Category Archives: Blog

The End Of An Era At CBS? Again?

The NY Observer is reporting on “D-Day at CBS News.”   Long-time staffers and stalwarts like Larry Doyle are being let go.

But as the names of the laid-off began to circulate, it looked less like the end of days and more like the end of an era. The final vestiges of the pre–Katie Couric regime were finally leaving the network” -NY Observer

I’m sorry, but I never worked for CBS and I have no idea who Larry Doyle is.  Although I’m sure he’s a great guy and a hard worker and his loss will be a real blow to the network.

I’m not sure how many times the media can keep reporting on “the end of an era” at CBS.  The news division at what was once called the “Tiffany Network” has been dying the death of a thousand cuts ever since Walter Cronkite exited the building.   And now we are left with  the “pre-Katie Couric regime?”  Another era?  You have to wonder how long this will last and whether anybody continues to care.

Unless the bosses at the networks come up with some way for their product to be more relevant (and from what they’ve done thus far, it appears they can’t), then it’s essentially over for the television network news of old.

We go online at seven or eight in the morning and get the headlines.    More than ten hours later Couric and her colleagues come along with mostly the same stories, but with little or no new information to distinguish the tv news product from the more complete coverage we’ve been reading on the web and watching on cable or satellite all day.

Barring some radical thinking, including a willingness on the part of the networks to pump more money into their news divisions as opposed to simply finding new ways to pull it out,  we are witnessing the end of much more than just one more “era” at CBS.


Just got a call from my wife on her way to work in downtown Los Angeles.  “I wonder what’s going on at the courthouse” she said, “I haven’t seen that many satellite trucks in one place in a long, long time.”  I told her I wasn’t sure, but that it’s probably a hearing for Michael Jackson’s doctor.  Guess I’ll flip on CNN or MSNBC for an update.  Or, I could wait ten hours and get an abbreviated report from Katie Couric on CBS.

Brits Investigate Invasion Of Iraq

It isn’t getting a lot of coverage here in the states, but the Brits are in the middle of an official inquiry into the invasion of Iraq.  The Guardian reports that former International Development Secretary, Clare Short,  has accused former PM Tony Blair of lying and misleading parliament in the buildup to the war.

“Short, giving evidence to the Chilcot inquiry into the war, also said that the 2003 conflict had put the world in greater danger of international terrorism.

Declassified letters between Short and Blair released today show she believed that invading Iraq without a second UN resolution would be illegal and there was a significant risk of a humanitarian catastrophe.” -The Guardian

Nailed By YouTube?

A YouTube video of a man pulling a large black sea bass onto the sand in Newport Beach, CA, could result in criminal charges being filed.  The L.A. Times reports a man first appeared to be pulling the protected fish onto the beach in an effort to save it.  However, after reviewing the video the authorities are now thinking about filing charges as it appears a fisherman may have hooked the fish just before the unidentified man swam out into the water to pull it in with no apparent intention of conducting a rescue.

The Times reports that someone on a boat hooked the fish, but the video indicates that the man on the shore who swam out to retrieve it was the angler.  It’s a little confusing, because after the swimmer goes out to grab the fish, the boat then speeds away.   A voice from someone at the scene can be heard saying, “The guy in the water right there is the one who caught it.”  It appears entirely possible the man just caught a big fish and had no idea that he was pulling in a protected species.   The black sea bass, protected since 1982,  can grow to be 7 feet long and weigh in at more than 400 pounds.  Here’s the video.

Pop Goes The Music

It’s not about what’s good, it’s about what’s popular.  At least, I think that’s what the Grammy Awards are all about, although I’m not really sure anymore.  That’s because the relationship between what’s good and what’s popular has all but disappeared from the American music scene.

