Wednesday, July 28, 2010

9/11 - Media Reluctance to Use the "T" Word is Nothing New

I stumbled on an archive file of video clips of the news coverage on the morning of 9/11. It was stunning how long some of the mainstream news media avoided using the "T" word.  CNN and NBC kept trying to suggest that the FAA had some sort of malfunction or something. You have to hand it to Fox News in Washington and Charlie Gibson on ABC. Fox mentioned the potential that it was a terrorist attack and confirmed it when the second plane hit.  Charlie called it an attack. I was watching Charlie and you could here him square his shoulders just before he called it an attack. Diane stumbled a bit, but followed his lead. I'm sure the producer wet his pants at about that point, but to his credit, he kept the clips coming in.  Even after the second plane hit, you could here the CNN reporter still pushing almost desperately for the "FAA malfunction" explanation and they still hadn't used the "T" word.

You want to know where Fox News Network came from. It was the the way CNN botched the 9/11 coverage by refusing to call it what it was until way after their audience had figured it out and were collectively shouting "It's a terrorist attack you moron!" at their TV sets..

Much of the confusion was the product of serious wishful thinking on the part of news media. President Bush came on quickly and called the act what it was - terrorism.  Then he called for a moment of silent prayer for the victims and then said an amen for all of us.

Internationally, the most rattled news reporter was the Russian news anchor who was hyperventilating during his entire report. Can't blame him.  Someone had just hit the largest nuclear power in the world and he was sitting on ground zero if we thought it was them.  This guy knew what it would mean if it had been his own country attacked - in terms of retaliation. The guy was probably hoping Putin was on the phone going, "It wasn't us! It wasn't us!"  The Chinese reporter was almost perky - it was kind of weird, like "Look what's happening to those crazy Americans now!"  The Canadian reporter just stopped talking when the second tower came down and mentioned later that the Canadians were taking security precautions just in case.  The Iraqi report mentioned Kuwait and showed bits of a downed Navy jet. I couldn't understand a word, but it seemed like cautious gloating to me. The reporter guy looked nervous (turned out with good reason). BBC was typically restrained, but did mention terrorism early on. Within hours they released a special report that sounded like an Alistaire Cooke documentary.

The Japanese had the best high-quality photographs and video - way better than the other guys early on and much of it shot at street level.  Of course there were probably 10,000 Japanese tourists in New York at the time with 30,000 or so top of the line cameras strung round their necks.

Our media had a hard time reporting it.  Matt Lauer and Katy Couric were eerily calm, but confused like they couldn't believe this was happening.  Frankly everybody did that at first, but they never quite got over it. 

When you don't believe in evil, you naturally want to look away when you see it happening right in front of you. Military and ex-military guys figured out it was an attack early on.  The more liberal the news media outlet, the longer they took to use the "T" word even after it was obvious that we were under attack.  The Fox Station in New York nailed what was going on from the moment they came on the air with the report.  The "T" word was used in the first 60 seconds.

What I found really interesting was how so many stations cut to commercial before coming on with the news.  The Fox locals just broke straight to the story.  At one time news in this country, when something like that happened, Walter Cronkite would cut in.....

"We interrupt your regularly scheduled program to bring your this breaking news story!"

Now, it's more like "What?, uh, we have, a uh............We'll be right back after this commercial break"

Just watching the coverage, however, will take you right back to the day it happened and help you remember the magnitude of what was done to us. Next time someone tells you about how wrong the war is or how we had no reason to wage it, send them to this archive page and spend an hour or two remembering.

Oh, and God bless George Bush. Watch his announcement of the attacks.  He calls a spade a spade. The man had more leadership in his pinky finger than the entire bunch of goobers that run the current administration.  Can you imagine Al Gore handling the announcement?

"Uh, we have, uh, experienced a tragic, uh, event this morning. First reports indicate that these terrible plane crashes were the, uh, result of American caused global warming and the justifiable anger of the Muslim people over our exploitation of their resources, our abuse of the planet, the polar bears and our attacks upon the culture of the middle-east. Oh, and our support of the Israeli oppressor.  Pray for the souls of the brave, but misguided patriots who were driven to do this terrible, but understandable thing to us.............I'll be in my bunker. And you all take care of yourselves."

(Sorry I keep promising I won't do that anymore.......")


Monday, July 12, 2010

Preparing for the Coming of the People

Soldiers and barriers were everywhere for the 4th of July weekend at the National Mall according to some reports.  This is something new.  Movement through the Mall was rather restricted and soldiers were checking for weapons at every checkpoint.  You wonder whether the administration is trying to set a precedent for showing a tough front before the August Rally.  I don't think they want the upcoming Restoring Honor event to go well and may use "security" as a barrier.  I hope not.  I hope they are better than that, but I don't think this administration wants to meet up with this many of these kinds of people - not in their worst nightmares, let alone in broad daylight in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

Can't wait to see what they put up for the Restoring Honor event Glenn Beck has been organizing for August 28. At one point, last winter, the park service had said they would allow no more Martin Luther King type gatherings of the people on the National Mall anymore after this rally.  If it's still true, it's a sad thing.  I can't find any mention of it in the Park Service website.  I hope they've changed their mind.  The National Mall is the great forum of the United States where free people can gather on the property they paid for with their blood, sweat, tears and taxes to speak their mind.

Even if it makes us targets for terrorism, we should have the right to assemble in defiance of those who would crush liberty. We mustn't start another civil war as some of the goofs on the radical right and left would if given half the chance.  We must exercise the rights given us in the constitution and make ourselves heard in a powerful way.  We must make the arrogant lawmakers and bureaucrats peek out the blinds from their office windows in terror of the throngs of ordinary Americans peacefully assembled with nought but their votes as weapons.  We must make them see that we mean business - on 8/28 and on the first Tuesday in November and on every day after that.

