Not a good sign when a candidate has to say he supports the Civil Rights Act

There is a story that Lyndon Johnson, during one of his early campaigns, wanted to start a rumor that his opponent sleeps with pigs. (Lyndon being Lyndon most definitely did NOT say “sleeps with.”) When an aide objected that they couldn’t prove it the future president is reputed to have said, “I don’t need to prove it. I just need him to deny it.”

I was reminded of this when I heard that Dr. Rand Paul, the brand new GOP candidate for the Senate from Kentucky, had to issue a statement saying that he does, in fact, support the Civil Rights Act AND the Americans With Disabilities Act. He had to do this because …

…in an interview with Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, Mr. Paul appeared uncertain about whether he would have supported forcing private businesses to desegregate in the 1960s, suggesting that might run afoul of his libertarian philosophy. His views emerged as Ms. Maddow asked Mr. Paul if he thought a private business had the right to refuse service to a patron who was black.

Dr. Paul has thus done to himself what his Democratic opponent, AG Jack Conway, could only have dreamed of. He has raised the issue that he doesn’t, regardless of whatever his actual position is. That’s enough. It likely won’t cost him the election but I guarantee that it has already cost him votes.

The above quote, by the way, is from the New York Times which many folks would say is the standard-bearer for the Liberal Media. That would be the same NYT who broke the story on Connecticut’s Democratic senatorial nominee lying about serving in Vietnam. Liberal media, my ass.

Another damn blog by this guy? Can’t he just SHUT UP?

One more blog not to read if you are trying to avoid me. (Of course if you’re really trying to avoid me shouldn’t you have unfriended me by now?) In theory this blog is about aspects of "print media executives transitioning their business to emedia." In fact it is once again me making up random facts and somehow getting away with it.

Recreating the newspaper experience? I think I’ll pass

by Constantine von… | Tue, 2009-12-01 16:47

The Boston Globe has launched the GlobeReader, an Adobe Air software package that promises to let the weberati recreate the "newspaper experience" online. They launched it with a two-page spread in the A section of last Sunday’s edition. Apparently they think this is only of interest to their dead tree readers, as there is no mention of it WHATSOEVER on the home page of Boston.com. …

OK, what idiot uses an alleged word like “weberati”?

Hyenas salivate as journalism biz collapses

The NYTimes is threatening to shut down the Boston Globe unless it gets $20M in cuts from its unions. The Times is bleeding money and The Globe is a major and open wound.

newspaperBoth the NYT and The Globe are just some among the many newspapers either circling the drain or already down it. (The irony of Globe predeceasing the rival Boston Herald would be staggering. The Herald — a former employer — has been on its deathbed for at least 25 years. It has reportedly only survived the current downturn because the price of newsprint has fallen through the cellar.) The Rocky Mountain News is gone, both of the Philly papers are bankrupt as is the Chicago Sun-Times, The LA Times, the Detroit newspapers  … and the list goes depressingly on.

There are now so few papers with reporters in DC that the Washington press corps could hold its meetings in any moderately sized Dunkin’ Donuts (no way can they afford Starbucks). The journalism biz looks to be going the way of the domestically owned automobile companies. While I could easily get all gushy and nostalgic about newspapers, I won’t. I am clearly not an impartial judge on the topic. I had a lot of fun working for them and learned a lot reading them — let’s leave it at that.

The problem with the disappearance of something like newspapers may take a while to be noticed. It is hard to say what the impact of un-reported news will be. The immediate impact will actually be the lack of a threat. The worry that something might get into the press has served as a damper (however slight at times) of the excesses of business and government. Given the fiascoes of the last nine years alone — when we had a nominally well staffed and curious press — it is terrifying to think of what comes next. Much of the press blew the run-up to the George Bush Desert Classic but they all seemed to get it when in fact no Weapons of Mass Destruction were found and suddenly the nation’s population realized it had been hoodwinked.

The press fills an important niche in our information age and the end of it in one form means it will pop-up in another form. Some people want to turn newspapers or whatever they will be called into non-profits and have them run by foundations (I’m never quite sure where these foundations are going to get the $ from). Still others think something like the NPR beg-as-you-go model will do the trick. Still others say that blogs and citizen journalists will fill the gap.

