Saturday, June 30, 2007

Edwards breaks $9M
At 10:52 tonight, the John Edwards campaign announced that it broke through the $9M mark for the second quarter. Gov. Bill Richardson is estimating $7M.
Philadelphia Emergency Anti-War Convention, July 4
Earlier this afternoon, I received an email about this rally that will be taking place next week at the Independence Visitor Center in Philadelphia. In the email, there were radio spots featuring Cindy Sheehan and Michael Moore advocating a new 9-11 investigation. Sheehan is also calling for voters to exit the Democratic Party and start something else.
The rally is being put together by a number of anti-war groups, Green Party affiliates, and others. The email was actually forwarded to me by Aaron Russo, the former Libertarian presidential candidate and documentary filmmaker.
Included in the email was a call for a Second American Revolution [this actually should be considered a third, since Jerry Brown's 1992 presidential campaign was also considered a Second American Revolution, although we lost that one] and a draft version of a Declaration of Intent, included here:

(A Draft)

Our nation is in crisis. Our Constitution has been shredded. The peace movement has run aground, and impeachment is “off the table.” The war machine continues to trample the will of the people and crush any opposition in its murderous drive toward global domination.

The Democratic Party has betrayed its mandate to end the Iraq War and bring the troops home, exposing the two-party system for the elite corporate tool it is.

We no longer have a free press. Our major media are owned and controlled by the same few corporations that manufacture arms and feed off billion-dollar contracts handed to them by Bush appointees.

Where are the checks and balances?

Where is Government by the People?

Where is the public outrage?

It’s time to demand truth and accountability from our elected representatives. It's time to insist that they answer to the people, not corporate lobbyists or well-funded ideological fanatics.

It's time to eliminate election fraud and ensure that the sanctity of the voting process is never again compromised.

It's time to bring our troops home and stop funding pre-emptive wars of aggression.

It's time to support our soldier's rights when refusing to obey unlawful orders.

It's time to resist the curtailment of our civil liberties based on color-coded fear, and to reclaim the rights guaranteed by our Constitution.

It's time to impeach the President and Vice President, based on overwhelming evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors.

It's time to challenge the official account of 9/11 as scientifically and logically implausible, and to demand a new, fully independent investigation of the foundational event for the war on terror, that if exposed, would awaken Americans out of a collective trance of complacency and fear.

It's time to examine the historical, political, social, and psychological roots of September 11—and all false flag terrorism—repeatedly invoked to justify an endless war on terror and virtual dictatorship by the Executive Branch.

We call on all activists and concerned citizens across America to come to Philadelphia on July 4th and present a United Front to reclaim our Government.

We will send a message that will once again crack the Liberty Bell as it resonates across America, in the spirit of freedom, with truth, peace and justice as our honorable goals. We will launch a campaign to stop these wars at their source. And we will prevail.

This is the time for action, not apathy; for union, not division.

This is the start of the Second American Revolution—a new beginning for hope on the planet.

Some presidential politics
I was only able to see the first hour of the Tavis Smiley Howard University debate between the eight major Democrats running for president. It got switched off at 10 p.m. by my wife. But, I watched enough to get the gist of the thing. And, despite being targeted towards black and minority voters, the Dems pretty much stayed on their own messages.

What was surprising was the burst of cheers for the two lower tier candidates, Rep. Dennis Kucinich and former Sen. Mike Gravel, on some of their key stances. Kucinich was bolstered by comments about ending the war, cutting the defense budget, and single-payer health care, while Gravel was cheered for his comments about ending the war on drugs and his national sales tax initiative. Gravel thanked the organizers for holding the fairest debate, so far.
Both Sen. Hillary Clinton and former Sen. John Edwards also came across well but Hillary really needs to stop shouting at these events. There is a mic there, everyone in the audience can hear you.
I do hope that Howard University and PBS invite Republicans to participate in a debate at the school, with a similar audience and similar questions, in order to be fair about the situation.
Over at Daily Kos, a poll was held about who won the debate. These polls are becoming a little disingenuous, since most of the posters there aren't voting based on who won but who they like, generally. Here are some of the results, with more than 7,700 votes cast: Edwards 25 percent, Obama 22, Clinton 17, More than one of the above 7, None of the above 7, Kucinich 6, Richardson 5, Gravel 3, Dodd 1, Biden 1.
One last note on Daily Kos: Here are the results of their reader poll which was held earlier this week, with 17,382 responding: Edwards 40 percent, Obama 22, Other [meaning Gore or someone else] 9, No F'ing Clue 7, Clinton 6, Richardson 5, Kucinich 3, Gravel 1, Dodd 1, Biden 0. This is going on four months where Edwards has been the leader and also been 38 percent or more. Obama has dipped a bit but is still the only other active candidate to break 20 percent. Richardson has slid from a high 13 percent in April. Kos writes "... the Gravel boomlet is over." Gravel went from 3 percent last month to 1 this month.

Romney & the FEC
According to David Bernstein, Mitt Romney has requested a 45-day extension to file his personal finances with the FEC: ["Waiting from Romney's disclosure"]. Interesting. I wonder what he needs the time for. David has some good speculation, with the whole straw poll thing, but most think Romney is going to win that anyway. Maybe he has a ton of agri-business stock he is hiding. But, even then, are the local farmers of Iowa really that conservative? I don't know. I can't imagine why the reporting of Romney's finances would need to be held up. Although, I haven't seen them either.
The second quarter fund-raising numbers should be out in a day or two, so it will be interesting to see what is going on with those numbers.
I also should congratulate the Boston Globe for its creative and pretty thorough look at Mitt Romney in its special report, both in print and online:
["The Making of Mitt Romney"]. It is this kind of creative use of the Web which is going to be the salvation of the newspaper business. That is, if you have the staff, intention, and focus to produce such initiatives. I have not had much time to look at the Globe stuff, just a quick glance, but everyone I know is raving about it so, it is worth linking.

