Monday, February 28, 2005

Major Updates, Better Service

I said recently that I would cross-link most of the bloggers that Dr. Hanson lists on his website. I'm still doing that, and pending final approval, two new blogs will join the College Blog Alliance today.

In even bigger news, the creator of the internet mind-game T.U.R.M. offered me a news tip submission script (much like the one Drudge uses on his site) in exchange for a link to his game. I've played it myself...it gets downright maddening after the first few levels. As for the tip box, it is now located in the sidebar. If you have tips about anything, submit them through the tip box, and I will follow up on them. I will check things out much faster if you leave your name, but you don't have to. In either case, all submissions will be kept confidential.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Hollywood Lowlights

George Bush, Halle Berry Share Worst Film Honors (Reuters)

President Bush won multiple Razzies this weekend for his appearance in "Fahrenheit 9/11." I don't think you can make a big deal out of that (what kind of objectivity should the Razzies have?), but I think it's ridiculous that his awards were for such categories as "Worst Actor" (acting? Oh yeah, he's supposedly a liar) and "Worst Screen Couple." Yes, it's Hollywood. Yes, half of the Worst Screen Couple was a book -- "My Pet Goat" -- that Bush was reading to schoolchildren when he found out the Twin Towers had been hit on 9/11.

The left has savaged Bush because he didn't get up and respond to the attack immediately, but if you ask me, finishing the book was the right thing to do. His staff was more than capable of acting in his absence, and leaving suddenly would have badly upset the kids. Besides, what did they expect him to do, grab a rocket launcher and shoot down the planes himself? The "My Pet Goat" thing is actually one of the things I always liked about Bush, because if he were really as stupid as most Dems believe, he would have done the impulsive thing and left immediately, even though he couldn't have done anything directly.

I can't comment directly on Halle Berry's performance in "Catwoman," but from what I've heard, she deserves the dishonor. I do find it interesting that Arnold Schwarzenegger won a Razzie because he had been nominated eight times and had never received one. Political statement or good-natured joke? It's hard to say for the Governator, but in Bush's case, it was a political statement from the most politicized city in America: Hollywood, California.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Debunking the Draft Scare

I know I had announced a national focus this week, but today's entry finds me talking about the DA again, albeit in a national context. My blogging has been urged by columnist Andrew Stacy's editorial for the paper about draft reinstatement, and if you ask me, this urban legend has gone far enough. Before I go expounding upon my opinions, however, I'll take a semi-objective look at the piece from the perspective of a fact-checker. As you're about to see, I'm probably the only one who's done any fact-checking here.

Stacy's column starts by talking about the Universal National Service Act of 2003, which is a pair of bills introduced by Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-SC) [bill S.89] and Rep. Charles Rangel, (D-NY) [bill H.R.163]. Stop and notice for a second that these are both Democrats; more on that later. According to Stacy, "The bills and their co-sponsors can be viewed at www.congress.gov." I assumed the role of an average student who would be clueless about these bills and attempted to find them on Congress's website. S.89 had no co-sponsors and has gone nowhere; the identical H.R.163 had 14 co-sponsors but was crushingly defeated by a 2-402 vote on October 5, 2004. The list of co-sponsors were as follows:

Neil Abercrombie (D-HI)
Corrine Brown (D-FL)
Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands)
William Clay (D-MO)
John Conyers (D-MI)
Elijah Cummings (D-MD)
Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
Jesse L. Jackson (D-IL)
Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX)
John Lewis (D-GA)
Jim McDermott (D-WA)
James Moran (D-VA)
Fortney Stark (D-CA)
Nydia Velazquez (D-NY)

If you can't see all of the Democrats in that list, adjust your monitor. Why would a total of 16 Dems support reinstatement of the draft? Here's the thing: they don't. Confused yet? It's okay, let me explain.

The Universal National Service Act of 2003 was not designed as an honest attempt to reinstate the draft; rather, it was created for the sole purpose of making a point by Dems who were unhappy with the Bush administration's policies towards the war in Iraq. Let me alleviate any fears of a draft held by Stacy (a Navy vet) and others by providing links to two websites -- TruthOrFiction and Snopes -- who are nonpartisan and have already debunked the draft rumor. Note that large chunks of Stacy's editorial appear to have been lifted out of the sample e-mail that Snopes shows...I assume he must have read the chain mail at some point. Also note that the source of said e-mail, congress.org, is not the official congress.gov.

For those of you who are still unconvinced, consider this. Any Congressperson (write it down, I'm being politically correct) who would cast a "Yea" vote for draft reinstatement, unless the country was in dire circumstances (think 9/11, but at least three times as bad), would lose most of their voter support. Obviously, their seat in Congress would follow, which would happen much more quickly to those in the House who only serve two-year terms. Also consider one of Stacy's primary sources, Connor Freff Cochran. Cochran wrote the story I just linked for AlterNet back in March 2004. Most of the points Stacy makes that can't be found at Snopes can be found there.

Andrew Stacy's main original point is that he has received requests to update his personal information from the Navy, whereas his former shipmates have not. Don't sweat it too much, my good man. Everyone listen up: there will not be a draft anytime soon, and it sure as heck won't be by June 2005. Please let this leftover election scare tactic die. If you have friends who are still worried, e-mail them this post so they can see the facts.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Feedback (And Change) is Good

I've received some feedback involving the College Blog Alliance (hereafter referred to as the CBA), and I've decided to make some minor changes to my blog because of it. As of now, the only WVU links that will be listed in my Blogroll are the Daily Athenaeum and Dr. Hanson's blog. I have three reasons behind doing this. For one, to list some student bloggers in my Blogroll at the expense of others is unfair. Secondly, I'm keeping Dr. Hanson on because his blog is an important resource for anyone interested in the media, particularly for the WVU journalism students who give my blog the most traffic. As for keeping the DA where they've been since I first added links to my site, I think that they're a crucial source for anyone who comes here, especially if you don't attend my school and want a better understanding of the local issues that I cover. Bookmark the CBA post or the blogs you like now, because I will not deviate from this course.

