My fingers are tingling like they are being poked with hundreds of little pins, and since we have some rain coming towards Banjoville…my arthritis is acting up as well. So, this morning’s post will be more along the lines of a link dump.
In this morning’s Orlando Sentinel, there is an op/ed that is outright propaganda, check it out: Editorial calls on Congress to approve chained CPI
But the president’s proposal deserves bipartisan support, no matter what the polls say. It’s an incremental yet meaningful step that acknowledges the need to include Social Security — the biggest federal program at more than $800 billion a year, and growing — in any balanced deficit-reduction plan.
Obama and Congress have cut deficits, but not enough to keep the national debt from growing as a share of the U.S. economy. They’ve largely left entitlement programs, including Social Security, off the table.
More debt means higher interest payments, less money for investments that would grow the economy, and more vulnerability to foreign creditors.
The president’s proposal would tie increases in Social Security and other benefit programs to an inflation index known as the “chained CPI” — a name only a bureaucrat could love. Many economists say the chained CPI is more accurate than the government’s current index, which overstates inflation.
Tying Social Security to the slower-growing inflation rate would reduce total annual benefits for the average 65-year-old retiree by only $50, though the reduction would compound over time to $1,147 a year by the time the retiree hit 85.
But the president’s proposal would prop up benefits for the poorest and oldest retirees. Targeting help to seniors in most need beats sticking with a system for everyone that overstates inflation and adds billions to the government’s bottom line.
Switching to the chained CPI would save at least $130 billion in Social Security payments over 10 years. It also would improve the fiscal fitness of the program, which is now paying out more in benefits than it is collecting in payroll taxes. The money to close the gap gets borrowed, which means that — contrary to claims from some advocates — Social Security adds to the deficit.
The chained CPI could save another $200 billion or more over the next decade outside of Social Security. How? By slowing spending growth in other benefit programs. And by adding to revenues by gradually moving more Americans with increasing incomes into higher tax brackets.
Obama is taking flak within his party for his proposal. For liberal Democrats, Social Security cuts are as bad as tax hikes for conservative Republicans.
But the president says he won’t go through with the switch unless Republicans go along with more tax increases. The GOP should be willing to close loopholes for corporations and the wealthy — especially if it’s in return for the kind of entitlement reform that Republicans have demanded from Obama.
There are a few comments already pointing out how stupid the author of the editorial is, you know…since Social Security is not a “debt” and all that shit.
sorgfelt at 5:47 AM April 10, 2013Social Security is an independent fund supplied solely by our contributions, and does not add to our national debt in any way, shape or form. The author of this piece is either grossly uninformed and/or a pawn of the corporate entities who want to cut the business owners’ part of the contributions to Social Security. It is utterly despicable that this article could be written and anyone could be led to take it seriously.There is one connection to the national debt: Congress has seen fit to borrow money without interest from Social Security to pay for our stupid, illegal wars. That in itself is a travesty. And to use that as an excuse to raid Social Security is despicable.Florence Perry at 5:42 AM April 10, 2013It infuriates me when people call Social Security “an entitlement”. It is not. We put our hard earned monies into it, and it is our monies. The government decided to borrow that money and now has to pay it back and called it “an entitlement” so they can cheat us out of our money. You should get your facts straight Sentitnal (sic).
Madamab has a post up this morning that ties into this so be sure to stop over at Widdershins: Activist/Feminist Wednesday: Obama Goes After Social Security (And Women) | The Widdershins
Perhaps you don’t need math to be a politician these days? But there is some discussion as to whether you need it to be a scientist: Do you need to know math for doing great science? | The Curious Wavefunction, Scientific American Blog Network
There was a bit of a scare this morning, when an official tweet was sent accidentally by a town in Japan: Yokohama mistakenly tweets North Korean missile launch
Officials in the Japanese city of Yokohama were left red-faced on Wednesday after mistakenly announcing the launch of a North Korean missile to 40,000 followers on Twitter.
The city, south of Tokyo, prematurely fired its Tweet just before noon (0300 GMT), announcing “North Korea has launched a missile” with blank spaces to indicate the exact time.
“We received a call from one of our followers who had noticed the mistake. We had the Tweet ready and waiting, but for an unknown reason it was dispatched erroneously,” said a city official.
The city retracted the Tweet about 20 minutes later and apologised to followers of @yokohama_saigai, the official said.
Japan is on full alert ahead of an expected mid-range missile launch by North Korea, with Patriot missiles stationed in its capital to protect the 30 million people who live there.
Twitter is a big deal over in Japan, so this tweet was taken very seriously.
Meanwhile, over in Great Britain, History is getting an overhaul in their school systems, and it is not a good one, per the BBC: Draft history curriculum ‘list-like and too narrow’
A draft history curriculum for England is “list-like”, “prescriptive” and omits “the histories of Britons who are not white Anglo-Saxons”, says a report.
