Saturday, July 29, 2006

gordon joseloff’s column for public eye

Public Eye is a blog (sort of) published by CBS News, meant to be part ombudsman, part window on how the news reports are made. CBS News’ version of Public Editor.

Last week, PE published a column: Outside Voices: Gordon Joseloff Suggests CBS News Look To Its Past To Map The Future, where he suggests CBS News should tap its alumni for experience and wisdom about the news business, especially as it moves forward with a new anchor.

Joseloff points out that one of the key traditions of CBS News is the absolute separation between the news and entertainment divisions of the network. He also quoted some still-important sections of the CBS News Standard manual put together by the late Richard Salant in 1976. Here is just one paragraph:

And, finally, this is as good a place as any to remind ourselves that our paramount responsibility at CBS News is to present all significant facts, all significant viewpoints so that this democracy will work in the way it should work—by the individual citizen’s making up his own mind on an informed basis. Our job is to contribute to that process and not to make up for them the minds of those who listen to and watch us. We must always remember that a significant viewpoint does not become less significant just because we personally disagree with it, nor does a significant and relevant fact become less relevant or significant just because we find it unpalatable and wish it weren’t so.”

But take a few minutes and read the entire column—it outlines what news junkies (like me) are looking for.

Joseloff is a veteran CBS correspondent and producer who is currently First Selectman (mayor) of Westport, CT and founder and publisher of WestportNow.com (and one of our clients, we’re proud to say). (His bio)

Maybe someone could send a copy of the CBS News Standard manual to the producers and correspondents of Nightline. Or maybe ABC has its own manual, but somebody forget to give it to the new Nightline crew.

Speaking of anchors ... I try to watch Brian Williams on NBC whenever I get a chance. But I noticed a couple of times this week that he talks too slow, way too slow, like he has more time than he has stories. Like he’s trying to educate the stupid. I swear, last time I watched him I felt like I was in that stretched out time, you know, kinda like time is when you’re stoned or you have to listen politely to someone you’d just as soon slap into shutting up. And it’s not like it’s been a slow news week. I don’t know why it suddenly struck me. Maybe I was just tired. Or just anxious to get to Jeopardy (which is over until September, dang it).

posted by lee on 07/29/06 at 11:52 PM

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new york times endorses ned lamont

It’s true, the New York Times endorses Ned Lamont. Here is an excerpt from the editorial:

On the Armed Services Committee, Mr. Lieberman has left it to Republicans like Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to investigate the administration’s actions. In 2004, Mr. Lieberman praised Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for expressing regret about Abu Ghraib, then added: “I cannot help but say, however, that those who were responsible for killing 3,000 Americans on September 11th, 2001, never apologized.” To suggest even rhetorically that the American military could be held to the same standard of behavior as terrorists is outrageous, and a good example of how avidly the senator has adopted the Bush spin and helped the administration avoid accounting for Abu Ghraib.

Mr. Lieberman prides himself on being a legal thinker and a champion of civil liberties. But he appointed himself defender of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the administration’s policy of holding hundreds of foreign citizens in prison without any due process. He seconded Mr. Gonzales’s sneering reference to the “quaint” provisions of the Geneva Conventions. He has shown no interest in prodding his Republican friends into investigating how the administration misled the nation about Iraq’s weapons. There is no use having a senator famous for getting along with Republicans if he never challenges them on issues of profound importance.

If Mr. Lieberman had once stood up and taken the lead in saying that there were some places a president had no right to take his country even during a time of war, neither he nor this page would be where we are today. But by suggesting that there is no principled space for that kind of opposition, he has forfeited his role as a conscience of his party, and has forfeited our support.

Mr. Lamont, a wealthy businessman from Greenwich, seems smart and moderate, and he showed spine in challenging the senator while other Democrats groused privately. He does not have his opponent’s grasp of policy yet. But this primary is not about Mr. Lieberman’s legislative record. Instead it has become a referendum on his warped version of bipartisanship, in which the never-ending war on terror becomes an excuse for silence and inaction. We endorse Ned Lamont in the Democratic primary for Senate in Connecticut.

Meanwhile, Joe is driving a big-ass bus throughout CT, polluting the air and the airwaves. Oh, so NOW he decides it might be wise to spend some time in the state he allegedly represents? Trying to ride the bus and Clinton’s coattails to another term.

I know the race is close. I’m just hoping Democrat Nutmeggers vote for the candidate who will truly represent us, and not for the candidate who betrayed us. I really hope I can spend September and October working to get Ned Lamont elected in November—campaigning for, at long last, a person I can proudly support—instead of pulling the lever for whomever I will think will do the least amount of damage to our democracy.

