Friday, October 28, 2005

MoveOn is stupid.

"Yesterday we reached the sad milestone of 2,000 killed in Iraq. But for the most part, the national media are ignoring this tragic milestone. The men and women who died deserve better."

So declared an email Wednesday morning from our friends at MoveOn.

How dare the national media ignore this important milestone! It must be a conspiracy! We better donate more money to MoveOn so they can put ads on the air to tell the public the truth of how many Americans have died, because the national media sure isn't doing it!

Wait, really?

Actually, no. Of what Slate calls the 'five national papers' (NYT, WP, LAT, WSJ, USAT), all ran the 2,000 deaths story on the front page. The LAT led with it. The NYT ran it as a four-column, above-the-fold boxed story. USAT ran it above the fold. I didn't get to see the layouts of the Post or WSJ front pages myself. Hmm, not much 'ignoring this tragic milestone' to be found in the national papers.

How about the big papers in NYC? The Daily News, the Post, amNewYork, and Metro all did their front pages on it (Metro actually emphasized Iraqi civilian deaths more than American soldier deaths).

Surely the national tv networks ignored it, though! Let's check the national evening news broadcasts on the big three networks:

ABC: 2000 deaths is lead story in intro and on program. In addition to overview segment, they run a second report on an individual soldier/family.
CBS: 2000 deaths is second story in intro; a short report on the story is followed by a profile of an individual soldier/family.
NBC: 2000 deaths is second story in intro, followed by a decently long segment on it.

So, to recap, MoveOn is stupid. I don't know whether they wrote their email in advance or wrote it that morning, but either way, they are just liars.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Millions More. or Fewer. Or something.

At the Millions More Movement rally two weekends ago in DC, organizers decided at the last minute (or at least, announced at the last minute) that they were cancelling the planned speech by Keith Boykin, president of the National Black Justice Coalition and the one openly gay speaker on the day's roster. The NBJC had it's planned pre-rally and then marched to the site of the MMM rally in protest.

You'd have missed the whole story reading the Times article.

Here are the stories in Metro Weekly and the Post.

The Post article goes so far as to include: "Longtime Washington gay activist Phillip Pannell said he thought the offer of a speaking spot to a national gay representative was a ruse by march organizers to silence critics in the days leading up to the event."

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Yay fall

I think fall in the Northeast is under-rated. Yes, some people go a bit overboard with it, but it's just gorgeous.

This fall has been a strange one, with an unusually warm September that led to a late foliage season.

Here's the foliage map from Saturday from the Foliage Network:

As you can see, we're a good behind where we were at about the same date in, say, 2004:

Good to know.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Where is Pakistan?

The US media coverage of the earthquake and its aftermath in Pakistan has been, for the most part, rather lacking. But on Thursday, it reached a new low, when the NYTimes -- which has more international coverage than just about anyone else, and is usually better about these things than its competitors -- did not print any article about the earthquake. Instaed, they just had an inside photo, with a caption that noted the new official death toll of 47,000.

Yes, I'm holding them to a higher standard than the rest, but this is getting crazy. Is it just that the 'natural disaster / people die' story line has been used up this year, and editors no longer have an appetite for it if they can't find a fresh angle?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Lunch with Cindy

I left work for a bit today and heard Cindy Sheehan speak.

She is so low-key -- she talks slowly and seems relaxed. Yet behind that there's a Blackberry, a couple people always at her side, and the expanding budget and might of Gold Star Families for Peace. She asks, though, if it is not reasonable for someone who travels around the country speaking and writing books not to have someone be funding her costs. Other people give talks and write things for their jobs, and they get paid (and even get health care, I'd add).

She talked about her days before Camp Casey. Regarding claims that she has "always" been a peace activist, she says, essentially, "so what?" -- why should that diminish her voice or authority? And she says that she certainly was a peace advocate before she became famous -- but people wouldn't listen to her. Now all of a sudden she has some access; why did people refuse to even listen to her before?

Cindy got meetings with most of the members of congress that she wanted to; only a few in the Republican leadership turned her down. She said most meetings were incredibly frusturating; the Republicans and a majority of the Democrats were saying similar things. She was pretty unhappy with Kerry and also Clinton, who apparently told her at the end of their meeting something about how the war needed to continue so that the efforts of her son would not be in vain.

She said of the senators that Dick Durbin was the one who was the best. She also complimented the anti-war statements of Feingold, though she hadn't met with him. She said that she didn't want anyone to vote for pro-war Democrats again. Period.

Cindy seems so chill, yet sometimes she keeps her message tight, even to a lefty crowd. When asked what specifically she meant by pulling out the troops now, she said that she meant some troops should start to be removed immediately, and that the process should then procede as quickly as possible. It seemed dissapointingly vague.