Short cuts
* According to Taegan Goddard's Political Wire, Tommy Thompson will be on C-SPAN this weekend and he will say that the August Iowa Straw Poll is a must win for him.
* A new Mason-Dixon survey is reportedly saying that Hillary Clinton is the one major presidential candidate most general election voters say they will not vote for. She shows a net negative of 48-52 percent, compared to Edwards at 59-41, Fred Thompson at 62-38, or Mike Bloomberg at 61-39.
* The New York Daily News is reporting that there is no comment out of Bloomberg's office about polls being done to test an independent presidential run. Check out the comment from his press office:
"We don't comment about his private schedule or personal life. Bloomberg is under no legal obligation to report any personal money he spends exploring a possible presidential run until he announces his candidacy or starts formally campaigning."
Umm, OK, it sounds like he is looking at it to me.
* Sen. Brownback has a book coming out and talks about his apology to the Clintons: ["Browback Writes of 'Hatred' of Clintons"].
* Gov. Bill Richardson gets a boost from his local newspaper: ["Finally, Gov. Richardson looks like a candidate"]. His campaign is also predicting a $7 million catch in fund-raising numbers.
I'm going to retract two statements I've made recently on this blog and another, Media Nation.
First, back on June 16, I stated the following about Katrina Swett and her senate campaign:
... but most of us will remember that she originally supported the Iraq invasion [probably advice from her dad, Rep. Tom Lantos]. As well, Swett was previously a rabid gun control fanatic - in a state where there are liberals who own guns. This position helped contribute to her loss to then-Rep. Charlie Bass in 2002, despite having hundred of thousands of dollars more in funding. She was also the national co-chair of Joe Lieberman's presidential campaign in 2004. All three of these reasons are enough to question her validity to be a Senator representing our state.
Well, while I stand by the tenor of these comments, I'm going to retract two.
First, while she may have supported the invasion of Iraq in the past, she does not now. Her Web site states that she'll "End the war in Iraq by focusing on diplomatic and political solutions." Fair enough. People, especially politicians, should be able to change their minds and reevaluate their positions. Many of us have accepted John Edwards' apology for his vote for the Iraq invasion. In light of how our world is right now, with things ever-changing and evolving, positions will evolve, too. We, as voters and political junkies, need to allow for growth within one's mind about issues. We should allow for some flexibility here.
Second, supporting Lieberman's presidential campaign back in 2004, as reprehensible as that thought is right now, should not be held against her now. We can question her judgment a bit, but it should not disqualify her from being a senator.
The gun control positions, and her understanding of the Bill of Rights, in general, are quite another thing entirely. I really do question this position and her understanding of our rights as Americans. However, if Swett wins the nomination, voters in New Hampshire will have to weigh all of these issues against Sununu's record in the Senate, as well as the record of a potential indie, probably a Libertarian, who will gain ballot access.
retraction: In an online debate over Bob Shrum's new book attacking Edwards over at Media Nation, and who would you rather listen to for advice, I defended Edwards. I also challenged some assertions made by some that he was out of touch and aloof, point to time I've spent checking him out on the campaign trail during both 2004 and this time around. I quipped the following statement:
Compare that to Hillary's pseudo "listening" tours - where she doesn't listen at all to any of us. Compare that to Rockstar Obama who may be inspiring but offers little by way of specifics [Frankly, I'm more qualified to be president].
This statement was based on thinking that Sen. Barack Obama had only served two years in the state Senate of Illinois. In fact, he actually served eight years in the state Senate there and has now served three in the U.S. Senate. That is a bit more experience than I previously thought he had. In many ways, I have a lot more diverse life experience and yeah, many of us out here in the real world are more qualified to lead the nation. But, in hindsight, he probably is more qualified to be president than I am and is as qualified as any of them to run.
As writers trying to be pithy and catchy, the smartass in us all sometimes is not on target. I think we have to be both creative and responsible with our comments and that is the purpose of the retractions. While the comments may not be as offensive as recent ones made by Ann Coulter, I would hate it if people reading this blog thought that I was not fair or that I would not give people a fair shot to correct mistakes they may have made - or I may have made.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Back on Friday
I'm going to be taking a break over the next two days to deal with some work related stuff. It's cool, training and all, so, I'll be back soon. Obviously, if the world blows up or something important happens, I'll jump back on. Otherwise, see you Friday morning.
Long Jawn advocates for Fairness Doctrine
The YouTube embed has been disconnected so here is the link: ["Kerry for Fairness Doctrine; correct 'imbalance'"]. I only have one thing to say: Hooray!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A few quick things
Here are a few quick things before heading into the office:

* What a terrible tragedy: ["Pro wrestler Chris Benoit, wife and son found dead"]. Yeah, I still watch wrestling sometimes, although I haven't seen it in weeks and never pay for it. If it is on TV, I'll watch it. Since downgrading my cable, however, I don't think I get many channels with wrestling anymore. Oh well. I was never into Benoit's vibe as a character but damn, this is so terrible.
Speaking of sports deaths, there was another one this week too: ["Former All-Star Rod Beck dead at 38"]. I think what makes this all the weirder is how close these guys are to my age. I mean, when you read about guys in their late 30s, early 40s, who seem to have it all, up and dying, you start to think about your own mortality a bit.

Update: Needless to say, I'm completely shocked about the situation with Benoit's family. What a huge, huge tragedy. I guess when President Bush was rambling on and on about steroid abuse and other things a few years back, we all should have thought more about it. Of course, there is an even more tragic war going on, so, we're all worried more about that. Still, this is such a shame.

* All eyes will be on "SiCKO" to see if it moves anyone like some of Moore's other films: ["'Sicko leaves top Democrat ill at ease"]. The fact is that Democrats can't keep running on just not being Republicans. They need to do some things or they need to move out of the way. They're falling into the same trap that they fell into after Clinton was elected in 1992 ... and that ushered in Republican control of Congress, where all the action is, for 14 years in 1994! Gosh, these guys are so pathetic.
FAIR, the liberal media watchdog group, has this action alert about CBS' spin on single-payer health care: ["CBS's 'Sicko' Spin"]. Personally, I've always supported single-payer because I believed it would be better than what we have now. But I don't know anymore. It isn't that I support what I have now or what anyone else has now. But I now question whether it will work or whether we will end up with tiered health care in the future, with those who can barely afford anything getting the least amount of coverage and the rich getting the Mercedes version. If we can't all get the Mercedes version for the Hyundai price, then there is a problem, in my mind. It should be regulated like electricity or some other utility. We all get the same electric, phone, cable, and Internet services, for the most part, with minor fluctuation in price. It should be the same with health care.
As well, if our government keeps letting millions and millions of illegals in, as well as unregulated refugees, who depress wages and raise the costs of social services, we are never going to get control of the problem.
And, lastly, I refuse to pay any more in taxes. I already pay enough and the government is wasting hundreds of billions of dollars killing people in foreign lands. I just won't pay any more. They need to figure out a way to get us to some sort of health care without a huge jump in taxes because those of us on the lower end of things already pay enough. So, I don't know how we fix the problems but I will know the answers when I see them.

* Finally one good thing the Democrats can do: Revive the Fairness Doctrine: ["Sens. Lott, Feinstein on 'FOX News Sunday'"]. I've never been a huge fan of Sen. Dianne Feinstein and I agree with conservatives who are trying to kill the immigration bill. But she is right on this one. There needs to be legislated balance on the publicly-owned airwaves. Satellite? They can do whatever they want. Newspapers and the Internet? Do whatever you want. There are no limits to what you can do with publishing and the Web. Don't like the newspaper? Start your own. But radio and TV have to have balance to them because there are limited numbers of stations and very few are accessible to the public. There are moves underway to fix that: ["Lower Power Radio gets new push"]. But those are long-shots, at best. Radio and TV stations don't currently have balance to them and it is clearly influencing people in a negative way.

