Saturday, April 30, 2005

CBS, Quo Vadis?

Hugh Hewitt asks the question, what should CBS do with its news format? CBS should be asking itself the same question if it wants to regain its long-lost position of trust and of number one in network news.

First, revamp the format. Spend the first 5-10 minutes giving headlines and short summaries, with appropriate background video.

Use the last 5-8 minutes for commentary and panel discussion on timely topics. At least once a week, have regular panelists discuss a topic (civilly) face to face. Occasionally, have prominent newsmakers give their opinions on the day's issue. For example, Harry Reid and Bill Frist could each give his side of the argument over the filibuster of judicial nominees.

Devote the middle 12-20 minutes to more in-depth reporting (not a one-sided exposition of the reporter's opinions) of the day's top news stories. Be sure in this segment to present all the relevant facts and events, not just the ones that one political party wants to put forward. A good objective is to become viewed as the fair and balanced reporter of news, but CBS will need to develop a different slogan since "fair and balanced" is already taken.

Second, select someone to give the news who is or can be seen as knowledgeable, articulate, and authoritative. I strongly recommend a female anchor. A female will be different, and viewers will notice at once that CBS is not the same old and tired network news broadcast. The anchor must be attractive without being distractingly so and must have a clear and authoritative voice (probably a little deeper than the typical female voice). The anchor should be young enough to give CBS a long run if she works out well.

Good luck, CBS, at trying to become the news network of choice for middle America.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Vacation

We are on a short vacation and will resume posting next week.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Iraqi Terrorists Kill Anti-War Activist

Terrorists in Iraq exploded a car bomb in Baghdad. Ironically, one of the victims was Marla Ruzicka, an American anti-war activist.

Ms. Ruzicka originally went to Iraq to protect Iraqi civilians from American bombs. She worried about bombs from the wrong side. As Ms. Ruzicka could tell you if she were alive, the Iraqi terrorists do not take as much care to avoid civilian casualties as the Americans do.

See DANEgerus and LGF for further information. (Some of the comments at LGF are not very appropriate; Quite Right refers its readers there only for the information in the article above the comments.)

As always, we regret the loss of a human life. Regardless of her political beliefs, her death was needless and a tragedy. We can only express sympathy to her family and friends.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Income Tax Day

Today is April 15, the deadline to file your individual income tax return (or your extension). I have a few thoughts.

One impractical idea of mine is to eliminate automatic withholding and to substitute monthly tax payments. This is impractical as the level of noncompliance would bring the government to its knees. I suggest it anyway because it would make people aware of how much they pay for government. Most people focus on take-home pay and their annual refund, but they do not seem to notice how much they are paying. A higher attention level to the cost of government would help in controlling the size of government.

Another impractical idea is to move election day to April 16. Incumbents would never let that happen, but it would cause people to enter the voting booth with strong memories of the cost of government and the complexity of our income tax system. Reform of both would more likely follow.

A more practical thought concerns the complexity of our income tax system. Over half of all taxpayers hire someone else to prepare their tax returns. That should tell us something. I know a few professional tax preparers, and some of them will tell me of taxpayers who can not complete the simple tax returns, such as Form 1040-EZ. The number of unfiled schedules, which still must be completed, is absurd. The time and effort that goes into tax preparation would be more productively spent on other endeavors. A simpler, less complicated tax system would benefit us all.

As always, there is a reason for the way things are. Politicians who push tax simplification do not attract campaign contributions while politicians who push special tax preferences receive contributions from the intended beneficiaries. Politicians who propose eliminating itemized deductions receive flack from realtors, charities, mortgage debtors, etc. even though most taxpayers do not itemize.

There are several kinds of retirement plans sanctioned by the Internal Revenue Code. Each has its own rules. Do we need more than one or two at most?