While I'm on the subject, expect to see more national coverage this week. Between the interview and various other things going on around my neck of the woods (yes, I just paraphrased Al Roker...), I haven't been able to devote the time that I would like to issues and stories that affect everyone. I've got a lot to say, but I've not got much time right now to say it. I'm even thinking about doing straight commentary (no linking required), but it's still up in the air. Nation-focused blogging begins anew after today; however, I encourage you all to give feedback. My e-mail hasn't changed, and I'm willing to be as close to my readers as an unknown blogger can be.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

A Toast to the Post

After nearly two weeks and a false alarm, the Dominion Post has finally published the article that I was interviewed for. Although I honestly expected a little more (why didn't they print the blog URLs?), it was still a great article with two authors. One was Palma Benczenleitner (reporting from Germany), and the other was Morgantowner Krista Reott, who interviewed me and a few other bloggers. Although I would be typing for a very long time if I posted a full transcript, I'll give you the portion about myself. It's really not very lengthy at all. Note that some of the article was written with chat acronyms, which was a clever effect but a little confusing.
FYI: 'The unknown blogger' is a he
One unidentified student, "the unknown blogger" uses his blog as a political forum, often criticizing the campus newspaper for holding a liberal bias on the opinion page.
The only thing anyone really knows abt (sic) the anonymous poster is that he's a journalism student. Yes, it's a he. The unknown blogger has intrigued the blogging community. He keeps his identity a secret b/c (sic), he says, "When people know who you are, particularly if they know you personally, they judge your viewpoints before knowing them. If you can't place a name to my blog, I believe it makes you more open to what I have to say."

I have to say that, if you had to choose one quote from my interview, then that quote about why I retain anonymity is far and away the best choice. It was the one thing I told her that I can still remember perfectly. I also told her that I actually really like the DA, but I give criticism and praise to them when it's due. For the record, I don't consider pure opinion to be bias so long as there is some kind of visible attempt to get both sides to comment on the issue. Besides, bias is what creeps up in the other pages and parts of the media when one general group of views is shared among the staff; it's not a conscious effort by most reporters to put a political spin on the issues, but when you work with so many people who share your views, then what gets printed is simply what the staff holds to be the "correct" view. In fact, most journalists who are more liberal that work for large organizations consider themselves to be moderates with mainstream viewpoints. If you can fix an opinion page, you're halfway there to fixing the paper because a discourse now exists.

Alright, back to the story: I only have two real criticisms, but I think they're fairly minor. First of all, the web addresses (URLs) of the bloggers that were mentioned should have all been printed. Marketing major Justin Lawrence's web address was printed, but my address and the address of English major Rachael Brady were left out. The second thing is really, really minor; as far as the blogosphere is concerned, my name is "The Unknown Blogger," not the improper "the unknown blogger." Oh well, I'm still grateful for even being involved with this, and if this is all the criticism I have, then you did an excellent job with the article. If you have a chance to pick up a copy of the Dominion Post, you'd best do so quickly, as they were extremely hard to find around campus today. And for those of you out tonight in Morgantown - or wherever you may be - make a toast to the Post.

The College Blog Alliance

This is where I'll be posting links to college bloggers, both students and faculty, who focus on news, the media, journalism, and politics. The concept of a "college blog alliance" is sort of a tongue-in-cheek one; it's not a special organization or anything like that, but it's a memorable way to list these links. After all, we bloggers are all in this together to a certain degree; hence, the title "College Blog Alliance." Go to the end of the list to see ground rules for submissions.

To submit, just send an e-mail to theunknownblogger@gmail.com. I encourage anyone who gets listed to add a link to their main page with the following address: http://unknownblogger.blogspot.com/

Rules for submissions:

1.) Unless you are a photoblogger, don't submit foreign-language blogs. In other words, if I can't read it and it doesn't have really nice pictures, it won't get linked.

2.) No diaries.

3.) You must be a student or faculty member when you submit your link; however, I will not remove you if you graduate or leave for any other reason. Instead, I will add a designation to your link that shows your current status.

4.) I will look at all submissions, but I would appreciate it if you tell me what school you are from. This saves me time and gets your blog linked faster.

5.) If you have not updated in four (4) months or longer, you will be removed from the list.

I will check everyone's links periodically. If your URL (web address) changes, let me know.

Send in those links!

NOTE FOR MEMBERS: As of April 6, 2005, the CBA bloggers are linked on the main page. Linking you on the main page helps spiders and others notice the link to your blog more easily. Please update your links!

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Wait is Over

I have received confirmation that the weblogs article that I was interviewed for will run Sunday, Feb. 20, on the Campus Life page in the Dominion Post. Don't miss it. Once again, I'll attempt to post as much of the article as I can, but the Post website is a subscription-based service and attempting to link to the piece directly would be futile. Pick one up if you can; this is not a false alarm, as the editor let me know personally that it will be printed.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Peter Arnett Speaks

--EXCLUSIVE--FIRST WITH THE STORY

As you probably could have guessed from reading my post from yesterday, I went to hear Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Peter Arnett speak. Previously, I was informed that Arnett is a native of New Zealand, which downplays his controversial interview with Iraqi TV in March 2003. I found out more tonight, so pay attention: Peter Arnett is an American citizen. As a matter of fact, he has homes in Virginia and New York. Refer back to my last post, then come back here, because I have some good things to say about him, as well as some bizarre statements of his to talk about.

Dr. George Esper introduced him by telling the crowd about his part in the "Boys of Vietnam" who held the US government accountable during that war. When Arnett and Esper reported from the fall of Saigon, Esper said, "He deserved a second Pulitzer Prize." In a touch of true class, Arnett deferred credit to Esper and helped him get nominated for his first Pulitzer (which Esper didn't win and still hasn't won). Arnett helped make CNN a household name during the first Gulf War, and even though he was fired for his comments about the war to Iraqi TV, he still writes magazine articles and has a book about Saddam Hussein and his sons that is due out soon. Curiously, when Esper talked about Arnett's fatal interview, he repeated his previous statement with unusual gusto: "He was more honest with the American public than its own government was." You had to be there; it was almost as though Esper wanted to shout that sentence.