Vote for Ned Lamont on August 8th.

posted by lee on 07/29/06 at 10:38 PM

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

mourning nightline

Isn’t it weird to advertise a show while the show is airing? The only time I see those ridiculous lightbulb ads for Nightline is during Nightline. I just assume that advertisers are just not paying for ad time on the broadcast any more, so they have to fill the time with something, no matter how inane.

I miss Ted Koppel. I miss being able to watch Nightline to get a deeper analysis of what’s going on in the world. I miss Dave Marash and Michel Martin.

The new format sucks. Many stories are several days old—I’ve already read about whatever the topic is in the New York Times or Salon, or even Newsweek. Martin Bashir cackling about the secret code in the judge’s ruling on the DaVinci Code lawsuit was already a couple of days old and solved by the time he got around to it. Jake Tapper’s lame interview with Markos Molitsas—hasn’t that story been done to death yet? Dogs eating at restaurants, men carrying purses, Cynthia McFadden’s ridiculous earrings taking center stage as she interviews ... who, I forget, was it Mel Brooks? All I remember are those big blue beachballs hanging from her ears as she stole center stage ... let’s see, celebrity baby names ... ooh such important topics to cover. Even Terry Moran has lost credibility—certainly pitched no hardballs during his Guantanamo “investigation.” And what’s with all the topics relating strictly to rich (or upper middle class) white folks with kids? Like the day care series, or single moms who can afford to be inseminated artificially and can afford to raise a kid on her own

The most retarded show yet was the show about khat, which was billed as the drug of terror—I guess because terrorists are allegedly making money “trafficking” in it. What was stupid about it was the lack balance. Is khat more dangerous than caffeine? What immigrant communities has it devastated? What drug lords in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia? Back when I was in graduate school at Columbia University, I went out with an Ethiopian grad student and hung out with him and his friends—all either students or immigrants and all khat chewers and all of them productive members of society. I tried it several times. Khat gave me less of a buzz than expresso. For people from the Horn of Africa and, I think, Yemen, chewing khat is like drinking coffee for us.

Anyway ... back to why I don’t care about Nightline anymore ...

The main reason is there isn’t enough depth. The anchor du jour makes a good start covering something important such as say, Iraq, or Israel/Lebanon, or North Korea, or whatever, then just as it’s starting to matter, it’s time to move on to the next story. The anchors, or whatever they’re supposed to be, look like morons when they smile brightly and say, after showing image after image of mayhem and destruction in Lebanon or Iraq or whatever the current horror of the week happens to be, “Now for a look at [insert some inane topic here]” Makes it really hard to take them seriously as journalists. Three stories in 20 minutes means none get covered well. It used to be that I could count on turning to Nightline for a closer look at whatever important news broke that day—a war, a Supreme Court decision, a law enacted, a disaster—and get some idea of what it might really mean. If not that very night, then the next night. And Ted & Co. seemed perfectly capable of running with breaking news. You know, like real journalists.

Not Nightline Lite.

When did McFadden turn into such a lightweight? She used to cover stories that mattered. Bashir has always been a celebrity hack (he did that show with Michael Jackson—which I didn’t bother watching because I don’t give a shiite about Jackson) so I don’t expect much from him. Moran—well, maybe he pissed somebody off—I always thought he was a decent reporter, especially since his CourtTV days, but being stuck at Nightline as his regular gig seems like a big step down. ABC will succeed in killing off the show once and for all.

I don’t care anymore.

posted by lee on 07/27/06 at 10:43 PM

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Monday, July 24, 2006

greenpeace and other car ads and clinton too

You’ll never see a commercial like this in the US: http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/gasguzzler/—I saw this via http://www.treehugger.com (which comes out weekly—worth a read).

There are a lot of these monsters around here, and I think it would be safe to say that 100% of them are not purchased because the owner has a need for an off-road vehicle. When I see one of these things, I just assume the driver, if a male, has a very small dick, and if a woman, has a very high score on the self-centered meter. It could be just plain stupidity, but around here, it’s probably an ego issue. It particularly galls me to see one of these with a yellow ribbon or a flag.

The other day, I saw a school-bus-yellow Hummer parked down the street. I think it was an H2. The guy who drives it must have a really tiny dick.

Speaking of commercials, does Chrysler really think running those utterly boring Dr. Z ads over and over and over and over again are going to sell more vehicles? It’s a really bad ad that evokes hostility rather than interest. And, since I’m on the topic of car ads: Taylor Hicks jumped the shark. Ford made sure of that.

