Wednesday, November 15, 2006

New Morning

I have not posted in ages. A lot has happened since I last posted. Baseball has crowned a new champion. NFL Football is half way through another season. Mid-term elections were held.

It's good for the Cardinals that they won. Being a Mets fan, it was disappointing to lose in the NLCS. We were missing two of our better pitchers. Those are the breaks. It will be interesting to see what Minaya does in the offseason. Will the Mets go after Zito? That's to be determined.

The NFL season has seen its share of ups and downs. The Eagles have been very up and down. I reveled in Matt Bryant's sixty-two yard game winning field goal. I am not a Philadelphia area native, so I have no special love for the Eagles. Due to the lackluster NFC East, they are very much alive for the playoffs. Due to injuries, the NY Giants look like they might be in trouble. It all depends on how long Strahan is out.

The elections were the results a lot of us have finally been waiting for. The Democrats finally regained control of both houses of Congress. The one downer was Lieberman winning in Connecticut. I used to live there and know what kind of weasel he really is. I was rooting for Lamont. He would have made Connecticut proud. I hope Murtha wins the race for Majority Leader. He isn't the best choice, but given Murtha or Hoyer, I'll take Murtha each time. I can't wait for January. I want to see what investigations are opened. Goodness knows there are plenty of avenues they can go. Whether anyone will go to jail remains to be seen.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Long Time Comin'

I have not posted in a while. A busy life can do that. I should find time, but I have been lazy. I will try to post this weekend. DeLay finally gave up his reelection bid. Woohoo !! As the sarcastic saying goes ... "It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy." We'll see whether he ever gets time in jail. A few of the people that worked in his office have already pleaded guilty to charges, so time will tell. Andy Card resigned last week, only time will tell if more Bush cronies will want to get out of the oven that is Washington, D.C. right now. Hopefully it will only get hotter. I am going to post two links of blogs I read. One is just a regular person, the other is the blog of a reporter of National Politics for a local Philadelphia newspaper, the reporter's link will be the 2nd one.

They are interesting reads. I admit that I thought Polman leaned right, at least from reading his newspaper columns and stories, but his blog is down the middle.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I had a very interesting conversation last night. I finally got to IM someone whose blog I read for a few months. This person lives in the hinterlands of Canada, so yes technology stretches pretty much everywhere now. It is interesting how people know so much about things they might not have known about at all 20 years ago. When some person in Canada knows exactly what is going on in America, even better then a lot of Americans, it is scary, but for the better I think. It is just sad that some Americans can't be bothered to know what is going on in their own country. Personally, I never understood the fascination with radio hosts like Rush limbaugh or Sean Hannity. Why would someone need to have someone else tell them what to think? What ever happened to thinking for yourself? Or do some people enjoy being part of a flock? I know I don't, and I don't see why others would, unless they find comfort in numbers. The thing I don't get even more is the blind faith that people have. On the last note, I'll post next time what a person I admire greatly said about blind faith.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

hhmm ....

Well it took me 3 weeks but here I am. A lot has happened in 3 weeks, Dick Cheney shot his hunting buddy. Willie Nile's new album was released today(at the end hopefully i'll have a link to his website). There is more but I do not feel like writing about it all. I will post a few links to some articles tomorrow that I have found an interesting read. I can't believe March is almost here. I will post more tomorrow, and yes I'll be better about it then I have been.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Quick note ..

I have been busy lately, but I promise to update the blog tomorrow, February 1st. I have plenty to write about.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Food for Thought

Some recent developments have made me wonder about a few things. Due to the controversy surrounding the hearings for Judge Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court, and now Bin Laden's videotaped statement calling for a truce, I have some questions about both. Does any clear thinking, level headed person believe Alito when he stated he can't recall anything about CAP(Concerned Alumni of Princeton)? It makes me wonder why on a federal job application he would be proud of being a member of a racist organization. Sen. Graham from South Carolina should be ashamed of himself for leading Alito in questioning about his membership in the organization. I also must take exception to the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee(except Sen. Feingold). They did this country no good when they took the opportunity to show the country just how in love with themselves they really are. It was disturbing and disgusting. I should also mention here that while I think Senator Feingold was the only one who questioned Alito in the manner in which the whole committee should have, I am a slight bit biased as I would vote for Feingold in 2008 with out hesitation. He is not afraid of the current administration and their smear tactics.
For those of you that don't know, a videotape was aired yesterday that contained a speech by Bin Laden. On the tape he offered a truce. He didn't offer any conditions on it, not like it would make a difference. I don't know what we are waiting for with this guy. Personally, I thought the Iraqi war was a distraction from finidng this guy and bringing him to justice. The one thing this tape does make me wonder though, is if there really is another attack planned, and what exactly is it. My bigger concern is that the FBI is smart enough to follow common sense, because they didn't as relates to 9/11. While Bin Laden and his crew committed heinious acts there were steps the FBI failed to follow up on, which is what Bin Laden is counting on. It is sad that everytime something major happens, that new laws have to be enacted. Usually the laws already on the books are good enough, if they are enforced, and people use a little common sense. I mean when someone doesn't want to learn how to take off or land, only to fly while in mid air, that should raise some concern. There is a saying I heard that I often repeat, Common sense ain't so common anymore. Sad but true