Peter Arnett then took the podium over. He seemed to tear up at first as he said that he had been "struck by the generosity of the local community." He then segued into one of his most partisan statements of the evening, which by itself does not signify bias, but does give insight into the mind of a veteran journalist. He said this as he talked about the Bush adminstration's war on terrorism (or as he perceived it, globalization):
If we could export West Virginian hospitality to the Iraqs of the world...then maybe I'd get behind President Bush's grand design and vote Republican.

There was scattered laughter at this statement, but the obvious connotations of a "grand design" spoke volumes about his opinion of the administration. More on that later.


Peter Arnett has an article on some of the documents he has from the remnants of Saddam's regime due out in the April issue of Playboy. In reference to his job as a reporter, he said, "I'd do it all over again if I had the chance." When he talked about his time at CNN, he was light-hearted ("The smartest thing [Ted Turner] did was marry Jane Fonda") and serious ("The best thing that happened to the US was CNN [because the world could see America from the inside]"). And then, of course, it was time for him to discuss his infamous interview.

"I apologize for upsetting so many people," Arnett said. He was reporting for NBC and CNN at the time (NBC was not paying him, but he was in the area), and he was basically a convenient person for Iraqi TV to interview. He also said earlier, "The last thing I want to do is hurt the US government." Here's the killer, though: Arnett said that he "knew NBC was moving me out because of a concerted effort by conservative groups." While that may be true for all I know, I highly doubt they were the only reason. Just look at the transcript , and you'll understand the whole brouhaha over his remarks. He did have an interesting paranoia involving conservatives that crossed over into the Eason Jordan scandal (as he said, "I know [soldiers] aren't targeting journalists"), among other things to be discussed in a moment. He added that his remarks made him a hero everywhere else, as the London Daily Mirror moved to have him write for them. It's probably not a good thing to get that kind of praise, and I think he recognized that, as he promptly changed the subject.

Arnett spoke of life in Baghdad, saying, "There is a persistent belief...that life will get better because it can't get any worse." 3 out of 4 Iraqi vehicles are taxis, which are his primary form of transportation because they're nondescript. He also has body armor of his own, including a Kevlar helmet. He kept wondering to himself, "What had [Saddam] been doing all these years?!?" He found out much of what Saddam had been doing; although most of it will be revealed in the April Playboy, he divulged, "You won't believe it...he wrote a romantic historical novel in his last year in power!" I almost fell out of my chair laughing at that bit of information. The novel will be published in Jordan soon; I believe it will be within the year.

One anecdote even funnier than those was Arnett's story about being hoisted onto Iraqi shoulders when the regime was toppled. As they shouted, "Hooray for Bush!", CNN captured footage of him that they showed until someone realized an ex-employee was being broadcast, at which point they pulled the video. Now that must have been priceless.

Peter Arnett's most peculiar statements came in response to questions about liberal bias in the media. He segued into the discussion by mentioning the set-up question about body armor that was posed to Donald Rumsfeld last year, saying that he thought it was great and produced results, because now the troops have much more armor. As if that wasn't wild enough, what he said next about whether the media has a liberal bias completely surprised me:
Oh, it was! But it's being well-balanced now.

I wish you could have seen my face. As I attempted to pick my jaw up off the ground, he referred to all the different forms of media there are today and how much more diverse it had become. He then changed the subject to the blogosphere, which he actually has a very high opinion of. The only thing that seems to bother him about bloggers is when they come together and attack those that they don't like, particularly former co-worker Eason Jordan. Notice he didn't say a word about the whole Gannon thing that's been big on the left lately; I doubt he ever worked with the guy, so why defend him?

And then the big question was asked. The first person in the audience to be called upon said roughly, "Why do you think we went into Iraq?" Arnett attempted to choose his words carefully, saying that the bloggers were going to have a field day with his response. Great foresight, Mr. Arnett; you hit the jackpot! I quote the next portion as closely as possible. He said the following:
I think historians will look at the WMD scare as Bush's Gulf of Tonkin...I think he took [the assassination attempt on his dad by Saddam] personally, and the neo-conservatives around him all thought it would be easy [to go and get Saddam]. It was natural to go to war in response to the attacks...the world was behind us going into Afghanistan, but not for Iraq. It was the passion of the moment...but I think the jig is up. You lost some of your civil liberties this time...let's hope it doesn't happen again.


He also went on to reiterate his belief that the MSM is neutral, but I almost burst out laughing when he asked, "If you can discredit the New York Times, what the hell do you have?" Well, for one, you have balance. He said some other interesting things, but this is the majority of the meat. I'm glad he has respect for the blogosphere; he said he Googled himself this week and found about 30,000 more results than he did last week, mostly from bloggers. Ladies and gentlemen, let's light up Google some more. This was crazy in a good way, and while I think he can probably be a fair journalist (and my opinion of him improved somewhat), I think everyone should see this.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

He's Not My Role Model

Editor's note: There have been two important updates to this post. Please scroll to the bottom for more information.

As some of you may remember, I was going to blog about an appearance by Peter Arnett on my college campus late last semester. Arnett couldn't make it then, but his speaking engagement was rescheduled for tomorrow. For those of you who can't place the name, Peter Arnett was a famed journalist who was in Vietnam from the start of our "police action" there through the fall of Saigon. He was also the winner of an Emmy and a Pulitzer Prize, which places him in an elite category among journalists. Of course, those are his finer points.

The thing that makes Arnett so controversial is the interview he gave to Iraqi TV on March 30, 2003. At that point, Saddam Hussein was still in power and the ground war of Gulf War II had just begun. In the interview, Arnett stated (among other gems in his conversation) the following:
America is re-appraising the battlefield, delaying the war, maybe a week, and re-writing the war plan. The first war plan has failed because of Iraqi resistance now they are trying to write another war plan.


Don't take my word for it alone; I found CNN's transcript of the interview. The entire thing is mind-blowing. As you can imagine, CNN promptly fired him for his comments. Although we failed to find WMDs in Iraq, the actual battle plan was pretty succesful.

