Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cokie's Law, Or How the Facts Get Effed


“Cokie’s Law,” named for the condescending and compromised reporter Cokie Roberts, can be summed up thusly: “It doesn't matter if it is true, it is what people are talking about, so I have to talk about it as if it were true.”
Cokie’s Law was inspired by this comment from its namesake: "At this point, it doesn't much matter whether she said it or not because it's become part of the culture. I was at the beauty parlor yesterday and this was all anyone was talking about."
 “Here’s how it works,” John Cole wrote. “Obama says something, Republicans completely lie about it, the media notes the lie is catching on without ever actually calling it a lie, the Democrats have to waste resources and respond to the lie, Republicans double down, this sucks the life out of everything else for a couple weeks, and in 10 years this will be conventional wisdom that Obama called Americans lazy, just like Al Gore claimed to invent the internet and the rest of the bullshit that wingnuts have adopted as received truths (snow in November refutes climate change, the more you cut taxes the more government revenue you raise, if a bombing campaign does not make people like you, it means you didn’t bomb hard enough or your targeting was off, liberals lost Viet Nam, waterboarding isn’t torture, etc.).

 We’re so fucked as a nation."
The online pundit Bluegal elaborated: “It’s the idea that if George Will says that Ebola is ‘in the air,” well then we have to discuss that as if it’s a real thing. If Phyllis Schlafly says that Ebola is being sent here by Obama to get back at us for Africa, we have to report on that. That’s what reporting is.”
Cokie’s Law is a particularly shameless example of false balance, which is the greatest fault in contemporary American news coverage. Also referred to as false equivalence, it’s a bias that lets reporters present an issue as being balanced between opposing viewpoints while ignoring the overwhelming weight of evidence and fact on one side. “Both Siderism” is another variation of this intellectual scam.
Paul Loop put it this way, explaining Politico, CNN, the news networks, the Sunday shows and the corporate-owned punditocracy in general: “When you assert that ’both sides are equally to blame,’ and they are obviously NOT equally to blame after a simple objective analysis, you are essentially covering for the side that deserves all the blame. In Politico's case, it's beyond obvious by now that putting lipstick on the conservative pig is an essential part of its mission.”

Monday, October 27, 2014

Go West with a $30,000 Money Belt and a Gun


Independent and courageous, yet calculating and careful, Eugene Meyer told his disapproving dad that he wouldn’t be staying with the Lazard Freres financial firm, the place his father — who was a partner there — had chosen for him.
Meyer had parlayed $5,000 into $50,000 investing in railroad stocks, and told his father he intended to use it to buy himself a seat on the stock exchange.
In 1904, the 29-year-old opened Eugene Meyer and Company — the first Wall Street firm to do in-depth investment research on companies – and by 1906 had made several million dollars. He was wiped out twice in the volatile markets, but ended up with a large fortune that he used to indulge his penchant for American first editions, Durer and Whistler etchings and Lincoln letters.
“My father stayed especially close to his sister Ro,” his daughter Katherine recalled. “In 1906, when the terrible earthquake and fire hit San Francisco, cutting the city off from telephone communication with the outside world, he decided to go out there immediately and see what he could do to help. He boarded a train in New York with a money belt containing $30,000, a small suitcase and a pistol.
“Rosalie, Elise and their families were safe. They and their combined households, numbering 28, had taken shelter at Ro’s for two days. As the fire approached, they moved first to the Presidio, then to Golden Gate Park, then to a summer cottage at Fair Oaks that one of them had rented. There my father found them. Ro looked up as he approached and said, ‘Eugene, I knew you’d come.’”
Meyer’s daughter Katherine found him a chilly and distant father. But from him, Katherine Meyer Graham inherited the courage to stare down all President Nixon’s men and, as the publisher of the Washington Post, back her reporters and editors as they exposed the Watergate criminal conspiracy that forced Nixon to resign.
Source: “Personal History” by Katherine Graham

Lanterns and Leaves


In lanterns and leaves, October is arranged around orange.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

About a Boy Wonder

It may seem strange that the first boy sidekick to a superhero was Robin — hardly a match for a somber masked manhunter like Batman.
But as I recall from my introduction to the characters, when I was 5 or 6, the contrasting colors of their exciting caped costumes — mysterious blue and gray against vivid red, yellow and green — were a primary source of my fascination. Superman’s colorful costume was a big draw, and here were two of them for the same dime. The costume convention in superhero stories is the residual effect from their decades-long need to catch the eye of small children. And in any case, as for the world’s only 74-year-old Boy Wonder, you can hardly argue with success.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Conservatives Prefer Propaganda

There is no great mystery why here. Right wingers have to lie. If they ever let the public know what they REALLY have in mind for ordinary Americans, it would be torch-and-pitchfork time for their sorry asses. But if you remain unconvinced, here’s the proof.

Fox News: The Poor Should be Denied Water


Remember, when you're gasping for water, be sure to tune in to Fox News. They'll be glad to say, “Fuck you.” And we have more late-breaking news. This just in from the Fox News Department of Compassionate Conservatism.
“Fox News is one of the main factors, possibly the main factor, driving political polarization in this country,” Amanda Marcotte noted. “Huge chunks of this country listen mostly or solely to a relentless stream of misinformation coming from Fox News, coupled with warnings, implied or even baldly stated, to avoid listening to other, more factually accurate news sources. Unsurprisingly, then, more people are becoming conservatives and people who were already conservative are becoming more hardline about it. If you have any Fox viewers in your family, you probably already suspected this,but now Pew has given us the cold, hard facts to confirm your suspicions.”

To Decatur With Contempt


In 1985, T.J. Malone of 444 West Wood Street in Decatur, IL, thought it would be a good idea to write a letter to Katherine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post.
“Say, Cath, heard you and Ben B. were seen recently at a wild coke party, and someone noticed you both had a hammer and sickle tattooed in your butts.”
Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee, who never took kindly to insults to Mrs. Graham, favored Malone with a reply.
“I have a hissing snake tattooed on my butt,” the former naval officer wrote. “And I don’t have a clue what Mrs. Graham has tattooed on hers. The president of the bank in Decatur, Illinois, is an old classmate and friend of mine. I think I’ll ask him to foreclose on your mortgage.”
In his memoir, The Good Life, Bradlee commented, “Childish, no doubt, until you realize that the polls so often cited to show public trust in the press declining include the views of T.J. Malone, and thousands of other nut cases.”