Tea Party Says “No” To Speaker From Birther Movement

Having trouble figuring out what the “Tea Party” is all about?  Except that they’re mad as hell?  You’re not alone.   It appears to be a fluid issue.   A group of loud and angry people with various complaints about the government.   But if they lack continuity they are also changing as they move forward, or at least, move along.   Seema Mehta reports in The Los Angeles Times that Orange County activist and member of the so-called “birther movment” Orly Taitz,  has been uninvited from speaking at a rally in Pleasanton, CA.

‘Bridget Melson, founder and president of the Pleasanton Tea Party, said the organization had been “getting calls from candidates like crazy.”

“It’s not worth it,” she said. “She’s too controversial. This is not what the tea party is about at this point.”‘- LA Times

Radio/TV News Execs Pessimistic About The Future

 Is journalism headed in the wrong direction?

A survey of news executives conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, finds more pessimism than optimism among broadcast news execs by a margin of nearly two to one.  Newspaper execs are split,  with a slight “tilt toward optimism.”

“Many news executives also sense change for the better in their newsrooms today, despite cutbacks and declining revenue. Editors at newspaper-related companies praise the cultural shifts in their organizations, the younger tech-savvy staff, and a growing sense of experimentation. Many broadcast executives see so-called one-person crews—in which the same individual reports, produces and shoots video—as improving their journalism by getting more people on the street.

But the leaders of America’s newsrooms are nonetheless worried about the future. Fewer than half of all those surveyed are confident their operations will survive another 10 years—not without significant new sources of revenue. Nearly a third believe their operations are at risk in just five years or less.  And many blame the problems not on the inevitable effect of technology but on their industry’s missed opportunities.” –Project for Excellence in Journalism

Most of the executives that think one-person crews for tv news is a good idea are probably desk jockeys who have never spent a day on the street.   Those of us who have actually been out there and done the work, know there’s a point when getting more work out of fewer people becomes distinctly counter-productive.   Of course more cameras will produce more video.  No question about that.   It only follows that those who value quantity over quality, will find the idea of one person crews most appealing.

It’s “Nuclear” Damn It – “Nucelar”

George W. could not say “nuclear.”  He was famous for it.  Or maybe infamous.  Either way it’s part of his legacy, such as it is.  He repeatedly mispronounced the word as “nook-you-lur.”  Now Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher is on the PBS Newshour saying over and over again, “nook-you-lur…..nook-you-lur.”

It’s like fingernails on a chalk board.

Cut back to Jim Lehrer, overusing the word as he apparently tries to feed her the correct pronunciation.  But again this obviously bright and otherwise highly articulate woman comes back with “nook-you-lur.”

It it a disease?  Do you suppose it’s catching?

An Increased Nuclear Threat?

 That’s what Mr. Obama is talking about.   “The risk of nuclear attack has gone up.”   That’s what he told the 47 nations assembled at the nuclear security summit in D.C.   The threat, he says, isn’t from some rogue nation, or the “Axis of evil.”  Remember those guys?  No, the threat is from terrorist organizations.  International criminal conspiracies like al Qaida.

No surprise that the threat is out there.  I am a little surprised that more hasn’t been done to curtail the problem.  Particularly by the administration of George W. Bush, which made so much noise about the “nuculur” threat.

Crank up the wayback machine.  Yours truly was attending a community meeting in the Los Angeles area.   A congresswoman was keynoting and the room was packed.  One of the congresswoman’s aides, a former colleague, informed me (with the understanding that it was not for attribution) that the real concern wasn’t another attack from a hijacked jetliner.  The big worry in Washington she said was over “missing nukes.”

The year of course, was 2001.   The nation was recovering from the attacks of 9-11 and the feds were worried about “missing nukes.”   I seem to recall she mentioned there were at least 3 missing nuclear devices that were particularly troublesome at that time, although the number could have been higher.  I had read about significant amounts of fissionable material that had gone missing following the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Putting that together with well financed terrorists wasn’t much of a stretch.

In the days that followed, international researchers continued to issue warnings.

‘”Ms Zaitseva added that with the collapse of the Soviet Union, a large amount of weapons-grade material was left without adequate protection.  She said the US-sponsored programme to secure nuclear components in the former Soviet Union has locked only one-third of the more than 600 tons of weapons-usable material.  “It’s just not protected. This is hot stuff. If you steal 20 kilograms of that material, you can build a nuclear weapon”.’ -BBC March, 2002

So, when George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Condie Rice talked about the possibility of “mushroom clouds” over American cities, I took what they were saying seriously.

