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Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Thanks, Ricky

One of the first blogs to earn a link from me was Ricky West's North Georgia Dogma (this was waaaayyyy back in the day when it was called "Count De Money" ). Well, I was thrilled this morning when I found out he had just posted a big hunk of my column on Jayson Blair. Thanks for the kind comment, Ricky.

F#@*&*! Tripod

This site went down for at least four hours late Tuesday, early Wednesday because I exceeded the stingy bandwidth allotment. I think I solved the problem by taking down the link on Page 3 Girls.

Bush off the ticket in Illinois?

Yes, I can hear the derisive laughter. But it could happen, although I'm not going to hold my breath. Rich Frederick of the Copley News Service reported that Libertarian Party of Illinois is challenging an attempt by the Republican National Committee to bypass a state law that requires presidential candidates be certified more than 67 days before a general election.

The problem is that the Republican's national convention will be held on Sept. 3, 2004 -- 61 days before the Nov. 2 general election. The GOP has asked the State Board of Elections to grant an exemption. The Libertarians say the board doesn't have the power. Only the state legislature can change the law, they say.
"Unless the General Assembly moves the deadline by changing the law, the Libertarian Party of Illinois will challenge this. It's not that we don't think President Bush should be on the ballot in Illinois; that couldn't be further from the truth. We just think they need to abide by the same rule of law as all the other political parties and everyone else," said Jeff Trigg, executive director of the Libertarian Party of Illinois.
The board is comprised of three Republicans and three Democrats, all of whom do what they are told to do by state party leaders. The question is this: Will the eventual vote on this be a tie, which would seem to force the legislature to take action? And if it is, will the law be changed?

If there needs to be a new law to let Bush on the ballot in Illinois, it might not happen. While the 2002 general election went well for the GOP nationwide, in Illinois, it left the Democrats in charge of the state House and Senate, the Governor's mansion and other state-wide offices.

Keeping Bush off the ballot would certainly benefit the Dems, but it might backfire at the polls because Bush is very popular right now.

My guess is that a deal will be made (for some future favor) and at least one member of the election board will vote to grant the exemption. This would be the best possible development for Bush.

If this doesn't happen and Illinois election law is changed, then Bush gets some bad publicity, but not too bad. But, the Dems or the Libertarians could sue, causing even more bad publicity.

But, I think that if the election board refuses the GOP request, then the legislature probably won't vote to change the election standards. The chance to capture the presidency will be too tempting.

This would be a disaster for Bush. Bush's approval ratings are almost certain to drop by November 2004 (this is not a wish on my part; it's inevitable) and he will need Illinois's 22 electoral votes to get re-elected.

In any case, this one is headed for the courts and althought I am certain the Supremes will back the GOP, it will give Democrats yet another reason to call Bush the "President Select."

Sure, it's a slim chance Bush won't be on the ballot here, but its not that slim. Still, even the slim chance that he won't is due to the national GOP's inability to schedule a convention early enough to get on every state ballot. From a pulbic relations standpoint, it's a big screw up on the part of the National GOP. Someone high up in the planning process needs to lose his job over this.

Oh, by the way ... the Peoria Journal Star ran this story with huge national and international implications on page B1. I swear to God, this newspaper must have the screwiest budget meetings in the universe.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Liar, liar

Steve H. at Little Tiny Lies tells me to "keep my pants on," and that he will post a pretty little Peoria Pundit link button:

Hrmph! If there's room for a jiggling pickle gif on his site, there's room right now for mu non-animated button.

I'm getting out the death ray. Bwahahahaha!

And why am I getting hundreds of hits off Page 3 Girls now that I am on the verge of shutting that site down?

Bye, bye, Buffy

Wow, what a final episode. I won't post any spoilers for those who have videotaped the episode. All I can say is that reports of several demises (and survivals) have been exaggerated.

CNN fakes anti-gun footage

According to this article in the Washington Times, CNN has admitted to, among other things, faking footage that was supposed to demonstrate the damage that can be done by certain types of automatic weapons:
In the first of the two segments that aired Thursday, a Broward County detective fired the AK-47 in semiautomatic mode, and the camera showed bullets hitting a cinder-block target. The detective then fired a legal semiautomatic weapon, and CNN showed a cinder-block target with no apparent damage. On Friday, CNN admitted that the detective had not been firing at the cinder block.
Some law enforcement officers who saw the Broward County sheriff's presentation on CNN called the NRA to say they were "horrified that a law enforcement official would mislead the public this way," said "NRA Live" host Ginny Simone.
The article details how CNN and the media routinely confuse weapons that are banned with weapons that are not.

