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Photos and text, unless otherwise noted, Copyright 2003,2004,2005,2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Thursday, 31 March 2005

Topic: God and US

Holy War: The Tiger-by-the-Tail Problem

Was it hyperbole? Last week in Just Above Sunset you could find this - Meme Watch: The Republican Party Self-Destructs Before Our Eyes - "Early Monday morning, March 21 of this year, the Republican Party jumped the shark. The end began, the great unraveling. Everything shifted against them. …"

Well maybe not. But the meme rolls on, in no small part because of the death of Terri Schiavo.

Sidney Blumenthal, from the depths of the Clinton administration, rises again with this –

Political crackup
By intervening in the Schiavo case, Bush moved the religious right into the heart of the GOP. Now there will be hell to pay.
SALON.COM - Thursday, March 31, 2005

Echoing Pilgrims Progress and referencing Cardinal Richelieu in an odd way – Karl Rove is our Cardinal Richelieu? – this is the Tiger-by-the-Tail argument. The Bush administration played to their base of fervent Christian evangelicals and just lost control. As in this -
The Bush administration doesn't have a faith-based initiative; it is a faith-based initiative. When President Bush rushed back to the White House from his Crawford, Texas, ranch to show his urgency to sign the congressional bill on Terri Schiavo, who died Thursday at 41, he demonstrated his faith in the infallibility of his political strategy. Just months earlier in the 2004 presidential election he had proven its efficacy. By joining the flag to the cross, Bush's campaign linked the war on terrorism to the culture war. Under these banners Bush marched as the crusader king against barbarian hordes without and within.

… In unprecedented numbers evangelical Protestants and conservative "faithful" Catholics flocked to the polls to vote for him. Ballot initiatives in 11 swing states against gay marriage helped magnetize these constituencies. By a simple symbolic gesture in the Schiavo case he would become the transcendent holy warrior again, suddenly lifted by "values" from the slough of despond he had found himself in over his Social Security privatization scheme. It never dawned on him or his Cardinal Richelieu (Karl Rove) that the polls, like the heavens, would come crashing in on him.
Well, crashing down may be a tad over the top, but it may not have worked as planned.

Why do it? Because it worked before.
Bush believes that he won his reelection in great part on "values" and that all he needs to do to refresh his power is to invoke them. But in signing a private bill by Congress that could not stand constitutional scrutiny for the sake of gratifying a faction of the Republican base, he has exposed and inverted the raw politics of the culture war. Instead of being blinded by the light of his shining faith, the public was repelled by what it saw as crass exploitation.

After a week of damage, the White House was quietly leaking to the press that Bush had not wanted to return from Crawford after all. His effort to distance himself from the corrosive Schiavo issue had the effect of depicting him as ambivalent and indecisive -- the negative image he had sought to project of John Kerry.
And yes, that seems to be what the polls showed. So he is not talking about the business very much now.

But is Blumenthal correct is saying that Bush had no instinct that he was overreaching?

Consider this -
… In the beginning of his involvement in the Schiavo case, Bush acted on faith that it was a political gift. Why not? The politics of "values" had always enabled him to gain the offensive. For Reagan it had been morning again in America. Now it would be deathwatch in America. But Bush miscalculated the public response and lost control. Bush isn't using the religious right; it is using him.
That could be, but perhaps what we have here is a symbiotic relationship.

Blumenthal is having none of that.
The culture war has imploded inside the Republican Party. The religious fanatics and political freebooters who have flocked to the Schiavo deathwatch can never lose, no matter how extreme their pronouncements. Schiavo has given the religious right an invaluable lever with which to pressure Bush and the Republicans, who can never fully satisfy its demands if they are to sustain a national majority. The inviolability of marriage, states' rights, limited government, respect for the law -- these conservative principles must be cast aside in the struggle for power. Moreover, the Catholic right, a minority within both the American church and the religious right, has used this event to flex its muscles at evangelical Protestants as never before.

The battle over Schiavo is only proximately about Schiavo. The more spectacularly ghoulish the antics surrounding the Florida hospice, the more threatening the message being sent to Bush. A bigger prize looms. The shadow of political blackmail hangs over Bush's Supreme Court nominations. Bush's appointment of justices who meet the approval of the religious right, even if he had intended to appoint them all along, must be interpreted as its triumph in the Schiavo struggle. If he flouts its will, there will be hell for Republicans to pay. Bush has set himself up for appearing terrorized.