And now, two wars and more than 8 years later,  I am forced to wonder why the nuclear threat from terrorist organizations has only risen.

The Vatican Rockets Ahead Into The 17th Century

 Vatican City

                            photo: workingreporter.com

For the first time in its very long existence, the Roman Catholic Church has publicly expressed a policy that church leaders should report sex abuse to the police.   Imagine that.  A policy that crimes should be reported to the police.   No small matter, as the church has been around since at least 380, when Constantine declared Christianity to be an official religion of the Roman Empire.   The contemporary concept of a police department paid by the state has been around since the late 17th or early 18th century.

In another somewhat interesting move, the Vatican, which appears to have been shielding pedophiles for centuries,  has apparently forgiven the Beatles for living “dissolute lives.”   The Vatican newspaper paid tribute to the 40th anniversary of the group’s breakup in its weekend edition saying-

“It’s true, they took drugs; swept up by their success, they lived dissolute and uninhibited lives,” said the paper. “They even said they were more famous than Jesus,” it said, recalling John Lennon‘s 1966 comment that outraged many Catholics and others.

“But, listening to their songs, all of this seems distant and meaningless,” L’Osservatore said. “Their beautiful melodies, which changed forever pop music and still give us emotions, live on like precious jewels.”  -AP

“Precious jewels” like melodic refrains of  “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?” bouncing off the walls of Vatican City?

Now They’re Blaming The Jews

Another member of the Roman Catholic hierarchy has joined the ranks of those who seem so eager to exhibit their arrogance, irresponsibility and now racist views.

Giacomo Bambini, Bishop Emeritus of Grosseto, says a “Zionist attack” is behind the current criticism and ongoing revelations of the sex scandal that continues to rock the Vatican.

‘”Allegedly speaking to the Catholic website Pontifex, Babini, 81, was quoted as saying: “They do not want the church, they are its natural enemies. Deep down, historically speaking, the Jews are God killers.”‘ -The Guardian

In light of historical fact, in light of all that anyone might consider sacred, it is difficult to imagine anything more reprehensible than a member of the Church’s hierarchy attempting to lay the blame for the Vatican’s current difficulties on the Jewish people.

Babini, is reportedly denying he said any of this.  Of course he is.

Tumulty Leaves Time – Brown Arrives At CBS – Huffington Agrees With George Will

Karen Tumulty is leaving Time Magazine and moving to the Washington Post.  She was with Time for more than 15 years following a stint with the Los Angeles Times.   She leaves the magazine with a big “thank you” to her colleagues.

“So, today, on my last day at this magazine, I’d like to take this moment to thank all of them. That includes many former colleagues who have gone on to other opportunities in this turbulent business and beyond. In recent years, our staff has gotten smaller, even as what we are asked to do has expanded. We no longer publish just once a week; we are out there constantly.” -Karen Tumulty

And finally (brace yourself),  Arianna Huffington is in agreement with George Will on the subject of  President Karzai of Afghanistan.   Here’s the video-

The Wikileaks “Collateral Murder” Video

 

New Baghdad, Iraq – 2007

An Apache helicopter hovers above a group of men on the ground.  Soldiers in the chopper are watching the men through a gun-sight camera.  Two of the men on the ground are journalists, a cameraman for Reuters and his driver, but they look just like others in the group milling around in the street.  One appears to be carrying a camera on a sling.  The other is carrying something as well.   The soldiers in the Apache,  who are apparently trying to clear the area for approaching coalition troops, have no idea who the men on the ground are.  The soldiers in the Apache appear to mistake the camera for a weapon.

Other men nearby appear to be armed.  The soldiers in the Apache see AK47 rifles and an “RPG,” a rocket propelled grenade launcher.

After establishing that men in the group are armed, the Apache asks for and receives, permission to open fire.

From that point on it’s like fish in a barrel.

When the shooting stops, one of the men is alive and trying to crawl away for cover.  The men in the Apache see that he appears to be unarmed.   They hold their fire.

Then, a van pulls up to evacuate the wounded.  The Apache again opens fire, this time on the van which has two children inside.   The soldiers in the Apache appear to know nothing about the children, who are wounded as the helicopter opens fire on the van.  Later, coalition troops move in to take the children to a hospital.