She said the next step was an international women's meeting (I don't remember the name of the group) to plan strategy. She was into the notion that if the congress doesn't end the war, it's the people's job to do it. I won't hold my breath for a vast unseating of incumbents in 2006, but we'll see. She's also meeting with governors to work on bringing National Guard troops home, and there are some more civil disobedience plans in the work, though nothing overly new and exciting.

I didn't leave extremely inspired (nor uninspired), but I was very happy to have been able to see and hear the legend that is Cindy Sheehan.

Friday, October 14, 2005

the new Josh Rushing

For those who saw the movie Control Room, the documentary last summer about Al Jazeera, you surely remember Josh Rushing -- the military public affairs officer who, well, defends the war but also criticizes the way the information is being handled. (For those who haven't seen Control Room, see it! It was by far the best of the wave of political movies last year). Now he's going to work for, yes, Al Jazeera.

(I was so confused when someone mentioned this last week).

Anyhow, here's's interview with him about it all.

no more high life for miller

Haha, no more showboating for Judy Miller, she's running away from the cameras now, not toward them. And tons of Times staffers are now expressing their off-the-record dissatisfaction with the whole thing, saying they feel betrayed and that they don't know why their leadership is still supporting her.

Howard Kurtz's online column Thursday sums things up. The Times hasn't given a full account of everything, and the longer they wait to finally publish something (which they will do, I don't doubt) the more suspicious everyone gets that they're trying to hide something.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Trip Report: Phoenix Phall Phunphest
Saturday, October 8

-rain, more rain, with a touch of rain on the side. Not that cold. Only minor flooding in the park. Moderate flooding on I-80.

-The bump over the train tracks on Route 42 as you enter Catawissa
-Phoenix (rows 5 (or was it 7?), 11, 6, 9, 3, -- actually, I can't really remember. 3 was the best; 6 and 9 were about tied; 11 was somewhat lacking)
-Twister (a bunch)
-Fliers (whee! ouch!)
-Weird rolly upside-down thing that's very nauseating but fun that sits where the Whirwind used to be
-High Speed Thrill Coaster (sweet front-seat airtime!)
-bumper cars
-PTR (Pizza: the ride)

And we got candy bars in the morning at the Red Roof Inn just for filling out a survey about our room! Now all of a sudden I feel better about how much we spent. Strange how that works.

Yay Angels!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Was there once a looping water slide?

Many have wondered over the years, was there really once a water slide that had a loop? Or is that just something that people from New Jersey like to claim?

Well, here it is. It was at a place called Action Park, in NJ.


Ooh, some 'Ben Somberg' guy wrote this really interesting article about media coverage of foreign aid giving -- "The World’s Most Generous Misers".

Monday, October 03, 2005

Miller unraveling

In case anyone wasn't sure, we have now learned in the last few days that Judith Miller was indeed a farce. Haha. It turns out she was sitting in jail, making a 'stand' or whatever, when in fact all along she could have accepted essentially the same deal as Matt Cooper did, and which she now has. Even the Times' front pager on Saturday went so far as to say that "three recent letters from people involved in the case debate whether a similar deal may have been available for some time and raise questions about why Ms. Miller decided to testify now."

The coverage in the last few days has been surprisingly decent; much of the media has, if sometimes hesitantly, pointed out that she was a sham. Criticizing her -- which had been so verboten -- is now ok.

Says Howard Kurtz in his Saturday column: "Even some Miller supporters concede that the journalists involved are seen as protecting presidential aides who may have been retaliating against Plame's husband, a White House critic on the weapons controversy, rather than shielding whistle-blowers who were exposing corruption."

Well said. But it's amazing that only now are people starting to get this.

The New York Times editorial page finally admitted the same idea on Saturday: "The case that enveloped Ms. Miller was not a situation in which a whistleblower came forth, under promises of anonymity, to offer information that would protect the public from wrongdoing."

But ultimately they still defend her: "When a journalist guarantees confidentiality, it means that he or she is willing to go to jail rather than disclose the source's identity. We also believe it means that the journalist will not try to coerce the source into granting a waiver to that promise - even if her back is against the wall. If Ms. Miller's source had wanted to release her from her promise, he could have held a press conference and identified himself. And obviously, he could have picked up the phone. Ms. Miller believed - and we agree - that it was not her place to try to hound him into telling her that she did not need to keep her promise."

Dan Froomkin summed-up the ridiculousness of it all well, in Friday's column: "Note to reporters: There is nothing intrinsically noble about keeping your sources' secrets. Your job, in fact, is to expose them. And if a very senior government official, after telling you something in confidence, then tells you that you don't have to keep it secret anymore, the proper response is "Hooray, now I can tell the world" -- not "Sorry, that's not good enough for me, I need that in triplicate." And if you're going to go to jail invoking important, time-honored journalistic principles, make sure those principles really apply."