Oddly, Arnett is receiving a hero's welcome from WVU, particularly from fellow Vietnam correspondent Dr. George Esper (who, curiously enough, was the best man at Arnett's wedding). The DA spoke to Dr. Esper about his visit. I'm really hoping that Esper's comments were taken out of context, because if they weren't, then I have to disagree with him. I'd love to know Esper's direct quotes when he was paraphrased for this porton of the article:
"Indeed, he was more honest with the American public that its own government was," Esper said. Esper praised Arnett for taking his "government watchdog" role in the media seriously and for being an excellent role model for WVU students and others around the world.


Wait...did he really mean "role model", or was that how his actual words were paraphrased? If Dr. Esper did mean that, then with all due respect, he's wrong. Let me get one thing clear about my thoughts on this. I do not criticize Peter Arnett as a conservative or a liberal. Heck, I'm not even criticizing him as a journalist. I'm criticizing him as an American. To go to the enemy's press in wartime and condemn your country's war efforts borders on the criminal. (Note-see update at bottom-ed.) It's one thing to be "honest with the American public" and a "government watchdog;" it's quite another thing to play watchdog all over the enemy's TV screens, which is exactly what Arnett did in Iraq. I would take note of Peter Arnett's other, more upstanding accomplishments; however, he is not and will never be my role model. It's okay to have a negative opinion, but it's not okay to tell it to the enemy.

So where can you hear Peter Arnett speak? Well, if you attend WVU, he's already spoken to journalism students this evening. Don't feel bad if you missed it, because the time of that engagement was poorly publicized. However, he will speak in G-21 White Hall at 7:00 P.M. tomorrow. The title of his speech? "From Vietnam to Iraq: A Changing Media World." I have a feeling that telling the Viet Cong about how we had "failed" wouldn't have been well-received back then, either.

UPDATE: Dr. H himself informed me that Arnett is actually from New Zealand. That doesn't improve my opinion of him completely, but it does blow some huge holes in my second-to-last paragraph. I still don't agree with what he did in Iraq, but knowing he isn't from the country he so openly criticized makes me feel a little better. At least I don't consider him to be treasonous now. My most sincere apologies to everyone, as I have a pretty decent amount of egg on my face. This is the power of the blogosphere; had I sent this article to an editor, it may not have been fact-checked in time to be corrected. Out here, corrections may take place at a moment's notice.

SECOND UPDATE (2/17/05) : The DA is reporting that Arnett's speaking engagement is tomorrow. This information is inaccurate. As I reported previously, Arnett will be speaking tonight at 7:00 P.M. in G-21 White Hall. His presentation is open to the public. If anything else changes, I'll let you know.

The Doc Calls for Bloggers

This isn't the major update for the day, but I thought everyone should know about this. WVU journalism professor Dr. Hanson has added a section to his blog's links especially for student journalist bloggers. Originally, my blog was the only student blog in his link list, but with the addition of the Braxtonian, he has begun calling for college bloggers to send him links. I will begin cross-linking student blogs that he adds, so if you have a weblog and want it linked, contact him or me. The key words here are "student journalists"; if you have a Livejournal (or something like that) that is more like a diary, then it probably won't apply. Send in those links!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Not Always Fun and Games

Blogging has become a very important tool. As we all know, several people have taken up this new form of media recently (including myself). However, some people have been losing their jobs over blogging, as this CNN article shows. Note the weirdly threatening title: "Blogging is All Fun and Games, Until the Boss Finds Out." (A related note: I found this article earlier today, but the link was sent to me again through AIM. It could be perceived as intimidation by the sender, but since I don't work for anyone, I assume it's just a link submission. Many thanks to whoever sent this to me.)

The article really doesn't tell the whole story. Mark Jen, the ex-Google employee who serves as the focal point of the piece, was not fired because he ran a blog; in fact, he was fired because he used his blog to openly compare Google's employee benefits with Microsoft's. To say the least, Google came up short in the comparison. If my memory serves me correctly, Jen was fired even after the offending post was removed at his boss's request. As Jen himself said on his blog, "I'm not insubordinate. If I was told to shut down this blog, I would have."

Although employees don't have very much in the way of legal protection for this, non-employees do. The article quotes Eugene Volokh as saying that "there's just no way that Apple can win" a lawsuit against three websites that posted supposedly proprietary information about the iPod. First Amendment grounds apply here, and while there are certain limits on any form of press (namely libel), Apple had better have one heck of a defense team on this one.

Note: I'm almost done with my Blogroll! I still need to make minor changes, but the links are staying as they are. I've added more lefty bloggers, and I made sure to add Ry Rivard's blog as well. Rivard is one of the better writers for the DA, and one of his recent posts links to most major West Virginia bloggers, including Dr. Hanson and myself. Check him out; his writing can be a bit over my head at times, but he has great style with it.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Following Up on the Weekend

Last night's Grammys ended with the Ray Charles album Genius Loves Company winning Album of the Year. No surprise there, I guess. I was attempting to hold several phone and e-mail conversations throughout the broadcast, which is why I cut the live-blogging short. All the good stuff happened while I was still blogging, so if you stopped watching when I called it a night, then you didn't miss much (aside from the questionable and safe choice of John Mayer's "Daughters" as Song of the Year). According to Drudge, the Grammys had their lowest ratings since 1995.

An update on the Dominion Post situation: I am still awaiting official word on the article's status, but the reporter I talked to expected it to run yesterday and apologizes for the confusion. Assuming the article hasn't been canned by the higher-ups, it will still run at an unspecified date. More info as it develops.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Live-Blogging the Grammys

Although I have never live-blogged anything before, I thought that it might be good to do so tonight. Being the music fiend that I am (as longtime readers know all too well), I figured I'd share with you my opinion of the Grammys as the winners are announced. This will be fairly time-consuming for me, but I think you'll enjoy it. I'll be quick-updating this post throughout the broadcast, so reload the page periodically so you don't miss anything. Yeah, I don't really have much to do tonight, and I wanted to make up for the Incredible Missing Interview. So if you're near a TV, grab some popcorn, sit back, and enjoy.

7:58 --- I had forgotten that CBS also airs 60 Minutes on Sunday nights. Now there's something I don't watch anymore...

8:00 --- The Grammys just started. Black Eyed Peas vocalist Fergie leads into the show with the most painful (and longest) sustained note I've heard in ages.

