The crowded blog search space may soon contract now that Google has debuted its Blog Search service. Like competing services Technorati, Feedster, Blogpulse, and Ice Rocket, the database relies on site notification rather than crawling. Like Feedster and Ice Rocket, Google's index uses RSS feeds as its data source.
Google's entry is still beta quality but in some informal testing, I found it had picked up a number of blogs which its competitors had ignored. Things are about to get even more interesting as blog searching becomes increasingly sophisticated. I wonder which Google competitor will bite the dust first?
Tom Johnson, a long-time friend and colleague, forwarded to me a passage from Weekly Standard writer Christopher Caldwell observations on the tenth anniversary of the Murdoch-funded think mag:
But the attacks on the World Trade Center lowered the temperature of almost all my political beliefs to way below boiling. They revealed most political stuff as simply not worth getting riled up over. Defending the country against attack is a first-order issue. Defending the country against, say, gay marriage or affirmative action (or promoting them, as the case may be) is a second-order issue. Defending the country against, say, bias at the television networks is an irrelevancy that I would not take 20 minutes away from my novel-reading to worry about.
Gloria Borger's Early Show recap of yesterday's confirmation hearings for Judge John Roberts was dominated by exchanges with liberal senators pressing the Chief Justice nominee from the Left on abortion, but Borger closed off her report noting that conservatives are concerned about Roberts's views on overturning Roe v. Wade: "Conservatives are listening very closely to what Judge Roberts has to say about Roe versus Wade."
Although it is obvious from her own reporting that there is an equal if not stronger liberal obsession with preserving Roe at all costs from future reversal or weakening, Borger doesn't impute any political motivations to Roberts's critics, presenting the issue, rather, as one of whether the "precedent of Roe versus Wade so strong that Roberts would not vote to overturn it," as if long-held "strong" precedents in Court history somehow innoculate themselves from reversal on constitutional grounds when a future Court decides the reasoning of the precedent was grievously flawed (as the Court did in Brown v. Board of Education in reversing Plessy v. Ferguson).
A little something from Sunday's Face the Nation that shouldn't go unnoticed: Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu (LA), unable to cite, off-hand, examples which illustrated her allegation that the White House was orchestrating a smear campaign of local officials who responded to Hurricane Katrina, told host Bob Schieffer that he need only ask various "journalists throughout town."
About eight minutes into the program, host Bob Schieffer asked Landrieu: "Do you think the White House is trying to put the blame on local officials?"
Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) began a stemwinder of an answer: "I am unfortunately aware that, yes, they are. While the president is saying he wants to work together as a team, I think the White House operatives have a full-court press on to blame state and local officials, whether they're Republicans or Democrats, whether it's Haley Barbour or Kathleen Blanco, whether it's Mayor Nagin or a Republican mayor from Mississippi. And it's very unfortunate.
Landrieu then went on to assert that FEMA was underfunded and underequipped for the disaster, after which Schieffer pressed her, "That's a very strong charge you've just leveled. What are some examples of that?"
Landrieu replied, "Well, I think that there are journalists throughout town that can give you those examples, and I'll be happy to provide more detail as the week unfolds..."
Schieffer didn't press the case further than that, but it's rather telling that a liberal Democrat, unable to substantiate her rhetoric, would urge a liberal journalist he need only consult his colleagues to see that her claims are valid.
Early Show co-host Julie Chen interviewed CBS's resident homeland security expert, Randy Larsen, about FEMA director Mike Brown's resignation. Larsen offered perhaps the most balanced analysis of all the Hurricane Katrina coverage on CBS, noting that FEMA's scope and mission are not all-encompassing, and that local and state officials are supposed to remain in charge of disaster recovery, rescue, and cleanup efforts, with FEMA in a secondary role. This of course, cuts against the bias CBS News has had on hurricane relief. CBS has failed to ask New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin nor Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco on where they failed before and after the hurricane struck and what they are doing, if anything, to take responsibility.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer caps off a silly editorial about Rep. Richard Pombo's plans to strengthen/weaken (depending on whom you ask) the Endangered Species Act with this concluding paragraph:
As critics point out, the act hasn't restored many threatened species to robust health. If consensus can be found, it's possible that Congress could craft better ways of restoring endangered species. But the starting point must be to prevent extinction. On that basic responsibility, Congress must not mess with the Endangered Species Act's great success.