* I like this column from this morning: ["Kelly Clarkson's dispute with Clive Davis made her music hard to hear"]. It's a fast read but it really does give you an open view of what is going on in the music industry right now, especially with all these acts who target young girls [I think they are called 'tweens or something, whatever]. I especially like the "fighting the man" line in it. Hah. I don't listen to Clarkson and I probably couldn't identify a song she performs except maybe that song with the line "since you been gone ..." But at some point, she should be given some creative control over her life, especially when she has already made a lot of money for the company. If she tanks her career, so be it, it's her life. She is a human being; not a product.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Council restores cuts
The Council City Council restored money to a number of social service agencies earlier tonight according to a person I know who was at the meeting. Ten people spoke with about 30 in attendance, a pretty pitiful display when you consider there are 46,000 people in the community. It will be interesting to see how the whole thing plays out in tomorrow's newspaper.
I would not be so bold as to say that my letter this morning, or the handful of other letters last week, had any influence over the council. They voted last Thursday, 2-10, in favor of restoring the cuts, meaning they overwhelmingly voted against it. But, why the change of heart? Very weird.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

2008 NH Canvassing, Part 2
Earlier today, while I was at the beach, John Edwards' campaign folks canvassed my neighborhood. Nice to see that they are out and about.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Summer fireplace

Three Father's Days ago, I got this cool outdoor fireplace. Because I've been so busy over the years, I've never had a chance to use it. However, I finally did today. And it was toasty fun!
Hilarious but sad cartoon

Local cuts to social service agencies are a disgrace

Concord City Council should cut CCTV budget

As a journalist who has covered municipal bodies in two different states for more than a decade, I am sometimes completely shocked at how intelligent elected officials can collectively come to some of the worst fiscal and public policy decisions. Call it “consensusitis,” if you will.

The Concord City Council’s decision to slash most social service agency funding by 33 percent or more is one of those decisions. Councilors will pontificate that there just isn’t any money despite all the fine work these organizations do. But that is not altogether true. While most line items in the budget were cut, one was not: CCTV, the cable media access center. In this year’s budget, CCTV will be awarded $11,000 more in operating expenses than in fiscal year 2007, according to documents. The amount CCTV will receive from the city this year is more than $234,000.

What is so shocking about this increase is that just last year, in testimony before a budget hearing to the council, I exposed tens of thousands of dollars in CCTV’s budget which should have used to fend off last year’s cuts at the recreation department and library. Thousands of dollars for personal IRA benefits, travel junkets, volunteer services, and legal funding and obscure miscellaneous line items which could never possibly be spent down. An analysis of the entire operation is well over due and might make for some interesting auditing, if anyone had the intestinal fortitude to implement some oversight.

But when asked if they had looked at any of this, the council’s silence was deafening. No, they hadn’t and had no intention of doing so, despite the budget crisis.

So, when budget time this year rolled around, and the warnings of doom and gloom started surfacing, and the Conservation Trust Fund got raided, I thought for sure that someone might finally take even a cursory look at the CCTV budget and all the potential money which can be used to stave off some of the cuts elsewhere.

Well, I thought wrong.

Interestingly, CCTV has shuffled its budget around. Sure, the money for the benes, dinners, treats for the board, and junkets remain. But CCTV has decided to take some of the miscellaneous money, along with the increase, and hire a sixth employee, who will handle producer training … A job which has historically been performed by the full-time employees who already work there. Since there are only a couple of trainings a month, viewers like me cannot possibly imagine that they need another full-time person for this job.

When CCTV came before the council to talk about its budget, not a question was raised concerning the meager fund-raising efforts, the lack of grant funding successes, the tens of thousands in developmental losses, or the extravagant expenses. They weren’t asked to explain the unneeded hire or to provide any information about the money they blew through last year or the fact that governmental meetings still look like 14th generation videotape in the digital age. There was no motion to make any cuts to CCTV during this budget crisis.

Juxtapose that with the questions social service agencies received about their fund-raising efforts and now, comments that they need better oversight by the council. You have got to be kidding, right?

The point is that about $60,000 or more could easily be shaved from the CCTV budget without any harm in current delivered service. And there is no need for a sixth employee while the rest of the city is in crisis. That is a lot of heating oil for the needy this winter or summer camp opportunities for less-affluent kids in our community. And let’s not even get started on the cuts to the homeless shelter, the rape crisis center, senior services, etc.

Later this year, when many of these great social service agencies start hitting us all up for more money to make up for the losses, don’t forget what has happened here. This city council thought it was more important to increase the funding for a cable access media center which few people use and even fewer people watch than to watch over those most in need. This decision, frankly, is a disgrace.

It might also be good to remember that 2007 is an election year. While there has been some turn over in the council recently, it does not seem to have done much good. Voters would be wise to consider electing councilors who understand fiscal prudence and the importance of social capital, as well as taking care of those most in need first.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Maybe Michael Moore was right, Part 2
Questions Pentagon attacks

Filmmaker Michael Moore, in a post-"SiCKO" movie preview interview, talks with some of those folks from the 9-11 Truth Movement: ["Michael Moore: 9/11 Could Be Inside Job"]
. Interestingly, the interviewers actually get him to talk about stuff, after he refused to do it [Amy Goodman, a witness to the WTC7 demolition, also refused to talk with the interviewers, which was disappointing to see. She actually agrees to talk to them, but when they mention WTC7, she skirts away]. But then, Moore comes back and decides to talk to the filmmakers. On the Pentagon attacks, Moore says this:
"I've filmed there before down at the Pentagon--before 9/11--there's got to be at least 100 cameras, ringing that building, in the trees, everywhere.They've got that plane coming in with 100 angles. How come with haven't seen the straight--I'm not talking about stop-action photos, I'm talking about the video. I want to see the video; I want to see 100 videos that exist of this," Moore said.
This is amazing because I've been saying the same thing for years. I just can't believe that the best footage they have is this four frame stop motion film from one camera in the parking lot which doesn't show a plane at all. In addition, the FBI reportedly took video from area businesses, including a 7-11 and a Sheraton Hotel, all which has been reported in the mainstream press [so, this isn't some "conspiracy" theory. It did actually happen].
Here is another point, stressed in some of the "conspiracy" books about 9-11:
"Why don't they want us to see that plane coming into the building? Because, if you know anything about flying a plane, when you're going 500 miles per hour, if you're off by that much, you're in the river. So, they hit a building that's only 5 stories high...[unclear] that expertly. I believe that there will be answers in that video tape and we should demand that that tape is released."
Again, any pilot will tell you the same thing. There is no possible way an expert pilot can whip a 757 around at a 45 degree angle at 500 miles per hour ... never mind amateur pilots, with little to no experience, flying the jet into a five story building. It is just impossible. Here are the most realistic options: The hijackers were either super-trained pilots doing an extraordinary feat flying into the Pentagon; the plane was flown by remote control or automatic pilot to be perfectly executed, which brings up a whole slew of other questions; or it wasn't a 757 at all but it was a missile or smaller plane and they won't release the video because it will then lead to a whole slew of new questions.
Moore is correct: There needs to be a REAL investigation of the entire situation, without anyone connected to any administration or corporate interest. The investigation also needs to look at how a $500-plus-billion a year defense, intelligence, and military industrial complex, could allow our country's air defenses to be penetrated by a whole bunch of clowns with Exacto blades. And no, this has nothing to do with the so-called Peace Dividend which never really happened either. Anyone who looks at the country's budget and defense appropriations over the last 15-plus years knows that the money from closing American bases never went to social spending - it was transferred to overseas operations.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Maybe Michael Moore was right
According to released FBI documents, Osama bin Ladin may have chartered the plane that helped his family leave the United States after the 9-11 attacks: ["Bin Laden may have arranged family's exit: FBI docs"].