I always wonder why so many auto ads run during the 11:00 news. Back-to-back, 15 seconds of some bland auto driving down some road. Tonight it was Nissan then BMW then Ford then Chrysler, one after the other. And GM too, I think, or one of those that offer flexfuel. Must be really cheap to offer flexfuel, or they wouldn’t do it. Are those chains of ads really effective for getting someone to buy a particular brand?

CLINTON
I am totally disgusted with Bill Clinton. I never drank his Kool-Aid (I voted for Perot both times), so I wasn’t particularly surprised to see Bill stumping for LIEberman. I resigned from Barbara Boxer’s PAC when I found out she was coming to campaign for Joe Blowhard—how can she be so vehemently anti-war and still support Liebermouth?

In Frank Rich’s column (The Passion of the Embryos, July 23, 2006), he talks about religion and policy, and wrote this about Ol’ Joe:

It’s possible that even Joe Lieberman, a fellow traveler in the religious right’s Schiavo and indecency jeremiads, could be swept out with Rick Santorum in the 2006 wave. Mr. Lieberman is hardly the only Democrat in the Senate who signed on to the war in Iraq, but he’s surely the most sanctimonious. He is also the only Democrat whose incessant Bible thumping (while running for vice president in 2000) was deemed “inappropriate and even unsettling in a religiously diverse society such as ours” by the Anti-Defamation League. As Ralph Reed used to say: amen.

Here is the link to the article outlining the letter sent to JoLIE by the Anti-Defamation League. Like his hero Bush, Liebermouth is intent on allowing his particular brand of superstition to permeate public policy—which is why he supports the war in Iraq and Israel’s current attempt to wipe Lebanon off the map.

My brain is looping—it’s time to sleep.

posted by lee on 07/24/06 at 11:47 PM

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

ccv and now pac sponsor dinner with ned lamont

Connecticut Choice Voice and Now PAC are co-sponsoring a dinner meeting with Ned Lamont on Tuesday, July 25, 5:30 to 7:30 pm in Hartford. Suggested donation is $50. You can find the details here.

posted by lee on 07/19/06 at 08:46 AM

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Monday, July 17, 2006

the canary project

The Canary Project photographs and exhibits landscapes around the world that are showing dramatic transformation due to global warming. The project’s photographers/developers are trying to use these photos to convince people that global warming is a clear and present danger by showing via photos, rather than telling via statistics, the evidence that global warming is already happening and should concern us right now.

The photos of the disappearing glaciers in Austria are compelling. And the Katrina photos. Maybe even the Venice photos. But the Netherlands photos don’t really show anything alarming. What the exhibit lacks are comparative photos—the before and after stuff that Al Gore used so effectively in An Inconvenient Truth. The Costa Rica cloud forest series suffers from a big lack of information—I don’t know what, exactly, I’m looking at and why it’s significant or foreboding. I do understand the dead coral reef photos because I know what a living coral reef looks like, but I’m not sure most people do. Since more people will see the website than the exhibition, the Project should spend a lot more time developing it to be a more effective tool.

The site itself is pretty, but the web designer needs to close up the space at the top because it shoves the photos down too far and makes it annoying to view them. It’s also annoying to have to squint at light gray text on all that white.

There could be more links—a lot more links—which would make the website a better resource, but perhaps those will come with time.

It could also stress what you can do right now, rather than burying it in the links page. After we saw An Inconvenient Truth, we switched our Connecticut Light & Power electricity source to 100% green (wind and methane-recovery from landfills) even though it will cost us a bit more per kilowatt hour (1.1 cent per kwh). And we switched our heating oil to biofuel last fall. We’ll buy carbon offsets as soon as we can afford to. We try to conserve energy as much as possible (which is why we were reluctant to put in the air conditioners) and we follow as many guidelines as we can (energy efficient lightbulbs, unplugging bricks and appliances when possible ... ) Multiply our efforts by millions of other households and companies doing similar things, and this might have more of an impact than anything else short of a 60s-era, NASA-like program by our government to lead the world in coming up with alternatives to fossil fuels.

posted by lee on 07/17/06 at 08:26 AM

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

weather & other miscellaneous stuff

Well, Stanley put in our air conditioners. Last year, we didn’t put them in at all, but today and for the rest of this week it’s supposed to be so hot and humid that all thought ceases. Which is not good for business. When we left for brunch this morning, Ginger didn’t even try to go with us, just lay draped over the top of the stairs. The two small a/c units are just enough to take the edge off downstairs and make our bedroom comfortable (and quiet—it drowns out the street noise).

I tried to close the bedroom door, but the door wouldn’t shut. Stanley says it’s coming apart at the top, and he has to fix it. It’s only about a couple of hundred years old—the humidity is warping it (and everything else in the house, according to Stanley). Too bad it didn’t happen before he painted it.

