Sunday, May 22, 2011

Interesting Observation

I had a friend who linked to an article (I'm being lazy and not looking it up. maybe I'll look it up later) stating something along the lines of, "Obama is the President who has made the most tax cuts of any President in history." One of my friend's friends then commented something along the lines of, "WOOOOO!!! Four more YEARS!!!!!!" So to try to get some context I read the article. Paraphrased rather roughly it says something like this, "Obama has cut more taxes than any other President, and that's awful."

Now, this blog post is not about Obama or the article. It's about my friend's friend. What was he thinking when he was trying to celebrate the link. Admittedly he probably read the headline and commented along the lines of, "I love Obama and I hate paying taxes. This is AWESOME!" but he definitely didn't read the article. What a dumb comment. People, get informed.

Wow, what a quick blog post and not well thought out. Oh well.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

An Experiment in Understanding: Attempt 2

After my first ramble I felt it necessary to follow up with another ramble as quickly as I could muster. So here goes.

Now I will discuss the Fox News article linked in my previous post. I will re-link it here.

As I'm reading this article it feels so very much like hero worship. I'm going to see if I can find a better one (I'm pretty sure I looked earlier and was unsuccessful).

I will try this one instead. Hopefully there is much less "Boehner is amazing!" in this one.

The gist of this article is that this budget battle is only really just beginning. There are a lot of big decisions still to be made.

On first read this is a very clean-cut article making disclaimers for opinions when necessary and claiming as fact things that might be fact (I don't know. I haven't researched them). This clean-cut feeling might be due in part to the fact that this is from the Fox Business Network rather than the slop of hero worship that came from the main Fox News. So let's try to take a deeper look.

The first few paragraphs seem very straightforward. There are paragraphs like:

"The debate over this year's budget that took the U.S. government to within an hour of a shutdown is only a dress rehearsal for bigger spending clashes to come."


"That fight could last well into the 2012 campaign season, when President Barack Obama, one-third of the U.S. Senate and the entire House will face voters."
The writer mentions this being the largest domestic spending cut in US history and calls it a big win for Republicans since that's what they campaigned for in 2010. In my previous post I talked about how it sounded like Obama was trying to claim credit for this feat. This writer doesn't mention any Democrats happy with this. Fine. I don't know if it is as partisan as that. Maybe it is.

Next, the writer starts mentioning facts about the whole situation:

"[T]he size of that cut, $37.8 billion, is less than the amount the federal government spends in four days."

"Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner estimates the government could hit its current debt limit of $14.3 trillion by mid-May and has warned failure to raise it would be "catastrophic." Treasury could employ a variety of tricks to avoid defaulting for several weeks, but eventually it would run out of options."

"Raising the debt ceiling is always a politically difficult vote no matter the circumstances, but it will be a heavier lift for Republicans. Facing pressure from fiscally conservative Tea Party activists, they say they will not vote to raise the debt ceiling without significant concessions to slow government spending further."

The first paragraph I can see as having real problems is this one:

"Democrats have already promised to block the Republican proposal to give states control over the Medicaid health program for the poor and turn the Medicare health program for retirees into a voucher system."

This paragraph mentions the struggle in seemingly straightforward sentencing, but having read the CNN article we know that there is a different view on this. The author has just mentioned the Republican view on the matter. Democrats don't see this so simply. There is more to this issue.

This paragraph, however, I feel is quite nicely worded:

"Democrats also have criticized House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's refusal to end tax breaks for wealthy oil companies or to propose other tax increases that many budget experts think are necessary to solve long-term fiscal woes."
The author states some main points of Paul Ryan's deal and the Democratic opposition to such and then mentions at the end that Democrats have very legitimate reasons to be concerned. "[M]any budget experts" are cited as being opposed to Paul Ryan's deal.

The author then finishes off with some details about Paul Ryan's ideas and then says that the House could vote on Ryan's deal as soon as "next week" which is, I guess, this week, or something (side note, did they vote on it?).

So, to wrap up, I don't think this article was written as sloppily as the CNN article, but it did take me biting off on a horribly written article on John Boehner to motivate me to find this article. Maybe for future analysis I'll try to wade through the rough articles rather than hunting for articles found elsewhere on the site.

