Wednesday, March 30, 2005

EPA To Drop 'E,' 'P' From Name

March 23, 2005

WASHINGTON, DC—Days after unveiling new power-plant pollution regulations that rely on an industry-favored market-trading approach to cutting mercury emissions, EPA Acting Administrator Stephen Johnson announced that the agency will remove the "E" and "P" from its name. "We're notreally 'environmental' anymore, and we certainly aren't 'protecting' anything," Johnson said. "'The Agency' is a name that reflects our current agenda and encapsulates our new function as a government-funded body devoted to handling documents, scheduling meetings, and fielding phone calls." Thechange comes on the heels of the Department of Health and Human Services' January decision to shorten its name to the Department of Services.

No, not real. Just true -- a delightfully sarcastic news brief from The Onion.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Another reporter on the Neocon payroll

Reporter Accused of Producing Fake News for Florida Government

The South Florida Herald Tribune has exposed yet another case of a television reporter receiving public funds to produce PR news clips touting the work of state agencies. The newspaper said that while doing freelance reporting for Florida NBC stations and CNN, Mike Vasilinda had earned more than $100,000 over the past four years from contracts with the office of Gov. Jeb Bush and top state agencies. In an interview with the newspaper, Vasilinda maintained that he had put procedures in place to assure that there was no pro-agency bias reflected in his news reports. However, journalism ethics professor Bob Steele of the Poynter Institute told the Herald Tribune: "When journalists have loyalties to a government office or government agencies, those competing loyalties can undermine journalistic independence

From IMDb*'s Movie & TV News.

(*Internet Movie Database)

Monday, March 28, 2005

Some random thoughts about the media

While participating in a heated though civilized debate about the Schiavo debacle on a bulletin board I frequent, the subject of the media came up. And, invariably, the "liberal media" charge was dropped.

Lliberal media?? That's absolutely the most hysterical thing i've ever heard. There is no such thing as the liberal media--not the liberal media as portrayed by Fox "News" and all their ilk. The media is only as liberal as the people who own it--and who owns the media? International conglomerates, corporate robber barons like Rupert Murdoch.


The Neocon Death Cult took over the government, they're wrecking the Consitution and eliminating the separation between church and state, and they won't stop whining and saying that they're victims.

Nope, the only "liberal" media--as in, the only media that tells the truth--can't be found in one place. Reuters is usually pretty good; The Guardian in the UK as well; and many many editorial and op-ed columnists in major papers--since news reporters apparently aren't allowed to cover things like Tom DeLay's criminal activities, or list the blatant hypocrisies and lies of this administration.

And when any stories like that manage to leak out, OMG, it's the LIBERAL media again! Hello??? Since when does the TRUTH have an agenda?? The TRUTH is neither liberal NOR fascist--excuse me, Neocon.

As for calling Fox anchors "commentators," that's certainly not how they present themselves. They present themselves as "Fair and Balanced." Yeah, right. If they called themselves the "Fox Opinion Channel" I'd have no problem with them.

So please, don't believe that liberal media crap. Ask yourself, instead, what the news outlet is actually reporting ON that makes them a target of that label. Ted Koppel wanting to read the names of the dead soldiers in Iraq as a tribute? Oh, horrible liberal media! Stories about people who have been kicked out of Bushie's Social Security dog-and-pony show across the country because they were wearing Democratic or anti-Bush paraphernalia--btw, not a campaign stop but meetings held with taxpayer's money that are supposed to be open to the public? What's that--haven't heard any of that? With all our liberal media? And what about all the war protests going on over the weekend--wait a minute, wasn't there something else that coincidentally happened this weekend?

We don't hear about HALF of the creepy stuff the administration is doing because editors/publishers avoid the stories. If we had a liberal media, Bush wouldn't be in the White House. He'd be in a big house, all right, but not the White House. And Al Gore would still be president.

Then someone said they never heard hate talk about Clinton the way they do about Bush.

