Free Markets, Free People

Humor


Scene from a modern American newsroom

{Reporters and editors staff meeting, Metropolis Times-Post-Globe-Tribune, Monday, August 8, 2011}

“OK, people, this looks like a big week. There’s a lot coming down this week, so we all need to do some serious, in-depth work to stay ahead of the curve. First, we’ve got the downgrade and the associated fallout. I need someone who can look at the aftereffects, and make a guess about what it means.”

“Chief, I’ve been doing some analysis on this, and…”

“Stop right there, Beth. This is another one of those ‘Obama made a mistake’ pieces you want to do, isn’t it? When I hired you last spring, I thought I made it clear that we take a balanced approach here. We need to look for fault on all sides, and respect the office of the presidency. Walt, how about you?”

“Chief, do we have to use the word fallout? On this weekend’s talk shows, everyone was using the term ‘Tea Party downgrade’. I think that’s the right analysis. Why, with that approach, the piece practically writes itself.”

“Perfect. Since that’s the new factor in DC, it’s clear that the Tea Party is the biggest factor in this. Get to work. Beth, what is it?”

“Uh, sir, how does a faction that only controls 1/3 of the majority party in one house of Congress cause this problem in only seven months? Don’t we need to go back further in time for a better analysis?”

“No, this is a newspaper, not some right-wing think tank.”

“But, sir, the articles I read about the Tea Party that we put out last year claimed they were just a bunch of whackjobs who would never have any significant effect on Washington because of their extremism. Don’t we at least need to examine how that changed over the last year?”

“No. Our readers understand how the Tea Party has morphed into a national threat. So the Tea Party downgrade is one direction we’ll go. But we need something with some math in it to explain the whole thirty year future thing. I know we don’t normally do math stuff, but with the stock market dropping like a rock, people need some reassurance on this so they don’t panic. Did anybody in here take calculus? Destiny, I seem to recall that it’s on your transcript.”

“Well, um, yeah, but I don’t remember much of it.”

“Your transcript says you made an A. And it was only two years ago. What gives?”

“Well, see, the teacher and me, we had a sort of arrangement. He was real cute, and I really needed to pass calculus, so…. I really didn’t expect the A, but we hit it off better than I thought we would.”

“OK, anybody else want to tackle that? Not you, Beth.”

“Chief, I know a guy over at MoveOn who is good with charts. I can probably get something good from him.”

“OK, Hunter, that will do. Of course, you’ll want to attribute the original source instead of MoveOn. You understand.”

“Certainly, sir.”

“Moving on, this whole gun running thing just won’t go away. Personally, I don’t see why our readers would be interested in it, but we’ve been taking some flack on the right-wing extremist talk shows at Fox. So we need to do some real investigation here, and find out the real story. It’s pretty clear that those extremists at Fox are trying to gin up a controversy that makes the Obama administration look bad, so we need to counter that with some objective analysis. Who’s up for it? Jeremy, you wrote a couple of articles on it early on. You want to go deep on it?”

“Not really, sir. I can’t get anybody in the Justice Department to talk about it, so I can’t get any balance. They’re scared by the way the whole Scooter Libby thing turned out.”

“Yeah, yet again, the Republicans ruined it for everybody. Can’t you get anyone to talk?”

“The only people I can get are field people, who seem to have an agenda here to push this as a controversy. I think they’ve been influenced by the Fox people. I don’t want to give them a soapbox. All they want to talk about is some dead agent from last year and memos from Obama’s people.”

“Sir?”

“Yes, Beth, what is it?”

“Sir, I think we have to take into consideration that there’s a real conspiracy here, something that would take us to very high levels. This could even be Pulitzer material.”

“Beth, I think you’re absolutely right. Why, given the phone hacking scandals in Britain, who knows what these Fox people are capable of. This might go all the way to Rupert Murdoch.”

“That wasn’t exactly…”

“OK, Jeremy, there’s your angle. Go back to your sources and see if any of them are interested in talking about the Fox conspiracy side of things.

“What do you want me to do about the rumors that the FBI and DEA were involved?”

“They’re just rumors.”