Sorry if this Attempt 2 was a little rushed. I felt that it was important for me to get out another rant so that I could try to come across as not so much, "I hate CNN" and more like, "I hate shoddy news reporters." I'm trying hard to overcome my own political leaning. I'm a conservative with libertarian ideas and a constantly changing viewpoint on several key issues (read "Freakonomics" for an interesting view on abortion and refrence Utah's recent immigration law for a different view on illegal immigration: just some of the things I'm still working on in my own brain). Once again, this wasn't proofread. I apologize.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

An Experiment in Understanding

Recently I posted a note on Facebook (and also on a forum I frequent) concerning partial news reporting. That note is as follows:
Observation: I was watching the news and a contributor (not a reporter) made a statement to the effect of, "Obama stayed out of most of the budget debate that has been going on and has only gotten really involved at the very end." This statement is a fact. The reporter interviewing the contributor then said something to the effect of, "I agree with you that Obama should have gotten more involved earlier in this debate." This statement is an opinion. So, here's the question: Should a reporter state so blatant an opinion, or am I wrong in my analysis?

On Facebook I got one response from my wife and one response from a friend basically agreeing with me. On the forum I frequent I posted this (with a few changes from the original):

Observation: I was watching the news and a contributor (not a reporter) made a statement to the effect of, "Obama stayed out of most of the budget debate that has been going on and has only gotten really involved at the very end." This statement is a fact. The reporter interviewing the contributor then said something to the effect of, "I agree with you that Obama should have gotten more involved earlier in this debate." This statement is an opinion.

It very well might have been the contributor's opinion that Obama should have gotten involved earlier. However, that is not what the contributor said. I, for one, appreciate when a reporter focuses on fact rather than opinion. So, for me, while this tangentially is related to the budget issue, I've noticed that reporters do this on occasion (on all news channels) and it drives me CRAZY! Am I correct in my analysis? And, if so, am I justified in being frustrated by it? And, does this warrant a whole 'nother thread?
To this post (in a thread about the budget debate) I got no responses. The thread wasn't touched for a few days and then it picked up again talking about something else entirely. Maybe I should create another thread and try again.

But that is neither here nor there.

Really this whole experience has got me thinking. And so with no prior research I am going to try an experiment. As I am writing this I am going to research Obama's speech that he made at the 11th hour about the budget compromise. Then I'm going to locate a few news articles about his speech (my plan is to find one from CNN, one from Fox News, and one from the BBC). Then I'm going to see how much of these news articles are honest reporting, opinion, a mixture of the two, or something else entirely. This will all be done real-time with little proofreading (I apologize in advance).

First, Obama's Speech. Hopefully I will be quoting sections of this speech in my experiment but I wanted to link to the speech in its entirety for all to see.

Now to find my articles. After much searching (the only website that allowed me to search by date was the BBC) I found three articles published the day after the budget agreement. These are all news articles as opposed to opinion articles or even blogs.

Fox News

I have only made cursory glances at these articles to ensure that they were related to the topic. Now I will proceed to look at them more in depth.

Obama's Speech:

I'm going to point out a few things that I noticed in this speech. Obama is a politician so I have noticed that he plays that part well.

He begins his speech talking about the Washington Monument and seeks to hook us in with pretty words (this is effective and speech writers have been doing this since the advent of speech, I'm sure, so there is no fault with this). He continues by discussing what has happened and what will happen; the government was in danger of being shut down but it won't because both parties came together (these statements are fact and can't be disputed so I find no fault there).

The next portion of his speech talks about the painful parts of this budget compromise. He talks about this being the "largest annual spending cut in our history" and also about how he "would not have made these cuts in better circumstances." These are all facts in that they are true statements about how Obama actually feels about this budget agreement.

He then makes a comment that can be interpreted a few different ways. He says, "[W]e also made sure that at the end of the day, this was a debate about spending cuts, not social issues like women’s health and the protection of our air and water." During the budget talks there was a lot of discussion about how Boehner was saying that this was strictly about money while several Democrats were saying that the Republicans were making this about Planned Parenthood (a social issue, definitely not a spending cuts issue in their opinion (I will not go into whether the Republicans believe that Planned Parenthood is a spending cuts issue, a social issue, or both)). So Obama was either telling all those Democrats to back off because the Republicans were just talking about social issues, or he is making a slight jab at the Republicans for trying to make the budget debate about social issues.

