating with the HPD brass who were allegedly cutting these deals. It's important that we know those things — and it could have proven deadly for those out in the field (police officers and innocents) NOT to know those things. We think that's an important story in itself. One would think “Houston's Leading Information Source” ought to have gotten to the bottom of that by now. But since the newspaper seemingly hasn't bothered, the editorial page is left speculating about what “might” have happened weeks ago. They should be ashamed of the inadequate news coverage that forced them into such speculation.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

July 10, 2004, 01:26 PM

Nitpicking? You bet

By Kevin Whited

There is unintentional humor today in Rhea Davis's coverage of METRO's latest effort to deal with the confusion caused by its dysfunctional system of alerting passengers of light rail service disruptions:
Although many passengers were upset Thursday because of the lack of communication, Metro officials said Friday they were able to verify that commuters were notified of the delay. “We communicated with the passengers in a couple of ways,” Arndt said. “We made an audible announcement from our control tower to our passengers on the platform ... and Metro police who were at the investigation were disbursed to assist customers to getting to the buses.”
Plenty of money has been disbursed on the ineffective rail boondoggle, to be sure, but we think the intended word was “dispersed,” although “dispatched” would have been a better choice altogether. The editors must have been too busy reading MeMo to catch this one.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

July 10, 2004, 01:22 PM

What poses for edgy at the Chron

By Kevin Whited

So, if you're Chronicle editor Jeff Cohen, and you decide you need to start a blog because all the cool kids around you (Dallas Morning News, Austin American Statesman) have compelling blogs, what do you do? Of course, (C) is correct. It's hard to decide which is more amazing — that Jeff Cohen and crew handed off a cultural blog affiliated with “Houston's Leading Information Source” to someone who isn't even from here and hasn't been around long enough to know the place, or that the editors seem to think it's a good example of big-media blogging. It is good for a laugh, and not just from us.

Permalink | Noxious Chron Columnists

July 10, 2004, 11:36 AM

The O.J. Effect

By The Staff

Cox and Forkum: OJ Effect Courtesy of Cox and Forkum

Permalink | Political Cartoons

July 10, 2004, 11:20 AM

Joe Wilson LIED!

By Anne Linehan

The Senate Intelligence Committee that has been investigating intelligence failures in the run-up to the Iraq war, released its findings yesterday. While the report is a fairly scathing indictment of the CIA and our intelligence gathering capabilities, there was a surprise in it. (Chronicle stories are here and here.) The report says there was evidence that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger. And that evidence came from diplomat Joe Wilson's own report on his fact-finding trip to Niger. This now makes two investigations that say the Iraq/Niger uranium claim was backed up by intelligence. Actually, this Joe Wilson thing seems pretty bizarre. Wilson has been saying on TV and in newspapers that the Bush administration manipulated CIA intelligence to bolster the cause for war and that his findings clearly proved there was no Iraq/Niger connection. Also, the Senate report says that Wilson's wife, CIA employee Valerie Plame, recommended Wilson for the fact-finding trip to Niger, something Wilson has denied. John Hinderaker of the Powerline Blog has some harsh words on Wilson's deception, and for the Bush administration for caving so easily last year.

Permalink | News and Views

July 10, 2004, 10:12 AM

Chron right on UN Court ruling

By Owen Courrèges

Normally I wouldn't write a post praising anything written in the Chronicle, but this time I feel the need to make a notable exception. The Chronicle's latest staff editorial concerning the UN's ruling against Israel's now-notorious security barrier says exactly what needs to be said:
Once again the United Nations, this time through the International Court of Justice, has refused to deal realistically with the role of Palestinian violence in the long-running dispute at the heart of the Middle East conflict. In a preposterous ruling announced Friday, the court held that the barrier Israel is constructing along parts of the West Bank “cannot be justified by military exigencies or by the requirements of national security or public order.” When was the last time any of the learned jurists dared to take a bus in Jerusalem, to go shopping in Haifa or just to have a coffee in Tel Aviv?
The final paragraph says it all. It's easy to indulge the simplistic, naive arguments for the Palestinian cause, but at the end of the day terrorists are intentionally murdering innocent Israeli civilians with the overwhelming support of the Palestinian people. So long as that is the case, there can never be any peace. The UN has been shortchanging Israel for some time now, downplaying the significance of terrorist violence while seeking to portray the Palestinians as innocent victims. However, innocent victims don't blow up buses. Innocent victims don't mourn the deaths of murderers. Innocent victims don't celebrate in the streets when the World Trade Center collapses, killing thousands. The Chronicle was right. This ruling was preposterous, and it only demonstrates further the uselessness of the United Nations.

Permalink | News and Views

July 10, 2004, 10:05 AM

The Courting Candidates

By Matt Forge

The Courting Candidates
Turn down the lights, put on some Manilow, and slip into something comfortable... 'cause these two lovebirds are headed your way.

Permalink | Political Cartoons

July 10, 2004, 07:15 AM

Kerry's got an Enron connection, too. So what?

By Anne Linehan

The media is working extra hard to connect the dots between Ken Lay and George Bush. Since they were friends, so goes the media thinking, President Bush must be tarnished, too. In Friday's paper, the Chronicle has an article that bemoans the lack of voter interest in the Enron case. Voters are just not concerned about a Bush/Lay connection:
But despite repeated Democratic efforts to resurrect the issue, the Enron scandal has largely faded from the public consciousness. With voters focused on the war in Iraq, the state of the economy and the threat of another terrorist strike, the Enron debacle lacks the kind of political punch it had just two years ago.
Imagine that! Americans are more interested in actually staying alive than in pondering if Bush should be run out of office because he knows Ken Lay. The handwringing continues for many more paragraphs. Apparently, this lack of concern on the part of voters is mystifying to the Chronicle's reporters; it took two of them to come up with this “news” story. But, the media's not alone. The Democrats are trying to help us connect the dots, too. Here's John Kerry stirring up all the cliched bogeymen:
“Our tax codes have gone from 14 pages to 17,000 pages,” Kerry said. “Let me ask you: Any of you got your own page? Exxon's got its own page. Enron's got its own page. Halliburton's probably got its own chapter.”
Oooooo. The triple whammy - Exxon, Enron and Halliburton. Evil oil. Evil big business. Evil Bush/Cheney. Here are a couple more Kerry quotes, linking Bush to Enron and Ken Lay:
• Feb. 9, 2003: “The president calls his energy plan 'balanced.' And I suppose it is, if balanced means what it did for the books at Enron and WorldCom.” • June 5: “It is time we had a president who is on the side of the many, not the few. . . . That means investing in people; it means restoring fiscal discipline, and it means that when an Enron bilks the retirement savings of ordinary investors and shatters consumer confidence, those greedy few at the top are going to go to jail.”
But it seems Kerry has his own Ken Lay connection, through his wife:
Former Enron CEO Ken Lay has been a longtime member of the board of trustees of the Heinz Center, an environmental group founded by the candidate's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry. She's the group's vice chairman, and Lay left the organization's small board earlier this year after serving for nearly a decade. That would be about two years after the Enron scandal first broke. Lay also served as a trustee for one of Heinz's foundations according to Bernardo Issel on www.NonprofitWatch.org, even after the firm went into bankruptcy. When asked about his service on those boards, Teresa told Time magazine, “Ken Lay... believed in global climate change. Ken Lay was doing some interesting things in his company about alternative energy policies.”
This is from the Kerry Spot at National Review Online. It took Mrs. Kerry two years after Enron first became big news before she booted Lay off the board. That sounds rather nefarious. Not! The point here is that any reasonable person would assume that Ken Lay's actions have no bearing on Teresa Heinz Kerry. Certainly we would not assume that she has engaged in any kind of fraud, just because she can be linked professionally with Ken Lay. Well, the same holds true for President Bush. Reasonable people are not going to say that President Bush should be painted with the same brush as Ken Lay. And most voters are not likely to play the guilt-by-association game that the media and many Democrats are trying to play.

Permalink | Media Watch

July 09, 2004, 10:10 PM

More “olds” from the Chronicle

By Kevin Whited

We frequently point out that all too often, the news tends to be “olds” by the time the Chronicle gets around to covering it. That's true of their editorial page as well. We noted on Tuesday that the pro-abortion newspaper should be pleased that Senator Hutchison followed its advice, and voted against one of President Bush's qualified judicial nominees (despite support from the two Democratic Senators in the nominee's home state, one of whom is the former attorney general of that state). We further noted that we expected the Chronicle to crow about her vote the next day:
The good news is, the Senators from Holmes's home state — Democrats Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor (that state's former attorney general) — supported Holmes, along with some other Dem crossovers, and he was confirmed today 51-46. Without Senator Hutchison's vote. That will probably gain her praise from the Chronicle editorial board tomorrow.
The editors must have been busy on Wednesday. And on Thursday. Because they only got around to praising Senator Hutchison today, as Owen noted earlier. That's the Chronicle editorial page — where the editors comment on news that hasn't been new for days. Along those same lines, the Chronicle editors ran a column today by Paul Berman that contends liberals should support the liberation of Iraq. It originally appeared in the LA Times on Wednesday, again making us wonder why one shouldn't just read the LA Times, New York Times, and Washington Post and bypass the days-old borrowed columns and ideas that appear in the Chronicle altogether.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

July 09, 2004, 05:42 PM

MetroRail Improvement

By Terry Bohannon

Recently, as Owen pointed out, MetroRail has had its 49th accident, this time hitting a pedestrian. Even though we are reminded to “cross only at crosswalks,” often, some people find it more convenient not to, to Jaywalk. This is a serious problem. Similar to the problem our steam locomotives had when crossing the prairie land. At that time, foolish buffalo would often fail to cross at legal crossing points. Our engineers and scientists devised a solution to this problem in the 1870's. And because up to this posting, three pedestrians have been hit by MetroRail, I am confident that we can do the same for Houston's MetroRail today.
I surely hope that Metro will implement this preliminary design.
News Sources: Houston Chronicle, “Pedestrian hospitalized after being hit by MetroRail” http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/metropolitan/2669678 “METRORail Train Hits Pedestrian” http://www.click2houston.com/news/3508496/detail.html

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

July 09, 2004, 02:55 PM

Connelly Weenie

By Captain Chronicle

By the end of a long and exhausting week ensuring liberal media bias at the Chronicle, there is nothing “El Capitan” likes better than to reward himself with a tender Oriental full body massage to relieve stress and awaken my senses. Browsing this week’s Houston Press in search of such, I could not help but giggle upon realizing that award winning, hard-hitting, brash, freewheeling, no-holds-barred investigative journalist Richard Connelly has YET to acknowledge that his characterization of this website as a “KSEV message board” is not only inaccurate, but that he remains a shameful weenie of a media observer for refusing to mention the URL “chronciallybiased.com” in his column. Never forget my “Little MeMo”—Captain Chronicle is still your daddy.

Permalink | Captain Chronicle

July 09, 2004, 10:12 AM

Introducing Matt Forge

By The Staff

We'd like to take the opportunity to welcome Matt Forge aboard. Matt's going to be providing us with his unique... umm... what's the right phrase... insight on current affairs. If you've visited his Forged Report site, you'll know that he's a really funny guy. If you've read his comments to various posts here, you'll also know that he's a really thoughtful guy. So we're happy to have him here to lighten things up a little. We have a few more new bloggers we hope to be introducing to you over the next few days, mostly people who have been blogging about Houston/Texas/politics already, or who have frequently left thoughtful comments to posts. Some of you have expressed an interest in contributing here. The best way to do that is not to send a resume, but simply to comment or email thoughtfully and regularly. Sometimes we're slow, but we do take notice!

Permalink | Staff Notes

July 09, 2004, 09:55 AM

Kerry Adopts Edwards

By Matt Forge

Kerry Adopts Edwards
Kerry: “Teresa and I could not be more excited that John and Elizabeth Edwards will be our partners in our journey to make America stronger at home and respected in the world. I want you to know why I'm excited about running for president with John Edwards by my side.”(1) Also Kerry: “In the Senate four years – and that is the full extent of public life – no international experience, no military experience. When I came back from Vietnam in 1969 I don’t know if John Edwards was out of diapers then. Well, I’m sure he was out of diapers.”(2)

Permalink | Political Cartoons

July 09, 2004, 08:53 AM

Terror briefing or fundraiser? Let's party!

By Anne Linehan

Last night on Larry King Live, John Kerry made a startling comment. (Thanks to Matt Drudge for the heads up.) Larry King started off the show talking about Tom Ridge's warning yesterday that al-Qaeda is in the planning stages of a major US attack. King asked for Kerry's reaction:
KERRY: Well, I haven't been briefed yet, Larry. They have offered to brief me; I just haven't had time. But all Americans are united in our efforts to defeat terrorism. I believe that John Edwards and I can wage a far more effective war on terror than George Bush has. I think we can do a better job of making America safe. But in these days ahead, we all join together no matter what. KING: So, you don't question the timing of this? Some are. KERRY: It's not for me to do. I think that what's important is for the terrorists to understand that I and John Edwards will wage, using every tool available to us, the most effective war possible against terrorism. KING: When do you get... KERRY: And they — the American people are going to decide this race, not terrorists. And they need to know that. KING: When do you — when do you get your briefing? KERRY: We're arranging it. It's at the end of the week I'll get it. KING: Should be pretty soon. KERRY: I think it's tomorrow or the next day.
(Emphasis added) How can Kerry and Edwards “wage a far more effective war on terror than George Bush” if Kerry can't even find time for a briefing? Kerry did find time, though, to attend a NYC fundraiser last night.

