Thursday, January 31, 2002

I'VE COMPOSED A LITTLE DITTY
in comemoration of the 50th star poster in Slate's Fray.
‘ONE MORE DAY’ FOR U.S. REPORTER
Apparently, the kidnappers have realized that Pearl is worth a lot more to them alive than dead. Their threats to kidnap more reporters ring false, as other reporters know how Pearl was captured and would presumably take more precautions. Let's hope this ugly incident comes to a peaceful concusion for Pearl and his family.

Tuesday, January 29, 2002

VIA INSTAPUNDIT

A hit piece from Chirs Mooney in the American Prospect on Friends of the Earth, and environmental group that has come out against human cloning. A few highlights:

Many on the right, for example, will oppose various forms of reproductive technology out of religiously grounded moral principles; many on the left, meanwhile, will wind up in the same place because of their reflexive distrust of "corporate" science. As a result, those in the relative center can find themselves besieged from both sides

Oh, pity the poor centrists -- "besieged" from both sides as they are. And they never do anything to try to paint their opposition as extremists or out of touch.

See if you can spot the deception in this sentence:

The vast majority of Americans oppose reproductive cloning, but therapeutic cloning has the overwhelming support of the scientific community because of its potential health benefits.

Yes, Monney transitions smoothly from the public's opposition to reporoductive cloning to scientists' support for theraputic cloning. Presumably Mooney is hoping the reader will gloss over the sentence and conclude that most Americans support theraputic cloning.

Mooney goes on the trash the "embryo-worshipping religious right," which is at best an unfair characterization of those who oppose cloning. He repeats the charge that opposition to cloning is ultimately based on aesthetics, forgetting that opposition to almost anything is ultimately based on aesthetics. He labels concern for where cloning will lead as "science-fiction" speculation.

It's a useful dodge -- any possible benefits to cloning are real and would help people suffering today. Any possible repurcussions are wild imaginings that would never harm anyone, except maybe a "tiny cluster of cells."

If seomeone truly believes that embryos aren't human life, and that it won't lead to more disturbing uses of technology, I can accpet that. I will strenuously disagree, but I will accept that. What I will not accept is name-calling and efforts to portray all cloning opponents as know-nothing religious zealots who want people to suffer and oppose all scientific progress and want to go back to the days of burning people who say the earth revolves around the sun.

THE ONE THING MYERS ASKS TOUGH QUESTIONS ABOUT
is the Lay family's relationship with the Bush family. In fact Myers tries tries to get Lay to say that she was "betrayed" by Bush's harsh words about Enron. And there's no political agenda at work here?

The whole thing is straight from the Clinton crisis playbook. They even brought the Lay family minister to describe the toll the crisis has taken on the Lay family.
HERE'S MSNBC's WRITE-UP
of the Linda Lay interview. I should note that I misspelled Lisa Myers' last name below -- it has no 'e' in the first syllable.

If you look into it, you'll see how Myers leads Lay in to making excuses and blaming others. The whole thing smells like a big PR setup, and Myers was apparently complicit with the whole thing.
DID ANYONE CATCH JIM NANTZ'S INTERVIEW
of Bill Bellichek after the AFC Championship Game? Not content to let Bellichek enjoy the victory, Nantz had to play Intrepid Reported and press him (twice) to name his starting QB for the next game. First of all, why would Bellichek have even thought about that yet? Secondly, wouldn't that depend at least somewhat on the condition of Tom Brady, which he couldn't possibly know?

If there's one thing more annoying that slick smooth-talking studio hosts, it's slick smooth-talking studio hosts who think they're probing journalists. To steal Bill Simmons's favorite Nantz line, "What a moment!"
DAVID LETTERMAN HAS ENDED THE "OPRAH LOG"
which was a great gag that I enjoyed immensely. Who could have guessed that you could get five minutes of comedy five nights a week for almost three months on a quest to be on a daytime talk show? Amazing. Letterman's really hit a stride since the 9/11 attacks. Everyone on the show seems to be having a much better time than they are on Leno, with Kevin Eubanks's annoying forced over-laughter.

