Amanda Marcotte Resigns: Edwards Tries to Eat Cake

Filed under:Blogging,Need a Good Editor?,Politics — posted by Anwyn on February 12, 2007 @ 10:23 pm

If you’re reading this, I’m assuming a certain level of familiarity with the recent flare-up over Amanda Marcotte’s hiring, considered but not accomplished firing, and subsequent resignation as one of two campaign bloggers for John Edwards.

She’s blaming her resignation on the right-wing blogosphere and Catholic activists who wanted her fired. I, for one, never cared whether she was fired or not, except to the extent that it is positively disgusting that any serious contender for President of the United States would give someone like her an official voice. (No, I won’t link to her blog. Read her nasty at the some of the links above.) Her hiring/non-firing/resignation says almost nothing about Amanda Marcotte that she didn’t say for herself many times on her own blog. But it says worlds about John Edwards.

I supposed early on that he didn’t bother to vet her himsef–which makes me wonder who on the campaign did and what they were thinking. If Edwards did read her stuff beforehand, then it was simply a clear-cut case of trying to have your political cake and eat it too: Get the nutroots on board by hiring one of their own, and we won’t lose any credibility because the blogosphere takes up only a very small portion of voters, and they’re very insular–the rest of America won’t know or care who does the–what was it again?–“blogging” on the ol’ intertubes. If that was what he, or his staff, thought, they grossly miscalculated. Gone are the days when AllahP could justifiably moan that nobody reads the blogs and thus they don’t affect anything. Mainstream media outlets picked up the story, albeit dialing down the grotesque nature of her rhetoric, and Edwards’s camp cottoned to the idea that this wasn’t going to stay hidden away on a web page, tucked nicely into a little compartment labled “Internet” that didn’t really spill out onto voters who don’t read the blogs. So he apparently took an old political route out of the hardship: ask for her resignation. No, nobody’s said that he (or they) asked her to, but it’s not difficult to suppose. It’s such a classic dodge: allows both the person leaving and the persons not doing the firing to save face *coughHarrietMierscough*.

But in this case it could be the fatal blow for the campaign, for one simple reason: Though the blogosphere is making headway into less-internet-savvy America, the nutroots simply do not have a big enough majority even in the blogosphere that not firing her will be a face-saving move for Edwards. Any normal person, left or right, blogger or not, would be horrified at Marcotte’s foam-at-the-mouth denunciations, and any normal person with a bit of political sense should see that Edwards allowing her to resign rather than showing her to the door once he’d been enlightened as to her MO paints him as A) tacitly submitting to the idea that her rhetoric is not horrifying to anybody of decency rather than standing up and indicating that it should be; and B) counting so much on the votes of the hard-left loony bin that he can’t see how many potential mainstream votes he just lost by refusing to jettison the garbage before attempting to lightspeed through the primaries. Michelle Malkin and others are talking about how it shows that if Edwards “couldn’t” stand up to this woman, he won’t be able to stand up to America’s enemies. But I think it’s more like he wouldn’t kick her to the curb because he (or, again, staff who hired her) really believed it wouldn’t cost him anything not to. I can’t speak for Democratic primary voters, but I suspect him to be dead wrong on that score.

Marcotte resigned because “[The attack of right-wing ‘shills’] was creating a situation where I felt that every time I coughed, I was risking the Edwards campaign.” No, Amanda, your coughs are a matter of internet record, and no candidate in his right mind would want you coughing all over his presidential hopes. John Edwards came to his senses a bit too late.

Update: I cannot stop laughing.

Update x2: Abortion addles the brains of a group called “Catholics for a Free Choice:”

“I believe that spirited, provocative criticism of powerful people and organizations, including the Catholic church, is part of democracy,” Kissling said. “I don’t always like what people may say but I really think they have a right to do it. Often the sharpest, most provocative critiques are the most on target.”

Of course Marcotte has a right to say it on her personal blog, though her views are far less “spirited critique” and far more “fume, noise, and spittle.” She even has a right to say it on Edwards’s blog, as long as Edwards gives the OK. But normal people, a group that apparently doesn’t include the president of Catholics for a Free Choice, ought to be appalled that Edwards would give the OK and make their judgments about him accordingly.

“I wanted to send a message to the Edwards campaign that they should not cave to that sort of bullying,” Kissling said about her letter [of support to Marcotte].

