Diane Sawyer

On the evening news tonight, Diane Sawyer reported that home sales were up.  She credited the rebound to tax credits because some percent of the home purchases were made by first time home buyers.

She may be right about the impact of the tax credit.

Or wrong.

I can’t tell based on the information provided.

It would be more convincing had she provided the usual percent of home purchases made by first time home buyers as a comparison.  For example, if she said that 50% of purchases were made by first time home buyers when that figure is normally 10%, that would be more convincing, but still not necessarily correct.

But, she didn’t provide the comparison.

This is an example of an irritating phenomenon.  News organizations analyze and interpret rather than reporting the news.  In this case, Diane could have simply said, “Home sales are up.”   Next story.   That’s news reporting.

Telling us home sales are up because of the first time home buyers credit is analyzing, interpreting, editorial and narrative, which are all better left to other venues like talk shows or the opinion section of the newspaper.  In those venues, the viewer at least knows that the narrative has been added, can take it with a grain of salt and decide whether they agree or disagree.

When it’s reported as Diane reported on a news program, it seems much more like fact than opinion.  To the unsuspecting viewer, the way this is reported makes tax credits seem like a good thing — even if they’re not.

Another irritating phenomenon is that we rarely notice it.  We take it as fact and rarely entertain the idea that the news narratives might be wrong.  Though, I think subconsciously we do know.  That’s why newspapers and TV news are struggling.  They’ve lost credibility by lacing narratives with reporting.

In this case, Diane didn’t us enough information to draw our own conclusion.  That’s either sloppy narrative or because the facts don’t necessarily support the case.

Finally, even if Diane had provided a comparison that made a convincing case that tax credits were driving home sales, it would not necessarily be true that tax credits were the cause.    There might be other plausible explanations.  All I want to know from my news program is what: homes sales are up.

If they want to give me their opinion, fine.  Tell us that.  “Home sales are up.  In the opinion of the producers of this program, that’s because of the tax credits!”


Infused with law

Here’s something that applies to a great deal of our everyday lives.  It’s so natural the impact in has on our behavior that we take it for granted and don’t even recognize.  Very well written by Don Boudreaux of Cafe Hayek.  Read the full post, The Law of Capitalism Vs. the Lawlessness of Politics.

…capitalism – real capitalism – is infused with law, most of which is self-enforcing.  The manufacturer who pays his suppliers late gets poorer credit terms in the future; the retailer who cheats her customers loses business; the customer who doesn’t pay his bills can no longer buy on credit.

Conservative v Liberal

Credit to the Shanin & Parks Radio Show in Kansas City for the Conservative vs. Liberal distinctions below.

I’ve seen similar things before written from a liberal point of view where the conservative side was distorted or exaggerated. I’d love to hear from liberals on this.  I wonder if liberals think their side is distorted here or if it’s a fair representation.   If these aren’t correct, I’d like to see suggestions.

I think the conservative side is true for many conservatives, though there are exceptions to all rules and there will be factions that call themselves conservative that think differently or disagree with some of these.

The gist is that conservatives generally don’t want to force their will on others through the government, while liberals seem to think that’s okay as long as it meets some logical test of being intended for the greater good.  Whether or not the imposition fulfills the intention in reality rarely seems to be a concern.

If a conservative doesn’t like guns, he doesn`t buy one.
If a liberal doesn’t like guns, he wants guns outlawed.

If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn’t eat meat.
If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants meat products banned.

If a conservative is homosexual, he quietly leads his life.
If a liberal is homosexual, he demands legislated respect.

If a conservative is down-and-out, he tries to better his situation.
A liberal wants to know who is going to fix it for him.

If a conservative doesn’t like a talk show host, he switches channels.
Liberals want those they don’t like to be silenced.

If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn’t go to church.
If a liberal is a non-believer he wants any mention of religion silenced.

If a conservative needs health insurance he shops for it, or looks for a job that will provide it.
A liberal demands that the rest of us provide for it.

A conservative will read this and will forward it, so his friends can have a good laugh.
A liberal will read this and delete it, because he’s offended.

Wall Street Journal editorial

I’m a little dumbfounded by Wall Street Journal’s editorial, The Violence Card:

No less a figure than Bill Clinton seized on the occasion of the Oklahoma City bombing’s 15th anniversary to lecture tea-party activists, first in a speech last week to the Center for American Progress Action Fund, then in a Monday New York Times op-ed. “Have at it, go fight, go do whatever you want,” he said in the speech. “You don’t have to be nice; you can be harsh. But you’ve got to be very careful not to advocate violence or cross the line.” In the op-ed, he wrote: “There is a big difference between criticizing a policy or a politician and demonizing the government.”

Taken strictly at face value, these statements are unobjectionable. Yet given that the tea-party movement has been peaceful and law-abiding, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that Mr. Clinton is engaging in a not-so-subtle smear campaign.

Mr. Clinton’s opposition to “demonizing the government” would be more credible had he been heard from on the subject during the first eight years after he left office—when, for example, Hollywood demonized George W. Bush by releasing “Fahrenheit 9/11,” or when Mr. Clinton’s own former Vice President railed against the man who beat him in 2000: “He betrayed this country!”

While I think the editorial was well-written and makes a good point, I have to take issue.

Clinton meant to take the attention away from the issues with his sleight of hand.  It’s about changing the subject.  The Wall Street Journal has done us a disservice by playing along and responding to and dedicating valuable space and energy to rebut Clinton’s nonsense.

Instead of spending the entire editorial building the case against Clinton’s credibility, why not take the first paragraph to call call out his unsubstantiated, change the subject technique.  Then the rest of the editorial could have been spent on highlighting the actual tea party issues, asking why other side relentlessly chooses to ignore those issues and rather chooses to use playground tactics to smear and change the subject?


Some pundits are accusing Beck, Palin and Limbaugh of sedition.

Are we that far from critical thinking skills (i.e. using some brain cells)?

The most applicable definition of sedition I could find (The American Heritage Dictionary):

Conduct or language inciting rebellion against the authority of a state.


Encouraging folks to use the election process defined in the U.S. Constitution to vote out elected representatives is not sedition.

Sedition would be to encourage the transfer of government power using methods not defined in the Constitution, which I have heard none of.

And, since everyone is asking “where were the Tea Parties when Bush was grabbing power?”  I have to ask, where were these guys when folks were calling Bush “a regime, tyranny, dictator” and the like?

This is remarkably stupid.

Great Tea Party Podcasts

Catching up with my Dennis Miller podcasts from the past week, I came across three exceptional podcasts:

Go to iTunes.

Search for The Dennis Miller Show.

Download and listen to these three podcasts:

Andrew Breitbart Interview – April 13, 2010

John Stossel Interview – April 15, 2010

Greg Gutfeld Interview – April 15, 2010

Greg Gutfeld and Miller were discussing comments made by Ted Koppel about media.  Koppel apparently longs for the days of three networks.  Apparently, he doesn’t like the competition from the cable and internet.  As Gutfeld puts it:

You know what he actually said.  He said the real problem here is competition.  He’s saying “in the good old days when the three networks didn’t have to try, when we could just do whatever we wanted because there was nothing else.  And now, all these cable stations came in and now we have to work for a living.

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