Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
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Monday, June 18, 2021

I caught Comedy Central’s new animated series, “Lil’ Bush: Resident of the United States”, late last night.

A satire on the George W. Bush administration/family? Didn’t Comedy Central already blow this six years ago with “That’s My Bush”?

Ironically, “That’s My Bush”, which was conceived by the minds behind “South Park”, was far less in the comedic vein of Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny than “Lil’ Bush” is. And much like the current state of “South Park”, the humor of this new entrant is way too heavy-handed and blunt to really strike a nerve. Having a mumbly kid version of Dick Cheney getting it on with Barbara Bush is over the top, but not in a particularly satisfying way.

From what I can tell, “Lil’ Bush” isn’t designed to have a long shelf life anyway. I’m guessing ComCen is counting on a healthy flood of outrage from the conservative intelligentsia, prompting accusations of more liberal-leaning media bias, and then making hay out of that controversy. Sort of predictable.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 06/18/2007 09:26:55 AM
Category: Comedy, Politics, TV
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Saturday, June 16, 2021

It seems that fringe Republican congressman Ron Paul is striking a chord with online political junkies, bolstering his otherwise slim 2008 Presidential prospects.

Republican strategists point out that libertarians, who make up a small but vocal portion of the Republican base, intrinsically gravitate toward the Web’s anything-goes, leave-me-alone nature. They also say that [Paul’s] Web presence proves that the Internet can be a great equalizer in the race, giving a much-needed boost to a fringe candidate with little money and only a shadow of the campaign staffs marshaled by Romney, McCain and former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Yep, with the help of the online hordes, Paul will build a campaign to rival that of Howard Dean’s. And we all know how successful Dean’s Web-centric Presidential bid was.

Again, perspective: Objects on the Internet often appear to be larger than they are in real (offline) life. Paul could get a billion friends on his MySpace page, and that will translate to little or no additional votes during caucus/primary season — y’know, when the shows of support actually count. Not only won’t he directly get any support, but his chances of influencing the Republican platform toward more libertarian-leaning policies diminish as well (not that that is a factor — despite 8 years of neocon undermining, Republicans are still perceived as the smaller-government party anyway).

Paul still has a decent shot of getting elected President via his online buzz. President of Second Life, that is. The White House? No.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 06/16/2007 06:26:06 PM
Category: Internet, Politics
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Monday, May 28, 2021

I can’t tell you the last time I turned on CNBC. Actually, I probably can: It would have been during last winter’s Olympics, when parent NBC shunted Games coverage to all their cable outlets, including CNBC.

That should tell you how tuned-in I am to televised business news.

But Adam Ostrow has the channel doing background-noise duty in his crib, and he detects a right-hand turn in overall coverage and tone, prompted by the spectre of competition from Rupert Murdoch:

Ironically, I agree with most of CNBC’s current editorial positions. Maybe that’s why it’s so obvious to me what they are doing. My point is that as a journalistic organization, they shouldn’t be taking such one-sided positions. Additionally, editorializing isn’t going to convince me to not switch to FOX Business Channel. Rather, I’d like to see more original reporting – like David Faber and Ron Insana used to provide. Ultimately, good programming is what makes me stick with a TV network or show, not commentators that artificially pander to my political views.

As if that reaction isn’t evidence enough of NBC being played like a fiddle by News Corp., even before FBC goes live:

Despite the precedent with CNN, it seems that CNBC is already being drawn into an arena of argument where it’s not in control, and thus is already on the defensive. More broadly, this seems like a typical response from the General Electric/NBC hierarchy these days: Herky-jerky and reactive, almost consigned to play catchup.

I’m no more likely to watch Fox Business Channel than I currently do CNBC. Frankly, the media meta-manipulation alone is enough to fascinate me.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/28/2007 01:48:02 PM
Category: Business, Politics, TV
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I wish I had been in town yesterday to witness one of these on-the-street mock military patrols, staged by Iraq Veterans Against the War:

Wearing camouflage fatigues and pointing imaginary guns, a half-dozen veterans subdued a crowd of anti-war protesters playing Iraqi civilians, throwing some of them roughly to the ground and handcuffing them.

“We believe that this is bringing the truth of the war here, the reality of the war here,” said Demond Mullins, 25, of Brooklyn, who served in Iraq as an infantryman with the Army National Guard in 2004 and 2005. “We should be ever mindful of the troops who are giving their lives, and we should be ever mindful of the dishonesty, the absence of truth that has caused us to engage in this war.”