If you call it “bullying” to have it called to Edwards’s attention that his blogger could give him the name of hating Christians, a group that includes a hell of a lot of women who have their own opinions about abortion, by the way, a fact that seems lost on Marcotte’s lump-sum “patriarchy” game theory, as well as alienating anybody who happens to be anti-abortion without advancing a Christian rationale for the position (yes, they exist), then I really couldn’t say what you’d call “discussion.”

Yes, Virginia, There is a Punctuation Fairy

Filed under:Need a Good Editor?,Politics — posted by Anwyn on January 31, 2007 @ 3:35 pm

And she just handed Hillary et al a freebie. Am I going to have to turn this into a grammar/punctuation blog? New York Observer interviews Joe Biden:

Mr. Biden is equally skeptical—albeit in a slightly more backhanded way—about Mr. Obama. “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” he said. “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”

And Allah runs with it, saying that Drudge’s emphasis on “clean” isn’t the half of it. The “clean” is a non-starter for me; the man clearly means “clean-cut,” or, as others will have it, “free of corruption.”

On first read, though, the whole of it is a huge insult to past black candidates, almost irrespective of what office they were running for. But on listening to the audio, it becomes clear that the worst thing Biden said about any other black candidate is that they weren’t “mainstream.” It’s all about the missing comma–commas, let’s not forget, indicate a pause in the speaker’s words. On the audio there’s a pause big enough to drive a train through. Try it with the comma:

“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American, who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” he said. “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”

Patronizing to Obama it may be, but it’s no expression of all-encompassing racism.

Moral of the story: Listen to the audio. Moral of the story for New York Observer: Hire either a transcriptionist who knows the job or a copy editor who has access to the audio. Or both. That’s ridiculous.

AP Course-Corrects

Filed under:Need a Good Editor?,Sad — posted by Anwyn on August 30, 2006 @ 8:22 am

Yesterday I took the AP to task for wrongly implying that the first officer was at the controls of Comair 5191 when it taxied onto the wrong runway.

Today’s AP article corrects the error without reference to the incorrect article:

Polehinke was flying the plane when it crashed, but it was the flight’s captain, Jeffrey Clay, who taxied the aircraft onto the wrong runway, Hersman said. Clay then turned over the controls to Polehinke for takeoff, the investigator said.

Before Hersman’s briefing on Tuesday, the NTSB said Polehinke was flying the plane; it made no mention of Clay being the one who taxied the plane into position.

And people deride Fox News for, they say, taking dictation from press briefings. It sounds like the AP could take a lesson here. I.E. taking the press briefing as delivered, without unconfirmed extraneous assumptions, might be a good thing. They took “Polehinke was flying the plane” and extrapolated into “Polehinke taxied onto the wrong runway” without bothering to get the NTSB to confirm or deny. A mistaken assumption that led to a smear of the surviving pilot.

Today’s article also casts a grim light on the role the tower played in the accident:

The lone traffic controller at Blue Grass Airport cleared a flight for takeoff, then turned his back to handle administrative work.

What the controller didn’t see, a federal investigator said, was the Atlanta-bound jet heading down the wrong runway.

The “lone traffic controller” was in violation of an FAA policy that requires at least two controllers in the tower specifically so that there will be one controller to handle “control tower observations.”

It’s not the first time familiarity has led to slackness has led to deaths. Nobody, from the FAA on down to the pilots, will come out of this without a black mark. I’m glad the AP has recognized its error of yesterday, but yesterday’s story is still out there without clarification or caveat. Speaking of slackness.

Update: CNN specifically mentioned the nosewheel tiller and the fact that Clay taxied the plane. Somebody, either press or NTSB, must’ve cottoned to the fact that Polehinke was getting a worse rap than he deserved–and “deserved” in this case is quite bad enough–because the lead NTSB investigator made sure CNN had these facts:

Hersman said it was the flight’s captain, Jeffrey Clay, who taxied the aircraft into position at the start of the wrong runway. Clay then turned over the controls to the co-pilot, James Polehinke, who was flying the plane when it crashed. Hersman said that was standard procedure since only the captain can reach the tiller used to steer the plane while it’s on the ground.

You don’t say.