“Yeah, but they have some emails that look a bit incriminating.”

“Probably faked. You know how those right wingers are. First they’ll claim that Rather’s memos were faked to cover up for Bush, then they’ll turn around and fake stuff up themselves. You can’t trust anything you get from them. So stick to reliable sources. Eric Holder says the feds didn’t do anything wrong, correct?”

“That’s what he says.”

“Then you can take it to the bank. We all know there are people out there who would attack Holder just because of his race. He’s an embattled public servant. So let’s make sure the truth gets out, shall we? Now, let’s see what’s next. There was apparently a riot in Wisconsin. A flash-mob thing. I think there was also one in Philadelphia a while back. This looks like a great opportunity for some serious cultural analysis on problems in the inner city. Estelle, didn’t you minor in black studies? You want to work on this?”

“I only glanced at it this weekend sir. Were any of the victims black?”

“I don’t know, I didn’t look at it much either. I’m so tired of Wisconsin. Yes, Beth?”

“Sir, the blogs say all the victims were white, and the mob was black.”

“How many times do I have to tell you to ignore those right wing extremist blogs? We need some primary sources. Estelle, can you get facts on this?”

“What if it turns out the blogs are right and there are no black victims? I don’t know how to handle such a case. Anything I write could be used to attack underprivileged minorities. I thought that was against our mission statement.”

“Well, if that turns out to be the case, just leave race out of it completely. You can at least get some numbers of people arrested and people hurt and so forth. Remember to leave all the names out so people don’t draw any erroneous conclusions and inappropriately make this a racial thing. You can fall back on the underage confidentiality thing for that if you need to. OK, the final big subject is the crash of that helicopter that killed a bunch of SEALs. Clearly, this is a great opening to talk about what Bush did wrong in Afghanistan that has made it a quagmire. Who wants to work on that?”

“I do!” “Me, me!” “Please, can I do that one?” “No, I want to do it!” ….


Worst President ever?

Ask FireDogLake’s (FDL) Eli:

No, I’m not ready to crown Barack Obama the Worst President Ever just yet, but consider this:

Yes, George W. Bush wrecked our economy, destroyed New Orleans, turned a budget surplus into massive deficits, ignored warnings of a major terrorist attack and used that mistake to lead us into two disastrous military quagmires…

But he also pushed relentlessly for conservative policies and delivered for his base with war, deregulation, tax cuts, environmental rollbacks, and an army of right-wing ideologues embedded in the federal government and judiciary.  He failed to privatize Social Security, but not for lack of trying.

Barack Obama, on the other hand, inherited a mess rather than creating one.  But not only has he failed to create jobs or restart the economy, he has paid only lip service to progressive policies and betrayed his base at almost every turn.

Hmmm … so what should he have done, Eli?  I mean I’m with you on the “failed to create jobs or restart the economy”.  No rocket scientist needed to figure that out. But obviously, unlike W, who took every supposed opportunity to give his base those things they love – like wars (how’s it going in Libya these days, sport?) – your Prez isn’t giving you guys what you want?

Appreciate the fact you actually seem to believe the right loves wrecked economies (because you know, that’s super pro-business) and terrorist attacks (because he ignored intel? Guess Obama is the only one who inherits messes, huh?), but what should your man be doing?

Instead of using the financial crisis or the current debt hysteria to push through a progressive agenda like Bush used 9/11 to push through a conservative one, he’s using them as an excuse to capitulate to Republican budget chickenhawks, and even to cut Social Security and Medicare.

Ah, he’s violating the “never let a good crisis go to waste” maxim, eh?  Good lord, yes, we should have spent gobs more money on, well, only Sheriff Joe knows, and he should have insisted on the public option,  no wait, single payer, and on “teh  ghey” issue, well he’s just been horrible.  Right?

And he had that pure liberal Democratic Congress for how long?  Yeah, 2 years, and what came out of there?  *Sigh*.   What’s a liberal to do.

So which is worse?  The president who serves his base and sets the country on fire, or the president who stiffs his base and fights fire with gasoline?

Mmmm … I’ll have to think about that a second.  Nope, don’t need too – the last guy.  It explains why “Miss me yet?” t-shirt sales are booming.

