Behind Enemy Lines
19 December 2005
It's not just me! Media bias really does exist
According to a recent study at UCLA, media bias really does exist. The study is based on analyzing ten years worth of media reports and comparing them to a liberal vs. conservative scores derived from the Americans for Democratic Action voting records score. The ADA score is based on how often a Congress member voted with or against ADA chosen votes. Representative Nancy Pelosi , as an example, received 100 points from the ADA for 2004, where as Representative Tom Delay received 0 points in 2004. The researchers, after adjusting to "...compensate for disproportionate representation that the Senate gives to low‑population states and the lack of representation for the District of Columbia..." [ed. I quoted this because I just know that someone will make an issue of it, however I believe the study to be correct in making the adjustment] assumes that the average score of 50.1 represents the political position of the average American voter.

Then they researched the media reporting, checking to see what kind of references were made to think-tanks and policy groups and whether those groups were liberal or conservative (e.g. NAACP or Heritage Foundation) then they did the same thing for Congressional speeches and compared citation patterns.

"A media person would have never done this study," said Groseclose, a UCLA political science professor, whose research and teaching focuses on the U.S. Congress. "It takes a Congress scholar even to think of using ADA scores as a measure. And I don't think many media scholars would have considered comparing news stories to congressional speeches."

What did this show? Well, of the twenty organizations researched, only two came out as right of center, three came out as roughly centrist (event though the most "center" source was still five points to the left of center), the rest all came out as left of center. The leftist of the media was the Wall Street Journal (news section, not opinion), the New York Times, CBS Evening News, LA Times and the Washington Post. Strange no?

Interestingly, the report shows the Drudge Report as being left of center, but explains this as being that since the study looks at the news on the site it is a reflection of the media as a whole. Meaning that, since the Drudge Report generally links to other news sites, it is because of the bias on those other sites that the Drudge Report drifts to left of center.

Right Thinking People was the original pointer for this article

Link to study:

18 December 2005
Is it just me?
Or is this just a weird paragraph to end a report on Vice-President Cheney visiting Iraq today?


"He saw rows of housing for soldiers at Camp Victory fortified by concrete walls. Smoke for the trash fires burning throughout the occupied city drifted up toward his chopper."

You don't think the reporter was being a little bit biased in his coloring of the story do you?
17 December 2005
I demand an investigation into the NSA domestic spying incident
I demand an investigation into the NSA domestic spying incident that has been revealed. No, I don't care that the NSA was authorized to intercept international phone calls, emails and faxes from U.S. citizens to international destinations. I want to know who leaked that information to the press. This is such a gross violation of national security that heads should roll.

This is not a situation like Valerie Plame, a not so covert, covert agent. This is an active, ongoing intelligence mission which has now been compromised for petty political points.

Where's Representative Nancy Pelosi? Where's the letter demanding a GAO investigation like she wrote for the Plame incident? Where's the media coverage screaming about how this was a leak to damage the President? No, instead the media is decrying a "violation of civil rights". Please. Give it an f'ing rest. Let's be honest here. I've made hundreds of international calls and sent hundreds of international emails over the last few years. I don't care that the NSA might have listened in. If anyhing I would apologize to them for being so boring, but I appreciate the work they've done, are doing right now and will continue to do in the future. To those who cry that they might have been spied on, I say this: Do you really think that you are so important or interesting that "they" are watching your every move? Really?

Intelligence (or "spying" as the media likes to put it) is a critical component of our fight against al-Qaeda and those that would seek to harm this nation. People (and by "people" I mean politicizing Democrats like Pelosi, Liberaliti, et al.) complained that the United States (sorry, I mean President Bush*) didn't do enough intelligence gathering and was lax in protecting that United States (remember the brouhaha about the "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States" briefing and how the President should have done "something" about it. Never an explanation as to what "something" meant though. What does Mr. Ben-Veniste think now I wonder?) , these same people are now going to complain that we did too much?

*Specifically it was President Bush. Since he'd only been in office for eight months he pretty much inherited President Clinton's intelligence systems and organization. As we all know President Clinton was actually omniscient and just let incidents like the embassy attacks, WTC 1 (1993) , U.S.S. Cole attack, Khobar Towers attack, Philippine Airlines Flight 434, Murrah Federal Building, Olympic Park bombing, occur because he didn't want to give away the secret of his omniscience.
15 December 2005
"God bless Iraq and its allies and friends" - Hammorabi
A quick roundup of some voices that I like to listen to in Iraq and the greater Middle East on this historic day. For those who don't know (which doesn't surprise me seeing as how the coverage of the voting has been looking more like an "also ran" type of story unless something bad happens), Iraqi's today are voting for their first ever freely elected democratic government.

