Saturday, March 25, 2006

Media: No Response From Pioneer Press Reader Advocate

I mean, really! I sent them a very pleasant email about a week ago, very specific questions, polite tone and all that--and no answer. Nothing. They won't even give me the raspberry.

I don't get it. I'm a reader, I have questions about a matter of public interest, I write in to the person at the Pioneer Press who is supposed to address these issues--and they don't even answer?

Next Monday I will write to the "Reader Advocate" again to try to determine if there is even anyone there. For all I know, they have it set up so that incoming emails to the "Reader Advocate" go directly into the "Trash" Folder. What the hell is the point of inviting people to write to the Pioneer Press' "Reader Advocate" if they won't even answer?

Here is a draft of my next email to the PiPress "Reader Advocate":

Dear Sir or Madam:
Hello, is there anybody there? I sent you an email last week and no one answered. I received a phone message from a PiPress employee about two weeks ago, telling me to write to the Reader Advocate if I had questions about Pioneer Press news coverage. If there really is someone there reading this, would you please answer? I need to know that the PiPress actually employs a human being to read email sent to the Reader Advocate. Please write back, if you receive this. Please sign your name, too.
William Prendergast
etc. etc.

I'm sorry to bother you people with this. You probably have your own troubles, I suppose.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Media: The "Politics In Minnesota" Style Handbook

Well, the Politics in Minnesota newsletter people are trying to get me to renew my subscription again.

Now I realize that a lot of the stuff in the PIM newsletter is aimed at lobbyists and media figures who think they are dead if they don’t see their names in print every now and then. And there’s nothing much about policy in the newsletter, but who cares what the PIM publishers think about policy? The people who put out PIM are “who’s ahead-who’s behind in St. Paul this week ” journalists--finding out about that is the main reason someone would want to subscribe. We need the sort of publication that PIM is supposed to be—a regular Minnesota political intelligence digest, in email form, full of news, gossip and predictions about upcoming trends.

But for Jesus’ sake, what’s the deal with their copy writing? PIM strives for a hip, “insider-ish” tone, but too often they end up with this chaotic babble that you have to read three times to understand. Here is an example from one of the latest editions:

Vikings Get First Down From Legislative Leaders

Another development during the panel discussion at last week?s Minnesota Chamber dinner. On the final topic of the night, moderator KSTP?s Tom Hauser had all of the leaders agreeing that the Vikings are in play for this year. The only hesitation came from House Minority Leader Matt Entenza, (DFL-St. Paul) who was put on the spot by Speaker Steve Sviggum (R-Kenyon).
Previously Sviggum had been cold on the idea, but in this very public place he opened up to the idea--handing the ball to Entenza to run with. If the momentum gets going on stadiums, the Vikings could happen this year with the Governor saying he is open to the idea. The Vikings advantage ? their help from the state is in the form of infrastructure. (Disclosure: New School has done non-stadium related work for the Vikings.)

What the hell is this writer talking about? Something about the stadiums? What? You want me to pay to read this? I'm not even going to mention the question marks that run in place of apostrophes, forget that, I get that problem, too. But how can anyone read this junk unless they also have some sort of Politics in Minnesota secret decoder ring?

What is this obscurantist fucking football metaphor, with Sviggum handing off the ball to Entenza? I mean, I “get it”, they’re discussing football stadiums so the writer’s trying to be “clever” by incorporating football jargon—but that’s only considered “clever” if you’re a seventh-grader writing for the junior high school newspaper. And meanwhile the reader is left to wonder: what real-life occurrence or incident is this word imagery supposed to represent? Forget your stupid metaphor for a second; what the hell actually happened at that panel discussion? How about a quote from Entenza or Sviggum, for God’s sake, give us a clue, come on!

And why would anyone even want to conjure up a disturbing visual image like that, Sviggum and Entenza playing football? It’s a rhetorical question; I don't want anyone to try and answer--what I really want to know is: why would anyone want to write this kind of copy? What if I tried to send you poor bastards out there a bill every month for writing like that?

