Sunday, January 29, 2006

Jay Severin Has Issues

...namely, with his own background. Former Boston talkie Jay Severin recently started a syndicated show on several stations nationwide, including our local WPHT-AM, where he bumped Dom Giardano from 7 PM to 10 PM weeknights. His bio from previous jobs touts his Master's Degree from Boston University (sorry, no Master's degree, just his BA from Vassar) and some sort of Pulitzer Award for Online Journalism (which doesn't exist, at least not for individuals). He also has been an advisor to Presidential campaigns (Bush I in 1980, Buchanan in 1988 - guess you can't win 'em all) and also to several Senate and state races. Severin was on The Situation with Tucker Carlson for a cup of coffee before being booted off. His first night on syndication, Severin celebrated the execution of Tookie Williams and said "it's not about party" then proceeded to bash Democrats all night long. As quoted by the Boston Globe:
"I certainly regret any discomfort that may have been caused by the misunderstanding of my remarks."

Chronicles of Narnia (SNL)

It's been around the Net a few times already, but as a Pibb drinker, I had to post this link to the SNL skit Chronic (what!) cles of Narnia. You'll see why about halfway through.

Byrd on Alito

Senator Robert Byrd weighs in on Sam Alito:
My considered judgment from his record, from his answers to my questions, and from his obvious intelligence and sincerity, leads me to believe him to be an honorable man who loves his country, loves his Constitution and will give of his best. Can we really ask for more?
Let's see. Byrd is an ignorant fool when he questions Bush on Iraq, yet is a genius and a patriot when he praises Bush's latest selection for the high court. Hmmmm.

"Higher" Education

Somehow, I forgot to include this nugget from the Boston Globe around Christmas time:
Curtis Lofton, 23, was arrested Dec. 10 after police found him nude outside his home. When asked where he lived and why he was naked, Lofton said that he was Jesus Christ and that the officer must be God, according to court papers.

A scuffle broke out between the two men during which Lofton is alleged to have hit the officer over the head with a plastic toy trumpet he found nearby.

Lofton was charged with aggravated assault involving a police officer, resisting arrest, open lewdness, possession of a small amount of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and unlawful possession of the prescription drug oxycodone.

The Central Dauphin School District would not comment on Lofton, a second-year French teacher.

Lofton's attorney, Terrence J. McGowan, said that Lofton's performance reviews have been excellent and that he had an impeccable record as a teacher.

Probable Cause v. Reasonable Belief

The NSA's "wartime" interpretation of the 4th Amendment came under fire last week. WPHT-AM's Michael Smerconish interviewed the Knight-Ridder reporter (Jonathan Landay)who questioned General Michael Hayden on his understanding of the amendment. For more, see FAIR's take on the issue. Also good is this insight from Cut to the Chase.

Seems that this administration is very good at taking parts of the Constitution it likes and discarding parts that interfere with their plans. Since "probable cause" is the backbone of the 4th Amendment, dropping any mention of it raises serious questions for Attorney General Gonzales. Of course, this new interpretation was crafted by the same man who said torture is whatever the Bush Administration says it is.

The fact that the Bushies have tried to make end runs around FISA courts that routinely rubber-stamp government requests for wiretapping is also troublesome. Exactly how weak are their cases for spying on international calls? Surely a FISA court would understand that technology has evolved greatly since the late 70s, when FISA was created. This understanding should take into account cell phones, Blackberries and VOIP, among other advances. The government still has the right under FISA to snoop for 72 hours before having to go to the super-secret FISA courts with their evidence. And still, this administration makes excuses.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Catching Up on Alito, NSA, etc

No posts for a while due to problems with the wireless router. Will catch up this weekend on Alito getting an assist from Robert Byrd (conservatives loooooove calling him an old fart, a Klansman and a kook...unless he supports one of their guys...then he's a genius)...the NSA using "reasonable belief" threshold for wiretapping instead of the "probable cause" threshold required in the text of the 4th Amendment (a distinction without a difference? Nope)...and some news of the weird.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Future of Newspapers

Michael Kinsley recently wrote in Slate on the future of newspapers:
Printing plants no longer have the clickety-clack of linotype machines and bubbling vats of molten lead. The letterpress machines that stamped the ink on the paper have been supplanted by offset presses that transfer it gently. There is computer-controlled this and that. Nevertheless, the process remains highly physical, mechanical, complicated, and noisy. As we live through the second industrial revolution, your daily newspaper remains a tribute to the wonders of the first one.