The challenge here for Bush. House majority leader Tom DeLay, who pretty much started all this, issued this statement a few hours after the Schiavo death.
Mrs. Schiavo's death is a moral poverty and a legal tragedy. This loss happened because our legal system did not protect the people who need protection most, and that will change. The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior, but not today. Today we grieve, we pray, and we hope to God this fate never befalls another. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Schindlers and with Terri Schiavo's friends in this time of deep sorrow.
That’s a threat. "The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior…"

Tom DeLay, our house majority leader, is now threatening judges, doctors and Terri Schiavo’s husband? Probably just the judges. Judicial activists killed Terri Schiavo, and they will pay?

As our columnist Bob Patterson comments –
Remember the old song about sure things, such as rain in Indianapolis in the summer?

I told you about Ohio being the turning point for Bush.

I've said Terri Schiavo will be a martyr for busting the filibuster. Well, today Hugh Hewitt said something about owing it to Terri to change the filibuster rules so "we" can get good judges in place.

I tell ya, Bush is going to get a third term.
Nope. Perhaps the filibuster will go the way of the Great Auk, and no one will ever again understand what Jimmy Stewart is doing in that old Frank Kapra movie, but things are getting hot on the right. Not everyone on that side is buying into the idea we need Christian, fundamentalist judges upholding God's natural law.

Take Glenn Reynolds here - one unhappy Republican.
Republicans like to point out that you have to stand for something, or you'll fall for anything. The leadership, at least, of the Republican Party has abandoned the principles of small government and federalism that it used to stand for. Trampling traditional limits on governmental power in an earnest desire to do good in high-profile cases has been a hallmark of a certain sort of liberalism, and it's the sort of thing that I thought conservatives eschewed. If I were in charge of making the decision, I might well put the tube back and turn Terri Schiavo over to her family. But I'm not, and the Florida courts are, and they seem to have done a conscientious job. Maybe they came to the right decision, and maybe they didn't; this is a hard case. But respecting the courts' role in the system, and not rushing to overturn all the rules because we don't like the outcome, seems to me to be part of being a member of civilized society rather than a mob. I thought conservatives knew this. Before things are over, they may wish they hadn't forgotten.
He sounds worried. And he’s not the only one.

Take John Danforth, the former Missouri senator who was, until January, this administration’s United Nations ambassador. Earlier in the week he wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times whining about how the Republican Party has become the "political arm of conservative Christians." Yipes!

But Tom Grieve reminds us here -
Danforth is an Episcopal minister who presided at Ronald Reagan's funeral and knelt in prayer and listened to "Onward Christian Soldiers" with Clarence Thomas during the justice's contentious confirmation hearings, but he has never been a favorite of the religious right. As the Washington Post noted in a 2004 profile, Danforth "voted against abortion rights but shied away from a leadership role in the movement." As a senator, he opposed school prayer, opposed the death penalty, and was what his former chief of staff called "an extremely aggressive advocate of the separation of church and state."

Still, Bush considered Danforth as a vice presidential candidate and then turned to him to represent the United States in the United Nations after John Negroponte left for Iraq last year. For such a prominent Republican with such a long relationship with the Bush family to speak out on the GOP's mind-meld with the religious right -- in the New York Times, no less -- has got to sting.
Maybe so, but he is the “other” kind of Republican.

There aren’t many of those speaking out. This whole Schiavo thing, and now her death, has them all spooked.

But he does say this - "The problem is not with people or churches that are politically active. It is with a party that has gone so far in adopting a sectarian agenda that it has become the political extension of a religious movement."

Grieve adds this -
It's not just the Republicans' intervention in the Schiavo case that's bothering Danforth. It's a series of initiatives, including the Republicans' support for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and their opposition to stem cell research. "Standing alone, each of these initiatives has its advocates, within the Republican Party and beyond," Danforth writes. "But the distinct elements do not stand alone. Rather they are parts of a larger package, an agenda of positions common to conservative Christians and the dominant wing of the Republican Party."
Ah, it’s the larger package that bothers him.

Danforth –
During the 18 years I served in the Senate, Republicans often disagreed with each other. But there was much that held us together. We believed in limited government, in keeping light the burden of taxation and regulation. We encouraged the private sector, so that a free economy might thrive. We believed that judges should interpret the law, not legislate. We were internationalists who supported an engaged foreign policy, a strong national defense and free trade. These were principles shared by virtually all Republicans.