I admit here and now that I can’t stand most rap.  Hate it.   With no melody or harmony it doesn’t qualify as music.  It’s street poetry,  much of it angry shouting, accompanied by a heavy backbeat.  That’s not music.  It shouldn’t even be considered for the Grammy Awards.  It wouldn’t be, except that the American music marketing machine sold it to an unsuspecting and naive group of young consumers out looking for something they could call their own and now we’re all stuck with it, although the wave of Rap that swept over America seems to be subsiding, at least somewhat.  One can only hope.  There are too many real musicians around who can’t get their stuff played or even noticed as Rap continues it’s angry march through the annals of American pop culture.

I knew we were in trouble in the mid-80’s, when outstanding artists like Lionel Richie were getting bumped from the radio by the rappers.   Music was being replaced by hip-hop pop culture street poets because it was something new the marketing machine could easily sell as a youth-culture phenomenon via radio, the web, texting and MTV.

I decided to sit through the Grammy Awards show anyway.  “Gotta give these things a chance,” I told myself.  Thing is, you keep thinking that maybe it’s just you.   With so many people having an appreciation for a style of poetry and percussion, maybe you’re missing something.  So you’ve gotta give it a chance.  I saw and heard nothing to change my mind.  Rock n’ Roll will never die.  Rap, eventually and mercifully, will.   And so, I put all the Rap numbers in one category and the actual musical numbers in another.  Then Taylor Swift came out and attempted to sing with Stevie Nicks, and I needed a third category.  Music for teenage girls ( aka: the stuff advertisers like to buy).

Taylor Swift, is a beautiful young woman.  Stunning.   She won an armful of awards, including  Album of The Year. However, in the future, for God’s sake, don’t pair her up with someone with the talent and experience of Stevie Nicks.  It only points out how limited Swift’s range is.   Paired up with Nicks, she came across like a first round contestant on “American Idol” about to be bumped from the stage by a sneering and impatient Simon Cowell.

If teenage girls (who appear to represent her fan base) want to worship her in their “Hannah Montana” idol worshiping fashion, then so be it.  But don’t put her next to a legend like Stevie Nicks.  I felt sorry for Ms. Nicks, who was obviously holding back so as not to blow the kid off the stage.  I felt sorry for the kid when she went all pitchy attempting to sing “Rhiannon.”

This was the second time I felt sorry for Taylor Swift.   The first time was during the VMA Awards, when Kanye West jumped up on the stage to protest Swift winning the award for Best Female Video.  Now I understand what he was complaining about.   He shouldn’t have done it (and he later apologized), but now I understand.  Musically, Beyonce’ has it all over Taylor Swift.

I never thought “How High The Moon” could supply such blessed relief from an evening of  a few incredible highs and mostly “valley of death” lows.  But then, it’s not about what’s good, it’s about what’s popular.   Over the years the gap between the two has become increasingly chasmatic.


An afterthought:  Rap, may truly be a case of art imitating life since about one-third of the nation’s young people currently do not graduate from high school.   Nobody talks about it all that much anymore but the “dumbing down” of America continues to be frightening.

Need A Good Laugh?

A link to Charlie Brooker’s “Newswipe” showed up on one of the blogs the other day.  Now people are sending me email with links to his show on the BBC via YouTube.  The guy is very smart and very funny.  Especially so, if you’re in the tv news biz.   Hopefully, BBC America will eventually start carrying the show.  Until then, his exposure in America appears to be limited to YouTube.  Here’s a sample-

TV Anchor Quits Job To Help In Haiti

Julie Pearce, 29 year-old weekend anchor for KBJR-TV in Duluth, Minnesota, since 2006, is both a broadcast journalist and a nurse.  After seeing what’s happening in Haiti, she’s decided to leave the tv news biz and go back to nursing.    She’s heading for Haiti.

“After all,” she said, “There will always be part journalist that runs through these veins. However, right now I have to follow my heart into an open-ended journey where I am needed most. And that is as a nurse administering to those undergoing great suffering.” -Duluth News Tribune

What a story.

Sorry Haiti – No Health Insurance – No Healthcare

I was wondering how long it would be before our healthcare system settled into a realization that the Haitian earthquake victims have no health insurance.  It’s finally happened.  The Governor of the great State of Florida,  has called for clarification from the feds on who will be paying for the earthquake victims being delivered into his state’s hospital system.   Evacuations from Haiti to the U.S. have been stopped cold.