As world history teaches, freedom is a fragile thing and more than once has been sold for the proverbial mess of pottage.  We're a representative democracy. Let's not let our representatives make it a representative autocracy.


Monday, July 5, 2010

Dissin' TJ ? I Don't Think So!

July 5, 2010:

Someone wrote a post on Facebook today, critical of Thomas Jefferson and pointing out, his many flaws and failings as a person.  Well, they do have something of a point.  TJ was less than a moral paragon next to John Adams' rigid principles and Washington's effortless uprightness.  He slept with his slave girl, rewrote the New Testament (leaving most of it out), chased women and bought into all kinds of goofy conspiracy theories.  I, personally, have a problem with Jefferson's neglect of the fledgling U.S. Navy. His reluctant late start left us short-handed at sea during the War of 1812.

TJ, no doubt, had his problems, but his differences in character, compared to Washington and Adams and others, only accentuates what was the real source of the genius behind our new nation. The new country was not driven by personal preference, power or personalities, but by principles shared by all and those principles, it turned out, would protect the liberties of all.  Left to any one of them, the result might have been just another version of the disastrous European governments. Adams, for instance, wanted a presidency that would have made him virtually an elected monarch.  TJ and George talked him down from his high-handed position and made him see that such trappings of power, while they might make the French respect us, were not a good message to send to the country.

It took TJ's loose libertarianism, Washington's moral compass, Adams' principles and sheer drive and Franklin's wit and innovation to bring the nation together into a structure that while strictly ordered, left the citizens free to work, play, innovate and create without undue interference from the government that was supposed to protect them. After they wrote the constitution, it took Jefferson, returning from a debauch as Ambassador to France to remind them they needed to include the Bill of Rights.

The quality of the founders' work is evidenced by the sheer numbers of power-hungry, ego-maniacal, crackpots, crazies, racists and doofuses that have occupied the White-House, Senate, Congress and Supreme Court who failed to destroy the country despite their best efforts. Good things have happened in the U.S. like the end of slavery, women's right to vote, Child Labor Laws the protection of the rights and safety of workers and people with disabilities (at least one president thought the retarded ought to be euthanized as useless) and the protection of our freedoms from those who would have enslaved us. These good things have happened almost in spite of the efforts by our leaders to thwart them.

Bad things have, of course, happened too - like the slaughter among the Indian nations, the protection of corporate monopolies and robber barons and the provocation of war with Spain.  Yet, the will of the people stopped the Indian wars and brought forth laws to protect workers and break up monopolies. We're still paying reparations to the tribes and favoring the unions almost a hundred years later. The colonies we captured from Spain were all finally liberated and became nations unto themselves if they wanted to. America's charter, has led the nation to become largely a force for good in the world.  Twice in the last century, the United States prevented the rest of the world from slaughtering each other entirely and stopped many an evil tyrant from enslaving billions.

We are the dad gum good guys and largely because we share common principles as laid out in the founding documents.

Turns out we needed Jefferson with all his flaws - apparently something God knew when he He brought that group together at that time and in that place.

But then, He usually knows what He's about.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

What's in a Name - Net Neutrality Ain't About Neutrality

The FCC has proposed expanding its power to regulate to include the Internet. The Internet was originally designed as a difficult to damage, decentralized communications network which could survive and remain effective as a communication method were America to come under attack. It has since spread worldwide and introduced the principle of free speech in parts of the world where free speech had heretofore been virtually unknown.

Via the Internet, I can talk with folks the world over. The only limitation to my use of the net is where restrictive governments have added to the basic design to place "kill switches" and blocks between their people and the net.  I believe the FCC chairman is attempting to start a similar process in the United States by taking over "regulation" of the Internet.

While it is true that Internet Service Providers can regulate how traffic passes through their hubs, it is also true that market forces prevent them from doing so in a way harmful to their customers.  The reason is that each provider only has power over their own piece of the net.  Anyone can join the net as provider or information bank, simply by hooking up and can offer an alternative route to the net for the customers of a repressive ISP.  The current system uses the power of free market capitalism to allow the Internet to regulate itself. The Internet is now a global entity and those who work and play on the Internet are connected far beyond our borders.  I believe it morally wrong for our country to appoint itself a regulator of what is the greatest monument to free speech ever created.

The power of the Net is its built-in self-regulation.  Users simply avoid places where service is not fair and free.  They don't make enough money to survive and then close their doors and shut off their servers.  If we give a government agency control over the Net we introduce a whole new route to corruption and influence buying for those who do not wish for an open Internet. For now, a company or individual wishing to control information or eliminate competition has no one to go to (except maybe in China).  Give the FCC power to regulate who does business on the Net and how they do it and you have created an entity that can be bribed, intimidated or influenced to "regulate" in a biased fashion by terrorists, powerful corporations and political forces. In other words, "If it ain't broke, don't even try fixing it!"

Please oppose the FCC Chairman's efforts to regulate the Internet or (worse) turn it into a public utility. Please ask your congressman or senator to vote for H.R. 3924 and S. 1836, which would prohibit the FCC from regulating the Internet.

If we don't do this, we give to the executive branch of our government, a "kill switch" that can be used to shut off free speech and punish those it opposes.  Legislation like The Net Neutrality Act and the Fairness Doctrine, while they sound lovely and Democratic, only serve to create the very tools by which free speech may be stifled.

We have the right to say what we want, but there is another right we also have which isn't much talked about by supporters of Net Neutrality and the Fairness Doctrine.  That is, the right not to listen! Anyone has a right to stand up on their soapbox and speak their mind, but it's up to them to hold their audience's attention.

We have freedom on the Internet now. I've never known a time when freedom was improved by giving the government more power to regulate it.

Tom King - Tyler, TX