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Saturday, February 12, 2005


S.Z. over at World 'o Crap is getting credit for single-handedly clearing Jeff Gannon out of the press room. At least according to MSNBC and Bloggerman, who usually gets this stuff right. Personally I just think they wanted to say "World 'o Crap" on TV. Anyway she is thinking about using her newfound fame to flog a book, tentatively entitled Confessions of a Naked Blogger: What Really Goes On at Those Liberal Orgies That You're Never Invited To Because of Your Superior Family Values, And How This Kind of Wanton Pleasure Only Leads to Emptiness, Eventually.

Which I would buy just to carry around at family reunions, if only for the fun of confirming everyone's worst suspicions. Like my life is that exciting.


It's Official

"Today will be the beginning of the re-emergence of the Democratic Party," said Howard Dean to the Democratic National Committee members after he was elected party chairman this morning.

I didn't realize how emotional this would make me until I started to write it up. I think I'm gonna cry.

There's hope.


Germans Look Forward to Upcoming Bush Visit

Hundreds of thousands of Germans flooded the streets this week for the traditional "Rose Monday" festival, part of the Catholic carnival season.

In Mainz, one of the floats was decorated with an effigy of GWB while German Christian-Democrat Opposition leader Angela Merkel is shown climbing a ladder into Bush's butt. The sign above says "Re-Opening." Despite the fact that Bush is visiting Germany on February 23 and many complaints were received about the float, organizers refused to cave into censorship.

Comforting to see that in an increasingly interdependent global marketplace, the US is generating so much good spirit. I'm betting sales of Big Macs aren't exactly soaring.



Friday, February 11, 2005

Man They Grow Up Fast...

Runner-up for the 2004 Bulwer Lytton Fiction contest for children's literature:

When Cinderella saw that the Prince had sent the Duke to find the woman of his dreams, like some rich schoolboy who pays the smartest kid in the class to do his homework, or worse, like someone who has been on welfare so long that he has trouble doing any kind of work, she suddenly realized the spoiled nature of the King's son and stealthily slid the slipper back into her pocket. -- Milton Combs, Kingston, WA


Bad, Bad Australia!

In a move that has really irked BushCo., Australian news is reporting that Australia has defied lobbying efforts by the US and Japan to keep a united front against the EU's proposal to lift the arms embargo to China, which was imposed after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

The EU has said they will lift the embargo, but not when. And with Australia's decision to break ranks, it's going to be that much more difficult for BushCo. to oppose the move. The US is worried that not only will ending the embargo make it much easier for China to attack Taiwan, but also more difficult for the US to protect Taiwan in that event:
Some US officials believe Australia has been bribed and bullied by Beijing.

The Howard Government places a high premium on its relations with China, with which it is hoping to negotiate a free trade agreement.

The Bush administration is generally so grateful to the Howard Government over its support on Iraq, Afghanistan and the war on terror that it will not make a public fuss. But it is deeply disappointed at the inability of Washington and Canberra to co-ordinate their China policy. This follows remarks last year by Mr Downer in Beijing that Australia would not be bound to support the US if Washington felt compelled to take military action against China to protect Taiwan.
Don't you hate it when someone comes along and tries to coerce and bully your coalition of coerced and bullied?


Tom Delay's Got it Rigged

Texas Legislature in session

You gotta give it up for Tom DeLay. He really knows how to cover his bases.

Not everyone has the clout to be rebuked three times by the bi-partisan House Ethics Committee and then get the Republican Chairman, Joel Hefley, removed because of his support for those rebukes. But that's what has happened this week, as we predicted it would earlier this year. While he was at it, Delay went for broke and had his marionette Denny Hastert appoint two new members to the panel whose political action committees have contributed to DeLay's legal defense fund in the past.

We take great comfort in knowing these dedicated public servants will uphold the fine tradition of Republican ethics in congress.

Poor Tom has also recently been traveling under a nasty cloud in the form of an investigation by Texas district attorney Ronnie Earle into his habit of indulging in illegal campaign contributions. He managed, however, to get Republicans in Congress to revoke their ethics rule that would force him to step down as Majority Leader if indicted.

But as of today it looks like he may have found a way to beat the rap all together. According to the LA Times:
A bill filed this week by a veteran state GOP lawmaker would give the Texas Ethics Commission — whose members were appointed by the three top elected officials in the state, all Republicans — the power to quash the prosecution of a politician.