That’s what I saw as I watched the highly publicized so-called  “collateral murder” video  recently released by “wikileaks.org.”

I’m not surprised some of the media is avoiding it.  It’s really nasty stuff.  Just like war.   Like the wars/police actions in Afghanistan and Iraq the American public has been partially shielded from by a media that appears to be increasingly influenced by the Pentagon.

Americans became incensed with what was happening in Vietnam, because the media was bringing it into their living rooms every night.  The wars/police actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, have been presented more like video games than reality.   An acceptable product for a world desensitized by hi-tech electronics.

Death by remote control.  Forget about it.  It’s only a game.

The wikileaks video has that effect to a degree, but this time its not just a gray screen with crosshairs targeting an inanimate object.  This time it’s not just a missile going in to blow up a truck or building.  This time you can see the unsanitized version.  The bodies being hit by gunfire.   You can see them as they fall, with one wounded man pathetically trying to crawl away to safety.

A mistake was made.  A journalist and his driver were killed.  They were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Two guys hanging out with a group of armed men, one of whom appeared to be carrying a rifle and another carrying what could have been an RPG.  That’s they way it looks to me, and the two armed men I see are not the journalist or his driver.

To the soldiers in the helicopter they were all members of a group of armed insurgents.   So they opened fire and people died.   No one should be surprised.  That’s what happens during a war.

In this war, as with Vietnam, it’s difficult to identify the enemy.  They aren’t wearing uniforms.  They aren’t out in a field somewhere hiding in foxholes.  They’re just people who look like everyone else.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is supporting the troops-

‘”It’s obviously a hard thing to see. It’s painful to see, especially when you learn after the fact what was going on. But you — you talked about the fog of war. These people were operating in split-second situations,” Gates said.

The U.S. military said an investigation shortly after the incident found that U.S. forces were unaware of the presence of news staff and thought they were engaging armed insurgents, mistaking a camera for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

The Reuters staff killed in the attack were photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his assistant and driver Saeed Chamagh, 40.

“We’ve investigated it very thoroughly,” Gates said on ABC. The military’s Central Command said last week it had no plans to open a new investigation.”‘ –Reuters

Those who want to use this video as anti-American propaganda will  undoubtedly find an audience eager to condemn the military and the United States.

If there is any condemnation to be made, it shouldn’t be directed at the soldiers in the Apache,  but at those government leaders who for so long kept reality from the eyes and ears of America.

The Bush Administration cleverly banned all media coverage as the coffins bearing the bodies of fallen troops were carried off the planes.  The government has also done pretty well in containing coverage of Iraqi and Afghan civilians being wounded or killed.

TV coverage?   Compared to Vietnam, there is none.  And much of America has stopped reading the papers.

Being embedded with the military can provide the media with increased access.  It can also limit one’s ability to show things as they really are.

As I watched both the American media and Al Jazerra during the invasion of Iraq, I was struck by the difference in coverage.   Al Jazerra actually showed the dead and dying, up close and personal.  The American media presented a  more sanitized version of the same events.  It was a troubling comparison.

The wikileaks video can be seen by clicking here.  It’s no fun to watch, but it’s reality.   Some would argue that’s  more than enough reason for everybody to see it.

CEO’s Flights Kept Secret

In a new piece from ProPublica entitled “Off the Radar: Private Planes Hidden From Public View,” the news service reports on how some business leaders and government officials manage to hide information on their use of company or government owned aircraft.

“To prevent the public from seeing where they fly, all have over the years turned to a little-known program that lets private plane owners block their flights from view in the government’s system for tracking air traffic.

The owners don’t have to meet any test to keep their flights secret. They merely submit a request to the National Business Aviation Association [1], a trade group that lobbied to set up the program on the grounds that secrecy is justified to protect business deals and the security of executives.

But in at least some cases, the program has also served as a refuge for plane owners who’ve faced bad publicity, according to a review by ProPublica of 1,100 blocked planes in the program. The list was obtained after a 15-month public records battle in which the business aviation group sued [2] the FAA to keep it confidential.

After a federal judge ruled [3] that the records are public, the FAA provided the list this week.”

