Controversy Continues Over George Will’s Column on Climate Change

There continues to be controversy over George Will’s recent column on climate change. As  many bloggers I linked to point out, Will’s scientific claims were not accurate. The Washington Post’s ombudsman has responded to the controversy today.

While I commented briefly and linked to those presenting the evidence that Wills was wrong, I did not get upset over this as many others did. This was an opinion column. It would be nice to live by Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s dictum that “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts.” Realistically those who present different opinions will often include facts which we do not believe hold up. This is going to be true in a conservative newspaper such as The Washington Post and certainly will be true from their conservative columnists. It was far more alarming when newspapers such as The Washington Post dropped the ball in their actual reporting in the run up to the Iraq war.

To be shocked that there are inaccuracies in a column by George Will on global warming strikes me as somewhat like Captain Renault saying he is shocked to see gambling going on in Casablanca. Still, while I fully expect this from conservative columnists, once the ombudsman is involved I would expect a stronger statement regarding the inaccuracies in the column (even if giving some acceptance of this in an opinion piece). In this day and age of instant response, inaccurate information of this type should have led to the posting of factual information to counter it.

Climate Progress provides more information on the pertinent facts. Andrew Sullivan points out a major error made by George Will and writes, “You can’t use scientific evidence whose source believes it points to global warming to argue that it points against it – without some clarification, at least.” He also points out why toleration of this will not work:

The blogosphere responded at light speed. And the WaPo then had to pretend that it somehow exists in another more acceptable zone of media – and undertook its investigation and correction process independently of the vulgar – but factually accurate – blogs.

Memo to WaPo: your days of thinking like this are over. If you don’t want to go the way of the Rocky Mountain News, wake up and smell the competition.

Hope For The Newspaper Industry?

Everyone realizes that the newspaper industry is in trouble. Many people are receiving news on line for free as opposed to purchasing newspapers. This is not a sustainable situation as, while there is some legitimate reporting from on line sources, the vast majority of news on line does come from the ailing newspapers.

Many newspapers are in financial trouble. Some such Newsday and the Hearst newspapers are now talking about charging for at least some of their content. Attempts to charge for on line access have not worked very well.  I do pay for an online subscription to The Wall Street Journal, seeing this as a bargain as it costs far less than I previously paid for a physical subscription. The Wall Street Journal is a national newspaper which does provide far more value than most papers (despite their extremist editorial page), placing them in a far better position than most to make money by charging for subscriptions. I also paid for access to the opinion sections of The New York Times but far too few others did for this experiment to succeed.

So far few on line publications have been able to make a profit by charging for access and most hope to make some money off of advertising revenue. This will hardly be enough to solve the problems faced by the newspapers, but The New York Times does report on a joint effort between newspapers and Yahoo to sell on line advertising:

Terry Widener has been selling newspaper ads for 35 years. But until last fall, Ms. Widener, a 53-year-old saleswoman at The Knoxville News Sentinel in Knoxville, Tenn., had never sold an Internet ad.

Then in a two-week sales “blitz” intended to test an innovative partnership between newspapers and Yahoo, she persuaded advertisers to buy $200,000 in online ads that ran on the paper’s Web site and on Yahoo. That represented about a seventh of the amount she typically sells in an entire year.

“I’m pretty much from the old school,” Ms. Widener said. “It was such a learning experience. Hopefully I am going to sell more and more online.”

Many newspaper owners and publishers have similar hopes. They say that the partnership with Yahoo is one of the only bright spots in an otherwise horrible advertising market.

Through the partnership, ad salespeople at newspapers pitch local businesses on advertising packages that let them reach visitors to the newspapers’ Web sites and Yahoo users in the area. The newspapers also use Yahoo technology that lets them charge more for ads on their sites.

A similar sales blitz at The Ventura County Star, a small daily north of Los Angeles, netted nearly $1 million in sales in the run-up to Christmas, or roughly 40 percent of what the paper sold in online ads in 2008. The Naples Daily News in Florida did even better: The late-January blitz generated $2 million in sales, or more than half what the paper sold online in 2008. Some larger newspapers have had similar successes.

Google is also looking at ways to make more money off on on line news, but their efforts are seen more as competing with publishers for advertising dollars as opposed to Yahoo’s joint efforts.

Posted in News Media. No Comments »

The Upcoming Republican Nomination and Defense Against The Dark Arts


As much as I would like to see a meaningful two party system with an opposition party keeping the governing power in check and proposing alternative policies, it looks like the Democrats might be the only serious choice for several years. They were justifiably repudiated in 2006 and 2008 and now look far more like a gang of Rush Limbaugh ditto heads than a serious political party. Their prospects for seriously contributing to public policy discussion is not helped when their leading candidate at the moment is Sarah Palin.

