December 26, 2000
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A front-page dispatch in today's New York Times reports on low morale in the New York Police Department. The article quotes one officer as saying "Every day in the papers, people were bashing the cops. It became very hard to do your job." The article goes on to report that "Reporters undermined public support for police," officers say, "by portraying isolated incidents of brutality as the norm."
Well, they got that right. Leave it to the Times to beat up on the cops, then write a long front-page article bemoaning the low morale in the police department.
The ringing conclusion to this article refers to "the sting of the last police contract, in which officers did not receive a raise in two of the pact's five years." The article quotes one officer as saying "to give us zeros, that was a slap in the face." The Times makes it sound like the double zeros were the fault of city officials who don't care about police morale. But that leaves out a huge aspect of the explanation for the double zeros. They were part of a pattern set by District Council 37, the large umbrella union of New York municipal employees. Some DC 37 leaders have since been indicted for stealing money from the union and for rigging the election that ratified double zeros for city employees. So the real "slap in the face" came not so much from a mayor who didn't care about his police officers, but from a corrupt union leadership.
Rampant Obesity: The Health and Fitness section of this morning's New York Times runs an article under the headline "Rampant Obesity, a Debilitating Reality for the Urban Poor." "Lower income minorities are at even greater risk, according to federal statistics," the article reports.
Remember, it was only two weeks ago, December 12, 2000, that the Times ran an article about an Urban Institute study purporting to show that "about one third of the women who are no longer on welfare say they have had to cut the size of meals in the past year because they did not have enough food, and about half report that either often, or sometimes, they do not have money for more food when it runs out."
There you have the Times view of American poverty in a nutshell. The poor are either starving themselves because they can't afford enough food, or they are so obese that their health is at risk. The common thread is that the poor are victims, never responsible for their own plight. In the case of the hungry, the Times article blamed welfare reform. In the case of the obese, the Times blames television broadcasts of "a continuing stream of commercials for candy, snacks and junk food." Also, the fact that "few stores nearby appear to have large stocks of fresh fruits and vegetables."
It's amazing how, according to the Times, television is to blame for both obesity and the eating disorders that make people too thin. Interspersed between all those junk food commercials, after all, are programs featuring extremely thin actresses.
Armed Policemen: An article on the front-page of today's New York Times about the Arab-Israeli negotiations reports that "The recent violence erupted in September after Mr. Sharon led a contingent of Jewish officials and armed policemen to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem." Does the metropolitan section of the Times make a habit of referring to New York's Finest as "armed policemen"? No, it's assumed that policemen are armed.
Does the national section of the Times make a point of mentioning that President Clinton is accompanied by "armed Secret Service agents"? No, it's assumed that when the president travels he will be accompanied by the appropriate security forces. So why the reference to Ariel Sharon's being accompanied by "armed policemen," other than to make the policemen and Mr. Sharon seem somehow menacing?
It's also amazing the way the headline in the Times frames the matter: "Clinton Presents a Broad New Plan for Mideast Peace." It would be just as fair to say "Clinton Presents a New Plan to Divide Jerusalem in Violation of American Law."
Race and the Florida Vote: An editorial in today's New York Times about "Race and the Florida Vote" says, "A higher percentage of black voters were required to use the cheaper, less efficient punch-card systems to register their choices, while whites tended to vote in more affluent districts with more reliable optical scanning systems." This reliability issue is a red herring. All the voting systems are reliable for voters who properly follow the instructions. The punch-card reading machines and optical scanners have no way of knowing what race the voters were. And an Orlando Sentinel examination of ballots in Lake County, which uses the optical scanning method, showed plenty of spoiled ballots there, many of them executed by voters who both filled in an oval next to a candidate's name and also wrote in the name of the same candidate on a write-in line.
In a Pickle: An article in the Times metro section today reports on Jewish-themed walking tours of the Lower East Side, a popular Christmas activity. The article refers to "where to find the best pickles (Gus's on Essex, of course)." Guss of pickle fame spells it like that. The extra "s" is for sour.
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