8:02 --- Gwen Stefani, "Rich Girl" was fun the first two times I heard it. Too bad that it is now destroying any good memories I have of the classic musical Fiddler on the Roof.

8:05 --- Thank you, Los Lonely Boys. I needed a breath of fresh air. Ladies and gentlemen, guitarist Henry Garza is the real deal. Now this is music!

8:07 --- Maroon 5, who are coming to WVU in March, are on stage. Is it my imagination, or is vocalist Adam Levine a better guitarist than anyone else in the band?!?

8:10 --- The Black Eyed Peas/Maroon 5 mash-up just segued into Franz Ferdinand. If these guys mix in with Gwen Stefani, I'm leaving.

8:11 --- Jay-Z and Linkin Park might have set a precedent last year. Every band on the stage just committed the most gratuitous mash-up I've ever seen. I feel dirty.

8:16 --- Queen Latifah just hinted at the inevitable J-Lo/Marc Anthony duet. Spare me.

8:18 --- Blues pianist Pinetop Perkins just won a Lifetime Achievement Award. Who the heck is...but it's okay, he played with Muddy Waters!

8:19 --- First major Grammy goes to Los Lonely Boys. (Pop Duo or Group with Vocals)

8:26 --- Jazz legend Art Blakey just got a Lifetime Achievement Award. It's about time.

8:31 --- Jamie Foxx duets with Alicia Keys for an incredible Ray Charles homage. I love having TiVo at times like this.

8:34 --- Best Male R&B Vocal Performance goes to Prince. The comeback is complete, but presenter Nelly has to accept on his behalf. Want to bet that's the only Grammy Nelly gets to accept tonight?

8:41 --- Jerry Lee Lewis receives a Lifetime Achievement Award. The only song of his that I remember is "Great Balls of Fire." Sheesh...you can't just hand out Grammys like popcorn, people! No offense to Lewis, but there has to be a more influential choice for this one.

8:47 --- YES!!! After all this time, Led Zeppelin wins a Lifetime Achievement Award. There is justice in this world after all.

8:48 --- Best Rock Album goes to Green Day. If you've heard all about how American Idiot is one giant middle finger to the Bush administration, you've heard wrong. Only two songs - the title track and "Holiday" - are like that. The rest of it has a political undercurrent, but it's really a universal coming-of-age story about love and loss. If you haven't bought this album, go do so now, because you will probably love it. I'll be here when you get back.

9:03 --- This should quiet the people who always call for "Free Bird" during concerts.

9:21 --- Queen Latifah has an incredible voice.

9:23 --- Best New Artist goes to Maroon 5. Levine does the classy thing and thanks Kanye West first; both were equally deserving.

9:33 --- Green Day's pyrotechnics look like mini-nukes. Who knew visual effects could have a purpose in rock?

9:35 --- Best R&B Album goes to Alicia Keys. Good choice.

9:45 --- "Jesus Walks", the most important rap song of 2004, just came on. A visionary performance.

9:52 --- Kanye West comes back onstage to accept an award for Best Rap Album.

At this point, I can't devote my full attention to the Grammys, so I'll stop the post here. Check back tomorrow for the REALLY big awards.

At the Mercy of an Editor

For those of you who bought a copy of the Dominion Post today expecting to find an interview with me, I regret to say that the article never ran. I don't know what's going on with the Post, but today's Campus Life section had nothing to do with weblogs and absolutely nothing to do with me. Hopefully the paper is simply holding off the piece, and the article hasn't been stopped by the editor. I have a sour taste in my mouth right now because I told all of you one thing, and something else happened that I can't control. To anyone who bought a paper today looking for something about me: thank you, it's the thought that counts.

I await word from sources at the Dominion Post. The interviewer knows how to get ahold of me, but if anyone else from the paper can explain what's going on, don't forget that I have e-mail (theunknownblogger@gmail.com) that gets checked every few hours. I find it ironic that this blogger is currently at an editor's mercy, but that's how it is right now. Whether I hear back immediately or not, we'll be in touch. (Don't expect a phone call - that's a good way to kill anonymity.)

Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Pros and Cons of Rice '08

Word on the political street is that Republicans are having a very difficult time choosing a suitable presidential candidate for the 2008 election. Some people, including myself, have been whispering that the GOP may not have a candidate that is strong enough. While the right has been gearing up to push John McCain, prod Rudy Giuliani, or amend the Constitution so Arnold Schwarzenegger can run (a move that I personally believe would betray our founding fathers and take this whole Governator thing a little too far), the left has made an obvious move to run Hillary Clinton that is crazy enough to work. So then comes the obvious question: why not draft Condoleeza Rice? She's already said she has no intentions to do so, but Dwight D. Eisenhower said the same thing, yet it didn't keep Republicans from convincing him to run in the 1950's. Even if they could convince Rice, could she be elected, and would she be effective?

To put it lightly, Rice has some distinct advantages. As an African-American woman, she would have a chance to cut deeply into the votes of blacks and women, two of the strongest bases of the Democratic Party. If Clinton loses her Senate seat in 2006, she will become a lame duck and stand little to no chance of being named a candidate; therefore, the Democrats would have a very difficult time pulling female voters away from Rice. Politically, she would be the most conservative choice for the presidency, which would definitely subscribe to the Karl Rove formula of motivating the base. She also has very deep religious convictions, which would drive the Christian right to the polls en masse. If she were to be elected, she would already have plenty of experience as a member of the Bush cabinet and would probably have solid diplomatic skill.

On the other hand, nominating Condoleeza Rice could be a double-edged sword. The same features that would convince the Democratic base to vote Republican may cause animosity among some extremist right-wingers. (Yes, Thomas Woods, I'm talking to you.) Sadly, there is a small group of voters, particularly in the deep South, that has yet to cast out racism from their ranks. Hopefully, the ranks of the fascists are dwindling, but while I don't think that their numbers are large enough to matter on Election Day, outraging them could lead to serious problems that may need dealing with during a Rice presidency. Also, a black, conservative woman is still a conservative. Hillary Clinton would have little-to-no problem getting more of the female vote than Rice. Even if Clinton isn't an option, the Democrats can still choose a competitive candidate. I honestly believe that, if the Democrats nominate Sen. Barack Obama, then the party will draw an overwhelming majority of black voters to the polls for him. Besides, anyone who has problems with openly religious presidents won't like much of anything about Rice.