Monday, January 09, 2006

30 questions for Judge Alito

Published: January 9, 2006

1. Justice Robert Jackson of the Supreme Court once famously wrote, "We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final." Is the Supreme Court really either? How should that affect the way a justice carries out his role? And, reflecting on the judicial role, why do you want to be on the Supreme Court?

2. Do you think judges are at least in part responsible for the fact that, while Americans might profess reverence for the law, they often criticize the legal system? Does some of the public's criticism stem from growing use of foreign and international sources of law by some judges in interpreting the meaning of the Constitution?

3. We hear much about the important role the Supreme Court plays in interpreting and applying the Bill of Rights. But does judicial enforcement of the structural features of our Constitution - the separation of powers, federalism and the limits on Congress dictated by the enumeration of specific powers - play an important role as well in preserving liberty?

4. Justice Felix Frankfurter, whom President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed to the Supreme Court, often invoked the principle of judicial restraint. He also was quite skeptical of rigid application of precedent, saying that reversing decisions can be justified "if rooted in the Constitution itself" and that "acquiescence in a precedent does not require approval of its extension." Was Justice Frankfurter being inconsistent? Can a believer in judicial restraint also think that sometimes precedents, even longstanding ones, should be overruled?

5. During the Lincoln-Douglas debates, Stephen Douglas attacked Abraham Lincoln for refusing to submit to the Supreme Court's affirmation of slavery after the Dred Scott case, saying, "The Constitution of the United States provides that the Supreme Court is the ultimate tribunal." Is that true, or do the other branches of the federal government - the president and Congress - have the responsibility to exercise their own judgment as to constitutional meaning where they have the constitutional power to act?

Leonard A. Leo is the executive vice president of the Federalist Society and also has advised the George W. Bush administration and Congress on judicial matters.

Published: January 9, 2006

1. You have advised the Senate that you will decide cases on the merits of the facts and the law, and not your personal views or preferences. Could you provide two examples of decisions you have rendered that were inconsistent with your personal views?

2. Given your November 2000 speech to the Federalist Society arguing that executive power is solely vested in the president, what role, if any, do you see for the Congress and the courts with respect to executive power?

3. You have told the Senate that you are open to the persuasive arguments of sound legal analysis. Can you give two examples of your judicial opinions that reflected a willingness to be persuaded to change your legal views based upon the legal arguments presented to you?

4. In light of your having been a member of a Princeton alumni group that opposed the university's admission of women, criticized its affirmative action policies and urged the admission of more alumni children, can you offer two examples of any efforts by you to promote gender or racial equality?

5. When applying for a job with the Reagan administration in the mid-1980's, you expressed disagreement with the "one person, one vote" principle embodied in the Supreme Court's decision in Reynolds v. Sims in 1964. Can you expand on the nature of your disagreement with this principle in this or other court decisions from the era involving voting districts and reapportionment?

Cheryl D. Mills, a former counsel to President Bill Clinton, is a professor at New York University Law School.

Published: January 9, 2006

1. Do you believe that the Constitution protects rights that do not appear in the text of the document itself and, if so, how do you think the Supreme Court should go about discerning the nature of those rights?

2. If you were sitting on the court in 1973 when it protected a woman's right to have an abortion in Roe v. Wade, would you have voted with the majority?

3. Under what conditions can the Supreme Court overrule its own precedents?

4. If you were sitting on the court in 1992 when it refused to overrule Roe because of its status as precedent, would you have voted with the majority?

5. Are there judicially enforceable limits on executive power in a time of national crisis, and, if so, what are they?

Kenji Yoshino, deputy dean for intellectual life at Yale Law School, is the author of the forthcoming "Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights."

Published: January 9, 2006

1. What is the worst example of constitutional interpretation rendered by the Supreme Court in the last 30 years?

2. Is there any reason Roe v. Wade should be entitled to greater respect as precedent than any other decision by the Supreme Court? If not, under what conditions could the Supreme Court reverse Roe?