Accord hybrid being dropped
Very light sales have led Honda to drop its Accord hybrid line: ["Honda dropping Accord hybrid"]. But, they'll be putting out a version of the Fit in hybrid in 2009: ["The Emergence of the Economy Hybrid"].

GE out of Dow Jones/WSJ bid
Another WSJ alert:
"General Electric and Financial Times publisher Pearson said they have decided not to pursue a combination of CNBC, the Financial Times and Dow Jones. A possible bid by GE and Pearson was seen as a challenge to News Corp.'s $5 billion bid for Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal. GE and Pearson said they continue to discuss cooperation agreements with GE between CNBC and the Financial Times Group."
Talk radio, Part 2
Readers probably saw the link with Sen. Trent Lott going after talk radio hosts trying to kill the Bush immigration bill. Well, this Republican believes Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barbara Boxer will bring some regulation back to the airwaves: ["Clinton, Boxer conspiring to reign in talk radio"].
Well, the last person I won't regulating talk radio is Hillary Clinton. But, if they put the Fairness Doctrine back in place, it will be a good thing.

Another good thing: Cheaper campaign rates
["Senate Committee Considers Cutting Campaign Ad Prices"]

More Bloomberg fallout
["Bloomberg could have a shot, Nader believes"]
["Bloomberg-Clinton match up intriguing"]
["Giuliani: No Hard Feelings At Bloomberg's Departure From GOP"] Yeah, right.
["Giuliani 'very disappointed' that Bloomberg has left GOP"] Umm, that's more like it.
["Bloomberg buzz energizes Independent Party"]
["Bloomberg Favored to Become Next US President"] Wow, this is very interesting. And look at Ron Paul's odds - going from 200 to 1 to 50 to 1. Whoa.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bloomberg leaves GOP
Huge news today, sending shockwaves across the political landscape. Despite constant denials that he is not considering an independent run at the presidency, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has re-registered as an independent: ["Statement by Mayor Bloomberg on party affiliation"]. In California, touring the Google HQ, he sure sounded like a candidate: ["Bloomberg: U.S. Is in trouble"]. NewsMax believes his trips point to a run: ["NYC Mayor Bloomberg's Trips Suggest 2008 Run"].

The Noise Top 30 Chart

July 2007: Reporting stations: WAAF, WBCN, WFNX, WMBR, WMFO, WTCC, WZBC

1. Polyethylene – What Goes on Inside Houses
2. Shadows Fall – Sounds from the Underground
3. The Sterns – The Sterns
4. The Bags – Mount Rockmore
5. Bon Savants – Post Rock Defends the Nation
6. Hallelujah the Hills – Collective Psycosis Begone
7. Frank Smith – Red on White
8. Willard Grant Conspiracy – Let It Roll
9. Electric Laser People – Straight Talk on Raising Kids
10. Three Day Threshold – Against the Grain
11. Dinosaur Jr. – Beyond
12. Medicated Kisses – Medicated Kisses
13. Mary Timony Band – The Shapes We Make
14. Trans Am – Sex Change
15. Auto Interiors – Let’s Agree to Deceive Our Best Friends
16. Girls Guns & Glory – Pretty Little Wrecking Ball
17. Prime Movers – back in line
18. Reports – Mosquito Nets
19. Wheat – Everyday I Said A Prayer For Kathy and Made a Once Inch Square
20. Gene Dante & the Future Starlets – Gene Dante & the Future Starlets
21. Girl on Top – “Superman”
22. Hooray for Earth – Hooray for Earth
23. Sarah Borges & The Broken Singles – Diamonds in the Heart
24. Tiger Saw – Tigers on Fire
25. Corin Ashley – Songs from the Brill Bedroom
26. The Glass Set – Something Unknown
27.The Information – Natural Language EP
28. Don Lennon – Radical
29. Emergency Music – You’ll Be the Death of Us All, Honey
30. The Kin – The Kin

More on Murrows
On the ride into work today, I heard WBZ 1030 News play a hilarious sports bit called "Who's on First," which won a Feature Award in the New England Large Market category of the 2007 Edward R. Murrow Awards.
In the Small Market New England category, which covers New Hampshire, WATD, the FM music/news station in Marshfield, Mass., won the Overall Excellence Award, as well as five news and sports awards. They also won an award for the station's Web site. Wow, indeed. The Burlington, VT public radio station, WVPS, which also plays jazz music, won five news awards. WEVO, the NHPR affiliate, won a single award, for news documentary.
It's pretty amazing that a little upstart FM like WATD can win so many awards, with only a few news people and a bunch of DJs, and with a fraction of the budget which a public radio station has to work with. It really comes down to the local owners, featured on "Greater Boston" a couple of years ago, who clearly build respect within their organization. There are rare, if any, job openings at the station, which means they retain employees. Congratulations to them.

Ralph Nader
Earlier tonight, Ralph Nader was on "Open Source," talking about his new book, "The Seventeen Traditions." It was a pretty good conversation between Nader and host, Christopher Lydon. Interestingly, during one of the bumper tags on WGBH, Interpol's "Untitled" was played as a backdrop.

Was that actually the Assistant Majority Floor Leader of the New Hampshire House of Representatives speeding by me, in a silver-gray Acura SUV, easily going about 80 mph, down Route 101, heading for the Seacoast on Sunday? Yeah, I think it was.
R.I.P.: 'Red' Brochu
Concord at-large City Councilor Leonard "Red" Brochu passed away yesterday. He was 73. The Concord Monitor has a pretty good piece here, with some quotes which really nail it right on the head: ["'Red' Brochu, city councilor, dies"].

A tale of two campaigns

On Thursday, I happened to be in downtown Concord for a private event at a local law firm which toasted the Leadership Greater Concord class with some cocktails, munchies, and good conversation. I parked at the first parking space I found and walked north. As I walked, around 4 p.m., I went by the John Edwards office, the storefront of the old Waite's Bike Shop, and noticed there was no one inside. I went in for a quick second to see what they had for materials. I'm leaning towards voting for Edwards although I haven't decided, but I did want to see what they were handing out. After a couple of minutes, a young woman came from behind a curtain to greet me. I asked about lawn signs, which they didn't have, filled out a card to get on the email list, and went on my way.
I went to the law firm, had a great time, and left around 6:30 p.m. I took the back way back to my car and noticed that Barack Obama had an office in the back of Eagle Square, a public space where they have concerts, right near the historical museum.
Looking in the window, I saw about five or six people, aged 18 to 60, phonebanking voters together. I did a double-take. Phonebanking, already? Yeah, already. But it isn't really "already." The New Hampshire primary is less than six months away. The time is upon us for looking at these folks - after everyone else had been complaining it was too early.
But the larger point is this: Edwards - one body, in the back, and took some time to come out of hiding; Obama - five or six people, phonebanking, in plain view. That says a lot, doesn't it?
It is even more glaring when you consider the recent Concord Monitor article revealing how many paid staffers each of he campaigns has. Edwards has more than 30, with 10 more to be hired soon, Obama has less. Clinton has 54, which is just shocking. These campaigns are running on paid energy and fuel, six months before the vote.

