Thursday, October 21, 2004

Sinclair Update #2

Seems Sinclair has decided not to air the film. Thank you, Mike, for bringing that to my attention.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Sinclair's Low Blow Update

Apparently responding to pressure put on Sinclair, pay-per-view provider inDemand has dropped Michael Moore's election eve special, which would have featured a screening of "Fahrenheit 9/11" along with interviews with various liberal celebrities. Moore, in response, has offered "Fahrenheit" to Sinclair so that Sinclair might balance itself. I'll keep you posted as stories unfold.

Stupid Media Tricks

Dumb Washington Post quote of the day (referring to the second presidential debate):

"Sen. John Kerry joked that of all the people in the room, only he, Bush, and moderator Charles Gibson would benefit from the tax cut for the wealthy. In effect, Kerry was relegating the town hall audience to the social status of hired help, making assumptions about these citizens that confirmed his supposed attitude of high-handedness." - op-ed columnist Alan Schroeder

Good to know that anyone making under $200,000 a year is "hired help." Not only that, but good to know that "hired help" should be looked down upon. Ass.

Also, Kerry's comment was about who in the room would be hit by his proposed tax cut rollback.

And "supposed attitude of high-handedness?" Who's supposing that?

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Sinclair's Low Blow

Greetings from Washington.

It always seems that the most truly disturbing news gets tucked away on Page 6 or so of your local newspaper. (We might recall that the Holocaust was first mentioned on page 13 or so of the New York Times.) So while the front page is obsessed with Kerry and Bush trading verbal jabs that border on the absurd, the adventurous reader is blessed - or cursed - with articles that illuminate some of the darker dealings of our political system.

The most telling of these is Sinclair Broadcast Group's recent decision to pre-empt all programming for one hour later this month to air "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," a film that most observers agree is blatantly anti-Kerry. Furthermore, they are denying Kerry and his campaign the right to respond in kind. Sinclair, not surprisingly, has donated heavily to Republicans and to George W. Bush's reelection campaign.

We also recall that Sinclair made headlines last year for its refusal to allow stations it owned to air an episode of "Nightline" where anchor Ted Koppel read the names of all Americans who had died in Iraq. Their decision on the Koppel matter is defensible - Koppel was making a political statement, and media outlets can be understandably uncomfortable with a political statement in a setting that purports objectivity. However, to deny Koppel his views while pushing theirs is the absolute worst kind of hypocrisy.

Readers of Chomsky and others who understand the influence corporations have over the content of the media will be unsurprised by this event. However, it should deeply disturb all Americans that a media outlet - an entity we turn to when we want the facts - would stoop so low as to air programming with the purpose of influencing a presidential election.

A biased media that influences elections is the province of corrupt and anti-democratic regimes. We decry Vladimir Putin's closing of all non-state-run media in Russia. We look with horror at Ukraine's corrupt president Leonid Kuchma, who is using his pawns in the media to attempt to sway an election in his favor. We all but laugh at North Korea's fabricated "news" that they feed to their citizens. And all dictatorships in recent memory have gone hand-in-hand with a media printing not the facts but state-sponsored propaganda. In contrast, many a democratic thinker has remarked on the importance of a free press to a democratic society.

Don't get me wrong - it is well within Sinclair's constitutional rights to air this program. And I have no quarrel with the producers and stars of "Stolen Honor;" their views deserve to be heard as much as Michael Moore's. (Incidentally, could you imagine the brouhaha that would result if a media group decided to air "Fahrenheit 9/11" for free? Conservatives would be all over that like a pack of dogs on a three-legged cat.) Indeed, I would not be as incensed as I am if Sinclair had asked the "Stolen Honor" people to pay for their airtime like everybody else. Or if Sinclair had proven itself open to all points of view, like the ideal editorial page.

As it is, though, Sinclair is using its clout as a major media outlet to attempt to swing the election to Bush. It is sacrificing its duty to journalistic objectivity in order to help out a friend in the White House. The American people deserve better from those who claim to serve them.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Random thought

Does anyone else think it would be amusing if one of those online universities (like University of Phoenix, Strayer College, etc.) fielded a football team?

Saturday, October 09, 2004

The "95 Challenge"

I posted this on the Washington Post discussion forums, and I'm posting it here. Though you, as a reader of my blog and probably a friend of mine, receive a special incentive.

If anyone out there - Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, whatever - can post a complete list of the 95 tax hikes that Bush claims Kerry has supported, you win a $20 prize. (Hey, I'm a grad student. That's a lot of money to me.)

By the way, no fair double-counting a single bill by including procedural votes, proposed amendments, etc. Only separate tax-raising measures will be accepted as legitimate.

Post your responses here as comments or e-mail me at

Good luck!

Friday, October 08, 2004

The Second Debate

Wow, it's been a while since I've posted. I apologize for disappointing my reader(s).

I just got done watching the second presidential debate. I figured I'd post some of my inconsequential thoughts here.

First, and least important, thought: I don't know if it's comforting or scary to have a president who's mad as hell. I'm thinking the latter. At least Kerry takes Bush's attacks in stride as part of the political process. Bush seemed to take it personally any time Kerry launched any sort of attack. Actually, come to think of it, this may not be as unimportant as I thought it was. You learn a lot about how Bush and Kerry handle things by seeing how they responded to each other. Bush has been notorious for "shooting from the hip," making judgments based on emotion. You saw that tonight, for example, when he ran over Charlie Gibson asking a follow-up question. Kerry, conversely, took it in and analyzed it, demonstrating his analytical approach to decision making.

My main thought follows.

All through this presidential campaign (and 2000, for that matter), there has been some sort of odd premium placed on simplicity. Kerry is derided for failing to convey it, and Bush is praised for utilizing it. Kerry, in turn, is praised for keeping his answers simple in the first debate.

And there is a virtue to simplicity. Simplicity breeds clarity, and clarity breeds understanding. Understanding is important to voters - if they don't feel like they understand the issues, they will make uninformed decisions or not vote altogether. However, tonight we saw simplicity taken over the top.

I would like to draw your attention to one point in particular that bothered me greatly. When asked about his policy towards government support for abortion, Kerry gave a very lucid, extremely clear answer. He said that he possesses a certain moral belief about the subject, but that it would be wrong for him, as president, to legislate that moral belief. He spoke clearly of ways that government can encourage morality without legislating it.

And what was Bush's response? "Boy, I'm having trouble deciphering that."

I, unlike most liberals, do not believe that Bush possesses a below-average intellect. So there is no doubt in my mind he, and everyone else in that room and watching on TV, understood what Kerry said and what he meant. We cannot take that statement at face value.

This statement constitutes the point where simplicity finally goes over the top. For it is obvious to even the most casual observer that the complex issue of abortion cannot be decided by a yes or no answer. Neither can any other issue, for that matter. Bush, I am certain, understands that. But he doesn't think you do, and he doesn't want you to either.

Notice the tenor of this entire debate. Bush desires that America refuse to see the world in anything but black and white. You're with us or you're against us. You supported my war in Iraq or you didn't. You voted yes or no on one bill (despite the fact that numerous votes occur on one bill). And he believes that complexity is beyond our grasp.

How ridiculous. How degrading. And how unbecoming of a leader who purports to have the wisdom to lead us through difficult times.