Of course, now that I've written about it, that darn "It ain't Oprah till it's Oprah" song's in my head. Probably yours too. Sorry.
GOOGLE'S FOUND ME
Which creates the typical blogger's experience of astonishment at the searches that result in hits. It turns out I'm the first entry when you search for "Mrs. Lay Interview."

Monday, January 28, 2002

TV Note

All right, when FOX statred running promos for The Best Damned Sports Show, Period during the early NFL season, how many people thought it would still be on the air at the Super Bowl?

I still haven't caught the show, and the ads don't make it seem any more watchable now then they did then. So, I wonder, does it have much of a following, or is FOX giving it a long leash? Personally, I thought this would last about as long as The Magic Show.
WHY AM I SO PEEVED ABOUT THE MRS. LAY INTERVIEW?
Because it's another example of an attempt to use the "victim defense," which I find so grating.

Ken Lay's in a heap of trouble. It seems he has two choices -- accept responsibility or vigorously defend himself against the substance of the charges. But Lay has chosen a third way -- try to portray himself as a victim of the whole thing, and he's trotted his wife out to do this for him, presumably because she's a more sympathetic character than he is.

Again, I hope the American people are smart enough not to fall for this, and I'm ticked that NBC is a partner to this.
ROD DREHER IS FIGHTING MAS ABOUT THE CHURCH'S KIDGLOVE TREATMENT OF A MOLESTING PRIEST
And I have to say, I am too. Dreher's anger has a dimension mine doesn't, since I don't have children, but the whole thing is just raises my blood pressure.

First, and most importantly, hundreds of children were molested, and this could have been prevented if people in the know took even ractive steps. This is unconscionable.

Second, it's a black eye on the Church, and severely weakens its voice when it speaks out on social issues. Who can believe that the Church is fighting for social justice, when it can't take the simplest action to prevent injustice at the hand of one of its own clerics?

When people attack the Church for having molesting priests, I want to bleieve that it's just an ugly stereotype. That a few isolated cases are being blown out of proportion. But when bishops fail to recognize a problem when it pops up, it makes such a position indefensible.

The bishops' desire to help Rev. Geoghan through his apparent illness is understandable but inappropriate. It is admirable that they can see past such a thing to other good works this priest has done. But the bishops are responsible for shepherding the whole Church, not just the clergy. The best, in fact, the only way to do that would have been to remove Rev. Geoghan rom ministry with children.

If the Church continues to fail to address these problems, it will continue to see its voice diminish in power, and will find itslef unable to get any traction in a culture that runs counter to the Church's message. The Church simply can no longer afford to be tainted by cover ups of activities that hurt children.
"-gate" Watch Update

Glenn Reynolds has also tekn to referring to the scandal involving pundits taking money from Enron as "Punditgate."
Another Thing about the Lay Interview

Mrs. Lay said that the Lays were hoping to retire, but now work around the clock to avoid personal bankruptcy. I guess this is supposed to make us feel sorry for them. "I don't want to go bankrupt," she wept.

Hello? I thought CEO's were paid several times more than ordinary workers because they take on more risk than ordinary workers. As Rob Walker is fond of pointing out, most CEO's find ways to slither out of the downside of this risk. Ken Lay apparently hasn't completely done that. Too bad.

Never mind that bankruptcy for the Lay's probably means they'll have to settle for two retirement homes instead of three, while employees whose 401(K) collapsed may not get to send their kids to college.

Oh well, I guess the "embarassment" is embarrassing enough.

Can you tell I'm worked up about this? At least my ABC affiliate didn't preempt This Week for a 700 Club marathon.
Playoff Thoughts

  • Patriots over Steelers
    This game illustrates why it can be good not to gamble. Despite my picking the Steelers, I throughly enjoyed the Patriots' victory. They are a spunky team. I also give credit to Drew Bledsoe for being ready to perform when called upon when Brady went down. About five years ago, after Randall Cunningham was unseated as the Eagles' QB by Rodney Peete, Peete was injured in a playoff game against the Cowboys. Cunningham was completely unprepared, giving the Eagles no chance of winning. It would have been easy for Bledsoe to sulk similarly; it's good to see he didn't.