Monday, June 18, 2007

NECN wins Murrow
Doreen Vigue is the new PR rep. at NECN. Many people will remember her from her WRKO Diva's radio program. Anyhow, I get her stuff at work and while it isn't always local enough for the newspaper, it is worth mentioning sometimes:

NECN is proud to announce it has won a prestigious national Edward R. Murrow Award in the news documentary/large market category from the Radio and Television News Directors Association for the 2006 documentary, "Hidden Wounds.''

Written and produced by NECN Executive Editor Iris Adler, "Hidden Wounds'' is the moving portrayal of three Massachusetts veterans who return from war in Iraq and Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder, and the struggles they and their families endure as they seek treatment for and understanding of the debilitating illness. Beth Kidwell was the senior editor of the film.

"We are so grateful to the Lucey family, to Russell Anderson, and to Nate Fick for opening their lives to us, sharing their painful stories, and shedding light on such an important issue,'' said Adler. "Our hope is that 'Hidden Wounds' has helped other veterans and their families, and that the government will continue to step up aid to those who suffer from PTSD.''

Said Charles J. Kravetz, NECN vice-president of news and station manager: "The Edward R. Murrow Award is one of the most prestigious in television journalism and we are so honored to be recognized for our documentary, 'Hidden Wounds.' This is the third time the RTNDA has chosen to honor NECN for its work in documentary television journalism and this acknowledgement reinforces our commitment to in-depth quality journalism at NECN.''

A partnership between Comcast and the Hearst Corporation, NECN is the largest, 24-hour regional news network in the country, serving 3.6 million cable households in more than 1,050 cities and towns throughout New England.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Summer is finally here ...

Today, it was Father's Day at the beach. My second sandcastle of the day, above, gets hammered by waves, but a fun time was had by all.
GE makes play for Dow Jones
According to a WSJ alert:
General Electric and Financial Times publisher Pearson are in talks about making a joint bid for Dow Jones that would allow the Bancroft family to keep a minority interest in the company.
Under a scenario that has been discussed, GE's CNBC unit, the FT and Dow Jones would be combined in a privately held joint venture, according to people familiar with the matter. The joint venture would be owned in equal parts by GE and Pearson, with the Bancroft family maintaining a minority stake in the new company, these people said.
This is very interesting and might throw a monkeywrench into Rupert Murdoch's plans.
Media Report #3
Guest Perspective/Bob Bittner
There's a nationwide organization called the "Future of Music Coalition", whose energy is directed against conglomeration in the radio biz, and for diversity in radio formats, and encouraging the airing and exposure of new and varied artists. They recently issued a study saying that 75 percent of all commercial radio stations in America air only 15 different formats. Another one of their findings is that local-ownership of stations has dropped by about a third, in the past 30 years.
Responding to that was the National Association of Broadcasters who said in a press release: "The Future of Music Coalition's long history of producing questionable research and dubious data to fulfill its agenda-driven mission is apparent for all to see." Is the pot calling the kettle black here? The National Association of Broadcasters has issued annual reports in recent years touting that broadcasting stations have dramatically increased public service time year after year. Most listeners might be scratching their heads on that statement.

Other conclusions from the Future of Music Coalition are:
* The top four radio station corporate owners have almost half of all the listeners in the United States, and the top 10 corporate owners have almost 2/3rds of all listeners.
* Niche music formats are usually provided by smaller radio groups or individual owners. Such niche formats mentioned are: classical, jazz, bluegrass, Americana. Folk, New Rock and even Adult-Standards fits into the orphan-format category.
* In 155 markets, radio listenership has declined by 22 percent in the past 18 years. They suggest that corporate consolidation is possibly to blame. That's a very valid point, but we all know that there is a another contributor to this, and that is new technology such as ipods and computer music downloads/and/sharing which makes radio sometimes irrelevant to many young people.

Another study says that white males own 87 percent of all radio stations. And women represent only 1 percent of people at the head of corporate radio groups. FCC Commissioner Michael Copps says of minorities and women: "It's not that they're riding in the back of the bus, they're not even ON the bus."
The Federal Communications Commission has reached a settlement of the recent-years' "pay-for-play" investigations. Four companies are ponying up significant cash as a penalty. Clear Channel had to pay $3.5 million, CBS $3 million, Entercom $4 million, and Citadel $2 million. All companies have promised "reforms." On May 14, the Chairman of the FCC said the investigation is not over. They're currently looking at other large radio broadcasting companies.
How's radio been doing billing-wise? Here in America, its been flat in the past 18 months, with some sub-categories dropping. All of this after a continual rise in revenues over the past 10 years. However, in Canada, radio station revenues are up almost 6 percent in 2006 at the same time ours went flat.
Radio hobbyists have put together a list of unlicensed radio stations in the Boston area. A list of 26 AM stations and 25 FM stations; not all of which are presently on the air, and some who broadcast only at night, or weekends.
For an unlicensed station to be legal, its signal should not go more than several city blocks, a small distance which is an unfamiliar trait of many of their signals.
Those so-called infomercials heard on radio in half-hour blocks, disguised as radio talk-shows, peddling diet pills to get-rich-quick schemes... Ten years ago, they were only on the smallest stations in America. Well, they're big in New York City.... even on most of the 50,000-watt AM radio stations, late at night. Those things started out and are still aired on the smaller stations in New York at any time of the day, and of course, in Boston too (but not HERE on this station). I wonder why the Federal Trade Commission is asleep on this.... Seems like they're in the latter-middle part of an ordered 8-year-long nap.
A group called the "AM Daytimers Association" has submitted their approval for a proposal for rule-making to the FCC - to allow some low-power-at-night and no-power-at-night AM stations, to have a moderately-low-powered FM repeater station. This means, stations like WJIB and WJTO might be able to have their signals repeated on the FM dial. This is one of the very few efforts to assist smaller AM stations. But there ARE restrictions to this idea, and it is quite possible that the whole intent of the idea may be corrupted by Wall-Street broadcasters to somehow use it to their advantage thereby squeezing out the stations which really need it the most. See info on this on-line:

Radio formats in 2006.... the count is in.... how MANY stations are airing which formats... Number 1 is country music with over 2,000 stations doing it. A distant second is News/Talk with about 1,350 stations. Third is rock & pop oldies (late-60s to mid-80s) with 730 stations. Fourth are all the different kinds of Spanish language stations, with 715 stations, and fifth is adult-contemporary music stations usually heard on FM, with over 650 stations. Adult-STANDARDS stations, like this station, well we didn't make the list, but I'm sure we're near the bottom of the pile. But we probably beat the number of all-Farm-news stations.

Last November and December, 412 stations went to an all holiday/Christmas music format; a record number. Remember, 10-or-more years ago, a seacoast New Hampshire FM station did that, and we all laughed?

You've all heard about the Dom Imus debacle. Well another New York City on-air duo made some similar remarks about an Asian ethnic group LONG BEFORE Don's comments, and those previous anti-Asian comments were virtually ignored by ethnic advocacy groups. But when that same program aired again AFTER the Imus episode (as a radio taped re-run), then they protested, demanding that the on-air duo be fired. Just an interesting tidbit of how "it worked once for someone else (with Imus), now its our turn." This is not to say that I condone ANY of the on-air comments made in New York City.