Critics call it a brazen attempt to protect GOP leaders who might become entangled in an ongoing criminal investigation into whether illegal fundraising paved the party's rise to power in the state...

State Rep. Mary Denny, who filed the bill, said in an interview Thursday that she was attempting to add oversight, not remove it. She said it never occurred to her that the legislation could be used to protect Republican leaders who might become targets of the fundraising investigation.
"Never occurred to her" that this might have any relevance to DeLay? Why don't these people explode in flaming balls of fire?
The bill would create an investigative arm of the Ethics Commission, which would be authorized to conduct investigations into alleged criminal conduct under the state Election Code.

But the bill doesn't stop there.

It also says that a district attorney, including the one in Austin who is overseeing the fundraising investigation, would be prohibited from continuing such an inquiry if the Ethics Commission did not agree that charges were warranted. Denny said she believed district attorneys would welcome input from people who specialized in election law.
Yeah, because they just love it when legislators trump their authority to decide who to prosecute and when to do it. I'm betting Ronnie Earle and the grand juries who have spent two years investigating whether DeLay illegally financed the campaigns of 22 Republican House candidates in 2002 are are just clicking their heels that the case will be yanked out of their hands and they won't have to worry their pretty little heads about it any more.

Does someone out there have a copy of the Republican spin manual that says "lie lie lie outrageously at all times?" 'Cos I'm increasingly convinced it must exist.


Who Cares About a Few Small Animals?

Grizzlies thank their lucky stars they live in Canada

Scientists from the Fish and Wildlife Service are saying that they have been forced to shape their findings to suit the Administration's attempts to blast holes through any science that doesn't support their agenda, according to a study released by two environmental groups. From the Seattle Times:
Forty-four percent of the scientists who responded to the survey said they have been asked by their superiors to avoid making findings that would require greater protection of endangered species.

One in five agency scientists reported being directed to alter or withhold technical information from scientific documents.

And more than half of the respondents -- 56 percent -- said agency officials have reversed or withdrawn scientific conclusions under pressure from industry groups.

The sponsors of the survey, who often have criticized President Bush's environmental policies, said the results are part of a broader effort by administration officials to mold scientific findings to support their policies.
Boy the fundies' contempt for science sure is coming in handy, huh? The article goes on to say that Republicans in Congress are currently trying gut the Endangered Species Act. You have to wonder why they even bother, since nobody takes the trouble to follow it anyway. I guess it's a principle thing.


How To Start a Blog

Internetslacker tells you how to start your very own blog in fifty-one easy steps. Excerpt:

- Complete your first post.

- Experience a fleeting sense of satisfaction that you now have a blog with an actual entry, even though it details your sexual attraction to Yoda.

- Immediately phone all your friends and family to tell them the URL. Remind your grandmother that 'stiffwoodysdiary'in your blog's address is spelled "all one word".

- Reload your blog incessantly every two minutes to see if anyone has made a comment.

- Become enraged when the very first comment made on your very first blog entry is "yuo are teh sUxx0r!" from Anonymous

- Go outdoors to calm down and get some fresh air, since you've spent twenty-two hours now working on your blog.

- Tell every person you encounter - jogger, police officer, frantic paramedic - your blog's URL.

- Head back home when an idea for a blog entry comes to mind, such as the rudeness of paramedics who can't be bothered to talk about your blog because they are busy helping some whiner with pitbull bite wounds on his throat.

- When back at your computer, immediately refresh your blog's page to see if any more comments were made while you were gone.

- Grip the edge of your computer desk when the second comment reads "I said yuo are teh sUxx0r!" by Anonymous

Pretty much nails it.


Thursday, February 10, 2005

I'd Like to be Under the Sea

Web site that shows a prototype for an undersea resort called Poseidon, a 5 star hotel costing $1500 a night: "For those who have dreamt of visiting their imagination's wildest destinations; traveling to the moon, reaching the summit of Everest or exploring the mysteries of the ocean depths, Poseidon will be a reality you will truly appreciate." Kind of a pricey evening, but the idea is bitchin'.