The group, Curriculum for Cohesion, of teachers, academics and employers calls the draft “unteachable, unlearnable and un-British”.
They warn that if adopted the curriculum may alienate pupils from ethnic and religious minority groups.
I guess these people realize that History…will teach us nothing…/snark.
Makes me think of our very own GOP:
Remember that event during the Occupy Wall Street protest, when the NYPD destroyed the Occupy Library? Well, they now have to pay damages. City To Pay $365,000 For Occupy Library – Business Insider
A New York City court has ruled that the city shall pay $366,700 for a destructive raid on Occupy Wall Street’s Zuccotti Park encampment.
Around 1 a.m. on Nov. 15, 2011, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg ordered the NYPD to evict protestors — some of whom had camped there for almost two months — from Zuccotti Park in New York City’s Financial District.
The police threw away 5,554 books from the Occupy library and destroyed media equipment in addition to removing tents, tarps, and belongings.
The city will pay:
- $47,000 in damages and $186,350 in legal fees for The People’s Library.
- $75,000 and $49,850 in legal fees to Global Revolutions TV for damaging their “computers, wifi hotspots and similarly related live-streaming equipment.”
- $8,500 for trashing the bicycle-powered generators that protestors built to light up the park after police held their other generators.
Wonderful to see that justice prevailed in this case.
I have some movie links for you now. This coming week the movie Camille will air on TCM: Wednesday, April 17 @ 09:00 AM (ET)
I love this film, it is beautiful.
Mike Luckovich had a very sweet tribute to Roger Ebert:
This next link is just about some interesting movie trivia:
However, one pseudonym that is missing is a favorite of mine, from the movie The Bank Dick:
The Bank Dick (released as The Bank Detective in the United Kingdom) is a 1940 comedy film. W. C. Fields plays a character named Egbert Sousé who trips a bank robber and ends up a security guard as a result. The character is a drunk who must repeatedly remind people in exasperation that his name is pronounced “Sousé – accent grave [sic] over the ‘e’!”, because people keep calling him “Souse” (slang for drunkard). In addition to bank and family scenes, it features Fields pretending to be a film director and ends in a chaotic car chase. The Bank Dick is considered a classic of his work, incorporating his usual persona as a drunken henpecked husband with a shrewish wife, disapproving mother-in-law, and savage children.
The film was written by Fields, using the alias Mahatma Kane Jeeves (derived from the Broadway drawing-room comedy cliche, “My hat, my cane, Jeeves!”), and directed by Edward F. Cline. Shemp Howard, one of the Three Stooges, plays a bartender.
Mahatma Kane Jeeves….what a riot!
Boston Boomer sent me this link last week:
It’s big, it’s hairy, and it’s venomous.
The newest spider to give arachnophobes the willies, a tarantula named Poecilotheria rajaei has been discovered on the island nation of Sri Lanka.
With a leg span of 8 inches (20 centimeters) and enough venom to kill mice, lizards, small birds and snakes, according to Sky News, the crawler is covered in subtle markings of gray, pink and daffodil yellow.
Here is a picture of this monster:
In another link BB sent me, related to spiders….this one is so damn cool: A Golden Spider-Silk Textile | The Art Institute of Chicago
Strands of silk from over one million of Madagascar’s golden orb spiders (Nephila madagascariensis) were woven together to make this dazzling textile, the only one of its kind in the world. Completed in 2008, the panel’s story underscores the globalism that is characteristic of many textile genres in Africa. Created by Simon Peers and Nicholas Godley, the loan of this rare textile celebrates the opening of the Art Institute’s redesigned galleries of African art and Indian art of the Americas.
The idea of harnessing spider silk for weaving is an age-old dream that was first attempted in a methodical way in France in the early 18th century. In the 1880s, Father Paul Camboué, a French Jesuit priest, brought the dream to Madagascar. Intrigued by the strength and beauty of the silk produced by the island’s golden orb spider, he began to collect and experiment with it. In 1900 a set of bed hangings was woven from spider silk at Madagascar’s Ecole Professionelle and exhibited at the Exposition Universelle in Paris (today the whereabouts of those hangings are unknown). But the idea of creating an industry that could compete with Chinese silk (produced from silkworms) proved unrealistic.
Please go read the rest of this fascinating story at the link…and look at some of the photographs below:
A model wearing the golden spider silk cape. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian
It has taken eight years and more than a million Madagascar Golden Orb spiders to create a work of art “with the quality of a fairy story”. And it goes on display at London’s V&A museum this week.
Simon Peers and Nicholas Godley, a textile artist and a designer-entrepreneur respectively, have created a shimmering golden cape from spider silk, a fabric not woven in more than a century.
Isn’t that spectacular?