Definitely in-your-face. I’m sure it gave the tourists in Times Square a good story to take home.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/28/2007 09:40:11 AM
Category: Creative, New Yorkin', Politics
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Wednesday, May 23, 2021

declaring a loser
It seems there’s nowhere in North America that’s safe for an NHL telecast. On the heels of NBC’s “horsie game” over the weekend, hockey fans in Manitoba got gypped out of the first two periods of Tuesday’s Western Conference-clinching game between Anaheim and Detroit, in favor of live provincial-election results action.

The biggest tragedy, of course, is the civic blow north of the border:

Roddy Blochlinger said he was very upset about not being able to watch the game at home.

“I’m probably not going to go vote because of this now, just as my own little stand towards this,” he said. “I’m not even a huge hockey fan, but the playoffs are the playoffs.”

Now even Canada is keeping National Hockey League broadcasts off the air. Maybe there is something to all those conspiracy crackpot theories.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 05/23/2007 11:40:54 PM
Category: Hockey, Politics, TV
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Tuesday, May 15, 2021

Hate having to stop at the toll booth to dunk your change dollars before driving into the City? Don’t feel like signing up for E-ZPass?

You may not have to bother with either soon. As part of proposed measures designed to lessen congestion in the Five Boroughs, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is considering instituting all-electronic tolling:

Over 70 percent of motorists using the six crossings [into New York City] already use E-ZPass, which tracks drivers with electronic devices attached to their windshields and bills them at the end of the month for tolls.

Those motorists without E-ZPass would be billed after security cameras photographed their license plate and sent invoices in the mail, [Port Authority executive director Anthony] Shorris said.

If they’re going to capture digital photos of every car that whizzes through anyway, I don’t see why E-ZPass is even necessary. At that point, you’re going to get billed anyway, whether you drive into New York daily or once a month.

I realize they’re already using cameras to record potential non-paying drivethrus. Still, there’s something unsettling about being involuntarily opted-in to this system.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 05/15/2007 11:21:28 PM
Category: New Yorkin', Politics
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Monday, May 14, 2021

A declarative accusation that the Los Angeles Police Department has an ingrained warrior culture isn’t new, given the repeated violent encounters the LAPD has had with the public over several decades.

The roots of this organizational modus operandi are worth checking out, though:

“The LAPD is a big ocean liner and it will take a long time to turn around,” said Joe Domanick, a senior fellow of criminal justice at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Institute for Justice and Journalism. “[Current police chief William Bratton] has not focused on the paramilitary culture and us-against-them mentality that seems to still persist in the LAPD.”

He said the culture originated during the reign of William Parker, hired as chief in 1950, who imagined the city’s police force as an urban army.

Domanick said Parker’s view was: “We’re the only thing standing between chaos and anarchy. We are the professionals. We know better. No one tells us better.”

So we’re talking about more than a half-century of antagonistic posturing that’s remained in place through countless departmental and municipal regime changes. It’s a prime example of how difficult it is to effect fundamental reform when the organization — be it a police department, company, country — has an established way of functioning. It’s human nature combined with inertia and tenacity.

The idea that LA poses a greater policing challenge than other American big cities is hard to swallow. New York, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia and another two dozen metros have endemic crime issues as bad or worse than Southern California’s, and the cops in those other cities don’t approach a comparable level of corruption.

It’s a disturbing state of affairs. A half-century of little to no responsiveness to serious institutional problems isn’t going to be fixed overnight. Until then, it’d be prudent to tread carefully when encountering the LAPD.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/14/2007 11:33:23 PM
Category: History, Politics, Society
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Saturday, May 05, 2021

The glam campaign gig for 2008 is the Online Political Operative, who’s supposed to make his/her Presidential hopeful look with-it in the world of blogs, YouTube and social media.

Of course, these Web warriors feel that, by being lumped together with a campaign’s communication department, they’re not getting enough love:

“They’re treating me like a mascot,” said one online director, who has complained to the close-knit group of online strategists that he is not getting the necessary staffing and money to do his job. “Like it’s enough that they hired an Internet guy and that’s it.”

Funny thing is, these strategists — Joe Rospars, Matthew Gross and others — point with pride to the trailblazing online political exercise that was Joe Trippi and Howard Dean in 2004. Somehow, Dean’s Web-heavy campaigning four years ago is supposed to stand as an example of why more influence should go to today’s OPOs.

