Patterico's Pontifications

5/23/2009

What the L.A. Times Talks About . . . And What It Doesn’t Talk About

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 3:53 pm

To fully understand Big Media bias, sometimes you have to look at what they don’t say as well as what they do. Perspectives that support the Democrat agenda get splashy treatment, while perspectives that favor the Republican agenda are either whispered and then immediately contradicted — or not even mentioned at all.

The L.A. Times does this twice today.

First example: Today the L.A. Times runs a story titled Cheney’s assertions of lives saved is hard to prove. The deck headline reads: “Arguing against Obama’s policies, he says that the Bush administration’s approach to terrorism spared ‘perhaps hundreds of thousands.’ Experts say no evidence of that has emerged.”

The story is very weak to begin with. Cheney said that Bush administration policies were effective against al Qaeda; that effectiveness saved lives; the number of lives saved could be in the thousands and could “perhaps” be in the hundreds of thousands. The experts in the story (both of whom I have written for comment) don’t contradict this; instead, they merely say it’s hard to prove. Not mentioned: the fact that Obama is sitting on the proof, which wouldn’t help the terrorists (even as he releases details of techniques, which does help them).

Meanwhile, as reader Dana points out, The Times reported President Obama’s recent claim that Guantanamo Bay’s prison “likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.”

Is that assertion hard to prove? I suspect it’s every bit as unprovable as Cheney’s statement, if not more so. One wonders why the President’s assertion gets no scrutiny, while Cheney’s merits an entire article of second-guessing.

Editors: can we get an article quoting experts who say that assertion is hard to prove? Together with headlines disparaging the claim? Thanks!

Second example: On today’s front page, The Times runs an above-the-fold article about how horrible proposed California budget cuts would be:

We’re told that businesses could be driven out of the state by . . . tax cuts? No, by — I’m not making this up — decreased government spending:

The long-term effects of Sacramento’s financial woes, meanwhile, could far outweigh the near-term effects. In particular, the expected deep cuts in education spending could thin the state’s human capital, potentially forcing California companies to look elsewhere for skilled workers as well as new plants or even headquarters.

Lower government spending also hurts business that keep the bloat in our oversized bureaucracies:

Distressed car dealers could see sales to state agencies shrink, printing shops may lose business as courts and other government operations shorten their workweek, and office-equipment suppliers would lose sales as cash-strapped agencies make do with aging copiers.

Heaven forfend that bureaucrats have anything but the very latest in Xeroxing technology. That’s worth a few billion right there, isn’t it?

Promising students would go to other states, taking their future skills, earnings and, possibly, Nobel Prizes elsewhere. California companies would then find it harder to attract high-value employees who might be dubious about moving to a state with sub-par schools.

If we cut public education, we’ll lose Nobel prize-winning students? That strikes me as . . . difficult to prove.

Now, I’d always heard that businesses were driven out by excessive regulation and taxation, and that high government spending, and not spending cuts, were part of the problem. And indeed, the only example of an actual business moving out of state is not because of education cuts, but rather high taxes:

Still, companies such as Solaicx have found the burden heavy enough to look elsewhere to invest.

In 2007, the company built a plant in Portland, Ore., in part because the state offered a tax incentive unavailable in its home state. California had an added disincentive: It is one of only a handful of states that charges sales tax on manufacturing equipment.

But you must risk ink-stained hands and paper cuts and turn, turn, turn those big pages allll the way to Page A16, to learn this, as well as the fact that “Businesses have long complained about big-spending government in California.”

Where is our front-page article about that? Answer: nowhere. But on the front page, we are promised a story of the “faces of the cuts.”

When was the last time the L.A. Times ran a story called “The Faces of the Tax Increases”?

The pattern is clear: this paper has certain perspectives to which it gives inches of column space and front-page treatment, like the Horrible Impact of Spending Cuts and the Questionable Nature of Republican Claims. And it has other perspectives to which it gives Page A16 treatment — or no treatment at all — like the horrible impact of tax increases and the questionable nature of Democrat claims.

