January 2005 - W.C. Varones

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A close race

On fire

Anonymous evil American right-wing organization blamed for fat man's woes

1:43 PM 0
In the BrandRepublic Bulletin, Julia Pearlman begins her story, "Michael Moore, the director, writer and producer of 'Fahrenheit 9/11', was almost sabotaged in a planned attack by an American right-wing organisation..." but then never names the alleged organisation or offers any evidence that an American right-wing organization was responsible. For all Pearlman knows, the attack could have been by outraged patrons of Krispy Kreme Donuts when they found out Moore had eaten them out of stock.

What kind of journalism is this?

(via Anklebitingpundits)
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Groovy tunes

1:33 PM 0
I had the pleasure of visiting Byron Bay, Australia, in December, and saw an amazing band in a local pub. I bought their CD, and am still listening to it regularly. It gets better every time.

They're called the Groovesmiths, and though they are unpublished, I urge you to try to get some of their music. The album is called Demonstration of Intent.
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Kaus in the house

1:09 PM 0
Mickey Kaus was the first blogger I started reading, and still one of my favourites, though I enjoyed him more when he had John Kerry to kick around.

This post is Kaus at his best -- a rare Democrat with common sense and an appreciation of how out of control the party leaders are.
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Dumb and dumber

1:06 PM 0
This story is pretty scary about students' ignorance of civil liberties.

Lefties will paint this as either a story about red state Hitler youth, or about lack of funding for education. The truth, however, is that the problem with civics education is much the same as the problem with mathematics and reading and writing education: it is controlled by greedy teachers' unions that care more about preserving their own power than improving education.

I'd like to see whether non-union schools' students understand civil liberties better. I bet they do.
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Walked down this morning, don't believe what I saw

1:22 AM 0
I turned on the TV this morning. The news was showing coverage of the Michael Jackson trial. The first thing I saw was a sign in the crowd saying "FRANCE ♥ YOU, MJ!"

It's going to be a beautiful day.
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Clark County, Iraq


U.N. doing what it does best


France proposes taking other people's money


Election dirty tricks


Just making it worse

1:38 PM 0
Last week, I wrote about inaccuracies (OK, I called them lies!) in the San Francisco Chronicle.

This week, the editor of the online version of the Chronicle, SFGate.com, notified me that they had made a "clarification" (since removed, without comment) to the column. However, the clarification just compounded the inaccuracies.

My response follows:

Mr. Moffitt:

Thank you for your response. However, the clarification was wholly inaccurate and in many ways makes the inaccuracy worse.

First, the clarification continues to insist that taxes would increase for poor families unless they earned less than $36,000. This is not true. The 17% tax applies only to income earned over $36,000 for a family of four, meaning that a family earning $40,000 would pay only $680, and a family earning $50,000 would pay only $2380. In most cases this would mean a tax cut, not a tax increase for these families.

Second, the clarification calls families of four earning less than $36,000 “truly destitute.” In 2003, the poverty line for a family of four was $18,810. Calling a family earning nearly double the poverty line “truly destitute” shows how disingenuous your writers are willing to be in order to make a political point. Indeed, the median household income for African-Americans is significantly less than $36,000. Does your paper want to go on record calling the vast majority of African-Americans “truly destitute?”

I appreciate SFGate’s attempt to correct an error. However, given the extreme inaccuracies in both the original column and in the clarification, a full correction is warranted, both in the online and print editions.


W.C. Varones

UPDATE: I got an e-mail back from the online editor, saying "We feel no correction is warranted." Not that I asked how they feel. What is the paper's correction policy and how on earth can it justify refusing to correct a demonstrably false statement?

Despite Moffitt's feeling like a correction would be a total bummer, man, SFGate has again changed the online version of the column. They removed the nonsense about the "truly destitute" earning less than $36,000. They also changed Sorenson's assertion that Forbes wanted to raise taxes "for the poor" to "for many of the poor." I guess if Sorenson's definition of "many" is as loose as his definition of "the poor," he might be able to find a way to distort this into being true. There are probably some people somewhere in America making $60,000 or so who might pay more taxes under the Forbes plan. $60,000 should certainly qualify for "poor" in Sorenson's world, if $36,000 is "truly destitute."