Permalink | News and Views

July 09, 2004, 08:02 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

How do liberals really think and can a fish lure be double the trouble? Why should we be servants of the Lord and why does isolating porn make sense? For answers to these questions and much more read today's Features section.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

July 09, 2004, 08:00 AM

Chron praises Senator Hutchison... for being pro-abortion

By Owen Courrèges

As we've noted in the past, the Houston Chronicle is decidedly pro-abortion. The newspaper itself gives thousands of dollars to Planned Parenthood every year, which recognized the Chronicle editorial board for its “strong and consistent opinions supporting family planning and reproductive rights.” So you'll excuse me if I play the cynic for a moment, and say that the Chronicle just might have a vested interest in obfuscating when it comes to the abortion issue. You'll also excuse me if I see that plainly in their latest staff editorial praising Senator Hutchison for opposing the nomination of J. Leon Holmes to the U.S. District Court of Eastern Arkansas:
Although her vote was not decisive, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, displayed proper independence and due diligence in voting against the confirmation of J. Leon Holmes to a U.S. district court judgeship in Arkansas. The U.S. Senate, voting 51-46, confirmed Holmes on Tuesday. The narrow approval was made easier by the ill-advised decision of Arkansas' two Democratic senators to side with their local guy, no matter how egregious his record over more than two decades on women's rights.
Now what did the Chronicle forget to mention? Oh yes — SENATOR KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON IS PRO-CHOICE, AND HOLMES IS PRO-LIFE. Lifting Hutchison up as a hero for voting against a fervently pro-life judge, then, doesn't strike one as being particularly honest. It is, shall we say, a creative little omission. For some reason, however, the Chronicle manages to get through the entire piece without even so much as mentioning the issue of abortion, even though it was clearly the elephant in the room. I suppose they simply don't want to mention the issue too directly, considering that the Chronicle itself subsidizes abortion. It's not the kind of thing a major newspaper — or anyone else — would want to draw attention to. Yet in the end, all it demonstrates is that the Chronicle is not only biased, but that it lacks the courage of its convictions. Pathetic!

Permalink | Chron Bias

July 09, 2004, 07:37 AM

Kerry's X-rated party

By Anne Linehan

In Thursday's Chronicle, an AP story is headlined “Bush takes swipe at Edwards' ability, level of experience.” The article describes the now-famous answer to a reporter's question about how Vice President Cheney stacks up against the “sexy” John Edwards. President Bush said, “Dick Cheney can be president.” The rest of the article goes on to talk about how the Republican Party is attacking Edwards. Compare that to today's Chronicle story, from Newsday, on the glitzy Democrat fundraiser in NYC last night. The headline in the paper is “Kerry and Edwards mingle with the stars.” The online article is headlined, “Kerry's team hosts Manhattan mixer.” If you read this article, you will have no idea of what actually went on at that fundraiser. But, Deborah Orin of the NY Post has all the details. And it's not pretty:
Whoopi Goldberg delivered an X-rated rant full of sexual innuendoes against President Bush last night at a Radio City gala that raised $7.5 million for the newly minted Democratic ticket of John Kerry and John Edwards. Waving a bottle of wine, she fired off a stream of vulgar sexual wordplays on Bush's name in a riff about female genitalia, and boasted that she'd refused to let Team Kerry clear her material.
And did the family values-oriented team of Kerry and Edwards denounce Goldberg's performance?
Kerry could be seen laughing uproariously during part of Goldberg's tirade - and neither he nor Edwards voiced a single objection to its tone when they spoke to the crowd. They hailed the fund-raiser as a great event. Edwards said it was “a great honor” to be there and insisted, “This campaign will be a celebration of real American values.”
No apologies have been offered yet.

Permalink | Media Watch

July 09, 2004, 07:30 AM

Responsibility: Where do we draw the line?

By Mona Lugay

Yesterday afternoon former Enron CEO Ken Lay was indicted on 11 counts. During his television interview, where he refuted the charges against him, he made a statement that made me take pause. It was somewhat puzzling and yet his words and mannerisms seemed to possess a tone of innocence. Mr. Lay said that he took full responsibility for the downfall of Enron, but that he did not know the evil that was taking place. In turn he plead not guilty. While it is the CEO's responsibility to oversee the company, is it right to hold a CEO liable for the actions of every person who works under him? Where should the line be drawn?

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

July 09, 2004, 06:00 AM

Metrorail critically injures pedestrian

By Owen Courrèges

This is terrible news:
A man is in critical condition after he was hit by a METRO light rail train late Thursday afternoon. It happened downtown on Main and Walker during the evening rush hour. When investigators arrived, they found a man partially under the train.
Let us all hope and pray that he pulls through.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

July 08, 2004, 07:09 PM

The Chronicle editorial board is shameless

By Kevin Whited

Earlier, my fellow founding editor rightly criticized the Chronicle editorial board for its tortured effort to tie recent problems with various municipal pension funds to term limits in Houston. At the risk of piling on, I want to second everything he said, but go just a bit further. Recall that this particular Chronicle editorial started as a commentary on problems with the municipal pension plans. It is worth pointing out that those problems largely came about during the administration of one Lee Brown, whom the Chronicle endorsed over and over and over (and whose problems they glossed over throughout his time in office). It is worth pointing out that some councilmembers warned of potential problems with the pension plan revamps as they were taking place, but the Chronicle didn't seem very interested. It is also worth pointing out that Martha Wong offered criticism of Houston's pension plan revamps during the last legislative session, but the Chronicle didn't seem very interested. It is further worth pointing out that Governor Perry, whom the Chronicle regularly demonizes, reluctantly allowed the legislation in question to go into effect despite reservations about which he was quite vocal. To quote our Governor:
I am allowing House Bill No. 752, which deals with retirement benefits for Houston police officers, and Senate Bill No. 1696, which allows large cities in Texas to issue pension obligation bonds, to become law without my signature. There are a number of reasons for my decision. First, House Bill No. 752, which codifies existing retirement benefits for Houston police officers, leaves me with serious concerns about the long-term solvency of this pension fund. Analysis by the State Pension Review Board indicates that the benefits codified by this bill would nearly triple the city of Houston contribution rate from 12.4 percent to 35.4 percent of payroll. Furthermore, the bill would increase the unfunded actuarial liability of the pension fund by 1,000 percent. The only positive aspect of House Bill No. 752 is that it changes the statutory amortization period of the fund, giving the city 10 additional years to fund pension liabilities. If not for this provision, I would have vetoed this bill because it is the product of a fiscally irresponsible contract that the city of Houston never should have executed. Second, Senate Bill No. 1696 allows cities with populations of more than 100,000 to issue pension obligation bonds to pay for unfunded liabilities in municipal retirement funds. As long as they are used correctly, these bonds are a proven tool for addressing short-term funding concerns. I am concerned, however, that some cities may not use this tool properly or effectively. Next session, I believe the Texas legislature should get out of the business of approving local retirement benefits for cities and municipalities. It is time that local officials take responsibility for their own programs and make fiscally responsible decisions. IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have signed my name officially and caused the Seal of the State to be affixed hereto at Austin, this 20th day of June, 2003.
Despite claims by Mayor White's administration that the pension fund problem caught everyone by surprise, quite a few people knew about it quite some time before Mayor White is letting on, and our Governor's warning turns out to have been extremely prescient. The Chronicle didn't seem to think there was much of a problem, of course, because they could never bring themselves to praise a governor whom they so obviously despise. There were many failures along the way as the City of Houston managed to accumulate large unfunded liabilities in several of its associated pension funds, but term limits contributed not at all! Indeed, the biggest failure seems to have come from Houston's Leading Information Source. The public counts on newspapers — especially the only newspaper in a large city — to act as public watchdog. The Chronicle failed as the public's watchdog over various Houston pensions, and Lee Brown — whom the Chronicle no doubt would have endorsed again, except for those pesky term limits they want repealed — failed the taxpayers of this city. We'll all be paying for those failures for years.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

July 08, 2004, 06:15 PM

What liberal media?

By Kevin Whited

The Chronicle made OpinionJournal's “Best of the Web” today, although “worst” of the web might be more accurate:
What Liberal Media? “An editorial in Wednesday's Chronicle carelessly referred to Sen. John Kerry in one reference as 'President Kerry.' The Chronicle regrets the error.”--correction, Houston Chronicle, July 7
The good folks at the Wall Street Journal were poking fun at the Chronicle for a correction it ran today. Your friends here at Chronically Biased pointed out the error yesterday, and linked to the cached Google news version after the Chronicle changed it online. We're reminded, though — we never saw a correction for this item. Come on Jeff Cohen! Just because your errors don't appear in the Wall Street Journal doesn't mean they aren't worthy of correction!

Permalink | Chron Bias

July 08, 2004, 04:00 PM

A Small Step for the Democrats

By Rob Booth

Senator Kerry's announcement that he had picked Senator John Edwards as his running mate has caused a good deal of discussion in the talking head circles. Much of the discussion has centered on Senator Edwards' ability to attract votes in the South. Dan discussed this topic on KSEV yesterday, but I have a slightly different take on the subject. The first thing we need to understand is that there is something about those of us who listen to talk radio and read political web sites. We're weird. If you ever go to a training seminar at the Leadership Institute, they will tell you that on the first day. Reading this article makes you different from the vast majority of the American public. Most people don't listen to the radio news, they don't read the political articles in the paper in depth, they don't decide their votes on a philosophical examination of the political positions taken by a candidate. Before examining any political issue in depth we need to start on the assumption that our perspective is very different. An extremely small number of voters will be influenced in any way by the selection of Senator Edwards. Charlie Cook, a political writer, is of the opinion that a presidential race is primarily a referendum on the President and can be predicted by looking at polling data on right-track, wrong-track feelings about the state of the country and the President's approval rating. The number of people who will be swayed in their vote for President because of the Vice-President can be counted in each state in the hundreds, maybe thousands. Given the closeness of the last election, any movement in vote totals is important for predicting the election's outcome. Since one of the reasons that Senator Edwards was presumably picked was to sway votes in the South, it would be instructive to look at the vote totals for the 2000 elections and see if there are any Southern states that could be moved from the Republican column in 2000 to the Democratic column in 2004. According to the 2004 Almanac of American Politics, here are the 2000 results in the Southern states.
StateBush %Gore %
Texas5938
Arkansas5146
Louisiana5345
Kentucky5741
Tennessee5147
Mississippi5841
Alabama5642
West Virginia5246
Virginia5244
North Carolina5643
South Carolina5741
Georgia5543
Note that Florida is not on the list. For political-handicapping purposes, I don't consider Florida a Southern state. It's a special case for the next election anyway. As you can see, most of the states on the list are not going to be competitive in any event. These states will vote for the Republican candidate for President regardless of the name on the ballot. Taking the states where President Bush won in 2000 with 55% or more of the vote, we can eliminate the following states as being in question:The only state on that list that should see a considerable change towards the Democrats would be North Carolina, Senator Edwards' home state. Given that the state went 56% for President Bush in 2000, it's pretty difficult to imagine a scenario where Senator Edwards can help. The only wild card is how well will Senate candidate Erskine Bowles (D) do. In the states where President Bush polled less than 55% of the vote in 2000, it's pretty unlikely that the Democrats can gain enough votes to turn the tide. Arkansas: The low percentage for President Bush must be heartening for the Democrats, but historical trends are going the other way. President Clinton won in Arkansas in 1992 and 1996 by large margins, but Vice-President Gore lost the state. A Massachusetts Democratic Senator is very unlikely to get a victory by having a running mate from North Carolina. The only troublesome issue for Bush/Cheney is that Senator Lincoln (D) is running for re-election this time and has proven to be a strong candidate. Louisiana: President Bush's percentage may have been low in 2000, but he still had an 8-point lead over Vice-President Gore. This is another state that switched from voting for Clinton/Gore in 1996 to Bush/Cheney in 2000. The only real chance that Kerry/Edwards have is to convince a massive number of black voters to turn out and vote Democratic.

Tennessee: The only reason that Gore/Lieberman were even close in Tennessee was that it is the home state of Vice-President Gore. This should be a state that Bush/Cheney carry again in 2004 without much difficulty. West Virginia and Virginia: West Virginia and Virginia will be states that are second-tier battle-ground states. They were going to be competitive anyway to a certain degree, but there's no reason to think that they are going to be more competitive because of Senator Edwards. A caller into Dan's show yesterday compared the Senator Edwards selection to the selection of then-Senator Quayle in 1988. I think they're similar cases as well, but more in the sense that they were selections by committee. Senator Edwards meets all the criteria for being picked as a running mate: young-looking, charismatic, and he provides geographic balance to the ticket. Unfortunately for Kerry/Edwards, as Mark Twain said, a camel was a horse designed by committee. It's one small step for the Democrats in November, but it's not a giant leap for their chances.

