January 11, 2006

I Really Didn’t Want to Have to Do This (E-Mail Exchange with WaPo’s Howard Kurtz) …..

Filed under: General,MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 9:35 pm

….. but I must, as I received an e-mail from The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz this afternoon just after 3PM, got a chance to see it at about 7PM (having been elsewhere), and am concerned that if I don’t respond I’ll fall into one of those “could not be reached for comment” black holes that give journalists more flexibility than they should have to play around with reality.

(links included in this post are not in the e-mail)

So, first, here is the body of the e-mail Mr. Kurtz sent to me (there was a postscript, but he said he “doesn’t want to get into it” — so I won’t):

Mr. Blumer,

I noted with interest your retraction and apology regarding Ken Ward.
Can I ask how you made this mistake, and if you felt any responsibility to check with Ward the reporter?
Thanks.

Here’s what I sent back to Mr. Kurtz at 9:35 PM:

Re: Your e-mail to me

Mr. Kurtz,

I insist that if The Post publishes any portion of this response to the body of your e-mail to me earlier today, that it be published in its entirety and without any editing. Whether or not The Post publishes this response, I have posted it at BizzyBlog along with the body of your original e-mail, so that readers can compare what I sent to what, if anything, The Post published.

My response to the body of your e-mail is this:
In future situations, I will contact the person involved if I think there’s even the slightest chance that I might be inadvertently linking to the work of more than one person that happens to have an identical or near-identical name. As a less-than-one-year blogger, I’ve used up my allocation of rookie mistakes.

My mistake was corrected and retracted within 18 hours of when the blog entry was originally published, and Mr. Ward accepted my apology roughly one hour later. I look forward to reading the 128 year-old Post’s completion of necessary substantive corrections to its story on milblogger Bill Roggio (“Bloggers, Money Now Weapons in Information War”) that ran roughly 18 days ago. Please notify me when those corrections have indeed been completed.

Regards,

Tom Blumer
BizzyBlog.com

COMEBACK: Seven minutes later (9:42), Mr. Kurtz responds:

I appreciate your response and will obviously note the correction. We do not promise to run complete statements in response to our inquiries. Thank you.

My response (9:53):

It’s obvious that you and The Post are just going to do what you want.

Your flaunting, if it indeed occurs, of what I insisted on, and had every right to insist on, will also be on the record here at BizzyBlog.

Tom

Kurtz (9:57):

Sir, I will give you a fair shot, as I do to everyone. You will notice, in fact, that I contacted you for a response, something you failed to do. Your comments will definitely be included.

Response (10:02):

Have a good night, Mr. Kurtz.

Ya think he’ll follow up on that Roggio request?
_______________________

UPDATE: Bill Roggio catchup for those who need it:

  • Jan. 3 — Bill Roggio: Embedded Bias?
  • Jan. 5 — BlackFive: Eleven Days: WashPo Dishonors Blogger
  • Jan. 6 — Michelle Malkin: The Washington Post: Bringing Bloggers Together (note towards the end of Michelle’s post that WaPo acknowledges that more corrections are coming over and above those cited in the Jan. 8 Blackfive item that follows)
  • Jan. 8 — More Blackfive: Correcting a Fact and Not The Intent

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ENGLISH LESSON: Zheesh — Charlie of YARGB in the comments below said I should have said “flauting” instead of “flaunting.” Trouble is “flauting” is not a word, so he must have meant “flouting,” which is a word and whose meaning fits.

But what’s wrong with “flaunting”? Dictionary.com says:

Usage Note: Flaunt as a transitive verb means “to exhibit ostentatiously”: She flaunted her wealth. To flout is “to show contempt for”: She flouted the proprieties. For some time now flaunt has been used in the sense “to show contempt for,” even by educated users of English. This usage is still widely seen as erroneous and is best avoided.

OK, whack me with a freakin’ wet noodle already. Who says you don’t learn by blogging?

Are we having fun yet? (no I’m not either)

Election Law Complaint Filed Against Bob McEwen —
UPDATE: Probable Cause Hearing

Filed under: OH-02 US House,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:35 pm

The Ohio Elections Commission’s Executive Director and four commissioners attended the probable cause hearing today.

There were three cases under consideration: Blumer v. McEwen was third. This was nice, as it gave me a chance to see what others were doing so I could know better what to do and not do.

The probable cause hearing panel found that sufficient probable cause exists that Bob McEwen violated ORC 3517.21, and moved to recommend (i.e., hold) a hearing with the full commission.

This hearing will take place on February 9 at the latest, but it appears that there is motivation in the circumstances on the part of the commissioners to have it heard earlier, perhaps much earlier.

Obviously, I’ll keep you posted. I will not blog on political matters as they relate to local or state elections in Ohio at least until the full commission hearing.

Because I am in the midst of an ongoing legal matter, I won’t accept any comments or trackbacks at this post (I’ve decided that accepting a trackback could be construed in an adversarial situation as an endorsement of the trackback’s comments, even though in reality it isn’t, and asserting such is absurd), but I will look around at sites that I believe might register their thoughts and will list them in a “neither endorse nor oppose” update when I begin to see them.
_____________________

QUICK NOTE: Mike Meckler of Red-State.com and Matt Naugle of the Blackwell Blog were in attendance and managed to stay awake (I think).