It is also important to remember that the greatest presidents were the ones who could be moderate on the job. Rice is so conservative that she may not be capable of doing this; several key Democrats have already sided against her, and unless she becomes a master of diplomacy as Secretary of State, she may not be able to get anything done while in office. However, she is obviously strong-willed, so as long as she can prevent liberals from spinning her determination as arrogance or stubborness, she stands to be a very successful president if elected. As we know from polls taken after the last election, more Americans consider themselves Republicans than Democrats. If the GOP can rally the base and drain votes from the Dems, Rice '08 is entirely probable. It puts the left in a curious position; a Clinton presidency is so repulsive to most conservatives that any attempt to put her in office could backfire, yet few others could contend with Rice. Mark my words: if the right makes a clear move to push for Condoleeza Rice, the left will counter with either Clinton or the inexperienced Obama. Either way, the 2008 election is shaping up to be a real trip. I don't even want to think about possible VP candidates yet...

Easongate is Closed

CNN executive Eason Jordan resigns (AP)

To Eason Jordan: My hat is off to you. I hadn't covered anything about your scandal myself, so let me take a second to tell my readers about it. I don't remember the exact quote, but during a panel discussion at last month's World Economic Forum, Jordan remarked that many journalists who were fired upon in Iraq by coalition forces had been targeted. He obviously attempted to backtrack on those remarks later, but according to a timeline on Easongate.com, he had made several remarks of a similar nature in the past. Right-leaning bloggers did much to make this a story, but if the timeline is any indication, Sen. George Allen (R-Va) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn) helped fan the flames by calling for tapes of the remarks to be released. There were multiple witnesses, but as of this writing, no transcript has been released.

So why is my hat off to Eason Jordan? Well, Mr. Jordan, that's very simple; instead of doing what Dan Rather did and allowing your organization to become a laughingstock, you did the classy thing, shouldered the blame, and resigned. Although some might have issued a public apology, that might not have been enough to stop the bloggers in this case. The blogosphere is really a cruel beast when it smells fresh meat. At any rate, I respect class and personal dignity above many other things, so you have impressed me where many others have failed.

A side note: I have had an incredibly long day, so the political post I promised for earlier today will be posted around tomorrow evening. It feels strange to do serious blogging on the weekends, but that's exactly what I'm doing. Keep your eyes peeled for it.

UPDATE: I don't really get the big deal about this issue, but the Jeff Gannon scandal has been the lefty-blogging equivalent to Easongate. Gannon was a reporter who was notorious for constantly throwing softball questions at President Bush during press conferences. He was exposed by bloggers as a man working under an assumed name that had ties to gay porn sites. I would comment further, but it's late, so I'll direct you instead to Dr. Hanson's blog, which pools all of the information together to give you straight facts. Not only do I think it to be his best post ever, but it's also one of the only places anywhere that will give you a decent account of exactly what happened.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Blog Improvement Update

As you may have noticed, my Blogroll is starting to look a little dated. Over the next few days, I'll be adding some links to it, as well as deleting a few others that are beginning to resemble personal diaries more than informative blogs. One of the more notable changes I'll be making is the removal of Rathergate.com; not only is that whole mess practically over, but writers Mike Krempasky and Kevin Craver are starting to come off as obnoxious on a regular basis. The much more well-made RatherBiased.com will stay on for the time being.

Also don't forget about my interview with the Dominion Post, which will be published on Sunday. For those of you who don't live in Morgantown, I'll attempt to post a transcript of the article. I'm looking forward to what some of the other students had to say...

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Cold War Lite

There I was, surfing the internet and minding my own business (yeah, I know...kind of rare for me), when something deeply disturbing came to my attention. North Korea finally confessed to having nukes, and the government is refusing to talk about curbing their nuclear program. Obviously, the countries involved in talks with them (including the US) want to resume diplomacy. Needless to say, this is dangerous. I would comment further on this, but the link explains everything that can be explained for now. I'll watch this one closely, and if I find some more pertinent information, I'll post it.

Quick note: A large post is coming tomorrow. I've been fighting with my Internet connection all day and need to study for an exam, but I think you'll find tomorrow's blogging to be very interesting on the national front. It won't be nearly as gloomy as this post.

UPDATE: I just caught wind of the Friday edition of the DA. It features an editorial by Charlie Wade about the North Korea situation in which he urges the United States to work closely with China, as they may have the best chance of any one country to succeed in talks with Kim Jong-Il's government. His best point is that we must attempt to let the people of North Korea know that we do not wish to invade their country. Required reading.

CRITICAL UPDATE: I should have known that North Korea had something in mind when they announced their nuke ownership. Now they say they'll only talk one-on-one with the US. Seeing as the whole thing is not our problem alone, the US is refusing to talk without the involvement of our other allies. What is Kim Jong-Il playing at? InstaPundit is gathering some thoughts on the subject from various sources, so you might want to visit there. Like I said, I'm keeping tabs on this one.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

So, What Are You Doing This Weekend?

This may be the funniest book store promotion I've ever seen. The Trover Shop book store in Washington, D.C., is offering a Howard Dean bobblehead to anyone who comes in between tomorrow and Sunday and performs the infamous (but hilarious) Dean Scream. The only caveat is that the screamers are asked to make a $5 donation to the Kristen Ann Carr Fund for sarcoma cancer research. The creator of the bobblehead, John Edgell, also says that he will make a $500 donation out of pocket -- that is, if Howard Dean himself screams at the book store. I have to hand it to Edgell: this is absolutely awesome, and if I weren't currently 5 hours away from Capitol Hill, I would go there to scream my heart out for cancer. That didn't sound right...but you get the point!