It’s not that I couldn’t come up with stupid metaphors and beat them to death if I wanted to. Sure, I could write about Michele Bachmann and the GOP caucus leaping over the waves like a school of dolphins at sunset, breaching the surface again and again as they head northwest to feed on the burgeoning shoals of bigoted voters that swarm out to the Great No Gay Marriage Reef every year at this time. Or, if it has to be a sports metaphor—here’s Pawlenty in the red tights, Dean Johnson in the white—Pawlenty fakes left, Johnson jabs right, but doesn’t connect—there’s the bell, both men return to their corner—Pawlenty there getting some heartfelt advice from cornerman Steve Sviggum who’s also working on that nasty cut over the Governor’s left eye. Pawlenty’s a bleeder, we all remember that from the state government shutdown last year—Mike Hatch in the audience, ringside seat, watching with interest as he chows down on some popcorn…

But why would you pay to read that? And what does it all mean? It doesn’t mean jack shit, it doesn’t tell anyone anything about anything—Pawlenty’s a boxer, Bachmann’s a leaping dolphin, Sviggum and Entenza are playing football. It means you just paid to read a bunch of pointless self-indulgent crap writing, that’s what it means.

But if that’s the kind of stuff that’s supposed to justify a paid-up subscription to PIM, I want you folks to know that yours truly can turn out nonsense like that in his sleep, without even trying, and without the pointless repetition and bad sentence structure. So where’s my hundred dollars a year from electronic subscribers?

Monday, March 13, 2006

National: Bush Domestic Policy Adviser Ripping Shit Off From Target

Bush Shocked by Arrest of Former Adviser
Sat Mar 11, 4:39 PM ET

WASHINGTON - President Bush on Saturday said he was shocked and saddened to learn that former domestic policy adviser Claude Allen was charged with theft for allegedly receiving phony refunds at (Target) department stores…

… He had been under investigation since at least January for alleged thefts on 25 occasions at Target and Hecht's stores.

Allen…was named as domestic policy adviser at the White House in early 2005. He resigned abruptly on Feb. 9, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family.

“Spend more time with his family?” What, are they all going to prison, too?

I just don’t understand the current administration.

The President claims he wasn’t told about Mr. Allen’s “law trouble” until early in February, but that seems unlikely to me. Why would White House officials who did know—like Andrew Card and Harriet Miers—keep this information from the President? “Hey, did you know that Claude Allen is going around town ripping off Target stores?” “Yeah, yeah, keep your voice down, willya? We don’t want the President to find out. He might think less of Allen as domestic policy adviser.” “Oh. Okay.”

I think this is a more likely scenario:

(October 2nd, 2005. Excerpt from transcript of digital recording by concealed device planted under glove compartment in vehicle of White House domestic policy adviser Claude Allen. At time of recording said vehicle is apparently in the parking lot of a Target store in Alexandria, Virginia. Occupants of vehicle at this time are Bush domestic policy adviser Claude Allen and President George W. Bush.)

