Thursday, September 29, 2005
The Virginian Pilot wrote an editorial based on an easily fact–checked lie by the New York Times.
What was the lie?
It was asserted that Wake County Black and Hispanic students dramatically improved their test scores because of “efforts to integrate schools economically.”
What was left out of the story was that across the state of North Carolina all black kids showed the same improvement. In other words, economic integration had nothing to do with it.
There are three lessons here:
- Fact check the New York Times
- Fact check the Virginian Pilot – in fact, the odds is if you go against the Pilot’s editorial position you are apt to win the lottery.
- This kind of stupid analysis leads to stupid policy decisions because too many elected officials still read either the NY Times or the Virginian Piltdown.
Read the whole article and then check to original sources they are linked to. Believe nothing in the news media and always go to original sources.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Whether or not you agreed with them, university presidents used to be dignified.
figures on the American scene. They often were distinguished scholars, capable
of bringing their own brand of independent thinking to bear on the operation and
reform of their institutions. Above all, they took seriously the university's
mission to seek and transmit the Truth, and thereby to strengthen the free
society that made such inquiry possible.
But it has been a long time since
Woodrow Wilson (at Princeton), Robert Hutchins (at Chicago) or James Bryant
Conant (at Harvard) set the tone for American campuses. Over the past year, four
university presidents have been in the news--from Harvard; the University of
California, Santa Cruz; the University of Colorado; and the University of
California, Berkeley. In each case, the curtains have briefly parted, allowing
the public to glimpse the campus wizards working the levers behind the scenes,
and confirming that something has gone terribly wrong at our best public and
Hypocrisy, faddishness, arrogance and intellectual
cowardice are among the ailments of the American university today, and it is
hard to say whether even a great president could save higher education from its
now institutionalized vices. Amid the variety of scandals afflicting the
campuses, the one constant is how the rhetoric of "diversity" trumps almost all
other considerations--and how race and gender can be manipulated by either the
college president or the faculty in ways that have nothing to do with educating
America's youth, but everything to do with personal aggrandizement in an
increasingly archaic and unexamined enclave
Monday, September 26, 2005
Ferry Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen
While We Were Away
We have been away for a week, exploring the Pacific Northwest. Seattle and Vancouver. The weather was fantastic, the sights were wonderful. Glad to be back home.
What if you lie and you have no shame?
Here is an example;
Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard has apparently decided that the best defense is to be really offensive. Tim Russert and Meet the Press invited Broussard back on the NBC show yesterday to get an update on the status of its recovery from Hurricane Katrina. Russert also wanted to get Broussard's explanation for his earlier contention that the federal government allowed an associate's mother to drown rather than rescue her from a nursing home when it turned out that she had drowned a week earlier -- and that Broussard had lied about what his associate told him.
From Power Line:
With the passage of time, it has become apparent that most of the "evidence" on the basis of which the Democrats launched their hysterical post-Katrina attack on the Bush administration was wrong. As the facts come into focus, the dominant question that emerges is: how could the mainstream media have done such a poor job in reporting on Hurricane Katrina?
Here's the latest: The lurid reports of widespread criminality in New Orleans, and especially of crime and chaos at the SuperDome and Convention Center, were almost entirely untrue:
Read the whole thing HERE
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Victor Davis Hanson on the MSM's frenzied and incompetent coverage of the impact of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans. The media got the most important facts of the story wrong. Its death count estimate of 10,000 seems likely to be off by a large multiple. And, as Hanson notes, "we were assured that stagnant water would submerge the city for months, even as our screens showed dry, lighted streets, torrents pumped back out and pools evaporating under scorching heat." In fact, the MSM was so busy pointing its finger at President Bush that it largely missed the magnitude and accomplishments of the federal relief effort. Nor did it competently play the blame game, failing to ask the basic question of how this relief effort measured up against past ones.
Here's Hanson verdict:
For all the media's efforts to turn the natural disaster of New Orleans into a racist nightmare, a death knell for one or the other political parties or an indictment of American culture at large, it was none of that at all. What we did endure instead were slick but poorly educated journalists, worried not about truth but about pre-empting their rivals with an ever-more-hysterical story, all in a fuzzy context of political correctness about race, the environment and the war.
Let ghoulish CNN file suit against the government to film all the bloated corpses it can find. Let a pontificating PBS "News-Hour" conduct more televised roundtables with grim-faced elites searching out purported national racism. But few any longer trust a frenzied media whose reporters and commentators continually prove as incompetent as they are disingenuous.