Permalink | News and Views

July 08, 2004, 12:38 PM

The Presidential Election is About More Than Just Us 

By Dan Patrick

This is a copy of some notes from Rev. James Lair-Senior Pastor-Church of the Living Christ-Ojai, CA. that was forwarded to me by a friend. I recently attended the National Pastors Convention in San Diego with several thousand pastors from many different denominations. During one of the general sessions, the Master of Ceremonies introduced a pastor from Uzbekistan. He had traveled the farthest to attend the convention. I don't remember his name, and even if I did, I know I couldn't pronounce it. However, I do know this: I will never forget this man. Right away, I liked him. He was humble, sincere, and gracious. He apologized for his broken English, though I thought he spoke very well. As the MC interviewed him, he began to share about his ministry in his country that borders Afghanistan. He talked about the church he pastors of a few hundred people. He also shared how it is illegal in his country to be a Christian. You see, his church is an “underground” church. Amazingly, his city also has three? Underground? Christian schools. He talked about how the Christians have been arrested and even killed in his country. Then, as the interview was about to end, he began to speak very urgently and passionately. He said something to this effect: “I would like all of you to know that my church and the Christians in my country are praying that President Bush will be reelected.” I was stunned. I knew that this gathering had to include many pastors from all over the political spectrum and I was certain this would not go over well. Immediately, there were murmurings and rumblings throughout the audience and the MC seemed a little uncertain about what to do next. However, this pastor would not be denied. Grasping the microphone firmly in his hand, he continued, “The officials in my country are afraid of President Bush, so they don't persecute Christians as much. Under Clinton it was very bad for us. Many of us were arrested, put in jail, and some were killed. With Clinton, it was very bad. But under President Bush, it has been so much better, so we are praying for him.” The murmuring ended. It was suddenly very quiet. The MC paused. Then he just asked us to stand and pray for this man and we did so with great passion. Choking back tears, I was immediately struck with this realization in my heart: this coming election was not just about me or my church or my country. This coming election would affect the entire world. And while there are many Christians and churches in this country that may not support our current President, there is a group of Christians halfway around the world who are desperately praying for his reelection. All of the sudden, the election became something very different for me. It is not just about the economy, gay marriage, or weapons of mass destruction. It's about the persecuted church around the world. As believers, what issues should be more important to us? This transcends politics. This is about the Kingdom of God! For which Christ suffered and died, and for those believers in other countries who are suffering and dying as well. I was also convicted in my heart about praying for our President. And I wonder, which church is praying more fervently for him: the persecuted church in Uzbekistan or the prosperous church in America? It makes you think. As the Apostle Paul said in Hebrews 13:3, “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” Remember, this election is not just about us. It's about them. James Lair can be reached at [email protected]

Permalink | Miscellaneous

July 08, 2004, 10:56 AM

What's coming for Ken Lay?

By Owen Courrèges

Permalink | Political Cartoons

July 08, 2004, 10:20 AM

Chron condemns term limits; state government

By Owen Courrèges

No staff editorial in the Houston Chronicle would ever be complete without a ham-fisted reference to term limits and that pesky Republican-dominated government in Austin. Apparently, the recent pension crisis is all part of a rich tapestry that just happens to involve two of the Chron's favorite pet issues:
From the police pension debacle, which extends to other city pension funds, Houstonians can draw two lessons: · Term limits are a curse. One mayor's administration can make imprudent policy with impunity. The roost-bound chickens' homecoming will occur during another mayor's tenure. As per usual, the taxpayers will pay a heavy cost for this “get it while you can” mentality. · Too much of Houston's business is controlled in Austin. Legislators from other parts of the state are too amenable to the lobby's desires, and many are actively hostile to Houstonians' interests.
First of all, if we didn't have term limits, then it could be argued that any corruption or complacency on the part of government was due to a lack of effective term limits. “We are cursed with entrenched, corrupt public officials,” I could whine. “If only we had term limits!” Of course, every policy has many disparate influences, and it might just be that term limits weren't the biggest catalyst for the recent pension problems. Heck, it might just be that the Houston Chronicle doesn't like term limits, and wants to blame them for everything. And no demonization can truly be whole without a no-so-thinly veiled reference to the GOP-dominated state legislature, which is, of course, painted as utterly malicious (our own city officials, it seems, all wear white hats). Can we please see a different formula, here? This one's getting a bit stale. Sheesh!

Permalink | Chron Bias

July 08, 2004, 08:53 AM

Those 16 Words

By Anne Linehan

A British investigation into the intelligence used as a basis for the Iraq war has determined that Iraq did try to get uranium from Niger, according to the Financial Times of London. President Bush used the claim in his 2003 State of the Union speech:
“The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”
The claim became a source of controversy when diplomat Joe Wilson, sent by the Bush administration to Niger to investigate it, said there was no basis for the uranium claim. The Bush administration, under intense pressure, backed off from the assertion, but the British government had always insisted the intelligence behind it was solid.

Permalink | News and Views

July 08, 2004, 08:01 AM

Are We at War With Moore???

By Mona Lugay

Is Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 good for America??? This question is answered in the most recent edition of Time Magazine. His movie has spawned so much controversy that Chronically Biased has been flooded with articles critiquing Moore's so called “documentary.” To continue reading our most recent articles go to our Features section.

Permalink | News and Views

July 08, 2004, 08:01 AM

Super Dog??

By Mona Lugay

This is our most recent entry in our Coolest Dog Contest. Have you submitted a picture of your coolest dog to our contest yet??
Look, it's a bird, no it's a plane, no . . . it's Denver the Super “Cool” Dog!!!

Permalink | Humor

July 08, 2004, 06:41 AM

Media 4 Kerry

By Anne Linehan

Following up on Owen's post yesterday about the love Cragg Hines is feeling for John Edwards, now that he is the VP nominee, here's an AP story that is about as hard-hitting as we've seen:
As the two strolled across the lawn for the first time as running mates, the one-time rivals grinned, laughed and patted backs, each man holding his wife's hand. Seven of the eight children between the two families followed close behind, holding hands and beaming.
Okay, not really. This story, apparently, is meant to introduce us to the real John Kerry and John Edwards. The reporter is working overtime to paint these two as happy, optimistic and tremendously likeable. Just wonderful family guys. The article is so cloying, it's hard to believe this is being passed off as news. Surely there are gushy Bush/Cheney articles already in the works.

Permalink | Media Watch

July 07, 2004, 10:29 PM

Openish Thread

By Rob Booth

If you could ask a candidate for US Congress one question, what would that be?

Permalink | News and Views

July 07, 2004, 07:51 PM

Let America be like the USSR

By Anne Linehan

John Kerry's campaign slogan is “Let America be America Again.” Courtesy of blogger Andrew Sullivan we learn that this rallying cry is not as warm and fuzzy as it seems. It is actually the title of a Langston Hughes poem and Hughes was a well-known communist sympathizer. The better America that Hughes was hoping for was a Marxist/Leninist/Stalinist-type of America. Apparently the Kerry campaign knows the meaning behind this poem and, in fact, Kerry is writing a preface for a soon-to-be-published collection of Hughes poems. Can you imagine what the mainstream media would do to President Bush if anything remotely similar came out of his campaign?

Permalink | News and Views

July 07, 2004, 06:24 PM

Reports: Ken Lay Indicted

By Kevin Whited

The Houston Business Journal is reporting the same news as other local media outlets:
A grand jury has indicted former Enron Corp. Chairman Ken Lay in connection with the company's downfall, sources told media outlets including AP, Reuters, CBS Marketwatch and CNN on Wednesday. Most major media outlets were reporting Wednesday that the indictment remains under seal and is expected to be announced on Thursday. Federal authorities had expected a federal grand jury to return an indictment this week against Lay for his role in the collapse of Enron. It is unclear what charges were filed against him. Lay recently had been asking for a meeting with prosecutors as rumors about an indictment swirled.
The Houston Business Journal received praise (at least in some quarters) for its outstanding coverage of the Enron scandal as it came to pass. The Houston Chronicle, on the other hand, was panned by national media critics for entirely missing the story, and by some of us local bloggers for remaining apologists for Enron and its (alleged) criminals) to the bitter end. We'll be observing the Chronicle's treatment of this latest with some curiosity.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

July 07, 2004, 02:43 PM

Edwards brings balance to Democratic ticket

By Owen Courrèges

Permalink | Political Cartoons

July 07, 2004, 01:20 PM

Freudian slip

By The Houstonian

The Chronicle has since corrected the problem in this story, but a google news search currently confirms an alert from a reader earlier:
John Edwards a good and expedient choice Houston Chronicle, TX - 12 hours ago ... President Kerry overlooked Edwards' slim political experience because the son of a mill worker is an effective campaigner who excites the party faithful and ...
We know that's your preference guys, but maybe you should at least wait until the election.

Permalink | Political Cartoons

July 07, 2004, 10:03 AM

Texas economy turning a corner

By Owen Courrèges

Writing for the Houston Business Journal, Mr. Ray Perryman of the Perryman Group predicts nothing but sunshine for the Texas economy from here on out:
The recent, prolonged sluggishness of the worldwide economy greatly reduced demand for many Texas goods and services, and the various terrorist-related activities and other concerns significantly weakened the state economy. Various industries, particularly those involving transportation, tourism, and manufacturing saw significant drops. However, more recently, the state economy has taken a definite turn for the better. During the next few years, the Texas economy is projected to experience moderate expansion, with the momentum for considerable improvement increasing. These advancements should enable the economy of the Lone Star State to outpace the growth percentage of the U.S. economy over the long term (2003-2030).
Good news indeed.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

July 07, 2004, 08:02 AM

News that's not in the Chronicle...

By Anne Linehan

...so it's not that important. The US removed 1.77 metric tons of radiological and nuclear materials from Iraq that could, potentially, have been “used in a radiological dispersal device or diverted to support a nuclear weapons program.”
Twenty experts from DOE's national laboratory complex packaged 1.77 metric tons of low-enriched uranium and roughly 1000 highly radioactive sources from the former Iraq nuclear research facility. The DOD airlifted the material to the United States on June 23 and provided security, coordination, planning, ground transportation, and funding for the mission.
Uh, doesn't this sound kind of important? ---------- Two self-described Iranian intelligence officers were apprehended in Baghdad on Monday, carrying explosives. It is thought they were planning some kind of vehicle bombing, according to the article. Iraq has been plagued with car and truck bombings leading up to the handover of power last month. ---------- The economy is doing good! Some might even say really good. Here's a story from the famously pro-Bush Associated Press on what many economists think will be the best economic growth in almost twenty years.
“We are moving into a sweet spot for the economy with interest rates not too high, jobs coming back and business investment providing strength,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Bank One in Chicago, who is predicting GDP growth of 4.8 percent this year.

Permalink | Media Watch

July 07, 2004, 08:00 AM

Cragg Hines wants to marry John Edwards

By Owen Courrèges

Well, not really... Still, that's the impression you get from Hines's latest column, which reads like a love-fest for the Kerry/Edwards presidential ticket:
A Democratic ticket of John Kerry and John Edwards has been obvious, compelling and desirable since the night of the Iowa caucuses more than six months ago. Given the available (as opposed to the possibly dreamed-of or wished-for) running mates, Kerry has selected the strongest vice presidential candidate. [...] What the Republicans ignore, as is their fraught privilege, is Edwards' appealing life story, as the son of absolutely zero privilege who has succeeded in life. No silver spoons there. As Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., said in applauding Kerry's selection of Edwards: “His story is the American story.” For better or worse, it's actually more the American dream than the average American story.
Geez! Could Hines be laying it on any thicker? He paints John Edwards as if he were the living personification of perseverance. It's so effusive that his entire piece reads like a campaign press release laced with a bit of sarcasm and vitriol. Kerry is praised for choosing Edwards, and Edwards is praised for being an all-American hero. The truth is, however, that Edwards was chosen to moderate the ticket, both geographically and politically. It was never a matter of chosing a saint (which Edwards is not, Hines's delusions notwithstanding); it was a mere political calculation. Hines certainly knows this, but being the pompous jerk that he is, he willingly shovels Democratic propoganda like so much manure. Sadly, that doesn't make him unique at the Chronicle.

Permalink | Noxious Chron Columnists

July 07, 2004, 06:11 AM

Lies are ok - this time

By Anne Linehan

Paul Krugman, arguably one of the most anti-Bush columnists in America, has a column about Fahrenheit 9/11 in Sunday's Chronicle. In what is now a fine tradition, this column first ran in the NY Times last Friday. The gist of the column is that even though the movie is “tendentious” and “flawed” (you know, it's biased and full of lies), it's still a good movie “because it tells essential truths.” Let's try to grasp that thought process. It isn't hard to find reviews that are critical of Moore's movie. And quite a few have come from the Left. Here's one and here's another. Probably one of the most devastating reviews of F9/11 was written by Slate's Christopher Hitchens. Now, Dave Kopel of the Independence Institute and National Review Online has put together a list of the half-truths, ommissions and lies, complete with back-up. And finally, here's a blogger who does not think it is a good idea for Democrats to embrace and promote Michael Moore's truth-challenged movie when they are so fond of saying that President Bush has lied.