Guckert Waffles with Wolf; Wilson Responds

Sad little interview with Jeff Gannon/J.D. Guckert by Wolf Blitzer on CNN this afternoon. Sad not only because Blitzer is a pathetic excuse for a journalist, but also because Gannon/Guckert looked like he's just some flyweight who's in way over his head. His defense of the gay porn site names he registered? He did it as part of a previous business venture. Great. So in one of your past lives you developed internet porn. That should fly real well with the fundies.

He also looked pretty shook up about the alleged death threats he has received in the wake of the whole scandal. Well, Joe Wilson watched the interview, too, and had this to say:
I have considerable sympathy for Gannon's concerns about being harrassed and him and his family being threatened. Too bad he didn't think of that before he spread lies among the vitriolic right about Valerie and me.  Unlike him, I actually have two children who are not old enough to defend themselves if one of the wackos who have threatened us actually were to act on it.  

In fact, it is too bad Novak didn't think about the meaning of NO after the CIA told him not to go with the story in the first place.  Within hours aerial photos of my neighborhood and my address was all over the net.
You can read the rest of his comments here.

I'm personally not buying the fact that he resigned from Talon because of threats to his family.  Maybe he did get them.  Journalists get them all the time.  It is, quite sadly, part and parcel of the job.  Which just goes to show that Gannon is no journalist. More like the Darva Conger of the White House press corps.


What Happens When You Contact Your Senator?

Good post today on DKos about the structure of a US Senator's office and the most effective way to contact them on pressing issues. Of interest:

1. Email is the least effective way if you really want to get your point across; it can get get lost in all the junk. Congressional offices will often issue passwords to trusted constituents, however, so if you're a regular you can make itl work for you.

2. Faxes, letters and phone calls are all treated about equally, although snail mail in the post-anthrax era can take up to 3 weeks to be screened and get through.

3. Each senator has a Legislative Assistant assigned to do research and inform the senator on a particular issue. Get the name and ask to speak with the LA assigned to the particular issue you're concerned about; if you are a constituent of the senator's, and you are persistent, eventually they will talk to you.

4. Show up at the senator's appearances. They will usually give you some time to make your case.

5. If your senator or rep is on a committee with jurisdiction on your pet issue, get to know the committee aide and email them directly.

6. Hit 'em where they drink -- find out where they do their boozing when in session.

7. While you are going to have a hard time getting through and having an impact with a particular senator if you are not a constituent, the exception is for house and senate leaders, whose constituency is more of a national one.

I've been meaning to call Dick Durbin's office and see what the status is of his plans to re-convene the Truman war profiteering committee, so for me this info arrived at the perfect time. More helpful tips here.


Happy Year of the Rooster

We can expect a smoother ride in the upcoming year of the rooster according to feng shui consultant Raymond Lo:
"We'll see a year of more peace and compromise. There will be more peace talks," he said.

Lo predicted it would be a good year economically, with oil, energy, skin care, cosmetics and entertainment companies all expected to do well.

But he also sounded a cautionary note, saying people need to be watchful of their health, particularly with necks and spines. He also warned about bird flu.

And famous people beware: "Rooster years are associated with stabbings. Some celebrities may get stabbed or some celebrities might break their back," he saidWearing red clothing, particularly underwear, is considered to be very lucky. Conversely, sweeping your house on New Year's Day can supposedly bring bad fortune, because it can sweep out good luck.
Well there's my excuse for the day.


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Joe Wilson on Gannongate

White house correspondent Jeff Gannon

Joe Wilson stops by the DailyKos today to discuss suspected male-hustler-slash-GOP journalist Jeff Gannon and the blogosphere's efforts to expose his role in outing Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA agent when Wilson wouldn't agree to support BushCo's lies about the bogus threat of WMDs in Iraq. Among his observations:
I think that in the absence of a responsible national media, the blogs play an important role in trying to shed light on various issues, including the bona fides of so-called White House correspondents as well as tackling questions overlooked or ignored by the national journalists.  I also believe that the nature of the profession has changed to the detriment of good investigative journalism.  No longer is there a quest for the truth so much as there is this apparent need to present both sides of an issue even if one is nothing but lies and distortions.  Giving the same value to fiction as to fact in the interest of so-called fairness is to mislead the American people and the press has become party to that.
Is it just me, or does it seem awfully convenient that the discovery of Gannon's extracurricular activities comes at a particularly opportune time that allows him to exit the scene right as everyone is getting close to exposing the awfully cushy ties between him and the Administration? Especially since somebody in the Administration could ultimately swing for treason in the outing of Plame? Kinda like what happened Bernie Kerik's still-phantom nanny.