3. Do you believe that the 9/11 attacks put the United States in a state of war with Al Qaeda and its allies?

4. Does the Constitution require that courts provide the same legal protections to gays as to racial minorities and women?

5. Does the Constitution put the Supreme Court in the position of not just an interpreter of the Constitution, but the final and supreme interpreter, whose opinions (not just decisions) must be obeyed by the president and Congress?

John Yoo, a former deputy assistant attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, is a professor of law at the University of California at Berkeley.

Published: January 9, 2006

1. Without regard to how you will rule, tell us what you foresee today as the five most important legal issues that the Supreme Court will be asked to review in the next decade. Take "important" to mean that the issues raised hold the greatest potential consequence for the daily life of the nation and the development of our laws.

2. Since law school, you have worked almost exclusively for the government of the United States, which you have served in either the Department of Justice, or the judicial branch, where you worked first as a law clerk, and now as a judge. Do you regard this as an ideal pedigree for an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court? Why have you never chosen to work in the private or nonprofit sectors or to represent individual clients, an experience shared by the majority of the lawyers who will come before you? And point to five decisions you have made that should allay the concerns of those who believe that because of your monochromatic legal experience, you will be predisposed to favor the government in legal disputes with individuals, especially in criminal cases or cases concerning individual rights.

3. Name the five most difficult decisions you have had to make as a judge, where the correct answer to the issues posed seemed most elusive to you and the stakes to the parties or the nation were the highest.

4. Assume for the sake of this question that the Supreme Court concludes in the future that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided, and that the Constitution does not protect a woman's right to have an abortion. Without stating how you would ultimately rule, but speaking simply as a constitutional expert, is there any constitutional provision that might reasonably be thought to reserve the right to regulate abortion to the states, as some Roe opponents contend? Put another way, if Roe was reversed, what constitutional provision might prevent federal efforts to impede or outlaw abortion, like statutes making it a crime to either cross state lines to seek an abortion or place in the stream of interstate commerce any medical device or implement knowing it is likely to be used for an abortion?

5. It is anticipated that you will decline to comment on cases and questions that you could be called upon to decide as a justice. But that scruple should not apply to cases that history teaches us are in all likelihood unique. Therefore, state how you would have ruled in the case of Bush v. Gore in December 2000. Beyond the principal decision, would you have joined the court's majority on Dec. 9, 2000, in voting to issue a stay, freezing the recount that had begun in response to the order of the Florida Supreme Court? If so, explain, with citation to supporting authorities, what "irreparable harm" part of the traditional legal formula for granting a stay, might have been done if the recount had continued while the United States Supreme Court was reviewing the lower court's order?

Scott Turow, a former federal prosecutor, is the author, most recently, of "Ordinary Heroes."

Published: January 9, 2006

1. In 1944, the Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of the internment of American citizens of Japanese descent. Justice Felix Frankfurter wrote in a concurring opinion that an action taken in wartime "is not to be stigmatized as lawless because like action in times of peace would be lawless." He and others in the majority believed that in times of war, security interests outweigh rights that would otherwise be controlling. Do you agree or disagree, and do you think that the issues raised by this event (for which the United States later apologized) are like or unlike the issues raised by the current detention of enemy combatants?

2. In 1995, the Supreme Court ruled in Rosenberger v. Rector that the University of Virginia could not refuse to finance an avowedly Christian student publication. The court reasoned that since other student publications favoring contested viewpoints were already getting university money, denying support to this one would constitute viewpoint discrimination, a violation of the Free Expression clause of the First Amendment. Critics of this decision pointed out that its logic implicitly declared the Establishment Clause, which singles out religion for special and negative attention, to be unconstitutional. Do you agree with this criticism, and if not, why not? To what extent (if any) are the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses in tension with one another?

3. In a famous debate half a century ago, the legal theorists H. L. A. Hart and Lon Fuller differed on the question of whether Nazi law in Germany was, in fact, law. Hart argued that morally iniquitous laws that have a valid form - laws that have emerged as the result of following legitimate procedures - are still laws, even though we might want to say that they are bad laws. Fuller contended that a legal system devoted to evil aims could not be called law because there is "a necessary relationship between substantive justice and procedural justice." With which of these theorists are you in agreement? Are law and morality finally one or can they be distinguished? Were the laws denying the vote to women in America real laws or spurious laws?