As he starts to wrap up he thanks Boehner and Reid for their help and talks about how bipartisanship is the way forward. There is one sentence that I find rather interesting, though. "Now the same cooperation will make possible the biggest annual spending cut in history..." This is a very happy sentence. However, a few paragraphs before he talked about how he "would not have made these cuts in better circumstances." This speech has now turned a little more political. On one hand he can talk about he fought these cuts but had to concede because he didn't have a majority, and with the other he can laud how he brought everyone together to perform the BIGGEST ANNUAL SPENDING CUTS IN HISTORY! which sounds AWESOME!! Man, is this guy the best of both worlds, or what? Well, as I mentioned before Obama is a politician (shocker) and as a favorite movie quote of mine goes, "I'm a politician, which means that when I'm not kissing babies, I'm stealing their lollipops." So, all in all, Obama is still just being himself (or something).

Finally he wraps up with a story about a class field trip to the capitol that wouldn't have happened had not the Washington establishment come together and solved this problem. Just as Obama has started his speech he ends it with something seeking to integrate himself with the audience (all speechwriters do this and, much like the hook at the beginning, I guess we just have to live with it, or something (also, I might be using "or something" too much, but I use "or something" too much in real life, so there)).

Now I'm going to go into the news articles. Wow, this is taking a lot more energy than I thought.


On first read the article seems quite well written. It sticks to facts and statements made. Obama is quoted as saying, "This is an agreement to invest in our country's future while making the largest annual spending cut in our history." which is a statement that can be taken as saying either, "[Something good] while making [something bad]" or, "[Something good] while [something also good]." But the article just quotes Obama word for word without explanation, letting the reader interpret it as they may (I find this good (read as "unbiased") reporting and bad (read as "usual") politics).

Now that we look a little closer at the article I would like to quote, in my opinion, positive (or maybe at least neutral) statements about the Republican party specifically.

"Republicans fought to "create a better environment for job creators in our country."" Quote by Boehner. [This statement can be seen as negative because the writer saw the need to directly quote Boehner thereby removing himself (the writer) further from the subject at hand]

"Sources told CNN, however, that leaders of the Democratic-controlled Senate agreed to hold separate votes on both measures, as well as on an initiative to repeal Obama's health care overhaul." [This is something that Republicans have fought to get and so this is a victory for the Republicans]

""It's the first big step in the right direction," said Gingrich, a possible Republican presidential candidate, of Friday night's legislation. "John Boehner got the largest spending cut in history.""[I don't find these quotes as offensive as the previous quotes because full sentences are used]

"Republicans, under pressure from the conservative Tea Party movement to reduce the size of government, blame Democrats for failing to pass a fiscal year 2011 budget last year when they controlled both the Senate and the House. They also say Obama and his party are ignoring the peril of rising federal deficits and the national debt."

"Levi Russell, a spokesman for the Tea Party Express, told CNN the group isn't "very impressed" with the budget deal and said the agreement proves the party has a lot more work to do to ensure deeper cuts." [This is more of a neutral statement, but it doesn't go very far in the article so the writer can't show very much how he feels about this specifically]

Now I would like to look at quotes that see the Republican party, specifically, in a negative light (in my opinion).

"A GOP push to strip $317 million in federal funding from Planned Parenthood failed. Democrats also turned back Republican attempts to get federal dollars currently set aside for family planning and women's health turned into block grants for states." [This is quoted as the first big "partisan" issue of the debates, meaning that of all the individual budget cutting prospects, this is the issue that is most important to Republicans. More on this later.]

"Such a move would have given governors and state legislatures more ability to cut funding for services opposed by conservatives." [This is a continuation of the previous quote and points out that, if I am reading this correctly, the move proposed would have meant that governors would have ability to cut funding for services opposed by conservatives, BUT NOTHING ELSE. I think that what was really meant to be said was that conservative governors and conservative state legislatures would have more ability to cut funding for services opposed by conservatives. Liberal governors and liberal state legislatures would have been able to set aside the block grants for family planning and women's health. But maybe the writer really did mean that the block grants would only be made available to states if they promised to use them for conservative purposes or something. Personally, I don't buy it. The truth as I see it is that if the states then had the control to use the money previously set aside for women's health and family planning, the states would use the money where they need it (and lots of states are in the red and that money would just be used to try to get out of the red and women's health is not a place to invest money, usually. In short, semantically, this is very shoddy reporting and paints conservatives (and, by association, Republicans) as concocting a scheme that takes all control away from all forms of government (federal and state) to help women's health and planned parenthood. I also suspect that those conservatives would like to point out that one of the big things they are trying to defeat is abortion and liberals would like to point out that abortion is only 3 percent of what planned parenthood does (which is a statistic I've heard). (On the other side I heard that planned parenthood provides something like 1/3 of all abortions, or something. For the record, both statistics could be correct, but I don't know if either statistic is correct, but that is neither here nor there). In short (too late) I hate these paragraphs because they stink. And I'm rambling. Continuing...]

