Thursday, November 18, 2004

The WJN looks beyond the hype

I was quite heartened to see this on the front page of today's News Jornal:

"Don't judge marine, area vets say"

The marine in question, of course, is the subject of an international controversy after he was videotaped shooting what appeared to be an injured, unarmed man in the head.

The News Journal did the right thing, interviewing local veterans who had seen combat themselves when covering this story. There may be hope for this paper yet.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Who Supports Racial Equality?

Condeleeza Rice's selection for Secretary of State has got to be eating a lot of Democrats up. Sure, they can say she's an evil Hitler wannabe, an Uncle Tom, or whatever they like, but it has to bother them. The first Black female Secretary of State, and she was selected by Bush, replacing the black man who left the position. It's not a surprise, of course, but it's gotta sting. Bush doesn't even believe in Affirmative Action, yet he has the most diverse cabinet ever, just picked Alberto Gonzales, a Hispanic, for Attorney General, and Clarence Thomas looks like he has a good chance to be chosen for Cheif Justice of the Supreme Court.

If I were a Democrat, I'd be pissed. Democrats talk about diversity, but the Republicans - no, not the Republicans, Bush - actually does something about it, while managing to choose minorities who are highly qualified, and who, no small detail, support most of his positions. They are not, no matter how much some may wish it were true, sellouts. They are powerful people who happen to be minorities.

Oooh, I'd be so pissed.

As it is, I'm pissed - if Condi had been a Democrat, her selection would be a big deal. She's not, so it doesn't matter. She's a Bushbot, not a strong black woman.

This is why I'm a non-partisan. No, I don't think we should be acting like it's so amazing that a minority, a female, no less, holds the third-highest position in America. But, look, when Barak Obama, whom I like a lot, spoke at the Democtratic Convention, it was all about how great the Dems were for having such a strong, intelligent, BLACK man on their side. Obama, there's a black person. Powell and Rice, not so much.

Something struck me during the debates about Bush's anti-Affirmative Action stance:

If No Child Left Behind succeeds, low income (specifically black and hispanic) students will enter high school on an even level with white and Asian students. Which will allow them to compete on the same level as white and Asian students when entering college. Which will allow them to compete for jobs on the same level, without needing racial preferences (just as Asian students, as a rule, do not need racial preferences to get into college or get jobs).

It's a very idealistic idea - Bush is an idealistic President - but no one has come up with a better plan to help poor minorities pull themselves up and become successful, and Affirmative Action can only go so far. It's not really helping the poorest minorities, but gives more middle class minorities an edge - an edge they already have by being middle class.

NCLB isn't perfect. In fact, I have a lot of issues with it in theory, especially when it comes to the excessive testing. I don't like the idea that teachers have to teach to a test in order to get a desired ranking for their school. But I'll tell you what: here in Wilmington, with a large black population, public schools are showing improvements academically, sometimes exceeding the private schools. If minority public school kids are excelling in elementary school (and they are, by and large, not least of all in the predominantly black, achievement-oriented Charter Schools in the city) and continue of the same path through high school, they'll be competing against rich white kids on their own merits.

That will be the test - where will these kids be in high school? When I was in high school in the '80s, the vast majority of black students were separated into special (non college bound) classes and schools (I was not, but I come from a middle class family). I never quite understood that - we were all together in Middle School, taking the same classes. Most of my black and Hispanic friends, all intelligent, went to Tech high school instead of regular high school, because, they said, they could go directly into the workforce after high school. That's important, when college seems impossibly expensive. But I also, in retrospect, wondered if they worried that they'd be segregated in regular high school, left to flounder. At least at Tech, they had a chance.

(There is nothing wrong with technical high schools, by the way. I don't believe that every student should go to college - there are many good trades that don't require a college degree, and many people choose these trades because it's what they want to do. That's a good thing. But if a kid aspires to have a job that requires a degree but doesn't think they have a chance of being put into college prep courses in high school, that's a problem.)

If black and Hispanic kids, because of the strict standards they had to meet, no excuses, in Elementary and Middle School, are meeting or exceeding the achievements of their white peers, they will, theoretically, be put in the same college-bound classes in high school. If they achieve or exceed there, we are looking at the beginning of real equality.

Idealistic, yes, but it's a powerful idea. If it works, it will do more for equality that Affirmative Action ever could. Hoo- boy, if I were a Democrat and I figured that out, I'd be pissed.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The Big Day

Voted this morning at 10 am. Very quick, very easy. I was only third or fourth in line; of course, 10 am is generally the "lull" time. There was one person standing outside the polling place wearing a t-shirt for a city council candidate. He did speak to me, but only because our kids go to the same school, not to verbally campaign. There were several campaign signs across the street, and although I didn't study them, it appeared that there was a single sign for each of the major candidates.

I didn't see any cops around, and there didn't seem to be an increase of poll workers from previous years. I didn't notice any partisan (or non-partisan) poll observers.

I forget what time I voted in 2000, but it was total chaos compared to this year. I remember a long wait, made more miserable because I had a cranky one-year old in a stroller. I also remember a lot of people campaigning outside as close as legally possible. In 2000, my polling place was in the lobby of a high rise apartment building. This year it was in a nearby Presbyterian Church, which I prefer. Things always move more smoothly and calmly there, although this is the first time I voted there for a Presidential election.

In any event, people were friendly, but voters are nervous. The woman ahead of me, holding her ballot so that I could grab a peek at the large "D" under "Party", mentioned to me that she expected lines, like she'd seen on TV. I nodded and said I'd heard about long lines too.

She sighed and said, "I just hope the right man wins it."