Lex avoids the death ray ...

... by adding this link button to his site.

You would be wise to do the same (pretty please).

What's the difference between censorship and consumer choice?

Easy. If I decide to switch from MCI to another long distance carrier because I don't like spokesman Danny Glover's politics, that's just me making a choice as a consumer.
When Joe Scarborough uses his position as MSNBC commentator demand to demand MCI fire Glover, that's censorship.
I am familiar with the argument that if the government doesn't do it, it's not censorship. Wrong. The Constitution forbids censorship by the government. But, it does not define "censorship" as something that happens only when the government does it. When a celebrity commentator Scarborough cannot be described as a simple case of a Hollywood actor's views costing him a job. From the MSNBC Website:
At the same time he was signing the pro-Castro manifesto, Danny Glover was also flacking for long distance carrier MCI, and trading off his good guy image to get you and your family to buy MCI’s products.
That’s when we took action, by asking you to call MCI and let them know what you thought of Mr. Glover’s extreme political views.
You reached out and touched MCI, and other corporate heads listened. After two weeks of claiming that Glover’s ads were some of the most popular ever aired by MCI, we received an e-mail today announcing that MCI would no longer be using Danny Glover as its spokesman. Because of your calls, Danny Glover is being held accountable for his comments.
Danny Glover has some incredibly stupid notions, among them that the United States is responsible for most of the violence in the world and that we -- not Al Qaeda -- caused 9/11. The cure for his stupid opinions is to tell people how stupid these opinions are.
America works best when everyone has his or her say. Scarborough wasn't promoting free speech. He organized an effort to punish a person who disagreed with his politics.

More and more, groups on the left and the right are trying to silence people with whom they disagree. It's stupid and its getting out of control.

Think, people! Are we better off living in a society where the likes of mislay Savage can get a performer fired -- and turned into a left-wing martyr -- because of his politics, or are we better off living in a world where idiot celebs like Glover are allowed to hang themselves with their own words.

From the American Heritage Dictionary:
Censorship: 1. The act, process, or practice of censoring. 2. The office or authority of a Roman censor. 3. Psychology. Prevention of disturbing or painful thoughts or feelings from reaching consciousness except in a disguised form.

Monday, May 19, 2003

Hailing frequencies open

Now this is funny: Star Trek characters' answering machine messages. I found the link on this site, the one Acidman has so ceremoniously delinked.


Maripat over at Right We Are! has tipped me off to a deliciously funny blog called Tiny Little Lies, specifically, this item about how Eve wasn't Adam's first wife. The sick thing is, the post made me hungry for some authentic Big John's Bar-B-Cue (if you've ever eaten there, you'll know what I mean). Go and read it and see why I added it to my blogroll.

By the way, Maripat -- where's that link button you promised? Don't make me get out my death ray. Same goes for you, Lex. If Allen can do it, so can you.

UPDATE: Well, lookie there ... pretty as can be. Thanks Lori and Maripat.

Insert punchline here

An actual headline from Romenesko's Obscure Store:
"UC Berkeley professor has studied masturbation for a decade"
I don't mean to brag, but I got it right on the second or third try.

ABC's pimp and whore show

As I am blogging, I have ABC's "The View" on in the background. Barbara Walters is pimping her upcoming interview with Hillary Clinton. They are giving this person one full hour during prime time. Walters wasn't even coy about the reason for the interview: To promote Mrs. Clinton's new book. Walkers -- who purports to be a journalist -- read the book but said today she signed a confidentiality agreement that prevents her from revealing the contents (this contradicts statements from Hillary's publisher that there no "ground rules" for Clinton's appearance). Despite the confidentiality agreement, Walters made it clear that Mrs. Clinton discussed the Monica affair in the book and on the exclusive one-hour-long interview. The level of pimpery rose to an even higher level after the "Hot Topics" discussion moved on to some lame reality show, when Walters interrupted to say that she forgot to mention the title of Mrs. Clinton's book. Probably living up to her terms of her agreement to pimp the book on "The View."


I'm not even going to try keeping up with all the bombing going in in Israel today. I sat down to blog about the first one today -- the Darwin Award winner on the bicycle -- but there was a second one before I could even get started -- the fifth in the last 36 hours. It happened in front of shopping center, an obvious military target (sarcasm mode off). How much proof do people need before they realize that you cannot negotiate with terrorists, only kill them?

Sayonara, Ari

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer is resigning. So, now they will have to get someone else to not answer all the rude questions.

The spokesman said he wanted to leave the hard-driving job before President Bush's re-election campaign geared up.

