About those ‘fact checks’

If you have a sneaking suspicion that newspaper “fact checks” don’t always meet the definition of “factual,” Kelly Riddell of the Washington Times offers you some additional evidence to support your theory.

The media coverage on the presidential contest seems to have come down to “fact-checking,” with The New York Times, The Washington Post and Politico each doing articles depicting Donald Trump’s lies on the campaign trail.

This is dangerous territory for the profession, for as Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto opined on Twitter: ” ‘Fact checking’ is opinion journalism pretending to be some sort of heightened objectivity.”

Why you ask? Because most “fact-checkers” are merely liberal journalists looking to prove their preconceived narrative. They cherry-pick the statements to “fact-check” and then decide which data to back it up with. Statistics can be manipulated — for every study coming out of the Brookings Institute, the Heritage Foundation can have a counter argument, depending on the methodology and surveys used. Moreover, much of what they decide to “fact-check” is subjective at best. Nothing that can be pinned down with undisputed data.

In addition, many times politicians use hyperbole to extenuate a larger point — and many times these “fact-checkers” ignore the larger point to focus on the validity of the minutia.

Riddell goes on to cite eight examples of opinion pieces disguised as “fact checks.”

A book lover’s apology

Maureen Mullarkey explains in a Federalist column why E-readers never can replace books effectively.

I feel about Kindle the way St. Augustine felt about chastity: someday, Lord, but please not yet. In the by-and-by I will get one, if only because books by Richard Fernandez can only be “auto-delivered wirelessly,” as Amazon puts it. Right now, though, the moment is just not in sight.

I love physical books: the look, feel, smell, and weight of them. When I hold an old book, I remember the story—a true one—of an elderly librarian who wandered his collection, stopping to stroke the books and muttering: “Don’t worry, my darlings. They’ll never turn you into microfiche.”

Raise a glass to that man. An archivist to the bone, he was a guardian of the tangible history of thought. Improbable as it might sound to digital natives, information is a tool but love of reading is a way of life. And like any love, it has a physical dimension. There is more to it than simply ingesting print. Love of reading begins with pleasure in the look, feel, and weight of a book. Even the smell of books—seasoned ones—carries an enchantment. Redolent with memory, they do more than conjure the past for us. They bind us to it.

Digital literacy, that darling of techno-utopians, competes now with physical books and the solitary, contemplative print culture they nourish. Evangelists of screen reading predict that the paper book won’t be around much longer. Consider, then, a contrary possibility: that in this digital age, books and the book arts matter more than ever before.

Reading a book on a screen is a bit like walking a mechanical dog. The thing can follow commands (Highlight these lines! Fetch page 73! Get the index!), but it has no soul. It will never love you back. You cannot stroke the binding, finger the spine, feel the ribs of laid paper, or relish a deckled edge. Historian Gertrude Himmelfarb tells of growing up in a home where a book—any book, not just the Tanakh—was kissed in apology if it fell on the floor. Would anyone kiss a Kindle?

Good news in the right-to-work fight

Bill McMorris of the Washington Free Beacon details a positive development in the effort to increase right-to-work protections.

A union challenge to Wisconsin’s right to work law will move to federal appeals court after a district court judge dismissed the suit.

Federal Judge J.P. Stadtmueller dismissed International Union of Operating Engineers Locals 139 and 420 contention that allowing workers to opt out of union membership represents an illegal taking of property thereby violating the constitution. Stadtmueller said that the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals’ Sweeney decision, which upheld right to work in neighboring Indiana, precluded him from striking down the Wisconsin law.

“This Court concludes, under the holding and reasoning announced by the majority in Sweeney, that Act 1: (1) is not preempted by the NLRA; and (2) does not work an unconstitutional taking,” he wrote. “The majority also concluded that Indiana’s right to work law did not work an unconstitutional taking because “the union is justly compensated by federal law’s grant to the Union the right to bargain exclusively with the employer.”

IUOE Local 139 president Terry McGowan told the Washington Free Beacon in a phone interview that the decision “didn’t come as a big surprise.” He added that the union is “quite happy” to revisit the case before that same Court of Appeals that decided Sweeney. Chief Justice Diane Wood split from the majority in that case and ruled in the unions’ favor that non-members should be forced to pay “fair share” fees. The union hopes that its case may swing a vote over to Wood’s side. …

… Union watchdogs celebrated the ruling. Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation, said that the judge properly “upheld the statutory and civil rights protections enshrined in Wisconsin’s right to work law.”

“The constitutionality of state right to work laws is a long-settled question,” Mix said in a release. “Union officials have tried to strip away right to work protections for Wisconsin’s workers for years now dating back to their spurious lawsuits regarding Act 10, but once again worker freedom has prevailed.”

Ohio’s disturbing turn on charter schools

Austin Yack writes at National Review Online that charter schools face new hurdles in one key presidential battleground state.

… [T]eachers’ unions and their political supporters remain adamantly opposed to charters (which typically do not have unions), and they are eager to pounce on any chance to discredit them. A controversy over a $71 million federal grant to the state of Ohio to fund charter schools has become the latest bone of contention in this dispute.