    Special teams were the difference. I think it's interesting that you never hear about a team picking up someone specifically for their special teams, other than a big-time kicker like Morten Andersen or returner, like Desmond Howard. Mostly they're guys who weren't good enough to make it as LB's, TE's or RB's, who worked to contribute to the team in this way. New England showed yesterday that it matters who you put out in these situations.

  • Rams over Eagles
    I'm sure I'll be subject to some ribbing at work today, since I put a "Go Eagles!" sign on my desk yesterday. Oh well.

    The Rams won because they have better players. Sounds simple, but a lot of people forget things like that. The Eagles just had no answer for Marshall Faulk, the NFL's best player, and probably my favorite athlete of all time. This guy just does everything possible to help his team win. You think you need a big back at the goal line? Faulk ran as tough an anyone on his two one yard TD runs.
ON THE TODAY SHOW THIS MORNING,
Lisa Meyers had an interview with Ken Lay's wife. I've never much cared for Meyer's reporting. I found her "Truth Squad" features during last year's debates to be quite lacking in any information.

Anyway, Mrs. Lay's appearance most closely reminded me of Hillary Clinton's appearance on the same show when the Lewinsky scandal broke out. It's not our fault, it's the nasty media, and their desire to do dig up dirt. And look what it's done? A good man has committed suicide, all because of the media's invading eyes. And my husband had no idea what was going on; if he did, he would have done something. He was let down by the people around him. My husband's the most generous man I've ever met; he would never cheat anybody out of anything. It's not his fault. It's the media.

Does this strike anyone else as awful? I thought these CEO's were the macho, all-accountable heroes of the corporate world. Now, when there's real trouble, Ken Lay sticks his wife out there to take the heat and whine about the media's coverage? Puhleeeze.

And why did Meyers and NBC allow themselves to be used for such puffery and obfuscation? Is this supposed to be "balance."
I hope the American people are smart enough to se through this crapola.
Speaking of QuasiPundit

I'm in the middle of quite the discussion over their Forum since I had the nerve to defend that most undefendable of characters -- no, not Osama bin Laden, but Russell Yates, who has had all his children killed by his wife, who will probably spend the rest of her life in prison. But that's not enought punishment for his insensitivity! You can read more of my (and others') thoughts here. My latest post is on Page 2.
Time to Clean Up My Act

I've been linked by QuasiPundit twice as well as permalinked on DailyPundit. This has brought some non friends-and-family hits, so I guess I better not embarass myself with careless typos and obvious factal errors. Thanks guys, for the support. I hope this evolves into something worthy of such support.

Friday, January 25, 2002

SCOTT RUBUSH HAS SOME GREAT THOUGHTS
on abortion rights and freedom. The pro-choice crowd presents abortion rights as if to deny them would be the antithesis of American. Yet, Cuba and China are great at providing abortion rights, and I don't see any Americans clamoring to move to those countries to be more free. A truly free country affirms the rights of those who are powerless or have been powerless -- racial minorities, women, children, and, yes, the unborn.

Playoff Predictions

  • Patriots at Steelers
    The Patriots are a great story, but I haven't seen anything from them that indicates they can take on Pittsburgh.

    Pick Steelers

    Random Prediction: Jerome Bettis will not rush for 100 yards, but it won't matter as the Steelers spread the ball around.

  • Eagles at Rams

    Ah, the team I grew up with (I'm from South Jersey) versus my current home team (I live in St. Louis). I'll be rooting for the Eagles. I have to say the way the whole town here seems to be looking past the Eagles to the Super Bowl is a bit concerning. This is a team the Rams were lucky to get an OT win against in the first game of the year, and has a lot of momentum and an unpredictable QB. Though, all I hear are DJ's and newspeople planning New Orleans trips next week. It's almost enough to to make me...

    Pick: Rams (can't do it)

    Random Prediction: I couldn't pull the trigger on the upset pick because the Rams are the Eagles' equal or superior at every position, with a big edge at RB and WR. The only advantage I see the Eagles have is in special teams, or if they manage to knock Kurt Warner out of the game. Then, Donovan McNabb has a huge edge over Jaime Martin, who Mike Martz has stupidly managed to give almost no game experience to despite the Rams' routine blowout wins. So, for the Eagles to win they either need to make a big special teams play (maybe even 2), or knock Warner out of the game early.


