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October 11, 2006

Washington Post's Outstanding News Judgment Comes Through For Us Again!

The Washington Post today ran a story about the new Johns Hopkins study estimating excess deaths in Iraq since the U.S. invasion at 655,000. It was on page A12.

Now, whiny malcontents who don't understand the news business might wonder why this doesn't merit screaming headlines on the front page. But what these whiny malcontents don't get is that Page One real estate is precious. You can't run just any old story there. You have to give the highest priority to what really matters, what the policymakers and just regular citizens in Washington HAVE to know about.

For instance:

Story online here. I particularly appreciate the cursive headline. Let no one say there's a shortage of ingenuity at the Washington Post when it comes to presenting the critical news of the day!

(Thanks to my DC-area parents for scanning this in.)

Posted at October 11, 2006 01:03 PM | TrackBack

If the Post starts pandering to the whiny malcontents, then the terrorists have won.

And please, at all times, use your quiet voice when discussing Iraqi casualties of the U.S. invasion. Conventional wisdom does not bother to stop and consider such trivialties. Conventional wisdom does not like to be bothered at all.

Posted by: Lame Man at October 11, 2006 01:56 PM

Yes, conventional wisdom doesn't like facts and figures, logic and reason. Gobledegook, all. Listen to your heart, know what is right, stay the course, bury your children, salute the flag, pray for a better future.

Posted by: Pyrrho at October 11, 2006 04:50 PM

I do agree with the front page article. I can't write worth shit, but 600,000+ deaths is a little more important in my estimation.

Posted by: SPIIDERWEB™ at October 11, 2006 05:22 PM

>> Researchers see a downside as keyboards replace pens in schools.

I agree with Bush and Cordesman. This research is not credible! I say the release of this study is politically motivated. And this picture of the little girl: right before the election??? That is so cheap! Debases our political discourse. What a bunch of hacks at the WaPo!

They could have stayed neutral and talked about something to rally the nation and put a smile on our face; something good and uplifting to keep us united. Something like slaughtering 650,000 dark-skinned ayrabs. Motherhood, apple pie, and killing the natives: in other words, the American Dream.

But make us dream? The WaPo? Dream on my friend!

Nooooo, the Post has to appeal to our basest instincts and tear this nation apart. Notice the caption: "Pencils down? Not in this classroom."

These are fighting words, my friends!


Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at October 11, 2006 05:55 PM

This from the USA Today article Jonathan linked.

James Fearon, a Stanford University political scientist and Iraq expert, said, "One thing (the study may) certainly do is confirm the view that there is a very, very serious civil war going in Iraq."

* * *

So the study by Johns Hopkins University "may" confirm that there is a civil war in Iraq. I fully realize that some folk are more careful than others but I mean really, you mean there may be a civil war going in Iraq?

I am standing outside in my front yard. The sky is completely covered with dark clouds. Water is falling out of the sky, water is pouring off my roof, the gutters are flooding, I am getting soaked but I really want to be careful about this so let us proceed with caution. I can only carefully conclude that it "may" be raining out because that there may be some other explanation like the neighbor has an out of control water sprinkler or the ice cap at the north pole suddenly rose into the air, floated over my house and is now melting profusely.

Posted by: rob payne at October 11, 2006 06:00 PM

One of the Bush administration's talking points is that Iraq couldn't be in a civil war because the death toll post March '03 isn't even close to that of our Civil War. Well, 655,000 is pretty close to the number of 'excess deaths' in the U.S. 1861-65.
So much for that talking point.

Posted by: Lloyd at October 11, 2006 06:13 PM

I hear Monty Python: 650,000 Iraqis might be dead. We might be facing a case of 650,000 ex-Iraqis, Iraqis who may have ceased to exist. Iraqis pining for the fjords. Or perhaps just resting.

Yes, resting. Not in peace of course. In war. So let's hope those noisy Abrams tanks don't wake them up. Else. Else? Else the terrorists will have won.

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at October 11, 2006 07:45 PM

Here in Minneapolis, the Star Tribune did twice as well as the WP. They ran it on page 6!

Kudos to NPR who had me saying, "WTF? Am I still asleep? That's not right, is it?"

Posted by: Seen and Heard at October 11, 2006 08:30 PM

I heard Monty Python too, but it was this one instead:

"Let's not bicker and argue over who killed who...

Posted by: Lame Man at October 11, 2006 09:16 PM

Clearly we must not brood over the past and we should just look ahead to a bright and shining future and not worry about a little spilt milk.

Also it is so important that the republicans stay in power in all three branches of the government because, well because of the wonderful things they does.

After all as Lloyd points out if the republicans lose the terrorists win.

Remember as well it is all our fault for not supporting Bush more than we have, the dirty traitors that we be.

Posted by: rob payne at October 11, 2006 09:47 PM

Just apply the words of wisdom from Professor Laura B. Smolken in the front page article to the one on Iraqi deaths buried on page A-12, then interpret your own news story:

"It's like so many other things in our society---there's a sense of loss for what once was."

For Iraqis, this means being alive and in control of their own country with access to the basic daily needs such as electricity, running water, schools, etc.

For Americans, this means still having those good old pre-war Constitutional rights without troops dropping dead on a daily basis in foreign lands while fighting an immoral crusade for corporate greedheads.

See what I mean? Cutting through the gobbledygook is easy once you figure out which gook is not fit to gobble!!!

Posted by: JLaR at October 12, 2006 01:31 AM

Bush said something recently about the Iraq war being a comma. At first I was confused but now I understand: the comma between 650 and 000.

Stay there much longer and Iraq will warrant TWO commas.

My head hurts.

Posted by: Willy at October 12, 2006 06:24 AM

Stupid newspaper. Our future warriors don't need no freakin cursive. All they need to learn is how to pull a trigger.

Posted by: abb1 at October 12, 2006 08:35 AM

Not only is this about something completely unimportant, it's based on incredibly bad science. None of the research here demonstrates an actual improvement in anything as a result of handwriting instruction - it merely shows correlations between handwriting instruction and academic performance. This means nothing. E.g., those kids who wrote poorly and then were given handwriting instruction, which improved their ability to express complex thoughts, etc.? I imagine a control where they merely practiced writing without receiving instruction would have done the same.

Also, cursive handwriting blows. Good riddance to it. And it is in no way "faster" than print.

Posted by: saurabh at October 12, 2006 10:03 AM

Do you also have parents in other major metropolitan areas? If so, I'm not jure whether to envy you or pity you.

Posted by: C at October 12, 2006 11:52 AM

Do you also have parents in other major metropolitan areas?

I don't usually like to talk about this, but the truth is I'm not wholly human.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at October 12, 2006 12:18 PM

After extensive* research in the archives of the Post, I found that the handwriting story was almost verbatim from a story a century earlier about the decline of Latin instruction in public schools.

Personally, I often wish I knew more Latin and Greek, but I can't say that my poor penmanship skills have harmed me much.

*As in, completely imaginary.

Posted by: hedgehog at October 12, 2006 01:10 PM