ANOTHER THING: If you’re curious, Bob McEwen did not attend. McEwen was represented by attorney Charles Saxbe.
_________________________________

Case Progression Posts:
- Dec. 29 — Probable Cause Hearing Held
- Jan. 3 — Probable Cause Hearing Scheduled
- Jan. 17 — Probable Cause Finding Letter
_____________________

OTHER POSTS:
(The links to other sites, and to comments at other sites, have been provided as a convenience. Linking to those sites and comments does not constitute agreement or disagreement as to facts or arguments asserted at those sites or in their comments, nor does it constitute endorsement of or opposition to any opinions expressed at those sites or in their comments.)

  • (Jan. 12) OH02 — “Ohio Elections Commission Finds Probable Cause”
  • (Jan. 12) Red-State.com — Michael Meckler’s Daily Entry
  • (Jan. 13) I guess I need to check The Enquirer Blog more often — here’s their entry from the afternoon of Jan. 12.

Brief Post Hiatus

Filed under: OH-02 US House,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:35 am

Because of this commitment and other pressing matters, there may not be another post until tomorrow morning.

Go to that post about today’s commitment for an important update relating to what can realistically be expected to come out of today’s probable cause panel.

John Merline of TCS Daily on the Reality of Mine Safety

Though I have little time to comment, John Merline of TCS Daily nails it. Go there.

First three grafs (I wish I would have thought up the first sentence):

Here’s a headline you aren’t likely to see: “Sago mine tragedy defies improved mine safety trend under the Bush administration.”

Yet, the facts support it.

Mining fatalities have dropped every year President Bush has been in the White House, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Since 2001, mining deaths averaged 63 a year, which is 30% lower than during the Clinton administration. The fatality rate has dropped as well — it was 31% lower in 2004 than it was in the last year of the Clinton administration.

Note that Merline is looking at ALL mining–not just coal, which has been the focus of the two key BizzyBlog posts (here and here).

Also, Merline’s coal mining fatality figures in his graph (the darker bars at the link) are higher than the MHSA figures used for my post. The difference, as I understand it, is that the rest don’t relate to the actual work of pulling coal out of the ground or onsite supervision of that effort, but are other deaths that happened to occur at coal sites. One example might be office worker heart attacks in the office. E-mail me if you have a succinct explanation of the difference.

Very nice job by Merline. Sago, even in the worst-case scenario of investigative results, is the exception and not the rule.
_____________________

UPDATE: Shrinkwrapped ties the mine tragedy into the obsessive and litigious desire by some to create risk-free world. Trouble risk-free also means progress-free, and, taken to its extreme, total inertia. His first two commenters suggested phrases that ought to have more currency: “truth-telling love” (good) and “idiot compassion” (bad).

UPDATE 2: Tom Bevan at Real Clear Politics updates his thoughts, and catches Joe Conason at the NY Observer in what delayed-effect hackery — according to Conason, it must take FOUR YEARS for lax safety standards and inspections to be reflected in higher fatalities and accidents.

Passage of the Day: John Stossel on Schools and Competition

Filed under: Consumer Outrage,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:11 am

A true consumer advocate, this guy’s so clear-headed it’s scary:

Last week, Florida’s supreme court ruled that public money can’t be spent on private schools because the state constitution commands the funding of only “uniform . . . high-quality” schools. How absurd. As if government schools are uniformly high quality. Or even mostly decent.

Apparently competition, which made even the Postal Service improve, is unconstitutional when it comes to public education in Florida.

Remember when the Postal Service said it couldn’t get it there overnight? Then companies like FedEx were allowed to compete. Private enterprise got it there absolutely, positively overnight. Now even the Post Office guarantees overnight delivery sometimes. Competition works.

Why can’t education work the same way? If people got to choose their kids’ school, education options would be endless. My tiny brain can’t begin to imagine the possibilities, but even I can guess there soon would be technology schools, cheap Wal-Mart-like schools, virtual schools where you learn at home on your computer, sports schools, music schools, schools that go all year, schools with uniforms, schools that open early and keep kids later, and, who knows? If there were competition, all kinds of new ideas would bloom.

This already happens overseas, and the results are good.

For “Stupid in America,” a special report ABC will air Friday, we gave identical tests to high school students in New Jersey and Belgium. The Belgians trounced the Americans. We didn’t pick smart kids in Europe and dumb kids in the United States. The American students attend an above-average school in New Jersey, and New Jersey kids’ test scores are above average for America. “It has to be something with the school,” said a New Jersey student, “’cause I don’t think we’re stupider.”

She was right: It’s the schools. At age 10, students from 25 countries take the same test, and American kids place eighth, well above the international average. But by age 15, when students from 40 countries are tested, the Americans place 25th, well below the international average. In other words, the longer American kids stay in American schools, the worse they do. They do worse than kids from much poorer countries, like Korea and Poland.

