"Toilet Paper Rationing Proposed for Inmates" read the teaser headline in the sidebar of my Metro section front page for the April 25 Washington Post. "Since when did Sheryl Crow become a jail warden?" I wondered. Much to my chagrin, I found it was not such a green story after all, unless the green we're talking about is the budget for the Montgomery County, Maryland budget:
Montgomery County labor leaders are urging government officials to ration rolls of toilet paper and bars of soap for the county's inmates to help cut costs and cope with a nearly $300 million budget shortfall.
The suggestion to limit inmates to up to three rolls of toilet paper and two bars of soap each week is part of a long list of savings the Municipal and County Government Employees Organization has submitted to the County Council, which is considering raising taxes, trimming services and revising union contracts that include raises for workers.
That's hardly the earth-friendly sacrifice that Ms. Crow preaches. Inmates have long been accustomed to "three squares a day." Who's to say that should only apply to food?
It was just a matter of time I suppose. What with Sen. Barack Obama's popularity with college students and the economy being the number one issue for voters, the media finally have an excuse to put a more youthful spin on the classic food vs. prescription drugs meme. A changing media environment, after all, calls for new angles at the same old bias. Someone had to give it the old college try.
Somewhere out there some college co-ed is making an agonizing decision: textbooks or birth control.
Fortunately for America's college-aged voters, ABCNews.com is picking up the banner on this issue:
Erin McKenna, a junior at the University of Pittsburgh, admits that she sometimes has to choose between purchasing textbooks for school and paying for her birth-control prescription.
"I have two jobs and I still can't afford it," McKenna said.
At the end of Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show" co-host Harry Smith introduced a segment on a new group of environmentally-friendly young professionals: "Earth Day, of course, was yesterday, but for many Earth Day is every day, especially for a growing number of Americans of means." Correspondent Priya David went on define this new demographic: "Scuppies, so interesting, that's what the people in this group are called. Scuppies, it's short for Socially Conscious Upwardly Mobile Person, and there are more of them out there than you may realize. They are the new yuppies. Young, upwardly mobile, friends of the Earth."
David further explained that: "The term, coined by financial planner Chuck Fallia, refers to green young people who love both money and mother nature." She then went on to contrast today’s well-meaning "scuppies" with the greedy "yuppies," or young urban professionals, of the 1980's:
DAVID: Today's scuppies aren't like the yuppies of the 1980s.
MICHAEL DOUGLAS: Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.
A panel of "mainstream" media judges have demonstrated that someone reads the articles in Playboy magazine, not just gapes at the nude pictorials. The 2008 Wistar Institute Science Journalism Award went to Los Angeles Times writer Terry McDermott, but the Honorable Mention went to Playboy writer Chip Rowe for a series on male sexuality. The press release explained:
Rowe received the honorable mention for three articles that are part of an ongoing series on male sexuality: “Flight of the Spermatozoon,” “Are We Not Boys",” and “Sex on the Brain.” The judges lauded Rowe’s delightful, yet scientifically grounded, exploration of his topic. They complimented his vivid and lively writing style and the appropriateness of his articles for his audience.
"Vivid and lively" would seem to be a required tone for writing about scientific topics for a pornographic magazine, wouldn't you think? It takes skill to write with "appropriateness" for a magazine dedicated to the inappropriate, designed to cross the frontier of naughtiness.
When's the last time you heard the MSM talk about a Republican being hit by the "Democrat attack machine"? Scratch that. Have you ever heard the MSM talk about a Republican being hit by the "Democrat attack machine"? Neither have I. But fretting about impending Republican "swiftboating" of the Dem presidential candidate is an MSM staple, and we saw a good example of it this morning, right down to an image of John Kerry in uniform.
Oh, and Hillary Clinton sees herself as a modern-day Ginger Rogers.
Ann Curry had a chance to interview both Dem candidates recently, and Today ran an extended clip during this morning's first half-hour, the two interviews being artfully edited into a back-and-forth. Overall, I'd say Curry gave Hillary the tougher time, but be that as it may, let's focus on two snippets. First, Curry fretting to Obama about those mean Republicans. Check out the screencap. Kerry in uniform, decorations on display. Beneath, the graphic ominously asks: "Can Obama Handle Republican Attacks?" Again I ask: have you ever, EVER, seen the mirror-image graphic in the MSM?