4. The right of judicial review - the right of courts to declare duly enacted laws unconstitutional - is not explicitly granted in the Constitution, but was proclaimed (some would say fabricated) by John Marshall in Marbury v. Madison. One objection to judicial review has been that it is undemocratic because the decisions of democratically elected officials are overturned by jurists who have been appointed for life and who are, therefore, unaccountable to the judgments and desires of their fellow citizens. Do you think that judicial review can be defended and justified in the face of this objection? Is the practice of judicial review a violation of the separation of powers? Are judicial review and judicial restraint reconcilable or are they antithetical?

5. Sex offenders who have served their sentences are now required to register with the state, and in some jurisdictions there is talk of incarcerating such offenders beyond the term of their sentence if it is judged that they are likely to rape and molest again. Is the judicial system moving in the direction of creating a category of second-class citizens - citizens with fewer rights than the rest of us - on the basis of a perceived "tendency" to criminal activity? Is the fictional world of Philip K. Dick's story "Minority Report"- in which people are arrested for crimes they have not yet committed - becoming a reality in the United States? What constitutional concerns are raised by these developments?

Stanley Fish, a former chairman of the English department at Duke University, is a professor of law at Florida International University.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

lyrics to "War"

I know this song due to owning Springsteen's Live 1975-85. I know he played it in Providence a few years ago with the E Street Band. Powerful stuff, especially when heard played live.

(written by Norman Whitfield & Barrett Strong)

War, huh, yeah
What is it good for?
Absolutely (nothing), ah, ha, ha, ha

War, huh, yeah
What is it good for?
Absolutely (nothing)
Say it again, y'all

War, huh, look out!
What is it good for?
Absolutely (nothing)
Listen to me

War I despise
'cause it means destruction of innocent lives
War means tears to thousands of mother's eyes
When their sons go out to fight and lose their lives

I said, war, huh, good God y'all
What is it good for
Absolutely (nothing)
geh, say it again

War (Huh)
Woh, woh, woh, woh
What is it good for?
Absolutely (nothing)
Listen to me

War, it ain't nothin' but a heartbreaker
War, friend only to the undertaker

Ah, war is an enemy of all mankind
The thought of war blows my mind
War has caused unrest within the younger generation
Induction then destruction
Who wants to die ? Ah....

War, good God, y'all
What is it good for ?
Absolutely (nothing)
Say it, say it, say it

War, ah ha yeah, huh,
What is it good for?
Absolutely (nothing)
Listen to me

War, it ain't nothin' but a heartbreaker
War, got one friend that's the undertaker

Ah, war has shattered many a young man's dreams
Made him disabled, bitter and mean

Life is much too short and precious
To spend fighting wars each day
War can't give life
It can only take it away

Ahh ,war, (Huh)
Good God y'all
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing
Say it again

(War, huh)
Woh, woh woh, Lord,
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing
Listen to me

War, it ain't nothin' but a heartbreaker
War, friend only to the undertaker, oh

Peace, love and understanding, tell me
Is there no place for them today?
They say we must fight to keep our own freedom
But Lord knows there's gotta be a better way

Ahh ,war, (Huh)
Good God y'all
What is it good for?.......

Pat Robertson sticks his foot in his mouth again

You have to hand it to him. Pat sure knows how to cause trouble.,0,5240010.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

Pat Robertson links Ariel Sharon's stroke to God's wrath

Associated Press
Posted January 5 2006, 4:34 PM EST

NORFOLK, Va. -- Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson suggested Thursday that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine punishment for ``dividing God's land.''

``God considers this land to be his,'' Robertson said on his TV program ``The 700 Club.'' ``You read the Bible and he says `This is my land,' and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, `No, this is mine.'''

Sharon, who ordered Israel's withdrawal from Gaza last year, suffered a severe stroke on Wednesday.

In Robertson's broadcast from his Christian Broadcasting Network in Virginia Beach, the evangelist said he had personally prayed about a year ago with Sharon, whom he called ``a very tender-hearted man and a good friend.'' He said he was sad to see Sharon in this condition.

He also said, however, that in the Bible, the prophet Joel ``makes it very clear that God has enmity against those who 'divide my land.'''

Sharon ``was dividing God's land and I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the EU (European Union), the United Nations, or the United States of America,'' Robertson said.

In discussing what he said was God's insistence that Israel not be divided, Robertson also referred to the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who had sought to achieve peace by giving land to the Palestinians. ``It was a terrible thing that happened, but nevertheless he was dead,'' he said.

People For the American Way Foundation, which monitors ``The 700 Club,'' criticized Robertson's remarks, calling them ``an implicit reference to recent steps the prime minister has taken to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.''