Permalink | Media Watch

July 07, 2004, 12:48 AM

Edwards may not be qualified, but he is charming

By Dan Patrick

And the answer is, John Edwards. The question everyone is asking is, will Edwards help Kerry defeat Bush in November. My answer is no. Edwards does have charm. Bill Clinton proved that many Americans are suckers for charm. However, Clinton was at the top of the ticket and Edwards is number 2 on his ticket. His number one guy, Kerry, has about as much charm as funeral director. Edwards will not help Kerry win any southern state including his own. Today’s Democratic party does not represent the conservative views of the vast majority of the south. Edwards is not even popular in his home state of North Carolina. He may have well have been a one term Senator. So, if Edwards can’t bring any southern states into the Kerry camp, what is the reason he was picked to be on the ticket with Kerry? We go back to that word, charm and the fact that he was Kerry’s only real choice. The Kerry ticket needed some good old “p-zazz.” Gephardt and Lieberman were more qualified but even duller than Kerry; if that is possible. Hillary decided to pass, as did McCain and Bill Richardson pulled his name out of the running last week. So, Edwards, who Kerry once called too ambitious and too inexperienced to be President, was his only real choice. It is interesting to note that the party that supposedly represents minorities and women, never even remotely considered either a woman or minority. Instead, the Democratic Party chose to have two very wealthy white guys, who have nothing in common with the majority of Democrat voters, or America, to be their standard bearers. As I told a caller on my show yesterday, there is nothing wrong with being rich. Most of us want to be rich. However, when money is at the core of everything you do, then that is a concern. As the Bible says, money is not the root of all evil; it is the “pursuit of money,” that is evil. Neither Kerry or Edwards has done anything in their past to show that they really “care” about those who have less they have; which is 99.99% of Americans. Kerry married into his money. Edwards has represented those who needed help at times, but he took his 40% plus out of every settlement. Kerry has the most liberal voting record in the Senate, followed by Kennedy, Clinton and Edwards in that order. Edwards is serving in only his first term and has not passed any meaningful legislation. On major issues, Edwards agrees with Kerry on most issues. They support abortion. They both want to repeal the Bush tax cuts, raise the capital gains tax and the tax on dividends. A Kerry-Edwards win could kill the stock market and the economy. They both voted for the war and then against funding it. They would likely want to consult with countries like France before taking any major military action. In the end, Edwards will be the darling of the elite leftist media. His opposition will question his lack of experience or dwell on the fact that he is a trial lawyer. The truth is America should not have to vote for a ticket that does indeed have someone with such limited experience in a time of war. As Bill Clinton said this weekend, Kerry should select someone who can become President in the event Kerry has a heart attack, is shot or killed in a plane crash. That comment may sound crude, but it is true. Edwards is surely not qualified to step into the role of President if something should happen to Kerry. That is, unless, charm has now become the number 1 criteria to become President. Apparently, a lot of Democrats think charm is more important than almost any other criteria to be President.

Permalink | News and Views

July 06, 2004, 10:55 PM

Good News from Iraq

By Anne Linehan

Here's blogger Arthur Chrenkoff's fifth installment of Good News from Iraq. There are some terrific stories in here that have not been given much attention by our mainstream media friends. Here's an excerpt:
Ahead of next year's elections, local administration and democracy grow: “Sixteen provincial councils have been established, along with 78 district councils, 192 city or sub-district councils, and 392 neighborhood councils.” We should always remember the sacrifices that brave Iraqis made every day to build a better country: “ 'We still believe in democracy and freedom,' said Sheik Saud al-Shibley, a tribal leader and vice president of the national farmer's union, who has survived three assassination attempts. 'Everybody sees us and at anytime we can get hit ... (but) I don't care about these things, I carry on with life'.”
And another:
Meanwhile, Capt Peter O'Connor and other Florida servicemen deliver $900,000 worth of medical supplies to Iraqi hospitals. “They worked side-by-side with Iraqi physicians and nurses in hospitals that had long lacked modern supplies and equipment. 'They were so excited to be learning,' O'Connor said. 'They were starving for folks who were trained in current Western medicine'.”
And one more:
“More than 40 years ago, most high-ranking Iraqis were educated in Britain, but under Saddam that changed. There was no information for about 20 years on what was going on in colleges abroad. So the system is still largely based on Britain 40 years ago.” All that is now to change, as seven British colleges of further education play host to Ali and other Iraqi education professionals who are attempting to bring themselves up to date with the world's best practice in management, curriculum and teaching methods. Such consultations are already bringing results: Derby College is signing collaborative agreement with technology colleges in Kirkuk - staff exchanges will follow.

Permalink | News and Views

July 06, 2004, 08:51 PM

Senator Hutchison votes with Chronicle editorial board

By Kevin Whited

Over the weekend, the Houston Chronicle Editorial Board told our own Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison how to vote on a “controversial” (in their view) judicial nominee:
The vote on [J. Leon Holmes] is expected to be close, and Hutchison is among the handful of Republicans whose votes could be decisive. As a result, Hutchison is coming under pressure from anti-abortion activists, including the Republican National Coalition for Life. [snip] Zealots such as the RNCL cannot stand that Hutchison, who has a strongly conservative voting record across the board, will not cast every abortion-related vote as it dictates. As recently as the state Republican convention, Hutchison affirmed her view: “My position is that I think there can be an ability for a woman, until viability, to make a choice.” Along those lines, Hutchison should vote against at least Holmes and preferably against other judicial nominees who hold such extreme views.
Isn't it nice to be called an extremist and a zealot for believing that life begins at conception, and that this is more than a clump of cells that can be terminated at a mother's whim? The Chronicle editorial board surely hates the fact that Holmes, who is Catholic, is staunchly opposed to abortion, and has written candidly about the issues of gender and religion for religious publications. As Pia de Solenni pointed out earlier, liberals haven't found much in Holmes's legal background or temperament to question, so they've literally seized upon a few of those (out of context) remarks in order to smear Holmes (and defeat a conservative appointee):
The protests of Holmes's opponents suggest that no one can be pro-life and within the law. In reality, Roe v. Wade was one Supreme Court decision, just like Dred Scott and Buck v. Bell (allowing involuntary sterilization by the State), which were overturned by our judicial process. Holmes, like any citizen, has the right to disagree with a particular decision and wish it to be overturned. That in no way indicates that he considers himself outside of or above the law. In a April 2003 hearing, Senator Durbin referenced all three of these Supreme Court cases because Holmes had cited them as cases with which he disagreed. All three, in Holmes's opinion (which is shared by a large number of Americans) fail to “respect the worth and dignity of the human person.” Of course, he's not alone. But Senator Durbin dismisses these concerns and simply maintains that Roe must be upheld. But Holmes hasn't argued that the law be broken. His convictions indicate that the law should be changed, a completely different and acceptable scenario. During these 17 months since his nomination, Holmes's opponents have not been able to criticize even a single aspect of his legal career and abilities. This alone should be grounds for confirming his nomination. Were he to be a man of less integrity, like some of the senators who support abortion and profess deeply held religious beliefs which nonetheless contradict abortion, they would have no problem with him. As he stands now, he is a constant reminder to some Catholic senators of the responsibilities that accompany the religious beliefs with which they freely identify themselves.
Unfortunately, Senator Hutchison was apparently persuaded to jump to the tune of the Chronicle editorial board, voting against a notable conservative jurist whom President Bush appointed to an Arkansas federal court nearly two years ago. The good news is, the Senators from Holmes's home state — Democrats Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor (that state's former attorney general) — supported Holmes, along with some other Dem crossovers, and he was confirmed today 51-46. Without Senator Hutchison's vote. That will probably gain her praise from the Chronicle editorial board tomorrow.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

July 06, 2004, 08:41 PM

Made for TV mischief? Try made for Clay Robison mischief

By Kevin Whited

As we point out frequently, Chronicle Austin news bureau chief Clay Robison moonlights as hyperliberal partisan editorialist for the newspaper on weekends, casting real doubts on his ability to cover Austin news fairly (let alone beat the Quorum Report to major stories). This weekend, he was up to his usual tricks, trying to spin research by Democrats into impeaching Governor Perry (another story that the Quorum Report scooped Robison on, we would add) by obscuring the issue to the point that readers might think some Republicans actually support the impeachment effort (if not actual impeachment):
There isn't a ghost of a chance that the Republican-controlled House will impeach the governor. The impeachment talk seems designed, more than anything else, to continue focusing attention on a series of complaints against Perry for allegedly abusing his office. Interestingly enough, though, the three major controversies over which Democrats are eager to keep hammering Perry initially were raised against the governor by Republicans. One stems from the Texas Lottery Commission's hiring of a Las Vegas law firm to help draft legislation, proposed by Perry, to legalize video slot machines at racetracks as a source of new education funding.
No sensible Republican suggested that this was an impeachable offense. Social conservatives raised doubts about a proposed policy based on their principles. Robison is reaching here.
A Republican, state Sen. Jane Nelson of Lewisville, also raised the first public complaints about the Las Vegas law firm's role. Perry appoints the Lottery Commission, but the governor's office denies having anything to do with hiring the firm. Although the attorney general approved the hiring, questions still are being raised about the legality of paying the lawyers from lottery proceeds and whether the firm, which also represents casinos, had a conflict of interest.
Generally, when a liberal journalist uses the term “questions still are being raised” it means that liberals and journalists are raising those questions.
Another stir erupted with news that the governor had predicted, in a private meeting in Dallas a couple of months ago, that a lawsuit challenging the state's education funding law will fail because he knew where his appointees to the Texas Supreme Court stood on the issue. Perry denied having any improper discussions with high court justices, but Democratic critics say it was wrong for the governor to raise questions about the court's independence. The people attending the meeting were mainly Republicans, and one later told reporters about the governor's remarks because he also considered them out of line.
Robison neglects to mention that this “Republican” who reported these remarks also is a major stakeholder in this issue. Robison also neglects to mention that he was scooped again by the Quorum Report on this “story,” and that his own reporting presented unverifiable hearsay as fact just to make the Governor look bad (leading us again to question how he can play hyperpartisan liberal editorialist on weekends and claim to cover Austin news fairly and objectively during the week).
And, finally, Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, the governor's loudest Republican opponent, accused Perry of ordering a politically motivated audit of her office. The governor, to no one's surprise, also denied that allegation, but Democrats intend to keep it alive.
Strayhorn has sounded more like a Democrat than a Republican for quite a while now, which is, of course, one reason so many liberals (like Robison) have suddenly decided she's their favorite Republican in Texas to quote of late. It's not much different than conservative fawning of Democrat Senator Zell Miller, really. Except Senator Miller could easily win an election today in Georgia, and Strayhorn can no longer win a Republican primary in this state against a credible, conservative opponent because of her recent antics. Interestingly, none of the journalists who so enjoy getting her choice quotes blasting the Governor have taken Sherry Sylvester's advice, and actually investigated her ability to wage a serious campaign in 2006. The results of that investigation would, of course, indicate her political vulnerabilities, and she would become the non-story she deserves to become.
Strayhorn and U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison — both of whom are believed to be weighing a challenge to Perry in the 2006 Republican primary — will distance themselves, of course, from any impeachment talk but will find it amusing, nevertheless.
Judging from the portion that I've bolded, Mr. Robison has apparently taken up mindreading! How else would he know? Any Republican who finds talk of contrived impreachment proceedings against Governor Perry from extremist liberal Democrats to be amusing is not a Republican worthy of the votes of Texans, that much is for sure. Strayhorn hasn't behaved like a Republican for a while, and seems to have personal issues with the Governor, so Robison may be right in reading her mind (which just goes to show why she can't and won't win a Republican primary against a serious conservative candidate in her next race, and why she would be wise not to run against Governor Perry). If Hutchison finds it amusing simply because she's reportedly thinking about running for Governor, then Texans will have to consider whether that's the sort of Republican they want representing them. Still, one has trouble agreeing with Robison's mindreading in this case, because Hutchison has been a reliable Republican for many years now.
An impeachment effort would be doomed from the start. But that wouldn't stop Democratic lawmakers with time on their hands and mischief on their minds from introducing an impeachment proclamation and discussing their grievances against the governor before TV cameras eager to record controversy.
TV cameras?! Why bother with 30 second soundbites, when they can just call up the hyperliberal Austin news bureau chief at the state's largest newspaper, kwnoing he will reliably slant his news (or sometimes the Quorum Report's news) in their favor and then follow up with even more partisan editorials on the weekends?

Permalink | Noxious Chron Columnists

July 06, 2004, 10:00 AM

AP Bias: Same-sex marriage “didn't matter” to Continental Airlines

By Owen Courrèges

A recent AP story discusses the denial of benefits to the same-sex partner of a retiree at Houston-based Continental Airlines. That's perfectly newsworthy, I suppose, but the article seems to have its own particular slant on the issue:
A retired Continental Airlines flight attendant is challenging the airline's refusal to allow his same-sex partner to use his spousal travel passes. David Lee married David Vaillancourt on April 1 in Canada, which began recognizing gay nuptials in 2003. That didn't matter to the Houston-based airline when Lee asked that Vaillancourt be allowed to use his spousal travel passes he received after taking early retirement in 1989. “I am sorry to have to decline your request,” wrote John Mitchell, a human resources official at Continental. “The provisions of the Early Out that you signed specifically do not include same-sex travel companions.”
It “didn't matter?” Give me a break. Obviously, this article is phrased in such a way as to deliver maximum sympathy to Lee and Vaillancourt, while making Continental seem callous and unthinking. The truth is that Lee signed a contract for early retirement that didn't include same-sex benefits, and now he wants them anyway. Regardless of whether or not Continental considers gay marriage to be worthwhile, they're not a charity. They don't have to give away benefits that they aren't contractually obligated to deliver. Suffice to say, AP was trying to make a point concerning the issue of gay marriage by reporting this. And that's opinion — not news.

Permalink | Media Watch

July 06, 2004, 07:16 AM

Turf War!

By Anne Linehan

Frankly, those presidential nominating conventions can be a real snooze-fest. However, this development, courtesy of the Washington Post, could spice things up. The DNC and the RNC are allowing bloggers to obtain press credentials to cover the events. The reporter, apparently, isn't very impressed with the idea.
But neither party has ever allowed bloggers to cover one of its presidential conventions firsthand — and the decision seems to promise a clash of two very different cultures. The conventions have become carefully staged productions intended, primarily, to reintroduce the parties' nominees to the general public. Independent blogs — especially those focusing on politics — are far more freewheeling, their authors mixing fact with opinion and under no obligation to be either fair or accurate.
(emphasis added) Yeah, because as we all know the mainstream media never mixes fact with opinion and is always fair and accurate. You know how Fox News Channel forced CNN and MSNBC to move to a more dynamic format? Maybe the bloggers can force newspaper, magazine, and TV news to be less pompous and self-important. Maybe the media will be forced to acknowledge the bias and opinion it forces on us everyday. Probably not. We shouldn't hold our breath.