Last week’s thunderstorm was so bad it scared me—the sky turned that tornado color and there was a tornado warning. So I managed to get the dog down the cellar steps—she’s terrified of the steps, which are very steep. Found the cat and threw him down there too. We didn’t get a tornado here in Norwalk, but there was one near the Tappan Zee area of NY which also cut through Greenwich, CT, so it was damned close. Goes to show, I guess, the weather lessons while growing up in Michigan stuck with me.

Nobody here in Connecticut understands that a tornado warning (vs. a watch) means take shelter now—they think you take shelter only if you see a funnel cloud. One lady said she stood in a doorway to protect herself—guess she figured a tornado is the same thing as an earthquake. I was surprised the weatherman on WTNH didn’t give better instructions—he must never have had a gig in a tornado zone. He covered it, up to a point, but stopped covering it before the edge passed over Norwalk—the storm got much worse just after he went off the air. Very strange—not worth the interruption (hey, Judge Judy was on!) And the cable news channel, which is located right here in Norwalk,              kjmmmmm <—cat walked on the keyboard ... didn’t even have a warning up.

I need to water the gardens. I’d put the sprinkler on the bottom garden because it needs a good soaking, but Stanley ran over my sprinkler with the lawn mower yesterday and now it’s in about ten pieces. And he wouldn’t let me mow because he said it’s too dangerous—I wouldn’t have run over the sprinkler. I’ll go water after the sun goes down, slather myself with bug stuff because the mosquitos are fierce this summer, and just hose down the gardens.

We’re watching two yahoos powerwash the house next door. Cleaning the gutters, powerwashing the vinyl siding and windows—yep, we wanna hire them. Especially the guy that climbs that ladder with one hand ... we’re hoping the water doesn’t get underneath the siding because it’s one of those houses made with particle board that can get that black mold, and we like the people who moved in.

I need some chocolate. Right now.

posted by lee on 07/16/06 at 12:29 PM

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lieberman’s new party

Stanley pointed out to me that the name of DINO Joe’s new party is “Connecticut for Lieberman.” Not, as Stanley pointed out, “Lieberman for Connecticut.” Well and truly a vanity party. I really hope funds from the Democratic Party are not going into CT4LIEbermouth.

posted by lee on 07/16/06 at 12:23 PM

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Saturday, July 15, 2006

all the king’s men

The New York Times has an interesting article tomorrow: Lieberman Hopes His Fate Isn’t Sealed With a Kiss. “He is in his 18th year in the Senate, where he has prided himself as being moderate, collegial and willing to work with Republicans. He has built the kind of seniority that often leads lawmakers to consider themselves invulnerable.”

He feels so entitled to the Senate seat he was elected to fill three times that he’s forming the Lieberman Party to run in the general election should he be defeated in the primary on August 8. A vanity party.

Let’s end the reign of this arrogant, sanctimonious King George stooge once and for all. Vote for Ned Lamont on August 8.

Here is an interesting story:

“It certainly makes it a lot harder to make your case that you’re a real Democrat as you’re packing your bags.” Bill Curry, who ran for governor against Rowland.

posted by lee on 07/15/06 at 11:54 AM

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

they got hitched without a hitch

Kris and Matt’s wedding was beautiful. Kris was beautiful and looked so happy it made my heart ache. Here are Matt and Kris (click to enlarge)

Kristine Mitroka married Matthew Downey, July 8, 2006

I put a bunch of pictures of the wedding (taken by me, Stanley, Cara, and Brian) and you can find them here on Picasaweb (the three gallery that start out with the word “Reception”): http://picasaweb.google.com/wordsilk There are several pictures of Kate here—she looked lovely as well.

I was ok until the part of the reception where Dad danced with Kristine. When Kris’s mom Jamie got married all those many moons ago, Dad and Jamie did the father-daughter dance to “Sunrise, Sunset.” Well, that’s the song that played as Dad danced with Kris. It meant a lot and of course I couldn’t keep the tears out of my eyes.

James Fleming dances with granddaughter Kristine Mitroka Downey at her wedding

All of my mother’s sister were there except for Aunt Joan, who is recovering from cancer. Brian snapped this photo of them. Aunt Anne is on the left, next to Aunt Grace, then Aunt Connie, then my mother, Alice. (click to enlarge)

Anne LaPorte, Grace Callahan, Connie Armatis, and Alice Fleming: the Dunn Sister of Wyandotte, Michigan

It was a good wedding, and I’m glad Matt is a member of our family now.

posted by lee on 07/09/06 at 11:16 AM

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