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Kingdom of Fear

1:37 PM 0
Michael Moore and others say that America has a culture of fear. To some extent, they may be right. However, it's not just America.

In Australia, they are banning cameras from some beaches, because every photographer taking pictures of kids building sand castles or playing in the waves could be a pervert!
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Helping in a humanitarian crisis without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion.

9:17 PM 0
Instapundit links to this wonderful story about a French TV station grilling the French Minister of Defense about the pathetic response of France's ill-equipped military to the tsunami tragedy. And there's sincere praise for the U.S. response, too!

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What a bunch of morons

4:47 AM 1
Apple is not the computer of choice for the vast majority of businesses or businesspeople. No, Apple is the hip, counter-cultural alternative for creative types.

Until now. In one of the dumbest business moves in history, Apple is destroying its carefully crafted hipster image by suing a teenage blogger for writing about it. Exit Jack Kerouac. Enter Joseph McCarthy.

Civil libertarians, exactly Apple's target market, are not going to like this. Will Microsoft and Intel become the default choice of the anti-fascists?

UPDATE: Brian Schiau comments below, and has a more detailed post on his blog.

My response:

Thanks for your comments on my blog. You raise some good points, but I still think Apple is going to lose this case rather than get a settlement.

You write about ThinkSecret actively soliciting confidential information. I don't think this is any different from mainstream reporters seeking out sources, even when they know the sources are not supposed to reveal information. The entire industry of investigative journalism was founded on people giving up the goods on secretive issues.

Legally, I don't think the court will rule that mainstream journalists have special rights that individual bloggers don't have. Where would they draw the line? Is Kaus a mainstream journalist because Slate is now owned by a big media company? Does $1000/month in blog ads make you a professional journalist? What about journalists for free, alternative dead tree weekly rags in many U.S. cities? Are they more worthy of journalistic freedom than some bloggers? Some people in both groups do amazing journalism.

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Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

1:54 PM 0
In his San Francisco Chronicle column "Rich Man Talking," Harley Sorensen lies about Steve Forbes' flat tax proposal, writing, "His flat tax proposal amounted to a kind of Robin Hood in reverse concept: Lower the taxes for the rich and increase them for the poor."

In fact, under Forbes' proposal, the poor would pay no tax at all. More information on the proposal can be found here.

The rest of Sorensen's column ("They want a return to slavery," etc.) is so ridiculous it doesn't merit a response.
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Online poker



The new Federalists

1:32 PM 0
Slate has a good piece arguing that liberals should be in favor of states' rights.

I agree. Federalism is about devolving power closer to the individual -- primarily from the national government to the states, so that states like Vermont can have gay marriage and free marijuana -- but I would take it further. Why not push authority down to cities and communities? The more locally decisions are made, the more people will actually have a stake in politics and their communities.

Power to the people!
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Insert joke here


Armstrong Williams fiasco

2:11 PM 0
Of course this is terrible -- but Bush hardly invented this kind of thing.

But public relations executives said that the government distribution of prepared news segments without on-air disclosures of their origin was a bipartisan practice that predated the Bush administration.

"The Clinton administration was probably even more active than the Bush administration" in distributing news segments promoting its policies, said Laurence Moskowitz, chairman and chief executive of Medialink, a major producer of promotional news segments. After the Government Accountability Office decision last spring, he said, his firm began advising government clients to disclose each tape's nature in its script.

Similar abuses include Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush appearing in self-promoting "consumer education" ads paid for by California taxpayers, Gray Davis putting his smiling face on letters accompanying tax refunds, and members of Congress using taxpayer funds to send out thinly veiled campaign material.

Now that the much hated Bush has done it, though, the media suddenly is interested, and I hope this will bring about an end to all of these practices.
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Your U.N. at work

10:37 AM 0
Wow. First France and Russia render the U.N. powerless to ever take any military action anywhere. Now the U.N. can't even do anything in a humanitarian crisis. What's the point of the U.N. and why are we still funding them?
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