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See the World Through My Daughter's Eyes (Rodale, October 2003),
Saturday, October 18, 2003
A clear signal from the first
President Bush. The most fascinating column you'll read all
weekend is this
one in the Boston
Globe, by veteran journalist Georgie Anne Geyer, on George W.
Bush's break with his father on one issue after another.
Bush Sr. will soon present his
Award for Excellence in Public Service to Ted Kennedy in a ceremony
at -- get this -- Texas A&M, right in George W.'s
Kennedy, of course, has had
few things to say about the
younger Bush's foreign policy in recent days. Yet Bush Sr. doesn't
seem to be the least bit offended.
Now it's all out. Father
Bush has done it in his own preferred nuanced way -- the way
Establishment gentlemen operate -- but he has revealed the depth
of his disagreement with his impetuously uninformed son.
It's going to be hard for Karl Rove
and company to dismiss this as the ravings of the anti-Bush left.
Could make family get-togethers at Kennebunkport mighty
posted at 3:21 PM |
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Friday, October 17, 2003
The Fox Misinformation Channel.
I'm late to this, but it's too amusing -- and relevant -- to let
it pass by.
According to a University of
Maryland study of seven nationwide polls, those who rely on the Fox
News Channel as their primary source of information are the most
likely to believe at least one important misperception about the war
- That weapons of mass
destruction have been found in Iraq. (Sorry, David
Kay fans -- precursors,
abandoned trailers, twigs, and seeds don't count.)
- That evidence has been found of
a link between Saddam Hussein's regime and Al Qaeda. (Even George
W. Bush had to correct Dick Cheney on this one.)
- That world opinion favored the
US going to war with Iraq. (It's hard to believe that
anyone believes that.)
According to the study, 80 percent
of Fox viewers believed one or more of those untruths; between 55
percent and 71 percent of those who relied on CNN or one of the Big
Three broadcast networks were similarly misinformed; and only 47
percent who rely mainly on print, and 23 percent who rely on NPR
and/or PBS, shared those misperceptions.
Here's a story
on the study in the Washington Post by Harold Meyerson. (Guess
he's not at the American Prospect anymore.) You can read the
study itself here.
Turning on Romney.
Globe columnists Scot
Lehigh, who is certainly
not hostile to Governor Mitt Romney, and Brian
McGrory, who could be
considered a fan, have both had it up to here with Romney's
transparent political posturing.
Specifically, they're disgusted
with Romney's absurd bid to name the depressed Central Artery the
Liberty Tunnel rather than honor the late Tip O'Neill.
Turning on Grady. There is
nothing I can add to what has already been said about last night's
The early nomination for the
smart-commentary award goes to Dale
Arnold and Bob Neumeier on
WEEI Radio (AM 850) this morning. (Caveat: others may have said this
before them, but the fill-ins on Dennis & Callahan seemed
mainly interested in constructing a gallows for hapless manager Grady
Arnold and Neumeier argued that
from a pure management point of view, Little probably deserves to be
rehired because of what he's accomplished during his first two
seasons, and because his players not only like him, they play hard
But -- and this is the but on which
everything turns -- they added that, logic aside, Little can't
be rehired. The fans will never stand for it. They're right. After a
decent interval (say, until right after the World Series), Little
will be gone.
And let me add my voice to those of
millions of other Red Sox fans: Little's decision not to start the
eighth with Mike Timlin was the single most bone-headed managerial
move I have seen in 35 years of watching baseball games. My heart
sank when I saw Pedro Martínez stroll back to the mound after
his outstanding night's work was apparently over.
Of course, that blunder was only
compounded by Little's refusal to get off his ass and rescue
Martínez after he gave up a hit, then two, then three.
There was no Curse last night. Just
sheer, unmitigated stupidity.
posted at 11:23 AM |
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Thursday, October 16, 2003
Mush from a wimp. Boston
Globe columnist Ellen
Goodman today derides
herself and other liberals for showing too much sympathy for Rush
Limbaugh, who admitted last week that he's addicted to prescription
pain-killers. "This is the curse of liberal wimpathy," she
Among the fellow wimps she
identifies is Joe Conason, the author of Big
Lies, who writes a
column for the New York Observer and a weblog
for Salon. Her evidence is this Conason sentence: "It's hard
not to feel sorry for anyone whose suffering causes them to hustle
I was surprised, because I'd
recalled Conason's being pretty tough on Limbaugh. I looked it up,
and I was right.
