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Archive for June 2008

When it comes to guns, there are Two Americas

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Originally published on on Fri, 06/27/2008 – 1:41pm

To blatantly borrow from John Edwards, when it comes to guns, there are two Americas.

In one America, Dick Cheney and Antonin Scalia would feel right at home. Guns are everywhere. Hunting is a nearby experience. I remember living in south central Michigan in the early 1990s in wonder when parents would take their kids out of school for the start of deer hunting season. I also remember the fear of driving the interstate highway at night during deer hunting season. The deer would be flushed out of the woods by the hunters, and the creatures often ended up on or near the highway. I have never seen a deer season where the highways were clear of deer remnants.

This is Ted Nugent’s America.

In the other America, Dick Cheney and Antonin Scalia would be really scared, especially without the protection they normally receive. In Chicago, we hear stories about kids and adults being killed with guns all the time. I keep hearing about how so many Chicago Public Schools kids were killed this past school year. The news is sadly almost delivered matter of factly, as if it wasn’t a big shock.

Those in the first America were thrilled with the 5-4 decision overturning the D.C. handgun ban. Those in the second America were disturbed by the ruling.

We are told in numerous pitches and inflections, especially by the MSM, that we are supposed to understand the rural areas, the working class, the Wal-Mart shopping, recreational hunters.

I confess I do understand them better than most people who live in a big city. I was once assigned to cover a hunting festival. I almost laughed when my boss suggested this. “I don’t know anything about hunting,” I quipped. “Good,” he said. “Then you’ll ask good questions.”

And he was right. I looked out of place, asked some stupid questions, and was treated really well by the people there. My boss loved the story, said I got some good insight.

So I do understand the first America. But what I really want is for the first America and Antonin Scalia to understand the second America. I want them to comprehend the worst sections of 21st Century Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington, Los Angeles, and New York. I want them to understand that the rules are different in the big city.

Would Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Roberts accept a rule where if a city has a certain number of people living within it, the city could impose a handgun ban? Probably not, perhaps the first America couldn’t accept such a provision.

Us here in the second America, we are Americans, too. And we want the opportunity for reasonable gun laws that apply to our communities, not just yours.


Written by democracysoup

June 27, 2008 at 1:41 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

MSM treats politics like it’s a game; we know it’s about people’s lives

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Originally published on on Fri, 06/27/2008 – 8:42am

Perhaps it seems at times that politics is just a game. After all, we do make fun of the MSM for covering the process as a horse race.

The strategies at FOX ‘News’ Channel, MSNBC, and CNN along with the major broadcast networks are to cover the contest not for who has the best ideas or what is the best for the country, but more like who got in the best shot and who was best at being deceptive.

But politics isn’t a game; it’s real life. It’s my friend who called me late last night considerably upset over the overturning of the D.C. handgun ban. And she’s worried about increased crime where she lives if handguns become more prominent. She didn’t grow up in the United States (she’s Canadian), and she doesn’t understand our relationship with guns.

This conservative commentator seems to think politics is a game, and he has some advice for Keith Olbermann:

Here’s an inconvenient truth, Keith: You should be rooting for John McCain. Across the spectrum, openly partisan news coverage does the most good and has the most pizzazz when it’s at odds with power. Back when newborn Fox was chewing Bill Clinton’s jugular for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, everyone except Bill’s ball and chain could see that vast right-wing conspiracies have their upside. It’s never bad to have a prominent media outlet hell-bent on not letting the Oval Office’s occupant get away with much.

The one major news figure who has a background as a sportscaster is one of the few who realizes that politics isn’t sports, isn’t a horse race, that it’s about how to make lives better. And this guy wants to give Olbermann advice on how to boost ratings.

You could argue that a President Obama will shake up the dynamic for a number of media outlets. Imagine The Daily Show or the Colbert Report or even in a world with a President Obama. Yes, things will be different. But one guarantee is certain: there will still be plenty of things to talk about, to write about.

Barack Obama, or any other human being, can only do so much. And there is a lot of damage that has been done. The cleanup will last a long time; the more we pitch in to help, the less time it will take. But there is a lot of work to do.

Olbermann, the Comedy Central shows, BuzzFlash, and more will have plenty to discuss in an Obama Administration. But the conservative commentator is probably right about one thing: the ratings for FOX ‘News’ Channel will likely go up if Obama becomes president. That is just one cross we will have to bear.

Written by democracysoup

June 27, 2008 at 8:42 am

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Gwen Ifill Responds to BuzzFlash Complaint About an Altered PBS Transcript

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Originally published on BuzzFlash.comon Fri, 06/27/2008 – 8:10am

You might be a fan of one of our regular features: Verse-Case Scenario by Tony Peyser. But Tony is more than just a poet. And hopefully, you read his piece earlier this week concerning a transcript discrepancy on “Washington Week in Review.”

To refresh your memory, here was the original transcript from last Friday’s episode:

MS. IFILL: A couple other developments that are worth remarking even though they happened at the beginning and it now seems like a long time ago. Al Gore came out of the closet here and endorsed — we don’t know where he’s been exactly.