But in recent times, we Republicans have allowed this shared agenda to become secondary to the agenda of Christian conservatives. As a senator, I worried every day about the size of the federal deficit. I did not spend a single minute worrying about the effect of gays on the institution of marriage. Today it seems to be the other way around.

The historic principles of the Republican Party offer America its best hope for a prosperous and secure future. Our current fixation on a religious agenda has turned us in the wrong direction. It is time for Republicans to rediscover our roots.
Not likely now. It may be too late for any of these guys to take back the party. Bush, or really Karl Rove (Richelieu-lite), has given it to the Army of God.

And you know what they think of Episcopalians like Danforth. See this where you will find Pat Robertson of the Christian Coalition exlaining matters: "You say you're supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense, I don't have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist."

Perhaps, Dan, it’s time to leave the party. You’re not wanted.

Oh yes, the site at the link above also has some choice quotes from Randall Terry, the man the parents of Terri Schiavo selected to speak for them. I guess they didn’t do their homework. Or maybe they did. Terry’s previous views?
"I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good... Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a biblical duty, we are called by God to conquer this country. We don't want equal time. We don't want pluralism."

"Our goal must be simple. We must have a Christian nation built on God's law, on the Ten Commandments. No apologies."

"When I, or people like me, are running the country, you'd better flee, because we will find you, we will try you, and we'll execute you. I mean every word of it. I will make it part of my mission to see to it that they are tried and executed."

"There is going to be war, [and Christians may be called to] take up the sword to overthrow the tyrannical regime that oppresses them."
I guess it’s time for a lot of Republicans to choose sides. Rove gave the party to Tom DeLay and these guys.

Now what?

Posted by Alan at 20:16 PST | Post Comment | Permalink

Topic: Election Notes

Anger Management: On Taking Politics Way Too Seriously

You know, the election was last December and there’s still fallout from it.

This is most curious. It seems a Bush supporter lost his temper and was, a few days ago, sentenced after he pled guilty to some unusual charges. He got a bit upset his girlfriend was going to vote for Kerry. I like the part where he asks his girlfriend to kill him, because a vote for Kerry meant he was going to die anyway.

Some folks take politics way too seriously.

Teen pleads guilty to attacking girlfriend for her Kerry support
Missy Stoddard – South Florida (Miami – Palm Beach) Sun-Sentinel - March 31, 2005
Steven Soper had his life all mapped out.

The 18-year-old from Lake Worth had been accepted into the Army and planned to enlist after graduating this spring from Santaluces High School.

But the plan came apart in late October when he attacked his girlfriend after learning she planned to vote for Sen. John Kerry in the presidential election.

Soper pleaded guilty Wednesday to false imprisonment, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, battery and resisting arrest without violence. Circuit Judge Jorge Labarga sentenced Soper to 90 days in jail followed by five years of probation and 100 hours of community service. The judge ordered Soper to write a letter of apology to 18-year-old Stacey Silveira, whom he dated for two years, according to Silveira. Soper is also required to complete a batterers' intervention program, undergo psychological and substance abuse evaluations and complete any recommended treatment.
Yes, but what did he DO?
Silveira's neighbor west of Boynton Beach called 911 on Oct. 26 after seeing Soper carrying Silveira as she screamed "no, no, no," Assistant State Attorney Tim Beckwith said. Soper pointed a knife at Silveira and threatened to kill her, he added. A deputy found evidence of a struggle inside the home, including a broken pot.

Soper dragged Silveira, kicking and screaming, into her house before throwing her to the floor and spitting on her, police reports said. Soper reportedly bit Silveira and then placed a knife in her hand and told her to kill him, because a vote for Kerry would mean he would die anyway.
Okay, he’s a passionate fellow. And his defense attorney commented that this passionate fellow had many relatives in the military, and, sadly enough, “had every intention of going to other parts of the world to defend the United States." So we lost a good soldier? I guess that’s what the defense attorney is implying.

Well, we do learn from the Sun that the fellow has dropped out of high school – but he is now working on his general equivalency diploma. And he still hopes to one day serve in the military. Perhaps there’s a place for him at Guantanamo. He can join this fellow there.

Posted by Alan at 15:58 PST | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink

Wednesday, 30 March 2005

Topic: The Media

Press Notes: The Art of Controlling the Interview, and the Craft of Selling Advertising Slots

It seems there is a good reason one really shouldn?t ask medical experts to appear on news interview shows. It seems they don?t like playing along with the standard narrative.

