Patterico's Pontifications


My E-Mail to Steven Ginsburg of the Washington Post, Regarding That Error-Filled Post About Amtrak Funding

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:52 pm

I just sent this to Steven Ginsberg at The Fix at the Washington Post, copying Philip Bump (whom I had previously written about the same topic) and Sean Davis.

Mr. Ginsberg,

Philip Bump recently wrote a piece that was ostensibly about Amtrak funding, but which contained a raft of inaccurate statements. The inaccuracies were well explained by Sean Davis in this piece:

First, Bump claimed, wholly inaccurately, that “Congress has delayed passing legislation to fund Amtrak since 2013.” Davis showed that to be entirely false, noting that a December 2014 spending bill had appropriated $1.4 billion in funding for Amtrak. After Davis published his post, Bump issued a “clarification.”

Here’s the problem: as Davis explains, the “clarification” itself contains several errors and/or misleading statements which still stand uncorrected on the Washington Post’s Web site.

For one, Bump says Congress “repeatedly reauthoriz[ed] existing funding levels” — which Mr. Davis showed Congress did not, in fact do. (This demonstrated that Bump, after writing about a piece about Amtrak funding, and even after being forced to correct that piece, still had not looked up the numbers regarding Amtrak funding.)

Additionally, Mr. Bump’s terminology “reauthorized” was inaccurate and misleading, as the correct terminology was “appropriated.” I admit to being unfamiliar with the distinction before reading Mr. Davis’s post — but then, I don’t cover political funding issues for one of the nation’s largest and most well-respected newspapers.

Also, Bump implies that that there is some “long-term legislation to fund Amtrak” that Congress is “delaying.” Davis says that is misleading, because there is no such long-term bill in existence that could be “delayed.” I don’t personally know the truth about that, but Davis has been as accurate on every other point as Bump has been inaccurate, so I’m guessing Davis has this right as well.

I think these factual issues cannot be simply shrugged off. I previously wrote a post about it on my blog, and wrote Mr. Bump to ask whether he planned to address the continuing errors. He did not respond (although he did “favorite” a tweet of mine about it, so I know he knows about the continuing errors). And so, I am writing you directly to ask you whether you plan to address these issues in any way.

I will be perfectly frank: I have a political point of view, one that prizes liberty and principles of limited government. I know that many in the media will dismiss me out of hand for holding these views — views that once were quite mainstream, but now are viewed as laughable and extreme by a certain segment of the political elite, on both sides of the aisle.

However, the facts are the facts, and regardless of who brings them to your attention, the fact is that Bump got it wrong, and is still getting it wrong. I therefore encourage you to do something about it. Thanks.

Patrick Frey

I will let you know if I hear anything in response.

Hillary’s Litmus Test for Supreme Court Nominations: Pledge to Reverse This Pro-Free Speech Decision I Don’t Like

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:31 am

Allahpundit says what needs to be said:

Friendly reminder from Phil Kerpen: The Citizens United case was about whether a corporation had a First Amendment right to spend money from its general treasury to promote criticism of … Hillary Clinton. People on both sides forget that, I think. It’s natural in hindsight to assume that a conservative group being scrutinized by the feds for a political attack in 2007 was training its fire on Obama. Nope. The question was, does Citizens United’s right to free speech include the right to spend big bucks publicizing “Hillary: The Movie” when Hillary was a candidate for president?

That’s the case that would-be President Hillary Clinton now desperately wants overturned.

Big Government is always going to try to take away your rights. Always. It will never stop. And the way they do it is, they try to make it sound like it’s a Good Thing that your rights are being taken away. So they pick an unpopular target like Big Corporations — which can be annoying but are subject to competition, unlike the federal government — and try to make the argument about Big Corporations controlling everything. When, in fact, the issue in Citizens United was whether citizens could band together, using the benefits of a corporation, to criticize Hillary Clinton.

Hillary — unexpectedly! — doesn’t think they should be able to. And so she will have a litmus test for her Supreme Court nominees, that they must oppose the operation of the First Amendment in this context.

Big Media will not criticize her for this. You see, Big Media benefits when other voices are shut down. Hillary can’t shut up editorial writers (yet), so when competing voices are quieted, the voices of Big Media ring out louder than ever. So the idea that media would oppose a lefty presidential candidate explicitly opposing the First Amendment — an idea that at first glance seems like a given — is actually a pipe dream.

Big Media, by and large, will applaud.

Here’s the bigger picture: The ship is going down. Electing someone like Ted Cruz instead of Hillary Clinton will slow it, but the real effort needs to be in finding systematic ways to decentralize power. Ideas include an Article V convention, states resisting federal mandates, systematic civil disobedience such as is recommended by Charles Murray in his latest book (more about that in a future post), and creating institutions that operate independently from government to the extent possible. And if none of that works, secession by the states populated by people who believe in liberty.

In the meantime, vote against Hillary Clinton and do your best to preserve your First Amendment rights for the time being. Just don’t kid yourself into believing that’s enough. It isn’t. Not even close.

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