Was it too much to ask reporters to look to history to judge this recovery against other past disasters here and abroad? Could they have strived for accuracy instead of ratings — and at least made sure that the images from their cameras did not refute their own predetermined scripts?
Friday, September 16, 2005
As the last of the evacuees from New Orleans settle into shelters, the levees are plugged and the water begins to recede, what is being revealed is not the tens of thousands of dead bodies predicted for the past two weeks but some of the most inaccurate reporting of a major news story in memory. While the mainstream media has been climbing all over itself trying to find ways to tie George Bush to the New Orleans disaster, it might be better served trying to figure out how they could have so uncritically accepted a body count from New Orleans that could easily be ten or more times the actual number.
As the days passed and the body count in New Orleans stayed in triple digits, shouldn’t some of the talking heads at the major networks or the pundits at the national newspapers have begun to ask themselves where were all the bodies? Before self-appointing itself the role of discovering all the failures of the Bush administration in the ongoing national disaster, perhaps they should try to account for how they could have spent so much time informing the American people of a catastrophic loss of life that never occurred. Much of the public perception of governmental incompetence and failure in the relief effort was based on their vastly exaggerated projected body count.
The media filtered what they were reporting through their preconceived political biases and racial stereotypes and emphasized those stories that re-enforced their preconceptions. From the outset, the TV reporters started talking about two disasters: the natural disaster which was caused by the hurricane and the man-made disaster which happened in New Orleans, the blame for which was laid at the hands of George Bush. According to the script, the tragedy of the original hit from the hurricane was turned into a human catastrophe by the failure of the federal government to respond in an effective and timely manner. The levees gave way because Bush had refused to authorize the money to upgrade them, the National Guard was unavailable because they had all been sent to Iraq, the federal government didn’t respond quickly because it would have interfered with Bush’s vacation, the hurricane was the result of global warming, which of course was caused by the Bush Administration sacrifice of the environment for the profit of Bush’s cronies, the indifference to the suffering of the people in the region was due to Bush’s lack of concern for those who are black or poor, the inefficiency in the relief effort was due to the appointment of unqualified friends and supporters.
The media was also filtering the events through racial stereotyping of blacks as either criminal or hopelessly poor, incompetent and wholly dependent on governmental largesse. Complementary to this was the portrait of the Bush Administration as white, wealthy and indifferent to poor blacks. This narrative of catastrophic loss of the lives of thousands of poor blacks at the hands of an uncaring and incompetent white administration played out day after day with nobody seeming to notice that events weren’t really following the script. Tales of anarchy at the Superdome with large numbers of rapes and murders did not turn out to be true (though they have done enormous damage to our international reputation), as police reported no claims of rapes and few weapons were found. Ominously, twenty-five thousand body bags were ordered to the New Orleans area but in one of the all-time cases of over ordering, it seems they have a need for less than 3% of them.
Simple logic indicated that these predictions of massive numbers of dead were very unlikely. The reporting of the event largely ignored or overlooked some very important factors.
The catastrophic disaster scenario never occurred. The feared event was that New Orleans would be hit by a category four or five storm and a storm surge twenty feet high would flow over the levees. Once there, the levees would trap the water and New Orleans would become a bowl that filled up too fast and the ensuing rush of trapped water would drown tens of thousands of people. That simply didn’t happen. Instead, the levees broke under the pressure of the rising level of the lake and the water flowed into the city, equalizing the water level in the city and the lake. In the initial stages, there was rapidly rising water that led to some drowning but not on anything like the catastrophic scale envisioned by the mayor and members of the media.
While the water posed a significant threat to the functioning of the city, it for the most part did not pose an immediate threat to lives. To the extent that it did, the saving of lives of people trapped by the flood in houses and on roofs became the main focus of the initial rescue efforts. Thousands of trapped people were rescued by boats and helicopters from the flooded streets of the city as Coast Guard personnel, police and volunteers worked round the clock for several days getting to every survivor they could find.
Many of the people of New Orleans who did not evacuate took precautions to prepare for the ordeal. Those who chose to wait it out at home mostly stocked up on bottled water and canned foods. Among those who chose to seek shelter at the Superdome or the Convention Center, many heeded the advice to bring provisions to last two or three days. There had to have been some provisions at these evacuation centers since almost everyone survived the ordeal and they certainly wouldn’t have lasted three days in 95 degree heat if they didn’t take in any fluids.