That's my tin foil hat moment for the day. I'm off now to find the missing 3 minutes from the cockpit recordings for United Flight 93.


Why the Right Must Destroy Ward Churchill

The Rude Pundit has a really succinct rundown of the Ward Churchill situation. Here are some excerpts, but I urge everyone to read the whole thing:
No Free Speech For Ward Churchill (With a Side Note on the Pressing Need To Sodomize Bill O'Reilly With a Microphone):

Ward Churchill is a badass motherfucker, a fighter for causes in ways that most liberals only dare to believe possible. Indeed, agree or disagree with him, but most of us are pussies in the wake of Churchill's boots. Churchill's Native American activism, including his support for the American Indian Movement and political prisoner Leonard Peltier, merged with his fight against genocides all over the world. He has supported those who debunk Holocaust deniers, and he has called attention to the continuing genocides in Third World countries. He was one of the major figures in revealing the extent of the FBI's COINTELPRO effort to spy on Americans and crush leftist organizations in the 1960s. Of course, at some point, he had to be destroyed....

Fox "News" host and a man to whom "civilized discourse" means spitting the bones of small children at his guests, Bill O'Reilly, went on the warpath against Churchill. On the radio, in print, and on his television show, O'Reilly made it his mission to fuck up Churchill's life. He had his viewers, pathetic, deluded fuckers who sit in their shitty little rental units and think the liberals are the ones dicking them over with their "tax and spend" ways, terrorize Hamilton College into cancelling Churchill's appearance, an event which caused O'Reilly to crow like a buzzard finding a sweet cougar corpse. O'Reilly went further, though, pushing that Churchill ought not have his university position and lashing out at the old bugaboo of the "liberal media" when it was suggested that O'Reilly might have made more of this than necessary. (So viciously does O'Reilly want to ruin Churchill that his "poll" at his website asks if Churchill should be fired.)

O'Reilly claimed he was holding Churchill "accountable" for his speech, where he "compared Americans killed on 9/11 to Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi." This would be the same Bill O'Reilly who compared Michael Moore and Al Franken to Josef Goebbels, Hitler's Minister of Propaganda. See, the problem with the Goebbels comparison is that the Minister was creating lies to cover for the men in power in Germany. Goebbels was masterful at making the weakest in the Third Reich into scapegoats for the crimes of the fascists.


Shirley Chisholm: Unbought and Unbossed

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Stayed up way past my bedtime to watch Shirley Chisholm documentary on POV about her 1972 bid for the presidency. She was so far ahead of the rest of us we'll still be catching up 50 years from now. Articulate, visionary, iconoclastic, fearless, she challenged every expectation dictated for her sex and her race. My favorite part: when she asked why it always had to be "white men, white men, white men, white men." Who's got the guts to chant that in front of TV cameras today?

When I die I want to be remembered as a woman who fought for change in the 20th century. - Shirley Chisholm


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

More Bush Budgetary Legerdemain

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Okay. So GWB had to appease the mouth breathers and include more money for abstinence-only sex education in his new budget, even though nobody's arguing it does a lick of good. I guess we all saw that one coming. But at least we can all take comfort in the fact that he's increasing the death gratuity of $12,420 that the military pays to the families of soldiers who die in Iraq. You know, the one they announced last week:
The plan, which includes retroactive payments to the spouses or surviving relatives of the more than 1,500 people who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan since October 2001, will be part of the 2006 budget proposal submitted to Congress next week, the Pentagon's personnel chief said.

A tax-free "death gratuity," now $12,420, would grow to $100,000. The government would also pay for $150,000 in life insurance for troops. Veterans groups and many in Congress have been pushing for such increases....

"We can never in any program give someone back their loved one. There is nothing we can do about the hurt, to make it go away. But we can make your circumstances reasonable, in terms of finances."
It was touching indeed that the bunch of middle aged men who had successfully avoided any sort of military service themselves, who were so intent on rushing to send Americans to their death over a bunch of weapons that never existed, could sympathize with the loss and suffering of these families and realize that something needed to be done, dammit.