AP Doesn’t Get the Facts

Filed under:Need a Good Editor?,Sad — posted by Anwyn on August 29, 2006 @ 4:34 pm

Today’s AP article about Comair Flight 5191 is a sensationalist piece that emphasizes the colorful family life of Comair first officer James Polehinke while apparently completely ignorant of facts that flatly contradict its clear implication that Polehinke was primarily responsible for Sunday’s tragic crash in Lexington.

AP’s opening paragraph:

LEXINGTON, Ky. James Polehinke had a clean record as a pilot, with no accidents or mistakes, but he made a fatal error as he taxied Comair Flight 5191 into position: He made a wrong turn and tried to take off from a runway that was too short.

It is an established fact that the plane took off from the wrong runway. But Polehinke was the first officer, or copilot, of the plane; this article does not say so but previous reports have, and this article identifies the other pilot, Jeffrey Clay, as the flight captain. The paragraph indicates that Polehinke alone was responsible for the misguided taxi of the aircraft that lined it up on the wrong runway, but the crucial fact the AP missed is that the first officer physically cannot taxi the aircraft. The controls to do so are only on the captain’s side.

The plane that crashed in Lexington was a CRJ-200, an update of the CRJ-100. The -100 was introduced in 1992, the -200 in 1996. My father flew for Comair from 1991 to 2002, transferring into the CRJ-100 in 1995. He tells me that in this jet, unlike in a small propeller plane, the rudder pedals, which both pilots have, do not totally or even marginally control the ground movement of the aircraft. In addition to the rudder pedals, a pilot needs a nosewheel tiller, a small lever found at the left hand of the captain, who sits in the left seat. I spoke to a technical assistance employee at Bombardier, the maker of the plane, who confirmed that just as in the -100, the nosewheel tiller in the -200 is found at the captain’s station. My father confirms that the copilot is never in the left seat except during training, which does not take place on passenger flights.

The statement that Polehinke “made a fatal error as he taxied” is reprehensible. Though clearly both pilots were under a mistaken assumption about the correct runway, the captain takes ultimate responsibility for the behavior of the aircraft, and in this case physical responsibility as well, since only he can have been in control of the aircraft while it taxied.

The shorter runway at Blue Grass Airport is for daylight operation only, and its lights have not worked since October 2001. NTSB officials said the cockpit voice recorder showed the pilots were talking about the absence of lights on the runway, but they did not report it to the control tower.

The pilots, both of them, made a tragic error. But this article puts James Polehinke under a cloud of deeper suspicion than he deserves, and the AP should focus on facts like the specs of the cockpit rather than the fact that Polehinke’s mother is a lounge singer in Florida. Moreover, Polehinke and Clay are not the only pilots to have made this error, although unfortunately it was only theirs that resulted in loss of life.

In a letter filed in 1993 with the Aviation Safety Reporting System, maintained by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, a pilot described his experience: “Aircraft was cleared for immediate takeoff (traffic was inside the marker) on runway 22 at KLEX. [Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport.] We taxied onto the runway and told tower we needed a moment to check our departure routing with our weather radar (storms were in the area, raining at the airport). We realized our heading was not currect for our assigned runway and at that moment, tower called us to cancel the takeoff clearance because we were lined up on runway 26.” The pilot, who is not identified, suggested the Lexington airport post a warning to pilots “to clarify multiple runway ends,” according to a text of the letter provided by

There were many moments at which the pilots, both of them, could have realized their error. The lack of lights on the runway and the incorrect navigational heading should have told them they were in the wrong place, but a possible unfamiliarity with Lexington’s layout, among other probable factors of darkness and rainy conditions, prevented them from recognizing their mistake. As the above example shows, the tower should also have realized at some point that the plane was lined up incorrectly.

Richard Fausset of the L.A. Times reports that Polehinke was flying the plane at the time of the crash. This is in no way inconsistent with the facts above, as first officers routinely take off and land as pilots share duties. But the fact remains that control would have been transferred to Polehinke after the taxi to the runway that the AP trumpets as the “fatal error.” It appears that both pilots were at fault in this tragic accident. The sole survivor should not bear the sole guilt and in fact does not. He was not taxiing the plane; the flight captain bears ultimate responsibility, not the FO, and the AP needs to check its facts.