Unknown and Loving It

I don't know whether or not I'll have time to make a large post today (I have two exams at the end of this week), but even if I do, I want everyone to hear about this. Last night, I was interviewed by the Dominion Post for a story about the popularity of weblogs. The article will run in the Sunday edition, so if you're in Morgantown, make sure to look for it in the Campus Life section. I never expected to be interviewed about what I'm doing, and I have to thank them for taking the time to do so. Unfortunately, I won't be able to link to the interview (the Post website is almost entirely paid subscription-based), but I'll try to post some of it after I read it myself. They don't know my name, so I am still unknown, and yet much more well-known than I realized. Surreal.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Deconstruction of LJ Ulrich

Last week, I had a side note on one of my blog posts about how impressed I was with DA columnist LJ Ulrich's ability to be balanced in his commentary. I was impressed with his writing, and even though it came from a liberal perspective, it didn't sound ideological at all. In fact, it sounded incredibly fair. Knowing full well that he is the president of WVU's Young Democrats, I openly praised his ability to do sensible commentary that didn't attempt to alienate anyone.

All apologies to Ulrich, but I have to take that back.

In today's issue of the DA, Ulrich had an editorial entitled "Can We Trust the President on Social Security?" I dove into the column eagerly, fully expecting to find the slightly left, yet persuasive writer that I had applauded before. Instead, I found a partisan hack job of an article that was farther left than anything ever written by Steve Nicholas, and (believe it or not) more ideological than former columnist and ultra-conservative Ben Helsley's writings. I won't attack Ulrich's opinion, as everyone is entitled to one. I also won't try to force my own opinion on Social Security. Instead, I'm going to do what I always do and give some constructive criticism to how Ulrich wrote the piece. In other words, I'm going to point out why this belongs less in the DA and more in a Dean rally. And yes, I'm going line by line. (If you want to read his editorial next to my blog, just go to the DA's website and look in the Feb 08 2005 issue under Opinions.)

Ulrich starts by asking why we would believe that Social Security is going to collapse. I refuse to give my opinion on this portion; instead, go to FactCheck.org and see what they have to say about it. Now that you're back here, you know that Social Security really does need work to be paying out the way it is now. No, there's no immediate danger, but something has to change, like it or not. At this point, Ulrich is still thinking. Within a few words, however, he starts spewing. "Spewing" is when anyone who is into politics shuts out any theories contrary to their own (which, therefore, stops thought) and launches into a tirade of their party's talking points. We all have done it at least once in our lives, but to do it in print is beyond reproach.

For anyone who doesn't have time to look at the editorial, I'll quote the next portion:
This is the president, after all, who failed to mention the words "Osama bin Laden" and "WMDs" in his State of the Union (talk about being accountable); who no longer preaches about a war on terror, but on spreading liberty and freedom across the globe (is that sturdy leadership?); and who dropped his crusade for a gay marriage amendment when it was politically convenient (how does it feel to be used like a cheap whore?).
Like I said, I'm going line by line.

The minute the Osama line hit, I felt sick. It's hilarious to me that the left is suddenly criticizing Bush for NOT mentioning Osama and WMDs, because just a few months ago, the same people were shouting "Liar!" when WMDs were mentioned, and a few on the extreme left were wondering if Osama Bin Laden was a construct that was already either a.) dead or b.) in jail. Something tells me the president was sick of being called a liar, which is why the WMD reference didn't happen. The OBL reference would have been redundant, considering that the price on his head recently doubled to $50,000,000. But now that the conspiracy theory didn't stick, the Democrats have decided that Bush is a failure for not catching Osama. You know how the left always asks the right if they would go fight in Iraq, seeing how they support the war? I can't help wondering what would happen if the right asked the left to go into the mountainous Afghanistan/Pakistan border and catch bin Laden themselves. Enough already.

When the war on terror line came into view, I was irked. Is it sturdy leadership to spread liberty and freedom across the globe, rather than fight a war on terror? Yes, because if terror is extinguished, then liberty and freedom can spread. Oh, wait...you must think that Bush is an imperialist who wants to take over Iran and North Korea (even though you supported Kerry, who wanted to do so and said we should during the debates), and once they're done with, the world! Spare me.

When the gay marriage line danced across my eyes, I wasn't really upset anymore. In fact, I started laughing. Yes, the Boston Globe ran an article today about how conservatives are worried that Bush's push for Social Security reform will weaken his stance on a gay marriage amendment. Simply put, you can't just "push through" an amendment to the US Constitution, because it takes a lot more than a majority vote to ratify one. I think Bush is being realistic about what he can get passed at the moment; to put it bluntly, he doesn't have nearly enough support from socially liberal Republicans and Democrats to get a ban on gay marriage, so that needs to be on the back-burner right now. He's hardly "dropp[ing] his crusade" out of convenience. But when Ulrich asked pro-Bush people how it felt "to be used like a cheap whore," I was laughing to the point of tears. He was no longer spewing for the sake of spewing; as a matter of fact, he was spewing in an effort to convince, which is futile. I could keep going line by line, but I think that even a reasonable Democrat could find this hysterical. Read the rest while I comment on a few key portions.

Later on, Ulrich mentions a leaked internal memo to the president's staff. The memo urges the staff to emphasize that "we are on an unsustainable course." This is good, because, frankly, we are, and people need to get the facts. For some reason, Ulrich sees this memo as a form of brainwashing, prompting him to ask, "Who feels like sheep?" Well, nobody, unless you count the dyed-in-the-wool liberals that already support your position.

The coup de grace is when Ulrich brings out the sheep motif again, saying, "Don't forget even the Christian right, who [Bush] baited and lulled and used like sheep to win re-election last fall." Maybe Ulrich doesn't understand why a Christian conservative would vote for Bush. It's really very simple: he's a man of great faith, and that's exactly the kind of man that the Christian right wants in office. I mean, he must be a Christian, because the left is always complaining about his inability to separate church and state. Am I right? Oh yeah...that's not what you want me or any of his other supporters to believe. You want to question his faith and tell everyone how he used God to gain re-election. Just quit while you're ahead; that didn't work when Kerry was running, and it definitely won't work now. If Bush had a (D) next to his name, you'd be bowing to him. Open your eyes and find a middle ground.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

My Super Bowl Pick

I know I don't talk much about sports, but as I said earlier this week, I've got to make a Super Bowl prediction. Football is by far my favorite sport, and I have great instincts for it. I have never --and that's no joke-- picked the losing side in a Super Bowl. I was also one of the only people who correctly predicted a blowout in Super Bowl XXXV (Ravens v. Giants). In that game, I predicted an offensive shutout by Baltimore and a final score of 31-0. The real final score was 34-7, but the Giants touchdown was on special teams, so I was almost exact. I don't always pick well during regular-season games, but I almost never make bad predictions in the playoffs. For the record, if this whole news-ed thing doesn't work out, then I would love to be a sportswriter.