In response, I’ll have to drag out my February 2004 post, which compared the Howard Dean campaign to a typical dot-com bust company:

- Overhype thanks to an extensive Web-based organization (which, remember, once again proves that blogging, as with many online phenomena, has a highly-exaggerated real-world impact);

- A penchant for burning through large sums of cash in a short time, with disappointing results, doing many a bygone Silicon Alley LLC proud;

- A dogged insistence on continuing a positive spin, despite obvious signs that all hope is lost; one expects the Dean campaign will end with no more flare than the headquarters simply disconnecting the phone and mysteriously not leaving a forwarding number.

I know the argument from Deanites will be that the votes in Iowa and New Hampshire simply weren’t “with it” enough, especially with regards to the Internet, to really understand the candidate. Natually, that’s the point. Dean spent way too much time targeting the flashy demographic, which was duly impressed with his adeptness at cutting-edge media and communications; but it turned out to be the least influential voting segment he could have courted. In the end, he failed to familiarize himself with the voters that counted-and this after apparently spending loads of money trying to do just that.

So yes, The Great Howard Dean Internet Freakout certainly influences the 2008 race. But not as a template for success but rather, as a cautionary tale. That’s why the OPOs are merely riding the bus, instead of being in the driver’s seat — so that it doesn’t go off a cliff.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 05/05/2021 04:40:49 PM
Category: Internet, Politics
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north of the border
Forget about Florida as the site of Fantasy State University. Based on recent reports, the collegiate home of the Bigfoot Institute and School of UFO Abduction Studies rightly should be built in Canada:

- Paul Hellyer, the former national Minister of Defence, contends that secretly-held space alien technology could be used to fight global warming.

- Among current office-holders in Ottawa, Parliament member Mike Lake calls for Bigfoot to be added to the Canadian endangered species list.

And to think, we used to think Mexico was the less-stable neighboring country…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 05/05/2021 03:23:34 PM
Category: Comedy, Politics, Science
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Saturday, April 21, 2021

Saturday, April 14, 2021

Congratulations to the city of Chicago for making the U.S. Olympic Committee cut to bid for the 2016 Summer Games.

The odds are strong for Chi-town due to a couple of factors. The International Olympic Committee likes to alternate continents, and the next two Summer Olympics going to Asia (Beijing 2008) and Europe (London 2012), so the Americas would be up after that (Rio de Janeiro is also in the running, and the feeling is that if they can put together a credible bid, they’ll get the first South American-hosted Olympiad). Chicago has never hosted a Games before, so it’s virgin territory.

Before all that, though, the Windy City has to address an already-pressing infrastructure issue. Its legendary El mass transport train system, a century old, is already buckling under the strain of everyday commuting grinds.

Actually, a successful Olympic bid is part of the long-term plan for rehabbing the El:

[Mayor] Daley, who by law appoints several members of the C.T.A.’s oversight board, has said that luring the Olympics to Chicago could draw more federal money to assist with long-term upgrades to the system.

So in addition to new sports venues around town, the five-ring circus could also bring Chicagoans a better train ride.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 04/14/2007 05:29:25 PM
Category: Politics, Sports
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Monday, March 05, 2021

Ann Coulter certainly has a way with words:

Ann Coulter made the comment while talking about Democratic presidential hopefuls to GOP activists attending the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday.

“I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘faggot,’ so I - so kind of an impasse, can’t really talk about Edwards,” Coulter said.

For the Republican Party, Coulter is now a flesh-and-blood embodiment of Ross Perot’s “crazy aunt in the basement”: Too integral to the conservative cause to exile altogether, but too much of a loose wire to associate with in public. The GOP will be keeping her off to the fringe for the rest of the 2008 election season.

I would speculate that Coulter intentionally torpedoed herself off the campaign trail, both to generate some handy controversy for pumped-up book/appearance sales and to free up her time. That’ll happen anyway, but it’s more a byproduct of her lack of self-editing.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/05/2021 08:05:42 AM
Category: Celebrity, Politics
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Sunday, December 10, 2021

Having already illustrated how traditional suburban communities are morphing into troubled urban-like landscapes, the Brookings Institution reinforces that trending with a new study on poverty levels in the “first suburbs”.