``Once again, Pat Robertson leaves us speechless with his insensitivity and arrogance,'' the group's president, Ralph G. Neas, said in a statement.

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said a religious leader ``should not be making callous political points while a man is struggling for his life.''

``Pat Robertson has a political agenda for the entire world, and he seems to think God is ready to take out any world leader who stands in the way of that agenda,'' Lynn said in a statement.

Robertson spokeswoman Angell Watts said of critics who challenged his remarks, ``What they're basically saying is, `How dare Pat Robertson quote the Bible?'''

``This is what the word of God says,'' Watts said. ``This is nothing new to the Christian community.''

In August, Robertson suggested on ``The 700 Club'' that American agents should assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has long been at odds with U.S. foreign policy. Robertson later apologized for his remarks, saying he ``spoke in frustration.''


By now for those that read this blog might be able to tell where I stand on some things. If being labeled a liberal is a bad word, it is too bad but I don't apologize. I believe the war in Iraq was doomed to failure from the beginning. I am not a pessimist, I just know folly when I see it. In Gen. Tommy Franks(he was the lead commander 3 years ago when the US got rid of Saddam) admit in his own autobiography that intelligence was weak and that they were unable to get a very good picture of what Iraq was up to. My contention always was that if there was really any harm that Israel would do something about it, since they did launch an air strike against Iraq in the early '80's when Iraq was trying to build a nuclear reactor. Is Saddam a bad guy? Sure he is! But there are many like him out there. Half of the African contient is filled with cruel dictators as well. Look at what is going on in Sudan, is there any call to remove that government? When it is the government that is behind the militias causing all the problems there. Later on today i'll post the lyrics to a song I like. Springsteen didn't write it but he has sung it in concert before, I only wish he sang it more often during the last full band tour.

article : A view from someone who has lost a son in Iraq

I think this person has an interesting take, and this person is no Cindy Sheehan(for those haters out there). While I don't know where this guy stands politically, I bet at the very least he is one of those swing voters that won GWB the last election at the least, if not he probably mostly votes Republican. One last point, as any clear headed military person will tell you, it's absolutely asnine when you have to clear out a city five different times. If that doesn't tell you how inept the planning is in Iraq I don't know what would.

A Life, Wasted
Let's Stop This War Before More Heroes Are Killed

By Paul E. Schroeder

Tuesday, January 3, 2006; Page A17

Early on Aug. 3, 2005, we heard that 14 Marines had been killed in Haditha, Iraq. Our son, Lance Cpl. Edward "Augie" Schroeder II, was stationed there. At 10:45 a.m. two Marines showed up at our door. After collecting himself for what was clearly painful duty, the lieutenant colonel said, "Your son is a true American hero."

Since then, two reactions to Augie's death have compounded the sadness.

At times like this, people say, "He died a hero." I know this is meant with great sincerity. We appreciate the many condolences we have received and how helpful they have been. But when heard repeatedly, the phrases "he died a hero" or "he died a patriot" or "he died for his country" rub raw.

"People think that if they say that, somehow it makes it okay that he died," our daughter, Amanda, has said. "He was a hero before he died, not just because he went to Iraq. I was proud of him before, and being a patriot doesn't make his death okay. I'm glad he got so much respect at his funeral, but that didn't make it okay either.

"The words "hero" and "patriot" focus on the death, not the life. They are a flag-draped mask covering the truth that few want to acknowledge openly: Death in battle is tragic no matter what the reasons for the war. The tragedy is the life that was lost, not the manner of death. Families of dead soldiers on both sides of the battle line know this. Those without family in the war don't appreciate the difference.

This leads to the second reaction. Since August we have witnessed growing opposition to the Iraq war, but it is often whispered, hands covering mouths, as if it is dangerous to speak too loudly. Others discuss the never-ending cycle of death in places such as Haditha in academic and sometimes clinical fashion, as in "the increasing lethality of improvised explosive devices."

Listen to the kinds of things that most Americans don't have to experience: The day Augie's unit returned from Iraq to Camp Lejeune, we received a box with his notebooks, DVDs and clothes from his locker in Iraq. The day his unit returned home to waiting families, we received the second urn of ashes. This lad of promise, of easy charm and readiness to help, whose highest high was saving someone using CPR as a first aid squad volunteer, came home in one coffin and two urns. We buried him in three places that he loved, a fitting irony, I suppose, but just as rough each time.

I am outraged at what I see as the cause of his death. For nearly three years, the Bush administration has pursued a policy that makes our troops sitting ducks. While Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that our policy is to "clear, hold and build" Iraqi towns, there aren't enough troops to do that.