Tag is a violent game that should not be allowed says "View" co-host Joy Behar. Discussing the game’s suspension at an elementary school in McLean, Virginia on the April 16 edition, Elisabeth Hasselbeck felt kids needed an outlet, like playing, to get out their aggression. Behar instead advocated a "psycho-drama technique where you reverse roles with the other child." Whoopi Goldberg then jumped in to note the absurdity of Behar’s argument.
GOLDBERG: They don’t care about this. They just want to play, why not?
BEHAR: But they’re hitting.
GOLDBERG: No, you adults are saying they’re hitting. They’re playing! They’re having fun!
Barbara Walters also defended the school adding that they said the game had grown out of hand and was becoming dangerous for the children. The entire transcript is below.
If Barack Obama is looking for proof there are indeed bitter Americans out there, he need look no further than across the kitchen table.
Morning Joe opened today with a clip of Michelle Obama on the stump that I can only call stunning. By her tone, and her language both verbal and physical, this is one angry lady. The transcript below doesn't begin to convey Mrs. Obama's apparent rage.
That Bill Clinton was elected twice is proof that an angry wife is no bar to office. But Michelle Obama's level of ire can certainly be no asset on the campaign trail. Morning Joe did air it, but just how much MSM coverage will we see of what I would sincerely call an astounding piece of video?
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to liberal priest, Fr. Thomas Reese, who also appeared on Monday’s show, and asked about the sex abuse scandals in the American Catholic Church as well as the comments of Pope Benedict XVI regarding the issue: "We heard from some victims' families that a mea culpa is not enough. That merely saying you're "deeply ashamed" is not enough. Do you think anything more will come of this?"
This question followed a report by correspondent Jeff Glor, who began by declaring:
It's believed the Pope could address the issue even further on his visit, either here in Washington or in New York, but some are wondering, why not Boston? For Gary Bergeron, the Pope not going to Boston on this trip is like saying the Pope's not Catholic. It just doesn't make sense... Bergeron was abused and still lives in New England, the epicenter of the scandal.
Glor also played clips of Bergeron, who said of the Pope: "I think it's an opportunity he missed...I would hold out my hand to him so that he could shake it, understand that I'm not the demon here." Of course, the Pope has not "demonized" any victims of abuse, but Glor still decided to use the quote for his report. Despite Rodriguez’s claim that "not enough" had been done, Bergeron actually helped win an $85 million dollar lawsuit for church abuse victims and met personally with Vatican officials.
While the word "humane" does appear within the Supreme Court's ruling today upholding Kentucky's lethal injection method of execution, is it biased of Los Angeles Times reporter David Savage to put the term in quote marks in his lede? I'm leaning towards yes.:
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court cleared the way today for executions to resume across the nation, ruling that lethal injections, if properly carried out, are a "humane" means of ending a condemned individual's life.
The court upheld Kentucky's use of lethal injections by a surprisingly large 7-2 vote.
It seems to do a serviceable job of describing their upcoming nuptials, what the attendants will wear, where it will be (an informal affair at the Bush family Crawford, Texas ranch), where they met, where he proposed. All nice stuff.
It's only slightly annoying that a picture caption at the article reads, "Jenna Bush, 25, and her fiance Henry Hager are scheduled to be married on May 10 in Texas." Cold feet on the part of the bride or the groom is always a possibility, but "will be married" seems more appropriate. But really, not a big deal.
But towards the end, Celizic drops in this:
Jenna Bush, 26, is a 2004 graduate of the University of Texas, where she was twice charged with misdemeanors for alcohol-related offenses.
Admiration for the movie star Charlton Heston poured out of the obituaries and appreciations when he died. He would say he was an actor, which he certainly was, but he was also a star, a riveting presence that could credibly play great men like Moses. But the story of Heston’s activism came like a cautionary note, that he used to be a civil rights hero, but then he wandered badly astray.