Permalink | Media Watch

July 06, 2004, 07:00 AM

“Why yes, I want an ex-con working around my children...”

By Owen Courrèges

The title of this posting expresses the gist of my reservations against James Howard Gibbons's latest Sounding Board column. In that column, Gibbons lashes out against a new state law that makes if more difficult for home repair companies to hire ex-cons:
Warring against the progress made in gainfully employing ex-cons, a new, well-intentioned state law makes it financially impossible for companies to employ former criminals in the home repair trades. The law extends reduced liability to service companies that run criminal background checks on employees who work in other people's residences. Some people who long ago served their debt to society now find themselves out of a job. By denying jobs to those with a criminal record, society invites more crime.
We aren't speaking of all professions with the law in question; we're only speaking of those that would involve ex-cons in our homes. As Gibbons himself admits, there is a very high recidivism rate among parolees. Home repair companies that hire ex-cons, then, know full well that they're putting families at risk. It would be nice if being a former criminal didn't make it more difficult to get a job, but let's face facts — the punishment doesn't end when you get out of prison. Ex-cons have to prove themselves, and they don't deserve the benefit of the doubt. Ultimately, Texans shouldn't have to sacrifice their own security just to get a squeaky door fixed just to deliver more jobs to ex-cons. The problem is that Gibbons chose to merely look at this issue from one side. The idea that Texans might not want to have criminals working around their children doesn't seem to carry much weight with him.

Permalink | Chron Bias

July 06, 2004, 05:00 AM

40% of Canadian teens consider US “evil”

By Owen Courrèges

It appears that the youth in our neighbor to the north have some low opinions of America:
Can West News Services, owners of several Canadian newspapers including the National Post as well as the Global Television Network commissioned a series of polls to determine how young people feel about the issues that were facing the country’s voters. Dubbed “Youth Vote 2004”, the polls, sponsored by the Dominion Institute and Navigator Ltd. were taken with a view to getting more young people involved in the political process. In one telephone poll of teens between the ages of 14 and 18, over 40 percent of the respondents described the United States as being “evil”. That number rose to 64 percent for French Canadian youth.
I'm sure that most Canadians are nice enough sorts, but shouldn't they be raising their kids better than to believe this kind of anti-American nonsense?

Permalink | News and Views

July 05, 2004, 02:49 PM

Numbers Fudging

By Anne Linehan

According to this article, publishers of newspapers and magazines facing probes about readership numbers are increasingly blaming circulation managers and allowing them to take the fall.
Just as pressure to deliver good numbers from CEOs led lower-level officials to commit accounting shenanigans in recent years, demands for increased circulation may have had a similar impact in the publishing industry. In some cases a climate of fear may have been created, with managers anxious about delivering bad news that would put their jobs at risk. In others, senior executives may have been prepared to turn a blind eye to questionable figures as long as the advertisers accepted them. “The pressure is from the top,” said Dan Capell, editor of Capell's Circulation Report. “The circulation manager is merely executing the plans made by the publisher or someone higher.”
Circulation numbers, of course, determine advertising revenues. And that's where the money is for these companies. Chronically Biased.com would be interested to know if any Houston Chronicle advertisers are asking for a circulation audit.

Permalink | Media Watch

July 05, 2004, 02:20 PM

Naomi Judd - Not a Dixie Chick

By Rob Booth

ABC13 Eyewitness News: Record crowd celebrates Fourth of July at Eleanor Tinsley Park
Naomi and Wynonna Judd reunited on stage as The Judds for a rare performance at the festival. They sang some of their old favorites from years past and threw in a few new ones. The two poked fun at each other while giving what many described as a memorable show.
I caught this show last night. One of the things not mentioned in any coverage I've seen is that Naomi Judd also took a jab at the ACLU over this being “one nation under God.” She then went on to pay a very nice tribute to US service members. I think these types of events should be stripped of politics as much as possible but it was still funny to see the antithesis of the Dixie Chicks.

Permalink | News and Views

July 05, 2004, 12:45 PM

The Fourth in Iraq

By Anne Linehan

Here is a story about how our troops in Iraq celebrated Independence Day.
But in Saddam Hussein's former stronghold of Tikrit, soldiers watched fireworks light the night sky as they held a joint celebration with Iraqi National Guard soldiers on a bank overlooking the Tigris. Thousands of troops celebrated at one of Saddam's old palaces with a buffet featuring hamburgers and hot dogs and traditional Iraqi dishes.
Be sure to click on the pictures.

Permalink | News and Views

July 05, 2004, 11:15 AM

A US Marine's Funeral

By Anne Linehan

It's not a Chronicle writer; it's an AP writer. But the Chronicle was only too happy to use the story anyway.
Even many of those who marched in Lopez's honor were not shy about voicing their opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq. “For a Mexican to go and die for a country that wasn't his own, it's too tragic,” said Marciana Camacho, who runs a convenience store a block from the home where Lopez's wife lived with his parents. “Iraq is so far away from our little town. It doesn't make sense.”
A US Marine, who was originally from Mexico, was killed in Iraq. The story of his funeral is moving (please read it) and the Mexican soldiers acted outrageously, but those two throw-away paragraphs are stupid. They do not need to be in there.

Permalink | Media Watch

July 05, 2004, 10:50 AM

Fahrenheit 9/11 - Conservative, Racist Movie

By Rob Booth

Counterpunch.org: What Michael Moore Misses About the Empire It's hard to believe there are people to the left of Michael Moore, but there are. Oh, it's a UT professor. Of course.

Permalink | News and Views

July 04, 2004, 04:25 PM

Happy Fourth

By Kevin Whited

I think this is probably going to be a wrap for posting today. Most of my fellow editors are fully engaged in holiday activities, and in a few hours, I'm going to be retiring to Byzantio (on West Gray) to take in Fireworks and the Fourth (but no Ouzo). I'm thinking the mood will be festive, as Greece upset Portugal today in the Euro 2004 final. I don't really care about the sport, but I think the folks at the Greek cafe are likely to be ecstatic. I hope everyone is having a similarly ecstatic Fourth of July.

Permalink | Staff Notes

July 04, 2004, 02:27 PM

Celebrating African-American Heroes

By Anne Linehan

Cragg Hines has a column in today's paper where he takes on the statuary in the US Capitol. His point is that there is only one African-American represented, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and that many of the statues are of “unremarkable white guys” and “WASPs.” First of all, the point is excellent. There are many African-Americans throughout our history who have contributed much to America's greatness, often overcoming tremendous suffering and hardship in the process. But does he really have to demonize white men to make his point? The worthiness of African-Americans to be represented in the Capitol should stand on its own. Hines starts off by assuming that the reason Congress commissioned the bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. was out of embarrassment.
No state has sent an African-American, and a bust of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, the only sculpture of a black in the Capitol as far as I can tell, is in the Rotunda because an embarrassed Congress commissioned the piece itself in the 1980s.
That's demeaning to Rev. King and the many African-Americans who marched alongside him for equal treatment and equal rights. It diminishes the tremendous achievements Rev. King attained through peaceful means. Hines then goes on to quibble with the methodology used to choose the subjects of the statues. Each state could choose two and in his opinion the standards were low. (Actually, that might be a sign of limited government as individual states were able to make their own decisions.) During the time that many of these decisions were made, this country was deeply divided by slavery and a civil war. Those passions continued to run strong well into the 20th century, which accounts for some Southern states honoring men of the Confederacy. In another point, Hines takes a swipe at California's choice of Father Junipero Serra, the Franciscan priest who helped explore and colonize California. He was responsible for building the missions along the coast of California that brought farming, irrigation and Christianity. Some of the missions still survive and are popular tourist spots. Hines says the priest is a “controversial” person who “is reviled by some native American groups for his alleged cruelty to their forebears.” This minimizes the important role Father Serra played in the founding of modern-day California, and ignores the context of the time. (Here is some more information on Father Serra's work in the 1700's.) If the only people who can be honored are the ones who lived their lives perfectly, then the Capitol Rotunda will be empty. On a happier note, though, Hines thinks Texas' choices are good ones.
At least Texas, when it sent both of its allotted statues in 1905, selected men who were well known not only for their bravery but also their human foibles — Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin. They should stay.
Some human foibles are okay, apparently. Hines doesn't make clear which are acceptable and which aren't. Hines is absolutely correct to suggest that states should go back and reconsider who represents them in the Capitol statuary. But, he could have done a column listing and celebrating African-Americans and their achievements to make his point, instead of bashing a bunch of white men he doesn't like.

Permalink | Noxious Chron Columnists

July 04, 2004, 02:23 PM

A rejoinder from one of CB's founding jackals/idiots

By Kevin Whited

Anne Linehan's posts on Iraq's elusive Weapons of Mass Destruction and recent media coverage certainly have elicited more frothing than we normally get here. On Saturday, she noted that the Chronicle had buried its coverage of purported WMD news that other news sources had picked up. That prompted this nearly hysterical outburst in the comments later in the day:
OMG!!! WMD were really found and the liberal Chron (and others) aren't reporting it??? Surely, this is the scandal of the century, right? I have but a simple question to the CB.com jackal crew here ... how often are you going to continue falling for this crap? http://www.washingtonpost.c... You look like idiots and you give the Iraq war a bad name. Knock it off.
Anne Linehan had never trumpeted this news as anything but what it was, but merely questioned the burying of seemingly important news. Nonetheless, she posted a followup to her original post highlighting the new Washington Post story. That's a pretty quick reaction to new information on a holiday weekend, and illustrates how the blog world works (at its best). As it turns out, there's a little bit more to that Washington Post story than meets the eye, as the Captain's Quarters blog points out intelligently:
So after leading his article with the lack of chemical weapons in 16 shells, it takes Pincus and the Post two more paragraphs to inform readers that two shells did contain WMD. Although the chemicals had deteriorated, their discovery again demonstrates that Saddam did not destroy his chemical weapons stocks after the first Gulf War. In fact, most of the rest of the article goes into detail about the fears of the Coalition that terrorists will either find more chemical weapons or the scientists that produced them, although without the proper facilities for manufacture, their expertise may just wind up being theoretical. The article spends so much time on this that it begs the question of why Pincus led with the unremarkable information that the Poles found sixteen conventional rockets instead, and why the Post's editors wrote such a misleading headline.
Here's a recap of it all: Anne Linehan pointed out that the Chronicle buried seemingly important news. Then a commenter comes in behind with a hysterical screed that we are jackals and idiots, apparently basing his rant on the headline from a Washington Post article that he seems not to have read all that closely. Because as one reads it closely, it turns out that yes, these would be more examples of undeclared weapons that were in violation of numerous U.N. Security Council Resolutions, and, further, that the headline doesn't especially match the article. So, while thankful to our friends who pointed out the article to us, I suppose I'm still left wondering why I was called a jackal and an idiot because of it. The beauty of the internet — and weblogs in particular — is that information is constantly subjected to peer review in this manner. Chronically Biased watches the Chronicle (and the news and media more broadly), and plenty of folks are now watching us. That's great. We don't claim to be perfect, and we firmly believe that news consumers benefit from multiple levels of scrutiny, including scrutiny of things we post. Why would be doing this if we believed anything else? We do, however, claim to be honest, we do try to react to new information when it is presented, and we do try to remain civil in our discourse. We'd like to think our ideological opponents would do the same, especially when article links they leave in our comments section (while calling US jackals and idiots) don't turn out to make their case for them all that well. The problem, of course, with lowering the discourse to the level of calling your opponents jackals and idiots is that it's very hard to step back once done. That's one reason we moderate comments and ask that people not call each other names. We haven't exactly enforced that policy terribly strictly, and in this case I let the criticism of us go through even though there was name-calling because I thought the link to the WaPo article was important substantively. But as I've made clear from the beginning of this site, the last thing I want is for the comment section to degenerate into that. There are websites where that happens, and I personally find them distasteful. I won't claim to be perfect in this regard (or any other), but I will ask for everyone to try, along with the editors, to remain respectful in the comments. Political debate is important, but it's not blood sport — especially on a website that's a hobby for those of us most involved.

Permalink | Staff Notes

July 04, 2004, 01:52 PM

Dionne's latest wasn't even compelling “olds”

By Kevin Whited

In a post immediately preceding this one, David Wildes takes exception with a recent E.J. Dionne column run by the Chronicle. I'd like to point out two features of that column that David didn't mention. First, the Chronicle ran it on 1 July 2004, although it first appeared in the Washington Post on 29 June 2004, making it another example of the Chronicle going after “olds.” Second, the entire premise of the article is so flawed that I couldn't believe Dionne was serious after I read it originally in the Washington Post. I forwarded it to my friend Orrin Judd, who gave it the attention it deserved. That Jeff Cohen thinks this is cutting-edge political analysis (two days after it appeared in one of the nation's major newspapers) doesn't necessarily reflect that well on his editorial judgment. And it leaves one wondering why a person shouldn't just get her news from a variety of sources on the internet, as it appears, instead of relying upon Mr. Cohen's judgment.