In our last conversation, Augie complained that the cost in lives to clear insurgents was "less and less worth it," because Marines have to keep coming back to clear the same places. Marine commanders in the field say the same thing. Without sufficient troops, they can't hold the towns. Augie was killed on his fifth mission to clear Haditha.

At Augie's grave, the lieutenant colonel knelt in front of my wife and, with tears in his eyes, handed her the folded flag. He said the only thing he could say openly: "Your son was a true American hero." Perhaps. But I felt no glory, no honor. Doing your duty when you don't know whether you will see the end of the day is certainly heroic. But even more, being a hero comes from respecting your parents and all others, from helping your neighbors and strangers, from loving your spouse, your children, your neighbors and your enemies, from honesty and integrity, from knowing when to fight and when to walk away, and from understanding and respecting the differences among the people of the world.

Two painful questions remain for all of us. Are the lives of Americans being killed in Iraq wasted? Are they dying in vain? President Bush says those who criticize staying the course are not honoring the dead. That is twisted logic: honor the fallen by killing another 2,000 troops in a broken policy?

I choose to honor our fallen hero by remembering who he was in life, not how he died. A picture of a smiling Augie in Iraq, sunglasses turned upside down, shows his essence -- a joyous kid who could use any prop to make others feel the same way.

Though it hurts, I believe that his death -- and that of the other Americans who have died in Iraq -- was a waste. They were wasted in a belief that democracy would grow simply by removing a dictator -- a careless misunderstanding of what democracy requires. They were wasted by not sending enough troops to do the job needed in the resulting occupation -- a careless disregard for professional military counsel.

But their deaths will not be in vain if Americans stop hiding behind flag-draped hero masks and stop whispering their opposition to this war. Until then, the lives of other sons, daughters, husbands, wives, fathers and mothers may be wasted as well.

This is very painful to acknowledge, and I have to live with it. So does President Bush.

The writer is managing director of a trade development firm in Cleveland.

Media and the mining disaster

I Just want to apologize for not posting for two weeks as my computer crashed and needed a new hard drive. Before I post a link I just want to make one thing clear. For any of the links I post, If the article I post has an author, I will make sure that author's name is included at the top of the article. If there is no author name at the top of the article, it means the piece was an editorial from the publication linked to. Here is an interesting take on the media and their coverage of the mining disaster in West Virginia. Personally I wonder why the media seems to make the same mistakes over and over, that is why they rush to put out a story before it has been credibly verified.

Mining Misinformation
By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 5, 2006; 8:21 AM

I cringed, along with everyone else, when I saw The Post's above-the-fold headline yesterday: "12 Found Alive in W. Va. Coal Mine."

And USA Today's banner: "'Alive!' Miners Beat the Odds." And the Atlanta Journal Constitution: "12 Miners Alive." And Newsday: "Miracle in the Mine."

If there's been a more heart-rending and humiliating botch of a story, I can't think of it offhand. Yes, the Chicago Tribune elected Dewey in '48 and the networks practically elected Gore in '00, but here there were loved ones desperately awaiting word on the miners, whose premature euphoria was dashed. Cable news was celebratory until CNN's Anderson Cooper broke the story at 2:47 a.m. that all but one miner was dead, not alive.

Sure, the bum information came from West Virginia's governor, and the coal company shamefully refused to correct the record for hours. But the fault lies with the journalists for not instinctively understanding that early, fragmentary information in times of crisis is often wrong. You don't broadcast or publish until it's absolutely nailed down, or at least you hedge the report six ways to Sunday. This was, quite simply, a media debacle, born of news organizations' feverish need to breathlessly report each development 30 seconds ahead of their competitors.

But do journalists blame themselves? Many, you will not be shocked to hear, don't. Here's Associated Press Managing Editor Mike Silverman: ""AP was reporting accurately the information that we were provided by credible sources -- family members and the governor. Clearly, as time passed and there was no firsthand evidence the miners were alive, the best information would have come from mine company officials, but they chose not to talk."

But the "credible sources" didn't know what they were talking about, and the reporters didn't press them hard enough. Remember that another credible source, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, said all sorts of things about violence and so on in the aftermath of Katrina that turned out not to be true. Just quoting someone who's giving you bum information doesn't let you off the hook.

Now a case could be made that we've overcovered this story, that the fate of a dozen miners, as tragic as it is, was not of the same national importance as, say, Jack Abramoff flipping in a case that could implicate a dozen congressmen in corruption. But it was a compelling human drama, the kind that television in particular thrives on.