I would have more faith in this last if I had not spend quite so much time watching novice journalists becoming accomplished ones. Just like any other craft, journalism consists of skills that must be learned. While a self-taught electrician may become as good as one apprenticed to someone else I do not want to provide my house for him to do his or her learning on. I do not know if I am a good journalist but I do know I am a damn site better that I was when I started out 24 years ago. I am better because I had people show me how to ask questions, how to listen to answers, how to spot a discrepency, how to verify facts and to face the facts even when it means the death of a really pretty hypothesis. Business and the government have entire departments devoted to nothing but spinning the facts, institutionally those departments are all living for the day when they only have to deal with “citizen journalists.”(See footnote)

Something will eventually take the place of all these newspapers which have trained so many reporters and kept an eye on those boring things most of us have no interest in. (Sewer committee and zoning board meetings — you don’t want to go to them. Hell, I didn’t want to go to them and they were paying me to do so but when those guys screwed up you certainly wanted to know about it.) What scares me is the interim. Ladies and gentlemen, the great barbecue is set to begin and you will definitely be served.

FOOTNOTE: None of which is to knock the phenomenon of the citizen journalist. My good friend Karen Gadbois is one such and she is one of the best there is. Karen lives in New Orleans and writes the truly excellent blog Squandered Heritage. What she does is listen to words of various pols and bureaucrats about what they say is being done to repair New Orleans and then goes to look and see if it is actually being done. Then she writes up any differences between promise and reality. Her work is good enough that she has been the source of information that other reporters have used to win some major awards — including one from the Investigative Reporters and Editors organization and a Peabody Award. (Why her name isn’t on the awards is a little beyond me — but never mind). It is more than a little sobering, though, that Karen has not made any money off her endeavor and is wondering how to keep it going.

NYTimes reviewer is even bitchy in the tag lines

Mother CollateralDamage sent along this gem by A.O. Scott:

Penguins Employee of the month“Wendy and Lucy” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It has some swearing, a little drug use and a brief implication of violence, but no nudity, sex or murder. The rating seems to reflect, above all, an impulse to protect children from learning that people are lonely and that life can be hard.




The NY Times <3 ME!!!!

Insipid sophmoric humor scores a hit from the Freakonomics blog over at The Gray Lady! I’m expecting a mention in Krugman’s Nobel acceptance speech next. Remember Paul, it’s always good to warm them up with a joke. Especially one you can blame on someone else.

McCain blows saving throw in attack on Dungeons & Dragons

I’ve tried to be bipartisan in both my support and bashing of the two presidential contenders but Sen. McCain has just crossed the line. His campaign is trying to say that playing Dungeons & Dragons is a BAD THING!!! In a blog post on McCain’s site some NPC named Michael Goldfarb wrote:

It may be typical of the pro-Obama Dungeons & Dragons crowd to disparage a fellow countryman’s memory of war from the comfort of mom’s basement, but most Americans have the humility and gratitude to respect and learn from the memories of men who suffered on behalf of others.

T-shirts & bumper stickers may be purchased here.

Nor is this the first time that McCain’s campaign has tried to make D&D the equivalent of being called a “pinko.”

In an earlier post Goldfarb described the editors of the NYTimes as having “all the intelligence and reason of the average Daily Kos diarist sitting at home in his mother’s basement and ranting into the ether between games of dungeons and dragons.

After that first ad hominem attack scads of Wingnuts stood up and proclaimed that they too were out and proud about playing D&D.  Mr. ‘Farb responded to one of them (Ace of Spades) with the following:

If my comments caused any harm or hurt to the hard working Americans who play Dungeons & Dragons, I apologize. This campaign is committed to increasing the strength, constitution, dexterity, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma scores of every American.
–Michael Goldfarb

Not surprisingly Mr. Spades is now doubting the sincerity of that apology.

T-shirts & bumper stickers may be purchased here.

I think there is more outing to do here. I think that Mr. Goldfarb is covering for the fact that he, too, is or was a D&D player. This fits into the classic behavior pattern of closeted homosexuals joining with gay bashers in an attempt to deny their own behavior. It is time for some enterprising journalist to get their hands on a copy of Mr. Goldfarb’s high school yearbook and start making some calls! C’mon, doesn’t this look like the face of someone who cried when his 10th level magic user died after failing to check for traps? I find it difficult to believe that this man has NOT spent many Saturday nights playing with his 20-sided dice.

Gotta say Mike, Dungeons & Dragons is not going to be the next “limousine liberal” or “brie-eating” in the political lexicon. This is especially poor timing given that the pale and the (usually) dateless like myself are still mourning the death of Gary Gygax.

Mr. Mencken’s quote was never more apropos: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” I wonder how many attack die that hobgoblin gets?

Some people are paid to be journalists and some people just are journalists

My old bowling buddy Karen Gadbois is featured in a glowing article in the NYT today. Amid Ruined New Orleans Neighborhoods, a Gadfly Buzzes. (Don’t be put off by the uber scary picture of her. If you know her you know that she’s about to start grinning like a fool.)