And they certainly got a lot of play out of it. Why, you couldn't turn on the television without seeing CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, et. al. lapping up the story like a bunch of starving feral cats.

So at least we can feel better about THAT. Because after making so much noise about it last week, BushCo. couldn't POSSIBLY go back on their word and leave it out of the budget and hope nobody would notice., you're kidding...

Never mind.

(thanks to GM for the pic)


Give it Up for GWB

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In his new budget, George Bush plans to foot the bill for his tax cuts for the wealthy, as well as increases in Homeland Security and defense spending, by cutting social programs he claims are "ineffective."

Well we can all get behind that, right? Nobody wants wasteful government spending on programs that simply do not work. And we all know how bureaucracy can be self-perpetuating, and sometimes somebody really just needs to swing the axe.

So having read the report by the Texas Department of Health the other day, which found that abstinence-only sex education programs had "little impact" on teenage sexual behavior, I really have to give George props for having the courage to put our money where his mouth is.

Because according Buzz Pruit, professor of health and kinesiology at Texas A&M University, teens just don't seem to be taking the absinence-only message to heart. "We didn't find strong evidence of program effect....We didn't find what many would like us to find," he said. Both teen sex and the abortion rate are up under GWB's tenure.

So we wholeheartedly support President Bush's brave decision to go against his fundamentalist base and cut federal expenditures from this wasteful and largely useless program.

...oh, wait a minute...what's that?...abstinance education is getting a $39 million increase under the new budget, up to $206 million?

Never mind.


Deep Thoughts

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"We're going to borrow $758 [b]illion over the next 10 years to set up the personal retirement accounts. We think that's a manageable amount ... Trillions more after that." - Dick Cheney on Fox News

"Their solution to the problem does nothing to solve the problem -- not me saying it, them saying it. However, it does cost trillions of dollars. In fact, it will cost -- by their own estimation -- much more over the next 20 years than it would to keep Social Security going strong for the next 75 years." - Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo

[D]espite their Republican voting habits, people from big rural farm states are probably more directly in touch with their cradle-to-grave government largesse. This isn't my usual attack on red state welfare -- I would just imagine that people in farm communities are quite aware of their subsidy checks and their expected Social Security and Medicare retirement benefits. While people in the decadent coastal metropolitan enclaves have various types of corporate retirement benefits and 401K plans and whatnot, which reduce the degree to which people imagine they will depend on Social Security and Medicare, I imagine those on the "family farm," to the extent that such a thing still exists, are well aware of the importance of Social Security to them and their recent ancestors... - Atrios


Monday, February 07, 2005


From an Weston photo, I'm pretty sure the model is Tina Modotti but that's just a guess. Anyway it's all her and natural nude female subjects sure are hard to find.


Fun with eBay

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The eBay transaction commentary system has pretty much been automated into uselessness. Someone, however, seems to be taking it personally:

Comment: Fast payment and good communication. thanks
Reply by mizzelphug: Liar. I paid with paypal and EVERYTHING was automated. I didn't even email you.

Comment: Pleasure to do business with . Very prompt delivery
Reply by mizzelphug: I filled the bike with cocaine and you helped traffic it!! Just kiddin' or am I?

Comment: Despite what he writes below, he's a nice guy. Full disclosure made. Great car
Reply by mizzelphug: That car made me sterile and it ate the neighbor's babies. Keep it happy.

Comment: Thanks! Great Ebayer!
Reply by mizzelphug: Thanks for my money? You "lost" the item and had ebay forgive your seller fees.

Comment: Super fast shipping. Thank you. Very cute product. Daughter loves it. A+++
Reply by mizzelphug: I used to make that toy hump my other toys when i was younger. Enjoy.


Wolcott on the Engorged New Right

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At one point in Orhan Pamuk's novel Snow, the hero makes the discovery that "to express beliefs without conviction is liberating." When I read that line I tried to momentarily give myself over to what it might be like to cease from struggle, to join in a consensus morality that required only varied hues of concurrence, and original thinking not at all.

The thought gave me incredible peace for a moment. Until I started thinking about all the people to whom that consensus was not an option without the price of extreme self-loathing -- the poor, minorities, gays, women -- and being myself a woman, and one who is not particularly fond of self-loathing, the lure of this particular palliative quickly evaporated. But it did offer a moment of insight about the Stockholm syndrome affecting the Administration's most recent appointments, and the peculiar phenomenon that is Armstrong Williams.