The bias couldn’t be more clear.

You Are So Selfish. Now Get Out of My Way.

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 2:54 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The AP reports this story about Chen Fuchao, a Chinese man deeply in debt who climbed atop a Guangzhou bridge contemplating suicide. Authorities blocked off traffic for several hours as they attempted to talk Chen down. Apparently that didn’t sit well with fellow traveler Lai Jiansheng, who approached Chen, shook hands with him and then pushed him off the bridge:

“The passer-by, 66-year-old Lai Jiansheng, had been fed up with what he called Chen’s “selfish activity,” Xinhua said. Traffic around the Haizhu bridge in the city of Guangzhou had been backed up for five hours and police had cordoned off the area.

“I pushed him off because jumpers like Chen are very selfish. Their action violates a lot of public interest,” Lai was quoted as saying by [official News Agency] Xinhua. “They do not really dare to kill themselves. Instead, they just want to raise the relevant government authorities’ attention to their appeals.”

Chen survived because he fell onto a partially inflated emergency air cushion. Meanwhile, Lai had reportedly “been on medication for ‘a mental illness’ for decades and had been on his way to a hospital for his pills.”

— DRJ

Progress in Today’s World

Filed under: Economics,Environment — DRJ @ 11:50 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

A Yale graduate student discovers life in a box:

Think your apartment is small? Don’t try to tell that to Elizabeth Turnbull.

While studying for her master’s in urban ecology and environmental design, the 24-year-old graduate student at Yale University is living in a truly tiny house.

It measures just 8 1/2 feet wide by 18 1/2 feet long, for a cozy total of 144 square feet.

The goal? Limiting her impact on the environment.

Photos are here.

I don’t see this as an advance. She built her mini-apartment using available funds, bartered for supplies, and hosted burger parties to get donated labor. Her apartment is apparently located in the backyard of a friend’s house, which means she is relying on the kindness of friends. (She also uses their bathroom.) Finally, regardless of what she calls it, she’s living in the equivalent of a small mobile home.

Some of these ideas are good but all of them have been around for a while, especially barter which is more common in hard times that see more shadow economies. So while I’m glad these ideas work for her, they aren’t new and they aren’t advances. Instead, it’s a way to take us back in time.

— DRJ

Obama: We Are Out of Money Now (Updated)

Filed under: Obama — DRJ @ 11:22 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Barack Obama’s Memorial Day message to Americans:

“SCULLY: You know the numbers, $1.7 trillion debt, a national deficit of $11 trillion. At what point do we run out of money?

OBAMA: Well, we are out of money now. We are operating in deep deficits, not caused by any decisions we’ve made on health care so far. This is a consequence of the crisis that we’ve seen and in fact our failure to make some good decisions on health care over the last several decades.

So we’ve got a short-term problem, which is we had to spend a lot of money to salvage our financial system, we had to deal with the auto companies, a huge recession which drains tax revenue at the same time it’s putting more pressure on governments to provide unemployment insurance or make sure that food stamps are available for people who have been laid off.

So we have a short-term problem and we also have a long-term problem. The short-term problem is dwarfed by the long-term problem. And the long-term problem is Medicaid and Medicare. If we don’t reduce long-term health care inflation substantially, we can’t get control of the deficit.”

Obama knows his priorities. Now that he’s “fixed” the economy, he’s moving on to healthcare.

UPDATE: Here is C-Span’s transcript of the full interview. I notice Obama again repeated his claim that health care providers have committed to reduce costs by 1.5% a year (page 5):

“And if – one of the very promising areas that we saw was these insurance companies, drug companies, hospitals, all these stakeholders coming together, committing to me that they would reduce costs by 1.5 percent per year.”

Of course, these same providers claim Obama “substantially overstated” their promise to control costs … but the more Obama says this, the more it will become the narrative they can’t escape.

— DRJ


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