Patterico's Pontifications

2/25/2013

L.A. Times Scares Readers Re Those Awful Sequestration Non-Cut “Cuts”

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 7:48 am

The top article on the L.A. Times web page is a scare story about how awfully awfully terrible those horrible sequester “cuts” (which are not really cuts) will be:

When it comes to the nation’s debt, payback time might be here.

Years of low tax rates and rising federal spending, amplified by the devastating economic effect of the Great Recession, have driven the U.S. borrowing tab to more than $16 trillion from less than $1 trillion in 1981.

Deficit reduction has become the dominant issue in Washington. The first major tax increase since 1993 took place last month. And large automatic spending cuts — $1.2 trillion over the next decade — are set to kick in Friday.

Oh, the drama. Why not just say it’s $200 quintillion over 30 years? Ginormous “cuts” in the future that will never happen are a fiction, and the L.A. Times treats them like fact. But it’s a joke. You can’t control anything past this year, and Marc Thiessen explains what’s really going on this year:

The problem with the sequester is not the amount of cuts it requires. Cuts of $85 billion this year is about 2 percent of our $3.5 trillion federal budget, or about nine days of federal spending. Even after the sequester, we will still spend about $15 billion more this year than we did in last year. The sequester does not actually “cut” spending — it simply slows its growth.

At no point does the L.A. Times story put the “cuts” in their proper context — that they aren’t even cuts from last year’s spending. Instead, it’s Scare City:

In addition, government officials said the looming spending cuts would affect most federal programs. The effect would be widespread, hitting state and local programs that depend on federal aid and businesses with government contracts.

But some would directly affect the general public, with the furloughing of government workers leading to fewer food safety inspections, reduced hours at national parks and longer waits at airports.

For example, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the $600-million cut facing the Federal Aviation Administration’s 2013 budget would force the agency to furlough the “vast majority” of its 47,000 employees for at least one day every two-week pay period, reducing staffing at airports and forcing the closure of 100 small air traffic control towers starting around April 1.

“This is very painful for us because it involves our employees, but it’s going to be very painful for the flying public,” LaHood told reporters Friday.

Also, we’re told, the federal government spending less is somehow supposed to hurt the economy:

But Democrats and Republicans, along with many analysts, said the indiscriminate nature of the budget cuts make them a bad move right now when the economy still is struggling to grow.

This is how people stay “informed.” By reading garbage like this.

We have to change it, somehow.

WaPo Reporter to Reader: Those Who Oppose Gay Marriage Are Like Racists and Oppose Fairness

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:23 am

The WaPo ombudsman publishes an exchange between a reporter and a reader about the paper’s coverage of gay marriage. The report is interesting for the reporter’s unapologetic rooting for a pro-gay stance, and lecturing the reader about what conservatives “ought” to believe — all while asking the ombudsman that he remain anonymous.

The reader writes in to make this complaint:

The overlooked “other side” on the gay issue is quite legitimate, and includes the Pope, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, evangelist Billy Graham, scholars such as Robert George of Princeton, and the millions of Americans who believe in traditional marriage and oppose redefining marriage into nothingness. . . . Is there no room in The Post for those who support the male-female, procreative model of marriage?

The reporter responds:

The reason that legitimate media outlets routinely cover gays is because it is the civil rights issue of our time. Journalism, at its core, is about justice and fairness, and that’s the “view of the world” that we espouse; therefore, journalists are going to cover the segment of society that is still not treated equally under the law.

The reader responds:

Contrary to what you say, the mission of journalism is not justice. Defining justice is a political matter, not journalistic. Journalism should be about accuracy and fairness.

Good journalism also means not demeaning conservatives as “haters.”

The reporter does not seem to agree:

As for accuracy, should the media make room for racists, i.e. those people who believe that black people shouldn’t marry white people? Any story on African-Americans wouldn’t be wholly accurate without the opinion of a racist, right?

Of course I have a bias. I have a bias toward fairness. The true conservative would have the same bias. The true conservative would want the government out of people’s bedrooms, and religion out of government.

Oh, thanks for telling us what the true conservative would want — because you so deeply understand the true conservative!

The ombudsman then gives a totally unsatisfying peroration, in which he says the paper needs to understand conservatives better — then proceeds to reinforce what the reporter says: it’s all about fairness, and reporters care so very much about fairness; why it’s in their blood! — while showing zero understanding of the conservative view that he claims reporters need to understand better.

What is most interesting about the whole thing, to me, is that the reporter wishes to remain anonymous in the column. I can understand why the reader doesn’t want to have his views revealed in the pages of the Post. He just got compared to a racist. He’s the “bad guy.” Why let the paper slam his name?

But the reporter was being refreshingly if arrogantly honest, presumably under his own name, in the emails. Yet his pride in his position doesn’t extend to publicly revealing his name. Now why would that be, do you think?

I, for one, am curious as to the identity of the reporter — and if the reader stumbles across my post and wants to send me the reporter’s name, I will happily protect the reader’s name while publishing the reporter’s. Email me at patterico AT gmail DOT com.

Just don’t be surprised if the paper or reporter publishes your name in retaliation. There’s fairness and there’s getting even, and which do you think the paper will see as the higher goal in this situation?


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