It also explains something about the spate of popular autobiographies written recently by former lefties who have jumped over to the more lucrative side of the right, including David Horowitz, Roger L. Simon and now Michael Medved, in a book entitled Right Turns: Unconventional Lessons from a Controversial Life. Adding his voice to the chorus of "who cares" is James Wolcott, who writes:
I wasn't aware Medved's life was controversial; perhaps he mistakes a nation's indifference for indignation, since I've never encountered anyone who considered him to be anything more than a minor nuisance, a chronic post-nasal drip.

Right Turns is yet another one of those memoirs about how the author started out as an idealistic liberal only to become disillusioned and realize the real money was to be made as a conservative shill wearing his apostate's sincerity as a merit badge.
It also guarantees a lot of notariety of the "I told you so" variety for some pretty shoddy thinking and even worse writing. Wolcott notes that Medved has now earned himself a glowing review in next week's New York Times Book Review for his collaborationist tome:
In the last graf, Stein writes, "Even many of his readers who hold very different political and social views will concede, grudgingly, the quality of Medved's intellect."

Like fuck we will. Here is an example of that quality intellect at work, as quoted by Stein.

"Medved devotes considerable space in his book to the religious right, and especially to his spirited public defense of Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ... When asked by fellow Jews, 'How can you work with people who sincerely believe you're going straight to hell?' his reply is simple: 'It's not a problem for me because I'm confident that they're wrong.'"
"Intellect?" I've worked in the movie business for years, and Medved has never been known for anything more than churning out pandering rubbish guaranteed to get his name and his trite one-liners top placement in ads for movies so bad their own marketing departments can think of nothing better than to throw critics' quotes at a credulous public.

Intellect my ass. Good riddance to bad rubbish.


End of the "Fairness Doctrine" and the Birth of Fox News

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(My brother-in-law Loren Farr is a former news anchor in Tulsa who currently teaches journalism at Tulsa Community College. He has some interesting observations about the late lamented Fairness Doctrine and its implications in the 24 hour cable news era, so I asked him to do some guest blogging:)

“You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth.” Jack Nicholson’s line in “A few Good Men” also -- for me -- applies to the question of bias in the media.

A 25 year veteran of print, radio and television – I have opted out of the profession or perhaps it opted out on me. I’m currently living in a kind of witness protection program environment along the Arkansas River. I am a man somewhat out of place in a Red State where the legislature is currently being asked to legalize cockfighting by allowing the chickens to wear boxing gloves. You may have heard about it.

Among my current pass times is teaching journalism at one of the largest community colleges in the country. Despite my efforts I think I may be getting more out of it than most the students. It’s forced me to take a fresh look at a life and a profession that I worked in for so many years.

For years when I was asked about bias in the media my response was “there’s more ignorance and laziness than bias.” That’s what I saw first hand. There were some troubling signs. The instance when my television station ownership wanted to play nice with a Democrat congressman to get a city of license changed from Oklahoma to Texas. I was told pretty strongly not to report negatively about the U.S. Representative.

The congressman has since changed parties and still has a close relationship with the ownership group despite the apparent “political” born again experience.

When I was on the front line as a television news director we had a hungry animal to feed -- hours of live programming. All outlets cut corners, substance too many times gave way to style. You would fight the fight and hope to win most of the time. Most of the loses would come from pressure to fill air or a failure to ask the right questions.

There was another fact – an honest mistake – being too close to a story. The “dah” moment that could only be provided by someone somewhat away from the effort who could raise the pertinent questions. 60 Minutes II needed that kind of observer before they aired the George W. Bush Air National Guard story last fall. For better or worst Dan Rather would still have his anchor chair if CBS had a person like that reviewing stories.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a small town celebrity or on the national scene making millions – the special treatment you receive can dull your BS antenna. I got that “humility bath” when I was no longer on TV promotional spots and billboards and living away from an area where considerable effort had been spent to let people know how great I was. Not a bad lesson to learn.

Enter the “Sage on the stage” part of my life. As a teacher I could have faked my way through the effort. I am a good talk with great stories. The honorable option -- I could take another look at where broadcast journalism is now.