In other words, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer simultaneously is putting forth the following self-contradictory theses:
Yesterday marked the complete withdrawal of Israeli military forces from the Gaza Strip, which has been returned to full Palestinian control in the hopes of moving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process along. As part of the handover of control, Israeli soldiers shuttered or destroyed the empty buildings once occupied by Jewish settlers. Among these, the synagogues were left standing, emptied of all their sacred artifacts and Torahs and the like, but tagged as holy places which should not be desecrated. Of course, this courtesy was not afforded of the Jewish houses of worship as masses of Palestinian militants have desecrated the synagogues in the hours since, burning them to the ground, an act exhibiting violence and hatred towards the Jewish faith of their Israeli neighbors.
Of the three broadcast network morning shows, only CBS's The Early Show completely ignored the story, although CBS, like its competitors widely reported the since-disproven allegations of Koran desecration which made the pages of Newsweek months ago.
Of 18 paragraphs, three discuss the pro-Roberts Judicial Confirmation Network, four equate the two sides, and seven discuss NARAL and other left-wing opponents of a sane judiciary. (Four paragraphs are neutral, not mentioning the activists directly.)
While the Post is silent on the conservatives' desiderata, the coverage of the lefties includes the following:
NARAL "action teams" will be watching the hearings from Colorado, ready to cry foul if they don't like what they see, executive director Meg Froelich said.
"Let's not have a coronation with Roberts," she said. "Let's have a real, genuine process."
The Boston Globe claims some readers "get confused about the relationship between the editorial page and the rest of the newspaper, especially since the term 'editorial' is often used to describe everything in the Globe that is not advertising."
"But the news operation, led by editor Marty Baron, is completely separate from the editorial (opinion) pages, led by editorial-page editor Renee Loth. The two do not coordinate coverage or influence the others' professional judgments. Globe endorsements of candidates, for example, are made without consultation with any news reporter or editor, and Globe reporters are expected to cover campaigns without regard to whom the editorial page has endorsed."
Colorado will consider a major tax increase this fall, loosening the tight taxing and spending restrictions known as the TAxpayers' Bill Of Rights, or TABOR. Some of the money raised in Referendum C will be earmarked for roads in Referenum D. As part of its attempt to influence - er, inform - the public, the Denver Post today ran the first of a four-part series, "The Truth About TABOR."
This fall, Coloradans will choose whether to give up about $500 each in tax refunds over the next five years so the state has more money for roads, schools and health care.
Under TABOR, growth in state spending is limited to population + inflation. Any money raised beyond that must be refunded to taxpayers. Each year uses last year as its baseline, meaning that should revenue fall as a result of a downturn, there's a permanent reduction in tax rates as a percentage of state GDP.
Harlingen, Texas, September 10, 2005: You need to look long and hard if you are attempting to find any information about the use of tugboats, towboats or barges in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort. In fact, the only reference to these watercraft noted was in a September 1, 2005 Reuters pool release. It stated “A tugboat pushes barges past an oil refinery in southern Louisiana. Rotting bodies littered New Orleans’ streets on Thursday and troops headed in to control looting and violence, as thousands of desperate survivors of Hurricane Katrina pleaded to be evacuated from the flooded city, or even just fed.”
All too often the media is charged with slanting its coverage or placing emphasis on the wrong elements of a story. The media is even guiltier of failing to follow up on news elements, or examining them in any depth. One could say those who report for both the print and electronic media are often guilty of the sin of omission.
For almost two weeks since Katrina devastated New Orleans, America’s media have been lambasting the president for not properly funding the Army Corps of Engineers. An article at CNSNews this week deals specifically with a NY Times hypocrisy in this regard.
