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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Like a Lemming to a Cliff

Howard Dean is proving to be a wonderful chairman of the Democratic National Committee. So wonderful, he's managed to piss off a lot of people within the first week of him being chairman. I mean, isn't this quote just an award-winner?
"You think the Republican National Committee could get this many people of color in a single room? Only if they had the hotel staff in here."
What was really astounding about this was that he said it to the Congressional Black Caucus, as if it was the most common and innocent thing to say in front of them. What bothers me the most is that this is largely going unchallenged, save for condemnations from Maryland's Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, and treated for the inappropriate remarks that they are.

I think that Dean is going to prove a lot of people right - the Republicans will handily win in 2006, and the Presidency in 2008.

A Kick in the Pants for the Baltimore Sun

Over at Sneaking Suspicions, there's a breakdown of the recent decision here in Maryland about the Baltimore Sun v. Governor Robert Ehrlich (PDF file) case. As a bit of background (in case you'd rather not read the PDF file), the Baltimore Sun Company had sued the Governor's office over a recent memo circulated forbidding state employees from speaking with columnist Michael Olesker and reporter David Nitkin, citing poor reporting and factual inaccuracies in their reporting. What made this so different was the fact that Ehrlich didn't do what other Governor's do, and that's privately speak with the newspaper company and try to get someone rotated out of the press pool. Ehrlich made it very public, very obvious about his displeasure with Nitkin's and Olesker's behavior and limited the scope to which they can acquire and report stories (all other Sun reporters have full access - these two do not).

The Baltimore Sun sued the Governor, citing that the ban violated the Sun's 1st and 14th Amendment rights in the Constitution. Anyone with a basic study in constitutional rights will tell you that's absurd - everyone but those two reporters are allowed full access to state employees. David Nitkin and Michael Olesker can still do their Public Information Act petitions, and can still attend open, public press meetings. What they are forbidden from doing is calling anyone within the administration to provide "context" for their reporting - that'll be something else for another reporter to do.

The judge in this case says essentially the same thing:
The enforcement of the Governor’s memorandum has been implemented in a way that is reasonably calculated to ensure the Sun’s access to generally available public information. The Sun seeks a privileged status beyond that of the private citizen; that desire is not a cognizable basis for injunctive relief.
The Baltimore Sun is trying to make itself above everyone else (ie, the public) in demanding exclusivity for acquiring information. They're completely ignoring the reason's behind the Governor's restriction, they're just furious that two of their own can't get everything they want at once. As far as the Sun is concerned, David Nitkin and Michael Olesker could flat out lie about everything and anything, but they shouldn't be punished for it because restricting them would somehow restrict the Sun as a whole. The Sun's "Ivory Tower Complex" isn't all that surprising, but it is indicative of a trend over print and electronic news publishing as a whole. Obviously, there was CBS being called on the carpet for stonewalling and obfuscating the facts over their acquisition of faked memos concerned President Bush's Air National Guard service. Then there was Eason Jordan of CNN being called for his remarks about soldiers targeting journalists deliberately in Iraq, without a shred of evidence to back it up. People like this expect to get away with this foolishness forever, strictly because they're "The Media" and that they claim to know better. Obviously, as the CBS debacle proves, they don't, and some people just aren't going to take it any more.

The days where the media gets to have the mindset that they're entitled to whatever they want to know, whenever they want to know, damn everything else (including even a base level of honesty and ethics), are numbered. The blogs of the world are going to be watching, ready to put the screws to anyone and everyone who think they can get away with things that other people cannot.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Throwing gasoline on the fire...

Bill from INDC Journal (picture so NSFW) throws gasoline onto the fire that is GannonGate by turning his attention to liberal softball-chucking reporter Helen Thomas. The photo is just a surprise, it's both hilarious and eye-scarring at the same time. Thank God for parody.

If only everybody focused this much attention to all the softball throwers that make up the press pool - we may actually get some honest reporting for a change. Sans the nastier aspect of looking into their private lives, naturally, unless it actually affects their job. I, and others, maintain that Jeff Gannon's private life has nothing at all to do with his abilities as a journalist, as it's only being tossed around because it is juicy to the bottom feeders who thrive on that sort of thing.

Even FRUITS are in on the conspiracy!

I read this on Wizbang this morning and I just fell over, howling with laughter.

Short version - a woman at one of the marches led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson to commemorate Martin Luther King's birthday took serious offense to the sight of a police officer eating...a banana. Yes, a yellow, tubular piece of fruit.

Apparently, she took the officer's eating of this vile, evil, racist banana propaganda to be something akin to comparing black people with apes. Perhaps it would have been back in the days when Martin Luther King and others led rallies and marches in the South, but lets be serious here. Nowadays, you have to be patently obvious in your racism to actually be, well, racist. Eating a banana after spending hours on end on your feet is hardly something that someone could (or even should) make a quantum leap in logic to infer that action as being racist. It's just not feasible, and yet somehow this woman did.