Permalink | Media Watch

July 04, 2004, 01:30 PM

Chronicle publishes baseless column

By M. Wildes

A 1994-style takeover for Democrats?” by E.J. Dionne is a ridiculous column that is, by its own admission, “anecdotal.” Almost everything that Mr. Dionne says about trends shifting toward Democrat victories in November can be said for Republican victory as well. As you read the following excerpt, see if you can, as I could, make the same anecdotes only in reverse.
[C]itizens who avoided politics for years but are now devoting time to John Kerry’s campaign out of hostility to Bush. Individuals who never before made a campaign contribution are opening their checkbooks to Kerry and the Democrats. (this is more than anecdotal; it’s reflected in Kerry’s record fund-raising.) And perhaps most significantly, moderate and moderately conservative Republicans are showing little enthusiasm for Bush…
Out of hostility to John Kerry, people who never have before are donating to George W. Bush and getting involved in his campaign (many of them out of desperation that Kerry not ever be President in such crucial times). Has Mr. Dionne forgotten about Bush’s record fund-raising or is it just that Bush’s money can only be from corporations? Wasn’t it a bad thing to be breaking fund-raising records when Bush was doing it? Even liberal pundits have commented on the lack of Democrat enthusiasm toward Kerry. The column continues with bumper sticker anecdotes! Democrat Rep. Brian Baird of Washington’s “southwest corner” says, “four years ago, you saw George Bush stickers everywhere and very few Al Gore stickers.... Now it’s at least 50/50.” Wow! You cannot argue with that. One Democrat from Washington has seen as many Kerry stickers as Bush stickers. There’s a new poll question for ABC/New York Times/CBS/USA Today/Gallup/Pew: For which presidential candidate have you seen more bumper stickers? Is that more or less than you saw in 2000? If I might insert my own anecdote here, I have seen more Ralph Nader stickers this year than any other. According to E.J. Dionne this must have significance in the election. Hmmm… Nader must be about to pull off an upset. Rep. Baird also tells of a “lifelong Republican” with a Kerry shirt and a car with American flag, NRA and Kerry stickers. Honestly, I have not seen a lifelong Democrat with a Bush shirt. However, I would venture to say that someone has. I bet I have at least a “50/50” chance of seeing either lifelong party member’s shirt and in Baird’s book that means Bush is in trouble. I am also not concerned by the NRA/Kerry/flag car. News flash: There are Democrats in the NRA. That is like saying there are no Republicans in Unions. Or was Mr. Baird shocked to see the flag and the Kerry sticker on the same car? (I’m kidding of course, but could not resist.) Finally, Dionne compares the AM radio “conservative media” influence in 1994 to possible influence by Michael Moore this year.
Moore bids to become the Democrats’ answer to Limbaugh.
If Moore’s movie makes 50 million that is still under 7 million people, one time. Everyday, national conservative radio shows pull in millions of listeners (Limbaugh claims his show gets 20 million). In Dionne’s defense he does acknowledge that these are anecdotes and admits that the election would really turn on perceptions of Iraq and the economy on Election Day. My question is: why write or publish this at all? When picking up columns from around the country was there nothing better? There is bound to be a liberal columnist somewhere with a similar theory and evidence other than bumper stickers. Or then again, maybe not. Keep them coming Houston Chronicle. You are not helping your cause.

Permalink | News and Views

July 04, 2004, 01:01 PM

The Chronicle publishes another Kerry ad

By M. Wildes

The Chronicle published an Associated Press story entitled “Candidates break fund-raising records” by Sharon Theimer. The article actually gives a balanced look at the status of Bush’s and Kerry’s fund-raising efforts. However, sandwiched in the middle of the facts and figures is an advertisement for the Kerry campaign, complete with this weekend’s theme and talking points.
Returning to the campaign trail after a two-day break, Kerry today begins a Fourth of July weekend bus tour of small Midwestern towns to promote his plans for rural America. Kerry says those parts of the country have been hurt by Bush’s record on education, trade, budget cuts, health care and the distribution of high-speed Internet access. The trip begins in Minnesota and takes Kerry through Iowa and Wisconsin over the holiday weekend. Ahead of the trip, Kerry’s campaign released a report Thursday that measures in dollars the negative effect of Bush’s policies on rural areas of each state. “Today our rural communities are struggling, and instead of offering help, this president has turned his back,” Kerry said Thursday. Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., in a conference call arranged by Kerry’s campaign, complained about proposed cuts to a farm bill and said the Bush administration isn’t doing enough to help U.S. farmers compete with those in Europe.
This amounts to around one third of the entire story. Friday the 2nd's piece pulls you in through several paragraphs and then unleashes its agenda. About the time you get ready to abandon ship, it brings you back on topic just in time to ease your pain. If you are not looking for it, you may end up with Kerry campaign talking points in your head, when all you wanted to know was how much money the candidates were raising. What intriguing and informative Bush campaign information does the story provide?
Bush’s campaign responded, saying Kerry’s policies could cost him rural votes. Vice President Dick Cheney also will campaign by bus this weekend, with stops in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania promoting the president’s reelection.
Kerry’s policies will cost him votes? Supporting the president’s reelection? That was it. Can you even imagine the AP giving Kerry the same dismal coverage? Something like, “In other news, Kerry will campaign for election.” That would be quite profound. At least they listed the Vice President’s stops.

Permalink | Chron Bias

July 04, 2004, 12:22 AM

WMD Correction

By Anne Linehan

Thanks to Greg Wythe for the link to a Washington Post story that has some updated information on the WMD post, five entries down. We appreciate corrections and, unlike the Chronicle, will post them, ASAP. They won't be hidden, either. The article says the rockets that the Polish troops recovered were not filled with sarin gas. However, the article makes clear that the question of whether or not Saddam Hussein had WMD's is still being investigated, and that some items of interest have been found.
Charles Duelfer, the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq, told Fox News on June 24 that “some” old sarin and mustard rounds have been discovered in scattered places, demonstrating “that the Iraqi declarations were wrong at least in . . . amount.” But Duelfer cautioned he was not ready to make any judgment whether there were any “still concealed” military-capable stockpiles.

Permalink | News and Views

July 03, 2004, 02:18 PM

Solution for METRO crashes: blame it on the railroad gods

By Phil Magness

If you think Houston Metrorail with its 48 or so accidents in less than a year is collision prone, take a look at what's happening in India. With some 300 plus accidents every year, many of them deadly and due to poor upkeep of the country's rail system, India boasts one of the most disaster-prone train networks on earth. Despite this continual problem, Laloo Prasad Yadav, the country's Railroad Minister, thinks he's figured out the cause. According to the London Daily Telegraph, the Railroad Ministry recently blamed the high frequency of accidents on Vishwakarma, a deity of machinery in the Hindu religion. Says Yadav in the Telegraph:
“Indian Railways are the responsibility of Lord Vishwakarma...So is the safety of passengers. It is his duty [to ensure safety], not mine.”
Now Shirley DiLibero & Co., as well as their recent successors, have given us about eight months worth of lame excuses and inaction as to why they supposedly aren't to blame for Metrorail's perils, but this one from India takes the cake for shirking responsibility to provide safe travel modes to the citizenry. If the old lines of blaming Houston drivers and the weather ever wear out, perhaps the METRO board can follow examples from abroad: blame it on the railroad gods.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

July 03, 2004, 11:38 AM

Chronicle confuses Harris County courts

By Kevin Whited

In a story in today's Metro/State section, Terry Kliewer writes the following:
In the Alpert Trusts case, Harris County Court-at-Law No. 2 Judge Mike Wood has been the target of a recusal effort relating to his alleged conflict of interest with a lawyer serving as a trustee to the estate. The lawyer is a member of a Houston law firm where Wood worked until 1986, the judge said.
An alert reader points out that Judge Gary Michael Block is the judge of Harris County Court-at-Law No. 2. Judge Mike Wood is the judge of Probate Court No. 2 in Harris County. Apparently, there are no editors who check facts at the Chronicle.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

July 03, 2004, 08:50 AM

Whoops! How did that get in there?

By Anne Linehan

Here is the last letter in the Viewpoints section of today's Chronicle:
A bone to conservatives Thanks to the Chronicle for printing John O'Neill's article. I still subscribe because you occasionally throw us (conservatives) a bone to read. The greatest consideration in presidential voting should be who would make the best commander in chief of our armed forces. After reading about John Kerry's service, voters are given a perspective the mainstream news media make little effort to show. Robert H. Mitchell, Houston
An editor must have been off and celebrating the holiday weekend. By the way, the John O'Neill opinion piece that the Chronicle ran on July 1, 2004, originally was published in the Wall Street Journal on May 4, 2004. Almost two months ago!

Permalink | Media Watch

July 03, 2004, 08:47 AM

Today's Features

By Mona Lugay

Dick Morris gives his views on this year's presidential campaigns, Greg Berlocher promotes pork fat, Bob Birner says you can do it your self and Matt Malatesta talks athletics, up north, in today's Features section.

Permalink | Miscellaneous

July 03, 2004, 08:24 AM

Buried in the Chronicle

By Anne Linehan

Did you catch this in Friday's Chronicle? On page A19, in a little box titled “Other Iraq Developments”, there is a particulary interesting sentence:
Polish troops have found two warheads believed to contain the deadly nerve agent cyclosarin, but it is not clear what time period the weapons came from, Poland's Defense Ministry said Thursday.
Wait a minute! The anti-war crowd's favorite refrain is that no WMD's have been found. Why isn't this story getting more attention? Well, it is. But you must hunt because it's not getting as much attention as, say, Abu Ghraib or Saddam's dashing appearance in court the other day. Check out this AP story from the San Francisco Chronicle. Yes, the San Francisco Chronicle. Because you won't find it in the Houston Chronicle. (07-04-2004 Update) An addendum to this post is located here.

Permalink | Poor Chron Journalism

July 03, 2004, 02:43 AM

Metrorail found at fault in accident

By Phil Magness

A Metrorail tram driver has been found at fault for accident #48 last week at an intersection in the medical center, reports the Chronicle. The incident involves a driver who legally entered one of the many left turn lanes on top of the light rail track when a signal indicated that she could advance. Partway into her turn, the driver found her intended path obstructed by traffic leaving her vehicle partially on top of the rail tracks. Along came the train and, sure enough, it plowed right into the car's rear bumper. According to the Chronicle,
The incident...marks the first time the Metropolitan Transit Authority has determined one of its employees was at fault.
Aside from demonstrating that all of those evil Houston drivers that the Chron has been ranting about for months aren't always to blame for Metrorail's accidents, this comment inadvertently raises another issue: why is METRO the one that gets to decide who is at fault in collisions between its own rail system (towards which, I might add, it has both a vested stake and an enormous political bias) and automobiles? Don't get me wrong, as I am certain that there are plenty of fair and honest investigators in the METRO office who try to do their jobs professionally, but the appearence of a conflict of interest for the agency seems strong. In short, it looks as if they are trying to play judge, plaintiff, and jury all at the same time. When government agencies and especially unelected bureaucracies (of which METRO is a prime example) are involved in disputes it is a professional and common expectation that a third party do the investigative work, even if that agency is perfectly capable in itself. The reason is rooted in our common belief in the law's impartiality. Witness the Houston Crime Lab DNA scandal, over which the Chron has relentlessly editorialized against the Harris County District Attorney's Office for its failure to “stand aside and [make] way for an independent investigation” (editorial page, 7/20/03). Their beef with the DA comes over an allegedly conflicted role that is substantially less direct than a train system operator handing down decisions of fault on its own collisions. Given Metrorail's obvious rail design flaws, its abnormally large accident count, and a similarly large number of automobile drivers attributing such factors as confusing and contradictory signage on the agency's part as a causal factor in their collisions, shouldn't METRO step aside and let a law enforcement entity without connections to itself screen the near-constant stream of accidents? At the very least this could help make METRO more responsive to the design and operating problems that have contributed so many collisions - problems on which they have been virtually AWOL.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

July 03, 2004, 12:29 AM

Chronicle: Nationbuilding trumps national security in evaluating war on terror

By Kevin Whited

The Chronicle editorial board just can't pass up an opportunity to take a shot at the Bush Administration:
While it doesn't make the case for a draft, the Army's decision to reach deep into the Ready Reserve does furnish an argument that the U.S.-led attack on Iraq was at best premature. Apart from the Army's global missions, the war in Afghanistan — where voting has been postponed due to the murder of registered voters, and where many Taliban fighters roam free — has yet to be won.
In terms of the first sentence, it hardly suggests the liberation of Iraq was premature. Actually, the military component of the liberation was one of the speediest, most daring military victories in history. The postwar occupation has been rockier, which is, in itself, an argument that the handover should have been accomplished more quickly. The U.S. is simply not a good occupying power. It's contrary to our national character. The second sentence is nonsense as well. Of course the war in Afghanistan has been won. The Taliban are removed as an effective governing force that can host terrorists within inviolable borders. And the territory of Afghanistan is no longer a safe haven for terrorists to organize to attack the United States. That is strategic victory. The Chronicle editorial board, populated by liberals, apparently wants to redefine “victory” to mean the installation of fully functioning democracies in countries that have never known any such thing. While perhaps a laudable (and even compatible) goal, that is not a good criterion for success in the war on terror. Instead, the elimination of terrorists — and of safe havens (even if that means entire governments) for those terrorists — is a much better standard of judgment. That we may well give the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq an opportunity to forge a better government and society for themselves is a very great gift we have given them indeed, and I don't mean to undervalue it. But it's not the standard of judgment we should use in evaluating our national security. The Chronicle editorial board is wholly misguided in suggesting it should be.

Permalink | Chron Bias

July 02, 2004, 04:48 PM

Rumormongering....