And carvebacks. There should be a special place in Hell for the inventor of carvebacks. First, you think you are entitled to some deduction. Then, you fill out the worksheet to discover that you are not eligible for the deduction or that you can deduct only part of the full amount. Carvebacks are crazy and unfair, but they do reduce the loss of tax revenue. So, the politician gets credit from the lobbying group for supporting the deduction and at the same time minimizes the number of people who qualify and the amount the less-favored qualifiers can deduct. It becomes a political game to set the qualifications (broad enough to satisfy the lobbying group) and the carveback rules (narrow enough not to alienate the lobbying group but sufficient to meet the budget objective).

Fairness is laudable, but it is the enemy of simplicity. Trade-offs are necessary, but do not leave simplicity out of the equation.

A final thought. The purpose of the income tax laws should be to measure the amount of income and to lay a tax on it. PERIOD. All else is superflouous and introduces ever-increasing complexity.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Diversity in Germany

The foreign minister of Germany, Joschka Fischer, is a member of the Green Party. As you can imagine, he is pretty far left. Of course, he believes strongly in diversity. That belief led him to loosen screening requirements in order to allow more immigrants into Germany. The Germans are not too happy with the result. Because the immigrants to Germany may cross the borders within the EU, the EU is not happy either.

Per the Washington Times:
Mr. Fischer, whose Greens party traditionally favors easier immigration and fosters what it calls a "multicultural society," authorized a ruling in 2000 that made it easier for people to obtain tourism visas to travel to Germany.
... The system was rapidly subjected to abuse by criminal gangs.

Who took advantage of the looser visa requirements? Per Deutche Welle:
Women forced into prostitution, drug dealers, workers seeking illegal employment and even suspected terrorists are alleged to have been among those who entered Germany.

We in the U.S. should learn a lesson from the German experience.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Mugged by Reality in France

The minority immigrants in France are not assimilating and do not like the European French. The MSM is not reporting much on this but the Weekly Standard is. (Hat tip to LGF)
On March 8, tens of thousands of high school students marched through central Paris to protest education reforms announced by the government. Repeatedly, peaceful demonstrators were attacked by bands of black and Arab youths--about 1,000 in all, according to police estimates. The eyewitness accounts of victims, teachers, and most interestingly the attackers themselves gathered by the left-wing daily Le Monde confirm the motivation: racism.

Some of the attackers openly expressed their hatred of "little French people." One 18-year-old named Heikel, a dual citizen of France and Tunisia, was proud of his actions. He explained that he had joined in just to "beat people up," especially "little Frenchmen who look like victims." He added with a satisfied smile that he had "a pleasant memory" of repeatedly kicking a student, already defenseless on the ground.

Another attacker explained the violence by saying that "little whites" don't know how to fight and "are afraid because they are cowards." Rachid, an Arab attacker, added that even an Arab can be considered a "little white" if he "has a French mindset." The general sentiment was a desire to "take revenge on whites."

The cause and its symptoms are not unknown by the French.
By coincidence, last week the French government's human rights commission delivered to Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin its 2004 report on racism and anti-Semitism in France. The report underscores a worrisome pattern of retreat into separate ethnic communities. And the evidence of hostility is sobering: The number of violent acts and threats nearly doubled, from 833 in 2003 to a record 1,565 in 2004. Of these, 62 percent were directed against Jews, who make up just 1 percent of France's population.

The French response is not encouraging.
Julliard, writing in the Nouvel Observateur, expressed dismay at the lack of public outcry over this display of racial hatred. He added that the left had already made the mistake of not denouncing violence in schools or soaring crime rates. And he sharply rejected the view endorsed by most left-wing organizations and individuals that the violence was an expression of class struggle, a clash between rich and poor. "Anyone should be ashamed," Julliard wrote, "after all we went through in the 20th century, to offer such a coarse explanation. . . . There is no good and bad racism."

There are signs that the problem will worsen.
Muslim students, some as young as first graders, .... asked their nationality, answer, "Muslim." When they are told that this is not a nationality and they are French, some insist that they can't be French since they are Muslim. This should come as no surprise. The presidential commission that examined the issue of secularism in 2003 reported that "extremist groups are working to test the Republic's strength and push some young people to reject France and her values."