"-gate" watch

Martha Brant refers to the slow trickle of details surrounding President Bush's choking episode as "Pretzelgate."
VIRGINIA POSTREL REPORTS THAT ADULT STEM CELLS MAY BE THE MOST PROMISING.
Of course, she still can't resisit the oppurtunity to take a few cheap shots at the anti-embryonic stem cell research crowd.

I and other Catholics will welcome this development with open arms. In fact, the petition I signed at a Catholic Church calling for and end to funding embryonic stem cell research also called for an increase in funding for adult stem ceall research.
RAMESH PONNURU'S NATIONAL REVIEW ARTICLE, WHICH PRESTON LINKS TO, IS ALSO EXCELLENT
Glenn Reynolds is fond of saying that the anti-cloning position boils down to anti-cloners finding cloning "icky", or aesthetically revolting. Then pro-embyonic researchers proceed to make the case for theraputic cloning or embryonic research based on aesthetic properties -- the blastocyst is only a microscopic cluster of cells, it hasn't formed organs, etc.

The truth is the "anti-" anything movent is always based on aesthetic revulsion. It doesn't matter what you pick -- terrorism, racism, slavery, sexism, etc., if you ask "why" long enough you'll eventually get to "it's just plain wrong!"

Bryan Preston posts a great pro-life missive


One of the great goals of my life (and this blog) is to show that most pro-lifers are not untraconservative fundamentalist zealots who don't care about anything other than their religious dogma. Preston does a great job of deconstructing the name-calling and shifty logic that is so much a part of the pro-choice movement's rhetoric.

Thursday, January 24, 2002

"-gate" Watch


Andrew Sullivan (sorry, he doesn't seem to have permalinks) has been referring to the scandal involving Paul Krugman, Bill Kristol, and others accepting large fees from Enron for little or no work, as "Punditgate." Now, I enjoy Sullivan's writings, and I often agree with him, but as I outlined in my first post, this device of adding "-gate" to the end of something to indicate a scandal is one of the most trite, tired conventions in use today.

I'll continue to mind the "-gate", and post any more uses in this space.

The Root Causes of the Victim Culture


Victims of crime have far too much clout in today's society. I heard on the news the other day that NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg is studying development options for the WTC "despite objections from the victims' families that the site should remain undeveloped as a memorial;."

First of all, if we leave the area undeveloped, leave a hole in the NY skyline, it will be a memorial to the hijackers, not the victims or the rescue workers. The bulding wasn't destroyed because of the bravery of the fire fighters or the decent lives of the victims; it was destroyed because terrorists hijacked two airplanes and steered them into the building. Allowing the area to remain undeveloped would allow their handiwork to be preserved, their mission to remain forever accomplished. Years from now, any such memorial will remind us much more of the hijackers than the victims.

Secondly, how does being a victim of violence entitle one to dictate the development options for downtown Manhattan? Our policies have fed this belief that victim status one brings with it absolute accomodation of every demand one could have. Want the man who murdered your relative killed? Fine. You want to watch it live? Fine. Can't make the trip? We'll hook up closed-circuit TV so you can watch it from your hometown. Your daughter was killed by a released sex offender? Well, we'll pass a new law requiring that everyone be notified whenver a convicted sex offender moves into the nieghborhood, regardless of how long ago it happened. Might this be a bit unfair if the offender has rehabilitated himself? Maybe, but we can't say no to a victim's family.

About the worst sin a politician can commit is being "insensitive" to victim's families. It was "insensitive" of George W. Bush not to sign the hate crimes bill after James Bryd's family had lobbied for it. It's insensitive of pro-lifers to oppose embryonic stem cell research to help victims of terrible diseases, even though more ethical avenues of research exist and have not been exhausted. It's "insensitive" for anyone to oppose the death penalty, when they or their families have not been victimized by violence (just ask Michael Dukakis).