By Rob Booth

I don't want to start any Republican rumors, but I sure will pass them on. A well-placed source informed me that Congressman Henry Bonilla is preparing for the possibility that Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is going to run for governor and he is getting his ducks in a row to run for Senate. Anybody in the know want to pass me a rumor, send it to rob(a)chronicallybiased.com.

Permalink | News and Views

July 02, 2004, 04:35 PM

We blew it!

By Rob Booth

We missed an important clue that the NY Times story about Howard Stern's audience was suspicious. I posted it yesterday. I went back to read the comments and realized that we missed one important datum given as being part of the NDN survey: The poll showed that Mr. Stern's listeners...were three times more likely to attend church daily. Attend church daily? By that I can only assume that they mean people who attend church services 365 days a year. Now, I know some people who are very involved in their church, but I can't think of anyone that attends services 365 days a year. Now the NY Times could have misquoted the pollster. OK, where else did they misquote the pollster? If the pollster is indeed maintaining that they asked people if they attend church daily, I'd be really interested in seeing the percentage of people that answered “yes.” That's got to be an awfully small number.

Permalink | Media Watch

July 02, 2004, 01:14 PM

Cox and Forkum: Aid and Comfort

By The Staff

Cox and Forkum: Aid and Comfort Courtesy of Cox and Forkum.

Permalink | Political Cartoons

July 02, 2004, 12:38 PM

A Rep to make you proud

By Anne Linehan

Texas Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson is taking a proactive stand on fair and honest elections. She's asking for the UN to monitor the upcoming elections in...where do you think? Afghanistan? Iraq? Cuba? Nope, all wrong. She wants the UN to monitor the US Presidential election this November, so as to avoid the problems in the 2000 election. Seriously! Perhaps the Honorable Ms. Johnson could focus her energies on some more pressing items before the Congress. Such as protecting our troops.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

July 02, 2004, 12:28 PM

A very bad week for Clay Robison

By Kevin Whited

The Brownsville Herald broke a story yesterday that certain Democrat state representatives in Texas were researching possible impeachment proceedings against Governor Rick Perry. The Quorum Report subscription-only newsletter picked up the story, so one might have guessed it was only a matter of time before Clay Robison, the Chronicle's hyperpartisan Austin news bureau chief who never seems to beat the Quorum Report to any news, had posted a story angled to smear the governor. The Chasing the Wind blog blasts Robison and the Chronicle for their poor judgment:
So the Houston Chronicle has floated this bogus story for the sole purpose of damaging Rick Perry’s reputation with a front page article with unnamed sources with bogus and vague charges. Look, Chronicle, to impeach somebody you need a crime to be committed. Your duty as the sole print source for Houston is to at least attempt to find some sort of balance and do a minute amount of research. To float the idea that he should be impeached without doing some sort of diligence to find out if there was a crime and if there was if Perry had anything do do with it is entirely abominable.
Go read the entire post. This is another example that Robison cannot play partisan liberal editorialist on the weekends, and report news fairly during the week. Alert reader Mike Pice emailed us another example of Robison's sloppy journalism earlier this week (Pice's comments in italics, Robison's text in blockquotes): What foolishness [Robison] reports:
“Deductibility is merely a political sleight-of-hand to facilitate a shift in tax burden from those making more to those making less,” said Scott McCown, executive director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, which promotes public policies for poor and middle-income Texans.
[Robision] also lists this resource statement (emphasis mine):
The federal legislation could encourage the Legislature to increase sales taxes to fund public schools. That would hit poor people harder because a higher percentage of their income goes to taxable items.
I guess anything is possible, but it is highly improbable that federal legislation to allow the deduction (which puts Texas federal tax payers on more equal ground with taxpayers in states that have income taxes) would result in the Texas legislature increasing sales taxes for funding public schools. These are separate issues and certainly are not inextricably linked. Why the emphasis on McCown's view with no opposite? For those who aren't aware, that innocuous sounding think tank that “promotes public policies for poor and middle-income Texans” is one of the most liberal in the state. The answer to Mr. Pice's bolder rhetorical question is, of course, is that Robison is a hyperliberal partisan hack who has these disturbing tendencies to slant his news coverage when he's not playing liberal op-ed writer on the weekends. That's why Jeff Cohen should make Robison a full-time editorialist and remove him as head of the Austin news bureau.

Permalink | Noxious Chron Columnists

July 02, 2004, 10:23 AM

Vacuous MeMo digs hole deeper

By Kevin Whited

Kyrie O'Connor, Chronicle editor and author of the paper's idiotic Memo “blog,” tries to defend the offensive and completely unsubstantiated comments she made about heterosexual marriage (as opposed to homosexual “marriage”) several days ago:
I have heard from several readers in high umbrage about comments I made about the state of heterosexual marriage. Please understand: I was not passing judgment on your personal marriage, dear reader. Your house is very nice! It's in perfect shape, from slab to roof. But half the houses in your neighborhood are tear-downs, as maybe you've noticed. In other words: It's all about the stats, dear reader. It's not about you.
Translation: You readers who were offended are too stupid to understand my brilliance. Here's a link to the liberal Nation so you can begin to comprehend how stupid you are. Nice attitude, that. Pretty indicative of the attitude of Jeff Cohen's whole operation, I would say, whether they're responding to blowing the Sandoval coverage or Rick Casey's theft of Dan Morgan's work or Richard Justice lying about what he wrote about Augie Garrido or MeMo slamming heterosexual marriage. So, O'Connor has stats about heterosexual marriage. Note how she's tried to change the topic? This is what she wrote originally:
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.
O'Connor was not talking about heterosexual marriage statistics. She is CLEARLY saying homosexuals value “marriage” more than heterosexuals. She does not substantiate her comments with any statistics or surveys. This is merely anecdotal evidence she apparently gleaned from hanging out with homosexual journalists and trying to recruit them to the Chronicle. And now she is lying about what she wrote. Shame on you, Kyrie O'Connor, for further misleading your newspaper's readers. That's disgraceful! And you never answered our question about your recruiting efforts. We're still wondering why the Chronicle is specifically recruiting homosexuals when they claim not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. Care to tackle that one in your next “blog?”

Permalink | Noxious Chron Columnists

July 02, 2004, 09:43 AM

Media Attention for the Sudan

By Anne Linehan

An editorial in Friday's Chronicle highlights the terrible and ongoing genocide in the Sudan. Thousands upon thousands of non-Muslim Sudanese have been slaughtered in this ethnic cleansing by Arab militias who are backed by the Sudanese government. Toward the end of the editorial, the Chronicle lists what it considers to be the reasons for the “world's paralysis”. But, the editors miss the most important reason this has not been front page news: The media has been outrageously MIA on this story, choosing instead to focus on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, Kobe Bryant, Laci Peterson, and Michael Moore. Nicholas Kristof, of the NY Times, has been a lone voice in the media, regularly calling attention to the human suffering in the Sudan. Also, churches in Midland, Texas, have been urging the Bush Administration to make this ongoing genocide a top priority. And finally it appears some attention has arrived. Secretary of State Colin Powell visited the Sudan this week with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Annan sent a message to the Sudanese government, threatening “action” if some attempt isn't made to stop the militias. At last, the UN is noticing the Sudan! The problem, of course, is that the UN's threats are generally a waste of the paper they are written on. And since the militias are backed by the Sudanese government, it's doubtful those in charge will do anything to stop the continued killing, raping, maiming and forced starvation. To top it off, Sudan sits on the UN Human Rights Commission. It's truly surreal. Indeed, Sudanese government officials attempted a cover-up by removing all refugees from a specific refugee camp, prior to Kofi Annan arriving at that camp. Government troops regularly stop international aid shipments from getting to refugees and this camp was one that had not received any international aid. It is a welcome development that Secretary Powell's visit to the Sudan has gained news coverage. But the mainstream media is in control of the bully pulpit in this country, and it is the media that drives news stories, often when a story doesn't deserve to be driven. This is a case where the story needs to be given front page coverage on a regular basis. The media can make the difference so another Rwanda doesn't happen. *********** Here is a blog that is devoted to the Sudan crisis and is filled with links to news and information.

Permalink | Media Watch

July 02, 2004, 08:39 AM

It's an insult, Howard!

By Owen Courrèges

Permalink | Political Cartoons

July 02, 2004, 08:00 AM

Rice's new president: Enemy of academic freedom

By Owen Courrèges

Rice University has finally gotten a new president, straight from Columbia University Law School. He's currently settling in (from News 24 Houston):
David Leebron is unpacking on his first day in the Rice University president's office. Leebron admits Houston is somewhat different from New York City, where he served as dean of Columbia University's law school. For instance, he must buy a car here. But he says he does know how to drive. Students hope Leebron can also drive Rice University's reputation to a higher level. “I think what can be improved upon is getting the word out to the rest of the United States that Rice is a competitive school and we're producing top quality students,” said Rice student Jeff Dietrich.
As I am a graduate of Rice, I also hope that Leebron is interested in enhancing Rice's national reputation. On the other hand, however, I believe that the selection of Leebron itself was a mistake that will only serve to tarnish my alma mater's good name. You see, while Leebron was dean over at Columbia Law, he came down a professor for asking a perfectly innocuous question on an exam:
Professor George Fletcher, in the spring of 1999, gave a hypothetical question titled, 'Revenge of the Big Monkey.' A composite based on actual cases, it involved a female assault victim who had unsuccessfully sought a late-term abortion. The defendant, following the dictates of a religious cult that preached foetuscide, attacked the woman and killed her foetus, for which she expressed thanks. The question, as anyone with any knowledge of criminal law had to realise, raised difficult questions of intent and consent as well as the law of homicide. Yet when a couple of women in the class complained to a couple of women faculty members, the professors complained to Dean David Leebron.
And what did Dean Leebron do? Why, the politically-correct thing, of course — he wrote an accusatory letter to the good Professor Fletcher:
Fletcher, the Cardozo Professor of Jurisprudence, was informed by Law School Dean David Leebron that an exam question in his criminal law class was possibly “unlawful” because it may have violated “harassment” law and discriminated against women by creating a “hostile environment.”
As a result of Leebron's stupid and irresponsible decision, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) began making noise about the incident. After a few letters were exchanged, Leebron effectively retracted his earlier statements. However, that shouldn't have been necessary. Leebron should never have entertained these complaints to begin with, and in the end, he only backed down when FIRE began to make veiled threats. It's practically the definition of cowardice. “Wherever the winds may blow” is Leebron's motto. This man is an embarassment to Rice University.

Permalink | News and Views - Houston

July 02, 2004, 07:30 AM

New left-wing novel to discuss killing President Bush

By Owen Courrèges

Every time I think that the left has gotten as crazy as it's going to get, something else like this comes along and proves to me that there are new depths that it can sink to (from KPRC):
Get ready for a new anti-Bush book this summer. Only this time, it's fiction. And this time, the subject is murder. “Checkpoint” by Nicholson Baker, the author of the best-selling “Vox,” imagines a conversation between two old high school friends. One of them is so angry about the war in Iraq that he wants to kill President George W. Bush. His friend tries to talks him out of it. “I wrote 'Checkpoint' because a lot of people felt a kind of powerless seething fury when President Bush took the country to war,” Baker said in a statement Thursday. “I wanted to capture the specificity of that rage. How do you react to something that you think is hideously wrong? How do you keep it from driving you nuts?”
If anyone believes that it's reasonable to have a “seething fury” against the president that rises to the level of homicidal rage, then they've obviously gone past politically disagreement and delved into the realm of fanaticism. I don't doubt that fanaticism is an interesting subject for a book, mind you, but I get the impression that Baker won't be handling it that way. Baker was quoted in Roll Call in February of last year as saying that “Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Powell, and Bush” are “foolish, small-minded, cowardly men who will not hesitate to order the bombing of civilians from several miles in the air in order to squash a dictator that they helped bring to power.” Suffice to say there's no doubt about his viewpoint. He sounds a bit fanatical himself. I suppose the conservative equivalent would be if a pro-lifer wrote about a would-be clinic bomber, and then tried to speak of the subject antiseptically. It's more than a little bit disturbing, and that's why people are up in arms about this novel.

Permalink | News and Views

July 01, 2004, 11:44 AM

Odds and Ends

By Anne Linehan

You know how Iraq is running its own show now? Well, Iraq's new Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, sat down for an interview with Tom Brokaw the other night and the result was embarrassing for the veteran news anchor. Brokaw, being fully invested in the there-was-no-connection-between-Saddam-and-al Qaeda media-lie, helpfully told Prime Minister Allawi that the Prime Minister just didn't know what he was talking about. Ah, yes, retirement is close-at-hand for Brokaw. ---------- Here's a sorry bit of news, courtesy of Powerline blog. The US proposed sending a special NATO security force to help with security during the upcoming Afghanistan election. Afghan President Hamid Karzai personally appealed for the NATO troops. France said no. We are talking about Afghanistan here, not Iraq. And John Kerry wants us to work harder to be friends with France. Please. France needs to stop acting so disgracefully. And now it looks as though Britain has had enough. It's about time. ---------- The notoriously hate-America BBC managed to find some Iraqis who are looking forward to democracy. ---------- The NY Times is giving Iraq advice on how to handle Saddam Hussein's trial. The NY Times was a vociferous critic of the Iraq war, so one can guess Iraq will ignore the suggestions. ---------- Tim Blair catches the Washington Post in a bit of bad journalism. The WaPo article says that Paul Bremer didn't give a farewell address to the Iraqi people, after he handed power over to the Iraq government. But, in a link we had the other day, an Iraqi blogger recounts watching Bremer give a moving address to Iraqis in Arabic! This is the same reporter we mentioned the other day who has been discredited by a Marine reservist. ---------- A group of Iraqis and Americans have come together to counter all the negative news that is coming out of Iraq. The Iraq-American Freedom Alliance says it is tired of news coverage focused on attacks and kidnappings. The group wants to highlight the numerous improvements that continue in Iraq and encourage balance in the news. Balance? We can hope, but don't hold your breath.