 “A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services said the decision to suspend the flights was made by the military, not the federal health department. A military spokesman said that the military had ended the flights because hospitals were becoming unwilling to take patients.

“The places they were being taken, without being specific, were not willing to continue to receive those patients without a different arrangement being worked out by the government to pay for the care,” said Maj. James Lowe, the deputy chief of public affairs for the United States Transportation Command.”  -NY Times

While the feds try and sort out the question of who will finance Haitian health care, the New York Times quotes a doctor involved in the evacuation effort as saying, “People are dying in Haiti because they can’t get out.”

Wakeup call:  People are dying here in the U. S. too.

According to a study conducted by the Harvard Medical School, 45,000 Americans die each year due to a lack of health insurance.   Imagine that.   Forty five thousand a year.  In America.  Because they can’t afford health insurance.   Every two to three years as many Americans die from a lack of health insurance as the number of people who have died in the Haitian earthquake.   And the Congress can’t agree on a plan for healthcare reform.

We need to resume the evacuations and do all we can for Haiti, because it’s the right thing to do.  While we’re at it we might try and take care of ourselves as well.


Add – The White House announced on Sunday the 31st, that the military would resume the medical evacuation flights.

Stop The Presses

 Osama bin Laden

photo: wiki commons

Newsflash:   One of the world’s great ecologists and renowned environmental scientists, Osama bin Laden, has declared global warming to be real.   Finally.  Now we can all stop arguing about that.

In Wichita, a man who admitted to murdering a doctor by shooting him in the head in the foyer of a church where he was serving as an usher  has been convicted of murder, after the court decided that killing a defenseless person with a gun meets the legal definition of first degree murder.  The defense had argued that it does not.

In Baltimore, President Obama took Republican lawmakers to task for opposing him on nearly every proposal he has come up since his birth in August of 1961.  Including tax cuts.  Which he came up with in June of 1964.  (They weren’t big enough to suit the Republicans)  Now that they have been spanked, we can all look forward to the Republicans doing an about-face,  putting politics aside and working hand-in-glove with Mr. Obama in a new spirit of cooperation.  Oh joy, oh joy.

Toyota has announced that it will tell around 4.2 million customers worldwide what they can do about the sticky gas pedal problem that appears to have popped up in some Toyotas–next week.  Until then, best of luck to you all.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced the recall of “The Princess and The Frog” pendants from Walmart stores, because they contain unsafe levels of cadmium.   The pendants were made in……..wait for it……China!   The world’s leader in product safety for children.

I must now leave you to call the pharmacy.  I’m running out of Xanax.

A Trip To The Woodshed

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Mr. Obama last night.  I knew he’d talk about a freeze on discretionary spending, which I really don’t understand.  It has the appearance of being nothing more than an attempt at throwing a bone to the Republicans,  who have proven themselves to be immutable.

The government is so deadlocked and broken, that I’m not sure anything short of a third party will be able to save us and I don’t see anyone with the money to make that happen stepping up to the plate. So the State of the Union address amounted to a number of good ideas that will probably be blocked at every turn by political bickering as Republicans continue their push to return to power.

Given a little time, they’ll probably get what they want.  Much of the media has been neutered and the memory of American voters is notoriously lacking.  They’ve pretty much already forgotten that we were delivered into this abysmal black hole of political and economic misery by eight years  of George W. Bush and a Republican majority in Congress.

The fact that Mr. Obama now has a congressional majority but still faces a blockade from a coalition of Republicans and “Blue Dog” Democrats, only points to just how badly our system has been bought off by the bribe money of corporate lobbyists.

I did though, thoroughly enjoy the spectacle of watching while the President took the five conservative members of the Supreme Court out to the woodshed for their decision to officially sanction corporate control of the American political system. 

The system may be broken and bleeding but that was a golden moment.

Beyond that, I refer you to an excellent and impartial analysis by Doyle McManus in the Los Angeles Times.  

