Friday, July 31, 2015


Statewide media are reporting results of a new poll of Republicans showing Donald Trump in the lead for the presidential nomination. Please. Hold the primary now.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Wiederaenders: Where has our patriotism gone?

The Courier city editor notes that "not every home or business that flies a flag lowered it to half-staff" this week in response to the Chattanooga mass shooting, laments the fading of the flag-fervor following the WTC attacks, and projects in that a lack of patriotism in this country.

Tim waxes nostalgic for the days of tattered flags on cars, and by extension the fear-addled response to terrorism that spurred us into two disastrous and stupid wars and bankrupted this country. For Tim it was a time of fellow-feeling, and he happily hums the old tune, never mind why it was such a long way to Tipperary.

But I think the flag-fetish thing matters, not because some of us are less attentive to its rules and customs, rather because many Americans see it as a measure of political loyalty, a concept so often confused (often deliberately) with patriotism. Like every authoritarian movement in history, the American far right wraps itself in the flag and uses it as a brand logo. It upholds the flag as a shining symbol even as it tramples the values and principles the flag was meant to represent.

Given its rampant abuse in the service of political division, is it any wonder that for many of us the Stars and Stripes carries nearly as much baggage as the Stars and Bars?

A national flag should be an expression of shared values, not political division, symbolizing what makes us feel good about ourselves. Like this.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Kirkpatrick runs, the knives come out

CD1 Rep Ann Kirkpatrick, having no doubt accepted that someone has to do it, today put her hand up to go against John McCain for the US Senate next year, taking on what is sure to be a costly, bloody, soul-sucking and likely losing fight. That's a pretty good news story. I am saddened and more than a little peeved to have to point out that it's not the one the Courier is choosing to run this evening.

The headline reads "House Democrat Kirkpatrick to challenge McCain for Senate." It's not "House Democrat Kirkpatrick to challenge Senate Republican McCain for Senate," of course, that would be balanced yet awful. It's not "Kirkpatrick to challenge McCain for Senate," which would do just fine. The editors made the choice of using "House Democrat" as the descriptor, which emphasizes that she is less well-known and of lower status than McCain. They're true enough, but the words are unnecessary to a headline in this area, and all editors are trained try to keep headlines as succinct as possible to save inches for the advertisers.

She shoulda bit him.
The lead picture, on a story about a three-term Representative announcing a campaign, is from the end of a debate in Tuscon during the last campaign, showing her shaking hands with former AZ House Speaker Andy Tobin, whom she defeated. Tobin is in the dominant position in the photo, to the left, taller than Kirkpatrick, who is smiling and postured a bit submissively. Consider that the AP has literally thousands of photos of Kirkpatrick, including her official portrait, any of which the Courier could have drawn upon for this story.

Nearly half the story is about the Republican lawsuit against the last redistricting and confident prognostication by Republicans that Kirkpatrick is running because she expects that her House seat will become untenable when they win it.

The story contains two quotes from Kirkpatrick. There are three from Tobin, including a thought not in quotes attributed to him. There are three from McCain and people working for him, including the final-thought story closer.

As descriptors Kirkpatrick gets "won narrowly," "targeted" and "part of the problem in Washington," where McCain gets "most influential," "formidable" and "vigorous."

All these were editorial decisions, and if they were unconscious it's worse. This is a hack attack of the lowest sort, unworthy of any news organization and embarrassing to the profession I must share with the perpetrators in the Courier editorial suite. Shame.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dead and buried: news that matters

While Buz Williams bloviates about the leftist media elite, the Courier and most other media outlets are largely burying a story affecting the lives of a million Arizonans, half of them kids. From Cronkite News Service via The Arizona Capitol Times:

Cuts to food stamp benefits hit more than 1 million Arizonans Friday

That's tomorrow. How many people in our area will be affected? How many kids will be going to school hungry? How much money will it suck out of the tills of our local grocers? How will this additional stress spread through families and the rest of the community? We'll likely never know the answers to these questions, because they just aren't as important to our local editors as, say, baseball games.

Update, Friday: Some numbers. If this isn't repaired within the year, the AZ economy will be out about 109 million clams. And no, you're not paying less taxes to balance that. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Must-read: Why competent opposition matters

Conor Friedersdorf, writing for The Atlantic, tees off on an example from the Obamacare "debate" showing how overstretching the truth leads to dismissive backlash that can further obscure important policy considerations. If you care at all about how media decisions affect your thinking, you have to check this out:
What a Small Moment in the Obamacare Debate Says About Ideological Media