Monthly Archives: September 2010

Post Editor Profiled in CJR

The Columbia Journalism Review has a detailed portrait of The Washington Post’s Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli.  It’s no puff piece.

Brauchli knows how to read a spreadsheet and how to serve the needs of some online readers. But the Post also needs a leader who is articulate, imaginative, and inspirational, and some of his troops are restless. A reporter with a sterling reputation wonders: “How much longer is Don going to stand for this? When will he say: ‘this is not working—we need a different person?’ ”

Will Democrats Fall for the Tax Trap?

Congressional Republicans are floating the “compromise” of extending all tax cuts for two years.  It sounds like a compromise all right, and of course, The Washington Post’s Lori Montgomery, who betrays her Republican bias in almost every story she writes, takes pains to call other Republicans “equally willing to compromise,”  to frame the debate between compromising Republicans and the Obama position.  Of course, his position was already a compromise—a willingness to extend some tax cuts but not all.

But it’s a trap for Democrats.  It would put tax cuts squarely in the middle of the 2012 election, and Republicans are sure to call for their extension.  They would love to have tax cuts as a central issue because no one ever loses by appealing to the most selfish and ignorant of the American electorate.

With a closely divided Congress a near certainty for the next two years, and the economy likely to improve some, voters are likely to give credit to the fact that more Republicans are in Congress, even if they accomplish nothing.  And if we have a double dip recession, the GOP will not get the blame; Obama will.  Having the tax cut debate during the 2012 presidential campaign is a sure loser.

Salt Lake Paper Limits Comments

The Deseret News has instituted a new comments policy.  The newspaper encourages but doesn’t require that commenters post using a screen name that is a form of their real name.  Not sure why they don’t just require the real name as they are requiring a real name and zip code in the registration process. 

What strikes me as wrong, however, is its new policy to limit the number of times one person can comment to two.  These sections, if they were among people we could identify, might be much more constructive and civil.  Discussion should be encouraged, and I wish more reporters would weigh in with clarifications when people draw incorrect assumptions about the issue covered.  Not that over taxed reporters have the time, mind you.

It makes little difference to me, as I rarely comment on a story and almost never read any of the comments. (There are exceptions, such as some blogs like Press Think’s comments section, which tends to be illuminating.

I have yet to hear a cogent argument why online comments can be anonymous, but letters to the editor cannot.

Anyone have an answer for that?

One in Seven Americans Live in Poverty

Is this a great country or what?

The 14.3 percent poverty rate, which covers all ages, was the highest since 1994. Still, it was lower than estimates of many demographers who were bracing for a record gain based on last year’s skyrocketing unemployment. Many had predicted a range of 14.7 percent to 15 percent.

Analysts credited in part increases in Social Security payments in 2009 as well as federal expansions of unemployment insurance, which rose substantially in 2009 under the economic stimulus program. With the additional unemployment benefits, workers were eligible for extensions that gave them up to 99 weeks of payments after a layoff.

Another likely factor was a record number of working mothers, who helped households by bringing home paychecks after the recession took the jobs of a disproportionately high number of men.

"Given all the unemployment we saw, it’s the government safety net that’s keeping people above the poverty line," said Douglas Besharov, a University of Maryland public policy professor and former scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

So let’s government spending some more and so away with Social Security.  Even conservatives (not the right-wingers on Capitol Hill) recognize the value of a government safety net.  When you don’t have a job, cutting income taxes doesn’t do much for you.

Burn the Bible Day

You are invited to my press conference on a future date when news is slow for my “Burn the Bible Day.” I and my followers will be offering a two-fer as we will burn a bible of both New and Old Testament and thusly denigrate both Christians and Jews. Where else can you get such a demonic deal, what I like to think of as a pox on both your houses?

I am not alone in this. I have five followers. One is serving a life sentence for the terrorist act of praying on a carpet remnant from Marlow Furniture. One is cheap relative of mine who agreed to attend because I was also offering a raffle prize. At least one has Alzheimer’s who offered to bring marshmallows. The other is either a sufferer, too, or has a low IQ, or was educated at Bob Jones University; it’s hard to tell. The fifth follower is dead, but gave me his proxy vote in a death bed conversion to atheism.

Now five followers may not seem a lot, especially compared to the throngs that Rev. Earl Terry has, but they are all very passionate, and they’ve signed up for Twitter accounts, so we should have great coverage in the press.

The raffle prize will be a date with Wolf Blitzer. The lucky winner will shadow him for a day as he mentors the “best political team on television.” Second prize is two days with Blitzer. All other ticket holders will need to spend a week with him, after which they can either spend another week with him or commit suicide. In anticipation of the choice of so many, my church will be happy to facilitate by offering a mass blessing along the rim of the Grand Canyon. A small donation for my church is requested to help pay for clean-up at the Canyon’s base.

And though it may seem incongruous after such a political statement as above, I know I will be pilloried if I neglect to say, God bless the United States of America.