MR. HARWOOD: Careful.

MS. IFILL: Come on. He came out and he endorsed Barack Obama.

Peyser’s original complaint was that there were rumblings in the crowd of dismay and disapproval not reflected on the transcript.

The ultimate response by the show: instead of reflecting the audience reaction, the entire conversation was removed from the transcript. This was the response not by FOX or CNN, but PBS and “Washington Week in Review.”

But ultimately, the good news is that after complaining, the transcript was restored, sort of:

MS. IFILL: A couple other developments that are worth remarking even though they happened at the beginning and it now seems like a long time ago. Al Gore endorsed.

MS. IFILL: A couple other developments that are worth remarking even though they happened at the beginning and it now seems like a long time ago. Al Gore came out of the closet here and endorsed – we don’t know where he’s been exactly.

MR. HARWOOD: Careful.

MS. IFILL: Come on. He came out and he endorsed Barack Obama. He’s a big Democrat. He was the nominee of the party in 2000. What took him so long and does it make a difference?

This might seem like we made a mistake, and there’s a repeat of most of the first paragraph. This is EXACTLY as it runs on the transcript page, and the first paragraph that stops at “Al Gore endorsed” is what was there in the censored version. They kept the censored version, and put back in the other words. And they still didn’t put in the crowd’s reaction.

The fun part of this was that Gwen Ifill herself wrote back to Tony Peyser. She did admit the transcript should not have been changed. Ifill also seemed to think that Peyser was making more of this than there was.

The funny, or not so funny, part of that was that Tony WASN’T trying to do that at all. He didn’t attack Ifill for her usage as much as wanting an exact reflection of the incident in the transcript. And the show’s initial response was to remove the entire conversation from the record.

The cruel irony to this is the show has a video of the episode that hasn’t been doctored. Everything is there, including the audience reaction that Peyser originally thought should have been in there.

When doing a live on tape TV show, sometimes stupid things are said. If you sincerely apologize, there shouldn’t be any backlash. But while what Ifill said was inappropriate, the reaction to a simple e-mail from a TV viewer was even worse. Instead of thanking Peyser for his passion, they decided to remove the entire context, to not own up to it.

We know not to trust certain media outlets. But we always hope that PBS should be free from that pressure. This time, at least, we were let down.

Written by democracysoup

June 27, 2008 at 8:10 am

Posted in Uncategorized

John McCain’s character shows through by not forcing Charlie Black to resign

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Originally published on on Thu, 06/26/2008 – 11:36am

We are told that one characteristic to look for in determining the viability of a presidential campaign is how the candidate reacts when one of the people says something inappropriate.

When Samantha Power made her “monster” remark, she expressed remorse within the sentence she was speaking. Power offered to resign, and the Obama campaign wanted her to resign as well.

“She is a monster, too — that is off the record — she is stooping to anything,” Ms Power said, hastily trying to withdraw her remark.

Yet when Charlie Black speaks of how another major terrorist attack will help McCain, Black gets to keep his job.

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December was an “unfortunate event,” says Black. “But his knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who’s ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us.” As would, Black concedes with startling candor after we raise the issue, another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. “Certainly it would be a big advantage to him,” says Black.

Now Richard Clarke was on Countdown with Keith Olbermann calling for the resignation of Black from the McCain campaign. “Charlie Black ought to be gone tomorrow morning.”

It says a lot about the McCain campaign that he hasn’t called upon Black to resign, and it says quite a bit about Black in that he didn’t voluntarily offer to resign.

The “monster” comment obviously wasn’t very nice, but doesn’t even come close to the horrible things Black has said about the Bhutto assassination and any potential terrorism threats.

Written by democracysoup

June 26, 2008 at 11:36 am

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John McCain’s $300 million alternative car battery prize is cheesy, but specific

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Originally published on on Tue, 06/24/2008 – 9:16am

$300 million.

I’m so excited that John McCain is giving me a chance to make $300 million. It will fulfill my lifelong, er, well, six-month dream:

To be richer than Cindy McCain.

I didn’t think it was possible to ever be in this situation. Sure I could play the lottery, win $20 million or $40 million, and be set for life. But Cindy McCain could still look down at me. Reaching $300 million would allow me to climb beyond Cindy McCain’s fortune.

Yes, Sen. John McCain announced a $300 million prize to the person who can develop a battery that will “leapfrog” what we get from current hybrid and electric cars.

Now, McCain didn’t make it clear what standard of battery would qualify, and unless Cindy is putting up part of the money, nobody is getting rich right now. But according to Toshiba’s press release, the battery charges 90 percent full in 5 minutes, and can last 10 years.

So is Toshiba $300 million richer if McCain is elected?

When McCain says, “in the quest for alternatives to oil, our government has thrown around enough money subsidizing special interests and excusing failure,” does he really know his subject matter?

There has been work, not always government-sponsored, to find better solutions. For anyone who has seen “Who Killed the Electric Car,” they know there have been better options that government has not embraced. There was a line, and I’m paraphrasing Ed Begley Jr. when he talked about the electric car and whether it was practical to have a car that could only travel 250 miles on a charge. He essentially said that it would be applicable to 90% of car trips.

