Monthly Archives: May 2010

‘Wealth for the Common Good’ Needs Your $$

Wealth for the Common Good is positioned as “a network of business leaders, high-income households and partners working together to promote shared prosperity and fair taxation.”

Then this afternoon I get an email with a lede concerning the House of Representatives’ upcoming hearings on the Bush tax cuts, which the organization wants to allow to expire.  But then there is the third ‘graph.

Wealth for the Common Good is also in the middle of our spring fundraising appeal. Our work relies in large part on individual support, and we ask you to consider making a contribution.

I’ve got to donate to a bunch of rich folks?  They can’t afford this campaign?

Oil Spill is a Good Thing

At least that’s what some GOPers—and I imagine oil state Democrats—think, according to a poll by Public Policy Polling.

The most astounding number from the poll? 28% of Republicans said the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico made them more likely to support drilling off the coast to an equal 28% who said it made them less likely to be supportive. 44% said it made no difference to them and that’s understandable, but why would an oil spill make you more supportive of drilling?

Maybe they want to wipe out marine life.  Hat tip to PoliticalWire.

Lacrosse Murder: Hit Her

Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus writes today about the murder of and by Virginia lacrosse player.

The question has to be asked: Is it something about athletes? Something about entitled college athletes? Something about lacrosse?

Clearly, Marcus has never seen a lacrosse match.  Ms. Marcus, they whack each other with sticks.  Is it any surprise, then, when an emotionally unstable lacrosse player decides to vent on a woman with whom he has been close and is now angry?

I have no beef with lacrosse or those who play it.  My son once did.  But when you hit another person with a stick for hours a day at practice, it should not surprise anyone how this murder went down.  It’s how his short-twitch muscles react.

Post Issues GOP Press Release

Despite the rather snarky lede—

Two days after the dramatic arrest of Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad, Republicans were engaged in a full-bore effort to rewrite the good-news narrative.

"Yes, we have been lucky," House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (Ohio) said Thursday, "but luck is not an effective strategy for fighting terrorism."

Whatever the merits of their argument — and, where terrorism is concerned, it is prudent to keep cockiness at bay — there is a political imperative at work as well. "Democrats are always suspect on national security, and anything that makes them look weak on national security creates an opportunity for Republicans," said Whit Ayres, a GOP pollster.

–is this really nothing more than issuing the GOP talking points for a non-story?  We know that all the GOP wants is to put into people’s mind that the Dems are weak on terrorism. The Post obliges.

While Republicans praised the FBI and local authorities, they noted that the intelligence agencies have — for the third time since the Fort Hood attack in November — failed to interrupt an individual before the act. "I look at the Christmas deal," said Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (Calif.), referring to the attempted airliner bombing over Detroit, "and I look at this deal, and I say, ‘Wow, one of these times they are going to get it right.’ "

Does anyone really believe that we can stop all attempts to detonate a bomb if someone with half a brain wants to?  Yes, we have been lucky.  But someone is going to succeed. 

Instead of acting as a stenographer for the GOP’s talking points, might it been helpful for The Post to examine how other countries have dealt with such random bombings?  Israel, of course, comes to mind.  We might not like the solution.  Or might the reporters have asked the Republicans leadership, “What would you do differently?”  How would you stopped someone—a citizen, with little suspicious behavior, from attempting such an attack?

Alas, that doesn’t fit into the easy narrative that too many journalists buy into—conflict.  No matter how ludicrous the charge, it is conflict and reporters can easily write their “he said, she said” story.

Robin Roberts, 1926-2010

FILE - This Oct. 28, 2009, file photo shows Hall ...

Robin Roberts, the Philadelphia Phillies Hall of Fame pitcher who died today at 83, was a hero to many.

"He was a boyhood hero of mine," team president David Montgomery said. "Then I had a chance to meet him personally. I remember pinching myself knowing I was talking to Robin Roberts. His career and stats speak for themselves. But first and foremost he was a friend and we’ll miss him badly."

I know how he feels, as I grew up cheering the Phillies from the mid-1950’s to today.  My dad always liked him and often called him a gentleman.  We’d try to catch him at Connie Mack Stadium when we could.