Is it any wonder that Americans are constantly clamoring to be identified as victims? Anna Quindlen (link requires credit card registration) tried to play this game with abortion clinic workers in a column about a month after 9/11. See, they're victims of terrorism, so we must all stand with them. No, we must do no such thing. I abhor abortion clinic violence several times more than I abhor abortion itself, but I am not going to call these people victims when they have placed themselves at the front lines of the culture war. Should it be this way? Absolutely not, and I will support any means to capture and imprison those who think violence and scare tactics are the best way to make their point. But I will not support efforts to outlaw peaceful demonstrations, and I will not sit back while pundits like Quindlen try to paint the pro-choice crowd as heroes in the face of terror, and pro-lifers as complicit with terror, when almost all pro-lifers hate this violence even more than pro-choicers.

Got a little sidetracked there, but the point is that once we say that victims have privileged status, the result will be that people will try to cast themselves as victims, so they too can enjoy these privileges. I'm not saying that it it desirable to be a victim of violence, disease, or prejudice so that one can enjoy victim status. I am saying that by overindulging our natural (and good) instinct to express compassion to victims, we are creating a culture where people stop striving to achieve things, and make their case through rigorous argument, and instead cast themselves as victims and their opponents as insensitive. This is not a good thing.

Wednesday, January 23, 2002

To my legions of fan(s)


I've been out of town the last few days, hence the lack of posts. Of course, it's not like I'm breaking any traffic records here, so it may have been unneccesary to post a vacation message. Still, I probably should have done so.

Friday, January 18, 2002

Too Hot or Too Cold?


Via InstaPundit, Tim Cavanagh rants about warblogs.

I'm not sure exactly what my point is -- at one point Cavanagh criticies the bloggers for being an echo-chamber of back-patteing, and elsewhere he criticizes them for being so rough on the leftist pacifist crowd.

So which is it, are bloggers too nice, or too mean? I guess Cavanagh would say that bloggers niceness is reserved for fellow bloggers, but the quotes he uses to make this point include praises of non-bloggers like Mark Steyn. My experience with bloggers is that they will praise what is praiseworthy and ignore or tear apart what is not. It doesn't matter whether it's a blogger or op-ed columnists.

Obviously, an NYT op-ed writer makes for a juicier targer than a blogger like myself, but that's why these writers took these jobs, correct?

I think we're seeing a backlash. People are realizing that there's nothing special about large news organizations that makes them the sole provider of good news commentary, as I note below. The established media are seeing this empire crumble, and are fighting back.

Non media types like Reynolds are expecially good at raising their ire. I predict we'll see a lot more of this anti-blog backlash in the coming weeks and months, much of which will take the tone of "Who is this person who think he's qualified to make news commentary?"

The whole point of the blogger movement is it doesn't matter. If you've got something to say, and you can say it in an intelligent, thoghtful and engaing manner, then you're qualified. Period.

Playoff Predictions -- Winners and random predictions, usually having to do with the broadcast



  • Eagles at Bears
    I haven't seen to much of the Bears, so I'm writing from a little bit of ignorance. Still, I think Jeremiah Trotter is as good as any MLB in the league, including Urlacher. The teams seem pretty evenly matched at every position except one -- QB. That will be the difference

    Pick: Eagles

    Random Prediction:Dick Stockton, Tory Aikman and Darrel Johnston, doing what seems to be their 17th Eagles game in a a 16 game season will have a lot more information about the Eagles than the Bears. Heck, at this point, they may ride over on the Eagles' team bus.

  • Ravens at Steelers
    I'm not buying this whole "they've got the fire back" line we're being fed about the Ravens. Elvis Grbac is still Elvis Grbac, and when these teams last played in Baltimore, with first place on the line, the Steelers kicked the Ravens' butt all over the fields

    Pick: Steelers

    Random prediction: Between self-proclaimed genius and media hound Brian Billick, and stone-favced emotional Bill Cowher, plus prominent coordinators Marv Lewis and Matt Cavanaugh, this brodcast may set a new record fro coach sideline shots. This record will fall bay the wayside next year, when Steve Spurrier enters the league, with his "daggummit, why can't my QB execute my perfectly designed play?" reaction shots. Even moreso if Tony Banks is the Redskins' QB.