Hate talk about Clinton is ongoing even now, into Bush's second term. Fox news and their ilk blame everything on Clinton. If they could find a way to blame Bush choking on a pretzel on Clinton they would have.

You don't think people hate Clinton the way they do Bush?? They accuse him of byzantine murder plots. They spent, oh, like $6 billion dollars of taxpayer money looking into something he allegedly did while governor of Arkansas--not while president--couldn't prove anything, all the while ruining people's lives with a McCarthy-like witch hunt, even driving one person to suicide?

That's a lot like hate.

Think about it--if Jeff Guckert/James Gannon had been given a press pass during Clinton's terms, honestly, what do you think the Neocon Death Cult would have done? Considering the viciousness with which they hounded him over something they couldn't prove that allegedly happened before he was president, I daresay drawing and quartering might have come up.

Yet where is the Ken Starr Gestapo to investigate this actual, proven breach of national security? And when anyone brought up what Bush allegedly did before he was president, they're jumped on.

One of the things that scares me the most is that this administration pays absolutely NO attention to what is going on outside their little boys' club. They want to do what they want to do, and facts don't matter.

That is truly dangerous.

And for the record, these people are not Conservatives. They're not even true Republicans. They are obsessed with power and money and greed, and it scares me that I don't know what they won't do to get it. I don't think they would stop at anything. Anything. Absolutely anything.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Words . . . not good . . . losing ability to think . . .

Can't understand. Makes no sense.

I'm finally overloaded. The Schiavo case has made me speechless with fury. The neocon death cult is the most monumentally arrogant, hypocritical, amoral, selfish, inconsiderate, repulsive, reprehensible, nausea-inducing group of so-called "people" that has probably ever existed. And how do they get away with it? Because they have been able to brainwash a large percentage of the population--the undereducated, the gullible, the self-righteous wackos, the greedy would-be robber barons and their brain-dead trust fund brats, the naively loyal. A vote for Bush was a vote for the death of democracy.

To use this tragic situation for political purposes--wait a sec, that's old hat for them. Just when their ability to use 9/11 as a political device might be getting a bit long in the tooth, here comes poor Terri Schiavo. And Bushit, the most-killingest-governor in the history of the U.S., has to hightail it back to the White House to sign a bill to not save a life, but prolong the misery of the family of a woman who has been in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years, whose brain is literally melting and is beyond medical care.

In one of the billions of cases of cynical hypocrisy that riddle Bushit's administration like prions through a Mad Cow-diseased brain, Dubya, while governor of Texas--killing mentally retarded people and prisoners whose lawyers fell asleep during trials--signed into law in 1999 the Texas Futile Care Act, which states that if a patient has not made a previous directive about life-prolonging care, the patient's spouse makes the call. And that was considered non-controversial.

Tom DeLay talking about ethics . . . Bill Frist making a medical decision based on a few minutes of a videotape (y'all remember him trying to say that AIDS can be transmitted through sweat? Yeah, he'd be my first choice of a doctor . . . ).

When are good old-fashioned Republicans going to grow some SPINES??? Doesn't this further example of government interference in not only a family's private tragedy, but the attempt to coopt the judicial branch--which has ruled in favor of Schiavo's husband, Michael, for many, many years--insult their supposed belief in non-invasive government?

My stomach hurts. The administration has been making me sicker and sicker since 2000. Anybody else feel that?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Proposal to use abstinence funds in schools fails

Again, Massachusetts votes for facts, not fiction.

The Boston Globe

Proposal to use abstinence funds in schools fails

By Michael Levenson, Globe Correspondent | March 10, 2005

A proposal by Governor Mitt Romney that would have focused sex education programs on abstinence lessons in the schools was defeated by the Legislature yesterday, dealing the governor a setback on an issue dear to social conservatives.

The House voted 104-44 to continue the state's current policy of spending federal abstinence funds on television commercials and ads on subways and buses. The Senate also rejected his approach on a voice vote.

Romney and his allies in the abstinence education movement had hoped to send the money directly to classrooms, where they argued it would have been more effective in reaching teenagers.