The lesson for the U.S. (and for France, too) is that the assimiliation of immigrants into their new society is a requirement for the continuation of the civil society. Immigrants who do not assimilate will reject their new country and may clash violently with the natives. Diversity has limits.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Immigration in Britain

As the election in Great Britain nears, immigration is gaining attention. In Britain,

According to polls, voters now think the influx of foreigners is a bigger issue than terrorism or the war in Iraq. And the political parties are outdoing each other with promises of immigration crackdowns.

[A London fruit seller] also fears that immigration is causing Britain to lose its national identity.

However, in a Mori poll in February, 23 percent of those surveyed listed asylum seekers and immigration as the single most important issue facing Britain, almost double the number naming the war in Iraq or terrorism. In December, a YouGov poll for the Economist showed that 74 percent of Britons think there's too much immigration.

(Hat tip to Instapundit)

Note that the issue in Britain is legal immigration. Is there a lesson in Britain's experience for the U.S.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Gay Marriage Loses in Kansas

Yesterday, the voters in Kansas delivered another blow against gay marriage. A ban on gay marriage was supported by 71%. To date, 15 states have voted to ban gay marriage. The following list from Polipundit shows the 15 states and the voting margins:

57-43 = Oregon.
59-41 = Michigan.
62-38 = California.
62-38 = Ohio.
66-34 = Utah.
67-33 = Montana.
71-29 = Kansas.
71-29 = Missouri.
73-27 = North Dakota.
75-25 = Arkansas.
75-25 = Kentucky.
76-24 = Georgia.
76-24 = Oklahoma.
78-22 = Louisiana.
86-14 = Mississippi.

Gay marriage is a winning issue for Republicans.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Canada - Corruption and Free Speech

Captain's Quarters has broken a the story of a political scandal in Canada. A Canadian court had prohibited publication of the explosive testimony in the case. See the story here, here, here, here, and here.

As you can see, the scandal affects the Liberal Party. Thus, the ban on publication helps the Liberals for now. Free speech in Canada is not as free as in the U.S.

I doubt that a U.S. court would even try to ban publication of testimony in a case involving political corruption. Still, consider this: the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) is right now develping regulations to apply the McCain-Feingold restrictions to political speech on the internet. Can the FEC ban publication by bloggers of political corruption?

Another Bias Indicator at New York Times

When the Pope died, the New York Times had quotes from critics already in the pre-prepared story, but someone at the Times put the story on its web site before the story was complete. Power Line caught them before they could correct it. This is what the original Times story said: "need some quote from supporter".

A great man dies, and the Times can't find anything good to say. Rather revealing, don't you think?

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Did the NYT Sacrifice Journalistic Ethics for a Story?

The New York Times apparently accepted a deal to gain early access to a Columbia University report on campus anti-Semitism. The deal required the Times not to interview students. According to a student editor:
If the Spectator [ed. note: a student newspaper] were to run a story that only included the administration's opinion, Greenwell said "that’s not journalism, that’s a university press release." Greenwell added, "that the Times did not live up to our fairly obvious standard is very disappointing to me…as aspiring professional journalists, we hold the Times in the highest regard."
I suggest to the student editor and all others that holding the New York Times in the highest regard is a mistake in judgment. (Hat Tip to LGF.)

Another Anniversary Yesterday

April Fool's Day was also the anniversary of the mullahs' theocracy in Iran. On April 1, 1979, Ayatollah Knomeini proclaimed an Islamic republic in Iran. (Thanks to Regime Change Iran for the reminder. Do follow the link for more info.)

The events leading up to that are a case study in how to lose friends and not influence people. Pres. Carter, a weak and vacillating chief executive, decided not to provide any support to the Shah, who left the country. Carter did not take any steps to prevent Khomeini from returning to Iran from Paris or from assuming power. Carter failed to take effective action even though Khomeini and his followers clearly intended to change the pro-U.S. policy of the Shah and this change would hurt U.S. influence and prestige in the important oil-producing region of the Middle East. The best that can be said for Carter is that our choices were limited by the Shah's lack of popular support.

