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I haven't
been reading the newspapers or watching the news much lately.
Now, the mainstream presentation of the news is usually trite,
glib, banal… sure, but that's only a small part of the reason.
All of those things were true when I did watch the news.

No, the
bigger reason is that I'm working on a PhD thesis right now,
and every time I do look at the news, I have to stop working
on that and write a LRC column to get out my frustrations… like
this one, prompted by reading the NY Daily News on Thursday.

Internet? Is Anyone Using That Thing?

The first
story that caught my eye was about the TV show American Idol.
Apparently some 17-year-old, Sanjaya Malakar, has been winning
over the votes of the audience because of how bad his
performances are. There is, in fact, a web site,,
devoted to inspiring viewers into his camp. The show's producer,
Nigel Lythgoe, dismisses the effect of the web campaign, saying,
"When you're getting 30 million votes, whatever the Internet
can do is just not enough."

a little heads up is in order. The Web passed
30 million users in 1996
. Today the number of users is over
1 billion. So your show has about 3% of the reach of the Internet.

Publishers in West Let Fanatical Wingnuts Roar

The next
inspiration to bang my head on my keyboard came from an article
entitled, "Paper Tigers in West Let Fanatical Regime Roar."
Note: This was not on the op-ed page! No, to the News,
this is news. The story leads off claiming: "Iran keeps
getting away with outrageous bullying behavior because the West
has no stomach for confronting the fanatical Islamic Republic."

Then it
throws in the qualifier, "That’s how experts on Iran see
the standoff." See, it's not the reporter's bias; it's
what the experts are saying. Every last one of the two
"experts" quoted in the article says this, in fact.

The first
Iran "expert" is "Thomas McInerney, a retired
Air Force general and staunch conservative." Well, if retiring
from the Air Force and being a staunch conservative doesn't
make you an expert on Iran, what would?

according to the News, "said letting the mullahs
get away with pro-terrorism foreign policy amounts to appeasement
of a regime potentially worse than the Nazis, should they succeed
in making nuclear weapons…." No, they're not actually
worse than the Nazis right now, but they could be, ya
know, so… better bomb 'em just in case.

The article
continues: "Critics point to Iran’s drive to build nuclear
weapons." So they do, but let's not mention the lack of
any real evidence that that's what they're doing, OK? "The
UN imposed sanctions last weekend, but Iran turned around and
seized 15 British sailors this week. u2018We’re going to appease
these guys and lose 200 million people,' McInerney predicted
ominously." Well, General McInerney, that's a lot of people
to lose. You ought to keep better track of them.

The qualifications
of the next "expert"? He is "a more liberal observer."
I don't know why the News didn't also seek out "a
more dull-witted observer," and, perhaps, "a more
statuesque observer," in order to achieve a complete survey
of expert opinion. In any case, Lawrence "more liberal"
Haas says, "Iran is preparing for a much bigger war with
us. We have a naive belief that we’ll negotiate our way out
of this." Iran is preparing for a much bigger war than
what? Than the covert war the US has been waging against
Iran for some time?

The clincher
on the case is: "Haas said he fears that many experts have
concluded Tehran can’t be stopped from getting nuclear arms
and u2018it doesn’t matter because we can contain Iran like we contained
the Soviets.'" And obviously, that will never work, because,
while the USSR had hundreds of nuclear warheads that they could
deliver to US cities, in a decade or so Iran might have one
or two it could shoot a few hundred miles. So take that, clown
ship of naïve appeasers!

Bush's A** Is What Good Performance Means, Says Federal

Last but
not least, I learned what it means to do you're job as a US
Attorney: It means working to advance Bush's political goals:

federal prosecutors were fired last year because they did not
sufficiently support President Bush’s priorities, Attorney General
Alberto Gonzales’ former chief of staff will tell Congress today.

remarks prepared for his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee,
Kyle Sampson speaks dismissively of Democrats’ condemnation
of what they call political pressure in the firings.

distinction between ‘political’ and ‘performance-related’ reasons
for removing a United States attorney is, in my view, largely
artificial,' says Sampson, who resigned this month because of
the furor over the firings. u2018A U.S. attorney who is unsuccessful
from a political perspective … is unsuccessful.'"

This is
an interesting tactic that seems to be becoming a specialty
of the Hitler Bush administration. When foes
claim that it is ignoring the executive's constitutional limits,
some spokesperson doesn't even try to deny it, but says, "That's
the president's prerogative." When a critic says some policy
is unconstitutional, the administration declares, "The
distinction between u2018constitutional' and u2018unconstitutional'
is largely artificial."

So, it
turns out, we've ignorantly thought, for all these years, that
the job, and the measure of success, of US attorneys was whether
or not they were bringing lawbreakers to justice. What dopes
we were! They're real job has always been to boost the poll
ratings of the president.

all that was from just fifteen minutes of reading the paper.
So you can see why I don't do it too often.


Gene Callahan [send
him mail
], the author of Economics
for Real People
, is an adjunct scholar of the Ludwig
von Mises Institute
and a contributing columnist to
His first novel, PUCK,
has just been published.

Callahan/Stu Morgenstern Archives

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