I will end this post with a funny nature story…Scheming chicks blackmail doting parents for more food
Fledglings of a southern African bird species threaten suicide to blackmail their parents into bringing them more food, scientists said Wednesday. When hungry, pied babbler fledglings flutter from the nest to the ground, where predators roam, and start screeching to highlight their plight, said a study published in the British journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. “This stimulates adults to increase their provisioning rates,” the science team wrote. “Once satiated, fledglings return to the safety of cover.” The strategy is dangerous, as the birds are not good flyers at this tender age and at particular risk of predators on the ground. But the short-term risk of being caught is probably lower than the long-term costs of being small and weak, said the paper. Pied babblers have high reproductive rates and competition for mates is high. Weaker birds are often kicked out of the nest by siblings, putting them at a huge disadvantage in the race for survival and procreation.
More information: The influence of fledgling location on adult provisioning: a test of the blackmail hypothesis, rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/lookup/doi/10.1098/rspb.2013.0558
Now that is one ballsy move if you ask me!
So what are you reading about this morning?
My kids are still very sick, and it seems to be moving on to other members of the family. I wish I could write more about the links I have to share with you tonight, but the articles speak for themselves.
On the eve of gun control legislation in Colorado: Director of Colorado Prisons Fatally Shot at Home
As Colorado’s governor signed a hard-won package of gun control measures on Wednesday, officials across the state were reeling from the seemingly inexplicable shooting death of the state’s prisons chief, who was gunned down at the front door of his home.
The brazen killing of Tom Clements, a man described by friends and colleagues as a dedicated and thoughtful public servant, left state officials shaken and grasping for answers on Wednesday. State troopers increased security around the State Capitol, and some state workers said Mr. Clements’s death had put them on edge.
The state police said they had known of no specific threats against Mr. Clements before 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, when someone approached his house in the pine-fringed hills of the town of Monument, near Colorado Springs, and shot him as he answered the door. Into Wednesday night, investigators were still searching for any trace of his killer, but said they had no suspects or motive.
Police are looking for a boxy two-door car that was seen in the area on the night of the killing.
They said Mr. Clements’s post, overseeing more than 20,000 inmates in Colorado’s prisons and parole system, might have made him a target.
Among his most prominent recent decisions, he denied a request this month from a prominent Saudi-born prisoner convicted of sexually abusing his housekeeper to serve the duration of his sentence in Saudi Arabia.
Mr. Clements’s death came just hours before Colorado’s governor, John W. Hickenlooper, signed a bitterly divisive package of gun control measures into law, capping weeks of tumultuous and emotional debate about gun ownership and violence in a state scarred by two mass shootings.
Mike Lupica has another article up today, this one about the news that the assault weapons ban was removed by the Senate. Spineless pols spit on the graves of Newtown victims by not pushing for assault weapons ban
The words of a teary-eyed President and other politicians meant nothing, because they didn’t turn into action, as a ban on assault weapons won’t be included in gun legislation that’s shaping up in the U.S. Senate. After Newtown and the other tragedies, it begs the question, ‘If not now, when?’
But what does the President say now to the families of the victims of Sandy Hook, and Aurora, Colo., and all the other victims of mass murders and glory killers in this country? What does he say now that it becomes clear that a ban on assault weapons won’t even be legitimately included in the gun legislation being shaped this week in the U.S. Senate?
Any fool knows that Lanza couldn’t possibly have killed as many children as quickly as he did on the morning of Dec. 14 without an assault weapon in his hands. So how does the President and any other big politician who allows the gun nuts from the National Rifle Association to win again answer the larger question about weapons that make killings like the elementary-school massacre ridiculously easy:
If not now for a ban for these weapons, when?
If Sandy Hook Elementary doesn’t make every member of Congress take a stand against assault weapons in this country, then what does? How many small coffins do we need the next time?
And finally another rape victim being bullied, and what do you know….it deals with yet another powerhouse high school football team. Victim bullied after rape allegations against Torrington football players- The Register Citizen
Two Torrington High School football players stand accused of sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl. Four others were suspended in a hazing scandal last fall that is still under investigation. One player, the team’s second-highest scorer last fall, was allowed to play even though the team’s coach knew he had been charged with felony robbery and assault.School officials claim that the sexual assault charges against 18-year-olds Edgar Gonzalez and Joan Toribio, the hazing and other incidents are isolated problems and don’t signal a deeper issue with the culture of Torrington High School, its athletic programs or football team.
You need to read the rest of this article from Torrington Connecticut….words cannot express this disgust with the social media and the idiot assholes who use it to harass a 13-year old sexual assault victim.
This is an open thread…
All day long….I have been pulling a “Bloom” and going nuts thinking about what Google has done to my RSS reader.
In my search for a replacement for an application I use and depend upon so greatly, I did find NewsBlur. It is a paid service that I would gladly pay to use, so far the site has been up and down with soooooo many new users trying to upload their G Reader data. I know it may not seem like much of an issue, but you may not realize just how much I use my RSS feeds to find articles and write my SkyD blog posts.