“Registered owners include:

  • College booster clubs and athletic programs for the University of Alabama and the University of Mississippi, who blocked flights to hide coaching searches and recruiting trips.
  • The CEO of Hooters, who along with other business partners, has a blocked jet to conduct surprise checks on restaurants, according to the company.
  • Owners of newspapers that have fought for access to public records, including Journal Enterprises, owner of the Albuquerque Journal, and Sam Zell, chairman of the Tribune Co., which owns the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.”  –ProPublica

 

Poizner “Political Toast” In Race For Governor

 Steve Poizner for Governor

The folks over at Calpeek aren’t mincing words – but then, they rarely do.  Here’s what they are saying about Steve Poizner’s chances against Meg Whitman in the race for Governor’s here in CA-

“…Governor’s primary first. In her GOP primary against Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, businesswoman Meg Whitman continues to hold a huge lead: 60% to 20% with 3% other and 16% don’t know. The spread is slightly smaller than the Field Poll conducted March 9-16, where EMeg held a 63% to 14% lead over Poizner with 23% undecided…


…Is there any chance Poizner could close the gap and win this primary? Most Calpeek sources, GOPers and Demos, say he’s done – political toast. The only thing Poizner’s negative ads are doing is causing problems for EMeg in the general. It is difficult to go up against a rival who thus far has spent $39 million dollars – and has just added another $20 million to her warchest. It’s not that Poizner doesn’t have deep pockets, he does and has put about $19 million dollars of his own into the campaign. The problem is he’s about a 4-6 weeks late in getting up on tv.

EMeg has now defined Poizner with some hard hitting negative tv ads, while doing some positive tv for herself. Poizner’s tv ads are fair, but as one consultant told Calpeek, “The camera is not kind to Steve Poizner.” He comes across as nerdy…”

-Calpeek

KCAL/KCBS – Two Mints In one

The L.A. Times is reporting on a “major shake-up” at KCBS/KCAL TV here in Los Angeles.

According to the paper, Pat Harvey is being shuffled from KCAL to the anchor desk at  KCBS to anchor the 5 and 11PM casts with Paul Magers.  Magers, who was brought in from Minneapolis/St. Paul at a hefty salary to save the station’s failing news product, will split with his  former co-anchor Laura Diaz, who is moving to a solo anchor job on KCBS’ 6PM cast.  At the same time, Sharon Tay will  move to an anchor job at 8 and 10PM on KCAL.

If you had trouble following along,  the short version is that Harvey moves from KCAL to KCBS and Tay is being moved from KCBS to KCAL to cover Harvey’s old spot, while Diaz is assigned to a less prominent anchor job at KCBS.  Jim Hill stays put at KCBS and the market’s best tv weather guy Johnny Mountain, has been given the heave-ho to make more room for curvaceous weather girl Jackie Johnson.

A “major shake-up?”  I guess, except that it’s all the same station really.  It’s like that old breath mint ad,  “It’s Two!  Two!  Two mints in one!”    CBS, which owns the two “duopoly” stations (another brilliant move by the federal government that helped eliminate competition, jobs and diversity in broadcasting and journalism) has been shuffling its reporters and anchors back and forth for some time now, so it’s likely this new “shake-up” won’t cause all that much excitement.

Besides, it isn’t as though any of this really matters.  It’s only business.  Nothing more than a move to try and bump up profits by increasing market share by playing musical anchors.  Like a car dealer moving cars from one side of the lot to the other.

Whether it will have the desired effect is uncertain.  What is certain, is that this shuffling back and forth is sure to heighten an already high state of confusion the viewing public is feeling and the fear and loathing broadcasters at KCBS and KCAL are being forced to endure.    Those who have managed to hang onto their jobs, that is.

Does anybody care?  There was a time, not so very long ago, when people would have.   You may be old enough to remember those days when the community felt a bond with its local newscasters?  A time before texting and the Internet, when the news really mattered?  A time when the news product was more about journalism and less about entertainment?

Now it’s just two mints in one.

Yawn.

Tribune Co. Settles With Major Creditors

 The Tribune Company, parent company of the Los Angeles Times, KTLA-TV and the Chicago Tribune, has cut a deal with its major creditors.

“Under the plan, the holders of the senior notes would receive 7.4 percent of the company’s distributable value, which would be paid in a combination of cash, debt and stock.  The company’s senior credit facility lenders would receive cash and debt, and stock representing in excess of 91 percent of the equity of the reorganized company.  Under the plan, the company would emerge from bankruptcy, significantly deleveraged, with its business units intact and with adequate liquidity for operating and capital needs.  Once filed, the plan will be subject to a creditor vote and approval by the Court.