But enough about me, because it's time to break down the game. The Patriots and Eagles are extremely well-matched at first glance. They both have an excellent defense, an impressive offense, a great quarterback, and a master head coach. Once you start matching them up, however, the differences become pronounced.

Here's the breakdown.

1. Defense

It's hard to go wrong with either defense. The Eagles have an excellent array of blitzes coupled with Brian Dawkins at safety. You can't forget about Jevon Kearse, either; he's been an absolute terror at defensive end this season. On the other hand, the Patriots have workhorse linebacker Tedy Bruschi and Richard Seymour. The Patriots secondary has taken its lumps, but the defense has a way of wearing down offenses in head-to-head struggles.

Advantage: Tie

2. Offense

Both teams have great offensive units. Corey Dillon adds the extra running punch that the Patriots had lacked until this year. Although he had been a sleeper until now, Brian Westbrook gives the Eagles a great all-purpose running back, even though he isn't as good of a pure runner as Dillon. Each team has a decent group of receivers, but Terrell Owens may be somewhat limited tomorrow, and Eagles TE Chad Lewis will not play.

Advantage: Patriots

3. Quarterbacks

If I were into fantasy football and I couldn't pick Peyton Manning, I would probably choose Tom Brady or Donovan McNabb. Tom Brady is currently tied with Bart Starr for the longest winning streak in the postseason (9-0), and if he wins tomorrow, he'll own the record. Donovan McNabb has lost three straight NFC championship games, and his desire to win will be equal to, if not greater than, that of Brady. Brady is a better pure passer than McNabb, but McNabb scrambles better than anyone except Michael Vick and (possibly) Daunte Culpepper. It comes down to clutch play, and while they are both great under pressure, McNabb is not as ice-cool as Brady is. If Donovan McNabb wins the Super Bowl, he will be known as a great quarterback. If Tom Brady wins the Super Bowl, he will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Advantage: Patriots

4. Coaching

Bill Belichick and Andy Reid are great coaches. Reid is generally known as more of an offensive mind than the defensive-minded Belichick. The problem is, Andy Reid is one of the best coaches in the NFL. Why is that a problem? Well, Bill Belichick is the best coach in the NFL, and he may be known as the greatest of all time (yes, even greater than Vince Lombardi himself) if he wins this game. No one breaks down a team's weaknesses better or draws up a better game plan. The difference is palpable to anyone watching their teams during a game. The Eagles still move as eleven men; they have incredible teamwork, but they are still individuals. The Patriots move as a single being, as if though they are under the control of some kind of hive-mind. Andy Reid is a coach. Bill Belichick is a hivemaster.

Advantage: Patriots

Final Spread

The Eagles deserve more respect than they have been getting from the sports media. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, the Patriots have been deserving of every bit of the respect being paid to them. The real question becomes whether or not Terrell Owens plays the full game. Owens at 80 percent strength is better than any other Eagles receiver at 110 percent, and the score will be less lopsided the longer he plays. Nevertheless, I don't see anyone stopping New England tomorrow. Prediction: dynasty.

If T.O. plays the full game: Patriots by 6.

If T.O. plays less than that: Patriots by at least 10.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

It Must Have Been the Whole Excommunication Thing

A new Pew poll is out showing that, in the 2004 election, Catholics favored President Bush over John Kerry by 53% to 47%. Kerry's stance on abortion probably didn't help him, but what bothered me more - and what probably bothered Catholics and Protestants alike - was how he talked about his faith in a way that seemed completely forced during the debates. To the Democratic party: If you want to stop losing majorities over issues of faith, start by keeping what your candidates say about their beliefs from sounding politicized. Although I don't doubt Kerry's faith, the notion that he was openly using it with the knowledge of its power over voters was one of the major ways he lost me. It was as if he was trying so hard to not offend anyone with his convictions that he sounded hollow while giving voice to them. In my opinion, this is one of the big (and unexplored) reasons why Senator Kerry lost the election.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Jordan Snipes: Athlete or Alien?

I don't have enough time tonight to do any serious blogging (heck, I don't even have time to watch the State of the Union Address), but I had to share this one with everybody. On Monday night, Guilford College (NC) basketball player and former high-school quarterback Jordan Snipes got the ball in overtime. The other team, Randolph-Macon, had taken a one-point lead off a foul shot by Adam Krovic. With 0.6 seconds left in the game, Krovic muffed the second foul shot, which went into the hands of Snipes. In the ultimate desperation play, Snipes throws the ball the entire 87-foot length of the court...and sinks it.

The link above has video of this absolutely insane shot; if you're on dial-up, I recommend viewing the game film at the end of the page, as it's only 28 seconds long. For broadband users, check out the additional footage of Snipes repeating his feat on live TV. (CNN needs to get a clue; they're only allowing subscribers to their own program or Real One's to view their copy.) You have to see this.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The Plastic Ones Don't Fight Back

You know that the US is doing well in the war on terrorism when stuff like this happens. A group calling themselves the Mujahedeen Brigades claimed to have captured an American soldier. To prove this, they posted a photo on the web showing a "stiff and expressionless" male soldier "wearing desert fatigues and seated on a concrete floor with his hands tied behind his back." Fortunately, the Pentagon has reported that no soldier is missing. It gets better: in a bit of dark irony, the "hostage" was really an action figure. Pics of the toy itself, as well as the hostage photo (the gun pointed at his head looks like a toy as well), are on Drudge. You can't make this stuff up, folks.

UPDATE: Power Line is having a field day with this, Wizbang appears to have broken the story and is now tearing apart the Associated Press for not catching this (the Trackbacks for them are unreal), and I 've found a good link for photos. Everyone at the AP needs to remember to visit their optometrists regularly. Sheesh.