The argument around the web is that RSS is dead, Twitter is king for news alerts and following blogs. Bullshit. There is no way that Twitter can be substituted for a RSS feed in a reader. At least for people whose attention spans last longer than 140 characters.
Here are a few links for you this evening, I was surprised just how many journalists we follow and read here at Sky Dancing are feeling the same anger and resentment that I am right now.
Anyway, excuse me while I go sit in the corner and whisper to myself in true “Rainman” style…
Well….ah…course…you know….I gotta check my reader…must check my reader.
And….if you are not outraged because of the death of Google Reader, then this next link will piss you off….and we all can be in a bad mood.
On at least two occasions on Wednesday, Fox Connecticut marked an event hosted by the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women with B-roll of a woman in a low-cut top, but the shot was closely cropped to reveal only her breasts and cleavage.
“FOX CT apologizes for today’s file footage error,” the station tweeted on Wednesday afternoon. “We will continue to recognize great contributions of women in CT and around the world.”
In a statement, the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women accused the news broadcast of objectifying women.
“We are appalled at the level of sexism this incident shows,” the statement said. It is an insult not only to the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women and to all who attended Women’s Day at the Capitol, which marked the PCSW’s 40-year battle against gender discrimination, but to women everywhere who are tired of being objectified.”
“Anyone who doubts the existence of the ‘war on women’ need look no further than Fox News. We invite the executives at Fox to ask about our Sexual Harassment Awareness and Prevention trainings, which would help them and their staff learn a little more about what goes on above a woman’s shoulders.”
This is an open thread…
Thursday night I watched the film Good Night and Good Luck, with David Strathairn and George Clooney. I am sure that many of you saw this film when it came out eight years ago. (Yes, that is 8 years…)
I saw it too back then, but I had not seen it in years…and I never saw the short featurette interviews with the real people portrayed in the film. Joe and Shirley Wershba, Milo Radulovich, Ed Murrow’s son and Fred Friendly’s son discuss Murrow and give some thoughts on the use of television media during the time of the McCarthy hearings. I say television because Ed Murrow was concerned about how viewing the image or picture being broadcast on the screen would change the news story he was telling.
It is fortunate that I found this featurette on the web, it is only 15 minutes but if you can, watch it before you read the rest of my post.
Fred Friendly’s widow states that Ed Murrow was, “dubious” about the change from his radio show, “Hear It Now” to the television version “See It Now.” It was Murrow’s belief that the camera changed the story, that people processed visual information and news differently than they did when just listening to the words being said. According to Murrow’s son, the camera invaded the news story, especially in those early days of news broadcast, with the lights and large equipment needed to air the programs, it changed the dynamics of the story in a real big way.
It was during this time the news took on an editorial flavor; there aren’t always two sides to a story. McCarthyism was destroying the country. Murrow got this message out to his viewers, knowing what was at stake. It was personal and it was risky…
The Murrow team had been collecting film on Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy where ever he went…and used it when they got the evidence they needed. Murrow got to the truth of the story by taking McCarthy’s own words and actions and putting them on the air.
Joe Wershba says that Murrow knew the tremendous power of television media…he describes the agonizing question of whether Murrow had the right to use this power against McCarthy. Think about it…Here you have McCarthy, trampling the rights and civil liberties given by the Constitution, and yet McCarthy got all this power because of the very rights he was running over.
This is where Milo Radulovich comes in. Radulovich,
…was an American citizen (born in Detroit) of Serbian descent and former reserve Air Force lieutenant who was accused of being a security risk for maintaining a “close and continuing relationship” with his father and sister, in violation of Air Force regulation 35-62. His case was publicized nationally by Edward Murrow on October 20, 1953, on Murrow’s program, See It Now:
“ That [Air Force regulation 35-62] is a regulation which states that ‘A man may be regarded as a security risk if he has close and continuing associations with communists or people believed to have communist sympathies.’ Lieutenant Radulovich was asked to resign in August. He declined. A board was called and heard his case. At the end, it was recommended that he be severed from the Air Force. Although it was also stated that there was no question whatever as to the Lieutenant’s loyalty.—Edward R. Murrow
Murrow used Radulovich’s personal story to get the point across. And when the Air Force finally reinstated Radulovich, people realized just how powerful television journalism was, and Murrow felt the consequences would be great.
On the featurette, Fred Friendly’s son says that “overall climate of television news” today is frightening…and that his father would be horrified by it.
Well, this horrifying evolution of television news can be primarily shouldered by the corporations…specifically the advertising money these corporations brought in…the airwaves were originally thought of as the people’s airways…that the news had to be given to the public straight. But then the news programs became a money-maker, news stories became entertainment. And with this entertainment, the trust people had in broadcasters like Murrow disappeared.
