31 October 2005

Wal-Mart prepares for documentary with Washington-style war room and a team of politicos

"Wal-Mart has quietly recruited former presidential advisers, including Michael Deaver, who was Ronald Reagan's image-meister, and one of Bill Clinton's media consultants, Leslie Dach, to set up a rapid-response public relations team in Arkansas...The group works out of an old conference room on the second floor, christened Action Alley...The first big challenge of the strategy will come Nov. 1 with the premiere of an unflattering documentary. 'Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price.'" -- New York Times

28 October 2005

"Driving Mister Libby"

Leaking the names of CIA agents is not politics; it is a crime. Lying to congress about evidence for a war is not politics; it is a crime. Failing to tell a grand jury that you met with a reporter and talked about the CIA agent is not forgetfullness; it is a crime. Deceiving your entire nation and frightening children and adults with images of nuclear explosions in order to get them to support a bloody invasion of another country is not politics; it is a crime. Anyone other than Karl Rove and Lewis Libby and Tom Delay who does not get this, please raise your hand. The three of you will need to stay after class for further instruction in civics.
-- James Moore (journalist/author)

27 October 2005

The poor dear: caught in prosecutor's headlights

The oldest PR trick in the book has come to the White House. First we had Dick Cheney sporting a walking cane. Now it's Lewis Libby, Cheney's soon-to-be-former Chief of Staff who is jumping on the "poor me" bandwagon with a pair of crutches. Scooter has added to the equation a handsome woman carrying his stuff.

Sure he (and Cheney) are likely nursing legitimate wounds, but the two of them remind me of people who show up to court in a wheel-chair or wearing a neck brace. Illiciting sympathy is usually the goal. Even Michael Jackson used this trick on the day his victim was due to take the stand. Then he used it over and over again, until it was obvious. But then...if one does not have a nose - per se - one could easily catch the flu or some such malady.

I guess the crutches mean Libby will not be able to carry the proverbial Xerox box full of his personal effects from the West Wing out to his car on Friday night. Perhaps his friend Karl might be headed to the carpark, too? OR...maybe whichever energy company his Cheney-built golden parachute lands on - can buy him all new stuff when he gets there.

25 October 2005

ON LOCATION: Boys in Suits - Portland, ME

These two teenagers were apparently attending a formal event. As we walked behind them, it was obvious they had borrowed their wardrobe from the same guy. Despite the height difference, they wore identical suits. One guy's suit was too big, the other guy's suit was too small.

20 October 2005

Trapped in a Red State: Fear, loathing and misinformation

It's extremely difficult to imagine that an adult can accept the misinformation quoted below as fact. Texas is a frightening place once your wheels leave the Interstate. Ignorance and faith have collided in a very dangerous way. The Sugarland woman quoted also spouted some random and clearly fabricated statistics about fetish-like sex acts that she claims are prevelant among gay men. I imagine somebody, including heterosexuals, are doing these odd things somewhere,but she presents it as if it is normal activity for all mainstream "homosexuals."

"The median age of homosexual men dying with AIDS is 39 years old; that's wrong, not natural. The median age of all other homosexual men dying from other causes is 42. Do you consider 42 young? I consider it extremely young since I'm one year away from it. The median age of death for lesbians is 45 years old -- of lesbians. That compares to 75 years old for heterosexual men and 79 for heterosexual women. Only one percent of homosexuals die of old age; only three percent ever live to age 55. Think about it, and then tell me that God doesn't have some problem with this whole thing -- that God isn't speaking. It's unnecessary to put my name in the paper -- you can just say that 'God said,' and here's the statistics."

-- Mary Ann Markarian,Sugar Land, TX

18 October 2005

UI's "STACEY P." - - American. Idiot?

"The school system needs a reality check; most students aren't going to be mathematicians, historians, or chemists. So why do we have to take these classes?"
-- Stacey P., UI's Adler School of Journalism
Readers of the "Daily Iowan" may have been quite surprised to learn that one of their student journalists claims to have no idea why core classes are relevant to her education. In an opinion published Oct. 13, the student said that general education courses "waste my time and money, but they also hurt my GPA." (full article permanently archived here)

On having to take required coursework, the student insists that "being forced to take classes makes them less interesting. If they aren't interesting, you won't do well in them." But, all problems have a solution. "Statistics and astronomy bored me, so I opted not to attend class and neglected to study for them." She may not have time for history, math or english, but at least Perk - the pride of Palos Park - has time for her Greek activities.

The third-year student's dream is to work at Glamour Magazine. I think she's been put on their "no-hire list" by now. Maybe the intelligent minds at Barbie Magazine (above) will throw Perk a bone. Can you say..."mailroom"...anyone?

At least Iowa locals and her fellow students smacked her back to momentary reality with their letters to the editor.

Predicition: Cheney will be sent to pasture before 2006

"Have you seen my smoke...or my mirrors? I swear they were just here after the Miers nomination, or was it the FEMA fiasco?"
-- fictitous WH strategist.
The walking cane that Vice-President Dick Cheney has been using lately intrigues me. We all know he had knee surgery a while back. But, if the WH strategists want us to feel secure about the Veep's excellent health and prove that he's ready to take on the nation's problems, they wouldn't repeatedly send old Dick outside to face cameras with that Colonel Sanders-looking-cane.