Media Matters reports that on the March 28 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country, host Joe Scarborough interviewed Dr. Ronald Cranford, one of the two neurologists selected by Michael Schiavo to examine Terri Schiavo pursuant to an October 2001 appellate court mandate. As part of that duty, Cranford "reviewed her medical records and personally conducted a neurological examination of Mrs. Schiavo," according to the June 2003 Florida appeals court review of that hearing.

It?s not often you hear a guest say to a news anchor, in this case NBC?s Lisa Daniels ? ?? this is all bogus. It's all just a bunch of crap that you are saying. It's totally wrong.?

And this, regarding the host? ?And Joe doesn't have any idea what he is talking about. And you don't have any idea what you're talking about.?


And even better, this exchange ?
DANIELS: Doctor, was a CAT scan -- Doctor, your critics would ask you, was a CAT scan used? Was an MRI taken? Were any of these tests taken?

CRANFORD: You don't know the answer tothat? The CAT scan was done in 1996, 2002. We spent a lot of time in court showing the irreversible -- you don't have copies of those CAT scans? How can you say that?

The CAT scans are out there, distributed to other people. You have got to look at the facts. The CAT scan is out there. It shows severe atrophy of the brain. The autopsy is going to show severe atrophy of the brain. And you're asking me if a CAT scan was done? How could you possibly be so stupid?

SCARBOROUGH: Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait a second.
Things were, at that point, clearly slipping out of control. And the host really wanted to control the interview.

And then there was this -
SCARBOROUGH: Why don't you go ahead and tell the rest of the story there? Why don't you tell us that the radiologist that looked at the two CAT scans said she showed improvement in 2002 over 1996? You know, you seem so sure of yourself. The Associated Press reported yesterday ?

CRANFORD: Joe, the judge didn't believe him.

SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second. Hold on a second. You're so sure of yourself -- respond to this. AP had a report yesterday. They said seven doctors have looked at her. Four said she was in persistent vegetative state. You were one of them, hired by Michael Schiavo to do that. There were three others that looked at her that disagreed. How can you be so absolutely sure that everybody that agrees with you is 100 percent accurate and everybody on the other side is a charlatan?

CRANFORD: Joe, Judge -- Judge [George W.] Greer disallowed, didn't believe what [Dr. William] Maxfield [a doctor selected by Terri Schiavo's parents] said. You got your numbers wrong. There were eight neurologists saw her. Seven of the eight said she was in a vegetative state. Only one said she wasn't.

SCARBOROUGH: I am quoting an Associated Press report from yesterday.

CRANFORD: Joe, you've got to get your facts straight.

SCARBOROUGH: I have got my facts straight.

CRANFORD: Get your facts straight. You've got your facts way off.
And on it went. You can read the whole transcript by clicking on the top link.

What to make of this?

The hosts of these shows are working on a particular persona each is marketing ? and the hook for this show is in its catchphrase ? ?Talking about the issues that matter to the average Joe.? That sells. And the marketing guess seems to be the ?average Joe? wants to hear that the doctors have it all wrong, or that they really don?t agree, and the evidence is we are starving to death a woman who is actually getting better. Great drama for the news network.

Except the doctors pretty much agree, and she isn?t getting better, and never was, and the facts are there for all to see. And the tests were done. And there?s not much more to say ? unless you don?t like the facts.

But ratings matter.

And CNN is changing too.

CNN Seeks New Ways to Battle Fox News
Jacques Steinberg, New York Times, March 23, 2005

This is a long item on Jonathan Klein, the new president of CNN, and his plans to change CNN to improve its ratings.

One of Mr. Klein's mantras - a version of the same one he invoked when announcing in January that he intended to cancel the afternoon shout-fest "Crossfire" - is that the network's prime-time programs should spend less time reporting the news of the day and more time spinning out what he hopes are emotionally gripping, character-driven narratives pegged to recent events.

But he has also sought to take a page from the playbook of local television news and encourage some reporters to put more of their personalities in their reports. It is not insignificant that he is being advised in this effort by Joel Cheatwood, a former news executive in Miami and Chicago who is well known for using loud sound effects to amplify crime stories and for the failed effort to make Jerry Springer a commentator in Chicago in the late 1990's.