Still, let's face it: How much have the media done on mine safety in the last few years? Has anyone (I'm sure there are a few exceptions) looked at coal company violations, or how the Bush administration is or isn't enforcing the law? Probably about the same number of journalists who did pieces on why a former Arabian horse official was running FEMA's dysfunctional bureaucracy.

The Sago Mine, we learn now, had 273 safety violations in the past two years, 16 of them very serious. You will now be buried (forgive me) by stories about mine safety, just as you were flooded by post-Katrina pieces on FEMA's problems. But why do the media only get serious about health, safety and regulatory agencies after a major disaster? Heck of a job.

"Are the watchdogs doing their jobs?" NBC's Brian Williams asked last night. I'd extend that question to the press.

"How," asks the Los Angeles Times, "could the media -- mostly morning newspapers, since radio, television and the Internet could instantaneously correct their errors -- get it so wrong?

"It was, said editors across the country, a matter of meeting deadlines and relying on sources that seemed credible, including West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, a congressman and family members of the miners, who gave reporters news of the miners' apparent survival about midnight Eastern time, three hours before the deaths became known."

CJR's Gal Beckerman delivers a scolding: "Maybe the reporters on the ground in West Virginia were just plain tired. Or maybe they themselves were swept up in the euphoria and wanted to believe. Otherwise, it's hard to explain how the erroneous news of the survival and rescue of 12 of the 13 miners caught underneath the ground in Sago, West Virginia made it to the front pages of our nation's papers.

"A close reading of the articles themselves tells the tale of how journalists bungled the story: In most, there are no sources at all for the information; in some, the sources are the rumors spread by frantic family members. Those sorts of sources are hardly a solid basis for headlines screaming, 'They're Alive!'

"Take a look at how the venerable Washington Post began its story: 'A dozen miners trapped 12,000 feet into a mountainside since early Monday were found alive Tuesday night just hours after rescuers found the body of a 13th man, who died in an explosion in an adjacent coal mine that was sealed off in early December.'...

"All untrue -- but written with stunning confidence. Nowhere in this Post piece is there any mention of sources."

Kudos to Wichita Eagle Editor Sherry Chisenhall for explaining yesterday why "we (and newspapers across the country) went to press last night with the information we had at the time. But it won't excuse the blunt truth that we violated a basic tenet of journalism today in our printed edition: Report what you know and how you know it. . . .

"Many newspapers and TV stations reported exactly what we did today. But being wrong in crowded company is still being wrong. Our commitment to our readers is to tell you exactly what we know and how we know it. Today, we fell short."

Vaughn Ververs of CBS's Public Eye blog says: "The media doesn't need any apologists, and that's not the aim here. Certainly news organizations could have been much more cautious in what they were reporting and distinguishing between what had actually been confirmed and what had not. The New York Times may have handled it the best with its morning headline, which read: '12 Miners Are Found Alive, Family Members Say.' The story, written by James Dao, sourced the story to 'family members and a state official.'

"But to say that the massive failing here rests on the shoulders of the media alone is almost as misleading as the information that was spread between midnight and 3:00am this morning."

Jeff Jarvis, on the other hand, is disgusted:

"One terrible lesson of the West Virginia mine tragedy is that you can't trust the news. You never could; it has always taken time to see whether stories pan out, to get all the facts, to find out the truth. But now, in our age of instant news and ubiquitous communication, the public sees this process as it occurs. It's not the news that's live; it's the process of figuring out what to believe that's live. Now, indeed, everyone is a reporter and an editor and the public is learning, as reporters learned, that they need to find their ways through the fog of news. The next time I hear someone being haughty about professional news vs. citizen's news, I'll remind them of the West Virginia tragedy, where news traveled ahead of the facts, where everyone was horribly wrong."

At the Huffington Post, Marty Kaplan is in the too-much-coverage camp:

"It's painful to watch television news producers try to figure out the relative importance of the unfolding stories of the 13 trapped miners in West Virginia, and the more than 13 trapped Congressmen in Washington.

"Sending Rita Cosby and Anderson Cooper to the site of the mineshaft tragedy, where cameras can record family members' every painful reaction, is in the great ghoulish tradition of journalism.

"It's routinely justified as fabulous 'storytelling'; these are said to be 'human interest dramas' that magnetize audiences. But other than pandering to our ratings-generating appetite for melodrama, is there any legitimate justification for this kind of saturation coverage? Sure, 13 accidental deaths are important, but there are easily as many American deaths, every day, that never get reported, let alone accorded the full anchor-compassion treatment. It can't be the quantity of lives lost, or the virtue of the lives led; church vans tumble into ravines and scores of our countrymen are killed, but their deaths rate only a mention by the wire services. Why? It's hard to escape the conclusion that it's because the mineshaft story is good television . We can watch it unfold. It's a voyeur's paradise. The suspense, the anguish, the knife-edge of hope and despair: it's grief porn, dressed up as breaking news.

"On the other hand, the Abramoff plea deal may, in retrospect, turn out to be the pivot-point of GOP dominance of national politics. This would be a great day for television journalism to connect the dots: DeLay's K Street project, Grover Norquist's drown-the-baby project, the Christian Coalition's culture wars project, the neo-cons' above-the-law project. . . . The terrific and terrible story to be telling today is how the American people have been played for fools by the fabricators of family values rhetoric. And instead, what the networks are serving up to us is soap opera. Are the pictures from West Virginia really that much more compelling than the shots of Washington hogs at the trough? Will audiences really turn away from the story of how their government was stolen from them because it's too complicated to understand?

"It wouldn't be shocking to learn that Republicans in Washington were privately, shamefully grateful that the media beast today has something to feed on other than their corruption. The sad truth is that there will always be a runaway bride or baby-down-a-well more worth covering than the innards of Congress, or the vulnerability of voting machines, or (fill in the blank). That's because the geniuses who decide what's worth covering get to call what they do 'news judgment' instead of what it really is, which is marketing."

Grief porn seems a little strong. After all, this wasn't months of live shots from Aruba about Natalee Holloway, but coverage of a tragedy that unfolded within hours.

Look who's also belatedly getting into the act:

"Democrats called yesterday for congressional hearings into mine safety and the Bush administration's enforcement of mine regulations, after the explosion and collapse in West Virginia that left 12 miners dead," says the Boston Globe.

Twas a busy day for media reporters yesterday. Here's my report, after a visit to Discovery Networks, on Ted Koppel's new job, and one on the Baltimore Sun's ouster of veteran columnist Michael Olesker for unattributed borrowing.

On the Abramoff front, National Review's Byron York examines the GOP's damage control:

"Republican leaders in the Senate have had a plan in place for the last two months to 'get ahead of' the Jack Abramoff scandal by coming up with a new proposal for lobbying reform. The leadership 'decided in November that lobby reform for the Senate was a priority for this session,' and Majority Leader Bill Frist placed Pennsylvania Republican Senator Rick Santorum in charge of it, Senate sources tell National Review Online.

"Santorum's efforts will be apart from the work of Senator John McCain, who has already introduced a proposal for lobbying reform. That proposal, McCain said in mid-December, 'provides for faster reporting and greater public access to reports filed by lobbyists and their employers under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995. It requires greater disclosure of the activities of lobbyists, including for the first time, grassroots lobbying firms. The bill also requires greater disclosure from both lobbyists, and Members and employees of Congress, about travel that is arranged or financed by a lobbyist or his client.'"

The New Republic's Jason Zengerle isn't surprised by Newt's latest:

"So Newt Gingrich is calling for Tom DeLay's scalp. The Washington Post reports. . . .

"How psyched is Newt? Remember, DeLay was part of the failed coup that tried to remove Newt as Speaker in 1997--and after he was busted, he wasn't exactly Mr. Contrition. 'The problems that created this are still there,' DeLay said. 'The next time this happens it will be even worse.' Don't think Newt has forgotten."

Kit Seelye of the NYT had an interesting piece the other day on how media targets play defense:

"Subjects of newspaper articles and news broadcasts now fight back with the same methods reporters use to generate articles and broadcasts - taping interviews, gathering e-mail exchanges, taking notes on phone conversations - and publish them on their own Web sites. This new weapon in the media wars is shifting the center of gravity in the way that news is gathered and presented, and it carries implications for the future of journalism.

"Just ask 'Nightline,' the ABC News program, which broadcast a segment in August about intelligent design that the Discovery Institute, a conservative clearinghouse for proponents of intelligent design, did not like very much. The next day, the institute published on its Web site the entire transcript of the nearly hour-long interview that 'Nightline' had conducted a few days earlier with one of the institute's leaders, not just the brief quotes that had appeared on television.

"The institute did not accuse 'Nightline' of any errors. Rather, it urged readers to examine the unedited interview because, it said, the transcript would reveal 'the predictable tone of some of the questions" by the staff of 'Nightline.'"

The Chicago Tribune's D.C. bureau has a new blog. Join the party.