Pro War, Press Bias, Toll Roads

Jerry Coffee
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Wednesday - February 07, 2007
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It just doesn’t do for a MidWeek columnist to be thin-skinned, considering the flak frequently dished out by some readers in their letters to the editor. I don’t make it a habit of responding publicly to readers comments, but this week I’ve been carrying around a couple of extra pounds of shrapnel thanks, in part, to the very generous space allotted by my editor to Mr. Keith Haugen.

After reading my column about the anti-war, anti-Bush propaganda dished out by much of our liberal, agenda-driven media - so pervasive it becomes like “elevator music” in our daily lives - Haugen concludes that I am a “pro-war columnist.” Well, I enthusiastically accept the compliment. You bet I am “pro” any war fought to protect America, our freedoms, our values, our lives and those of our children and grandchildren. Mr. Haugen needs to connect the dots between the blood of our heroes in Iraq and his continued freedom to play the music and compose the poetry he chooses.

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And speaking of elevator music, I hope the readers of the larger daily picked up the tune on two consecutive days recently. On Jan. 28, a half-page-wide headline read: “7 Americans die as crackdown nears.“Yes, seven soldiers had been killed, but buried deep in the three-column article were “U.S. air strikes killed 14 insurgents and destroyed a safe house for foreign fighters ...”

And also buried in the text “... in central Baghdad 30 militants were killed and 27 captured ...” On Jan. 29, a headline on the front page of the same daily read: “Copter crash in Iraq kills 2 troops.” But again, buried in the text, “... officials estimated some 300 - three hundred (my emphasis) - militants died in the battle ...”

We mourn the loss of any of our soldiers and we never forget their sacrifices, but just think about it: The continuous headlines about Americans killed plant a subconscious message of “defeat” just as headline coverage about much greater enemy losses would plant a message of “victory.”

But victory does not seem to be on our mass media’s agenda.

And what is with this constant use of the benign-sounding “militant” and “insurgent” and “foreign fighter”? Somehow this just doesn’t cut it for an enemy that routinely tortures and beheads his prisoners. Much like “undocumented worker” vs. “illegal alien” - why does the liberal press always try to sugar-coat the bad guys? Think about it. Why? They are nothing less than cutthroat terrorists!


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And finally tonight ... Now the state is talking about privately developed “managed toll lanes” to “supplement” the city’s rail transit system (assuming it turns out to be rail) to alleviate our traffic congestion. This generates a couple of interesting thoughts, both fraught with irony.

First, even though the state was toying with the idea of toll roads a few years ago, isn’t it interesting that the superiority of the toll road concept has emerged during the intense debate on the city’s rail vs. dedicated HOT lanes? So much so that the state is now motivated to move forward with its version. At least the state Legislature can see the advantages of dedicated toll roads even if the City Council can’t.

Second, the state toll road project could be in place years before the city’s rail system (at a fraction of the cost to the state). So will the toll road “supplement” or compete with the rail? Which would you ride/drive? And when the rail is sucking up its subsidy-in-perpetuity, who among its current champions will be around to take the “credit”?

Good luck finding them. They’ll be driving on the toll road to the golf course.

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