Bush: Okay. So what I do is, I go in and I bring in the shopping bag with the receipt and the Bose radio in it—
Allen: No, no! I told you three times already, you go in with an EMPTY shopping bag and the Target receipt for the Bose radio—
Bush: Why would I go into the store with an empty shopping bag?
Allen: Cause that’s how it works! Jeez! Come on, now pay attention. I already bought the radio, right?
Bush: Yeah…
Allen: …And that’s how I got the receipt, right?
Bush: Yeah, I get that, but what good is the receipt, we want the money—
Allen: The receipt is how we get the money! Look, I bought this radio, this one right here, at Target this morning. You go into the store with the empty Target bag, and the receipt for my radio, and you go to the Electronics section where they sell the radios, and you take another radio off the shelf, and you put it in the shopping bag. Then you walk around the store for a bit and then you go over to the Customer Service Desk, and you say you changed your mind, you want to return the radio.
Bush: I changed my mind.
Allen: Yeah, you say you changed your mind, you want to return the radio, and you want a refund. And then the kid at the counter says, “Okay, sir, no problem,” and you give him the radio and the receipt and then he gives you a refund, he gives you cash!
Bush: But I give him the radio.
Allen: Yes! He won’t give you the cash refund unless you give him the radio.
Bush: But you said I could keep the radio.
Allen: You can keep THIS radio! (rustles the bag) I’ll give you THIS radio when you come back outside with the cash. See, it’s the same radio, a Bose radio.
Bush: And we split the cash?
Allen: Yes!
Bush: And this is gonna work?
Allen: Yes! Yes, I do this all the time, I’ve got tons of free appliances and shit around my house, you remember that IPod I gave you for Christmas?
Bush: Yeah—
Allen: This is how I got it. Now go on in there.
Bush: But if it’s so easy, why don’t you do it yourself?
Allen: Because they’re starting to know me, they know what I look like, surveillance tapes and stuff, they might recognize me from me pulling this thing at all those other Target stores.
Bush: But won’t they recognize me? I mean, I’m more famous than you, right? I’m the President of the United States, you’re just my domestic policy adviser.
Allen: That’s why you’re wearing the sunglasses. To them you’re just another white guy in sunglasses returning a Bose radio, they won’t say anything to you.
Bush: Yeah… and I get this radio, and half the money, right?
Allen: (deep sigh) Yesss…
Bush: Should I do a, an accent or something? An English accent, so they don’t recognize my voice? (does accent) “Pip pip, this bloody radio doesn’t work, my fine fellow--”
Allen: Jesus… No. Don’t do an accent. Just be yourself, just—
(A woman’s voice is heard from outside the car. It is later identified as the voice of Chief White House Counsel Harriet Miers.)
Miers: Oh, my God, Mr. President, what are you doing in there?
Bush: Harriet!
(At this point Miers can be heard rapping on the window of the car.)
Miers: Mr. President! Mr. President! Open up the window.
(Sound of car being started up.)
Miers: Don’t you dare pull away! Claude! I’m talking to you now, Claude, don’t you dare pull out of this parking lot or you’ll both be sorry!
(Ignition turned off.)
Allen: Shit.
Bush: What do we do now, Claude?
Miers: Open this window!
Allen: Shit. Open the window.
(Sound of electric window being opened.)
Bush: How did you know we were here, Harriet?
Miers: Because the Secret Service--Never you mind how I know you were here! Get out of this car immediately, Mr. President, I’m taking you back to the White House—
Bush: Listen, Harriet. How would you like a free Bose radio?
Miers: I don’t want a free Bose radio, I want you to come back to the White House with me this instant. And I must say I’m very disappointed in you, Claude, trying to involve the President in one of your cheesy little receipt and refund scams.
Bush: Now wait a minute, Harriet, wait until you hear the whole story, Claude gets all this free stuff this way, and free money, too, he told me—tell her, Claude.
Miers: I don’t want to know about it! And wait til Vice President Cheney hears about this, you’ll be sorry, Claude—
Allen: I’m sorry right now.
Bush: Aw, Harriet, come on. Don’t tell Dick, he doesn’t have to know. Here, take the radio—
Miers: I don’t want the radio! Come on!
Bush: Please, Harriet! Don’t tell Dick or Laura. Hey—listen. Sandra O’Connor’s retiring. How’d you like to be a Supreme Court Justice?
Miers: I don’t want—huh?
Bush: How’d you like that? Being on the Supreme Court? Job for life?
Miers: Mister-Mr. President…I’d be honored, of course—but don’t you think I’m a little underqualified?
Bush: I think you’re plenty qualified. She’s qualified, ain’t she Claude?
Allen: Oh, yeah.
Bush: See? He says you’re qualified, and he’s my domestic policy advisor. We’ll nominate you, we’ll back you up. Just don’t say anything to Dick about seeing us in the Target parking lot, okay? Deal?
Miers: Well…
Bush: Come on, get in the car. (sound of car door being opened) Now Claude, I think we all learned something today. You can take this shopping bag and the receipt and go in and try to get that refund, if you want, and we’ll both wait for you in the car here. But I’m keeping this radio. Heh heh heh.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Nation: The Only Thing Speaker Hastert Has To Fear Is Fear Itself

From the news wire, March 11, 2006:

Some Republicans wary of Bush tie as election looms

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
…Asked whether Republicans could best hold onto the House if they distance themselves from Bush, (House Speaker Dennis) Hastert said: "What we're going to do is what's good for this country."