This morning, NY Times columnist John Tierney has an op-ed suggesting that much of the media – including the Times – might have no clothes on:
“Or suppose the investigators try to find out why the Army Corps of Engineers didn't protect New Orleans from the flood. Democrats have blamed the Iraq war for diverting money and attention from domestic needs. But that hasn't meant less money for the Corps during the past five years. Overall spending hasn't declined since the Clinton years, and there has been a fairly sharp increase in money for flood-control construction projects in New Orleans.
“The problem is that the bulk of the Corps's budget goes for projects far less important than preventing floods in New Orleans. And if the investigators want to find who's responsible, they don't have to leave Capitol Hill.”
For two days now Fox News' Major Garrett has reported on first the Red Cross, and then the Salvation Army, being denied entrance to New Orleans by Louisiana State authorities. According to Garrett and the Red Cross website, officials didn't want the food, water and sanitary supplies to get to the Superdome and Convention Center because it might encourage others to come to those sites rather than evacuate the city. The result of the decision to withhold aid was thousands of New Orleans citizens trying to survive in horrific conditions without much needed supplies. The Louisiana National Guard, which was not tasked with providing survival supplies to evacuees, had to divert their attention from law enforcement and rescue operations to providing aid to the desperate families looking for the basics of life.
Tax cuts have been the latest craze in gas price management, but CNN’s Miles O’Brien suggested on the September 8 “American Morning” that raising taxes might be the way to go.
“I think there’s a lot of people who’d tell you long-term, raising the gas tax would be a good idea,” O’Brien said. Andy Serwer replied, “Oh yeah. That’s right. But it’s politically suicidal to suggest that, as we’ve seen.”
Serwer was reporting the amount of federal and state taxes factored into consumers’ gasoline costs, noting that Georgia had temporarily cut its gas taxes. His report on “stubbornly high” gas prices was filled with economic malfeasance:
It’s their money anyway: Serwer said other states were considering gas tax cuts. “But there’s some downside,” he said. “Number one, the states lose hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue, and number two, it may discourage conservation. On the other hand, maybe we all need a break.” The idea that tax relief is a loss to the government is the standard media approach – ignoring the fact that consumers get to keep more of their hard-earned money.
So President Bush was blamed for Hurricane Katrina, because he wouldn't support and sign the Kyoto protocol. And he was responsible for the slow Federal response, because he was vacationing in Texas/golfing in Arizona/giving a speech in California. And he didn't care about saving the people in New Orleans because they're black. And now we discover that his diabolical foresight is staggering. Because back in April, he added hardships to the people victimized by Katrina, essentially setting a trap for them, and springing it with the storm. At least that's what this Knight-Ridder story (New bankruptcy law imposes more burdens on Katrina survivors) seems to be implying...
Hurricane Katrina survivors whose finances are in shambles may not qualify for federal bankruptcy protection once a new law with tough eligibility restrictions takes effect Oct. 17. And anyone who intends to file before the new standards take effect must overcome other Katrina complications such as injuries, being moved to out-of-state shelters, the loss of personal financial records and the closure of the five federal courthouses in hurricane-ravaged areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention & Consumer Protection Act, which President Bush signed into law April 20, allows only people who earn less than their states' median income to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, which lets them erase their debts after they forfeit their assets.
The question that leaps to mind is "does he get blamed for the environmental disaster of Lake Pontchartrain next, or is there something else before they get to that?"
"Just a year ago, screenwriter and aspiring novelist Mark Sarvas had a lot of explaining to do. When he talked up his fledgling book blog at a publishing conference, marketers had just one question for him: Huh?
"But this year, Mr. Sarvas returned to the same conference and found that publicists weren't mystified by blogs anymore. Instead, they wanted to know what they could do for him. "We are not the strange, unfamiliar beast we may have been before," says Sarvas, creator of a blog called The Elegant Variation.