They don’t make pitchers like him anymore. For seven straight years he pitched 280 or more innings.

The right-hander was the most productive pitcher in the National League in the first half of the 1950s, topping the league in wins from 1952 to 1955, innings pitched from ’51 to ’55 and complete games from ’52 to ’56.

He won 286 games and put together six consecutive 20-win seasons. Roberts had 45 career shutouts, 2,357 strikeouts and a lifetime ERA of 3.41. He pitched 305 complete games, but also holds the distinction of giving up more home runs than any other major league pitcher.

“Workhorse is a weak description,” Philadelphia Daily News writer Stan Hochman wrote about Roberts in 2003. “He was a mule, stubborn …. and willing to toil from sunup to sundown.”

Years ago while working as a reporter I had a chance to interview him.  Afterward, I asked for his autograph on the underside of the bill of a baseball cap I had.  But then I continued to wear the hat and sweat soon melted the autograph away.

But I met him.  That was enough

The Post Gets It Wrong on ‘Net Regulation

With all the seemingly intractable problems we face, you would think that surviving media would focus on the information we really need.  Yet today in The Washington Post we have a story about how President Obama’s is “to make a Supreme Court decision soon,” as if he were thinking of postponing it until after the November elections.  The article breaks no new significant ground.  Then we have a story about Attorney General Eric Holder’s “rare moment to celebrate,” the capture of the Times Square would be bomber.  The story could have been written by one of The Post’s sports writers, as it focused on Holder’s “good week.”  But The Post never seems to miss an opportunity to allow its reporters to make broad sweeping statements, such as Anne Kornblut’s characterization of Holder being “on rocky ground,” as if he’s let big innings inflate his ERA this week.

One would hope The Post learns that too many of its stories are nothing more than a series of events trying to find a trend the paper can report on.

But we have a stark reminder today that postulating where there is no news can bite them on the ass.

Dateline—May 3 by The Post’s Cecilia Kang:

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission has indicated he wants to keep broadband services deregulated, according to sources, even as a federal court decision has exposed weaknesses in the agency’s ability to be a strong watchdog over the companies that provide access to the Web.

Dateline—May 6, again by Kang

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission plans to seek clear-cut powers to regulate Internet service providers, redefining the government’s role over at least parts of the fast-growing industry.

Kang cited three sources for her May 3 story, all of whom are probably now in her dog house.  The story didn’t provide anything more than well-known talking points from each side of the regulation debate and ultimately, of course, proved false.  Why waste time on speculating what might happen before it does?  OK, that was a softball question on today’s exam: because The Post wanted to be the first with the news.

But don’t expect the paper to take the blame.  In today’s story,

Sources said Genachowski appeared to have shifted from late last week, when The Washington Post reported that it looked like he was inclined to keep broadband services deregulated.

The same sources, no doubt, who had no clue what was happening three days earlier.  It wasn’t The Post that got it wrong; it was the FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski who changed his mind. 

Watch soon for a flip-flopping story.

Media Chiefs’ Pay Day

I’m now reading The Death & Life of American Journalism whose authors advocate for public funding of journalism outlets.  They claim for-profit news enterprises simply cannot keep up with the demand for profits from investors and make the investments necessary to attract enough readers to remain viable. 

It seems again the capitalist model is not working out for the front-line workers of their customers.

The media industry may be going through some rough times, with the landscape changing day to day, but at least one aspect is business as usual: big paydays for the people at the top.

Top executives at the country’s largest media companies continued to reel in multimillion-dollar pay packages in 2009, a year of widespread cost-cutting throughout the industry. In several cases, the packages even increased from the year before.

Limbaugh, the Eco Expert

As the oil spill grows more menacing by the day, experts such as David Kennedy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have “grave concern.”

"I am frightened. This is a very, very big thing. And the efforts that are going to be required to do anything about it, especially if it continues on, are just mind-boggling."

But what does he know compared to that jack of all trades, Rush Limbaugh.

"The ocean will take care of this on its own if it was left alone and left out there. It’s natural. It’s as natural as the ocean water is."

Hat tip to Political Wire.