“Dennis! Dennis! The dinner guests are starting to arrive! Did you comb your hair, like I asked you to?”
A tremulous voice answered from upstairs:
“What we're going to do is what's good for this country!”
Mrs. Hastert shook her head and sighed, but she managed to force a smile just as she opened the door to the first arrivals.
“Hi, you two!” squealed Mrs. Hastert, and hugs and kisses were exchanged. Then Mrs. Hastert called over her shoulder and up the stairs: “Dennis! Look who it is, it’s the Addisons! Remember them?”
“There are lots of tremendous successes in this administration,” Hastert called back.
The Addisons looked puzzled.
“I guess I should warn you,” sighed Mrs. Hastert. “Dennis isn’t his usual jolly self these days. The boys in Congress are all in a panic about something this year, I don’t know what it is, re-elections or something, and I think it’s starting to get to poor Denny.” She took Mrs. Addison by the arm and led her into the living room. “Confidentially, that’s part of the reason I’m throwing this dinner thing, I hope it will take him out of himself just for the evening, see a few old friends.”
She put a cocktail in Mrs. Addison’s hand and then yelled back at the stairs: “DENNIS! Get out from under that bed and down here this instant!”
“America is finally back on track, and we’re going to keep it that way!” came the far-away cry.
“Come down here this instant, or I’m calling Tom DeLay and giving him your new private cell number!”
There was a rustling from above, and the sound of an end table being knocked over. Then the Speaker of the House emerged at the top of the staircase. He grasped the banister tightly and began his careful descent.
“Hi, Dennis!”
“How’s it going, Denny, old boy?”
Hastert’s eyes darted from side to side. “America’s…families...” His voice trailed off.
“Well…that’s fine. Did you get in any golf this weekend?”
Hastert swallowed, hard, and said: “Things are moving in the right direction again. We’re going to do what’s right for the American people.”
“Now Dennis, stop talking a lot of nonsense and get the door, don’t you hear them knocking?”
Hastert nodded but muttered something about “building on the momentum of the last few years.”
He opened the door. “Hi, Speaker Hastert! We’re you’re new next door neighbors, the Purleys, thanks for having us over. Say, is it okay if I call you Dennis?”
“Historic progress has been made in recent weeks,” replied Hastert.
The Purleys looked puzzled, but Mrs. Hastert beckoned them into the living room. “Don’t mind what Dennis says, he’s not himself today, he’s all upset about politics again. Watch this: Dennis, what’s the capitol of Illinois?”
Hastert gulped; he knew this one. But all he could bring himself to say was: “What we're going to do is what's good for this country.”
“See what I mean? All he can talk is politics, politics, politics.”
Mr. Purley nodded. “Hey, Dennis, I don’t know much about politics, but I heard a lot of Republicans who are up for re-election are deserting Bush this year, is that right?”
Hastert’s eyes bulged, and his face began to turn purple. His jaw dropped, and it worked silently for a moment--and then Hastert clutched at the side of his head and gasped, hoarsely:
“F-F-FUCK!!” And at that moment he dropped stone dead to the floor, the victim of a stroke.
“Well,” said Mr. Purley, after taking a sip from his drink, “That’s not really a direct answer to my question, is it?”

Friday, March 10, 2006

Stillwater: Junker Story Update

Just a quick note to let you local readers know that I continue to pursue the Junker story. Latest development: I sent a copy of the "story so far" to the reader advocate at the Pioneer Press, with requests for answers and comment. Let's see what happens!

I had written to the PiPress' Washington County Education reporter again, but still she hath not deigned to answer. She wouldn't even write to me with an answer my question about whether or not the PiPress had an ombudsman for its readers. (They do, sort of, but I guess Ms. Boldt didn't feel like telling me about it. One of our regular readers here at the Stillwater Tribune was kind enough to steer me toward the right department.)

I will not bore you with my letter to the PiPress Reader Advocate here; it is yet another plea for help and information and since it includes a summary of events so far it is quite lengthy. If I get any answer from "the Reader Advocate," you may read that.

It is troubling that the person who is fielding questions and complaints about news coverage for the PiPress will not identify himself by name--this person is simply identified to the public as "the Reader Advocate." Is this so that the holder of the office can maintain an aura of imposing mystery, or is it because they hire a different temp employee every week to answer complaints about their ethics and practices?

I can remember a day when journalists used to fight to get their name on something; now apparently they're fighting to keep their names out.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Media: The "Not Really News" News Stories

Ever since I started trying to get the press to help me investigate this Junker thing, I’ve been wondering how “professional” journalists decide what they will and will not cover. It’s a mystery to me why the press will refuse to print or even investigate some apparently important stories—and at the same time give prominent coverage to stories that aren’t really news at all.

Below are examples of what I’m talking about, all drawn from a single day’s headlines on March 7th, 2006. These headlines were all run at the same hour on that particular day. None of these stories really report anything new; no shocking revelations or new developments here--but according to the wire services they were all deemed “newsworthy.”