Many were struck at the similarities of the late careers of Heston and Ronald Reagan, two actors who became more conservative as the 20th century moved on, and both passed away through the long and difficult descent of Alzheimer’s Disease. Journalists and biographers who suggest a dramatic conversion of these two men – sometimes with a nasty implication that they cynically switched sides in the debate to keep their faltering careers alive – often fail to acknowledge how the political and cultural ground shifted under their feet, causing the leap.
In an interview with Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George about the upcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith was concerned about the reaction of the American people to the new pontiff: "Explain the difference between the private man and the public Pope that some Americans are maybe even a little unsure or fearful of."Monday’s "Early Show" identified the Pope as a "hard liner" numerous times. [Audio available here]
Smith went on to ask about the priest pedophilia scandals and if the Pope’s mission was meant to "heal" those scandals: "The Pope was talking to reporters about priest abuse in the Catholic Church in the United States, and he said, quote, "we are deeply ashamed and we'll do whatever is possible so that this does not happen in the future." Is this -- this trip to the United States, would you say that this -- part of the mission of this church is some healing?"
Finally, Smith concluded the interview by asking Cardinal George about the Pope’s opposition to the Iraq war: "He is going to be addressing the United Nations, he's going to be speaking to the President of the United States in private chambers. Among the messages of the Catholic Church is an anti-war message. Will he deliver that to President Bush?" The Cardinal responded by explaining: "He is eager, however, that whatever happens next is good for the Iraqi people, that they can live in peace and that we don't leave a very violent Iraq behind. So I'm sure the conversation won't just be anti-war or pro war, it'll be what do we do next?"
At the beginning of Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith exclaimed: "Coming to America. Pope Benedict XVI arrives on American soil tomorrow. How will Americans receive his hard line and soft style?" In the later segement, correspondent Allen Pizzey continued the "hard line" theme: "Since becoming Pope Benedict XVI three years ago, the man who used to be the Vatican's chief hard-liner has undergone an image makeover...when Americans see him next week, they may get a pleasant surprise."
Pizzey went on to describe the Pope’s "makeover":
Benedict has made what one ambassador to the Holy See called a smooth transition from scholar to universal pastor. It may not quite fit the miracle category, but it is nonetheless an extraordinary transition for a man who was once known as God's Rottweiler. As Pope he has not gone out of his way to appease the more liberal wings of the Catholic Church in the U.S., but Benedict's chief image maker is unfazed.
Following Pizzey’s report, co-host Julie Chen interviewed left-wing priest, Father Thomas Reese, who was editor of the Catholic magazine "America," until the Vatican pressured him to resign for allowing numerous liberal opinion pieces critcizing the Church to be published.
Finding "jingoism" in a journalism museum? Only a hypersensitive New York Times critic could possibly uncover that.
The Newseum (which is precisely what it sounds like) opened in the nation's capital last weekend in a prominent spot along Pennsylvania Avenue. The Times's architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff found the design by turns "muddled" and "slapdash" -- but what he really disapproved of was the political message he managed to discern in a 9-11 exhibit titled "Attack on America," which he found to border "precariously on jingoism."
In another convoluted move, the museum exhibits the front pages of scores of daily newspapers along the street each day. At first it seems to be a salute to the newspaper's traditional function in a democratic society, and pedestrians seem to love it. But the row of newspapers is oddly punctuated by a pedantic display explaining its meaning.
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show,"a story on the controversial comments by Barack Obama that people in small Pennsylvania towns are "bitter," was introduced by co-host Julie Chen this way: "The battle among Democrats and Hillary Clinton's relentless attempt to turn Barack Obama's words against him." Rather than focus on what Obama actually thinks about small town voters, correspondent Dean Reynolds followed with a report in which he declared:
Clinton hammered Obama all weekend over his suggestion that Americans from small economically hard pressed towns turn inward, become bitter, and cling to their guns or their religious faith during tough times, rather than look to Washington for leadership. Clinton, who is trying to hold on to what polls say is a slim lead here in Pennsylvania, said she found the statement demeaning, even snobbish. And she said so just about everywhere she went.