John Cole, however, is having a cow stating sarcastically:

Any good liberal in the year 2011 would be confused when choosing between Obama and Bush for the title of “Worst President Ever.”

He seems to think FDL is effin’ “clinical”.

It’s tough when the blinders finally come off, isn’t it?  Unsurprisingly, they’re still firmly in place at Balloon Juice.

BTW, read the comments at FDL – they’re equally as entertaining as the article.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


So much for the myth that only the uninformed and ignorant are skeptical of AGW

Powerline’s Steven Hayward brings us the results of a revealing  paper by Cultural Cognition Project at Yale University.  It attacks one of the popular myths that only dummies reject the “consensus” because they are ignorant of the science.  Not so says the CCP:

The conventional explanation for controversy over climate change emphasizes impediments to public understanding: limited popular knowledge of science, the inability of ordinary citizens to assess technical information, and the resulting widespread use of unreliable cognitive heuristics to assess risk. A large survey of U.S. adults (N = 1540) found little support for this account. On the whole, the most scientifically literate and numerate subjects were slightly less likely, not more, to see climate change as a serious threat than the least scientifically literate and numerate ones.

Hayward points out that these results validate an earlier finding from the journal Risk Analysis (2008):

By examining the results of a survey on an original and representative sample of Americans, we find that these three forces—informedness, confidence in scientists, and personal efficacy—are related in interesting and unexpected ways, and exert significant influence on risk assessments of global warming and climate change. In particular, more informed respondents both feel less personally responsible for global warming, and also show less concern for global warming. We also find that confidence in scientists has unexpected effects: respondents with high confidence in scientists feel less responsible for global warming, and also show less concern for global warming.

Now one could conclude that it is actually the least informed who buy into the AGW because they’re less likely to seek out explanations to the underlying “science” that supports the theory.  Instead they accept it whole cloth and defend it instead of taking a skeptical point of view – a view which science demands.  Questioning the theory would also indicate intellectual curiosity instead of the rote acceptance of what is presented.

There’s a bit of irony to had here.  Hayward:

Whoa there: The more science you know about climate change, the less likely you are to think it is a crisis?  This suggest that all the money environmentalists have spent (I think the Environmental Defense Fund has spent $300 million alone on climate change) has had a negative effect on public opinion, and it offers the ironic possibility that the best thing Al Gore could do to advance his cause is shut up and grow his beard back in a Tibetan monastery.

It makes the case that a) the public isn’t stupid, b) propaganda is still mostly recognized as propaganda and c) the intellectually curious are more likely to be “skeptical” than the less intellectually curious.

Not a particularly flattering portrait of the AGW crowd, is it?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Quote of the Day – Wile E. Coyote edition

The perfect Libya analogy via Mark Goldblatt:

Why do I have a sinking feeling that expecting the Libyan rebels to overthrow Qaddafi is like expecting the Coyote to catch the Road Runner . . . and that we’re about to become the Acme Corporation?

Can’t improve on that (unless there’s a way to work Elmer Fudd into it).

~McQ


Quick Hits: Scientific Journalism

In the vein of Jon Henke’s “The Ultimate Metablog” with the satire of a good Monty Python skit (is there any other kind?), Martin Robbins lays out the definitive article for how scientific journalism is constructed. Here’s the heading:

This is a news website article about a scientific paper

In the standfirst I will make a fairly obvious pun about the subject matter before posing an inane question I have no intention of really answering: is this an important scientific finding?

My favorite bits:

In this paragraph I will state in which journal the research will be published. I won’t provide a link because either a) the concept of adding links to web pages is alien to the editors, b) I can’t be bothered, or c) the journal inexplicably set the embargo on the press release to expire before the paper was actually published.

[...]

This fragment will be put on its own line for no obvious reason.

[...]

This paragraph contained useful information or context, but was removed by the sub-editor to keep the article within an arbitrary word limit in case the internet runs out of space.

Be sure to read the comments as well, where most everyone plays along with the theme. But beware of the related links … you may be taken to a place you never, ever want to be.