Friendly’s son says in the interview up top, television was making more money doing its worst…than it did doing its best. (Ain’t that the truth!)
Shirley Wershba states how important it was to get the truth to the stories, they used McCarthy own words in their reports, pointing out the hypocrisies and the craziness of McCarthyism. They researched and were very careful with what they reported on the news. It is not like that today. We have seen too many times the mistakes, blatant ones at that, made by the press…they are careless with the facts.
Responsibility. It is something that both MSM broadcast news and the people watching it must take seriously. Responsibility is vitally necessary to get the facts down right. George Clooney says at the end of the featurette he hopes the film Good Night and Good Luck will bring the issue of responsibility to the discussion and I agree with him; we need to talk about responsibility.
I guess my point with all this is just how important it is to question things.
Maybe that is why people like Jon Stewart, sites like Wikileaks, and those who blog and pick apart news reports are popular with folks who look for the big picture, the ones who don’t accept the cropped version as the final word. It is our responsibility to dig deeper than what we see, hear and read in news broadcast…and in journalism media today. I think too many people are not doing their homework. They take whatever bits and pieces they get from MSM and leave it at that. It is a shame, because this lack of attention is causing present day extremist the likes of McCarthy to flourish in our government and politics.
It is ironic, the very rights these extremist are out to destroy… are the ones that allow them to carry out their agenda. The difference between now and Murrow’s time comes down to this…us.
Were our standards were higher? Eh, I don’t know, but I do feel however that responsibility is key.
It seems that there are less Murrows and Friendlys out there who feel responsible to the people, and more importantly…it seems to me the public has become full of people who don’t feel responsible to truth. We get fed the news and opinions the corporations and sponsors want us to eat…but few question it.
I wish news outlets weren’t controlled by the money companies pay to advertise on their shows, websites or blogs. It makes me think about Murrow’s anxiety about the power of television. Think about how the internet has changed the news narrative. The internet is just another powerful technology…like television was in its day….only the web is instantaneous. It is distracting and full of things that manipulate our opinions. But…the internet is also a tool we can use to be responsible to the truth, if we use it responsibly.
I wish people would question, research and look for truth behind every news report being told. I worry that there is no longer a responsible collective voice standing up for what is right or true….unlike the era of McCarthy, we do not have that voice…the sense of duty or obligation to stand up to the money men behind the corporations, politicians and the advertising and lobbying dollars they use to get what they want. And, they have the ambitious McCarthys of today, to do the job for them.
The batshit crazy. It’s been going on for so many years…and my fear is it will keep on going.
Will it ever stop?
Keeping all this in mind, take a look at a few of these links:
Last week Glenn Greenwald had an article about Bob Woodward…you can read it here: Bob Woodward embodies US political culture in a single outburst
I want to bring this part of Greenwald’s post to your attention…where he mentions an essay written by Lewis Lapham back in 2008:
Bob Woodward fulfills an important function. Just as Tim Russert was long held up as the scary bulldog questioner who proved the existence of an adversarial TV press while the reality was that, as Harper’s [sic] Lewis Lapham famously put it, he maintained “the on-air persona of an attentive and accommodating headwaiter”, the decades-old Woodward lore plays a critical role in maintaining the fiction of a watchdog press corps even though he is one of the most faithful servants of the war machine and the national security and surveillance states. Every once and awhile, the mask falls, and it’s a good thing when it does.
This last paragraph stuck with me, and when I watched Good Night, and Good Luck last night…particularly the featurette, I went back to the Greenwald post and dug a little bit deeper.
Greenwald links to this Gawker post from Aug. 2008, A Careful Evisceration Of Tim Russert. Which I will highlight this statement:
…Lapham, sometimes slammed as insufferable bore, has spun a compelling essay out of his rough initial pronouncement that “1,000 people came to [Russert's] memorial service because essentially he was a shill for the government.”
This is little nugget from New York Magazine in July of 2008, again in reference to Lapham’s essay: Lewis Lapham Unhappy With Political Journalism, Including Tim Russert
Lewis Lapham isn’t happy with political journalism today. “There was a time in America when the press and the government were on opposite sides of the field,” he said at a premiere party for Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson on June 25. “The press was supposed to speak on behalf of the people. The new tradition is that the press speaks on behalf of the government.” An example? “Tim Russert was a spokesman for power, wealth, and privilege,” Lapham said. “That’s why 1,000 people came to his memorial service. Because essentially he was a shill for the government. It didn’t matter whether it was Democratic or Republican. It was for the status quo.” What about Russert’s rep for catching pols in lies? “That was bullshit,” he said. “Thompson and Russert were two opposite poles.”
