Monday, January 16, 2006

Link Attack #2: Special MLK Day Edition

The second Link Attack has arrived! To mark Martin Luther King Day, I figured I'd hold off on releasing it until today. I've still not decided if Link Attacks will show up on a specific day of the week, as Fridays do get hectic sometimes. Send me your thoughts, please.

-Mark your calendars: On Thursday at 9 a.m., a 400-page report involving the Clinton administration will be released. As you might imagine, Dems have been trying to block it for months. And you thought the independent counsels were done with Slick Willy....

-Hardcore Bush critic David Corn has written the unthinkable...an article that says trying to impeach Bush would be a waste of time. Gratuitous political moves usually are.

-I am not NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer. But oddly enough, our writing styles are kind of similar. The link goes to his analysis of what would happen during the Seattle-Washington playoff contest, and his final prediction was perfect (low scoring, Seattle wins). The difference between us? He makes millions more dollars in a year than I may ever make. Oh yeah, and I've never won a Super Bowl.

-Could Bill Clinton work for Microsoft?

-William Stewart has written a full guide to the West Virginia legislature. Ever want to approach a state representative and have them remember what you asked them to do? Stewart can show you how.

-According to the Washington Post, the Seattle Times decided to be politically correct and not refer to the Redskins as anything other than Washington during the week leading up to the Seahawks-Redskins game. The Redskins are from Washington. The Seahawks are from Washington. As Wizbang noted, hilarity ensued.

-A new Italian study shows that couples with a TV in the bedroom have less sex. Raise your hand if you've ever heard this line: "Not tonight honey, CSI is on."

-Jim Carrey says he's happier now that he's cut back on caffeine. Honestly, we've seen his movies. This man should never be given any kind of stimulants on any occasion. Maybe Ace Ventura was a product of the seven cups of coffee he used to drink.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Why The AP Deserves Applause

Political hypocrisy always makes me laugh. What's even better is when the mainstream media (MSM if you prefer) laughs with me. At a press conference today, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.)called for the House ethics committee to investigate Republican members of Congress with ties to Jack Abramoff. She repeatedly referred to them as "corrupt." But this time, despite all of Pelosi's attempts to spin this, Associated Press writer Jim Abrams called her on it.

See, there are two things that Pelosi never mentions. For one - and this doesn't make the article, sadly - scandalized lobbyist Abramoff has also given money to Harry Reid (as I wrote last week) and Hillary Clinton, among other Democrats. Secondly, as Abrams points out, both a letter from Pelosi to House Speaker Dennis Hastert and her aforementioned comments did not ask for an investigation of Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.). Jefferson has been accused by a former aide of demanding bribes in exchange for promoting business opportunities in Africa. The court documents were filed...wait for it...wait for it...yesterday. Now why in the world would Pelosi be charging headlong at the GOP within a day? I wonder....

I never thought I would see a member of the AP completely own Pelosi, but Abrams objectively follows up this information with a killing quote.
Pelosi didn't comment on the Jefferson case, but stressed that "we have said all along that, Democrat or Republican, anyone who doesn't follow the rules or the law has to be held accountable. That's the difference between us."

I would fully agree with you, except I'm not so sure you agree with your own words. Ms. Pelosi, please, spare me.

And to Jim Abrams: Thank you.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

News Script Update

A quick bit of blog maintenance news is in order. The server that hosts my news tips submission script is down right now, so I can't access the tips that any of you have sent or will send to me. If you have any information for me, direct it to theunknownblogger@gmail.com until the domain is back online.

UPDATE (1/12/06): The server is back online. Feel free to use the news tip submitter as you like.

Changing The Elevator Music

A new report from English researchers has basically concluded what I already suspected: Our generation no longer cares very much about its music. Not to say that we don't generally like it; obviously, that much isn't true, or you wouldn't hear everything from Dave Matthews Band to Kanye West blaring through dorm halls. The researchers concluded that the problem here is how impersonal music has become, partially due to the rise of downloading and MP3 players.
"The accessibility of music has meant that it is taken for granted and does not require a deep emotional commitment once associated with music appreciation," said music psychologist Adrian North on Tuesday. [...]They concluded that because of greater accessibility through mass media, music was nowadays seen more as a commodity that is produced, distributed and consumed like any other.