He looks feeble. And that's quite possibly the whole point. I'm not one to point fingers, but it seems something is not right on Pennsylvania Ave. A few desks may be emptied in the coming weeks -- but it will be presented to us as a natural occurance while cameras are trained on something unrelated and sensational. "Oh my God! Don't turn around but, there is a hurricane, earthquake, flood, fire, and flu-ridden bird behind you!"

It's a safe bet that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be proposed as a mid-season replacement for rickety Dick. A health concern, real or imagined, is a perfect reason to resign from the nation's "No. 2 job." Next best is a need to spend more time with one's family. But that excuse is getting pretty tired. The last choice is to be fingered in a special prosecutor's report about lying in the West Wing and other unsavory practices.

Cheney's departure could be the "New Leaf" (well, "New Deal" was already taken.) that desperately needs to be turned over in the midst of a half-dozen scandals plaguing the WH and the GOP. Rice and Chief of Staff Andrew Card could wheel Cheney out the back door and pack him into a cab headed for those corporate arms that love him so. Forewarn Dick that he'll need to take some of the heat in exchange for lining hundreds of pockets with billions of dollars. Then, the administration can get on with its remaining two years. Maybe some sort of legacy could be fashioned out of Post-Its and chewing gum before Karl Rove brings the curtain down on a thoroughly clever performance. (I feel an audit coming on.)

It's a Condi v. Hillary race in 2008, unless the old-school political machinery gears up and knocks them both off the list. The current administration has paved the way for just about anybody to run for the presidency.

Conspiracy theorists gather 'round! (exhibit A)

A potential threat to privacy, reported by Matthew Wheeland at Alternet.org, claims that "if you own a Xerox DocuColor -- and many other kinds of color printers -- then every document you print is uniquely tagged to trace right back to your desk."

Can the information be shared? According to Wheeler's post, "Xerox, the Secret Service, and other printer manufacturers have confirmed that their machines are built to include a coded pattern of yellow dots, invisible to the naked eye, that indicate the date, time and printer's serial number for any color laser printout."

An Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney, Lee Tien, said "This technology makes it easier for governments to find dissenters. Even worse, it shows how the government and private industry make backroom deals to weaken our privacy by compromising everyday equipment like printers. The logical next question is: what other deals have been or are being made to ensure that our technology rats on us?"

16 October 2005

Covering a cover-up

The New York Times had to build an elaborate multimedia presentation to provide a TIMELINE of the PLAME-WILSON leak case. When is a scandal really a scandal? When it can't be described on one page.
"If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration." -- George W. Bush, July 18, 2005

12 October 2005

Time for Dutch regime change?

(source: The Onion, Oct.12)

11 October 2005

Ask AND tell!

Once again it's National Coming Out Day. So, come out, come out, wherever you are. (VOID where prohibited, not available in all areas, some restrictions apply. Side effects include gaybashing, hate-crimes, crushed civil liberties, schoolyard bullying, termination of employment, high suicide rate, increased chance of alcohol and drug addiction, irrational blame for ruining heterosexual marriage, erosion of constitutional guarantees, sketchy hospital visitation rights, no legal standing on inheritance matters or housing issues, higher tax brackets, prohibitive action by government limiting possibilty of parenthood and extreme restrictions on opportunity to serve and defend one's country, likelihood of excommunication, withdrawl of right to donate blood and organs, greater chance of marginalization, high incidence of media manipulation and corporate patronization; some assembly required;proven to cause chaffing in most Red States. Near fatal reaction to reparative therapy. Please stay in your seat, with seatbelts fastened, until your dignity has come to a complete stop. Be careful when opening overhead bins, as your self-esteem may have shifted in flight. We know you have a choice in oppressors and we thank you for chosing BushAmerica where we hate the "sin"...even more than the "sinner." If homosexuality makes contact with your skin wash thoroughly and contact your preacher; keep out of reach of children; gay Americans can be harmful to GOP candidates, use caution when operating heavy gay machinery; take gays daily with meals, discontinue if diziness occurs.)

06 October 2005

TV: Sentimentality is to women, what pornography is to men

"To this day, the sob story works like this: You find a needy person or family, you tell their story in a way that wrings the emotion out of it, you make sure the protagonists cry on camera, you promote yourselves by helping them, and you provide lots of plugs for the sponsors providing the goods and services. These shows convert pathos into bathos, a strategy to lure a female audience. Sentimentality is to women, what pornography is to men. Just as porn is designed to arouse a physical response in men, so the sob story is designed to create an emotional catharsis for women."
--- Roy Peter Clark, Senior Scholar, Poynter Institute

04 October 2005

When to say when

In journalism we learn not to focus too much attention on someone's "look." You might bring up their physical appearance when it is noteworthy, perhaps by mentioning in a business profile that "Mr. Blank showed up at the company's July beach party wearing a blue pinstripe suit while others frolicked in shorts and tank tops." That sort of statement is factual and hints at Mr. Blank's personality, particularly if Mr. Blank is not an executive.

But what of a professional woman who needs to be told that her eyeliner is scaring a good many people? (see photo above). Who should be the one to tell her? Maybe the same person who taught Condi Rice to smile instead of scowl is available for a consult. (But don't over do it.)