Not only did Conason quote from an
e-mail suggesting Limbaugh's pill-popping might have caused his
deafness, but Goodman took Conason's sentence out of context. Here's
the context from Conason's October
3 blog entry (subscription
required) -- written before Limbaugh had even come clean:
From what I've read, it
seems that Limbaugh may have been overmedicating himself for pain.
That's no excuse, as he would surely have said of any liberal
caught doing likewise, but it's hard not to feel sorry for anyone
whose suffering causes them to hustle narcotics. Perhaps he and
his hard-hearted dittoheads might begin to understand addiction
Now that Rush has gone public,
Conason is even more unstinting. Here's a choice bit from
column in this week's
So whatever punishment Mr.
Limbaugh must endure will be handed down in the court of public
opinion. He enjoys the support of millions of character witnesses,
including prominent fellow hypocrites such as his close friends
William Bennett and Newt Gingrich. But they would all be
hard-pressed to describe the mighty radio mouth as someone who has
earned great sympathy. This is, after all, a man who earned
millions by lampooning the plight of AIDS victims, spreading
rumors that implicated Hillary Clinton in murder and Bill Clinton
in cocaine abuse, and mocking the physical appearance of their
young child. His brilliant career was founded on daily
"entertainment" of this quality.
This casts Conason's "liberal
wimpathy" in a rather different light, doesn't it?
New in this week's
Phoenix. I talk with Peter
Dinklage, the star of
The Station Agent. Dinklage's portrayal of the lonely railroad
enthusiast Finbar McBride may be the most important role a dwarf
actor has ever had.
Also, the last
days of Al Giordano's
Narco News Bulletin.
posted at 8:23 AM |
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Wednesday, October 15, 2003
Could the sale of the
Globe have been prevented? That sobbing sound you hear is
from William and Benjamin Taylor, the last two publishers from the
Boston Globe's former ruling family, who this week must be
asking themselves, "Why didn't we think of that?"
Freedom Communications, parent
company of the Orange
County Register, has
found a way to keep the paper within the Hoiles family and
simultaneously pay off what the New York Times
as "dissident family members."
Freedom owns 28 daily newspapers
and eight TV stations, which these days qualifies as small potatoes.
So this is a huge victory for independent media.
Among the rejected suitors are
Gannett and MediaNews, whose chief executive, Dean Singleton, is
pissed, according to both the Times and this
report in the Wall
I have no idea whether the Taylors
could have pulled off a deal like this rather than selling the
Globe to the New York Times Company for $1.1 billion in 1993.
The times and circumstances were different, and perhaps there was no
way of preventing the sell-off.
But even though the Times Company
has been a reasonably good steward of the Globe (from a
reader's perspective; certainly many employees feel differently), the
psychological impact continues to loom large.
Boston today is largely a franchise
town, as Globe columnists such as Joan Vennochi
lament from time to time.
Nothing has contributed to that status more than the transfer of New
England's dominant media organization to out-of-town
We interrupt this home run to
bring you another commercial. I missed Manny Ramirez's home run
yesterday -- some of us have to work, you know -- but it looks like
Fox's commercials-up-to-the-last-possible-second policy claimed a
victim: the viewers.
The Boston Herald has
Please come to Amherst. I'll
be reading from my
book, Little People:
Learning to See the World Through My Daughter's Eyes, tomorrow
from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the UMass Amherst Campus Center, Room
If you're going to be in the
neighborhood, come on down.
posted at 9:00 AM |
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Tuesday, October 14, 2003
Loyalty oafs. It hasn't
gotten much attention -- the Boston Globe, the New York
Times, and Long Island's Newsday all ran this
AP story inside -- but
Common Cause has issued a devastating report on influence-peddling
within the Bush White House.
Titled "Prospecting for Access: How
the Bush Pioneers Shaped Public Policy," the report meticulously
documents favors granted to the so-called Pioneers -- Bush
contributors who gave $100,000 or more in his 2000
The press release is
(ignore the typo that says "2002"); the full report, in PDF format,
The report takes the form of a
Pioneer-by-Pioneer look at contributions made and goodies
To take a random example, consider
James H. "Buck" Harless, the founder and chairman of International
Industries, in Gilbert, West Virginia. Harless raised and contributed
at least $355,000 for Bush's campaign, for the Florida-recount
effort, and for the Bush-Cheney inauguration.