  • Raiders at Patriots
    I picked the Raiders to win the Super Bowl halfway through the season, and that prediction looked rather foolish last year. Still, an offense with a recuperated Charlie Garner, with RIch Gannon throwing to Jerry Rice and Tim Brown impresses me a lot more than the Patriots with Tom Brady. Hats off to Bill Bellichek, but the miracle season ends here.

    Pick: Raiders

    Random Prediction The Jerry Rice rejuvenation bandwagon will reach full stem this week, especially if Rice has another good game.

  • Packers at Rams
    Rams defense has proved capable of stopping solid offenses. Packers defense has not. Packers only chance is to win a wild shoot-out with the Rams, which seems like a losing strategy to me.

    Pick: Rams

    Random Prediction With posesssion being so critical, we'll see a lot more Ricky Proehl than Az Hakim in the Rams' offense.

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

If the Cippers win, the terrorists win


With all the seizing of nail clippers and suspending of school kids for having nail clippers, I'm wondering when someone's going to suggest that the LA Clippers get a less-violent name...

What do I think of Wright?


I'm glad you asked. I think Wright makes a mistake in that sees the world through on issue -- interdependence. Any action that moves us towards greater interdependence is good; anything that moves us away from interedpendence is bad.

Interedependence is a noble goal, but it's not the only goal. If we establish a record of always cooperating with other nations, and always giving into their demands, then we are inviting them to take advantage of us. A case could be made that greater interdependence shoud be the #1 goal of US foreign policy. A case cannot be made that is should be the only goal.

What is interesting about Wright is that he presents his arguments in a manner that suggests that he appreciates nuances and complexities of foreign policy that are lost on naifs like President Bush and his supporters. The irony is that it is Wright who see things too simply. According to him, foreigners react in one of two ways to US foreign policy -- either they approve, and enter into greater interedependence with us, or they disapprove and grow in resentment that leads them to terrorist camps. There is no middle ground, no other reaction. Those who suggest that US policy may scare some would-be terrorists are foolish. Maybe it's this attitude that leads to Wright having so many vocal critics.

Robert Wright takes on Robert Kaplan in Slate's Dialogues this week.


I'm sure Bryan Preston is champing at the bit at the many oppurtunities he'll have this week to take Wright down.

On Salon


But what about Salon, the last bastion of truly independent journalism that remains unconrrupted by corporate parents, if you believe it's marketers. When Salon launched its premium service, I has I hard time buying the line, "If you don't support Salon, you're not a true bleiever in independent journalism." I had no idea there was a linkage between people's passion for journalism, and the viability of Salon's silly business model, but maybe I'm dense. Anyway, the bloggers have shown that there is indeed a place for independent commentary, that doesn't require oodles of capital.

Does this mean we're destined to all our reporting coming from the corporate giants? I think so. News coverage, expecially of foreign events, is always going to be a "loss leader" for the networks and news organization. The incremental revenue from sending a reporter to some foreign country isn't going to cover the costs. Still, it's important that they do this so they can say they're a big time outfit. (Ever notice how your local TV news channels brag about how "we are there", even if the reporter's presence adds nothing to the story). It's the same reason FOX pays so much money for the NFL -- major league sports = major league network.

But if news is all you have to sell, then your loss leader become just a loss. Which explains why Salon had to diversify into cultural commentary, advice, "sex", etc. That's nice, but people still weren't willing to pay for it, since you could find similar things all over the 'Net. You can't go anywhere else for the New York Times Book Review, Friends, or local traffic reports. Salon fell because people aren't willing to pay for the one unique thing it had to offer -- indepenent (or non-big-corporate) news reporting.

On blogging


There's been a lot of dicussion about the future of blogging (or "independent journalism"), and what its role in the future will be. I figured I'd put my $0.02 in.

Thre will always be a need for large news organizations. This is pretty obvious. No matter how many hits Glenn Reynolds gets, or how many people leave a few bucks in his virtual tip jar, it's never going to be enough to fund a trip over to Afghanistan to report on the progress in the war. Like it or not, Reynolds, Andrew Sullivan, and others feed off the actual journalism done by the news organizations. Without this "news", there'd be nothing for them to comment on.

Well, then what's wrong with Scott Adams's "everyone's a reporter" approach, as an InstaPundit reader suggests? Well, if this were the case, we'd have gotten all our news about the war in Afghanistan from al Jazzerra, and I don't think anybody here would be happy with that.