US knew about al Qaeda in 1990s, FBI agent says - 56 minutes ago
That rates a headline? Well, no shit, Sherlock, ‘the FBI knew about al Qaeda in the 1990s’, how about that, let’s get that right out on the Internet in our top news stories of the hour segment. The FBI knew about Al Qaeda, the CIA knew, I knew, the Girl Scouts knew. The Clinton administration was trying to have bin Laden killed back in the 1990s; yeah, they knew about al Qaeda back then. Everybody knew—except, apparently the reporter who filed this story. It was “news to him.”
CIA says Libby defense could disrupt intelligence - 16 minutes ago
Well, yes, you could see how the Bush administration policy of blowing agent’s covers in order to punish its political critics could “disrupt intelligence.” Yes, I can see that; but is that “news?” I think most Americans would file that “startling realization” in their “common sense” file, not the “news” section. But it's “news to you”, eh, Mr. Editor?
Governors urge quick action on hurricane money - 38 minutes ago
Yes, yes, that’s a shocker, isn’t it? Six months after Hurricane Katrina, the governors still haven’t got their hurricane money, and the next southern hurricane season is only about four months away--so the governors are now urging “quick action.” “News” indeed! Quite “a startling new development,” that these governors want their money soon, eh? Actually, the “news” headline here, if the wire had been inclined to run one, would have read: “Six Fucking Months After Hurricanes, States Still Waiting For Emergency Funds.”
Rumsfeld sees potential for Iraq civil war - one hour ago
Oh, what a SURPRISE! Oh, you could have knocked me over with a feather, when I read THAT headline!
DeLay to Attend Lobbyists' Fundraiser - 3 hours ago
Amazing…simply amazing…who would have suspected that? Tom DeLay? Attending a lobbyists’ fundraiser? Wait til this story “hits the streets!” It’ll blow this town wide open! Do they have pictures, to prove it? Thank you for breaking that shocking story—newsmen.
Book Says Barry Bonds Used Steroids - one hour ago
Get outta this town! You’re shittin’ me! Barry Bonds? Using steroids? Jeez, I hope there’s some evidence to support that serious charge. Wait til people hear about this news story, some feathers will be ruffled when “the word gets out,” I assure you! Wow.
Senate Takes Up Bill on Lobbying Ethics - 17 hours ago
Well it’s about time, that’s all I can say to that! I was wondering if they’d ever get around to doing that, thank you, Associated Press and Reuters! Taking up a bill on lobbying ethics, eh? That will shake things up a bit, once that news gets around. And say—what about when the Senators talking about the new ethics bill get wind of your previous story, about House Republican leader DeLay is scheduled “to attend that lobbyists’ fundraiser.” Wow! The earth will shake! How do you guys get all these great stories?

And I’m not the only one who complains about the amount of news that’s not news being reported as news. I mean, you know that pre-Katrina meeting videotape that the AP released, the one that shows Bush receiving repeated warnings that the levees were in danger of breaking and shows him telling all the officials present that his administration was fully prepared for the disaster? Right after that videotape was released to the public a White House spokesman dismissed its importance, commenting: “There’s nothing really new here.” And you know—he was right,there's nothing new there, Bush has been lying to us for more than five goddamn years.

Nothing new there.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Local: What Are The Top Legislative Priorities For the St. Croix Valley?

Well, if you believe Representative Mike Charron of Woodbury, the top legislative priorities in the St. Croix Valley are gay marriage and whether to buy new stadiums with your tax dollars.

"Things like stadiums and gay marriage," Charron said. "Let's just put it to a vote and move on."

This kind of took me by surprise; Charron didn’t indicate that either of these issues were legislative priorities for him in his campaign literature—even though both issues were hotly debated back then, too. In fact, so far as I can recall he made no mention at all of these issues in his campaign materials—his line was that if he was elected he was going to make Minnesota government work better.

But that was before Charron actually was elected and before the state government ground to a shutdown less than a year later.

To the uninformed, Charron’s Gazette quote may sound like a call to avoid the stalemate and unprecedented collapse we saw during last year’s legislative session.