Most people know how to swim. People who die in floods fall victims to rapidly moving water, rampaging rivers, storm surges, tidal waves, broken dams, or are dragged under by rapidly moving currents. The pictures of New Orleans showed that a great number of the city streets were covered by water. But they also showed that the water in most places was not over people’s heads and where it was more than five or six feet deep, it was calm enough for people to swim. People managed to climb onto roofs, hold onto things, climb into boats, or could swim well enough to simply keep their head above water until help arrived.
The media assumption that all the victims were poor and black was based on the fact that the vast majority of people in the Superdome and the convention center were black. There have been over 1,000,000 people at least temporarily displaced to shelters and homes all over the country. Who they are, how wealthy they are and how many of them are black is not at clear. Nor is it clear who have lost the most and who are in the most difficult situations.
The most catastrophic loss of life occurred in places in the direct path of the hurricane, primarily along the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts, realtively ignored by the mass media. There have been no statistics given for the racial identity of the known dead from the storm but there is plenty of reason to believe that a substantial proportion of them were white. Far from being forgotten, the black victims of the storm dominated the coverage. Playing out the usual script of America as a racist society that ignores the poor and the black, the media coverage was heavily focused on the plight of the evacuees at the Superdome and the Convention Center who were mostly black, while paying considerably less attention to the outlying regions where most of the tragedy occurred but the victims were more economically and racially mixed, with a majority in most locales white.
Furthermore, to make the case of administration incompetence and indifference to black people, the media emphasized lack of security at the Superdome, showing the same videos of young black males looting stores and reporting every unsubstantiated rumor of criminality they could find. The picture presented was one of chaos and anarchy. But in spite of little food or water and in spite of frightful heat, humidity and a complete lack of sanitation they survived. They had to have shared what little food and water they had, they had to have kept up each others spirits, they had to have shown great courage throughout the ordeal, and in the end the media presented them as victims when they deserved to be portrayed as heroes.
There will be “Katrina Commissions”, and in depth newspaper articles and TV news programs about the aftermath of the storm. They will all be filled with what went wrong and recommendations for how to do it better next time. But you can't plan for every contingency in a natural disaster. Things will happen that can’t be predicted and we will have to rely on the courage and ingenuity of the people who are caught in it. The story of this storm is that in spite of the potential for catastrophic disaster, almost everyone survived.
In a matter of hours, nearly an entire city was destroyed and its infrastructure rendered useless. 80% of its streets were underwater, and the city was left with absolutely no communications, water, electricity, commerce and almost no public authority. Yet within a week, over a million people were safely evacuated to places of shelter with almost no loss of life. This is a very positive story about human resilience under unbelievably difficult conditions. Of course, each of the hundreds of lives lost is a terrible loss. But given the magnitude of the hurricane, we have come out very well indeed. Possible criminal negligence in a nursing home is exceptional, and will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
While the talking heads and newspaper pundits were focusing on a fairy tale about tens of thousands of deaths due to the Bush administration’s indifference and incompetence they were missing the real story of Coast Guard pilots, doctors, nurses, and ordinary citizens whose round the clock heroism saved the lives of almost everyone who hadn’t perished in the original storm. Why did we see so little of that on the news?
Jonathan Cohen is Professor of Mathematics at DePaul University, Chicago
Sunday, September 11, 2005
The victims that the press forgot.
There are towns and cities in the direct path of Katrina. Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, Long Beach, Gulfport, Biloxi, Pascagoula. And here devastation is dramatic and, in some places, complete. But you have to go to local sources and local reporters to become aware of this. You also have to go to local sources to find out what is being done by the good people of this country to come to the aid of those who suffered the most.
Why this disregard for the rest of the Gulf that got the brunt of the storm?
Well, New Orleans was the largest city affected by Katrina.
Then too, the MSM reacted to the extravagant antics - and colorful language - of the major of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, and the weeping of Louisiana’s governor, Kathleen Blanco. And the anger ... don't forget the anger; it makes for good images, and draws an audience.
Familiarity may have had something to do with it: New Orleans is nationally known and famous – or infamous – for its customs. There probably isn’t a national reporter who has not been to the French Quarter in New Orleans, sampled its food, and its flesh. Most would have a hard time finding Pascagoula on the map.
Politics may have had something to do with it: Democrats have run Louisiana and New Orleans since Reconstruction. Mississippi has a Republican governor who was actually blamed by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. for causing hurricane Katrina.
And race may have had something to do with it: New Orleans is about 67% black, the communities on the Gulf coast are majority white.