From the perspective of a media scholar (which I'm not, though some of my readers are, Dr. H), music is a commodity, and a very profitable one at that. But as the article mentioned, music used to be a communal experience unlike any other. When the thing about music that makes it so powerful - its ability to communicate beyond words - is diluted, it becomes a passive, casual experience.

Chances are, you have probably listened to music on your computer before. You've also most likely listened to it through headphones. I always felt that headphones could enrich the experience if used correctly, and that's because they allow you to hear every instrument and lyric in clear detail. At that level, you're communicating in a sense with the performers. In a group setting, you experience music with the people near you.

Here's why I don't own an iPod: It's too easy to use one as you walk places (particularly classes), and if I'm just hearing my own brand of elevator music without really listening, the music stops mattering. Music is a very intimate thing for me, and it would be tragic if I no longer had songs that reminded me of old flames or days gone by. Music should become a part of you, and to think that it never does for some people is truly sad. Besides, using iPods and such in public is kind of a barrier to interaction anyway. Have you ever noticed what a huge compliment it is when someone takes their earbuds out to talk to you? It means something because most people don't want to step out of their elevator music.

You know, if people don't really appreciate music anymore, maybe that's how 50 Cent went multi-platinum. Or maybe it's just what it is: A tragedy. Nothing more, nothing less.

Friday, January 06, 2006

The First Ever Link Attack

Because I almost never post on weekends, I thought it might be a good change of pace if I started providing a small load of quick links on Fridays. Yes, that's right...for one day each week, I will make a post that looks strangely similar to InstaPundit's entire blog. Except, unlike Glenn Reynolds, I will do my best to weed out the chaff. [Buuurrrrn-Ed.]

With respect to dial-up users, I will try to keep the number of links fairly low. With that in mind, I give you the first, soon to be weekly...Link Attack!


-Ever wonder what happens to merchandise that gets printed up for a would-be sports champion? Volokh found out that the clothes get donated to children in poor countries. So even though some Haitian kid is about to get a free shirt, he'll still think USC won the Rose Bowl.

-The Washington Post reports that Men's Fitness magazine has named Baltimore, a land where crab cakes and beer flow like water, as the fittest city in America. Chicago, home of Da Bears and the deep-dish pizza, was ranked the fattest. Isn't it a push, really?

-Remember Rathergate.com? Its creators have now concocted Swannblog in an unabashed campaign to get Lynn Swann elected as governor of Pennsylvania. Sweet.

-Scientists say they might be able to create a hyperspace engine within five years. It's a big might because the design centers around a highly controversial physics theory, but imagine the possibilities if it works.

-While other senators continue to give back money donated to them by scandalized lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) is keeping $30,500 of his money because he feels it's a "Republican scandal." Both sides of the aisle got money from Abramoff. What's wrong with this picture?

-Ana Marie Cox is handing control of Wonkette to David Lat, who became famous for blogging (as a woman!) about hot members of the judiciary, and to 20-year-old NYU dropout Alex Pareene. If this means Wonkette will actually be funny again, I'm all for it.

-The Sago mine tragedy was made all the worse when false reports circulated early that 12 miners survived. As William Stewart notes, the front pages of the next day's newspapers could not have been more cruelly ironic.

I Just Couldn't Help Myself

As I was on my way to bed, I was scouring the Internet for links to be used for an as-yet unannounced addition to my blogging. Though I rarely link to satire, this fake headline from ScrappleFace got me laughing pretty hard. The article's good, but boy, this headline....

Stewart to Host Oscars, Rumsfeld to Give GOP Response

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Two Sides Of A Similar Coin

If you turned on the news at any point today, you already know that former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has had a massive stroke. The reason I say "former" is because:

1.) I'm being realistic (sadly),

and 2.) Doctors have told reporters that Sharon is "unlikely to return" to his position.