With Obama looking like the victim, Reynolds went on to briefly mention that the Illinois Senator apologized for the comments: "Obama was thrown on the defensive, forced to acknowledge his words were clumsy and later to apologize if he offended anyone." However, Reynolds immediately followed with the Obama campaign’s defense: "But he said his opponent was intentionally twisting his meaning...Obama also said Clinton's attempt to paint him as the sportsman's adversary and herself as their champion was laughable."
A: Since it can be used to take a shot at the woman who would deprive his guy of the Dem nomination.
ABC's David Wright is a devoted Obama fan, as NewsBusters has noted here, here and here. Discussing on today's GMA Hillary's foray into a working-class Indiana bar over the weekend, Wright not only faulted Hillary for her lack of decorum, but even managed to work some class warfare into the mix.
You might think MSM support for the raid by Texas state authorities on the polygamist compound in Eldorado would be a slam dunk. After all, the religion involved is the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Not just Mormons: fundamentalists Mormons! Throw in patriarchy and allegations of exploitation of young women, and surely the feminist-inspired liberal media would be cheering on the bust.
But not so fast. Support this intervention, and perhaps a precedent is established for restrictions on unorthodox family arrangements of a more PC tint.
Take the comments of Jonathan Turley on today's Good Morning America. The George Washington law school professor went so far as to strongly suggest that the ban on polygamy is unconstitutional. And co-anchor Bill Weir was anything but unsympathetic to Turley's arguments.
Clarification: Apparently the Thursday night "Idol" included the "Jesus" lyric. In a somewhat-related item of interest to our readers, my colleague Tim Graham reminds me that West Coast viewers of ABC's "The View" in May 2002 heard a bleep when co-host Joy Behar said the word "Jesus."
With Pope Benedict coming to visit the United States next week relations between Roman Catholics and Protestants will likely be the subject of media scrutiny. The pope's itinerary includes a visit to the White House with President Bush, a Protestant, who was re-elected with 51 percent of the Catholic vote in 2004, despite running against a Catholic.
Although certain doctrinal differences remain in place, conservative Catholics and Evangelical Christians have been drawing closer together in recent years, according to a new book that explores the growing influence of Christian voters.
Deal Hudson, the executive director of the Morley Institute for Church and Culture in Washington D.C., describes some of the key factors responsible for the convergence between conservative minded American Catholics and Protestants in his just released book.
Age old grievances have gradually receded to the point where Christians from various denominations have joined together to resist secular assaults on shared values, Hudson argues in "Onward Christian Soldiers: The Growing Political Power of Catholics and Evangelicals in the United States."
We no longer educate in the United States of America. No, instead of making to educate our children we emot-ucate them. It's all about our children's tender egos, their vaunted self esteem, their itty bitty feewings. We don't want them to know or understand so much as we want them to "feel good" about themselves. If they don't know during what years the civil war was fought, that's OK as long as they think they are "good people" anyway. If their math skills are substandard, who cares as long as they really like themselves?
The Boston Globe, for its part, seems to agree that everything is better when our students "feel better." As far as real life's lessons go, as far as hard work, good grades, educational standards go... well, not so much. No, it’s "group therapy, "liberation", and "collective defiance" meant to make kids "feel good" that the paper seems to feel is a story worth pursuing.
Amazon.com sells millions of books, CDs and other products each year. So, we can't necessarily expect the online retail giant to be morally responsible for every single last product and, where its book offerings are concerned, we shouldn't ask them to become censors. But, selling a product someone else created and producing the product yourself are two different things. And, in this case, we might be seeing Amazon.com actually printing an anti-Jew, anti-US, "truther," Holocaust denial book with their BookSurge subsidiary company. One wonders if Amazon.com is even aware they are suddenly in the business of publishing anti-semitic books?