No one knows how all this will play out. But it is hard to believe that there will be room in the economy for delivering news by the Rube Goldberg process described above. That doesn't mean newspapers are toast. After all, they've got the brand names. You gotta trust something called the "Post-Intelligencer" more than something called "Yahoo!" or "Google," don't you? No, seriously, don't you? OK, how old did you say you are?
While requiring registration and/or payment may seem anti-reader (I go out of my way to find sites that don't require either), it makes sense from the cost standpoint of a publisher. If readers aren't buying your print edition because they can access your web site for free, then logic dictates you should start making them pay there, too.

So what's left at the curbside box or newsstand? The downside to the spread of the internet is that print editions now contain mostly advertising. Even magazines like Sports Illustrated and Newsweek print far fewer content pages now, and often direct readers to their web sites to read full interviews. Or in the case of, to look at hundreds more swimsuit pictures.

As major newspaper chains lay off workers (see Knight-Ridder and Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc., for example), quality declines and investigative reporting suffers. The result is declining circulation and more layoffs.

But for now, I can still enjoy a few newspaper web sites that provide free quality content, and don't ask for an arm or a leg. Especially the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Hey, I need to get my daily fix of "Funky Winkerbean," "The Boondocks" and "The Phantom" somewhere! - P

Alito: Full Speed Ahead

Looks like Judge Alito will be confirmed by the full Senate sometime this week, barring a Democratic filibuster. Of course, you get to appoint the judges (and justices) if you win the election. Something Democrats should ponder the next time they try to run out-of-touch elitists like Kerry, whose pre-convention platform consisted of "Beat Bush" and post-convention platform consisted of "I was a Vietnam war hero. Really. I mean it. Those fellows don't know what they're talking about." - X

Florida university discovers misplaced $275,000 - oops

From CNN and the AP:

Three University of South Florida officials were fired after the school discovered $275,000 in misplaced checks and cash scattered throughout an office.

Nearly half the money at the school's English Language Institute -- $133,647 -- was in checks up to 10 years old and could not be deposited, said university spokeswoman Michelle Carlyon.

Makes you wonder who else isn't cashing our checks. IRS, anyone? - X

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Judge: Fetuses do not count as carpoolers

From CNN:
PHOENIX, Arizona (AP) -- Fetuses do not count as passengers when it comes to determining who may drive in the carpool lane, a judge has ruled.
And thus the abortion debate is settled, once and for all. No worries, Judge Alito!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Iraq: When is a withdrawal not a withdrawal?

Answer: When it's the President announcing the news. Whether it's Reagan talking about Lebanon, Clinton talking about Somalia or Bush talking about Iraq, it's the same result.

Then (September 22, 2005), from The Guardian (UK):

President George Bush today insisted American forces would not withdraw from Iraq "on my watch" and give terrorists the chance "to claim an historic victory over the United States."
And now (January 4, 2005), from Netscape and Agence France-Press:
President George W. Bush praised Iraq for making significant strides toward assuming responsibility for the country's security, saying the inroads will allow the United States to begin scaling back its troop presence there.
What a difference just three and half months make! But wait, there's more:
"My decisions will be based upon conditions on the ground and the recommendation of our commanders, not based by false political timetables in Washington, DC," he said.

"I'm not going to let politics get in the way of doing the right thing in Iraq."
You mean like the November 2006 elections, right? And isn't 2006 still on Bush's watch?

Abramoff, DeLay, Ney.....

The Abramoff scandal has hit at least one member of Congress other than good pal Tom DeLay. According to MSNBC, Ohio Rep. Robert Ney is being investigated as part of Abramoff's plea agreement yesterday. Reaction?
"At the time I dealt with Jack Abramoff, I obviously did not know, and had no way of knowing, the self-serving and fraudulent nature of Abramoff's activities," Ney said in a statement.
OK, we'll buy that.