In a segment last Wednesday on the program "Paula Zahn Now," for example, Rick Sanchez, a former local news anchor who worked for Mr. Cheatwood in Miami and who joined CNN last year, strapped on a device known as a shock belt - worn around the waist, it can deliver 50,000 volts of electricity to a person's body - and then gave a simple command: "Do it."

Moments later, Mr. Sanchez moaned audibly, crumpled to the floor, and, still panting after being helped to his feet, reported: "It hurts. It's painful. But no one's dead."

Mr. Sanchez was attempting to show first-hand how a device like the shock belt might have prevented the courthouse rampage in Atlanta in which a judge and three others were killed by a rape suspect.

The morning after his program was broadcast, Mr. Klein was euphoric.

"I thought it was great," he told several dozen producers and editors, gathered by videoconference from around the country for their regular 9 a.m. assignment meeting. Mr. Sanchez will join Anderson Cooper's evening news program on CNN early next month as a full-time correspondent.
Yeah, well, that?s the state of the news media now.

By the way, for a video of Jon Stewart on The Daily Show having fun with this particular CNN report, go here and in the right column click on Professional Journalism item.

When news becomes just one of the products a major corporation sells, or uses to sell advertising slots, we get what the corporation thinks we want ? silly crap and lies that, well, maybe could be true if you're paranoid. (And that raises the question of whether folks want to feel paranoid ? whether they really want to believe that there are evil plots afoot and tons of folks who want to abduct our kids from schoolyards, and tens of thousands of kids who will sneak into those very schools and murder their classmates, and judges who want everyone to die, and that most if not all foreigners want to kill us because that hate freedom, and there?s a master plot by liberals to destroy Christianity and all the rest? And then there's... the French! You know, you CAN use that paranoia about the world being a creepy place with everyone out to get us all ? and sell a lot of tampons or cream cheese. But that?s another issue.)

Those who want Professional Journalism? There?s the PBS ?News Hour? and ?BBC World Report? out there, I guess. Dull stuff. With low ratings.



Excerpts from a comment from Digby over at Hullabaloo, who calls Scarborough ?a man with the mental capacity of a Vidalia onion (a small Vidalia onion)? -
? I'm mighty proud of Dr. Cranford, and I think the medical profession should be proud of him too. One of the most outrageous aspects of the whole sorry Schiavo circus was the willingness, nay, eagerness of complete idiots -- and even their inferiors, the cable news people -- to second guess the doctors. People you wouldn't trust to fix your downstairs toilet suddenly thought they know more about neurology than men and women who spent, oh, ten or twelve years of their lives learning to be doctors, and another two or three decades as practicing board-certified neurologists, and who repeatedly, over the course of ten years, two trials and more appeals than you can shake a catheter at, examined, tested and diagnosed Terri Schiavo -- making her probably the world's most over-treated patient. A poster child for excessive medical procedures.

I mean, I don't think the pope has gotten as much medical attention as Terri did. I doubt Leonid Breshnev had that many doctors. The CAT scans, MRIs and hyperbaric vaso...vaso...whatever tests alone probably added a couple of percentage points to GDP -- at a time when millions of unfamous Americans have no health coverage at all. But that's another outrage. Right now we're talking about how the Terri Schiavo case produced a national epidemic of TV faith healers (as if we didn't have enough of them already.)

Even the doctors second-guessed the doctors -- from 800 miles away. When the Senator from HCA, Bill Frist, got up in front of the cameras and offered his own personal diagnosis of a patient he'd never met, based on nothing more than a couple of video clips (wave to the camera, Terri!) you really had to wonder what comes next. Will Frist decide to perform open heart surgery on Dick Cheney, based on the vice president's appearance the next time they let him out in public?

"You look a little pale today, Dick. Why don't you get up on the table and let me rip out your left ventricle." (Actually, I'd be in favor of that.)

When the Frist for President Committee starts airing his ads, the FEC (or the FTC, or somebody) should make the bastard put in a disclaimer, something along the lines of: "I'm not a quack, but I played one on television . . ."

Frist, though, isn't an idiot -- just a politician who's had his ethical standards surgically removed in order to enhance his career. (Think of it as the inside-the-Beltway version of a Hollywood face lift.) But the mind-numbing stupidity displayed on the cable channels throughout the whole Schiavo saga truly was a sight to behold.