While the power struggle begins to quietly play out in Israel's government, certain forces have no intention of sending the would-be Middle Eastern peace architect any get-well cards. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who recently made headlines and irked 99 percent of the free world by claiming the Holocaust was a "myth," stated that he hoped Sharon died. Another typically heartless statement from a radical who seems to be begging for war with every country in the United Nations, right? Absolutely. But an equally heartless, and possibly even more tasteless, statement has emerged from the lips of none other than America's own Pat Robertson.

The Christian broadcaster has stirred the pot in his own right by suggesting today that Sharon's stroke was a punishment from God for "dividing" Israel. Robertson is a favorite target of liberals (who hold him up as an example of the religious right) and of the press (who know his extreme remarks are newsworthy and can sell papers). But he often gets a free pass from conservatives. Some on the right really do agree with him, though I don't know any of them personally. Others tiptoe around him, as well as Jerry Falwell, because they would rather tolerate his views and stay allies with his sizeable base of supporters.

I'm not one to tiptoe.

I prefer to never, ever mix religious and political discussions unless I have to. So I'm not going to get into any differences in interpretation of the Bible or anything of the sort. But for anyone to imply that he has an absolute knowledge of God's current will - which Robertson did today and has done in the past - disgusts me and implies a form of elitism potentially more dangerous than anything Hollywood has ever had to say. He had to know that anything he said would get carried on wires all over the world, much to the disgrace of his country, yet he said it anyway. Now Israel's ambassador to the United States is outraged, rightfully comparing Robertson's remarks to something that Mahmoud A. of Iran probably wishes he had come up with first. I do not question Robertson's faith, and I am not judgmental enough to label him misguided. However, I have very little respect for a man who constantly gives his supporters a bad name just by representing them. I really do wish that mainstream conservatives were quicker to denounce this sort of thing, but until we value our own convictions more than what our friends and allies might think about them, the Pat Robertsons of the world will continue to speak loudly and often.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Last Year From The Rear View

As I wind down from celebrating WVU's Sugar Bowl win over Georgia last night (Coach Rod, if you're listening, that fake punt was absolutely genius), I think it's time to take a look back at 2005. Most news sources would do a fairly bland overview covering the major stuff, but because I'm sure you've all seen those already, I'm going to put the emphasis on the things you may not have heard much about. Without further ado, here are my award winners.

Book of the Year

This choice will come as a surprise to many people, but I wanted to pick a non-fiction work that's having some influence. After all, picking Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince wouldn't seem fair, now would it? So this award goes to 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America by Bernard Goldberg.

As many of you may remember, I asked people to recommend me some new reading last summer. Though all of those choices were very good, there was nothing I enjoyed more than 100 People. In the book, former CBS anchor Goldberg gives us a sometimes funny, sometimes scathing, and very sincere look into why each of these people made his list and where he thinks our culture is going wrong. The first half of the book is basically a collection of his analysis on everything from the kind of people he listed ("Hollywood Blowhards" and "America Bashers" among them) to controversial topics such as modern feminism and gangsta rap. With a voice ranging from biting sarcasm to righteous indignation, Goldberg then goes on to give us his list. Some of his picks are just funny, such as Courtney Love at #95, who gets a simple, one-word description: "Ho." Others, such as political hacks Kitty Kelley (a left-winger at #80) and Michael Savage (a right-winger at #61), deserve every bit of the biting commentary they get. The self-described "liberal the way liberals used to be" does turn his guns on the hard left more than most other liberals would be comfortable with; however, his quarrel is not with their politics, but with their methods. Even on the rare occasions when his writing feels strained, it still works out; he uses the dreaded "fake interview" tactic on Al Franken at #37, but it somehow holds weight because Franken's "responses" sound like they came right out of his own mouth.

One of the most remarkable things about this book is that, unlike Goldberg's previous two, it got quite a bit of mainstream media coverage. That's possibly because his earlier books, the bullseye-hitting Bias and its sequel Arrogance, went right after the MSM with style less befitting a mere disgruntled ex-employee and more befitting a well-armed whistleblower. Bias, in particular, is an essential bit of muckraking that I would recommend to anyone with even a passing interest in journalism. Those books might get even more readers now, because the humor and press afforded to 100 People have gained it a surprising audience: young teenagers!