Whatever the reason, those who were killed, injured or merely dispossessed on the Gulf coast will continue to be ignored while the story is the flooding of New Orleans. But that’s OK. At least the satellite trucks of the ghouls currently exploiting the dead in New Orleans will not be getting in the way of the rescue efforts of the good people of the Gulf coast.
Friday, September 09, 2005
Click on the headline to read the whole thing.
As the full horror of Hurricane Katrina sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if this is the end of George Bush’s presidency. The answer is almost certainly yes, provided that every copy of the US Constitution was destroyed in the storm. Otherwise President Bush will remain in office until noon on January 20th, 2009, as required by the 20th Amendment, after which he is barred from seeking a third term anyway under the 22nd Amendment.
As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if the entire political agenda of George Bush’s second term will not still be damaged in some terribly satisfying way.
The answer is almost certainly yes, provided that the entire political agenda of George Bush’s second term consists of repealing the 22nd Amendment. Otherwise, with a clear Republican majority in both Houses of Congress, he can carry on doing pretty much whatever he likes.
As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if the Republican Party itself will now suffer a setback at the congressional mid-term elections next November.
The answer is almost certainly yes, provided that people outside the disaster zone punish their local representatives for events elsewhere a year previously, both beyond their control and outside their remit, while people inside the disaster zone reward their local representatives for an ongoing calamity they were supposed to prevent. Otherwise, the Democratic Party will suffer a setback at the next congressional election.
The Salvation Army basically said look. We...first of all, both agencies also want to let people know that they've served the needs of thousands of people who got out, and who got out just a little bit to high ground, north of New Orleans. But they couldn't get in to meet those needs. They asked to get in. They were prepared with their...the Salvation Army has these ever-familiar portable kitchen canteens, is what they call them. They can actually make food, produce food on spot, and distribute it there. People line up. We've seen that at hurricanes and other natural disasters. They were ready. Not allowed in. At first, it was this idea that we don't want to create a magnet at the evacuation site. Secondarily, it became an issue of well, there's lots of water, and we can't assure your safety, so on and so forth. Here's another key point, Hugh. I was very specific with the American Red Cross, president and CEO Marty Evans, and said wait. Tell me clearly. Were you prepared to go in before the levees broke? Before water became an issue of any kind? She said absolutely. Were you denied access before the levees broke? She said we were denied access from minute one.
HH: And did they attempt to renew their request to get in after the levees broke, Major Garrett?
MG: Yes. I am told that the timeline indicates a frequent reasking of this question.
HH: And a frequent denial by Louisiana state Department of Homeland Security?
Read the whole thing. Why is this information not reported more widely? Where is the MSM meltdown? Where is the outrage?
Oh, right, the MSM is too busy kicking Bush to pay attention. It would ruin their story line.
New Orleans - What Went Wrong, Part 1
Last night FOX News Correspondent Major Garrett reported that Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco denied the help of the Red Cross. Tonight, Garrett digs deeper in what looks to be a cover-up and finds out Blanco also denied The Salvation Army. I hope there is a Part 3 to this investigation.
To view website and view video click here.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
New Orleans From Space
Bring on the investigations!
According to Hugh Hewitt, Major Garrett of Fox News is reporting that the Red Cross "had prepositioned water, food, blankets and hygiene products for delivery to the Superdome and the Convention Center in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, but were blocked from delivering those supplies by orders of the Louisiana state government, which did not want to attract people to the Superdome and/or Convention Center."
This is now confirmed by the Red Cross.
Let's have that investigation.
The target of my ire is people like, well, me: those of us who are supposed to make sense of events. It's an important job but also one in which it is all too easy to sacrifice perspective on the altar of immediacy.
At this point, we simply don't know what it all means and who, if anyone, is to blame. Many of the attempts to assign blame have already been revealed as farcically unconvincing. The argument, for instance, that Katrina is the offspring of global warming ignores meteorological records that show that the number of hurricanes has been cycling up and down for decades. An even more incendiary charge — that the response was dilatory because so many victims were African Americans — is presented with even less evidence, which is to say, none at all. No doubt other nuggets of insta-analysis will also be debunked in the days ahead, while future investigations will reveal problems that no one knew existed.
Eventually it will be important to figure out what happened and why in order to prevent a repeat — if we can. (And that's a big if.)
But not now. Now soldiers and relief workers must concentrate on the tasks at hand — saving the living, burying the dead, restoring the rule of law. Everything else can wait, even in this instant-gratification world of 24/7 sound bites.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
"Readers may recall my words from a week ago on the approaching Katrina: "We relish the opportunity to rise to the occasion. And on the whole we do. Oh, to be sure, there are always folks who panic or loot. But most people don't, and many are capable of extraordinary acts of hastily improvised heroism."