Nobody expects broadcast journalists to be medical experts. That would be like expecting the workers at your local sewage treatment plant to host a gourmet cooking show (actually, the odds on that one are probably higher.) But Christ, doesn't basic common sense suggest that an RN who tended Terri Schiavo six years ago might not be as believable as three board-certified neurologists who gave her a full medical examination in 2002? [Editor?s note: Regarding the nurse see Just Above Sunset here.]

Apparently not, even though the nurse's testimony was found not credible in a court of law and the neurologists' testimony was. Both were equal in the eyes of cable news -- just two more opposing witnesses to be examined on Scarborough Country, with Onion Joe as both judge and prosecutor, and the millions of semiconscious couch potatoes out there in living-room land as the jury.

We're fortunate, I guess, that the only life at stake in this particular kangaroo court was that of poor Terri Schiavo. For better or worse, good or evil, her time on this earth is over. But when I think of the thousands, or even millions, of lives that could ride on the next big trial-by-media -- when the topic might be war with North Korea or the reality of global warming or the copyright laws governing the music industry (I'm kidding! I'm kidding!) -- I get worried. Because right now, the corporate media (and the dumbed-down culture they've helped create) are looking more and more like the intellectual equivalent of Dr. Kevorkian. And any of us -- or all of us - could be their next patient.

Leaving me with the heartfelt question: Where is Dr. Sponge Bob when we really need him?

Posted by Alan at 17:28 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, 31 March 2005 12:07 PST home

Tuesday, 29 March 2005

Topic: The Media

On wanting to kill anyone who does not share your views?.

I understand from a well-placed source at CNN (really) that this Associated Press item is being circulated around news organizations today. Of course it is. The concept is fascinating, or would be of interest to the cable news folks who worry about ratings.

Man Sells Device That Blocks Fox News
Friday, March 25, 7:39 PM ET
Emily Fredrix, Associated Press Writer
It's not that Sam Kimery objects to the views expressed on Fox News. The creator of the "Fox Blocker" contends the channel is not news at all. Kimery figures he's sold about 100 of the little silver bits of metal that screw into the back of most televisions, allowing people to filter Fox News from their sets, since its August debut.

The Tulsa, Okla., resident also has received thousands of e-mails, both angry and complimentary ? as well as a few death threats.

"Apparently the making of terroristic threats against those who don't share your views is a high art form among a certain core audience," said Kimery, 45.

Formerly a registered Republican, even a precinct captain, Kimery became an independent in the 1990s when he said the state party stopped taking input from its everyday members.

Kimery now contends Fox News' top-level management dictates a conservative journalistic bias, that inaccuracies are never retracted, and what winds up on the air is more opinion than news. "I might as well be reading tabloids out of the grocery store," he says. "Anything to get a rise out of the viewer and to reinforce certain retrograde notions."
Yeah, well, we are told a Fox spokeswoman at the station's New York headquarters said the channel's ratings speak for themselves.

So be it. They get the most viewers, and I hear from my source in northern Iraq that Fox is just about the official news channel of the military. Of course.

But what exactly is the motivation driving this man from Tulsa?
Kimery's motives go deeper than preventing people from watching the channel, which he acknowledges can be done without the Blocker. But he likens his device to burning a draft card, a tangible example of disagreement.

And he's taking this message to the network's advertisers. After buying the $8.95 device online, would-be blockers are shown a letter that they can send to advertisers via the Fox Blocker site.

"The point is not to block the channel or block free speech but to raise awareness," said Kimery, who works in the tech industry.
Perhaps. But those who would buy the thing have already have had their awareness raised, one would think. And marketing this seems just an in-your-face insult to those who actually believe Fox News presents the only real, and only patriotic alternative to the America-hating liberal bias of all the rest of the media. When you insult people they threaten to kill you. Isn?t that how everyone responds to insults?


Anyway, you can buy one here if you?d like. But if you buy one, you probably aren?t watching Fox News anyway. Any beside that, you could just select a different channel and save the money.

Ah, one more liberal novelty item, much like this.

On the left Eric Alterman has a take on this here -
It?s not just a David Kelly fantasy. Sam Kimery says he's sold about 100 of the little silver bits of metal that screw into the back of most televisions, allowing people to filter Fox News from their sets, since its August debut. Of course, he has also received death threats from Fox fans, who naturally wish to kill anyone who does not share their views.

? We also note, for fairness? sake, that Kimery doesn't use the device himself; his remote is programmed to only a half-dozen channels. Plus he occasionally feels the need to tune into Fox News for something "especially heinous."
Fox fans naturally wish to kill anyone who does not share their views?