The debate over how to spend a relatively minor grant of $740,000 from the federal government drew passionate lobbying from advocates on both sides of the issue and highlighted a simmering feud over how best to reach teenagers in a culture saturated with sex. Romney lost the battle, but succeeded in bringing the issue to the front of public debate.

''The governor believes the most effective abstinence education is done in the classroom, in a more personalized setting with young people," Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said yesterday. ''It's really a question of how you can most effectively spend these limited dollars."

If Romney's measure had passed and the federal money had gone to schools, opponents say, it would have increased the focus on abstinence to the exclusion of other forms of sex education. It would have meant, for example, that educators receiving the funds could discuss only the failure rates of popular forms of contraception, without discussing their effectiveness in preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, opponents said.

''We don't think those programs are effective, and in fact they can be harmful because they're misleading, they're incomplete," said Melissa Kogut, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. ''For young people who are already sexually active, they're not going to get the information they need to best take care of themselves or protect themselves."

Romney drew support from some Democrats, as well as the lobbying arm of the Catholic Church and the Massachusetts Family Institute. Opponents included the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, and other abortion rights groups, who argued the plan would limit what educators who receive the funds can discuss in the classroom.

Planned Parenthood was among the interest groups urging lawmakers to defeat Romney's proposal yesterday. Their advocates argued that condom use should be taught in the classroom and that abstinence funds are best spent on reaching a broader audience outside the schools.

''The big troubling question about these programs, is: are they actually causing disease transmission to go up because they discourage condom use," said Erin Rowland, a Planned Parenthood spokeswoman. ''That's really at the heart of this debate. It's the concern that they're putting teens at risk by spreading misleading information."

Since 1998, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has spent its abstinence funds on radio and television ads for students ages 9 to 12 and 15 to 17 and to produce brochures and films in Spanish and English. The votes yesterday amounted to an endorsement of that policy and drew praise from abortion rights groups.

Abstinence education supporters expressed disappointment after the vote. They said that even if the measure had passed, schools would have been able to teach about contraception in other classes.

''The only foolproof way to prevent teen pregnancy is abstinence," said Maria C. Parker, associated director for public policy for the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, the church's policy arm. ''All the rest of them have a failure rate; someone has to get real about what's happening here."

The vote actually represented an about-face for the Legislature, which voted last year to spend the money on classroom lessons. Some lawmakers said they did not remember voting for the plan, and lawmakers repealed the measure several weeks ago. The back-and-forth spurred Romney, a Republican, to reintroduce the measure restricting the funds.

Representative Viriato Manuel deMacedo, a Plymouth Republican, spoke in favor of Romney's proposal on the House floor. ''The people that support the abstinence education programs believe it is best spent in the classroom, as opposed to pamphlets that sit on a table that never get used," deMacedo said.

Representative Eugene L. O'Flaherty, a Chelsea Democrat, crossed party lines to support Romney's classroom-based approach. ''This program is specifically designed to teach young men and young women about the values of abstinence," O'Flaherty said. ''Maybe one out of 10 will hear that message, but at least that one will."

Kristian Mineau -- president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, which also supported Romney's plan -- said he was worried that $740,000 would be completely ineffective if spent on a media campaign. Other supporters of abstinence education agreed.

''A television advertisement on MTV evaporates in seconds and costs millions of dollars," Mineau said. ''Births, [sexually transmitted diseases], abortion [are] linked to this, and these are all social issues that destroy the fiber of the family. So we believe abstinence is the most effective way to combat the social ills of the family."

© Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

'Morning Sedition' rules, Laurence Britt's "Fascism, Anyone?", Paul Krugman's sobering column

In case any of you out there are not listening to Air America's brilliant morning show, "Morning Sedition," I say this: WAKE UP, sheeple! You're drinking the Koolaid!
The hosts, Marc Maron and Mark Riley, have also been reading from Laurence Britt's article called "Fascism, Anyone?" ( If you're not bone-chillingly frightened by this you're probably either dead or part of the neocon death cult.
Also today, Paul Krugman's column in the New York Times on "Debt-Peonage Society," the feudal/futile system of rule by the rich that the crypto-fascist zombies of the neocon death cult (brilliant Morning Sedition terms) are trying to push through (free registration required):

Friday, March 04, 2005

 'Dean Scream' Clip Was Media Fraud


 'Dean Scream' Clip Was Media Fraud
    By Edward Wasserman
    The Miami Herald

    Wednesday 23 February 2005

    The news media got an unusual bashing during last year's bitter electoral campaigns. They got slapped around from all sides, and everybody argued about how the media tried either to undermine Bush or discredit Kerry or both.
    Still, it's never clear why some media wrongs are made into a big deal while others slip by. Take the CBS "60 Minutes" report on Bush's military nonservice: The story itself was old, the dubious evidence was of dubious importance, and the broadcast had no discernible effect. It became a major scandal anyway.
    On the other end of the scale is an instance of clear-cut media wrongdoing that involved unquestionably fraudulent evidence and had dramatic consequences. This one, however, has gone largely unremarked. It is the famous incident involving Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean that is known as The Dean Scream.
    And with Dean's recent appointment as Democratic Party chairman it's being hauled out as constituting the ceiling on whatever political ambitions he might still have, proof that he's shaky, unstable, unfit to serve - Howard Dean's Chappaquiddick.
    You've seen the clip. After Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" at the Super Bowl, it's the most famous news video of 2004. Dean is addressing campaign supporters after he lost the Iowa party caucuses in January. He's screaming for no apparent reason, practically shrieking, ticking off the states where he's vowing to continue the race. His face is red, his voice breaking. He looks deranged. It's a portrait of a man out of control. It's documentary evidence that Dean lacks the temperament for high office.
    In fact the Dean Scream was a fraud, probably the clearest instance of media assassination in recent U.S. political history.
    Last year, a young cable news producer attended one of our twice-yearly Ethics Institutes at Washington and Lee University, in which students and journalists gather to discuss newsroom wrongdoing. He brought two clips.
    The first was the familiar pool footage of Dean in Iowa. The candidate filled the screen, no supporters were visible. Crowd noise was silenced by the microphone he held, which deadened ambient sounds. You saw only him and heard only his inexplicable screaming.
    The second clip was the same speech taped by a supporter on the floor of the hall. The difference was stunning. The place was packed. The noise was deafening. Dean was on the podium, but you couldn't hear him. The roar from his supporters was drowning him out.
    Dean was no longer scary, unhinged, volcanic, over the top. He was like the coach of a would-be championship NCAA football team at a pre-game rally, trying to be heard over a gym full of determined, wildly enthusiastic fans. I saw energy, not lunacy.
    The difference was context. As psychiatrist R.D. Laing once wrote: We see a woman on her knees, eyes closed, muttering to someone who isn't there. Of course, she's praying. But if we deny her that context, we naturally conclude she's insane.
    The Dean Scream footage that was repeatedly aired rests on a similar falsehood. It takes a man who in context was acting reasonably, and by stripping away that context transforms him into a lunatic.
    But that clip was aired an estimated 700 times on various cable and broadcast channels in the week after the Iowa caucus. The people who showed that clip are far more technically sophisticated than I and had to understand how tight visual framing and noise-suppression hardware can distort reality.
    True, some network news executives commented afterward that perhaps the footage was overplayed and offered the bureaucrat's favorite bromide, that hindsight is 20/20. But the media establishment has never acknowledged this as a burning matter of ethical harm.
    That's because the Dean Scream incriminates the entire professional mission of television news, which is built around the primacy of the picture. TV producers don't profess to offer meaning and context; they get you the visuals, unless they're gory or obscene. The notion that great footage would be not shown just because it's profoundly misleading - that's a possibility few TV news executives would entertain.
    That's why they're not eager to see the Dean Scream enter the canon of journalistic sin. And if that leaves Howard Dean's political future hobbled by a lie, so be it.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005