In fact it’s a call for a repeat of last year’s sorry performance. Because what freshman legislator Charron is really announcing is that for him, Bachmann’s anti-gay marriage bill is now one of his top priorities—prior to, and thus more important than any other legislative issue that directly affects people in his own district. Ditto on the public funding of the stadiums; it seems that that’s more important to him now than anything going on in his district. (I can understand why Charron wants the stadium funding thing settled quickly. He would like voters to forget as soon as possible that he already cast a vote to raise ordinary folks’ sales taxes to fund new stadiums for jillionaire team owners. He was also on the Committee that voted to block any public referendum on the issue of a sales tax to fund the stadiums.)

Anyway-- Charron’s DFL opposites in the House will correctly understand his statement as meaning the following: Fellas—why all this squabbling, why all this partisanship, why the deadlock and the shutdown—we can move on, we can come to an understanding, it’s easy: all you have to do is cave in and do exactly what we want—or else we do what we did last year and stop the legislature cold again.

But isn’t the DFL also responsible for the deadlock? Obviously not. Because no one would be happier than DFL politicians if the GOP agreed to take the most controversial issues off the table. You see, standing up against a bigoted majority for the rights of gay citizens isn’t exactly a big “vote winner” for the DFL. Catering to the bigoted majority is more a GOP thing, these days. It’s the GOP that depends on keeping the “no gay marriage” issue alive, not the DFL.

But the GOP’s problem is that they simply don’t have the Senate votes to ram the “no gay marriage” thing down the DFL’s throat (so to speak.) For Republicans, the political reality is “we just haven’t got enough votes in the legislature to oppress the gays as much we’d like to.” Still--rather than go to work on other important legislation that the parties might agree on, GOP reps like Charron will announce that the “hot button issues” of “no gay marriage” and public funding of stadiums must be voted on--first.

Why? Why won’t someone like Charron accept the existing political situation and announce that local education, prison construction, and Highway 5 traffic fatality issues are now his FIRST priorities? Well, because he is afraid of alienating the anti-gay religious bigots, who are now apparently running the Minnesota GOP. Without their votes and support Republicans like Charron can’t be re-elected. If he tells his anti-gay constituents that he’s going to vote to put gay marriage on the backburner, his political career is essentially over--his anti-gay constituency will tag him as a “soft on gays” sellout and end his career for him.

So that’s why we see him in the Gazette, talking reasonably out of one side of his mouth about “moving on” with the business of the session--and at the same time talking unreasonably out of the other side of his mouth about how we should put “gay marriage” and “stadiums” to a vote first. He’s announcing, whether he means to or not, that he’s now an out-of-the-closet Bachmannite—embracing a priority that is dear to the hearts of bigots in his district, one that is practically certain to lead to another gridlock session.

In truth, the real priorities for Charron and Dean and LeClair are their political careers. They will not jeopardize those careers by demanding that local education, prison space, and decreasing the number of our local traffic fatalities take priority this session.

Actually, I sympathize with these local Republican statesmen. Yeah, it’s a tough situation you guys are in, trapped between your duty as legislators and your fear of the small but organized and powerful collection of bigots that put you in office. But the sympathy I have for you is the same sort of sympathy that I have for a worm on a hook. Because you’re a lot like worms, right? You act like worms when you have a chance to stand up to bigots, you’re making these worm noises for the bigots, you hang out with and vote with other bigot-pleasing worms in the legislature—and if you act like a worm, there’s a fair to middling chance that you’re going to end up on a hook, right?

Friday, March 03, 2006

AP "News Analysis" Sez: Government is the Problem—Not Just the Bush Government, but Government in General

Oh, is that so? This AP article, which is purportedly news analysis, actually turns out to be an anti-government diatribe; the sort of propaganda that is so dear to the hearts of conservatives.

The intended spin here would have you conclude that the great majority of Americans are now concluding the following: “In light of the video tape of Bush getting all the pre-Katrina warnings and Bush’s subsequent ineffectual response and lies about those warnings, we now know that Bush and his GOP cohorts are bad at governing--which is just another example of government being bad--so it obviously follows that government is itself innately bad.” The notion that government is basically some kind of ineffectual evil is, of course, a key conservative position--and is, of course, bullshit. Government is a necessary institution in human life and, in and of itself, is neither good nor evil. There are good governments and there are bad governments—and the fact that the Bush/GOP government is bad (ineffectual, corrupt, and blatantly dishonest) does not mean that all governments are bad.

