Along the Tracks

Friday, August 01, 2003

Corny-copia of commentary

Could I be speaking of anything but The Blade? The Eileen Foley column was so insulting and poorly thought out (supposedly defending rationality, no less!) I had to write a letter to the editor about it. The last time I wrote, I defended the administration’s arguments for war in Iraq - and was not published, despite my mention of a certain TV debate with Blade darling Mike Ferner which was supposed to take place later that week (Ferner, of course, was a no show. Hmmm ...). I have no illusions about my likelihood of publication this time either - but I’ll wait and see before posting the letter here.

Anyway, as the header suggests, there’s plenty more on the Friday Blade opinion pages to rip into, so ....

A) “Earning the black vote.” The Blade says Bush should follow Sen. Arlen Specter’s advice in garnering more of the black vote. The advice? “Work hard.” That means push initiatives which will improve the opportunities of African-Americans and provide answers to issues of concern, such as jobs, education and racism, right? Uh, not according to the Blade. “Work hard,” in the Blade’s estimation, means kowtow to organizations like the Urban League and NAACP by showing up at their conventions, and pander to the Congressional Black Caucus (all Democrats) and to hustler Jesse Jackson. In other words, don’t try to help, just talk.

B) “Betting on terrorism.” You already know how I feel about this one (see the two posts below), and considering the Blade’s history, you know what they say as well. The market idea was “among the looniest - and most perverse” the Pentagon has developed in years. Among the arguments against the plan is that it would “fritter away public money.” The proposal (including money already used) called for about $9 million in funding over the next three years. Worth it to open a new avenue of predicting terror activity? You decide. Interestingly, the Blade writers also point out a terrorist could get into the market and “bid up the ‘value’ of some cataclysmic event” - in my opinion, a strong argument in favor of setting up the market. After all, analysts watching would see a spike in that “stock,” investigate the activities and people who would be needed to make that terror operation work, and warn people, from CIA agents to the FBI to the public at large, of the potential threat, thus reducing its likelihood. Yet the Blade, as with most opponents of the market, seems to think it will simply operate in a vacuum, and no one will notice when a “stock price” spikes. That kind of ignorance disguised as analysis is inexcusable - and a good example of why most people think the media is untrustworthy: BECAUSE IT IS!

C) “A year after Sarbanes-Oxley.” I would like to rip into this unsigned editorial as well, but I have no clue what the opinion is here, other than perhaps “Regulation good.” It says there are shortcomings to the oversight mechanisms and funding set up by Sorbanes-Oxley, but doesn’t say what exactly they entail. Compliance with the law is admitted, but called mere “acquiescence,” rather than a “new integrity ethic.” How does the Blade judge this? We aren’t told. And despite a huge budget increase for the SEC, we are told the “experts” say the federal government can’t do the job alone, but needs continued efforts by state attorneys general. Okay. So are the state attorneys general failing? No, they were “significant in bringing this latest round of corporate corruption to heel.” There is the mandatory cheap shot at Harvey Pitt for having “represented corporate clients,” as opposed to new SEC chief William Donaldson, a “former Wall Street insider.” Huh? Are insiders good now? The drivel ends praising Donaldson’s effort to transform the bureaucracy’s “culture.” If there was a point to this editorial when assigned, it was lost between the editorial meeting and the donuts in the breakroom.

D) “Bush and the black vote.” No, I’m not repeating myself, the Blade is. That’s right, if the house editorial didn’t hook you, the signed column by Dave Shribman is sure to do it! Shribman follows a different line - a clever one, in fact. He takes us in by “praising” Bush for speaking with the Urban League, saying the right kinds of things - even meeting with Jesse Jackson! Once the reader has been properly lulled - BLAM! - down comes the hammer, covered with velvet, but a hammer nonetheless: Bush and his fellow Republicans only talk to African-American interest groups to mollify moderate white voters! There’s no sincerity in Bush; this is all calculated to fool people who don’t want to feel “dirty” when they vote for a (Hiss! Hiss!) Republican! So dear Blade reader, if you didn’t get it before, the editors hope you do now: Bush could care less about blacks.

E) “Abortion: Men have no right to judge.” It may be unfair to impugn the Blade based on the letters they print, but as any regular Blade reader well knows, this letter sums up the Blade’s philosophy on the abortion-rights debate, and was undoubtedly chosen for that very reason. It’s a “walk a mile in her shoes” argument - no really, she says so twice - that denies us (i.e., men) the “right to judge” because we cannot become pregnant. “Until staunch pro-life radical men can give birth, they will never have the right to tell women what we can do with our bodies.” Science may test this assertion in the coming years. While we wait, she suggests men should be legally required to “keep their pants zipped or be castrated,” which would seem to infringe on our right to control our bodies. She closes with the same non sequitur I have seen so many times before, that “instead of placing blame, [men should] take responsibility ...” which elicits this question: How does one “take responsibility” for an aborted fetus?

There it is, an average Friday in Bladeland. We desperately need a good regional newspaper in northwest Ohio. Faster, please.

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