And this early warning system is where education serves a chief role. Our schools are supposed to serve as the gatekeepers of what a society deems in good taste, important or necessary to learn. Our schools are also supposed to serve as a critic of sorts to teach students what to avoid or, if not avoiding, teach where certain philosophies that might prove harmful fit into world history. In other words, if Marx is discussed, the evil he is responsible for should be highlighted. If “Mein Kampf” is assigned, the results of Hitler’s hate should be a principle subject.
Washington Post writer Linton Weeks recently wrote a fascinating big-picture essay about the long, sad decline of sincerity and sentiment in America, symbolized by the public loathing of the 1975 Morris Albert pop song “Feelings.” It wasn’t merely the whoa-whoa-whoa chorus that drove the criticism, he suggested, but the mere act of the singer putting the heart on the proverbial sleeve that became phony, cheesy, hopelessly square.
It’s been said before that we live in an age of irony, and irreverence is king. But Weeks added the irresistible term “Snark Ages” to characterize it: “The revolt against sincerity -- the Snark Ages, still upon us -- began as a rebellion against corny, over-the-top displays of emotion in movies, songs, TV shows. But the rebellion spiraled out of control, and any public expression of emotion, no matter how sincere, was a target for mockery. Old war movies and romantic dramas, taken seriously the first time around, were consumed by a younger generation as farce -- as ‘camp.’”
On the flimsy pretext of this being the season when HS seniors get their college acceptances, a New York Times column has set about asking current college students about their plans for future sexual conquests.
Stephen Dubner handed his 'Freakonomics' column over to his assistant, Nicole Tourtelot, this week. She asked five collegians five questions. Three of them were innocuous: who's paying for your education, how do you view cigarette smoking, what's your dream job?
But then came:
How many more people do you think you’ll sleep with before you get married?
The bashing began in a March 20 post that explained Baldwin had been part of a Navy dive team assigned to recover the remains of WWII servicemen from a B-24 crash site in the South Pacific. The staff writers criticized the waste of their tax dollars on “ancient history,” musing “let's talk about why we the taxpayers are footing the bill on such BS” and asking readers if they thought it was a “[r]idiculous waste.” TMZ's staff expressed their disbelief that anyone would bother searching for such an old wreck and then dismissed the importance of recovering the remains, snarking, “At least [Baldwin] got a really good tan" (all bold mine):
What, you ask, were they looking for? A B-24J bomber that went down during the war. Not Iraq. Not Vietnam. No, not Korea. We're talking WWII, as in more than 60 years ago.
Turns out, the military spends $52 million each year to find the remains of missing soldiers -- it's part of the POW/MIA program. That's all well and good depending on the circumstances. But a crash that is ancient history, at a time when the economy sucks and the Federal government is sucking the life out of everyone with taxes??
Are the Girl Scouts of America to blame for America’s "obesity epidemic"? An ABC News website article suggested that. On an article charging overweight Americans face widespread discrimination, the piece then moved on to blame the food producers, not the individual that buys them for America’s widening waistline. Targeting the Girl Scouts specifically for the problem, correspondent Lee Dye charged "that little angel standing at your door is offering you a one-way ticket to obesity."
The article focused on one researcher, Rebecca Puhl, who blamed the problem on not only the big food producers, but also "genetics and some diseases" and implicitly scorned those who mentioned personal responsibility. "If it were that easy we wouldn’t have this epidemic we have now," Puhl charges. She also blames the food companies for making less healthy options "more accessible."
"We live in a very toxic food environment. We make it very easy for people to be unhealthy. Unhealthy foods, or junk foods, are accessible, cheap and engineered to taste very, very good. Healthy foods, like produce, are not as accessible, and are more expensive."
Last Thursday's New York Times carried an amusing story of a left-wing catfight. Kara Jesella reported that in Portland, Oregon, an entrepreneur has tried to combine strippers and vegans (the most extreme ahem, denomination of vegetarianism, with no eggs, milk, or animal products). But feminists are outraged that women would be objectified while the entrepreneur evangelizes the vegan gospel on behalf of cows and chickens:
Isa Chandra Moskowitz, a cookbook author, is among those who believe such images twist the vegan message. “As a feminist, I’m not keen on the idea of using women’s bodies to sell veganism, and I’m not into the idea of using veganism to sell women’s bodies,” she said...
