Crawl Across the Ocean

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Potpourri

While researching my post on polls I came across this discouraging poll which estimated that 44% of Canadians believe the Federal government is running a deficit - up from 37% two years ago! Yikes.

Of course, when was the last time you saw the results of any poll / survey / test / whatever and your reaction was, 'wow, people really seem to be informed about what's going on'? There seems to generallly be a wide gap between what people know and what we (I?) think they should know.

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It's been a while since I linked to 'No More Shall I Roam', but the last two posts there are both worth a look. This one on why we need science to be able to truly understand the world around us is a gem.

Also, not only does Jonathan read Ezra Levant's column so you don't have to, he even writes about it afterwards. It seems like a lot of effort to devote to someone so lacking in interesting ideas, but it makes for a fun read. The latest episode is worth reading not so much for the Ezra related content but rather for how Jonathan picks apart the claim that Alberta's provincial spending is up 90% since 1996. Why use 1996 as a benchmark you ask? So does Jonathan.

The graphs and discussion which follow in his post are a great demonstration of why your pundit sneak-o-scope should immediately go off any time you see a claim that Item X has changed by Y% since year Z - especially where Z seems like an arbitrary choice.

For example, 'airlines are a great investment because air travel is up 50% since fall 2001.', or 'The number of tourists visiting Montreal has been flat with ony a 5 increase since 1976', or 'The tech era is over with tech stocks down 30% in value since mid-2000.' I could go on.

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Bringing together the themes of ignorance and people getting more attention than is warranted, I have to say I was left typeless by Time magazine's embarrassing decision to feature right wing hatemonger Ann Coulter on their cover. Luckily Eric Alterman wasn't and neither was Digby:.

"Ann Coulter is not, as Howie Kurtz asserts today, the equivalent of Michael Moore. Michael Moore is is not advocating the murder of conservatives. He just isn't. For instance, he doesn't say that Eric Rudolph should be killed so that other conservatives will learn that they can be killed too. He doesn't say that he wishes that Tim McVeigh had blown up the Washington Times Bldg. He doesn't say that conservatives routinely commit the capital offense of treason. He certainly doesn't put up pictures of the fucking snoopy dance because one of his political opponents was killed. He doesn't, in other words, issue calls for violence and repression against his political enemies. That is what Ann Coulter does, in the most coarse, vulgar, reprehensible way possible.

Moore says conservatives are liars and they are corrupt and they are wrong. But he is not saying that they should die. There is a distinction. And it's a distinction that Time magazine and Howard Kurtz apparently cannot see."

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6 Comments:

  • "Iraqi Minutemen" isn't a call for violence against American soldiers?

    By Blogger Babbling Brooks, at 7:27 AM  

  • Seems like a stretch to compare that to Coulter's remarks. Michael Moore clearly cares about American soldiers and their families as was evident in Fahrenheit 911.

    By Blogger Declan, at 12:07 PM  

  • No, Damian. It is not even slightly close to a call for violence against American soldiers. Sheesh.

    Glad you blogged about the Coulter debacle, Declan. I was going to, but every now and then I get the feeling my blog is filling up with too much American content, so I chose to give it a pass. (Sometimes I almost envy the unique variety of lunacy that the U.S. right wing ezpouses - the blog posts practically wrtie themselves!)

    Did you check out the interview Columbia Journalism Review did with the Coulter story's author, John Cloud? He really just doesn't get it. It's here at:
    http://www.cjrdaily.org/archives/001458.asp

    Instead of blogging about it, I decided to do something more proactive. I cancelled my home and office subscriptions to Time. Not that it wasn't coming anyway. I was already Krauthammer-sick, but this really was the last straw.

    By Blogger Timmy the G, at 12:49 PM  

  • Actually Timmy, if Moore is equating those who blow up American soldiers with the Minutemen from his own country's history, it's closer than you'd like to admit from your myopic ideological perspective. "Sheesh."

    I'm not defending Coulter. Or Limbaugh. Or Delay. Or any of the other right-wing nutjobs.

    But Moore is cut from the same cloth. And he has a bigger audience.

    By Blogger Babbling Brooks, at 1:52 PM  

  • Say the Liberals (blue States if you like) in the U.S. invaded and occupied the Conservative (Red) states, and then Ann Coulter wrote something equating red state resistance with the minutemen. Then we'd have a parallel. Can you see how that is different from her wishing that the New York Times building had been blown up by terrorists with the editors and writers inside?

    I apologize for not being able to explain the difference more articulately but it feels a bit like trying to explain why green and purple are different colours (i.e. it seems obvious to me, but I'm not sure how to express it in words).

    Timmy - Thanks for the link, I did indeed see that interview. The part where he defended the fawning story by pointing out that they had put Hitler on the cover as well was a particularly discouraging moment.

    It's true, the U.S. is certainly a 'target rich environment' for criticizing extreme behavior. But in a way, there's probably more need for bloggers in Canada, because our media is not as prolific as the American one so more things are likely to be missed or fall through the cracks without blogs keeping an eye out.

    By Blogger Declan, at 6:45 PM  

  • It's quite clear that Moore doesn't have half the venom that Coulter espouses. A closer connection can be made between Moore and Bill O'Reilly. The two were able to get together and negotiate an appearance by Moore on O'Reilly's shows.

    Moore has not wished conservatives dead, on a regular and ongoing basis like Coulter does for liberals, and that is a significant distinction. And if you fail to understand that, and condone Coulter's remarks, you taint yourself. You say it's okay to wish your political enemies, even liberals like Declan, dead.

    By Blogger James Bow, at 10:22 PM  

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