Well, here is the actual essay Greenwald is refering to: [Notebook] | Elegy for a Rubber Stamp, by Lewis Lapham | Harper’s Magazine
Please read the entire essay, but I just want to point out a few paragraphs to look out for:
Many people loved Russert, and I don’t doubt that they had reason to do so. I’m sure that most of what was said about him on camera was true: that he was a devoted father, a devout Catholic, and a faithful friend, generous in spirit and a joyful noise unto the Lord. I mean no disrespect to his widow or to his son, but if I have no reason to doubt his virtues as a man, neither do I have any reason to credit the miracle of Russert as a journalist eager to speak truth to power. In his professional as opposed to his personal character, his on-air persona was that of an attentive and accommodating headwaiter, as helpless as Charlie Rose in his infatuation with A-list celebrity, his modus operandi the same one that pointed Rameau’s obliging nephew to the roast pheasant and the coupe aux marrons in eighteenth-century Paris: “Butter people up, good God, butter them up.”
With the butter Russert was a master craftsman, his specialty the mixing of it with just the right drizzle of salt. The weekend videotapes, presumably intended to display Russert at the top of his game, deconstructed the recipe. To an important personage Russert asked one or two faintly impertinent questions, usually about a subject of little or no concern to anybody outside the rope lines around official Washington; sometimes he discovered a contradiction between a recently issued press release and one that was distributed by the same politician some months or years previously. No matter with which spoon Rus sert stirred the butter, the reply was of no interest to him, not worth his notice or further comment. He had sprinkled his trademark salt, his work was done. The important personage was free to choose from a menu offering three forms of response—silence, spin, rancid lie. If silence, Russert moved on to another topic; if spin, he nodded wisely; if rancid lie, he swallowed it.
A couple more:
The attitude doesn’t lead to the digging up of much news that might be of interest to the American people, but it endeared Russert to his patrons and clients. Madeleine Albright, secretary of state in the Clinton Administration, expressed her gratitude to Olbermann: “Tim was amazing because I can tell you that, as a public official, it was really, first of all, a treat to get on the show.” Two days later, over at NBC, Mary Matalin (former CBS and CNN talk-show host, former counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney) seconded the motion, attributing Russert’s profound knowledge of national politics to his superb qualities as a rubber stamp. “He respected politicians,” Matalin said. “He knew that they got blamed for everything, got credit for nothing. He knew how much they meant. He never treated them with the cynicism that attends some of these interviews. So they had a place to be loved.” Remembering Russert on ABC, Sam Donaldson explained why too much salt in the butter makes it harder to spread: “He [Russert] understood as well as anyone, maybe better than almost anyone, that the reason political reporters are there is not to speak truth to power . . . but to make those who say we have the truth—politicians—explain it.”
Speaking truth to power doesn’t make successful Sunday-morning television, leads to “jealousy, upsets, persecution,” doesn’t draw a salary of $5 million a year. The notion that journalists were once in the habit of doing so we borrow from the medium of print, from writers in the tradition of Mark Twain, Upton Sinclair,
H. L. Mencken, I. F. Stone, Hunter Thompson, and Walter Karp, who assumed that what was once known as “the press” received its accreditation as a fourth estate on the theory that it represented the interests of the citizenry as opposed to those of the government. Long ago in the days before journalists became celebrities, their enterprise was reviled and poorly paid, and it was understood by working newspapermen that the presence of more than two people at their funeral could be taken as a sign that they had disgraced the profession.
On television the voices of dissent can’t be counted upon to match the studio drapes or serve as tasteful lead-ins to the advertisements for Pantene Pro-V and the U.S. Marine Corps. What we now know as the “news media” serve at the pleasure of the corporate sponsor, their purpose not to tell truth to the powerful but to transmit lies to the powerless. Like Russert, who served his apprenticeship as an aide-de-camp to the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, most of the prominent figures in the Washington press corps (among them George Stephanopoulos, Bob Woodward, and Karl Rove) began their careers as bagmen in the employ of a dissembling politician or a corrupt legislature. Regarding themselves as de facto members of government, enabling and codependent, their point of view is that of the country’s landlords, their practice equivalent to what is known among Wall Street stock-market touts as “securitizing the junk.” When requesting explanations from secretaries of defense or congressional committee chairmen, they do so with the understanding that any explanation will do. Explain to us, my captain, why the United States must go to war in Iraq, and we will relay the message to the American people in words of one or two syllables. Instruct us, Mr. Chairman, in the reasons why K-Street lobbyists produce the paper that Congress passes into law, and we will show that the reasons are healthy, wealthy, and wise. Do not be frightened by our pretending to be suspicious or scornful. Together with the television camera that sees but doesn’t think, we’re here to watch, to fall in with your whims and approve your injustices. Give us this day our daily bread, and we will hide your vices in the rosebushes of salacious gossip and clothe your crimes in the aura of inspirational anecdote.