Fleischer clashed at times with the White House press corps and had an uneasy relationship with some senior Bush aides, but he said the departure was his idea. He notified Bush of his decision Friday. The president ended the conversation "by kissing me on the head," the spokesman said.

I've been there, Ari. As a bald-American, this is a problem I encounter on a daily basis. I know that the sight of a hairless male scalp can drive men and women into a sexual frenzy, but c'mon folks. Keep your hands off.

The 'jewel' buried in Blair story

Longtime readers know that I am skeptical of diversity programs in newspapers. I am also skeptical of newspaper managers who bend at the knee at every racism charge leveled at them. I have seen good reporting denied because it is expedient to admit to insensitivity and send innocent newspeople off to re-education because someone decided being offended would be a good way to increase donations.

So, be it known that the following expression of disgust over the way the Jayson Blair mess is being hyped as a failure of affirmative action is not due to support for affirmative action. I don't support it. It victimizes 1.) white reporters who passed over, 2.) minority reporters who are pushed into jobs for which they lack adequate experience and training, and 3.) minority reporters who have all the talent of their white counterparts, but do not enjoy the same level of respect because people assume their success is due to affirmative action.

Jayson Blair did not happen because of affirmative action. It happened because Jayson Blair is a con-man and a liar who benefitted from poor management at the New York Times. Howell Raines assertion that his guilt at being a white Southern male played a role in the Blair affair is at best (or is that 'at worst'?) a partial explanation. Raines and other higher-ups ignored red flags and warnings because they liked the stories Blair was producing, and because Blair played politics and, yes, because of the Times' excessive committment to affirmative action.

If affirmative action caused Jayson Blair, how can we explain Macarena Hernandez? She is the young Latina journalist who wrote the article plagarized by Blair, exposure of which caused his house of cards to tumble. According to this article by Hernandez's former mentor, Hernandez and Blair were both summer interns in a program for minority journalists at the New York Times. Like Blair, she was asked to join the Times after the internship was completed. But she declined to return home after the death of her father. Today, she works for the San Antonio Express-News, the editor of which calls her "una joya" -- a jewel -- and the product of a well-run affirmative-action program. By all accounts, she is the 'anti-Blair."

It's fundementally dishonest and, I think, unfair to use the Blair mess to make a case against affirmative action in newsrooms without acknowledging the success stories like Macarena Hernandez.

Perhaps this is a lesson that if we must have affirmative action programs -- and I am not convinced that we must -- they should be used only as a way to help minority journalists get their foot in the door and get the training they need, not as a basis for long-term job security.

UPDATE: Romenesko ("all-Blair, all the time" these days, I'm sorry to say) had a link to this Reliable Source transcript in which Timesman Clyde Haberman makes these points:

HABERMAN: Yes, I do. I think it was a factor, and I think it would be kind of foolish to pretend it wasn't a factor, but favoritism seems to be the greater theme here. And I think, again, you have to divide this thing into two halves.
One is: Why was Jayson is allowed to be in a position to cover those stories? And again, those are things that we're all batting around at "The Times" rather painfully over how this happened, because, frankly, I mean, I've heard in some of the shows that I've seen and stories I've read, you know, talented young man. Frankly, Jayson was an ordinary writer. And why he got there to begin with is an issue.
The second half, for me, is something you raised earlier, which is: Once a fellow is in a position to do that, however he got there, is there a way to stop him? And I would argue that Howell is right. At some level, if a guy is pathologically committed to perpetrating fraud, you're not going to be able to stop him very often. And when we send a guy out to Brooklyn to cover a fire, we assume he went out there and he didn't go to the bar around the corner.

'What I did during the war'

From the looks of things, Romenesko's looks to be filled with links this weekend's collection of navel-gazing from returning "embeds." That's too much "me journalism" than I can stomach.

A school prank with no class

From the Gainesville (Fla.) Sun:
Nearly two dozen Dixie County High School seniors - many of them honor students - have been asked to pay restitution for smearing horse manure, sardines and tuna fish over their school walls and doors in what the principal said is the worst act of vandalism she has ever seen at the school.

Authorities believe the incident was a senior class prank that got out of control.

As my grandma would say: "Bullpucky." Got out of control? Do these "authorities" think these kids broke into the school to perform some minor mischief -- rearrange desks, perhaps -- and then, caught up in their enthusiasm, pulled out horse manure, sardines and tuna fish they happened to be carrying, and spread it over the walls of their school?

When I was in high school, we were scared to death that some minor offense in the last half of the last semester could cost us our diplomas.