Permalink | News and Views

July 01, 2004, 09:46 AM

Howard Stern fights back!

By Owen Courrèges

Permalink | Political Cartoons

July 01, 2004, 08:00 AM

Chron slams Perry on school finance

By Owen Courrèges

As one might expect, the Houston Chronicle isn't a big fan of Governor Perry. In the following staff editorial, not only do they blame him for the failure of the special session on school finance, they also dredge up their hoary old complaints against redistricting:
While Perry acknowledged his primary duty to education, Perry chose to make congressional redistricting a top priority during the Legislature's last regular session and several special sessions. When he finally called a special session on school finance, legislation went nowhere. To his credit, Perry had a plan that would lower property taxes and replace the much-resented Robin Hood system. However, the plan imprudently relied on increased gambling, higher cigarette taxes and an absurd tax on strip club patrons. Aside from the undesirability of making education dependent on a hodgepodge of unpredictable taxes, Perry's proposal to introduce electronic slot machines to Texas racetracks was opposed by many legislators in his own party.
I would think that the Chronicle would at least place some of the blame for the time consumed by redistricting on the shoulders of those Democrats who insisted on turning tail to New Mexico when they discovered that they lacked the votes. The issue would have been resolved quickly had it not been for Democratic intransigence, and blaming Perry for not bowling over strikes me as silly. He did what he had to do. And as for Perry's plan for school finance, it was indeed imperfect, but what politically-viable alternatives were there? I certainly can't think of any, and the Chronicle doesn't bother discussing it. Given this, I fail to see what basis they have for condemning Perry.

Permalink | Chron Bias

July 01, 2004, 07:46 AM

Iraqi girls long for Saddam

By Anne Linehan

Edd Hendee pointed out an Ann Coulter column on this morning's show. In the column, Ann pokes a stick at the NY Times for running a front page article that said Iraqi girls were better off when Saddam was in power. Pretty amazing, huh?

Permalink | KSEV Topics

July 01, 2004, 06:59 AM

A KSEV message board?

By Kevin Whited

Richard Connelly, whom I've long described as a great media critic and one of my favorite writers in this town, writes about this website in his weekly HairBalls column for the Houston Press. Almost. Connelly was writing about Dan Patrick's post about Jon Matthews and some of the pro-Matthews comments:
Former KSEV-AM radio host Jon Matthews was one of the city's top Clinton-bashers, and in Houston that's saying something. Frothing rants at the despicable, craven, disgusting Satan-spawn that was the 42nd president were a nonstop topic for Matthews. So it was a little surprising when he pleaded guilty June 21 to indecency with a child. (Matthews, not Clinton.) A KSEV message board was subsequently filled with posts, almost all of which expressed shock, dismay and prayers for the family of the young girl involved. But not all....
A KSEV message board? You're too good for that, Mr. Connelly. You know this isn't a KSEV “message board.” It's not a message board at all! You can't help but know EXACTLY what we're up to here, because you're a media critic. A darn good one. And a darn good media critic can't have missed the rise of media watchdog blogs over the past couple of years. You may disagree with us, you may think our quality is poor, and you may well be disturbed to know I count your News Hostage work as personal inspiration, but at least describe us fairly. If a Houston Press editor squashed an accurate reference to this site, I suppose I can sympathize. But it's still disappointing from a columnist who's done such good work holding the local press to account over the years.

Permalink | Media Watch

July 01, 2004, 06:30 AM

The Hot Summer “Coolest Dog” Contest

By Dan Patrick

Time for some fun in the sun. Send us a cool picture of your dog and you might win a certificate for dog training at Man's Best Friend. Here's my dog, Bailey:
“Who took my sandals?'” -- Bailey Patrick
Now that's a cool dog! Click to our Features Page for more pictures and details.

Permalink | Humor

July 01, 2004, 06:00 AM

Rain washing out Texas vinyards

By Owen Courrèges

I'm a big fan of Texas wine, so I cringe when I hear news like this (from ABC 13):
The heavy rains and lack of sunshine in Central Texas are causing concern for Hill Country grape growers. If the rain doesn't clear soon, some farmers worry that they could lose all or a good portion of their crop. “Rains have been wonderful for the country and (it has) never looked prettier but vineyards need a little bit of drying out and some sunlight,” said Ed Auler, owner of Fall Creek Vineyards in Tow. “I don't think it's a crisis yet, but I think it's getting close to one.”
All the rain east Texas has been getting lately may be an inconvenience at best for most of us, but for these vinyards, it's something far more serious. And for wine connoisseurs such as I, it's a tragedy of unimaginable proportions. Here's to hoping that the rains are over — for everyone's sake.

Permalink | News and Views - Texas

July 01, 2004, 06:00 AM

Light Rail Hinders Traffic, You Betcha

By Rob Booth

Could METRO have planned our light rail system any worse? The shocking answer is maybe yes. It seems there's a problem up north. It appears that the engineers in Minnesota took the opposite track from Houston and segregated the rail line from the traffic, and when it crosses traffic it errs on the side of safety. Minnesota Star Tribune: Light-rail trains run; motorists seethe
Now that light-rail trains are running through south Minneapolis, Ken Bacon goes out of his way to avoid crossing Hwy. 55. He has already been caught several times in lengthy delays, stuck at traffic lights for as long as 20 minutes while driving the few blocks from the east side of Hwy. 55 to the west side. “I've turned around and gone back the other way,” he said. But Minneapolis traffic officials said Tuesday that help is coming for Bacon and other drivers who are frustrated with the way the trains have affected traffic flow. The city has asked the Federal Highway Administration to help with the signals.
Apparently with light rail, your choice is being hit by the train or sitting at lights, waiting.

Permalink | Houston's Light Rail

July 01, 2004, 05:59 AM

Stern's Listeners?

By Rob Booth

You may have heard that Howard Stern is set to join Houston's airwaves. While researching the story, I came across this shocking tidbit in the NY Times: NY Times: A Shock Jock Voting Bloc?
Mr. Stern, who has backed Republican candidates in the past, has a mother lode of swing voters in his audience, according to a poll by the New Democrat Network, an advocacy group. Its pollster, Mark Penn, calculates that this “Stern Gang” of swing voters makes up 4 percent of the likely voters this year, nearly as large as the entire Hispanic vote in 2000. But one bit of solace for Republicans is that Mr. Stern's listeners go to church frequently, which tends to correlate with voting Republican. The poll showed that Mr. Stern's listeners were slightly more likely than nonlisteners to call themselves born-again Christians and were three times more likely to attend church daily. The pollsters did not ask why they went to church after listening to Mr. Stern, so there is no way to calculate how many were performing an act of contrition.
Strange. The New Democrats' web site is here.

Permalink | Media Watch

July 01, 2004, 05:41 AM

Letters to the editor

By The Staff

Most of you are taking advantage of our comments section to respond to individual posts, but we do welcome your letters and will publish the best ones from time to time. Moore and Harrison deserve each other Try this analogy - Michael Moore is to documentaries as Eric Harrison is to movie reviews. Moore’s latest documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, is a two-hour attack ad on the Bush Administration and its conduct in the War on Terror, at home and abroad. It is chock full of every known conspiracy theory circulating left-wing websites about Bush, Cheney, Halliburton, and Co. In addition, it is spiced up with Moore’s usual array of antics, ambush interviews, and convenient editing that have become the standard recipe for all his “documentaries” and the reason he is thought so highly of in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, Cannes, France, and the Houston Chronicle. The fact of the matter is that Moore is entitled to his opinion (nota bene: a right no one living in Afghanistan or Iraq had three years ago). Never mind that every strand of Moore’s conspiracy web has been debunked by dozens of commentators, some no more friendly to Mr. Bush than Michael Moore (e.g., see Vanity Fair writer Christopher Hitchens’ current piece on slate.com). Never mind that Moore adamantly refuses to be interviewed by any media commentator who might challenge him on any aspect of the documentary. Never mind the Moore makes repeated contradictory statements about what was done in Afghanistan and what he thinks should have been done. Never mind that Moore ignores every single objective fact that could exculpate or challenge the allegations he presents as fact in his purported documentary. One would think that any one of these points might make it into Eric Harrison’s glowing review of Fahrenheit 9/11 in the June 25, 2004 Houston Chronicle. Of course, it’s not so much a review of the movie, as it is unrestrained praise for Moore. So, I guess that is some sort of excuse. Harrison’s positively giddy about Moore. “More than anyone, he’s broadened the art of documentary, adding impassioned, essayistic advocacy to its repertoire of styles. He is an indispensable treasure, and his imperfections are part of the reason, because they mark him as real.” Isn’t “impassioned essayistic advocacy” another word for propaganda? Indispensable treasure? Huh? True, Harrison mentions “imperfections” and says they can be “maddening.” But, among these imperfections he counts only Moore’s “grandstanding.” That’s like listing “works too hard” as one of your weaknesses at a job interview. Moore’s inability to handle critique or deal with any fact that might make his case against Bush less bombastic apparently do not count (e.g., it was Moore’s beloved Richard Clarke that approved the bin Laden family’s evacuation from the U.S. after 9/11 – a point that does not merit mention in Moore’s documentary). I guess these things just make Moore more real. Where the movie stumbles, Harrison is there to save the day. “It sometimes seems like Moore is ignoring inconsistencies when the real problem is that he doesn’t always take the time to show how his points connect. That’s because, rather than risk boring viewers, he’d rather cut his arguments short to indulge in mockery or to insert another of his stunts.” Again, the “mockery” and “stunts” are the things that make Moore more “real.” Harrison doesn’t even consider the possibility that the points don’t connect. Instead, Moore’s conclusions are described as “fascinating” and “compelling.” The worst thing Harrison can say is that they are based on “circumstantial evidence.” Instead, Harrison’s hope is that the people who see this movie will go out and read the books on which Moore’s allegations are based, presumably, so they can fill in the blanks. Reading the crackpot websites that cook up these theories would be more accurate. Non-fiction books contain way too many facts to suit Moore or his fans. My hope is that Americans will be too nauseated to even see this movie. Finally, Harrison awards this movie a B+. I must confess that this was most surprising after reading nothing but praise in the review of Moore and seeing Harrison find the silver lining of every cloud in the film. I think this is a bit disingenuous on Harrison’s part. Does Harrison really feel that this movie merits only a B+? This is a movie he has just described as one “every American should see.” C’mon Eric, give it the A you think it deserves. Then again, maybe the actual movie reviewer inside you wouldn’t let that happen. Maybe you will start thinking more clearly when Spiderman 2 comes out. Andy Adams On Gays And Marriage Here is a tip. If marriage is far more deeply cherished by the gay community than it is by those of us in the traditional community, then why is it that they wish to CHANGE the definition of the very word? Think of it in this way. I am a white American of European decent. If I decided that I want to enjoy the benefits of having a minority owned business, should I be considered right by working to CHANGE the definition of the word “minority” so that I now fit in that group? It would be for financial reasons and it would be so that me and my family could enjoy the benefits that others all around me enjoy “legally”, every day? Would this effort of mine show that I “cherish” minority status more than those who are part of that group or, would it demonstrate my desire to dilute its meaning? Larry Harvey Ban street solicitors It is outrageous that there is not a Houston city ordinance against street solicitation on City of Houston owned right-of-ways. Lack of such an ordinance allows: 1. Panhandlers to intimidate drivers and interfere with traffic 2. Prostitutes to solicit business on city streets 3. Drug dealers to solicit business on city streets 4. Ticket scalpers to use city streets for business. 5. Unidentified (and possibly fraudulent charities) to solicit contributions on city streets often with the use of young school children to go out in city traffic to collect donations. 6. Children selling things in city streets. In the past year several were run over and killed doing just that. If there is a legitimate reason for such solicitation, the city should issue permits to those so qualified. If the city cannot control what goes on in its streets it has lost all legitimacy. Here is the actual code section from a similar law in Fort Wayne, Indiana that has been in effect for over 10 years. Services should be added to the Houston ordinance: § 99.010 PROHIBITING USE OF PUBLIC RIGHT-OF-WAY FOR THE PURPOSE OF SELLING GOODS AND SOLICITATIONS. (A) No street, sidewalk, space between the sidewalk and curbing (commonly known as “parkstrip”), curbing, or the commonly traveled portion of any street in the city, including any median (the portion of a divided highway separating the traveled ways for traffic in opposite directions), shall be utilized by any person for the purpose of sale or distribution without charge of any goods or materials, and/or the solicitation of donations for charitable purposes from the drivers or occupants of any motor vehicle. (B) For the purposes of this section SALE or DISTRIBUTION shall mean the physical exchange of goods or materials with or without renumeration. (C) Nothing in this section shall prohibit the sale or distribution without charge to, and/or the solicitation of donations for charitable purposes from persons other than the drivers or occupants of motor vehicles, which persons are not on the traveled portion of any street or median in the city. (D) The prohibitions of this section shall only apply to major arterial streets as that classification is utilized in the Office of Traffic Engineering of the city. (Ord. G-20-91, passed 7-9-91) Penalty, see 99.99 John Flato

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