Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Talk of the Town: "Peace protestors not always so peaceful"

Jim Edmunds gets a fat chunk of the op-ed page to whine about what nasty people these peaceniks really are.

Near as I can figure, he's referring to Randal's column here as the trigger for his irritation, but it has little to do with the events he recounts.

I wouldn't be surprised if his description of his experience is accurate as far as it goes. Many, many people saw what was coming with Bush's adventure in Iraq, and were (and remain) very angry about it. Most people haven't much experience in expressing themselves with force, and have to be given some benefit of the doubt if they don't handle it with perfect aplomb. That they refused to allow a PR flak to tell them how to express themselves about this impending disaster is no surprise. You're a flak, you get yelled at, that's your job, Jim.

And let's not neglect that the peaceniks were absolutely on the money about what was happening and how it would turn out.

The tell comes in Edmunds' final graph, pulling out the old canard that if you're anti-war, you're anti-veteran. This is desperate rhetoric that neatly kneecaps his credibility. The reader will be forgiven for inferring that Edmunds still speaks for Rick Renzi, as I have little doubt that our Congresscritter would make much the same speech.

Editorial: "Recent crimes point to need for change"

Oooh, we knew this was coming, didn't we?

Anecdotes in the Courier, facts here.

Crime is less uncommon among poor people. The poor people in the quad cities are disproportionatley Hispanic. The problem is not immigration, it's class and the underground economy, just like everywhere else. Don't fall for the brown-peril scare.

Letters: Water

If you've ever thought you'd like to stop hearing about water, just forget it. We'll always be dealing with this issue in one form or another.

First we have Richard Clemmer rightly dunning the Queen Bee for threatening to obstruct the process of applying AMA rules county-wide. Maybe the public is catching up.

Readers may infer from the letter that Rep Mason did not welcome the addition of the unanimity provision. In fact she strongly supports it, seeing it as necessary because invoking these rules is an irrevocable decision and supervisors are single representatives of different constituencies, so everyone should be on board. It's true that one recalcitrant Supe can hold up the process. I tend to think that's an inherent risk of democracy.

Next we have Steve Norwood forced to clean up after a little squirty mess Rick Renzi left behind. Who gets the award for this one? Renzi, for making the mess, or the Courier, for neglecting to follow up? Isn't it a little odd that Norwood has to get this out among the LTEs rather than in the original story?

A1: "PUSD board votes down district-wide dress code"

A good news story has the quality of transparency. You can see through the facts to the deeper levels. Shari Lopatin provides us some of this quality today, allowing the PUSD Board's disorganization and emotionalism to shine through alongside the absurdity of the whole issue.

Les Stukenberg's photo adds a touch that's almost arch, bringing home, if you're paying attention, that there's been a lot of smoke and fury over this, but few regular folks actually give a rat's butt about it.

A1: "Council opts for interim arsenic treatment"

This feels like a nice, clean recounting of the facts. Cindy Barks gets a cookie.

Council's in a tough spot here, forced to work a day late and a dollar short, way beyond their collective expertise. Maybe they're starting to realize that willy-nilly expansionism, rather than moving Prescott out onto the highway of modernism, is more like speeding down the Spars. White-knuckle time.

A1: "Hispanic man in stable condition after shooting"

Mirsada Buric's police-blotter story today is good in that it covers a bit more ground than the bare police-report recitiations we often see from the Courier.

There's one big blue circle on my copy, however, around this:

The residents' inability to communicate with officers in English, hampered the investigation, ....
This is not in quotes, so it's presented as fact, and it speaks a strong bias. The neutral, factual version would be, "The language barrier hampered the investigation, ...," and given who is being served and who is serving, it might be useful to consider, "The officers' inability to communicate with the residents in Spanish hampered the investigation, ...." Never blame the victim.

That said, kudo to Mirsada for slipping this in at the end:

"There is some activity from time to time, but most of the time they don't cause that much trouble," she said.