Of course, this being the 21st century and all, these little sociopaths will probably be allowed to graduate with the rest of their class.

Call me old-fashioned, but it I were principal, these idiots would scrubbing walls and wearing orange prison coveralls while their classmates are wearing their caps and gowns collecting their reward for four years of hard work.

Thanks to Obscure Store for the link.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Coming soon: "Dark Funky" saga?

No, you're not imagining things. That has been celebrated comic-book artist John Byrne doing the pencils on the "Funky Winkerbean" strip. I noticed the similarities, but the kicker was this strip (below) which ran on April 24. BTW: "Dark Funky" is a play on the "Dark Phoenix Saga" from the X-Men, which was pencilled by Byrne.

Click here to see the image

Thanks for the link

I know virtually nothing about music -- except that its been years since I bought anything recorded after 1980 -- but, I got a link from this musically inclined fellow.

Ten Commandments of Blogging

Courtesy of Acidman (my comments follow):
1. Post a lot. Throw up pure shit knowing it's pure shit just to update your site. If you write well at all, one out of four posts will be okay, and people will visit just because you update regularly and write some gems every now and then. They are willing to pick through your shit to find the gems.
OK, that one sounds like good advice. Now, If I can just find the time.
2. Be yourself. Don't copy what is popular out there. Folks, Acidman is ME. My personality, as unpleasant as it may be, infuses this blog and I wouldn't have it any other way. Your blog should do the same thing, only nicer than I do.
Also, good advice. Unfortunately, nearly 20 years of newspaper reporting has drained away virtually all signs of personality from my writing.
3. Don't be afraid of anybody. Do you think I'm worried about pissing Glenn Reynolds off? Of COURSE I AM, but that fact still doesn't stop me from writing what I want to write. Throw it out there and say "f*ck you" to whoever can't take a joke.
Glenn Reynolds doesn't have the faintest idea who I am.
4. Grow a cast-iron ass. If people read you, you will receive hate-mail and the trolls will come. They will say mean, nasty, ugly things about you. You should get drunk and laugh at them, then call them all asshats. DO NOT let that shit bother you.
One of the saddest aspects of my professional life is that I have never received a death threat. Now, I have been threatened with arrest and a high school coach once threatened to kick my ass. When I refused to leave a school board meeting that was being closed illegally, my newspaper's competitors made a big deal about it. My co-workers applauded when I came to work the next morning. No, trolls don't bother me.
5. Give links to newcomers. I do that a lot. I read a lot of blogs and I know goodness when I see it. I'll link the unheard-of people because I could have used someone like me when I started out. I had to do it the hard way, without a benefactor like me, but now I can throw some visitors their way and I am happy to do it. Even if you become the next Glenn Reynolds, never forget your roots.
Couldn't agree more.
6. Never feed a troll. Ignore them.
Is there anything more pathetic than a newsgroup that has been consumed by troll wars? Yes. A blog that has been consumed by troll wars.
7. Don't fuck with your templates unless you really know what you're doing and have a damn good reason for doing it. Since I don't know what I'm doing, I never fuck with mine. Therefore, whenever you visit GUT RUMBLES, you see what you expect to see. I don't like people who redecorate every week. They have a problem and should take up heavy drinking as a cure.
Where is the fun in that? O.K., I plead guilty to violating this commandment.
8. Don't put monkeys on your page. It sends the wrong message.
There are no rally monkeys in baseball. There should be no monkeys in blogging. Or cats. Or dogs. Kids are o.k., in small doses.
9. When someone links to you, you should acknowledge that link, either on your page or in an email. Or not, depending on who linked to you.
I am a total link whore. Give me a link, and I will add you to my blogroll.
10. DON'T WEAR SHIRTS!!! They interfere with the absorption of vitamin "D" from sunshine and hide women's tittles. I don't like shirts. I don't like hidden titties, either.
No one -- I mean NO ONE -- wants to see me with my shirt off. I am down with the "no hidden titties" thing, though.

Would it kill any of you rotten b****rds to use my link button?

Of course, you can't hotlink. The image is stored on Tripod, so you will have to copy it on your server.

Apparently, someone lost their f***ing roadmap

7 dead in suicide attacks in Jerusalem
Attacks come as Sharon, Abbas meet on ‘road map’ for peace

JERUSALEM, May 18 — (AP) A suicide bomber blew himself up on a Jerusalem bus early Sunday, killing seven people and wounding at least 12 others, and another bomber blew himself up on the outskirts of the city, according to police. The near-simultaneous attacks came a few hours after the end of the first Israeli-Palestinian summit meeting in almost three years.