Polls this far before an election tend to have little predictive value and are largely measures of name recognition. Joe Lieberman led many polls well in advance of the 2004 election after being in an analogous position on the previous ticket but his campaign quickly fizzled out. Palin currently has far more support among Republicans than Lieberman ever had among Democrats, making her a strong candidate even if current polls cannot entirely be relied upon. She is trailed by others who received publicity in 2008 and a top alternative to the old candidates is Bobby Jindal.

A nomination battle including Palin and Jindal is certainly a possibility. If that is the case the nomination might be seen as a battle over who is best qualified at protection against the dark arts. I’ve previously noted  Sarah Palin’s qualifications against witches and demons. There have been numerous stories this week regarding Bobby Jindal’s involvement in an exorcism.

The Republicans did far better than they deserved in the 2002 and 2004 elections by capitalizing on fear of terrorism. Will their chances for a comeback in 2012 hinge upon whether they can capitalize on their abilities against the dark arts? We report, you decide.

Quote of the Day: More Republican Hopes For Economic Collapse

“The dirty little secret … is that every Republican in this country wants Obama to fail, but none of them have the guts to say so; I am willing to say it.”

Rush Limbaugh

Republicans really must totally dissociate themselves from people like Limbaugh. How do they really think this will be received by the average voter who faces personal disaster if the stock market crash continues to wipe out their retirement savings or if they lose their jobs should Obama fail?

Some conservatives realize this. Far too many Republicans, such as Rick Santorum do not. Limbaugh is also giving the keynote speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). If the Republicans are smart they will laugh him off the stage. Unfortunately they will not and Limbaugh will continue to be their unofficial spokesman.

Bobby Jindal’s Train to Fantasy Land


Bobby Jindal not only is dishonest, but he is also a hypocrite. During his rebuttal to Barack Obama’s speech on Tuesday Jindal attacked spending which he described as “a ‘magnetic levitation’ line from Las Vegas to Disneyland.” pointed out that this widely repeated claim by Republicans, along with many of their other claims, is simply untrue:

A widely repeated claim that $8 billion is set aside for a “levitating train” to Disneyland is untrue. That total is for unspecified high-speed rail projects, and some of it may or may not end up going to a proposed 300-mph “maglev” train connecting Anaheim, Calif., with Las Vegas.

There was already some irony in seeing how Jindal used a fictitious example of Disneyland to mock the stimulus bill and then immediately took off for a vacation at Walt Disney World. While I might overlook this, being a tremendous fan of Walt Disney World and having gone there often, I’m afraid this just doesn’t make a good commercial:

Bobby Jindal, you have just dramatically reduced your chances for national office following an embarrassing speech. What are you gong to do?

I’m going to Disney World.

I hope Jindal enjoyed his visit to Fantasy Land. I wonder if he took the (slow) train around the Magic Kingdom, or perhaps tried to learn about (non-levitating) high-speed rail at Big Thunder Mountain.

It gets much worse. Perhaps Jindal thought that the Disney monorail was an effective form of mass transportation. His administration is now going after the money which he made a point of attacking:

Louisiana’s transportation department plans to request federal dollars for a New Orleans to Baton Rouge passenger rail service from the same pot of railroad money in the president’s economic stimulus package that Gov. Bobby Jindal criticized as unnecessary pork on national television Tuesday night.

The high-speed rail line, a topic of discussion for years, would require $110 million to upgrade existing freight lines and terminals to handle a passenger train operation, said Mark Lambert, spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development…

Jindal oversees the state transportation department and appointed its secretary…

I’m afraid that Jindal’s response to this comes off as sounding more like an evasion we’d get from Goofy:

Asked for comment Friday about the Jindal stance on the federal rail money, the governor’s Chief of Staff Timmy Teepell said he does not think the Las Vegas to Anaheim line is a good use of taxpayer money. He did not address the Louisiana proposal.

Kenneth the Page, despite all the comparisons to Jindal, would never be so dishonest.

A Desired Loss For Obama

Obama lost in court, and it was a good thing:

The Obama administration has lost its argument that a potential threat to national security should stop a lawsuit challenging the government’s warrantless wiretapping program.

A federal appeals court in San Francisco on Friday rejected the Justice Department’s request for an emergency stay in a case involving a defunct Islamic charity.

Yet government lawyers signaled they would continue fighting to keep the information secret, setting up a new showdown between the courts and the White House over national security.

The Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it, claimed national security would be compromised if a lawsuit brought by the Oregon chapter of the charity, Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, was allowed to proceed.

Now, civil libertarians hope the case will become the first chance for a court to rule on whether the warrantless wiretapping program was legal or not. It cited the so-called state secrets privilege as a defense against the lawsuit.