At least they’re learning something

One in three U.S. high school students say the press ought to be more restricted, and even more say the government should approve newspaper stories before readers see them, according to a survey being released today. The survey of 112,003 students finds that 36% believe newspapers should get “government approval” of stories before publishing; 51% say they should be able to publish freely; 13% have no opinion.

Asked whether the press enjoys “too much freedom,” not enough or about the right amount, 32% say “too much,” and 37% say it has the right amount. Ten percent say it has too little.

The survey of First Amendment rights was commissioned by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and conducted last spring by the University of Connecticut. It also questioned 327 principals and 7,889 teachers.

They may not learn how to read or write very well, but it’s clear that the brainwashing is proceeding according to plan. I’d guess that the same poll taken a generation from now will significantly increase the percentage that believe government approval should be required. The entire – ENTIRE – point of the public schools is to increase reliance on government; they are working precisely as designed.

Personally, I’m quite curious to know the views of the principals and teachers on the concept of press freedom. I suspect their views are even more radically pro-government than their indoctrinated little victims.

Easy, hoss

It’s still far too early to get excited about the Iraqi election in my opinion, the unsubstantiated 72 percent turnout claim of one Iraqi election official notwithstanding. DEBKA’s reports are rather more sober:

Four hours after the polls closed, a clearly relieved President George W. Bush spoke at the White House in praise of the bravery of Iraqis who turned out to vote and “firmly rejected the antidemocratic ideology” of terrorists. But the US president seemed to edge away from his usual encomiums on a “victory for democracy.” Nor did he actually commend the Iraqis for the big step they took towards establishing a free and democratic government.

The truth is that there was not much of either in this remarkable election.

DEBKAfile’s Iraq experts reveal that, while the turnout is officially estimated at 60%, the real figure will probably turn out to be quite a bit lower, no more than 40-45% – in itself an exceptional feat. The other surprising manifestation was the high proportion of Iraqi women voters – appraised at more than 55% of the total. This was most marked in the Shiite districts of the south, where local clerics ordered everyone to vote, but the men stayed at home and sent their womenfolk to perform their democratic duty.

The Shiite turnout was disappointing in other ways too. Long queues and 80% percentage of eligible voters appeared only in the two shrine cities of Najef and Karbala. Further south in the densely populated Diwanya, Mussana, Qadasiya and Amara, the proportion did not go beyond 40%. In Basra, Iraq’s second largest town, the turnout was 32-35%, although Iraqi election officials claimed 90%….

The most striking vote-rigging incident was reported in the northern oil town of Kirkuk. There, Kurdish troops and intelligence are alleged to have trucked in tens of thousands of armed Kurds from across the province to commandeer the polling stations. Cautious estimates put the figure of imported voters at 50,000. In the absence of a proper voters’ register and computers, there was no way of establishing which voters were intruders from other districts. When the non-Kurdish politicians saw the invasion, they backed off. By artificially inflating Unified Kurdish List numbers in Kirkuk, the Kurdish community substantially stepped up its representation in the national assembly.

Ballot-counting had barely begun Sunday night when the Shiites declared themselves the big winners over their Euphrates River TV station.

As I wrote in my column today, it’s the substance that matters. But the news media, regardless of whether it is pro- or con- a particular issue, isn’t exactly known for getting to the heart of things.

Mailvox: Lay down the crack pipe

Nick B gets a little carried away:

So far, 72% turnout. Compare to the high turnout in our own last presidential election…


I shall be very impressed if anyone manages to discover, within the copious amount of my scribblings floating about the Internet, a single opinion expressed with regards to the likelihood of the Iraqi turnout being high or low, still less the desirability or importance of such a turnout.

There will be more on this tomorrow, but it’s important to keep in mind that voter turnout was always much higher in the Soviet bloc than it is in the United States. Of course, there the violence was threatened if you declined to vote instead of the other way around. The point is that I’ve never been interested in the turnout percentage since that’s completely irrelevant compared to the more important questions yet to be answered.

For whom are the people voting, and will the winner(s) be permitted by the occupation coalition to take sovereign power?

In case you ever wondered

If the government was trying to make whores out of women:

Once one of the most generous systems in Europe, Germany’s unemployment program has been reformed to require those out of work to take jobs for which they are qualified, or lose benefits. In the case of women, females below the age of 55 who have been out of work for a year or more must take any available job offered.

The full legalization of prostitution two years ago – with brothel owners now paying taxes and employee health insurance – has created an awkward situation at German job centers where employers can access the official government database of those seeking work, reports the London Telegraph.

When women battled for the “right” to enter the workforce, I don’t think this was quite what they had in mind.

Forget the octagon

Al Franken turns out to have too much posse. Michelle Malkin, on the other hand, is not so much a problem.

The whole thing is technonsense, of course.

One strawberry, two strawberry, three

Franger brings a Salon discovery to our attention:

One day after President Bush ordered his Cabinet secretaries to stop hiring commentators to help promote administration initiatives, and one day after the second high-profile conservative pundit was found to be on the federal payroll, a third embarrassing hire has emerged. Salon has confirmed that Michael McManus, a marriage advocate whose syndicated column, “Ethics & Religion,” appears in 50 newspapers, was hired as a subcontractor by the Department of Health and Human Services to foster a Bush-approved marriage initiative. McManus championed the plan in his columns without disclosing to readers he was being paid to help it succeed.

I may be back in syndication before too long if this keeps up. There won’t be anyone left! Has anyone considered the possibility that the Dear Leader is actually a Democratic plant? I mean, he governs like the love-child of FDR and Woodrow Wilson and his administration is proving to be more effective in marginalizing the conservative media than Bill Clinton’s.

The Happy Hunting Grounds

Dr. Z shares his Super Bowl moments:

My favorite Super Bowl line came in the 1985 contest between the 49ers and Dolphins, the only one held in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is the big Wednesday interview session in the Amfac Hotel in Burlingame, and the ballroom doors have just opened, spilling forth a huge mass of writers with their notebooks and little carry-bags and stuff. A gigantic, lowing, mooing herd.

Two young women in Amfac uniforms are standing across the hall, and I hear one of them saying, “This is incredible … incredible … simply incredible.”

“What’s incredible?” I ask her.

“I’ve never seen so many straight guys in my life,” she says.

If you’re a heterosexual man without any obvious physical deformities, San Francisco is like paradise. Extremely attractive women will all but take a number to go out with you, since even the straight guys are metrosexually dubious. And when faced with an alpha male, they practically go into heat.

When Chilliette’s bridesmaids came out to Minnesota for the wedding – she’s a Bay Area girl – they were more than a little taken aback by Big Chilly. The idea of a man who swatted his fiance on the butt and called her “woman” in public was just completely outside their experience. When one of them asked Chiliette if perhaps he wasn’t “a little, I don’t know, macho” Chiliette just laughed.

“He’s just from the Midwest”, she said, as if that explained everything*. And perhaps it does.

*it should be noted that downtown residents of cities such as Minneapolis and Chicago may be physically located in the Midwest, but they consider themselves to be metaphorical residents of New York City and comport themselves in such a manner. New Yorkers, meanwhile, scoff at their would-be imitators while simultaneously regarding themselves as metaphorical Europeans.