Karen lives in New Orleans and writes the truly excellent blog Squandered Heritage. What she does is listen to words of various pols and bureaucrats about what they say is being done to repair New Orleans and then goes to look and see if it is actually being done. Then she writes up any differences between promise and reality.

It has set off a bomb that has exploded in slow motion here in the past three weeks, largely thanks to Ms. Gadbois: the federally financed program to gut and repair the storm-damaged homes of the poor and elderly, on which the city spent $1.8 million, has been exposed as — at least partly — a sham.

That’s journalism. It reminds me of the great I.F. Stone who covered Congress by staying away from Washington as much as possible. He read transcripts of committee meetings and the fine print of legislation and budgets and found the facts there.

Back in the age of mastodons, Karen and I worked together at a bar called Leo’s. She was a waitress and I was an incredibly surly bartender. She was and is an artist and I was about to re-enter journalism after taking a year off to write a widely unpublished novel. Since then I’ve spent a couple of decades getting paid to be a journalist. I do not knock my own accomplishments when I say I wish I had accomplished half of what she has accomplished with her blog.

YAY!!!

Churbuck calls shenanigans on NYT for “Death by Blogging”

Bullshit. Classic piece of sensationalized make-news on the front page this morning.

Synopsis.: Two bloggers died recently and one had heart attack due to the always-on nature, every-minute-is-a-deadline world of blogging.

I know and knew two of the bloggers in Richtel’s piece. Om Malik is a good friend to me, but not to the gym. The fact the guy had a heart attack earlier this year is not because he ignored the surgeon general’s warning on the side of his blog: GigaOm. Marc Orchant died in December. I knew Marc from our work with Foldera, the SaaS collaboration play. Did his blog do him in? Did it contribute to his untimely death at 50?

C’mon.

Best line: As Dan Warner, the nasty editor in chief of the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune told a roomful of rebellious reporters (myself included) in 1984: “You want stress? I’ll show you stress. Go work in air traffic control or be a single mother on food stamps.”

The Times’ story reads like one of those stories that leads the local TV news when there is nothing else going on. The only reason this is a story is someone called it a trend among the well-off.

This reminds me of something that happened back in the early 80s when I was an intern with the NYPD for a semester. I was in the 24th precinct — West Side, 103rd st and south. One day all the newspapers were screaming about a young white woman (if memory serves she was a student at Columbia) who had been raped and killed on a roof in mid town. Now I wasn’t exactly Mr. Hardboiled but even I knew something was not quite right here. I remember walking up to the sergeant and just pointing at the front page story. He said something like, “Got me. We had two girls raped and killed up here last night too.” He didn’t have to tell me their skin color.

You read it here first: Media, Pentagon getting their ideas from me & CD jr.

From The NY Daily News: CIVIL WAR REENACTMENT – IN BAGHDAD?

Where did they come up with this one? The Multi-National Corps-Iraq press desk sent out a release today about a new operation targeting insurgents in Baghdad, which succeeded killing two insurgents and locating a cache of “artillery rounds, mortars, cell phones, weapons, propaganda, ammunition magazines and other bomb-making materials.” The clever name of this mission? Operation Bull Run.

From CD in February 2006: The Iraq Civil War, or Operation Bull Run

Last Sunday, Secretary of State Rice made the TV rounds and dismissed an “impending” civil war. And, technically, she’s right: It’s not impending if it’s already here. Her comments sound like Gen. Westmoreland’s December 1967 dismissal of the North Vietnamese’s ability to launch an offensive anywhere in South Vietnam. The following month the North launched the Tet offensive everywhere in South Vietnam.

Two points for the Pentagon to keep in mind:

  1. It was a JOKE.
  2. There have been two previous battles of Bull Run. We lost ’em both.

Y’know, Tom Lehrer once said that irony died when Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize. Oh Tom, if only you’d been right.

(Mad props to Flagrancy To Reason for finding this.)

From Wired: How to Take Money From Kids: Sell Toys Both Physical and Virtual

Webkinz kick-started a trend in children’s gaming that ties virtual environments to real-world merchandise. Online games for kids aren’t new. Sierra Online had tot-focused games in the early ’90s, and Neopets proved a hot product six years ago with a similar concept. But the unprecedented success of Webkinz is inspiring everyone from Barbie to Disney to get children invested in both the digital and the physical.

From TheWhatchamacallit: Neopets a neoscam?

The NC Mall was the final blow though. Needing to use real money, to buy virtual items on a kids site? It should not be! I am going to write a twelve paragraph letter to neopets on this subject, after seeing how few people actually realize neopets is being taken over!