Raising Chamberlain’s Kids

Filed under:Children's Books,Church of Liberalism,Need a Good Editor? — posted by Anwyn on July 26, 2006 @ 8:30 pm

Today’s installment of the ongoing object lesson, Read Your Kids’ Books Before They Do, is the Little Golden Book Tawny Scrawny Lion, by Kathryn Jackson. If Chamberlain had had half the appeasement chops with Hitler that Our Hero, the rabbit, has with the lion in this story, Poland would have been begging for Hitler to cross the borders and annex it, because Germany would have been just so much sweetness and light.

Synopsis: Hungry lion terrorizes (eats) animals. Animals, desperate for ceasefire (ceasedigestion), send rabbit out for diplomatic mission (dinner) with lion. Rabbit invites lion for dinner (carrot stew, we’re told) at his home, where there will be a big bunch of other rabbits (lightbulb over lion’s head). Lion goes home with rabbit, who stops on the way for fish to put in the carrot stew. Rabbits feed lion to bursting with fishy carrot stew, then all gather ’round the cookfire to sing the cautionary tale of “Little Bunny Foo-Foo.” Big animals stand in awe of little rabbit’s diplomacy skills (continued possession of tasty innards).

What bothers me most about this book is not the analogy itself (although that in itself is pacifistic rant enough) but the deceptive nature of it. Because it uses animals, the tale finds itself in distress right at the start: lions are carnivores. Thus their “terrorism” can’t even be compared to that of humans, as to eat animals is necessary to lions’ survival and just a part of their nature. No carrot stew in the world will sustain a lion, and the book admits this–the rabbit has to put meat in the stew. Fish. Fish being, you know, other animals, which for the purposes of this book are not considered to be on an even footing with the rest of the animals, who can talk, make fire, use liberal philosophy to save themselves from digestion, etc.

So the appeasement of the lion really becomes an all-too-human tale: the big animals offer up OH, the rabbit, in hopes that the lion will leave them alone long enough for them to effect an escape, while the rabbit has to offer up fish, though the book hopes you will not notice its apples-and-oranges treatment of the fish with respect to the other animals. I wonder, in such an obvious fantasy tale, why they didn’t just leave it at the carrot stew. Isn’t it a liberal’s fondest dream that troublemakers at all levels can be satisfied with something other than their goal? If that were true of the current conflict in the Middle East, there wouldn’t be a conflict in the Middle East, because somebody would have found out long ago what would satisfy jihadists other than the deaths of Jews and other infidels and given it to them. Instead, liberals are left with offering them Jews (fish), hoping they will then overlook the rest of us infidels.

Sadly for liberals, Neville Chamberlain, and the author of this book, it just doesn’t work that way.

Raising Green Kids

Filed under:Children's Books,Church of Liberalism,Need a Good Editor? — posted by Anwyn on July 24, 2006 @ 10:47 pm

I have found that when choosing children’s books, it’s wisest to read them first. Failure to do this found me reading to my son about the leftist environmental agenda before I realized it.

In a box of books my mother had picked up for her grandson, I found Milo and the Magical Stones by Marcus Pfister, author of The Rainbow Fish. I had skimmed the latter book once and remembered, basically, “Tiny sparkling fish saves the day!” so I thought we’d give the mouse and the magic rocks a try. The book started out innocuously enough with a clan of mice who made the best of bad winter weather on their little rocky island, but I knew we were in trouble when Our Hero, Milo, discovered the magical glowing rock that would bring light and warmth to the cold dark winter. My parental antennae twitched up to “red alert” when we reached a division in the book between “the happy ending” and “the sad ending.” A self-proclaimed sad ending–in a children’s book!–could only be the harbinger of some self-righteous, condescending liberal agenda.

Not wanting to cut the book off in the middle, a move my son would not have understood or appreciated, I gamely shoveled through the happy ending, in which each mouse takes only one of the glowing rocks and then laboriously decorates a plain, garden-variety rock to–this is my favorite part–“give back to the island,” from which all the rocks originally came.

Need I spell out the sad ending? Failure to “give back to the island” caused the island to literally implode, killing all the mice except Our Hero and his Wise and Ancient Advisor. (Killing all the mice–I must say it again–in a children’s book!) OH and WAA were left to mourn the stupidity and greed of their dead comrades in perfect self-righteous solemnity.

If I want my son colored green, I’ll give him his paints but not his smock. Plenty of children’s books with agendas at least have the courtesy to put the agenda on the cover.

previous page

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace