Well, now that we see the emails, it’s clear that Scott Walker didn’t just put together a staff honeycombed with criminals (which he’s now saying is “old news”). It was actually a staff honeycombed with foul-mouthed criminals. What kind of public office has its Deputy Director sending emails containing language like “fucking cunt”? This was the office of the Milwaukee County Executive!?! Pitiful behavior. Pitiful control.
Headline, the New York Times, front page:
So, there’s a debate going on? About our national-list-of-guys-we’re-planning-to-kill-with-a-drone-strike? Well, that is nice to hear.
The “kill list” thing seems so nakedly immoral, not to mention so likely to, as they say, blow back. But at least there’s a debate, say the reporters, albeit a secret debate. The reporters aren’t able to tell what American is currently topping the kill list, or what he’s done, or rather “suspected” of. They can’t say for certain what’s being debated or who’s privy to the debate. The White House won’t comment. Neither will the Pentagon nor the CIA.
Welcome to Wonderland. In the absence of facts, feel free to wonder about anything at all. (One of the least important things to wonder about? Whether to call it “assassination” or “targeted killing”. See Erik Wemple in The Washington Post.)
Only late in their story do the Times reporters quote a non-anonymous, non-government source, Naureen Shahan, an Amnesty International U.S.A adviser. She identifies the one thing that is ironically certain
“The public and most members of Congress are still completely in the dark about where the U.S. claims authority to strike, the legal rules and the identity of those already killed.”
“The policy is still the stuff of official secrecy and speculation when it should be a matter of open debate and explicit constraints.”
Many of us have become recently aware of a Texas law that’s forcing an effectively dead (i.e., brain dead) 33-year-old Texas woman to remain for months on a respirator so that the fetus still “alive” inside her can be “born”. Now the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tells us the fetus is deformed (so sex cannot be determined) and also shows both heart and brain irregularities. Not surprisingly, the dead woman’s husband and parents want to let go, but cannot, due to the meddling of Texas Republican law-makers.
Naturally this raises the question of why our own Republican-controlled legislature hasn’t kept pace with Texas. What’s the hang-up? Is it lack of money? Lack of grit? Are we supposed to let our pregnant Wisconsin ladyfolk just die off without harvesting their fetuses? It’s madness. Especially when Texas already has this law and is demonstrating how it can work.
It’s always fun when another David Brooks column pops up at nytimes.com, because literally within minutes, a torrent of wonderfully articulate reader criticism begins gushing in. Yesterday Mr. Brooks ventured to write about inequality, probably a poor choice for a pundit who is himself part of the 1%, but you know, it’s been in the news, and it’s by no means the first time he’s stepped on a rake.
This promptly generated over a thousand mercilessly critical reader comments. Well, to be fair, maybe they weren’t all critical. We just looked at the first 25 or so. Who’s got time for a thousand comments? Fortunately, the Times makes it easy to show the comments most recommended by other readers, and that allows a thousand comments to be workable and fun.
Frankly, THIS is the way the public dialog is supposed to work. Does anything like it happen in the US Senate? No. On TV? No. On cable? Hell, no. At least it’s occurring somewhere that matters at least a little bit.
We’ve heard that Mr. Brooks never reads the comments, and we’ve certainly never noticed that he benefits from the criticism, so we suppose it’s probably true that he does, as a matter of personal policy, hide from this withering (yet by internet standards, reasonably well-mannered) bombardment of correction from his readership. Brooks may hide, but everyone else should feel free to enjoy.
It’s never a simple thing to judge how we’re doing as a society. Still, we might ask ourselves, ‘Are we at least taking care of our children’? There, today, it’s a broad range of outcomes. This is expected, of course, as our social classes diverge.
Some of our preschoolers are asking for and getting iPads for Christmas. Meanwhile another 16 million of our children live in poverty… no iPads for them. Hell, sometimes there’s no food. Nearly one in five children in America isn’t getting adequate food.
Does that seem surprising in a country that prides itself on being the richest, most powerful, most exceptional country around? Or maybe ever? Well, maybe reality is catching up with rhetoric. The party of great wealth and fealty to money-making has announced plans to cut back on food stamps. Maybe they’re right. Maybe food for the lower classes is no longer affordable if we need more and more ‘”defense” and favorable policies for the rich.
Googling wisconsin+state+journal+publisher we happened to notice that most of the stories announcing the new publisher were headlined much like, or exactly like, the State Journal’s own headline; i.e., “Wisconsin State Journal names new publisher”. Of course that’s an artful misstatement of the facts. The State Journal didn’t choose a new publisher. Corporate owner Lee Enterprises chose the new publisher.
Only business-oriented MaketWatch.com appeared in the first page of Google search results with an accurate headline (“Lee Enterprises Names Group Publisher for Madison and Tucson”).
It’s a small thing. We know why the State Journal might choose a misleading headline. It sounds better. But why would so many other online sites — many belonging to newspapers where staffers surely know better — use the same misleading headline?
Lee Enterprises has selected John M. Humenik as the new publisher of the Wisconsin State Journal. Here’s the State Journal story.
Humenik has been president and publisher of the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson for 3 years.
Here is (to us) the most interesting part of the State Journal story… interesting because we can’t understand it.
Humenik will be handing over publisher duties at the Arizona Daily Star to a successor still to be named. However, even after that transition, Humenik will oversee all newspapers published by Lee Enterprises in the Tucson and Madison areas as “group publisher,” the company announced.
“By staying connected and involved with our Tucson operation, together we will be able to explore important synergies,” Humenik said. “I believe that relationship will prove to be a tremendous advantage for our group, especially as we build upon our print and digital successes.”
Are there synergies between Tucson and Madison? We shall see.
Just last month Lee Enterprises named the Arizona Daily Star as its ”2013 Enterprise of the Year”. Here’s the press release.
We found the press release mostly interesting for showing that the Lee executives are quite knowledgeable about print and digital revenue. And also pre-printed grocery advertising. They did mention journalism, too, although it didn’t sound as heartfelt (you know, to us). You read it, if you really care. And to be fair there’s nothing wrong with Lee executives being business-oriented. It’s a business.
To Mr. Humenik, welcome to our fair city. It’s colder than Tucson, but it’s got groceries in need of advertising — wait, is that a synergy? Is it working already? Maybe if the advertising works out, you could please hire more reporters.
We can’t comment on all that’s gone wrong with Madison’s one remaining daily newspaper, but the weird and inconsistent editorial page can still provoke us, once in a while, to write something.
Before we get to griping, however, let’s applaud (yet again) the State Journal’s continuing efforts to get Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature to hold just a simple darn hearing on fair voting districts. That hearing won’t happen, of course, because… well, look at who the Republicans are. But onward to the latest gripe.
On Tuesday the Wisconsin State Journal editorialized for cuts in food stamps. Holy mother of God… Need it be said? This kind of un-does any credit they were accruing from their fair redistricting editorials.
Call us old-fashioned but we believe everybody should have food to eat. Time was, everybody believed that. Or if they didn’t, they felt constrained to keep it to themselves. Especially during Christmas season.
So it’s been amazing to see the Republican Party roll out their attack on food stamps. Doubtless there’s some cohort of bloodless Scrooges who are on board for bashing the hungry, but are there really that many of them? And now the State Journal?
Hating the poor and the hungry used to be frowned upon. Saying “screw the hungry” wasn’t illegal, but it was definitely frowned upon. All the major religions were agreed on that point at least. This kept society just a little more decent. Less vicious. Now that’s changing. Republicans have decided to double-down on Mitt Romney’s 47% gaffe. Fuck the poor. Fuck the hungry. It’s the latest new song in the GOP hymnal, and we were surprised to see the State Journal pick up the melody so quickly.
Hymn #206 — All Praise the Makers, Forget the Takers. Was that song always in the hymnal, lurking, waiting to be discovered and sung aloud? We’d never noticed it until lately. Things sure do change.
Once upon a time, Americans would never resort to torture. It was part of our shared American brand, and then suddenly we learned that we were, in fact, performing systematic acts of torture, worldwide. Soon, all the Republican candidates for President were on stage endorsing torture. None of them demurred. The old rules were out. Torture was in, under a new name. The State Journal never said peep.
That’s the way it works. One day torture is frowned upon. Slamming the poor with their food stamps is looked upon poorly. Then later, if the signal comes, it can all change before you know it.
A sensible argument
The State Journal has rarely if ever shown such determination on an issue, so it’s especially nice that this time they’re on the right side of it. We’ve been delighted from the start. They have now made this same, sensible and popular argument in 6 or 7 recent editorials. (We’re losing count! It’s an editorial barrage!)
But the thing is, we just don’t think sensible arguments are gonna work here. Sure, the Iowa model of redistricting by independent, technocratic, non-partisan methods would surely be better for the public. It would produce more competitive elections. We’d probably get more representative, uh, “representatives“. Better governance! Better democracy! It would even save money.
But is that what our current crop of elected officials want? Not really. In fact, not at all.
Does Assembly Leader Robin Voss (R-Rochester) want greater difficulty getting himself elected, and re-elected? Does Senate Leader Scott Fitzgerald want more and better opposition in Senate campaigns? No, of course not. That was the whole point of rigging the voting districts.
- That’s also why they went straight to work implementing new, shall we say, “Southern style”, voting restrictions. The wrong citizens were getting to the polls.
- That’s why they took a straight razor to the public sector unions.
- That’s why they’re proposing higher limits for wealthy campaign contributors and less public information about who’s giving.
In short it is very, very clear that Wisconsin Republicans are helping themselves, at the expense of the voting public. They clearly thought about it, and then acted. Quite decisively.
Now the State Journal hasn’t opposed most of these anti-citizen, anti-voter initiatives, but it’s great to see them oppose at least one of them (the rigged voting districts). Good luck to you, State Journal, and to all of us. We love these little flashes of idealism on your editorial page.
But darlings, we really doubt that well-intentioned pleading is going to work.
One more thing, just to be clear.
When we objected in our previous post to the Wisconsin State Journal blaming “Congress” and/or “all of Washington” for the debt-ceiling fiasco, we took that language from the State Journal itself. (From their print edition.) Only readers of the print edition would have seen this sub-headline:
So, reading just the headlines, which many readers do, the Wisconsin State Journal says the government shutdown and debt-ceiling crisis were orchestrated by, well, everybody in Washington. It was everybody’s fault. Voters can blame “all of Washington”. Could there be anything more nakedly misleading?
We’ve said it before. Here it is again. The State Journal editorial board just cannot criticize their beloved Republicans without simultaneously pointing the finger at others, even in cases where it’s not true. There’s a name for this, but it isn’t “journalism”.
Don’t ask ‘em to explain this sub-headline, because they won’t, and they can’t. Do they understand how damaging this to their own credibility?
The irony of all this, no doubt lost on the editorial board, is that it all takes place under their main headline, “Broken trust won’t be easy to win back”.