Marcy Burstiner recently made some comments that questioned the inclusion in the Times-Standard of an editorial page that was a remnant of the defunct The Eureka Reporter (“Media Maven,” Jan .1) A reader passionately disagreed with Ms. Burstiner (“Mailbox,” Jan. 8). While my own stridency sometimes disqualifies me from reasonable discourse, I must offer my own pejoratives on The Eureka Reporter offerings.
I am basically inclined to give the benefit of doubt, so when I see editorials by Peter Hannaford I try to remain receptive to his alternative views. And, certainly, being reasonable is a goal to which we should all aspire. But when I read his editorial in the Times-Standard (Jan. 18) on G.W. Bush’s exiting the stage with a final goodbye that Hannaford saw as “reflective, good-humored, philosophical, and assertive” I had to stifle the regurge factor. I saw Bush’s speech as distorted, oblivious, superficial, and pig-headed. Take your pick, but approval ratings in the twenties indicate that few people feel that Bush deserves defending.
So, although alternative, even extreme, views deserve exposure, we must still wonder why the Times-Standard is willing to provide a forum for such ‘oblivious, superficial’ writing. And nowhere is this better personified than in Hannaford’s selection of Thomas Sowell as his primary columnist. Sowell is not a “conservative columnist,” he is a dishonest hack who takes a position and then marshals statements in deceptive array to advance his argument. Often false in premise, and syllogistically false in presentation, his writing represents the nadir in reasonable discourse.
For example, let’s look at one of Sowell’s recent columns (Times-Standard, Jan. 19). Sowell attempted to thrust a premise where premises should not go by piling one questionable assertion on top of another. His central theme was that politics is primarily “the art of the impossible.” He attempts to establish his notion of contradictory impossibility by quoting a fellow economist who asserts that nothing “could prevent the California electorate from simultaneously demanding low electricity prices and no new generating plants, while using ever greater amounts of electricity.” A superficial reading of this suggests appositional yearnings, yet there is no inconsistency.
Let’s take each premise in turn. The quest for lower prices is a basic consideration in every sector and at every level of our society. Nothing wrong here, but it is coupled with the implication that resistance to new generating plants is uniformly counterproductive. Even Sowell is aware of the many ways the unregulated proliferation of power generation methods degrades the environment and contributes to the inflation of costs in ways not always obvious. But he disingenuously maligns the relation of the first two positions by appending a third that is unctuous to the utmost. Electricity use is expanding because of population increases and increases in our ways of using electricity. Controlling prices and controlling power generation are not nullified because of greater use -- they are mandated by it.
But why let logic interfere with a good polemic? It is not that all conservative writers are dishonest. On the same page as Sowell’s diatribe, the very excellent Kathleen Parker offers a trenchant view on the perils to the American dream. But writers such as Sowell, M. Malkin, M. Reagan and W. Rusher make no pretense at objectivity and instead contribute to a dedicated misinformation campaign. Because there are some readers who feel assuaged when getting their dose of propaganda does not mean polemical distortions should go unchallenged.
When Burstiner excoriates the Times-Standard for including an editorial page from The Eureka-Reporter she is not being uncharitable. She is exercising reportorial examination of misleading writing and blatant falsehoods masquerading as good sense. That is the basic responsibility of all writers.
— Larry Hourany, McKinleyville
Sweet Spot:* The all-star Kinch-Crlenjak-Hourany juggernaut marks up another win *in re: The Eureka Reporter. Larry Hourany gets a Bon Boniere sundae for sending our favorite letter of the week.