The iPad

 Apple calls its new iPad a “magical” device.  Click here for a review from the Economist, or jump down the page a bit for some of what Apple has to say about the new product and a slice of video from the unveiling with Steve Jobs.


SAN FRANCISCO—January 27, 2010—Apple® today introduced iPad, a revolutionary device for browsing the web, reading and sending email, enjoying photos, watching videos, listening to music, playing games, reading e-books and much more. iPad’s responsive high-resolution Multi-Touch™ display lets users physically interact with applications and content. iPad is just 0.5 inches thick and weighs just 1.5 pounds— thinner and lighter than any laptop or netbook. iPad includes 12 new innovative apps designed especially for the iPad, and will run almost all of the over 140,000 apps in the App Store. iPad will be available in late March starting at the breakthrough price of just $499.

“iPad is our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “iPad creates and defines an entirely new category of devices that will connect users with their apps and content in a much more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before.”

iPad features 12 next-generation Multi-Touch applications. Every app works in both portrait and landscape, automatically animating between views as the user rotates iPad in any direction. The precise Multi-Touch interface makes surfing the web on iPad an entirely new experience, dramatically more interactive and intimate than on a computer. Reading and sending email is fun and easy on iPad’s large screen and almost full-size “soft” keyboard. Import photos from a Mac®, PC or digital camera, see them organized as albums, and enjoy and share them using iPad’s elegant slideshows. Watch movies, TV shows and YouTube, all in HD or flip through pages of an e-book you downloaded from Apple’s new iBookstore while listening to your music collection.  -Apple

Acorn Redux And The NBC Nightly……News?

 Senator Mary Landrieu

Sen. Mary Landrieu

The man who set up the phony Acorn “sting” has been arrested in New Orleans after he and three others allegedly took part in a scheme that involved two of the four posing as telephone repair personnel to gain entrance to the office of  Democratic U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu.

Alleging a plot to tamper with phones in Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office in the Hale Boggs Federal Building in downtown New Orleans, the FBI arrested four people Monday, including James O’Keefe, 25, a conservative filmmaker whose undercover videos at ACORN field offices severely damaged the advocacy group’s credibility”

“…a plot to tamper with phones” could be interpreted to mean an alleged attempt at bugging the phone lines of a United States Senator.  Serious stuff.  You have to wonder whether these guys are on their own or working for someone else.


Late add-

I’ve just watched the NBC Nightly News.  Or what passes for it.  About half the show was taken up with updates on Haiti.  The lead, was the Toyota recall.  Big time recall, they reported, impacting thousands of Toyota owners with production lines shutting down all over the country.   Thousands of cars out there with potential accelerator problems.  The NBC reporter told us that we should understand just how serious this story is, because one of their reporters on CNBC is saying it’s a serious story.  Oh, my.  That is serious, isn’t it?  Or was your only intention to give CNBC a plug?  Sounded like it…

Thing is, there was NOT ONE WORD about what Toyota owners are supposed to do now.  Should they wait for a recall notice?  Should they take their cars into their local dealership?   Should they fear for their lives if they turn the key and start their cars?  NOT ONE WORD from NBC News, about what their viewers should do now.

But that’s not why I was watching the NBC Nightly News.  I was watching because I wanted an update on the story about the break-in and bugging attempt at the office of Senator Mary Landrieu.  But they didn’t cover it.   There was nothing.  NOT ONE WORD.   How sad.


Later still-

The AP is reporting that the 4 men charged in connection with the alleged phone-bugging scheme shared a common background as  “young ideologues writing for conservative publications.”  They have been charged with entering federal property under false pretenses for the purpose of committing a felony.  The maximum penalty is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

A Prince Of An Idea?

 Prince Frederic and Zsa Zsa

Hunter S. Thompson had a line about things never getting quite strange enough to suit his needs.  That being the case, I can’t imagine why he never settled here in California.   Woody Creek, Colorado, has to be downright sedate compared to the Golden State.  Hunter, who ran for sheriff up in Woody Creek, belonged here.