The findings? Suburban poor outnumber their urban counterparts for the first time ever, by about 1.2 million. Some factors that play into this:

- Suburbs are adding people much faster than cities, making it inevitable that the number of poor people living in suburbs would eventually surpass those living in cities.

- The poverty rate in large cities (18.8 percent) is higher than it is in the suburbs (9.4 percent); but the overall number of people living in poverty is higher in the suburbs, in part because of population growth.

- Recent immigrants are increasingly bypassing cities and moving directly to suburbs, especially in the South and West; those immigrants, on average, have lower incomes than people born in the United States.

I think that last point is the deciding factor in spurring further migration by upper-class Americans to exurb territory. You have to wonder just how spread out populations can get.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/10/2021 09:47:47 PM
Category: Politics, Society
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Monday, November 06, 2021

the deuce
Don’t call it a comeback: Despite rare sightings and rumors of its demise, the Thomas Jefferson-adorned $2 bill has never been out of circulation. And now, it’s gaining newfound popularity due to perceived novelty and inflation.

And, of course, because it delivers twice the skin with half the folding action:

One group that has embraced the note is the exotic dancing industry. Strip clubs hand out $2 bills when they give customers their change and the bills end up in dancers’ garters and bartenders’ tip jars.

“The entertainers love it because it doubles their tip money,” said Angelina Spencer, a former stripper and the current executive director of the Association of Club Executives, an adult nightclub trade group representing some 1,000 members.

Would the nation’s third President be offended? I think any historian worth his 16 bits would concur that such creative commerce would sync perfectly with Jefferson’s libertarian sensibilities.

Still, I see hassles for regular strip joint clientele. On the one hand, you get a nice monetary memento from your trip to the Mons Venus. On the other, with one look inside your wallet, the wife will know exactly where those two-notes came from — a literal paper trail in your billfold. And damn the luck, you won’t be able to cash out the evidence at your local Taco Bell.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/06/2021 09:49:29 PM
Category: Business, History, Politics
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Sunday, November 05, 2021

While scrambling up and down Manhattan last night, I saw a lot of parked cars. And on a lot of those parked cars, I saw a lot of bumperstickers. And a lot of those bumperstickers were the familiar leftovers from 2004 Presidential campaign.

Yes, as you’d expect around here, loads of John Kerry ones; but also a fair number in support of W, too.

Regardless, I think it’s far past time that these relics from elections past be stricken from our sight. In fact, I think midterm elections should serve as the official end of the statute of limitation for continuing to display stickers from the prior Presidential contest. Even that’s too long to let those poli-slackers slide, but at least it’s a convenient milestone.

So, since this year’s midterms are a mere two days away, that means all you people out there still sporting your Kerry/Edwards and Bush/Cheney colors are on the clock. Get those scrapers out!

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/05/2021 04:01:38 PM
Category: Politics
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Monday, October 16, 2021

After a summer’s worth of scary spiraling, gas prices are now in retreat, all the way back to a comfortable price point:

Pump prices are now 50 cents lower than a year ago and have plummeted by more than 80 cents a gallon since the start of August. The previous 2006 low for gasoline was set in the first week of January, when pump prices averaged $2.238

Gasoline can be found for less than $2 a gallon in many parts of the country. Tom Kloza, an analyst at the Oil Price Information Service in Wall, N.J., said Missouri is on course to become the first state with average prices below that psychological level.

The question is, why are the prices dropping? Conspiracy theories abound, but the reality sounds pretty familiar:

By late summer, hedge funds and other investors had poured billions into long positions in oil, gasoline, natural gas and the rest of what traders call the “energy complex,” all betting on a replay of the severe 2005 hurricane season that sent prices soaring in the wake of Katrina and Rita. But one day after oil reached a monthly high of $76.98 a barrel on Aug. 7, government meteorologists downgraded their hurricane forecast and cautioned that a repeat of 2005 was “unlikely.”

That announcement, combined with the end of the summer driving season and a recalibration of the Goldman Sachs commodity index that reduced the weighting of gasoline, prompted speculators to head for the exits even faster than they’d piled in…

“Whatever you want to call it - speculators, fast money, hot money - a big part of the drop in crude that we’ve seen this year is because of selling by hedge funds,” says Merrill Lynch technical analyst Mary Ann Bartels.