Indeed, it all comes down to the idea of truth in journalism according to the corporate sponsors…batshit crazy is now becoming symbolic of the myth that there is a “free press” in this country….when the obvious conclusion seems to me centered on one thing…the lack of responsibility from both the media journalist…and their viewing and reading public.
Batshit crazy…Will it ever stop?
In all honesty, the answer to my question above is simple.
No, it will never stop as long as we, the people, fail to hold our “free press” accountable to the responsibility of journalism.
It’s a very sorry sad situation…and it’s a damn shame.
Last night a strong earthquake hit the Solomon Islands, triggering a tsunami. This is the latest information at the time of this writing, according to the Sydney Morning Herald the tsunami warning was cancelled:
Residents of islands from the South Pacific to Australia were preparing Wednesday for the possible effects of a tsunami set off by an 8.0-magnitude earthquake off the Solomon Islands, according to scientists and news reports from the area.
“Sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated,” the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said on its Web site.
The earthquake struck around 11 a.m. Australian time in the Santa Cruz Islands, part of the Solomon chain.The center said the tsunami warning was limited to the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, New Caledonia, Kosrae, Fiji, Kiribati, Wallis and Futuna.
A major earthquake registering at magnitude 8 has hit near the Solomon Islands, with early reports of villages destroyed.
A tsunami measuring 91 centimetres in height was recorded at Lata Wharf in Santa Cruz Islands, near the epicenter, and an 11-centimetre wave was recorded in Luganville, Vanuatu.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said the tsunami may have been destructive along coasts near the earthquake centre.
The quake struck at a depth of 5.8km at 11.07am AEDT on Wednesday, near the Santa Cruz Islands, which are part of the Solomon Islands nation.
The director at Lata Hospital on the main Santa Cruz island of Ndende said it was believed villages had been destroyed by the quake.
“The information we are getting is that some villages west and south of Lata along the coast have been destroyed, although we cannot confirm this yet,’’ the director said.
The video is shot as a dream sequence, with a young man seeing himself on board a North Korean space shuttle launched into orbit by the same type of rocket Pyongyang successfully tested in December.As the shuttle circles the globe — to the tune of “We Are the World” — the video zooms in on countries below, including a joyfully re-unified Korea.In contrast, the focus then switches to a city — shrouded in the US flag — under apparent missile attack with its skyscrapers, including what appears to be the Empire State Building, either on fire or in ruins.“Somewhere in the United States, black clouds of smoke are billowing,” runs the caption across the screen.“It seems that the nest of wickedness is ablaze with the fire started by itself,” it added.The video ends with the young man concluding that his dream will “surely come true”.
“Despite all kinds of attempts by imperialists to isolate and crush us… never will anyone be able to stop the people marching toward a final victory,” it said.
Video is at the link.
There are more calls from the UN regarding investigations of human rights in North Korea: UN Official Urges Human Rights Probe of North Korea
A report by a special U.N. investigator is calling for the United Nations to open an inquiry into North Korea for possible crimes against humanity.
In his report Tuesday, U.N. special rapporteur Marzuki Darusmanwants the Human Rights Council to authorize a probe into North Korea’s “grave, widespread and systematic” human rights violations.
He said an inquiry by the Geneva-based body should examine the responsibility of government and individuals in alleged abuses.
North Korea denounced the report before it was made public.
Meanwhile, a court decision is making headlines, this time a ruling in a Chinese Court that has granted an American woman a divorce….In China, a victory for women’s rights and the power of social media
Kim Lee, an American woman who used social media to go public with accusations of domestic violence against her wealthy and famous husband, Li Yang, has just scored a major victory for women’s rights and the rule of law in China.
As reported by Didi Kirsten Tatlow at the New York Times, Lee made history this weekend after a Beijing court granted her divorce on the grounds of abuse and issued a three-month protection order against her ex-husband, a first in the nation’s capital.
“It’s a very important case. All of society was paying attention,” Guo Jianmei, a lawyer, told the Times. “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”
And although censorship remains widespread in China, Lee’s court victory is also a testament to the growing power of social media to share information and avoid direct control by government censors. After Lee posted photos and an account of her experience of domestic violence on Sina Weibo, a microblogging service similar to Twitter, it quickly went viral.
Sticking with world news a bit longer, BBC news is reporting: France: Hundreds of Islamist militants killed in Mali
“Several hundred” Islamist militants have been killed since France launched an offensive in Mali last month, the French defence minister has said.
Jean-Yves Le Drian said they had been killed in airstrikes and direct combat with French troops.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has said that France may begin pulling out of Mali as early as March.
When Weld County commissioners decided to stop providing emergency contraception to county patients, concerns rooted in anti-abortion politics trumped scientific facts and testimony provided by the county’s medical chief, according to documents obtained by The Colorado Independent.