A talk-master on another New York City big station said that in HIS contract, there's a provision that says he can be terminated for offending any significant part of the community, but if he's not offending someone every day, then he's not doing the job that his wink-wink-nod-nod employer wants him to do.
This is a situation that plagues most talk-show hosts these days, which keeps them tensely on the edge of their seats every time they sit in the studio.

In early-June, an appellate court ruled that the FCC's laws against indecency in broadcasting, were invalid; which essentially negates restrictions on indecency. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-West Virginia, is preparing legislation for Congress to step in, to give them control over the court decision, and even over the FCC, in an effort to keep obscenity OFF the air. Right now, technically, broadcast stations may broadcast most obscenities, but there's no rush by stations to test this out, at least not right away.
Congress is also looking to ban most pharmaceutical products on radio, TV, and print advertising, at least for a three year period, so the situation can be studied. The drug companies spent a whopping $5.5 BILLION dollars in the media last year. Imagine what it would be like the see the 6:30 p.m. network news without those ads. Anyway, this started out as a proposed three year moratorium on just NEW drugs, in an effort to see how they work before mass-marketing of them.

Satellite radio
Satellite radio's subscriptions have slowed down significantly in 2006 and even more-so in this year so far. Some of it has to do with Internet listening, which is free, and another aspect of this is hesitation ... hesitation by consumers who know about the desire of both satellite providers to merge into one.
And that's another story in itself. Citing believed-future financial difficulties, Sirius and XM want to merge. Over 10 years ago, the FCC purposely granted the two separate licenses, in the public interest to allow competition.
Now that they want to merge, they must get government approval which might be quite difficult. Hindering such are two happenings. First, the fact that some of the satellite DJ's have been making racist remarks and skits; and it has been confirmed that land-repeater transmitters have been running way authorized power AND there are land-repeater transmitters that aren't even authorized! Such of the legal transmitters ARE needed to repeat the satellite signal into the abysses of large city streets, between tall buildings, since the satellite is not "straight up" in the sky.

Music & the Internet
Ever wonder who the money goes to when you download a song for 99-cents? Here's how it breaks down: 5-cents goes to the credit card company, 7-cents goes to the singers/or/band who recorded the song; 13-cents goes to Apple for hosting, billing and bandwidth; and a whopping 73-cents goes to the record company.
The major record companies, through their common organization, the RIAA, has been brutal to Webcasters - people or companies who stream music programming on the Internet. Recently, they WON their suit against Webcasters, resulting in new sky-high royalties (almost three times what they are now, and in some cases, as much as 12 times) which are said will put most Webcasters out of business. Actually, its not "business" that most of them are doing - its more of a hobby with artistic attributes. These new fees that have been approved by the Copyright Royalty Board (which are retro-active to 18 months ago, and all due July 15), are being challenged in court right now. But it still doesn't look good for Webcasters. The appeal has been filed by RealNetworks, Yahoo, Live365, and Pandora, who say in letters to every member of Congress, that "the new royalty rate will cause immediate bankruptcy of the majority of the Internet radio industry and will actually reduce royalties to record companies and artists as services go dark and royalties are never paid by them." If this court-approved rate hike stays in place, then starting July 15, the only entities that will be Webcasting would be the largest corporations and some scattered people who would not worry about being sued because they have little or no assets.
This may very well be "the plan" by the major record companies - to be able to control all Webcasting, and additionally all recorded music performed publicly in the USA. While presently, Webcasting of radio station signals is exempt from this court action of extremely higher rates, the record companies are now gearing up to attack the Webcasting radio stations too, to get them to pay more than they are now. AND, there's talk about the RIAA going after all music-formatted radio stations for just broadcasting on their over-the-air signals, too! ... Stations like THIS ONE. This is not to be confused with the current royalties paid by traditional stations to the WRITERS of the songs.
This however is an effort by record companies (the RIAA) to get Webcasters AND stations to pay the record companies, where then those record companies would dole out a minority percentage to the actual performers that play the music, and I really mean, a MINORITY of it going to the artists, the players and singers of the music.
Right now, non-Webcasting stations (like this one), enjoy paying NO royalties to the record companies, but we do pay to the song-WRITERS. Those are the fees I told you about in March, where WJIB's royalties went from $5k-plus to $33k-plus. Over the past 80 years, there has been an uneasy agreement between all radio stations and record companies that stations, while not having to pay the royalties to the record companies, is in trade for radio stations creating sales for the record companies. After all, without stations' airplay over the past 80 years, record companies would not have sold many records/CD's at all, excepting for recent developments on the Internet.
If all of this seems confusing, IT IS. All due to American 21st Century greed, with different industry groups always trying to extract as much money as they can from other industry groups. And all of this greed regarding music got a jump-start from one thing: The invention of the digital transmission of music, where it was stated by record companies 15 years ago that it was so easy to copy music instead of buying it. But now, the record companies are going after EVERYONE involved in music, even if music is not easily copyable such as off traditional radio stations (By the way, if you want to use your cassette recorder to record music off this station, it's OK, as long as its for your own use and not re-distributed as a sale).
And now, it gets even worse. On the international stage, many Webcasters are finding ways to curtail their music streaming to be only within U.S. borders, due to the fact that the same thing happening here, is happening "there." Scores of different countries are wrestling with this same legal problem, and results, when and if they occur, will likely be all different from each other. This is important, as many acts aired in America are from other countries. This is a good time to be a copyright lawyer and/or lobbyist.
In addition to the record companies trying to change the laws in order for them to collect as much money as possible, the Performing Rights Organizations are trying to do the same. ASCAP and BMI, who represent their own interests and the WRITERS of the songs, filed suit in order to classify every individual song download as a "public performance," therefore they too, would get royalties for each download. On April 25, a federal judge saw through that and denied such, much to the glee of AOL and Yahoo who fought the suit.

While digital radio is suffering a very slow start, digital TV is rolling right along. Also known as HDTV, many stations are broadcasting now on two channels; the first one being the ones we're familiar with, and the second one, not so familiar. The real news in TV-land here is that every non-digital TV in America will no longer be able to receive local TV stations come February 2009. That is the month that the FCC is requiring TV stations to turn off their traditional signals, which has been in use since the 1940's. So no more NewsCenter5 on Channel 5, no more WBZ-TV on Channel 4. And "7, the News Station" will be "something-else, the news station."
For those of you who have traditional TV's, which is most of us; all is not lost, since there will be converter boxes available for you to install to make your TV's still functional.
Retail stores are still selling traditional TV's and the FCC is quite irritated with them ... Not so much for selling them, but for the stores not informing would-be purchasers that these TV's have a limited time-span use in the future.
The V-Chip, so far, is useless, says the Parents Television Council, who lobbied hard for it. Or at least they say that the $550-million that the TV industry spent on educating parents about it, didn't work at all. They blame parents' indifference and even more-so, the networks for presenting shows that the organization says is not suitable for children.
Cable TV is now at a 16-year-low. In just one month, November 2006, cable television saw a loss of over 2.5 million subscribers, mostly due to increased penetration of satellite-delivered services.