When the Department of Education announced its competitive charter-school grants last fall, the news that Ohio had won the largest share of the $249 million awarded to eight states faced an immediate backlash. Ohio, critics said, had been a poster child for everything that can go wrong with charters – from misspent funds to failing schools. Ohio Democratic senator Sherrod Brown called on the Obama administration to take another look at Ohio’s programs before releasing the grant money. This month, the administration announced that Ohio would get the funds, with some strings attached. The news was met with scathing media reports.

“It remains an open question why a charter sector with this record deserves a grant at all,” Washington Post reporter Valerie Strauss wrote. She cited Innovation Ohio, a left-leaning think tank, which found that 37 percent of Ohio charter schools that received federal funds either closed down or failed to open. Strauss also highlighted the state’s charter-sector scandals, saying that it had “misspent tax dollars more than any other [state sector], including school districts, court systems, public universities hospitals, and local governments.” However, this narrative is not entirely accurate.

First off, the Innovation Ohio statistics are not as troubling as they seem. Charter schools are designed to be able to shut down – that’s one reason why parents like charters, since their children are not stuck attending an F-grade institution in their district. “Some are going to close,” Chad Aldis, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s Vice President for Ohio Policy and Advocacy, told National Review. “And that’s okay. Those that are not serving the kids well should close.”

Facts? Rioters don’t need no stinking facts

National Review Editor Rich Lowry probes a problematic piece of the program for recent urban riots.

The Charlotte rioters didn’t know whether the controversial police shooting of Keith Scott was justified or not, and didn’t care.

They worked their mayhem — trashing businesses and injuring cops, with one protester killed in the disorder — before anything meaningful could be ascertained about the case except that the cops said Scott had a gun and his family said he didn’t.

Charlotte is the latest episode in the evidence-free Black Lives Matter movement that periodically erupts in violence after officer-involved shootings. The movement is beholden to a narrative of systematic police racism to which every case is made to conform, regardless of the facts or logic.

It doesn’t matter if the police officer is an African-American with an unblemished record and numerous character witnesses. This describes Brentley Vinson, the officer who fatally shot Keith Scott.

It doesn’t matter if the victim disobeys the police in a tense situation and acts in a potentially threatening manner. Despite cops with guns drawn yelling orders at him (and his wife shouting, “Don’t you do it”), Scott exited his vehicle and approached officers without raising his hands. …

… These facts didn’t penetrate the Black Lives Matter narrative of the Scott shooting. Such facts never do. The narrative is immune to complication or ambiguity, let alone contradiction. Every police-involved shooting of a black man is taken, ipso facto, to confirm that the police are racists. When the evidence in any particular instance makes it obvious that the narrative is a lie or a gross over-simplification — e.g., in Ferguson or the Freddie Gray tragedy — the movement simply moves on to the next case, as reckless as before.

It is increasingly hard to deny that the movement is anti-police. When any evidence supporting the police is disregarded, and rioters hurl insults and objects at officers whose only offense is trying to maintain public order at a protest, the agenda is clear.

New Carolina Journal Online features

Dan Way reports for Carolina Journal Online that experts predict undecided voters are more likely to turn to a major-party presidential nominee than a third party.

John Hood’s Daily Journal notes that crime and law enforcement could play larger roles as election issues this year.

Charlotte – Havana flight start date announced

November 30th, daily on an Airbus A319. The last time American or US Airways successfully added a destination with daily service from Charlotte in the Caribbean, Mexico, or Central America was over a decade ago.

Update on the restaurant robbed after its owner praised the idea of ‘promote what you love’

Updating this morning’s post, police have released surveillance videos of two suspects, identified as white males (one named “Drew”).

Furthermore, the WRAL story gives more indication why Raleigh Raw owner Sherif Fouad thought social media criticism might’ve inspired the robbery: “a sign with the words ‘Black Lives Matter’ was left at the scene.”

WRAL also gives the full quote by Fouad that was supposedly so awful. I guess you have to be a, like, Level 30 social justice warrior or something to squeeze any offense out of this pleasant banality:

Don’t protest against what you hate, you’re only giving that cause more energy. Instead promote what you love. Today we saw that idea in action.

According to WRAL,

Raleigh Raw owner Sherif Fouad said via Facebook that he believes his business was targeted in response to a post he made last week on the Raleigh Raw Instagram page about a group of five people from Chiltern Clinical research, who went into the shop to buy everyone a drink.

“Don’t protest against what you hate, you’re only giving that cause more energy. Instead promote what you love. Today we saw that idea in action,” Fouad wrote.

The post drew criticism from some who took Fouad’s post as an attack on recent protests in Charlotte over the officer-involved shooting death of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott.

The social media firestorm led Fouad to delete his original post.

“It was insensitive of me at the time,” Fouad said, adding that he didn’t realize that the post would be interpreted as an attack on the “Black Lives Matter” movement or recent protests.

That final quotation is ridiculous. Fouad should not have to be cowed like Orwell’s Parsons just because he couldn’t conceive all the ways some hair-trigger activists might twist and pervert his gentle expression of geniality.