First up is Hammorabi in Iraq:
"In few hours time Iraq will be the Model in Democracy and freedom for the Middle East and the Arab region.Iraq will lead the changes"

Big Pharaoh from Egypt talks about Sen. Biden visiting a polling station in Hillah

Iraq the Model (a 2005 Weblog award nominee) has a great pictorial about going to vote in Baghdad.

Pajamas Media (a conglomerate of webloggers) is aggregating reports from eight different provinces in Iraq.
14 December 2005
Newsom keeps on spinning
Mayor Newsom, attempting to bolster his earlier overreaction to the "egregious" SFPD "scandal", held a press conference tonight at which he defended his decision to overreact by intimating that it was really not his fault but the people of San Francisco. We apparently should be more offended!

"If this occurred in any business in the private sector, none of us, I think, would criticize the company for taking aggressive and swift action...But for some reason, some people have lowered the bar here in San Francisco.
The bar is so low in San Francisco that people think it's fun and games to run over an alleged homeless person, to make fun of different races and communities, to make fun of the police chief ... to enact skits of people not doing their job...''
Wow. Let's tear that apart shall we?

"If this occurred in any business in the private sector, none of us, I think, would criticize the company for taking aggressive and swift action..."
Yes, I would criticize them if they acted as you did and punished the employee without an investigation. You took a punitive action without all the facts. If a private business did that to a union employee you'd have a fit wouldn't you? Didn't you go walk a picket line with Local 2 in support of their rights as workers? Ok,we all know you were really doing it to cheese off the hotels and pimp out some more votes and "street cred" but you see what I mean.

"The bar is so low in San Francisco that people think it's fun and games to run
over an alleged homeless person"
Newsflash Mr. Mayor: No one actually got run over! See, apparently, there are these people who make these things called "movies" and they are often times fictitious. During these fictions, people sometimes are hurt or die, but, due to a quirk in the human humor system, if done well we find it funny. Even the SF Film Commission understands this and they list a film shot here in San Francisco that features people dying in odd or funny ways called "The Darwin Awards". I guess it's only funny to the City if they can charge money for it huh?

"...make fun of different races and communities"

First off, what racial jokes were there? Point to one. Do it. Wait, you can't? Um, doesn't that make your race card gambit kind of moot? I also challenge you to point to a single racial epithet that was used in the videos. All of the videos aired on the news seemed exceedingly benign and if anything made fun of caucasians. As for "communities": What? You're going to say that the footage of a guy in drag is "offensive?" Quick! Let's go arrest the cast of Beach Blanket Babylon, Monty Python and any number of drag shows in the City. If someone being in drag is offensive to you then maybe you are mayor of the wrong town.

"...make fun of the police chief..."
Awww, didums Chief Fong feel bad that she might have been lampooned? Get over it. You're the Chief of Police of a major American city. If people don't make a joke or two about you, then maybe you aren't doing your job. Political satire is a cherished right and practice of Americans, trying to take it away is offensive.

"... to enact skits of people not doing their job"
What the heck is that about? One of the oldest jokes about cops is them sitting around eating doughnuts. Would you have prefered they enacted a skit of police officers doing their jobs? What would be funny about doing one of the toughest, most dangerous and most under appreciated jobs in San Francisco? Oh wait! I have a perfect idea:

[fade up]
[police car exterior, viewed from head on. The cars police lights are on, but there is no one in it. Camera begins slow rotation from the front of the car to the side]
[radio static]
Dispatchers Voice: "Calling all cars, calling all cars. Be on the lookout for a runaway ego. Ego is described as being full of itself, quick to judgement and defensive if disagreed with. If located, return it to the the Mayor of San Francisco. Suspect may be in the company of the thief that stole the Mayor's sense of humor.
[Police lights go out]
Dispatchers Voice: Jokes don't kill people. But the Mayor's decision to suspend twenty-four police officers from an understaffed police department just might have. Did taking twenty-four offices off the job result in crimes that might have been prevented?
[Fade to black]
[Title overlay]
Paid for by the committee to elect the candidate that isn't Mayor Newsom.
[Fade out]

Pretty funny huh?
Newsom driven more by polling than personal conviction
Well, I hate to say I told ya so, but Mayor Newsom is backpedling on his claims about the "Cops Gone Wild" videos.

According to Matier and Ross in the San Francisco Chronicle / SFGate, Mayor Newsom has realized that his claims were over the top and is now backpedaling. His "blue-ribbon panel" has been formed and there are suspension hearings underway. Some local television stations were reporting last night that as many as eight of the suspended officers were already back on patrol.

What does this show us? It shows us that Mayor Newsom is driven more by polling than personal convictions. The entire response to the issue was one of ratings, not reality. His claims of racism, sexism and homophobia were designed to anger San Franciscans in general, empower the Liberaliti, and garner him political capital that he could spend later (as he does with ALL of his "major issues"). However when this one didn't work like the others, he backed off immediately, thereby showing that the issue wasn't as big or as bad (or as dramatic) as he and Chief Fong made it out to be.

This sort of pandering politics is offensive. Rather than waste our time and tax dollars on "blue-ribbon panels" and idiotic handgun bans (amazing that the City Attorney and the City can spend so much to defend an idiotic handgun ban, but the City can't afford to prosecute nuisance crimes) I have some recommendations:
  • Clean the streets. They're filthy.
  • Fix the potholes. Seriously, how many times does a pothole have to be reported before it gets fixed?
  • Close the illegal pot clubs. You are tasked by the City Charter with enforcing the laws of the City and County, so do it. If you don't want to close them, then make them compliant with the law.
  • Get your budget under control. Why are you increasing spending this year when you are running a deficit? Why are you increasing departmental discretionary budgets? Hint: You can simply HOLD spending at last years levels and you would have been even or probably ahead.
11 December 2005
Mayor Newsom gets "out in front" to spin the negative flak from his actions
According to the San Francisco Chronicle / SFGate, Mayor Newsom was being proactive and showing leadership when he trumpted his condemnation of the "egregious" video's made by some members of the SFPD. According to the article, this situation and his response was "...almost forced upon him by circumstances" and that they had to go "...into crisis communications mode" according to mayoral aides [unnamed of course].

While I am supportive of the need to appear pro-active and appear to be leading (especially with the relative lack of those qualities on other, more important issues) I find myself, shockingly, agreeing with former Mayor Willie Brown in that the "...chief and the mayor may be too far out front on their alleged outrage".

As is evidenced by Captain Bruce's response to the situation, the Mayor and Chief acted as judge, jury and executioner by summarily deciding the facts of the case and handing out punishments. Perhaps, just perhaps, the response could have been: "We are investigating an alleged incident of possible racial and gender insensitivity that might be a violation of workplace rules" rather than saying that it "is shameful. It is offensive, it is sexist. It is homophobic, it is racist, and we're going to make sure it ends.'' SFPD officers receive training on not making assumptions based on race, gender and sexuality, perhaps that Mayor should too? His blanket condemnation (which he is now spinning) was "racist" in assigning blame (there were officers of all races represented in the tapes), "sexist" as it implies that only male officers were involved (yet there were just as many women involved, in fact they seemed to be presented in a position of power (being cops and all)), and "homophobic" in assuming that none of the officers involved were homosexual. This sort of supposition on the part of the Mayor is exactly the kind of thing that one is taught *not* to do in sensitivity training.

The Mayor's promise to form a "blue-ribbon panel" to investigate the SFPD and "recommend reforms" screams of a deeper, darker plan that many should be concerned about. What sort of "reforms" could such a panel recommend?

This is something that we, as citizens, need to keep an eye on.
08 December 2005
Video 'Scandal': "This is a dark day -- an extremely dark day..."
"This is a dark day -- an extremely dark day -- in the history of the San
Francisco Police Department for me as a chief to have to stand here and share with you such egregious, shameful and despicable acts by members of the San Francisco Police Department"
-Chief Fong

Yes, this is a dark day Chief, the City of San Francisco has officially gone off the freaking deep end and lost its sense of humor. You call this a "scandal?" Please, get a grip.

Watch the videos. Yes, they're silly and to some overeanalyzing Liberaliti freaks it's "racist" and "sexist", but "egregious?" Not even f'ing close.

"Enough is enough"
-Mayor Gavin Newsom

Yes Mr. Mayor, enough is enough. Enough of your and this City's stupidity. Just because you don't know what you are doing, just because you have a runaway budget, just because you are letting the Board of Supervisors run this town into the ground, just because you think you can buy some Liberaliti votes by appearing to be hard on the police, you are going to ride this as far as you can aren't you?

The City has far more important things to make priorities out of than this sideshow distraction.

Quick, we just passed laws infringing on peoples constitutional rights, we've got illegal pot clubs that we aren't enforcing the law with, we've got a police force bound with red-tape from enforcing the law, we've got a runaway budget process, we're the laughing stock of the country...let's make some scapegoats out of a bunch of silly cop videos!
A Republican in San Francisco (Yes, he's under deep cover) relays his tales of interest... ...ok, "interest" is a strong and subjective word but you get the point.
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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

I shall know but one country. The ends I aim at shall be my country's, my God's and Truth's. I was born an American; I live an American; and I shall die an American. -Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

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