"Definitely," I said, holding my "I" ballot. I did agree with the sentiment, if not, I suspect, the "right man."

Friday, October 29, 2004

Explosives Explosion

New twists to al Qaqaagate. Keep an eye on Power Line to keep up with the story.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Blogs: Destroying Big Media's Plans to Control Voters

Wow. Things have gone crazy. Let's recap what's happened over the last week:

Last weekend, blogs such as Power Line, LGF, RedState, and others broke the news of a potentially devatstaing news story coming in the Monday Washington Times about John Kerry. The blogosphere went nuts. In the Walking World, folks were none the wiser, but on the Net, it was a big time story, even before the story itself (Security Council members deny meeting Kerry) broke.

Monday came, and with it the anticipated WaTimes front page story. But what's this? Nearly 380 tons of powerful explosives missing from Baghdad under Bush's watch? The media, blogs, and John Kerry explode. No one pays any attention to the Kerry/UN lies story. Convenient? Shah right.

The Al Qaqaa story started falling apart as soon as it hit. Embedded reporters claimed the explosives weren't there when the troops first arrived. While everyone was going on about the timing on the disappearances, and John Kerry started blaming the Bush AND the troops for the missing munitions, two bombshells came to light: 1) the amount of missing explosives is 3 tons, not 377 tons, and 2) There is evidence that the Russians helped move weapons out of Iraq before Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Holy backfire! Well, they definitely succeeded in one thing: few people are talking about John Kerry's pretend UN Securtiy Council meetings.

Oh, and another tidbit: CBS planned to break the story of the US failing to secure this 377 tons of explosives (which turnd out to be only three, which disappeared, possibly at the hands of the Russians, before coalition troops reached the site (and possibly before they even entered Iraq) - none of which, you can bet, CBS planned to tell you), the day before election day. Today is Thursday, and this story is becoming more and more bogus every day. Imagine if you changed your vote based on this story on a Tuesday, and found out you were being grossly misled on Thursday? That was the plan. But the NYT was forced to run a major story to hurt Bush on Monday because, obviously, they read blogs, and were tipped off that there was a big Kerry story coming. They claim it was because the story of the missing explosives was being leaked on the internet. I don't claim to read the whole internet, but I think most people will remember that the buzz immediately before the NYT published the story was about the upcoming Washington Times article on John Kerry, not what was essentially a year-old story on a weapons cache inflated by the press).

So, now, thanks to the blogs that scooped the Kerry/UN story, we have a whole week to look at the story of the missing explosives. Right on.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Nag the Vote

Nickelodeon is getting into the act of kids-urging-adults-to-do-their-bidding with "Nag the Vote." At least the name is honest. I haven't seen any of the "Nag" spots - I like Nickelodeon, but my son isn't interested in watching it often. I did watch this "Nick News" segment on kids involved with both the Bush and Kerry campaigns. I know some people are assuming Nick is biased in favor of Kerry based on the results of their mock election, but it's actually quite balanced. Both show multi-ethnic groups of kids (in fact, the sole black teen in the piece is a Bush supporter) making their case. The Kerry segment is more negative, yes, but hey, it's easier (and, in fact, necessary) for supporters of the incumbent to be positive about how things are going. Nick may actually be doing a better job than their sister station MTV and their terribly biased Rock The Vote campaign.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Delaware's All Over It (but you wouldn't know it)

I was interested to learn that the Vietnam Veteran who is suing the makers of "Stolen Honor," Kenneth J. Campbell, is a professor at the University of Delaware. The disputed footage, which can be seen on the "Stolen Honor" web site in the "Program Excerpts" section. It is 33-year old footage taken from the "Winter Soldier" documentary, which Campbell says is out of context.

You can read the News Journal's front page article on Campbell here.

I think it's appropriate that the News Journal interviewed Campbell, especially because of the fact that he is local. But I would point out that George Elliott (you can read the Dean's World interview with him here), a retired US Navy Captain under whom John Kerry seved in Vietnam, is also a Delawarean who resides in Lewes. He is also involved with Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth. Thomas S. Pyle, a former POW for over six years in Vietnam who appears in "Stolen Honor," is from Wilmington, DE. The News Journal saw fit to do a sympathetic cover story on Campbell in relation to the Kerry/Vietnam controversy, but not Elliott or Pyle.

In any event, I re-watched the clip of "Stolen Honor" that used the disputed clip. I have to say that, when I fist watched it, it was the most troubling clip out of all of them - it features a Michael Moore-like voiceover who does influence the footage. I was honestly confused watching it, and I did not get the impression that Campbell, based on the "Winter Soldier" footage, was a Vietnam Vet. He seemed like a guy who was leading actual Vets to give firsthand witness of events he's only heard about. This is pretty much Campbell's point, and he should absolutely be allowed to clear it up. One of the other Vets shown in the clip is Steve Pitkin, who admitted to lying about comitting atrocities during the Winter Solder's hearings, under pressure from John Kerry, among others. The narration in the clip is backed up by Pitkin's claims, which were not specifically cited. But Campbll isn't talking about how Pitkin was portrayed in the context of the voiceover, he was talking about how he was portrayed.

If Sinclair Broadcasting doesn't want to come off like they're promoting propoganda, perhaps they should ditch the cut-and-paste scenes with the theatrical voiceovers and stick to the interviews with the actual POWs, which, by themselves, are compelling.

UPDATE: I originally wrote this yesteday, but for some reason waited to post it. This morning, it seems that Sinclair Broadcasting has decided to air only portions of the film. The new special is titled "A POW Story: Politis, Pressure, and the Media."