Think about it.  The Terminator is about to leave office due to “term limits.”  Get it?  “Term limits?”  And who is stepping up to the plate to replace Mr. Schwarzenegger?  None other than the 9th husband of Zsa Zsa Gabor, Prince Frederic von Anhalt!”   According to KNX Radio, he is running as an independent and is armed with a platform that includes legalizing marijuana.

“His campaign platform, which is titled “Return the Good Life to California,” would “create a Sin Tax” to generate money on the legalization of marijuana, add a 10-cent tax on every drink sold in a restaurant, and “add a buck to every liquor bottle and pack of cigarettes sold.” He would also like to open the border with Mexico and lift the ban on Cuban cigars and products.” -KNX Radio

Getting his name on the ballot will require 10,000 signatures by the end of June.  With a sidekick like Zsa Zsa (Miss. Hungary of 1936) he just might get it done.  I’ll never forget her cop slapping trial in Beverly Hills and what she said when I asked about the incident that took place during a traffic stop.   “Dahlink, vhat could I do?  He had a gun in his pocket,”  she said.

Zsa Zsa, sweetheart, you’re the best, but I doubt your husband’s candidacy will pick up much support from the Fraternal Order of Police.

There’s no way of knowing whether it factors into the Prince’s announcement, but reports in January of 2009 point to the royal couple losing as much as $10 million to convicted pyramid scheme swindler Bernard Madoff.   At one point they appeared to be facing financial ruin.

“Mr Anhalt, the actress’s ninth husband, said: “We might be forced to sell our Bel-Air home, cars, artwork and even our jewellery because of this sick man.”   During a routine check on the couple’s finances, a loss was identified and forensic accountants now believe the missing millions were invested with the accused fraudster through a third-party manager.” -TimesOnline (UK)

Later reports indicated that a relative of the Prince may have stepped in with enough money to help the couple out of their financial delimma.

“Marcus Prinz von Anhalt, German brothel owner and adopted son of her husband Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt, helped out with a cheque for over 6 million dollars.” Wikipedia

While his highness the Prince eyes the Governor’s Office, our current Governor has come up with a new idea on saving money while dealing with prison overcrowding.

“We can do so much better, in the prison system alone, if we can go and take inmates – for instance, the 20,000 inmates that are illegal immigrants that are here – and get them to Mexico,” Schwarzenegger said.

“We pay them to build a prison down in Mexico and then we have those undocumented immigrants be down there in the prison,” he added. “Half the cost to build the prisons and half the cost to run the prisons. That is money, again, a billion dollars right there that can go into higher education. That is an example of one of the things we do that is unnecessary spending.”  -Sacramento Bee

Send undocumented prisoners to Mexico?  A number of people will probably think that’s a really good idea.

Send Zsa Zsa to the statehouse?  Why not?   Winston Churchill, magnificent orator that he was, wouldn’t be able to impact that politically deadlocked mess up in Sacramento.  Maybe Zsa Zsa Gabor will.  She is a force of nature.  A 92-year-old force of nature, but a force, nonetheless.

I wonder what the protocol will be when addressing our next governor,  His Royal Highness and Governor, Prince Frederic von Anhalt?

God, how I love California.

How Not To Run A Campaign

Marcy Winograd
  handout photo

According to NBC News,  democrat Marcy Winograd, (who wants to replace Jane Harmon as Congresswoman from the 36th District in CA), has sent letters to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steven Spielberg, Julia Roberts, John Travolta and other celebs, asking them to sign pledges to stop flying their private jets out of the Santa Monica Airport.   The idea, apparently, is to cut air pollution in West Los Angeles.

She suggests the celebs use a different airport, such as Van Nuys.  Now there’s a good idea!  Transfer flights (and the noise and air pollution)  from Santa Monica to Van Nuys, which already happens to be the busiest general aviation airport in the country.