Hell, I enjoy eating bananas - they're great in smoothies or on ice cream. Lots of people enjoy bananas because they taste good and are good for you. It strikes me as peculiar that this never crossed this woman's mind that way, instead seeing it as a racial slur. It's just hysterical that it happened that way.

Some people need to get a life, and quick.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Circling 'round the Moat

A few thoughts on the laughably-called "breaking news" about the Jeff Gannon / James Guckert kerfluffle. If you're unaware of this supposedly earth-shattering news, some blogger found a bunch of pictures through a male escort service website that look like the publicizied pictures of Jeff Gannon (only much more provocative). The blogger goes on to string together a bunch of connections to how Jeff Gannon is probably gay and that he deserves the smearing he gets. He relies on MS Word documents (does anyone really need a reminder as to how easily MS Word documents can be modified to reflect what someone wants them to reflect?) and pictures of a Gannon-lookalike on various escort websites to prove his point. To see this website and it's proof, you'll have to look at the mirrored PDF version over at Wizbang (the pictures within the PDF file, while censored, should be treated as NSFW).

Let's make something very clear - what Jeff Gannon does in private is his business. It should've remained that way, but a bunch of smear merchants think that it's relevant only as far as making their "story" about him allegedly receiving daily (as opposed to permanent of the approved press pool) press passes, under his actual name, all the more juicier. It's a prime example of mob mentality at its absolute worst and the "gay angle" contributes absolutely nothing to the accusation that he has done something wrong by his credentials or through his softball questions. It's just vicious, childish behavior that should've been left behind in grade school.

Ace has a pretty good way of expressing how it should have been in the investigation by some bloggers into Jeff Gannon's credentials, where the "gay angle" plays in.

The standard ought not to be whether a tidbit has any arguable relevance to a story or to public policy or whatnot. The standard really should be more of a sliding scale-- the more personal and embarrassing the information, the greater the actual and direct relevance should be if you're going to report it.

Nasty gossip that just hurts people may be "news" in the sense that it is interesting and informative, but it's not "news" in the more restrictive sense that it actually has relevance to an important event or public debate.

As far as the Daily Kos and Atrios blogs, the two prominent liberal blogs on this story, are concerned, all they are doing is being gossipmongers. What they're "reporting" isn't "news", it's playing the role of a tabloid editor to the hilt. They haven't nailed someone to the wall like other, more successful blogs have done with CBS News' shoddy research and journalistic practices in airing memos obviously done in MS Word. Instead, they have to pick on someone that is, not to diminish Jeff Gannon, a small fry in the larger pool of reporters. The only "crime" he's guilty of is asking softball questions, something that reporters and entertainers have done for years. The only difference is that every other reporter and entertainer gets away with it, and this man gets lynched by a bunch of maladjusted brats out for blood.


UPDATE - The Moderate Voice has this latest development broken down into several sub-stories, with links aplenty to other blogs and stories.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Who Tolerates Whom?

Day by day, there is always, always someone griping about how the Democratic party didn't thoroughly stomp George W. Bush and the Republicans back in the November elections (or even before that). It almost always follows with excuses about how they had run a "weak" candidate or that it was always someone else's fault (Karl Rove!), but it was never their fault. The leftward blogs like to portray themselves as sources of tolerance, whenever they're not censoring out someone who might actually defend someone right-of-center in their comments section because, Heaven forbid, they may actually have a reasoned point.

Wizbang has thoughts on the subject, dealing with why (at least, from a more right-leaning point of view) the Democratic Party keeps ending up with the short straw in elections. It's not just about "weak" candidates, it's about candidates that can't draw people to their side. The Democrats found out to their horror in the mid-nineties that they don't have a monopoly on the majority vote. Instead of working on a platform that re-emphasizes the things that had made them winners in the first place (the enjoyment of democratic values and liberty for all), they instead try the sole tactic of demonizing the competition. Naturally, they continually find out that that isn't always going to work. Instead, they let the Republicans eat their lunch by (usually) behaving on a higher standard and pushing their ideas to the front, criticizing their opponents for relying more on smear tactics than espousing public policy ideas of their own.

Within Wizbang's post is a link to the lefty blog The Daily Kos (which I adamantly refuse to link to, as it's just too distasteful and juvenile to qualify as linkable), where there is a prime example of why some of the absolutely vitriolic rhetoric will not allow the Left to win elections within the post "I'm a Republican : F-ck You". Instead of arguing in an arena of ideas, the kind of people that make up the public face of the Democratic party instead rely on writing things that are roughly on the level of a thirteen-year-old's idea of "slam poetry". It's just juvenile, and a complete waste of time.

The left need to start accepting the fact that they're not in control of the national debate, and need to work on finding ways to take away the mindshares of the Republicans with more diverse and cogent arguments. They need to stop being the party that says "No" for everything because, as they stand now, they don't even have the political wherewithal to do much about it anyway.