"Democrats said the Republican drive to defund Planned Parenthood proves the GOP is fixated on abortion and other issues related to women's health. Republicans repeatedly insisted that the size of spending reductions was the main cause of the dispute in recent days." [The writer says that Democrats say this is about planned parenthood. Then the writer says that the Republicans insist that planned parenthood is not the main issue, except that the writer has already pointed out earlier that he believes that planned parenthood is, in fact, the main issue of the debates, thereby making the Republicans look like liars, or something. It's all very psychological, I believe, without being straightforward; like a backhanded compliment.]

Then the reporter ends with the final kick:

"Planned Parenthood claimed victory for American women. "A handful of members of Congress tried to use the debate over our nation's deficit to pursue an extreme agenda that would cut millions of women off from Pap tests, breast exams and birth control -- without reducing the deficit," said President Cecile Richards."

So, basically, the writer has started talking about the heavy partisanship focusing on planned parenthood. Then he made a small comment about how the Republicans don't believe that's the main issue (or at least that's what they've SAID). Then he wraps it up nicely by focusing back on planned parenthood.

On first read, this article seemed fine. On a more in-depth study I think CNN sucks.

And now I'm just tired and angry and hate shoddy news. I'll write about how CNN treats the Democrats later (or maybe I won't because this took a LOT longer than I thought) and then maybe I'll look at the other two articles even later than that (or not, or something).

I would like to point out again that this has been an experiment and that I haven't done much editing of this and everything has come out as I've researched it and thought it so I apologize for any typos (not capitalizing "Planned Parenthood" all over the place, for one).

Good night.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Star Saga

Interesting story. When I was little my brothers and I would play various computer games on an Apple IIe that we got from our aunt. These were games like Karateka or Moebius: The Orb of Celestial Harmony. One of these glorious game gems was Star Saga: One - Beyond the Boundary. The GIFs above are the maps that went along with this game. My brothers and I selected characters and started to explore this wondrous universe. Unfortunately we didn't get very far before our mother decided we were playing too many computer games and purged a lot of our after-school fun from our house. Years later I decided to search for this beautiful treasure and came across this. So I called up my brothers and revealed to them my find. Since none of us lived close to each other (we're all several states away) they gave their blessing for me to try it alone to find if it was as delightful as it was when we were young. Spoiler alert.... It's pretty close. What I would love to see is a program written that integrates all the parts of this game (the program in the link has you skipping from map to program to text) into one. Just sayin'. And, wow, I never blog.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I'm inprocessing at a new base, Vance AFB in OK as I await pilot training starting on the 19th of this month. I think it's really cool. I get to fly and stuff and have a grand old time and learn how to do other cool things I'm sure.

Right now my wife and I are sitting the the TLF and we are very bored, so I decided to write a blurb of a blog and she decided to invent diseases.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


So I commissioned a few days ago and became a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Air Force. Now I just need to go through all that training to learn how to fly really fast stuff. I'm excited.

Monday, April 21, 2008


I was walking out to my car at university and someone had painted "2+2=5" on the sidewalk. This is probably a reference to George Orwell's 1984. The part of the book that has that particular mathematic equation is a part where the main character is basically being told by the establishment that he has no free thought, that "Big Brother" can make any ridiculous thing up and it has to be true because "Big Brother" said so. Basically the theme of the book is to promote free thinking and to fight against "Big Brother."
"The Establishment" is viewed as this huge evil that needs to be fought so people try to make little statements about it by painting things like "2+2=5" on sidewalks. The thing that strikes me as funny is that 1984 is required reading in a lot of high school English classrooms. So, isn't that one of the definitions of "The Establishment"? So making the reference and hoping people get the reference is relying on "The Establishment" and defeating the whole purpose of painting it on the sidewalk in the first place.
Just my opinion.