So what did old Buck get for his
generosity? Here's what the report says:
The Bush administration
retracted a campaign pledge to require power plants that use coal
to sharply cut carbon dioxide emissions, rejected U.S. endorsement
of an international agreement to curb global warming, weakened
federal clean water regulations related to coal mining and
proposed investing substantial federal dollars in "clean coal"
The cost: "$2 billion over ten
years in federal subsidies to encourage clean coal technology;
degradation of air and water quality."
Of course, the White House might
have been inclined to do these things anyway. But that makes Common
Cause's findings no less repulsive.
Overall, the report is a litany of
regulations loosened or abolished, Colombian pipelines protected at
taxpayer expense, and secret meetings with Vice-President Dick Cheney
It should have gotten a lot more
attention. Perhaps it will in the days ahead.
So, David, why do you think
Zimmer apologized? No, Pedro Martinez certainly doesn't deserve a
good-conduct medal for his disgraceful antics in Saturday's playoff
But he did not "grab a
72-year-old man by the head and toss him to the ground," which is
New York Times columnist David Brooks's alternate-universe
description of the
Martinez-Don Zimmer confrontation.
Besides, doesn't Brooks realize
that the New York Times Company is a part-owner of the Red Sox, and
that its editorial
page last week actually
called for a Sox victory over the Yankees?
Brooks needs to get with the
posted at 9:09 AM |
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Monday, October 13, 2003
Not even a mini-scandal, as it
turns out. Media Log reader K.W. points me to this
identical letters started
with one soldier who asked his buddies to sign it.
InstaPundit Glenn Reynolds writes
that "it seems that the letter isn't bogus after all." Uh, well, not
so fast. When a bunch of newspapers receive a form letter that's not
labeled as such, purporting to be from their hometown soldier when it
really isn't, that's still pretty bogus.
But it does seem that there's no
organized campaign behind this.
By the way, Reynolds pleads guilty
to reading-comprehension problems. That's what led me astray,
posted at 1:06 PM |
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This week's scandal. It will
be interesting to see how far up this one goes.
The Gannett News Service reports
that newspapers around the country have been receiving identical --
and apparently fake -- letters from US soldiers stationed in Iraq.
The message: the reconstruction is going great, Iraq is returning to
normal, and God bless the USA.
Here's a report
from USA Today.
Thanks to Michael Goldman for
passing along word of this sleazy campaign to demonstrate fake
support for George W. Bush.
It's hard to muster much outrage --
this is too pathetically transparent for that.
Pox on Sox. While you were
watching all hell break loose at Fenway on Saturday, I was huddled
around a radio with about a half-dozen other fathers at a Boy Scout
camping trip. The signal kept fading in and out. So you know more
than I do.
What strikes me, though are two
- The "Cowboy Up" crapola aside,
this is a distinctly unlovable team. Yes, of course I'm glad the
Sox are doing well, but these are not the Sox of '67, '75, or '86.
There are too many crybabies and bullies.
- Pedro Martinez seems to be one
of those athletes whose very intensity makes him a far better
teammate when he's doing well than when he's not. He just can't
stop the frustration from boiling over when things are going
against him. He's got to grow up, especially as he looks at the
future. He may have some good years ahead of him, but his days as
the dominant pitcher in baseball are almost certainly
There's been a lot of smart
commentary in both dailies. One of my favorites was Michael
Gee's column (sub. req.) in
Sunday's Herald. His conclusion:
Winning is always the best
PR. Ask Gov. Schwarzenegger. But the Sox didn't win. In the
process of losing, they struck millions of neutral observers as
Way to go, Pedro. That's quite
an accomplishment, making the Yankees America's sentimental
Let judges judge. Today's
Globe has a
must-read column by Judge
Mark Coven on the folly of mandatory minimum sentences for drunk
Coven's unassailable logic could be
extended to mandatory sentences in general.
posted at 11:54 AM |
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MEDIA LOG ARCHIVES
Dan Kennedy is senior writer and media critic for the Boston Phoenix.