MORE WORDS TO LIVE BY

Bart: ‘My late mother’s rule: ‘If you have to explain, it is wrong. If you do not want to explain it to your mother, it is absolutely wrong.”

ENOUGH WITH THE SLIVERS

Tom Roth: ‘Amazing, all that thought squandered on soap slivers when you’re potentially getting creamed with your Google puts! That loss would buy soap for the rest of your life. I handle the sliver guilt by hating the slivers. As soon as the bar breaks in half, cuz the sliver is so thin, it’s right into the trash. And I feel good about getting rid of it.’

Michael Young: ‘Dial soap already has a recess for the slivers. Very slight, but that’s all it takes.’

Jason Burmeister: Vermont Country Store has both a Soap Mizer (sort of like a sponge with a pocket) or a Soap Saver wire basket. Both seem a little less icky than the soap slurry.’

DNC CHAIR

John Seiffer: ‘You said ‘The DNC is comprised of 447 members.’ How does one become a member?’

☞ It’s a mix, beginning with the 112 state chairs and vice chairs (there being 56 states when you include some of the less obvious ones), presuming the chair and vice chair are of the opposite sex . . . or else the chair and the next highest ranking state party official who is of the opposite sex. Most of the other members are elected in each state, except for 79 ‘at large’ members appointed by the chair. Click here for a little of it.

(And thanks to the several of you who wrote in with very thoughtful endorsements of two candidates I did not mention, Tim Roemer and Simon Rosenberg.)

YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK

You’ve read about Armstrong Williams, the conservative radio talk show host whom you (as a taxpayer) quietly paid $240,000 to push for the Bush legislative agenda. Frank Rich provides more background in this coming Sunday’s New York Times (in part):

. . . [P]erhaps the most fascinating Williams TV appearance took place in December 2003, the same month that he was first contracted by the government to receive his payoffs. At a time when no one in television news could get an interview with Dick Cheney, Mr. Williams, of all “journalists,” was rewarded with an extended sit-down with the vice president for the Sinclair Broadcast Group, a nationwide owner of local stations affiliated with all the major networks. In that chat, Mr. Cheney criticized the press for its coverage of Halliburton and denounced “cheap shot journalism” in which “the press portray themselves as objective observers of the passing scene, when they obviously are not objective.”

This is a scenario out of “The Manchurian Candidate.” Here we find Mr. Cheney criticizing the press for a sin his own government was at that same moment signing up Mr. Williams to commit. The interview is broadcast by the same company that would later order its ABC affiliates to ban Ted Koppel’s “Nightline” recitation of American casualties in Iraq and then propose showing an anti-Kerry documentary, “Stolen Honor,” under the rubric of “news” in prime time just before Election Day. (After fierce criticism, Sinclair retreated from that plan.) Thus the Williams interview with the vice president, implicitly presented as an example of the kind of “objective” news Mr. Cheney endorses, was in reality a completely subjective, bought-and-paid-for fake news event for a broadcast company that barely bothers to fake objectivity and both of whose chief executives were major contributors to the Bush-Cheney campaign. The Soviets couldn’t have constructed a more ingenious or insidious plot to bamboozle the citizenry.

. . . there have been at least three other cases in which federal agencies have succeeded in placing fake news reports on television during the Bush presidency. The Department of Health and Human Services, the Census Bureau and the Office of National Drug Control Policy have all sent out news “reports” in which, to take one example, fake newsmen purport to be “reporting” why the administration’s Medicare prescription-drug policy is the best thing to come our way since the Salk vaccine. So far two Government Accountability Office investigations have found that these Orwellian stunts violated federal law that prohibits “covert propaganda” purchased with taxpayers’ money. But the Williams case is the first one in which a well-known talking head has been recruited as the public face for the fake news instead of bogus correspondents (recruited from p.r. companies) with generic eyewitness-news team names like Karen Ryan and Mike Morris.

. . . [M]ight there be more paid agents at loose in the media machine? . . . [Williams] has told both James Rainey of The Los Angeles Times and David Corn of The Nation that he has “no doubt” that there are “others” like him being paid for purveying administration propaganda and that “this happens all the time.” So far he is refusing to name names – a vow of omertà all too reminiscent of that taken by the low-level operatives first apprehended in that “third-rate burglary” during the Nixon administration. . . .

A LOT MORE OF YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK

My hope is that elections will happen at the end of this month – I expect a surprisingly large voter turn-out – and that one of the first acts of the new government will be to order the phased withdrawal of most of our troops.  (I would assume we will be pushing them very hard to order us to get out.)  In the meantime, here is a compelling account of the situation for Iraqis. It’s our war, paid for with our kids’ lives and the money we have borrowed from them, so it’s a matter of some relevance – not to take anything away from our three recent Medal of Freedom awardees – how it has thus far helped and not helped the Iraqi people.

It’s a long week-end in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.  
See you Tuesday.

 

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