And contrary to what the author would have us believe, the majority of Americans have not concluded that government is itself the problem. They’ve concluded nothing of the sort; witness the millions of people in this country who want to replace Bush and the GOP with a government formed by their political opponents so that America can be as peaceful and prosperous as it was during the nineties. Those voters don’t think that all government is bad—do they? Where are they quoted in this AP piece of objective journalism? We hear little or nothing from them in this piece, but we hear a lot from the chronic cranks who are angry about government and want less government in American life. Fascinating, when you recall that the Americans who were angry about government and wanted less government in American life are the same ones who voted in the present Republican Congress and the same ones who voted for Bush for president—twice.

The latest video tape proving that Bush is a liar may disenchant even more of his supporters, but it doesn’t discredit the notion of government at all in the eyes of Democrats and other Bush opponents. They don’t want an end to government or less government, they want a government that can deal effectively with national crises.

And we know from past experience that that is an attainable goal. Just because Bush and his Republican crew in Washington have shown themselves to be ineffectual and dishonest incompetents doesn’t mean all the opposition candidates are. That doesn’t follow logically and it hasn’t been our historical experience either.

And the writer would have you believe that is the opinion of a significant number of Americans that “individuals” will do better than the government at solving crises like Katrina. Well, that’s news to moi! A hell of a lot of people down here in New Orleans are complaining about the job the different levels of government are doing, but 1) nobody down here in New Orleans is turning down the massive help that the government IS offering, and 2) nobody from the private sector has offered to take over the government’s responsibilities. In fact, the “individuals” and the “private sector” the AP writer cites as alternatives to government, are the main recipients of government aid!

So if the AP writer and the folks he quotes are going to abandon the idea that government should handle major crises and depend instead on the “private sector” and “individuals” to come to their rescue,--well, they better turn on the Bat-Signal and start getting word to Superman and the Lone Ranger, right now. Because all that the churches and armies of secular volunteers and contributions from private industry have achieved—and their contributions have been critical—have not been enough to put New Orleans and coastal Mississippi back together again. And the folks here still need to rely on the governments they vote for and pay taxes to to help them cope with this catastrophe—believe it or not, Mr. Associated Press Objective Journalist!

So you better abandon these “private sector superhero fantasies” you’re trying to sell here, Mr. AP, and stop editorializing in the news "analysis." The problem is not “government,” the problem is “the present Republican government.” Bush and his GOP Congress were warned about the storm, warned about the condition of the levees, and could have prevented an American horror story if they had put a mere 2 or 3 billion dollars into renovating the levees prior to the hurricane season. (Compare that government investment with how much the Bush administration is spending on its pointless war in Iraq each month.) America doesn’t need a new kind of government; all it needs is competent leadership again. And if the voters once again develop the brains necessary to reject conservative candidates and policy at the polls, we may once again enjoy the kind of government that deals realistically and effectively with serious problems--before they degenerate into national tragedies.

AP Sez: If Government Is The Problem, Gingrich Is The Answer

And we’re still not done with that AP news story—because it’s so chock full of right wing propaganda, we haven’t addressed the most ridiculous aspect of all: the fact that the Associated Press—in this very same piece--is trying to sell us on Newt Gingrich’s credibility and his attempted political comeback! And quoting Newt as if he’s some kind of “light at the end of the bad government tunnel”, as if Gingrich is an expert on how to reform government!

Gingrich claims to be the just the boy who can reform our government, and the AP gives him free national coverage to plug his candidacy? BWAHAWHAW! Newt Gingrich is a moral hypocrite, a lobbyist’s darling, a Washington insider to the core. And he’s a chronic wrecker; his gift is for destruction and division, not consensus-building as necessary for leading Americans. Gingrich was the “mastermind” behind the “Play Up The Monica Lewinsky Affair” strategy of the GOP Congress; he stopped the business of the nation so that he and his pals could try to “get the Clintons.”

He was politically vaporized by his own henchmen when the impeachment strategy not only failed, but backfired. And he is the acknowledged founder of the corrupt and pork-ridden GOP Congress that has been in the majority ever since they took the oath of office--invoking Gingrich’s name when they did so.

And now Tom DeLay’s mentor and former master says that he’s going to clean up all the corrupt careerist bastards he helped to put in office in the first place—and the Associated Press is running puff pieces on him?

Don’t any of these writers for the AP follow politics?