March 2006 Archives


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Dateline: Home Study

The Wall Street Journal, Friday 17 March 2006, V. CCXLVII, N 63, P 1. “As Sponsorship Sales Blossom, Public Radio Walks a Fine Line.”

I used to be a big fan of public radio. It did provide a source of music I couldn’t find elsewhere, and I even enjoyed the news. Although I did, still do, refer to NPR’s Morning Edition as Morning Sedition and All things Considered as All Things Left and Liberal I was able to cut through the left-wing bias and find the kernel of truth there. What I liked about it was that the news stories were more in depth and a greater length of time was spent on individual stories than on other news stations. It was also convenient while in the car traveling. I actually was able to get caught up on some of the news on my drives to Memphis for my Naval War College classes.

But then along came Sirius satellite radio. With well over 100 stations from which to choose, I could listen to all the classical music I wanted. And if I was in the mood for jazz, blues, rock, comedy, or talk, I had many options to choose from there as well. But I also have access to news. I can listen to Fox News, CNN, CNN Headline News, CSPAN, ABC News, the BBC, and others, including NPR. All this, and more, for less than $15 a month!

The WSJ article discusses how elite the public radio audience is, which is true. I certainly fall into the categories they discuss about household income and education levels, which raises the question, why is the government subsidizing radio for those of us who are most able to afford it on our own? Could we not simply let the public radio stations go public and spend our tax dollars on other worthy causes? Do we even need public radio and public television anymore? We did at one time, but now give me a choice between The Learning Channel, The History Channel, Discovery, or public TV and it is goodbye public TV.

Public radio is moving in the right direction, just not fast enough.


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Dateline: Home Study

The news media gets it wrong...again. No real surprise here. There is a lot to cover and too few people to cover it, so I can accept some mistakes. What is bothering me however, is the laziness of the media. They seem to not even bother with checking facts any more.

Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal ran a story about how Chinese bloggers turned off their blogs and the media reported it as government crack-downs. They reporters never bothered to check for facts. The bloggers? Well they just wanted to prove how lazy and inaccurate the press is; point made.

Today I learned of more erroneous reporting; in Iraq nonetheless. General Chiarelli, in a DoD news conference today had a few words to say about the exaggerations of attacks on mosques in Iraq. Although the press reported numerous mosques burning, the reality is that there were no fires. Here's the quote:

In the days immediately following the Samarra bombing, the press was actively tracking and reporting every single mosque attack, but the vast majority of the reporting was off the mark. I recalled reports of hundreds of mosques attacked and 30 mosques burning in Baghdad in one night. These reports were terribly inaccurate.

As we received reports of mosque attacks, we sent forces out to physically check the mosques for damage. We received 81 reports of mosques being attacked from sources other than our subordinate units. Of these 81 mosque reports, 17 had light damage, such as bullet holes or broken glass, and six had medium damage, repairable within six months. Only two mosques were completely destroyed, and none were burned.

Keep in mind, these reports are for a country that has thousands of mosques. Yet as I watched the news, I thought that every mosque in Iraq was being attacked.

Again, I'm not making light of the tragedy of the violence that has occurred. But I remain convinced that the resiliency and optimism of the Iraqi people will keep Iraq moving in the right direction.

What really bother s me is that the general public is not getting this information as I am (although they could). Instead, they believe what they read in the papers and form opinions accordingly. So, when I read of the effort in Iraq is loosing public support I know it is based on false information. That is not responsible journalism.

Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Haley Barbour vetoed the tax bill sent to him by the Mississippi Legislature. Was there any doubt? Neither Barbour nor the Democrats are dumb. Just a few years ago, after careful consideration, a certain President George W. Bush decided that a proposed tax increase was the right thing to do. Clinton then reminded him of his "read my lips; no new taxes" campaign promise he made.

Barbour ran on a similar "no new taxes" platform and now the legislature is surprised that he vetoed a tax increase. Sure, the other side of the argument is that there would be tax cut for food, and the tax increase is only cigarettes, but Barbour knows and remembers the Democrats. When (notice I didn't say if) he makes a id for national office, he does not want this to come back and bit him in the butt.

Mississippi Democrats have, finally, learned about regressive taxes. They are now talking about the high taxes we have on groceries and how it is harmful to the poor. Yep, sure is. It was just as harmful when they raised the tax rate and did not grant an exemption of groceries. If they are truly concerned about the high grocery tax, then send Barbour a bill lowering it. But make sure it includes where the cuts will come from to account for the loss in revenue. And there, my friends, is the rub, a Democrat would have to propose budget cuts!

Dateline: Home Study

I'm enjoying a little of Spring Break this week, and putting off some course work I really need to do, but I also felt a need to catch up on some reading. A couple of articles seem to indicate that things in Iraq are not as bad as the media makes them out to be. No surprise, based on the other sources of information I have.

Iraq Withdrawal: A Tragedy in Slow Motion by Colonel Norvell B. De Atkine, USA (Ret), US Naval Institute Proceedings, March 2006, V131 N3 P12.

Basic argument is that withdrawing from Iraq at this time is not an option. The US is needed to stabilize not only Iraq, but also the Middle East. He also discusses the possibility of dividing Iraq into separate countries and says that is not an option. Out right civil war is unlikely, but insurgencies will continues. Arguments about legitimate government need to first define legitimate. On of the major points he makes, and I have to agree with, is that the US does not understand the Middle Eastern way of war.

I find it hard to believe that people are even thinking of dividing Iraq into three countries. Did we not learn anything from the likes of Yugoslavia? Part of the problem now is, in my opinion, the way the Middle East was carved up long ago, further divisions would likely only create greater feelings of divisiveness.

The Paradox of International Action, Francis Fukuyama, The American Interest, V1 N3 P7.

One point: The United Nations is a distraction to both the left and the right. The UN is not capable of enforcing any of its resolutions and its legitimacy is even questionable at times. Fukuyama seems to be saying that coalitions of the willing may well be the wave of the future in conjunction with other, perhaps more complex international organizations. He points out that we have many international standards which were developed without the UN.

I am also pretty impressed with The American Interest, even though it is only in its third issue. The articles are well-written, enjoyable, and informative. Many of them are also thought provoking and seem to be less biased than many other journals. Of course “unbiased” really means I agree with their bias.

Security Council Waivers on Taking Tehran to Task, by Cara Anne Robbins and Guy Chazan. Wall Street Journal, 15 March 2006, Vol. CCXLVII No. 61 p. A6.

See Fukuyama above. The United Nations is incapable of doing anything with Iran so it is reluctant to try and do anything. Again, coalitions created off-line will most likely be root of solution to the difficulty. The US, because it has little to no trade with Iran, has little to exercise as far as economic sanctions. Because of the oil exported to Europe, it is not clear what the European countries will be willing to do. Again, the UN is ineffective in many matters of security.


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Dateline: Home Study

I was disappointed a little this morning. I emailed the National Defense University yesterday after reading the latest issue of Joint Forces Quarterly and offered to review a book they need reviewed. This morning I got email that something strange had happened and there had actually been two previous requests in the last few days to review the book and it has already been sent out. So, because I'd like to get a review published in the JFQ, I offered to review another. We'll see what happens.

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