What the hell was I thinking? I should be fired for that. Well, someone should be fired. I say that in the spirit of the Mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, the Anti-Giuliani, a Mayor Culpa who always knows where to point the finger.
For some reason, I failed to consider the possibility that the panickers would include Hizzoner the Mayor and the looters would include significant numbers of the police department, though in fairness I wasn't the only one. As General Blum said at Saturday's Defence Department briefing: "No one anticipated the disintegration or the erosion of the civilian police force in New Orleans."
Indeed, they eroded faster than the levees...."
Consider the signature image of the flood: an aerial shot of 255 school buses neatly parked at one city lot, their fuel tanks leaking gasoline into the urban lake. An enterprising blogger, Bryan Preston, worked out that each bus had 66 seats, which meant that the vehicles at just that one lot could have ferried out 16,830 people. Instead of entrusting its most vulnerable citizens to the gang-infested faecal hell of the Superdome, New Orleans had more than enough municipal transport on hand to have got almost everyone out in a couple of runs last Sunday.
Why didn't they? Well, the mayor didn't give the order. OK, but how about school board officials, or the fellows with the public schools transportation department, or the guy who runs that motor pool, or the individual bus drivers? If it ever occurred to any of them that these were potentially useful evacuation assets, they kept it to themselves.
So the first school bus to escape New Orleans and make it to safety in Texas was one that had been abandoned on a city street. A party of sodden citizens, ranging from the elderly to an eight-day-old baby, were desperate to get out, hopped aboard and got teenager Jabbor Gibson to drive them 13 hours non-stop to Houston. He'd never driven a bus before, and the authorities back in New Orleans may yet prosecute him. For rescuing people without a permit?
My mistake was to think that the citizenry of the Big Easy would rise to the great rallying cry of Todd Beamer: "Are you ready, guys? Let's roll!" Instead, the spirit of the week was summed up by a gentleman called Mike Franklin, taking time out of his hectic schedule of looting to speak to the Associated Press: "People who are oppressed all their lives, man, it's an opportunity to get back at society."
Unlike 9/11, when the cult of victimhood was temporarily suspended in honour of the many real, actual victims under the rubble, in New Orleans everyone claimed the mantle of victim, from the incompetent mayor to the "oppressed" guys wading through the water with new DVD players under each arm.
Welfare culture is bad not just because, as in Europe, it's bankrupting the state, but because it enfeebles the citizenry, it erodes self-reliance and resourcefulness.
New Orleans is a party town in the middle of a welfare swamp and, like many parties, it doesn't look so good when someone puts the lights up.
I wish I had said that.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
It is becomeing easy to spot enemy collaborators in the war against Islamofascism. All it takes it a little attention to adjectives and nouns.
Friday, September 02, 2005
Katrina, New Orleans and Fallen Man
Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of war, where every man is enemy to every man, the same consequent to the time wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
The Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
We are often reminded of the fact that much of the world is ruled by fear and racked by famine, disease and sudden death. But despite the assertions made by professional grievance groups about the horrors of life in the United States, this third world status quo is simply not part of our domestic experience. It is something that happens “over there” and is done by “others.”
But let the guardrails of society be broken and anarchy reign, and we find that there are elements of American society that are no different than the “others” and that the veneer of civilization is thin indeed.
That is one of the lessons of Katrina and the devastation it has visited on the Gulf coast. Others have commented on the devastation and loss of life. My heart goes out to those affected and their families. And I am thankful that I live far from the destruction. But seeing what Americans will do when a modern society, its infrastructure and its social structure fails is instructive.
Without access to a grocery store or running water, modern man starves or dies of thirst.
He is surrounded by his own feces.
Without cars, truck and busses he is immobilized and huddles in masses; creating the modern version of refugee camps in sports stadiums and parking lots.
He forages where he can, breaking into grocery and clothing stores.
He steals what he cannot eat: DVD players, refrigerators, TV sets, jewelry, guns.
And finally, he reverts to robbery and murder, shooting and killing for sheer sport; just because he can, for the guardians of a civil society are removed.
In the midst of a natural catastrophe, to be confronted by the face of human evil is doubly disturbing because it goes against our civil religion: that we are naturally good and virtuous. It takes an event like Katrina to show is that when the bonds of society are broken the life of man can easily be “…poor, nasty, brutish and short.”