For about $4 a month, you can now get a service that enables a mono-lingual person to speak in French by hearing bits of it so you can parrot it, as if to let others near you to hear you. It gives you snappy one-liners to impress people at parties, and even shows little pictures of women that a guy could claim are "his." The company is appropriately called "Mobile Faker," and its on the west coast.

It just well may be that in the near future, if a newly-released movie show someone smoking IN that movie, it might get an "R" rating by the Motion Picture Association of America. Such is being considered right now.
But even more interesting is that one large cable company has had discussions with some Hollywood studios on the topic of allowing that cable company to air their newly-released movies on "opening day" at theaters. The two largest theater companies responded by saying they'd refuse to show movies that debut on cable on the same day.

In closing ...
Despite all the messes going on in today's broadcasting industry, some of which I've talked about here, it's worse in Venezuela, where broadcasters had free speech rights, at least on South American standards. But now, its different. The most-watched TV network in Venezuela has just been shut down by Presidente Hugo Chavez. The network and its stations had been airing opposition to Chavez's speeches and policies.But Chavez said they were becoming a threat to the country, so he personally stepped in to prevent its licenses from being renewed. Now, they are no longer broadcasting. The stations are now, according to Chavez, going to be "public service channels." Critics there say they'll really be "servicing Chavez channels."

That's it for this Media Report....

Written by myself, Bob Bittner, and aired exclusively on 740-WJIB Cambridge, Massachusetts...and...730-WJTO, Bath, Maine.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Catching up on things, the mid-June edition
Alright, it is the middle of the month and I'm pretty behind on my blogging. In fact, I know I am behind on it because I've seen my visit numbers drop from 50-plus to 30-plus in less than two weeks. My new job has been taking up a lot of my time, as I get settled in to an old routine and learn some new tricks, too. Somehow, I think I'm on top of it, and then, I don't seem as organized as I thought I was right around deadline time. Granted, it has only been about a month. So, it will take a bit of time. But I'm so loving being back in the newspaper business.
I painted my new office last week, this funky off-green color. I realized after putting on two coats that there were holes which needed to be filled and the trim wasn't going on correctly. So, I filled the holes with spackle and will put up some tape for trim and then, will put on one last coat in the spots sometime over the next few weeks.
One of the things I love about my new office is that I'm right in historic Lexington center, literally a block from the green. It is so cool to see the kids taking the tour of the historic green as I ride into the office each day. And Lexington has free wi-fi in the center, so I'm so loving being able to get faster Internet than my company has, right outside the window of my office on my new Vista machine. Yeah baby!
Also last week, I finished up my Leadership Greater Concord 2007 classes with a graduation ceremony at the Chamber's annual Pinnacle luncheon. Here is a picture of me, below, getting a certificate and pin of appreciation:

Twenty-two of us from the greater Concord area spent 10 months together learning about the community, its intricacies, history, and culture, as well as leadership and how to apply it. Organizers noted that our class really bonded together well compared to previous classes. Most attribute it to the time we spent carpooling together to the first weekend retreat in the White Mountains. At the last class, we were all asked to contribute to next year's program, which I will probably do. It's a great program and I would advise any local residents interested in participating to sign up for it.

As I mentioned a few months back, Webcasting is probably going the way of the dodo, because of the new fees being placed on the broadcasters. Quite by accident, while Googling for Internet radio stations, I found this really cool station, 3WK: ["3WK"]. The station offers two options, indie rock and classic rock. I'm not a huge fan of classic rock but I like indie stuff, so I clicked on it and Wow. It is truly amazing and, frankly, it reminds me of my old Taste the Floor show on WMFO. I've learned about a lot of very cool bands that I wouldn't have found out about otherwise. Very cool indeed. Here's hoping they stay on the air a good long time so I can continue to listen to them.

Former astronaut launches Senate campaign
Jay Buckey, a former Air Force reservist and astronaut from Hanover, announced recently that he will be running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. John Sununu: ["Buckey08"]. While there isn't a lot of meat on his site, I'm intrigued by his campaign, since he hasn't run for office before and is a total novice. It kinda reminds me of some of the other campaigns launched in 2006, like Jim Webb, who unseated Republican and potential presidential candidate Sen. George Allen of Virginia.
I would be remiss not pointing out that there are two other Dems running against Sununu next year.
Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand is running for the seat: ["Steve Marchand"]. Both Buckey and Marchand are considered long-shots in this race but who knows these days. Marchand has been mayor for a little less than two years and also served a term in the city council, so he has some elective experience. One of the things I like about this guy is that one of his five main planks is "Personal Freedoms."
Katrina Swett, the wife of former Rep. Dick Swett, is also running: ["Swett for Senate"]. She too has a bit more meat on her Web site than Buckey, but most of us will remember that she originally supported the Iraq invasion [probably advice from her dad, Rep. Tom Lantos]. As well, Swett was previously a rabid gun control fanatic - in a state where there are liberals who own guns. This position helped contribute to her loss to then-Rep. Charlie Bass in 2002, despite having hundred of thousands of dollars more in funding. She was also the national co-chair of Joe Lieberman's presidential campaign in 2004. All three of these reasons are enough to question her validity to be a Senator representing our state.
Of course, the big question, is what the Shaheens do: ["Ex-head of N.H. Dem party pushes Shaheen for Senate"].

Gravel to be banned from future debates?
If the almighty Kos has his way, yeah: ["Gravel"]. It is interesting all the "all inclusive" Democratic bloggers are even thinking about keeping Gravel out. And Kos, jeesh. This is the guy spouting off about "crashing the gate" and "people-powered politics," and you can't get much more gate crashing or people-powered than Gravel. This is what happens when people get too powerful. They start wanting to limit things and keep their own. That's what's happening over at Kos. Big shocker.

Tell that to the Nader-haters
What if Al Gore didn't have his 2000 victory usurped but died while in office and Vice President Joe Lieberman became president. Would he be as bad is Bush?: ["President Lieberman: A Cautionary Tale"]. Would we now be at war with Iran? Who would pay for that war? How would we fight a three-pronged war, in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran, and possibly even Gaza or who knows where? Leave it to Robert Scheer. I never would have thought of this angle.

Trent Lott thinks rightwing talk radio is too dangerous!
Wow, what a wake up call: ["Senate Leaders Agree to Revive Immigration Bill"]. The key line is this:
Comments by Republican senators on Thursday suggested that they were feeling the heat from conservative critics of the bill, who object to provisions offering legal status. The Republican whip, Trent Lott of Mississippi, who supports the bill, said: “Talk radio is running America. We have to deal with that problem.”
Umm, gee, you think? Pot, meet the kettle. Lott is correct about talk radio. It's one-sided and it has been destroying political discourse in this country for a long time. But on this issue, talk radio and the callers calling in, are correct. And Lott should be listening to the people out here who clearly don't want this bill and don't want amnesty. They want the wall built along the Mexican border and they want the millions of illegals rounded up and deported.

Thanks, Southwest
A big thanks to Southwest Airlines for great service and safe flights over the past six months to a number of destinations my family and I have had to fly to.