Ah, only some of them. So far.

You find my views "especially heinous?? I kill you!

Well, that's one kind of discourse.

Posted by Alan at 19:13 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 29 March 2005 19:19 PST home

Topic: In these times...

Polarization: The Effect of Washington?s Intervention in Florida Regarding the Woman with No Brain Waves for the Last Fifteen Years

At the Betty Bowers site you can buy mugs and t-shirts and such that say Dear Red States: To be honest, we do look down on you - and you can order those here.

So? Those of us who live in California are supposed to be happy that we do.

Variations of the letter below can be found here:

You're FIRED
Pink slip for the Red States
David Donnell - January 26, 2005

Abusive Relationships: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, But Staying Together Is Suicide
by Citizen of South Canadian Republic Friday, Nov. 05, 2004 at 3:48 PM

This is the version going around the web now, and was forwarded to me from a friend at a prestigious Wall Street law firm -
From: Blue Girl (
Subject: Letter from a New Yorker: Dear Red States
Date: November 9, 2004 at 2:39 pm PST

Dear Red States:

Congratulations on your victory over all us non-evangelicals. Actually, we're a bit ticked off here in California, so we're leaving. California will now be its own country. And we're taking all the Blue States with us. In case you are not aware, that includes Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and all of the Northeast.

We spoke to God, and She agrees that this split will be beneficial to almost everybody, and especially to us in the new country of California. In fact, God is so excited about it, She's going to shift the whole country at 4:30 pm EST this Friday. Therefore, please let everyone know they need to be back in their states by then.

So you get Texas and all the former slave states. We get the Governator, stem cell research and the best beaches. We get Elliot Spitzer. You get Ken Lay. We get the Statue of Liberty. You get OpryLand. We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom. We get Harvard. You get Ole' Miss. We get 85% of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get all the technological innovation in Alabama. We get about two-thirds of the tax revenue, and you get to make the red states pay their fair share.

Since our divorce rate is 22% lower than the Christian coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms to support, and we know how much you like that.

Did I mention we produce about 70% of the nation's veggies? But heck, the only greens the Bible-thumpers eat are the pickles on their Big Macs. Oh yeah, another thing, don't plan on serving California wine at your state dinners. From now on it's imported French wine for you. (Ouch, bet that hurts!)

Just so we're clear, the country of California will be pro-choice and anti-war.

Speaking of war, we're going to want all Blue States' citizens back from Iraq. If you need people to fight, just ask your evangelicals. They have tons of kids they're willing to send to their deaths for absolutely no purpose. And they don't care if you don't show pictures of their kids' caskets coming home.

Anyway, we wish you all the best in the next four years and we hope, really hope, you find those missing weapons of mass destruction. Seriously. Soon.

With the Blue States in hand, the Democrats have firm control of 80% of the country's fresh water, over 90% of our pineapple and lettuce, 92% of all fresh fruit production, 93% of the artichoke production, 95% of America's export quality wines, 90% of all cheese production, 90% of the high tech industry, most of the US low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools, plus Harvard, Yale, Amherst, Stanford, Berkeley, CalTech, IIT and MIT. We can live simply but well.

The Red States, on the other hand, now have to cope with 88% of all obese Americans (and their projected health care cost spike), 92% of all US mosquitoes, nearly 100% of all tornadoes, 90% of all hurricanes, 99% of all Southern Baptists, 100% of all Televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia. A high price to pay for controlling the presidency.

Additionally, 38% of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually eaten by a whale, 62% believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44% believe that evolution is just a theory, 53% that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11 and - most hard to grasp - 61% believe that Bush is a person of moral conviction.

So we drift apart. The country is more divided that it has ever been ? unless you count that Civil war back in the early 1860?s ? or as they sometimes call it south of the Mason-Dixon Line, the late unpleasantness between the states.

Ah well, perhaps we should split.

But the folks in the red states are serious. South Carolina may actually secede. See this from World Net Daily on May 24, 2004 ? on the plans for states succeeding to form a Christian traditional-values nation of their own. And we see who is first - "? after originally considering Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina due to their relatively small populations, coastal access, and the Christian nature of the electorate, Burnell says South Carolina has been selected as the target location."


All this was discussed in Just Above Sunset last September here.

Now, thanks to events in Florida, momentum is no doubt building.

Posted by Alan at 17:12 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 29 March 2005 19:07 PST home

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