I visited Tehran,Iran on a business trip in the interim between the Shah's departure and Khomeini's arrival. I privately asked one secretary what she thought of what was going on. She indicated that she did not support the Shah and said that she wanted freedom. She may have received part of her wish, but she did not get the freedom she desired.

As many of you may remember, a few months after Khomeini arrived, a mob of university students overran the U.S. embassy and held hostage the approximately 55 personnel there for well over 400 days. (The hostage crisis story launched Ted Koppel's Nightline TV program.) Carter's ineffective response to the hostage situation contributed to his electoral defeat in 1980. The hostage crisis ended when Pres. Reagan was inaugurated, the prospect of which caused Iran immediately to return all the hostages to the U.S. (A joke circulating at the time was, "What is flat and glows in the dark? Iran after Reagan becomes President.") The leaders in Iran understood that Reagan would not stand idly by while the U.S. was being humiliated. Nonetheless, thh mullahs were already in power, and the negative effects of an anti-U.S. Islamic theocracy in Iran continue to this day.

Friday, April 01, 2005

April Fool's Day

OK, every blog needs to do an April Fool's joke, but I have always hated them. So, I am warning you that this an April Fool's joke.

GOP and the City reported today that, only 61 days after he promised to do so, John Kerry signed his Form 180 authorizing the release of all his military records to anyone who requests them. Here is the press release. (Hat tip to Polipundit.)

First Anniversary of "Screw Them"

Thanks to Michelle Malkin for reminding us of this anniversary.

After terrorists in Fallujah butchered, burned, dragged the charred bodies of 4 American contractors through the street, and hanged the bodies from a bridge, Democratic strategist Markos Moulitsos Zuniga of the liberal blog Daily Kos made this comment:

Every death should be on the front page ...

Let the people see what war is like. This isn't an Xbox game. There are real repercussions to Bush's folly.

That said, I feel nothing over the death of merceneries. They aren't in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them.

(If you follow the link to see the original comment, you may need to scroll down a ways, but it is there.)

"Screw them" is Zuniga's attitude toward 4 Americans who were brutally murdered, dismembered, burned, dragged, and hung. All because they worked for an American company in Iraq.

The response of Democrats is instructive. As Michelle Malkin observes:
Initially, Democrat advertisers condemned Kos's atrocious statements and withdrew their ads. But as Dean Barnett reported a few weeks ago in a Weekly Standard piece, Kos is now stronger than ever--and awash in daily traffic and ad revenue from the hate-America Left.

The far Left has such lovely people.

Sandy Berger

Sandy Berger, former National Security Advisor under Clinton, will plead guilty to a misdemeanor and will admit that he intentionally removed and destroyed copies of a classified document about the Clinton administration's record on terrorism. (Hat tip to Tiger Hawk.)

As you may recall, Berger had gone to the National Archives in the fall of 2003 supposedly to review documents for his testimony before the September 11 Commission. He took documents out, which he was not supposed to do, and hid them in his clothing. When caught, Berger lied about his actions and intent.

According to the Washington Post:

Rather than misplacing or unintentionally throwing away three of the five copies he took from the archives, as the former national security adviser earlier maintained, he shredded them with a pair of scissors late one evening at the downtown offices of his international consulting business.

The document, written by former National Security Council terrorism expert Richard A. Clarke, was an "after-action review" prepared in early 2000 detailing the administration's actions to thwart terrorist attacks during the millennium celebration. It contained considerable discussion about the administration's awareness of the rising threat of attacks on U.S. soil.


In an apparent attempt to shift political blame to Pres. Bush, Berger was trying to hide documentary evidence of what the Clinton administration knew of the threat of terrorist attacks in the U.S. Both Clinton and Bush had some forewarnings about terrorist threats on U.S. soil, but no one in either administration had sufficient notice to anticipate the types of attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

I wonder what the MSM would say if the culprit were Condi Rice instead of Berger? I wonder what the Democrats would say if Rice had done the same thing and had received the same plea bargain?

UPDATE: See Captain's Quarters and Michelle Malkin for further analysis. Don't you want to know what were the handwritten comments on the destroyed versions?