Short cuts

* This blog tracks the new free daily newspaper movement: [""].
* This guy has some things to say to the newspaper business: ["10 obvious things about the future of newspapers you need to get through your head"]. I don't completely agree with him but his comments created quite a debate over here at Media Nation: ["What Craig hath wrought"].
* More evidence of Gulf War Syndrome: ["Gas May Have Harmed Troops, Scientists Say"]. Umm, yeah, you're a decade too late. I was doing radio shows about this in the mid-1990s. I guess it is better late than never.
* So much for enjoying the fizzy drinks: ["Caution: Some soft drinks may seriously harm your health"]. The culprit? Sodium benzoate, which is in almost everything.
* Semi-liberal columnist Sean Gonsalves pitches for Rep. Ron Paul here: ["Ron Paul for President?"].
* I want one of these: ["Consumers Can Now Monitor Energy Consumption"].

I won't be blogging much, if at all, on Father's Day but here is a message for all the fathers out there, from my column this week:

This Sunday is Father’s Day, a day to recognize Dads everywhere for their contribution to the family and society.
You would, however, never know it if you saw what has become of Father’s Day. Not unlike other holidays, Father’s Day seems to be less about Dad and more about being manipulated into buying some big-ticket item for Dad. I like big-tickets as much as the next guy. But I think it would be nice if we could start a new tradition of thanking Dad without all the consumerism. As a dad myself, I know the most precious thing right now is time with my family - not a big screen television or a power tool. I can buy those on my own dime, on my own time. A simple Thank You, tons of hugs, and a few cold ones, will do just fine.
So, Thanks, Dad. And to the other Dads everywhere, Salute.

Oh man, has anyone else gotten nailed with this hayfever in the last week or two? I'm ending my fifth day of it and it just won't break. It is worse than any cold or flu I had this year and a lot worse than last year's hayfever. The pollen is coating everything up here in New Hampshire with this thick, green dust. It is easily the worst it has ever been. Ugh.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The new WBUR ad campaign
In many editions of GateHouse New England's suburban weeklies this week, WBUR 90.9, Boston's NPR affiliate, has half page ads called "Putting a face on the issues." The ad has a picture of about 15 black children holding empty saucer plates [wide bowls], in their hands, while staring at you. The picture is placed in the window panes of a fancy suburban kitchen. So, if you were standing in the kitchen doing the dishes, the kids would be staring at you through the window. The text states:
"Some problems seem like they're worlds away. Through the incisive analysis and intelligent discussion, WBUR helps you to understand the gravity of global issues. From the threat of tsunamis. To the tragedy of world hunger. Discover what it's like to be truly informed."
Then, it gives listener information. The ad, which was donated by RDW Group, Inc., a Boston/Worcester/Providence public relations firm, is a very effective one, nailing the point home that public radio can bring you the world.
I used to love listening to WBUR when Christopher Lydon hosted "The Connection" back in the 1990s. I switched from WRKO after Gene Burns and Jerry Williams left the airwaves and it was a fresh change from all the conservative political yelling and hot talk fluffery which was broadcast on the AM dial. I found the public radio shows to be informative and they often challenged me to think, even if they were overly chummy to big business or sucking up to just about everything then-President Bill Clinton wanted done.

Personally, I don't listen to public radio much anymore. While it may bring you the world, I don't think they do a very good job of bringing listeners the nation, state, or community, despite what they might think. Why anyone would waste money rebroadcasting The Diane Rehm Show is beyond me, especially when that money could be spent beefing up the local news. She is unlistenable. I also find public radio too one-sided and often too sedate. Some of their employees act as if they are higher than thou. Which is too bad, because it should be a great resource. Sigh.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Why I love reading the WSJ, reason number, whatever

This island, Leaf Cay, in the Bahamas, will be sold on June 28 at an auction in Ft. Lauderdale. The auctioneer, Fisher Auctions, had a display ad in the Wall Street Journal last week.
This is something the Internet just doesn't give you - the display ad. Sure, there are tons of Web display ads. But it just is not the same as physically holding the newspaper in your hand, flipping through the text and ads, seeing all kinds of different things. Right next to all kinds of locales you will never visit, fast cars you will never own [Maserati: $99k], and fancy suits you can never afford, are these kinda of ads. Imagine for a second: Your own island in the Bahamas, fully developed, diesel tanks, airstrip, communications building, guest houses ... you could be your own Dr. No in the middle of nowhere! But ... then what?
The only bad thing about the WSJ is that it is sometimes too thorough. It isn't a newspaper a reader can just skim through. You have to read the articles in order to learn anything. And that is why they often pile up on me.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

2008 NH Canvassing, Part 1
Volunteers for the Obama 2008 campaign hit my neighborhood with leaflets today as part of its Walk for Change campaign. Here is text from the campaign's press release:

More than 10,000 Obama Supporters Take Part in more than 1,000

“Walk for Change” Events Across the Country

Approximately 350,000 doors knocked

Chicago, IL- Today, more than 10,000 Obama supporters took to the streets in all 50 states for a nationwide neighborhood walk. "Walk for Change" is the Obama campaign’s second nationwide grassroots day of action where participants reached out to members of their communities to recruit volunteers and began to build a local organization to elect Barack Obama.

Obama supporters from all different backgrounds participated in more than 1000 events including “Walk for Change” events in Utah, Alaska and Hawaii. Some of the highlights include Kim Mack’s “Walk for Change” Event in Sacramento where more than 300 people joined the mother of a soldier in Iraq to door-knock in their community. In Iowa, more than 1500 people took to the streets in communities across the state and New Hampshire volunteers completed their second statewide day of door-knocking in just one month, knocking on more than 5000 doors in that time. In South Carolina, more than 300 people braved 95 degree heat to “Walk for Change” in 11 cities and towns. Three hundred door-knockers covered communities in Reno and Las Vegas.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Reading update
I have finally finished "The Brothers Bulger," Howie Carr's book. It was pretty good and made all the easier to read because it was not much different from reading his columns.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Other debate stuff
More about the June 3 Democratic debate. CNN is reporting that Nader-hater and The Nation brat Eric Alterman was arrested at the debate tonight for refusing to leave the WMUR private room: ["Columnist/author arrested in spin room"].

James Carville: Don't get me wrong, I like James Carville. He's funny and I love it when he and his wife go at it on "Meet the Press." But why is Carville on CNN right now discussing the results of this debate? He is an advisor to Sen. Hillary Clinton. He should not be talking about this race, or, at the very least, without a disclaimer stating that he is advising her.
And why, now, is David Gergen up there? He worked for Bill Clinton and then just said, "I think she won the debate." This is a disgrace.
In addition, CNN only interviewed the insider candidates: Elizabeth Edwards, Richardson, Dodd, and Biden, all received extra time. Other candidates didn't.

This graph was produced by the Chris Dodd campaign about who received the most time on the debate. I don't know if it is accurate or not, but I'm glad it is out there.

Polls: Here are some of the online polls of what people think. DailyKos has two polls now - one put up before the debate ended and one put up after the debate ended. Let's look at the post debate poll: Edwards 27, Obama 22, Clinton 17, More than one of the above 8, Biden and None of the Above received 5, Kucinich 3, with Gravel and Dodd at 2.
Drudge still has his poll up, with more than 18,800 voting: Obama 36, Richardson 15, Clinton 12, Kucinich 10, Gravel 9, Biden 7, Edwards 6, and Dodd 5.