"Although no one's exactly sure how influential they are, bloggers like Sarvas have become the new darlings of the publishing industry. They're getting free review copies, landing interviews with prestigious authors, and trying to boost obscure writers - especially writers in the literary fiction world where John Irving is a bigger name than John Grisham."
Normally, I don’t comment on the columns of Cynthia Tucker, Editorial Page Editor of the Atlanta Constitution. It isn’t worth it. But she has finally jumped the shark.
To prove that the “poor are on [their] own,” she cites this article:
“In fact, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune used just those words to describe the hurricane evacuation plan authorities put in place for residents who didn't own cars. Reporter Bruce Nolan wrote in July, ‘City, state and federal authorities are preparing to give the poorest of New Orleans' poor a historically blunt message: In the event of a major hurricane, you're on your own. In scripted appearances being recorded now, officials such as Mayor Ray Nagin, local Red Cross Executive Director Kay Wilkins and City Council President Oliver Thomas drive home the word that the city does not have the resources to move out of harm's way an estimated 134,000 people without transportation.’ ”
You believe that the U. S. Constitution prohibits the open recognition
of God by our federal (or any state) government, and the exhibition of
religious symbols on public grounds.
Or you believe that Al Gore won the 2000 presidential election.
Or you believe that most television and print news outlets in this country are politically neutral.
Or you believe that outlawing private gun ownership will reduce crime.
Or you believe that the U. S. Constitution is a "living,
breathing" document, and that Supreme Court Justices have the right to
redefine its text in order to make it compatible with what they
interpret to be the current moral standards of society.
Or you believe that Charles Darwin's macro-evolution theory is a proven fact.
Misinformation continues to flow about supposed “record high” gas prices. Over the holiday weekend, the national average for gas rose to a little more than $3, still below the inflation-adjusted record of $3.11 set nearly 20 years ago.
That didn’t stop “The Early Show” on CBS from claiming a record-high $3.20 national average for regular unleaded gasoline. On the September 6 broadcast, both Julie Chen and Hannah Storm made the same incorrect claim.
According to Chen, “The huge hit Hurricane Katrina put on the area helped send gas prices shooting up 75 cents to an average of $3.20 a gallon.” Storm went even further claiming that the numbers she was citing came from AAA. “Since the storm hit, almost 70 percent of normal oil production has been shut down. And that, of course, has had a dramatic effect on gas prices. According to AAA, gas has gone up 75 cents. That puts the average cost of regular unleaded at $3.20 a gallon,” explained Storm.
What follows below are the interview questions with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin from today's Early Show. You will notice Nagin was not asked about any area where his leadership may have failed his constituents, particularly his controversial decision last week to put tourists who had been holed up in a Hyatt priority on evacuation over New Orleans residents who had waited out the storm and the flooding in horrendous living conditions in the Superdome.
@ 0711 EDT
Harry Smith from Canal Street, New Orleans: Just moments ago we had the opportunity to talk with the mayor here, Mayor Ray Nagin, and I asked him what does he need most now?
Smith: "You've said that you are concerned that there may be as many as how many dead here in New Orleans?"
Smith: "In the end, as we look back, the people have been evacuated from the Superdome, from the convention center, by and large the evacuation is complete. Who bears the shame for what happened here last week?"
Smith: "Here's uh, the question I'm curious to hear about, your people are now dispersed all over the United States, you have a quarter ofa million in Texas alone. Do they come back, does this city come back? Does this city, I was sitting here this morning saying, you know, I'd really would like to go down and get a cafe au lait and a beignet and I want to hear the sounds, and I want to smell the food, I want to experience what it used to be like here. Will that happen again?"
Smith: "I want to go back to something we were talking about just a second ago, because I heard you on the radio crying last week, I heard you swearing, uh, maybe it's not time for the blame game, but something broke down."
Smith: "Off the top of your head, streets clear of water, when the electricity is on, what's your best estimate?"
Smith: "Alright, Mayor, thank you so much for your time this morning."