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:: Friday, January 07, 2005 ::

This explains a lot

Now, explain to me again about journalistic ethics and the left-wing media?
Seeking to build support among black families for its education reform law, the Bush administration paid a prominent black pundit $240,000 to promote the law on his nationally syndicated television show and to urge other black journalists to do the same.

The campaign, part of an effort to promote No Child Left Behind (NCLB), required commentator Armstrong Williams "to regularly comment on NCLB during the course of his broadcasts," and to interview Education Secretary Rod Paige for TV and radio spots that aired during the show in 2004.

Williams said Thursday he understands that critics could find the arrangement unethical, but "I wanted to do it because it's something I believe in."
There's a certain charm to that lack of shame. I think it nicely sums up everything I consider truly wrong (as opposed to "ideology I disagree with") about the current crop of conservatives. They're not even really trying anymore, you know? It's like they've totally given up on their ideology and have switched to used-car sales tactics. I'm not even sure why, because even when they're successful, they're not implementing conservative policies. Just "anti-Liberal" policies. While I'm a bit heartened to see the Democrats aren't the only ones operating under the "I am the opposite of him!" school of political combat, I'd honestly prefer to see some new ideas coming from somewhere other than the spin and marketing departments. (Link via Political Animal)
:: Morat 9:41 AM :: ::

:: Thursday, January 06, 2005 ::

The Boy in the Bubble

Seriously, does this surprise anyone?:

There is rising concern amongst senior officials that President Bush does not grasp the increasingly grim reality of the security situation in Iraq because he refuses to listen to that type of information. Our sources say that attempts to brief Bush on various grim realities have been personally rebuffed by the President, who actually says that he does not want to hear “bad news.”

Rather, Bush makes clear that all he wants are progress reports, where they exist, and those facts which seem to support his declared mission in Iraq...building democracy. “That's all he wants to hear about,” we have been told. So “in” are the latest totals on school openings, and “out” are reports from senior US military commanders (and those intelligence experts still on the job) that they see an insurgency becoming increasingly effective, and their projection that “it will just get worse.”

Our sources are firm in that they conclude this “good news only” directive comes from Bush himself; that is, it is not a trap or cocoon thrown around the President by National Security Advisor Rice, Vice President Cheney, and DOD Secretary Rumsfeld. In any event, whether self-imposed, or due to manipulation by irresponsible subordinates, the information/intelligence vacuum at the highest levels of the White House increasingly frightens those officials interested in objective assessment, and not just selling a political message.

Link via Atrios.

:: Morat 12:45 PM :: ::

CNN Let's Host Carlson Go

The best part of firing* Tucker Carlson happened to be this line:
I guess I come down more firmly in the Jon Stewart camp,' Klein told The Associated Press.
Man, can you imagine how Carson took that, after the reaming Stewart gave him?

One can only hope that Klein IS actually trying to develop more substantive programming as he claims. Still, killing "Crossfire" is a good thing all by itself.

*Technically they didn't renew his contract. Pretty much the same deal for a show that's been on the air that long, especially when CNN didn't keep him for some other talking head job.
:: Morat 12:12 PM :: ::

:: Wednesday, January 05, 2005 ::

Sweet Jesus...idiots at the Justice Department

U.S. Says Man Shined Laser at Aircraft:
Prosecutors charged Mr. Banach with interference of the operator of a mass transit vehicle, a felony under the antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act, with a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A second charge of giving false testimony could bring an additional five years, and a $250,000 fine, if he is convicted.
He denied any role in the Dec. 29 incident. After a lengthy interrogation that included a polygraph test, however, he admitted that 'he had lied to law enforcement,' the complaint states, and that he had shined the laser on the helicopter and on the Cessna. Both were flying at about 3,000 feet. The Cessna was approaching Teterboro Airport, about 25 miles from Mr. Banach's home, at the time of the incident.
Give me a fucking break. He hit the cockpit of a moving Cessna at three thousand feet and we're supposed to believe it's worth 20 years in jail? Hell, we're supposed to believe it was on purpose? I can believe that you could paint a plane with a laser pointer (they're made, especially the green ones, for stargazing) but to hit the cockpit deliberately?

He could have stood out in the yard for a year shining it at airplanes and not hit the damn cockpit, much less interfered with the pilot.

This sort of dumbass overreaction from the Justice Department is ludicrous. Fine the guy 500 bucks and tell him to stop shining laser pointers at planes, and move on.

The only message the Justice Department is sending is "We're a bunch of fuckin' morons who shouldn't be trusted with a cat toy, much less the power of life and death..."

It was a laser pointer for Christ's sake. I can understand how -- after thousands of terrorist 'cases' -- we've yet to convict an actual terrorist. We're too busy covering up the naked boobies of justice and going after the guys with frickin' laser pointers..

Update: Just for the aid of the occasionally clueless: It was a goddamn laser pointer. Not an "industrial strength laser". The only difference between it and the ones you can buy at a gas station is that this one is green (the beam shows up better at night, so it's often used for stargazing). The pilot could not have suffered eye damage from a beam like that (it has to be shined into your eyes for several minutes at VERY close range) nor was he "blinded" in the sense have the jackholes in the world seem to think. The beam would have illuminated the damn cockpit window (shine a laser at the thick plastic they use for cockpits and you'll notice that the beam makes the plastic glow) in a small area. Since this was at night, yes, it made it hard to see outside the plane. Thankfully, planes have instruments. Having spoken to my uncle (a pilot with 35 years experience) he assures me this could only have caused a crash if the pilots were (and I quote him directly) "fucking incompetent". It was a distraction, yes, and pilots (and the FAA) work hard to minimize such distractions. He stated that even the stupidest pilot could have landed it even if the beam continued until the plane hit the ground (it was hard to see the night sky, but landing lights would have cut through the green glow) and failing that the pilot could have simply altered the nose angle and cut off the beam that way.

In short, yes, fine the guy. But despite the fervernt beliefs of the Justice Department and a bunch of idiots who think all lasers are like the ones in Star Wars, what this guy did didn't threaten the plane. A more powerful laser might have (a much more powerful one, the kind that requires a special license) but lacking that, all he did was minorly annoy the pilot. Something that should be punished, but not with 25 fucking years in jail. Passengers or more goddamn distracting than that.
:: Morat 11:55 AM :: ::

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