From Reuters: Program Reveals Where Wikipedia Entrees Come From

A new tracing program that reveals where Wikipedia entries come from is stirring up controversy. People using FBI and CIA computers edited entries on such topics as the “Iraq war” and the prison at “Guantanamo Bay,” presenting a conflict of interest for the nonprofit online encyclopedia, according to a company spokesperson.

From today’s New York Times: Seeing Corporate Fingerprints in Wikipedia Edits

Collateral Damage: See here & here.

Collateral Damage: Today’s sarcasm is tomorrow’s news.

Virtually in the New York Times

Nina D. sent me the following:

So, I’m reading Stuart Elliott’s advertising newsletter from Jan 29 and notice this sentence:

“A brief article about the commercial in Brandweek used the z-word, too, carrying the headline “Zombie Popcorn.”

And I think, ‘That had to have been Constantine.’

Sure enough:

Although the digital Redenbacher “actually seems less wooden than the real Orville was,” wrote the reporter, Constantine Von Hoffman, “if he has been resurrected to redeem his brand, this is not the ad that will lead it to salvation.”

The Iraq Civil War, or Operation Bull Run

Marketing has always been a high consideration in the US adventure in Iraq, see Chief of Staff Andrew Card’s comment on the invasion, “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.” Needing to sell this particular product, the Administration ran out a staggering array of ante-bellum reasons for war: WMD, “Saddam is worse than Hitler,” Saddam is linked to 9-11, Saddam will destabilize the Mid-East (isn’t that like making water wet?), “We need to stand up for the UN.” All of these were underpinned by the argument that this has nothing to do with oil. One of the first things you learn in the news biz is that when someone says it’s not about money, then you can be sure it is about …

Current ex post facto rationalizations include spreading democracy in the Mid East (unless, of course, democracy gets the “wrong” people elected. Quoth Lehrer: For might makes right/And till they’ve seen the light/They’ve got to be protected/All their rights respected/ ‘Till somebody we like can be elected), creating a “flypaper” state that keeps all the terrorists in Iraq and I forget what all else.

Along with the ever-changing series of rationales, a key tactic of this marketing campaign has been to claim things aren’t happening that already are. There was the Administration saying the war hadn’t begun when we’d been bombing the Iraqis for weeks. Turns out they meant “ground war.” We had the Mission Accomplished/End Of Hostilities claim followed by more combat deaths than while “hostilities” were under way. And now there is the claim that “Civil War” is in danger of breaking out all over the place.

Last Sunday, Secretary of State Rice made the TV rounds and dismissed an “impending” civil war. And, technically, she’s right: It’s not impending if it’s already here. Her comments sound like Gen. Westmoreland’s December 1967 dismissal of the North Vietnamese’s ability to launch an offensive anywhere in South Vietnam. The following month the North launched the Tet offensive everywhere in South Vietnam.

If this ain’t Civil War, maybe it will do until the real thing comes along. What does it take to get the official imprimatur and make a war Civil? Is it when Iraqis spend more killing each other than they do trying to kill the US military? I think we can check that one off. Is it at some point when we can no longer claim all or even most of the violence is being conducted by outsiders? Now that’s actually tough to measure. Is it when Ken Burns makes a somnolent documentary of it? God forbid. The Iraqis have suffered enough already.

As usual, the Administration is being aided and abetted in its marketing by many in the media, and I’m not talking Fox TV. Last Sunday, the NYT’s Week In Review section lead with an article entitled “What A Civil War Could Look Like” which actually addressed everything but that. The article categorically refused to define “What a civil war does look like.” Instewad it fell back on some of the most hair-splitting linguistic efforts to not call an Antietam an Antietam since Bill Clinton’s famous “is.”

Like a near-death experience, the carnage seems to have shocked Sunni and Shiite leaders into a new realization of what civil war would cost, and new efforts to avoid it. But what happens if such efforts — and frantic ones by Americans — prove incapable of stopping an all-out war?

The greatest fear of leaders throughout the Middle East is that an unrestrained civil war …

If Iraq were to sink deeper into that kind of conflict,

In short, it said, we’ll know it’s a Civil War when the rest of the region falls to pieces. Or when it stops being so damned restrained. Or when someone has the nerve to call it that.

Any experienced marketer knows that you can sell pretty much anything once. Make a big enough claim for the product and someone – maybe a lot of someones – will buy it. The hard part is getting them to buy from you more than once. To do that the claims you make have to have some resemblance to the product you’re selling. When it comes to civil war, the consumer should now really be aware. And expect an official announcement of this product launch very, very soon.