Is there bias in the Media? Yes there is and always has been. What we’re seeing now is a higher form fueled by the demise of the Fairness Doctrine during the Reagan Administration. No longer did you have to balance opinions. The premise was the growing number of news outlets would do that balancing naturally. In effect it has spawned an even more one dimensional presentation. Despite what Fox News and MSNBC tells you they have a political agenda. A qualified salute to Roger Ailes, the mastermind behind the Fox News Network. The former GOP political “gun for hire” identified a huge moneymaker in catering to American Conservatives and has marshaled public opinion in a way William Randolph Hearst could only dream of a century or more ago.

What the advent of cable and satellite has done is bring on a new era not of broadcasting but narrow-casting. You can target an audience and tailor your message. Fox’s slick packaging and deep wallet made it possible to rocket past those on the scene already. CNN was caught complacent and boring and MSNBC while having some impressively slick building blocks for success have to play catch up in a country that has more people who consider themselves conservative.

“You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth.” I like to think of myself as a political agnostic but being honest I’m a radical idealist. I don’t believe in politicians. I’m believing in few and fewer journalists. My faith in the possibility of unbiased or balanced reporting is shaken. Most people – conservative and liberal want to watch, listen and read news coverage that agrees with their view of the world. Anything that doesn’t fit that view is suspect.

Journalists are filling this 24/7 information hungry nation with and unprecedented amount “stuff.” Bias and the nature of this round the clock beast make for a lot of garbage. Despite all the promotional slogans about being trusted, fair and balanced -– the nature of this beast makes it easier than ever for political manipulation to masquerade as journalism.


Sunday, February 06, 2005

Happy Birthday to Katie

Everyone has one thing that they think is the most beautiful sight in the world, and for me that is Katie's face. She is six years old today and I just want to express how grateful I am every day for her kindness, her compassion, her soulfulness and her wisdom in my life. She loves to sit in the bay window over the heater, watch the world go by and occasionally bark. We celebrated with a little cake.


What I Did During the Superbowl

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me & Pasini

For my drawing class we were supposed to choose an artist and duplicate one of his or her drawings. I chose 19th century Orientalist Alberto Pasini. One of the New York Times "Notable 100" books of 2004 was a book called The Undressed Art: Why We Draw, by Peter Steinhart, about how a modern renaissance in drawing is upon us, led not by professionals but by amateurs. He talks about the nude drawing classes that have been popping up all over the country recently, and I have been going to one every Wednesday afternoon for several months now. It consistently amazes me how creatively enriching it is. It is also the one day a week I drink coffee, so maybe much of my enthusiam is caffeine fueled. But what the heck.

Oh yeah and whenever someone scored a touchdown I watched the game.


How to Make the Superbowl Interesting for the Football Challenged

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No, not that.

Last year I watched the Superbowl with Hubert Selby. I was talking with him at half time, not paying any attention to the TV, when suddenly he shouted "hey, was that a boob?" Which is all I ever saw of "nipplegate."

Sadly, "Cubby" passed away this year, and I have nothing better to distract myself with this time around. So for those of us whose native interest in the Superbowl is tepid at best, NTodd and Atrios have set up a Superbowl betting challenge to make things a little more interesting. If the Patriots win, everyone betting on the Eagles has to donate to American Friends Service Committee, dedicated to telling the truth about the ongoing loss of life in Iraq and bringing the troops home.

If the Eagles win, everyone betting on the Pats will have to contribute to Project Home, which helps the indigent in Philadelphia break out of homelessness and poverty.

As a Massachusetts native, I put $50 on the Patriots. But I'd frankly love to see Donovan McNabb prove Rush Limbaugh to be the big, fat, race-baiting jackal he is (in 2003 Limbaugh said McNabb was overrated because the media wanted to see a black quarterback succeed), so really it's win-win either way.


More Bad News for the Dollar

According to the London Financial Times, Russia is abandoning efforts to tie the rouble exclusively to the dollar and is switching to shadowing the euro as well.

It's boiling down to a game of international currency chicken. None of the central banks who have large portions of their reserves in dollars want to trigger a devaluation, which would happen instantly if everyone started dumping it. But nobody wants to be the last one left holding the bag if it tanks, either.

First China, then Maylasia, now Russia. Things are getting a bit tense in the international finaicial community. And why can you only read about this in European financial papers? Well, that's a really good question.