The issue of sexism in vegan circles is “extremely polarizing,” said Bob Torres, an author of “Vegan Freak,” a guide to living a vegan lifestyle, which generally means avoiding the use of animals for food, clothing or other purposes. Mr. Torres, like many vegans, disavows the “essential idea at the heart of some animal rights activism that any means justifies the ends,” he said. Certain activists, he added, care only about “animal suffering and ignore the suffering of humans,” a category into which he would put women who are exploited.
Ah, Earf Day. The day when all the Chicken Littles and the occasional boy who cried wolf can get their fifteen minutes of attention. Don't we just love the warm and fuzzies of claiming the mantle of God and "saving" the Earf from global warming? Well, The Washington Times Fishwrap blog reports that Google has joined the fray to save the Earf and they are going to do it by helping Kathleen Rogers of Earth Day Network to shut down the phone switchboard at the Capitol in Washington D.C. with the calls from "concerned citizens" who think that calling Washington on the phone can somehow stop global warming.
A group of environmental activists has enlisted Google to help flood the congressional switchboard with one million phone calls on Earth Day urging lawmakers to enact eco-friendly measures.
I'm tingling with excitement already. If I thought I could alter the solar activities really responsible for global climate change just by making a phone call... well, imagine the power? Maybe I could use my house phone to stop a hurricane or tornado, or better yet, use my cell phone influence the scores of the next few Superbowls. Well, I'd just be in heaven.
Ed Rendell is too truthful to be a good vice-presidential candidate. Just ask him. The Pennsylvania governor and Hillary supporter was a guest on this afternoon's Hardball. Wrapping up the interview, host Chris Matthews broached his availability as Veep.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Do you think the Democrats have a shot at carrying Florida on the best of conditions this year?
ED RENDELL: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. Particularly when the issues about Social Security are fashioned. I think this is going to be the best chance we've had to carry Florida since 2000.
MATTHEWS: I think Hillary has a better chance than Barack in Florida.
RENDELL: No question.
MATTHEWS: But I think Barack has a better chance if you're his running mate. Would you be available, Governor, to be a running-mate with Barack Obama--
News has leaked out from the folks at Muppet central (The Jim Henson Company) that the next Muppet feature film will sport a story line that attacks oil companies. According to CHUD.com, the story will center around all our favorite Muppets producing a show to raise money to save their old theater. They need the money, of course, because an "evil character" is trying to buy the building so that he might tear it down to "get at the oil underneath."
Why is it we have to turn everything into an anti-capitalism, anti-oil hatefest?
Even more alarming is the fact that it seems that the writer/director team pegged to head the project will be Jason Segel and Nick Stoller, the team that recently gave us the very R rated "Forgetting Sarah Marshall." One wonders if the Muppets will go from kid friendly to edgie and R rated? (I must admit that I would doubt the owners of the Muppet property would do that to their long standing kid friendly product, though.)
If only we were all Norwegians, we'd have the high taxes we need and all the welfare we want. But because America is diverse, we selfishly worry that members of other ethnic groups might benefit from our tax dollars. As a result, our taxes aren't high enough and our welfare spending too low.
That in a nutshell is Eduardo Porter's thesis in his NY Times column of today, Race and the Social Contract. Porter, a graduate of Mexico's UNAM who began his journalism career with the Mexican news agency Notimex, is now a member of the NYT's editorial board.
Porter believes that the US needs to make "big investments in the public good" to deal with the "enormous challenge" of "globalization." But that goal is thwarted by our selfishness that in turn is prompted by our diversity.
The columnist begins by noting that, when it comes to taxes and public spending, we rank toward the bottom among developed countries. Now, you might cheer that fact, but Porter sees it as a bad thing. And he cites a number of studies suggesting that in ethnically homogeneous countries, citizens support higher taxes and public spending levels because they're confident their cohorts will be the beneficiaries. But in the more diverse USA, "racial and ethnic antagonism all too frequently limit" public spending.