McCain also says, “From now on, we will encourage heroic efforts in engineering, and we will reward the greatest success.” But the insincerity of the $300 million prize is what is troubling. Yes, we need to invest in alternative energies (not just for cars), and government needs to do its part to make that investment.

But that $300 million needs to be spread out over a number of ideas, some of which might fail. But success often rises through failure. And hydrogen cars might be viable long-term, but electric cars can come around now to help short-term. And there are cars such as this one that boasts 300 miles to the gallon in typical driving conditions.

McCain did have some good points, calling for $5,000 tax credits for buyers of alternative energy cars. And he spoke out in favor of ethanol alternatives to corn-based ethanol, specifically tariffs on sugar cane-based ethanol from Brazil. And it’s good to see a Republican presidential candidate try to make a mark for alternative energy cars.

But Obama seems to have a better handle on this pursuit away from being handcuffed by the price of oil. A few more specifics from Obama would be nice, and you have to wonder why McCain is first with specifics? And it’s virtually guaranteed those ideas won’t be as cheesy as a $300 million prize.

Written by democracysoup

June 24, 2008 at 9:16 am

Posted in Uncategorized

John McCain’s financing ethics needs the attention of the MSM

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Originally published on on Mon, 06/23/2008 – 2:04pm

Jon Stewart: Do you watch the news that we’re watching?

Lara Logan: If I were to watch the news that you hear in the United States — I’d just blow my brains out because it would drive me nuts.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, June 17, 2008

Well, Lara, we do watch that news, and the prospect of that can really be depressing. Especially when the information is incomplete or one-sided, the MSM can claim it’s “telling the truth,” but it’s not the whole truth.

The latest misguided adventure by the MSM is over Barack Obama’s “switch” on public financing.

The incomplete truth: The promise Obama gave was a conditional promise on a questionnaire that was not filled out by Sen. McCain. Given the behavior of Sen. McCain (details in a moment), it’s fair to say a compromise would not be reached.

Merriam-Webster defines conditional as “subject to, implying, or dependent upon a condition” and condition defined as “a premise upon which the fulfillment of an agreement depends.”

Now, if media figures don’t understand what a conditional promise is, perhaps they need to give their interns a raise so they can buy a dictionary and look it up.

The one-sided truth: a presidential candidate with numerous alleged FEC violations; several flip-flops on whether to accept public financing or private financing, including insinuating on the same day that you might not take public financing and then do, all well within 24 hours. If you were covering a presidential campaign where a candidate did all the above and more, you might think that was a huge story.

Well, that is the John McCain story, and it barely registers a peep with the MSM.

From a BuzzFlash alert from last week:

He uses a loophole in a law he supported to fly inexpensively on his wife’s company’s private jet and allegedly withdrew illegally from the public financing system, an action the Democratic National Committee wants investigated by the Federal Election Commission and has filed a lawsuit to compel the investigation.

Until the MSM starts reporting this, they have no credibility on this issue. There are two major party presidential candidates with records. Let’s start seeing the MSM wake up and look beyond their infatuation with McCain.

Written by democracysoup

June 23, 2008 at 2:04 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tim Russert and the olé school of journalism

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Originally published on on Fri, 06/20/2008 – 2:36pm

Tim Russert has been buried with a beautiful memorial service. The worlds of politics, journalism, and television have had a whirlwind in the last 7 days. What Russert’s untimely death means to the 2008 race depends on which world you live in, and how it may affect you.

NBC has clearly thought naming a permanent replacement or a temporary replacement wasn’t appropriate at this time and place. Brian Williams gets the first nod in the new chair (Tim Russert’s son, Luke, said he now has his father’s old chair), interviewing Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the guests Russert prepared for 7 days ago before he collapsed and died.

Russert has been seen as a proud beacon of journalism (from a lot of his fellow colleagues) and a reasonably nice cog, but still a cog in the MSM machine where we sort of ask tough questions, but not really getting much from the experience (many but not all BuzzFlash readers).

But I think I finally figured out where the difference comes into those two perceptions. From

Asked about the failure to more aggressively challenge the White House on Iraq, Russert once explained (3/21/06): “Well, you know, there’s really no alternative. There are a lot of people on the far right or the far left who want someone in my situation to yell and scream or lean over and choke somebody or slap them around and a lot of histrionics, but you really don’t achieve anything because you make your guest immediately sympathetic, and I much prefer just to try to steady as you go, draw people out.”

MSM journalism feels like bullfighting, or at least, what I perceive bullfighting to be. The bullfighter stands there with a red cape while the bull charges through, and the crowd cheers. Repeat.

This is what a lot of mainstream journalism feels like. The person speaks, let them go by without a thought, and then ask the next question. It’s the olé school of journalism.

Real bullfighting is likely more machismo, which means in the world of MSM, what Russert did seems more courageous. But to the rest of us, Russert certainly was better than many “TV pundits” but still not at the level we need from worlds of politics, journalism, and television.

Written by democracysoup

June 20, 2008 at 2:36 pm

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