Board meeting minutes from the summer of 2010 detail how members led by Commissioner William Garcia were concerned that the popular “Plan B” contraception drugs dispensed at the county’s low-income Title X family-planning clinics prevented pregnancy by destroying fertilized eggs, or inducing abortions, as they put it. Garcia cited reports he found on the Internet to bolster his case and, echoing rhetoric made popular over the last four years by abortion opponents battling health-care reform, he said the board should eliminate Plan B from the county’s services because the law of the land bars tax funding for abortions.
Dr. Mark Wallace, who directs the county’s health department, explained to commissioners on at least three separate occasions that summer that Plan B contraception can not abort a fertilized egg. He recommended Weld County continue to dispense Plan B, and he objected to Garcia’s proposal to include any language in the county’s Title X contract that would suggest Plan B was an abortion drug.
“Dr Wallace stated he has a strong professional opinion that Plan B does not disrupt established pregnancies,” the record of the July 12 meeting reads (pdf). “[Wallace] stated the language placed in the agreement regarding Plan B should be medically accurate and should not refer to [PlanB] as an abortive agent.”
Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer–the only woman on the five-member board–was concerned that Garcia’s proposals would put funding at risk and bring popular county family-planning services to an end.
Here it comes…
An anti-abortion Republican, Kirkmeyer was sympathetic to her colleagues’ concerns, but she felt the research cited to support Garcia’s proposals was unproven.
“Plan B is basically a high-dose birth control pill,” she argued, according to the minutes from a May 24 meeting (pdf). “Why is there concern with [Plan B] and not standard forms [of birth control]?
“A lot of women have and will benefit from this type of counseling,” she said.
Despite Wallace’s testimony and initial pushback from Commissioner Kirkmeyer, Garcia’s motion carried unanimously. After roughly a decade providing emergency contraception, Weld County’s clinics stopped dispensing Plan B pills. Conservative Weld and El Paso are the only two counties in Colorado where official policy is to not offer Plan B. Instead, the counties refer patients asking for emergency contraception to other low-cost providers, mainly to Planned Parenthood.
Then the next step is to defund Planned Parenthood, as they have in Texas.
MoJo has an article about the mass shootings of late, What We Still Don’t Know About Mass Shootings
Late last week Megan McArdle of the Daily Beast posted an online interview she did with criminologist James Alan Fox, in part taking issue with our mass shootings investigation at Mother Jones. I was glad to see McArdle continue the conversation with Fox; as he and I agreed in a recent exchange, mass shootings deserve continuing inquiry.
Give that a read.
A new study is out, Mentally Ill Smoke 30% of All Cigarettes.
Federal survey results indicate that smoking intensities as well as smoking rates are dramatically higher in the mentally ill compared with other Americans, officials said Tuesday.
A joint “Vital Signs” report from the CDC and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicated that, among adults who reported symptoms consistent with a recognized mental illness, 36.1% were current smokers, compared with 21.4% of the rest of the population.
The report, based on data from the 2009-2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, also found that 30.9% of all cigarettes consumed in the U.S. were smoked by the mentally ill. In part, this disproportion reflects heavier smoking in the mentally ill, with an average of 331 cigarettes per month compared with 310 in the rest of the smoking population.
Individuals classified as mentally ill in the study represented 19.9% of the sample surveyed after weighing to reflect the general population’s demographics.
I wonder if the subject of this next and last article link would be able to smell a smoker from 100 feet. Evidence moles can smell in stereo
Most mammals, including humans, see in stereo and hear in stereo. But whether they can also smell in stereo is the subject of a long-standing scientific controversy.
Now, a new study shows definitively that the common mole (Scalopus aquaticus) – the same critter that disrupts the lawns and gardens of homeowners throughout the eastern United States, Canada and Mexico – relies on stereo sniffing to locate its prey. The paper that describes this research, “Stereo and Serial Sniffing Guide Navigation to an Odor Source in a Mammals,” was published on Feb. 5 in the journal Nature Communications.
“I came at this as a skeptic. I thought the moles’ nostrils were too close together to effectively detect odor gradients,” said Kenneth Catania, the Stevenson Professor of Biological Sciences at Vanderbilt University, who conducted the research.
What he found turned his assumptions upside down and opened new areas for potential future research. “The fact that moles use stereo odor cues to locate food suggests other mammals that rely heavily on their sense of smell, like dogs and pigs might also have this ability,” Catania said.
Catania describes how he did it…
He created a radial arena with food wells spaced around a 180-degree circle with the entrance for the mole located at the center. He then ran a number of trials with the food (pieces of earthworm) placed randomly in different wells. The chamber was temporarily sealed so he could detect each time the mole sniffed by the change in air pressure.
“It was amazing. They found the food in less than five seconds and went directly to the right food well almost every time,” Catania said. “They have a hyper-sensitive sense of smell.”
That is a good start for this Wednesday morning, what are you up to today?