Yes, some bloggers like Josh Marshall sprinkle some original reporting in with the commentary. But Marshall can do this because he's gained contacts in his years of working for the larger news organizations, and continues to do so. It's not purely a product of Talking Points.

What Reynolds and others have shown, though, is that there's no reason the major news organizations have to be the sole source of news commentary. Just because someone was once a great reporter does not mean she will be an engaging commentator. The skills required for interesting commentary are writing ability, critical thinking, knowledge about history and current affairs, and passion. Yes, reporters should have these skills, but they're not the only ones. The blogger's "take-downs" of established pundits during the war have shown that oftenitmes we amateurs. have more of these skills than the professionals. Does it really take unique talent to write to George Bush in the voice of Jesus as Stephanie Salter did?

So, the bloggers and others are breaking the monopoly on News Commentary, and this is A Good Thing, IMHO. But it's important to remember that all this commentary comes from the news, and someone still needs to go report it, and you aren't going to be able to do that on PayPal contributions.

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Tony Dungy Fired


There's been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth about Tony Dungy's eminent, and now official firing as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

I've long been a fan of Dungy's. He seems to be a great guy, and his players seem to genuinely admire him. I was pleased to see him get the job with the Buccaneers, and am glad to see he's had success (so long as it hasn't conflicted with the two teams I root for -- the Eagles and Rams).

Still, it's apparent the Buccaneers have plateaued. Management had spent big money to bring in offensive free agents -- Randall McDaniel, Keyshawn Johnson, Brad Johnson, only to see the same results. It was apparent in the 3rd quarter of Saturday's game against the Eagles that the Bucs were not about to mount a comeback -- they had packed it in. It just seemed like the Eagles wanted it more. At some point you have to hold the head coach accountable, no matter how nice a guy he is.

That being said, I hope ungy gets another shot at head coaching shortly, and that he learns from his mistakes and has more success. The NFL's record of minority head coaches in concerning. A clear example is Art Shell, who had a successful run as Raiders head coach, only to never hold a job above offensive line coach after being fired at Al Davis's whimsy. He deserved better, as does Dungy.

What the Enron Scandal's All About


The Enron "scandal" dominated the Sunday morning talk shows this weekend. There seems to be a lot of fuzzy accusations, but no real meat yet. And it doesn't appear likely there will be at this point.

Here's what I think is going on -- although liberals admire the job Bush has done in office, they'd still rather see someone else in the Oval Office in three years, and would like to see a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress this year. In order to do this, they need to knock GWB down a few pegs, but they can't while the war on terrorism dominates the conversation, in part because he's doing a good job with it, and in part because it would sem unpatriotic. They failed to get traction criticizing the administration for taking away civil liberties, because the public saw the Justice department's measures as neccesary to prevent terrorism.

What to do? Well, try to connect Bush with the recent collapse of a large energy company. Even if there's no smoke or fire, it creates all sorts of ugly associations. First, it associates Bush with the company collapsing, people being our of work, and the downturn of the economy in general. Second, it reminds voters how cozy Bush and Cheney are with energy executives, which the media generally protrays as cigar-smoking bigots who would kill the last living panda if it would make them a dollar richer. Third, it moves the public conversation away from the war on terrorism which favors the Republicans over to the econonomy and the environment, which Democrats think favors them.

So, the image Bush the warrior against terrorism is replaced with the image of Bush the friend of the energy executives who put people out of work and despoil then environment while pocketing huge bonuses. And, by the way, the econmy's in a recession. It'll be intersting to see how this strategy works.

Monday, January 14, 2002

Shut the -gate


It seems like any time there's a new scandal, the press decides it needs to add the suffix "-gate" to whatever's goinf on. Some examples:

  • Irangate
  • Travelgate
  • Nannygate
  • Zippergate
  • Pardongate

Now Salon is calling the current Enron scandal "Enrongate"

Can we call a moratorium on this? Does this suffix add any new information? Does it serve any purpose other than to clue people in that this is, in fact, a scandal, and that the news fols are quite clever? It's tired and trite.