This should come as no surprise since public education in the USA is a government monopoly. If you don’t like your public school? Tough. If the school is terrible? Tough. Your taxes fund that school regardless of whether it’s good or bad.

And guess who actually has a competitive school set-up? Be seated first:

Kaat Vandensavel runs a Belgian government school, but in Belgium, school funding follows students, even to private schools. So Vandensavel has to work hard to impress the parents. “If we don’t offer them what they want for their child, they won’t come to our school.” That pressure makes a world of difference, she says. It forces Belgian schools to innovate in order to appeal to parents and students. Vandensavel’s school offers extra sports programs and classes in hairdressing, car mechanics, cooking, and furniture building. She told us, “We have to work hard day after day. Otherwise you just [go] out of business.”

“That’s normal in Western Europe,” Harvard economist Caroline Hoxby told me. “If schools don’t perform well, a parent would never be trapped in that school in the same way you could be trapped in the U.S.”

Vandensavel adds, “America seems like a medieval country . . . a Communist country on the educational level, because there’s no freedom of choice — not for parents, not for pupils.”

Even socialist Western Europe believes in school choice. Why don’t we? I’m even willing to grit my teeth and say “we ought to be more like them” (ooh, that hurts) in this one regard.

WSJ: State Governments Are Flush

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:02 am

The financial conditions of the various state governments have mostly improved, and in a very big way. They should be sending thank-you notes to President Bush and the Republican Congress for spurring the economy into prosperity:

As usual, strong profits on Wall Street are playing a central role in New York’s recovery. California cites higher-than-expected corporate tax revenues. In Connecticut, where a $524 million surplus is anticipated, officials point to capital gains on stock sales as the biggest factor. And in Virginia — where Democratic Governor Mark Warner pled poverty two years ago in order to push through a record tax increase — a hefty $1.1 billion surplus has been projected. Even some Republican governors, like Mitch Daniels of Indiana, found themselves pushing prematurely for tax increases. For the first three quarters of 2005, Indiana’s state tax receipts are up 6.3%.

In fact, the state budget “crisis” that we’ve been reading about for the past few years always had more to do with overspending than revenue shortfalls. Using Census data, Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute calculates that state revenues did drop 3.2% in 2002, but they rebounded by 4.2% the next year. States saw revenue growth of 8.7% in 2004 and an estimated 8% last year. In other words, if budgets weren’t being balanced, it’s not because the taxpayers weren’t doing their part.

State politicians will claim these newfound riches shouldn’t be returned to taxpayers because of rising Medicaid costs. And it’s certainly true that that program is claiming a higher and higher percentage of state budgets. But that’s not an argument against tax cuts; it’s an argument for Medicaid reform. And history shows that, given their druthers, state politicians would much rather use boom cycles to placate special interests by expanding entitlements rather than reforming them.

Voters might also keep all this in mind during the next economic downturn, when their state politicians come asking for more money to tackle problems that they lacked the discipline to address when their coffers were full.

They’re so good at spending it when times are good, and whining about tax increases when times aren’t so good, all the while gobbling up an ever-larger share of everyone’s income. How many workers are getting 8% raises this year? And how many families in the private sector blow $11,000 for health care on each and every family member, as New York does in its entire Medicaid system ($44 billion for 4 million eligible people)?

One example: Through the first five months (July through November) of the 2005-2006 fiscal year, state revenues in Ohio are $723 million, or 7.8%, ahead of the same period in 2004-2005 (go to The Ohio Office of Budget and Management’s Monthly Financial Report page, click on December 10′s PDF link, and look near the bottom of Page 14). If the economy keeps cruising along at a 3.5% or so GDP growth rate, the state may collect over $1.7 billion more in fiscal 2006 than it did in fiscal 2005.

With the states so flush, would it be unreasonable to ask why these windfalls (or, in Ohio’s case, at least half, after considering inflation) shouldn’t be returned to taxpayers?

Positivity: Man Saves a Boy’s Life Before The Fire Crew Could Arrive

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:11 am

It sounds like he’d rather not get the recognition, but he deserves it(HT Good News Blog):

Hero saves child from burning flames

BAKERSFIELD (CA) – A local man is being hailed as a hero after rescuing a child from a burning apartment building late Thursday evening.

According to Bakersfield Fire Department, a fire broke out inside an apartment building just before midnight Thursday at the 1300 block of Miller Street.

As fire crews were on their way, a Good Samaritan jumped into the flames to help a child in danger.

DeQuincy Parks rushed into the building and found flames surrounding a little boy’s bed.

“He came down and thank god he’s alive,” said Parks.

Soon, fire crews arrived to deal with heavy flames coming from a second story apartment unit on the north side of the building.

They said the fire was contained to the one apartment, but that six were threatened at one point.

Within 20 minutes, they had the blaze under control.

Fire officials said it was because of Parks’ quick actions that the boy is alive.

Parks responded by saying he didn’t need recognition and remained humble about the rescue.