Several of my younger friends, mostly between middle school and early high school, have been raving to me about this new book lately and how intriguing and funny it is. Most of them have no clue that I'm into politics at all, let alone that I have a blog; however, it's leaving such an impression on them that they're telling anyone who will listen about it. When a $25.95 book about politics and the media can gain younger readers in droves, that makes it a lock in my eyes for Book of the Year.

Link of the Year

You may have heard about a lot of big-time studies in the media lately, but unless you read Drudge regularly, I doubt you've heard anything about this one. A study conducted by UCLA political scientist Tim Groseclose and University of Missouri economist Jeffrey Milyo shows that there is generally a liberal bias in the media. The study, which compared media outlets politically by using members of Congress as a reference point, was conducted by looking at everything from citation patterns to references to specific interest groups. Because the study managed to assign ADA scores to rank how liberal or conservative an outlet was - a tactic common in political science when applied to politicians - it is believed to be the first objective quantifying and ranking of media bias in history.

The study did not take editorial content into consideration, which led to an unlikely conclusion: When it is reduced strictly to its news content, The Wall Street Journal is actually the most liberal newspaper. (The next two in line are the more obvious New York Times and LA Times.) The most liberal television news source is CBS Evening News (cue shock), which is the second most liberal outlet overall.

Out of the 20 outlets tested, 18 scored left of the average American voter. The ADA scale, which ranks from 100 to 0 with 100 being the most liberal, scored the typical voter at 50.1 for the study. Only FOX's Special Report with Brit Hume and The Washington Times scored lower than the 50 mark.

Two other conventional theories were bent a bit here. Drudge scored left of center, but only because the material linked by Drudge and "very little of" Matt Drudge's original reporting was taken into account. Also, NPR, which almost always gets flagged by conservative as an ultra-liberal outlet, had a score on par with the major newsweeklies (Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News) and slightly right of The Washington Post.

So how can we get a perfectly balanced version of the news? Says Milyo, "If viewers spent an equal amount of time watching FOX's Special Report as ABC's World News and NBC's Nightly News, then they would receive a nearly perfectly balanced version of the news." If you prefer to read your news, however, consult your friendly neighborhood McPaper. That's right, what I've believed for a long time has held true: USA Today scored the most centrist of any newspaper tested.

Now why haven't you seen this on the news? Well, can you imagine having to admit on the air what your own media outlet scored?

Quote of the Year

One is a small chunk of an interview that explains a lot about Memogate. The other...well, you may remember it if you were with me months ago.

-Grand Prize


Brian Ross, reporter for Good Morning America: “Do you still think that [the Bush National Guard memo] story was true?”
Mary Mapes, producer of the Memogate segment: “The story? Absolutely.”
Ross: “This seems remarkable to me that you would sit here now and say you still find that story to be up to your standards.”
Mapes: “I'’m perfectly willing to believe those documents are forgeries if there'’s proof that I haven'’t seen.”
Ross: “But isn’'t it the other way around? Don’'t you have to prove they’'re authentic?”
Mapes: “Well, I think that'’s what critics of the story would say. I know more now than I did then and I think, I think they have not been proved to be false, yet.”
Ross: “Have they proved to be authentic though? Isn’'t that really what journalists do?”
Mapes: “No, I don'’t think that'’s the standard.”

-Taken from a segment aired November 9 on ABC. This extended quote was also the conservative Media Research Center's choice for Quote of the Year.

-Runner-up

Peter Arnett, in response to whether the media is liberally biased:
Oh, it was! But it's being well-balanced now.

-Excerpt from a presentation given by Arnett in West Virginia University's Clark Hall on February 17. Arnett is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former reporter for the AP, CNN, and MSNBC. He famously lost his job at MSNBC in 2003 for telling Iraqi TV that the first U.S. war plan had failed.