The Santa Monica Daily Press reports,  “Since sending the pledges out on Monday, Winograd is yet to receive a response. She said if none of the celebrities signs the pledge within a week she’ll follow up with phone calls and may pass out fliers publicizing her request at events the celebrities attend. As she learns of more celebrities who regularly use the airport she said she’ll send out more requests for pledges not to use SMO.” 

You can be sure that with limited hanger space and the importance of airport location, all the celebs she’s sending letters to will appreciate her suggestion.   I’m sure they’re writing out fat checks in support of her campaign right now.  Not that any of these high-roller celebs are traditionally big contributors to democratic campaigns.

Those of us who live in the San Fernando Valley are sure to appreciate her “thinking” too.   In fact, maybe we can get a real air war going.  You send your celebrity jets over here and we’ll send our big business jets and the more than half-dozen tv news choppers that fly out of Van Nuys over to Santa Monica.  Your high end hangers will be busting with even bigger jets than the ones you sent over the hill while the tv news choppers fly non-stop from early morning to late at night.   Not that you should care about us inferior folk here in the Valley.  All 1.76 million of us.  How about sending us some of your homeless and robbery suspects as well?  Just clean out everything you don’t want on the west side and dump it on the Valley.  Great cooperation and outstanding civic-minded thinking.  Thank you very much.

Looking For Fearless Leader

I discovered the contemporary anarchist movement in America while covering the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Seattle in 1999.    At the time, I was hit by a blast of  culture shock as I watched what appeared to be college-age kids dressed in black and wearing face masks, spray painting anarchist slogans on walls in downtown Seattle while the local PD loaded their non-lethal weapons with tear gas rounds.   I asked around and was told there was a strong anarchist movement at the University of Oregon but that most of the people who had come to Seattle to protest were not hardcore anarchists.  However, the anarchists with their anarchist ways, I was told,  were going to make it impossible for anybody to stage a peaceful protest.  That appeared to be true as the cops began strapping on state-of-the-art body armor.  The Seattle cops appeared to have the best of everything and it looked as though they were about to use it.

But, anarchists?

All I could think of was Boris and Natasha and their “fearless leader” from the old “Rocky & Bullwinkle” show.  The line “Daahlink, vee must keel moose and squirrel” kept echoing through my head.  None of it was making sense.

A few months later, the anarchists popped up again.  This time, they were in training in the hills of Calabasas, just above Malibu.  As I recall, they were getting ready for the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles.  I remember going up there to interview Tom Hayden.  The reason for the interview escapes me, but he was surely running for something.  I remember thinking how peculiar it was for Hayden to believe that an association with the anarchist movement would help his political status.  I also remember Hayden’s run for the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office in 97.    At the time I questioned him about whether he was “business friendly” enough, and whether business people shouldn’t fear his candidacy.   “Yes, they should be afraid of me” he answered.  He was hammered in the election by Richard Riordan, a friend to big business who promised to build the economy.   I remember wondering how Hayden could be so clueless.  Why would he say something that would so obviously cost him millions of votes?  Doesn’t he know that telling the truth loses elections?

Anyway, here he was again, this time at an anarchist training camp. They had a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean from their tents pitched high in the Santa Monica Mountains.  Once an “SDS” member, always an SDS member, I guess.  You’d have to ask Tom Hayden.  I tried to find out on that clear day high above Malibu but he refused to talk about his past as a national leader of student protests and later as a husband to Jane Fonda.

And now comes the “Anarchist Book Fair” in Los Angeles.  Yes, they had their own book fair and it was covered by the LA Times.

“If the several hundred people who attended the Los Angeles Anarchist Book Fair on Sunday had been asked to explain their political identity, they would have given several hundred different answers.” -Kate Linthicum in the LAT’s

I am from the 60’s.  I understand protest and civil disobedience.  I was here for Vietnam, Kent State, the march on Washington and Woodstock.  I am simpatico people, but the whole anarchy thing seems so, well…..Victorian and frankly, more than a little confused.  I guess different generations express themselves in different ways.   I wonder who their fearless leader is?    I wonder what Tom Hayden’s up to?