Monday, February 15, 2016

Sloppy Post-Star's death by a thousand (self-inflicted) cuts

I know quality control at the Post-Star has become pretty close to non-existent but this is inexcusable even by their standards.
They ran a front page graphic earlier this week which claimed that teachers at Warrensburg missed an average of 10.6 days per year per teacher. This was far higher than any other local school, so obviously it gave the district a black eye.
Then the paper ran a correction - buried in middle of the paper in a tiny segment - stating that OOPS they had used an incorrect data point and that Warrensburg teachers had actually missed only 3.27 days per year per teacher. This was well within the norm of local schools. 
So what did they do yesterday? The print edition* re-ran the old graphic with THE DATA THAT THEY THEMSELVES HAD STATED WAS WRONG.  
(*-this has been corrected in the online edition)
Incidentally, this discredited table was paired with a deceptive editorial using a troubling national statistic and implying that it was a problem locally, even though local numbers are 1/2 to 2/3 lower.
This is what you get in product whose price has doubled in recent years. 
Mainstream journalists like to tell themselves that newspapers' implosion is due to the increased desire for commentary and contempt for objective journalism. And to a large extent, that's true. But there's also a large number of people who see sloppiness like this and no longer see the use in spending their money on an entity with a credibility suffering a death by a thousand self-inflicted cuts.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Hillary Clinton's Al Gore problem

Even aside from propping up the oligarchy, purely as a campaigner, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seems to have two of the same problems as then Vice-President Al Gore did in 2000.

The first is that she, and her supporters, give the impression that she thinks she is owed victory, simply because it's her turn. When the fate of people who work for a living is center stage, coming across as entitled is bad politics.

Outrageously offensive comments by feminist icon Gloria Steinem and another former Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, both supporters of Mrs. Clinton, illustrate that. Both are upset that young women overwhelmingly support Clinton's primary opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders. Steinem said that young women only supported Sanders to get boys. Albright said that a "special place in hell" was reserved for females who supported Clinton's opponent (some argue that there's a special place in hell reserved for Albright herself).

Their "feminist" message is that young women should shut up, turn their brains off and do what their (feminist) elders command them to. Does their idea of feminism want to replace patriarchy with matriarchy or with meritocracy? Seems like they are hijacking feminism to push their partisan agendas.

The second, and it's really related to the first, is that Clinton and Gore both suffer from what the French call syndrome de premier de classe, the smartest kid in the room syndrome. They are both extremely intelligent people. They think that alone is enough.

Being intelligent and well-versed on key issues is very important to being president. We've seen the disaster of presidents who aren't and end up being manipulated by their inner circle.

At the same time, we've also seen extremely intelligent presidents get themselves into trouble because either they were borderline sociopaths (Nixon) or they grew up thinking their intelligence gave them impunity (Bill Clinton).

Politics and governing are not school exams where the smartest person always come out on top. But politics does have one similarity with school: no one likes the person who thinks they're entitled.