Material terms of the agreement have been filed with the Bankruptcy Court.”PR Newswire

###################

Memo to Tribune Employees-

From: Tribune Communications
Sent: Thu Apr 08 15:55:54 2010
Subject: Message from Randy and Gerry/Agreement Reached

Today we are announcing that an agreement has been reached among some of our major creditors, J.P. Morgan and Angelo Gordon, and Centerbridge Partners. The agreement has the support of the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors, and will be incorporated into a plan of reorganization for the Tribune and its debtor affiliates, to be filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. The details of the agreement can be found in the attached press release.

As the release states, this agreement will enable us to file our plan prior to next Tuesday’s court hearing. It is another significant step forward as we continue to transform our media businesses, attract and retain talented people, and seize opportunities to grow.

We’ll keep you posted on developments next week.

Randy and Gerry

################

“Although Tribune Co. portrayed the settlement as a hard-won victory, the reorganization plan, which is subject to a creditor vote and court approval, likely faces opposition by some still-disgruntled parties.”-Chicago Tribune

################

I’m not an economist, so I have as much trouble as anyone sorting through the official language of high finance and the corporate spin of company officers, but it would appear major creditors like JP Morgan are going to end up holding more than 91% of the Tribune Co.   If that’s the case, and if the court and the creditors approve the deal,  then stand by for a fire sale of the various Tribune properties.

Tiger Woods – The Return Of An American Cash Cow

 

It’s media driven.  It’s superficial.  It’s pathetic.  It’s the return of Tiger Woods.  And now, just in time for the Masters, a company that makes athletic apparel has resurrected the voice of his dead father Earl  in a commercial, questioning Tiger like he was a small child with the inquiry, “Did you learn anything?”

How sad.  How humiliating.

Rarely has the perspective on any one issue been so expanded beyond the limits of reasonable thinking.

The man is a golfer.  He has not:

-Molested children.

-Provided cover for subordinates who molested children, so that they could avoid prosecution and move on to molest again.

-Lied to a nation about a threat which did not exist to drag that nation into an unnecessary war costing thousands of lives and billions of taxpayer’s dollars.

-Repealed laws that protected the United States against an economic meltdown and then awarded financial institutions that lobbied for the law’s repeal with billions of taxpayer’s dollars after the meltdown occurred.

-Lied through his teeth to get elected and then lied about the original lies to stay in office while accepting millions in bribe money from lobbyists.

-Smeared others lives with lies to get elected.

-Did next to nothing for days while a major American city flooded out.

-Looked the other way while the rest of the industrialized world pays less for health care and pharmaceuticals and continued to lie to Americans about the quality and cost of what they’re getting and why.

He has committed none of these, or any number of other egregious acts.  What did he do?  He had sex with women other than his wife and then drove his car into a tree.  God help us all.  Saints preserve us.   Tiger Woods fooled around and then hit a tree.

Sure, he’s a role model, but he has admitted his mistaken ways and apologized.   And hey, he’s a golfer.  A great golfer, but just a golfer.  Stop acting like the guy is mankind’s last best hope for salvation.  Get over it. There are other issues that actually deserve our attention.  Like the fact that a third of our kids aren’t graduating from high school.

(Sound of gears grinding and wheels squealing, as I fly into an abrupt u-turn and head the other way, back again on the road to reality.)

All of this would be perfectly logical were it not for the fact that it violates the dictates of our national holy grail.  In America, profitability trumps all and Tiger Woods is more than a golfer.  He’s a profit center, pulling down more than $100 million a year in endorsements alone.

It’s all about the money, stupid.  It’s nearly always all about the money.

Probably better to just let it go.  Take another pill to help you forget all that other stuff.  All those troubling issues that are too complicated for us regular folk to understand anyway and go back to watching your 52-inch mind numbing flat panel tv.   Tiger is about to tee off and it’s in high definition.  Sleep…..sleep……it’s good to sleep……

A Call For Villaraigosa’s Resignation

From columnist Doug McIntyre in the Los Angeles Daily News-

“Our City Council members have either been passive spectators or willing participants in the bankruptcy of the public treasury by handing over billions to well-heeled business interests and various public employee unions. They’ll have to be fired one at a time.

But the mayor could do the right thing and resign today.” –LA Daily News