So, instead of acute shortages and geopolitical strife, the chief reason for the jack-up in pump prices this year was market manipulation. Pretty much what Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Ben Dell theorized back in August. Dell’s ideas were controversial back then, but in short order, they’ve pretty much been validated.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 10/16/2006 11:00:40 PM
Category: Business, Politics
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Friday, October 06, 2021

Why do conservatives seem more adept at using the Web and other non-traditional news channels to their advantage than do the left-wingers? As diverse ideologues as Dick Cheney and Bill Clinton agree that it’s a comfort level issue:

But [Bill Clinton] said Democrats of his generation tend to be naive about new media realities. There is an expectation among Democrats that establishment old media organizations are de facto allies — and will rebut political accusations and serve as referees on new-media excesses.

“We’re all that way, and I think a part of it is we grew up in the ’60s and the press led us against the war and the press led us on civil rights and the press led us on Watergate,” Clinton said. “Those of us of a certain age grew up with this almost unrealistic set of expectations.”

Few conservatives would make a similar miscalculation. Many of the first generation of new media platforms, including Limbaugh’s show and Drudge’s Web site, first flourished because of a conviction among conservatives that old media were unfair.

All this has given Republicans a comfort and skill at using new media to political advantage that most Democrats have not matched. At the Republican National Committee, leaking items to the Drudge Report is an official part of communications strategy.

At first glance, this confirms the old attitude about the mainstream media being slanted toward the left. But read a little deeper, and it turns out that television, newspapers and radio are crucial amplifiers/disseminators of all the leaks and trial balloons that buzz around the Web. The scandals of the day — Mark Foley and the Congressional pages, George Allen’s “macaca” flap — caught fire on blogs and online forums. But had they not been picked up by old media outlets, they never would have blown up to the point where they had real-world impact. (The issue of whether or not traditional media had the option to ignore those stories is irrelevant — the fact is that without those saturated channels, most of the population wouldn’t have heard the news.)

But as what Cheney dubs the “old media monopoly” gets fragmented, what takes its place doesn’t necessarily translate into more reliable news outlets:

Those comments are a reminder that a changed media culture that creates new perils for politicians also provides new forms of refuge. For a full generation on the conservative side, and more recently among liberals, ideologues have created a menu of new media alternatives, including talk radio and Web sites. New media have also elevated flamboyant political entrepreneurs such as Ann Coulter on the right and Michael Moore on the left to prominent places in the political dialogue. New media platforms make criticism of traditional “mainstream media” part of their stock in trade.

This development usually ensures that any politician in trouble can count on some sympathetic forums to make his or her case. It often ensures that any controversy is marked by intense disagreement over the basic facts or relevance of the story, and obscured by clouds of accusation over the opposition’s motives.

New channels are forced to adopt slants one way or the other, just to distinguish themselves. And they’re required to commit to those perspectives in order to maintain their audiences. Becoming safe havens for either Republican or Democratic ideology makes them less reliable as complete news sources, and in fact comes pretty close to pandering. Giving the audience only what they want to hear, how they want to hear it, is popular, but not particularly enlightening. Sadly, the success of such outlets only encourages people to stay in their own worldview cocoons, rarely ever considering viewpoints other than their own.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 10/06/2021 06:39:54 PM
Category: Internet, Media Mondays, Politics
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Saturday, August 26, 2021

Ken Grandlund of the blog Common Sense was running for Congress, in some House district in California.

Now, he’s not. Although to hear him tell it, you wonder if he ever really was:

Despite a fair amount of visibility on the political internet blog circuit, most of my attempts to gain attention from the traditional media in this district went unnoticed, a failure that literally doomed my prospects from the beginning. Without an outlet to let people know about my campaign, I had only a few part time volunteers, each of us working full time jobs in the process. It was not possible for so few to collect so many signatures in so short a time…

The final straw on the proverbial camel’s back can be attributed to the overall lack of funding, which I also knew would be a large barrier. And despite the contributions some supporters generously provided, my campaign contributions never broke $1000.

A small handful of part-timers to convince voters to endorse somebody they’ve never heard of, and a few hundred dollars to run the whole show. Hello? With those kinds of resources, you couldn’t get elected prom queen.

The knee-jerk characterization of a grassroots failure like this is to blame the system, with its emphasis on slick marketing, party machinery and campaign coffers in the thousands (even millions) of dollars. The truth is much more fundamental: You can’t mount a half-assed effort (and based on Grandlund’s description, I’m being very generous about that “half” part) and expect to win support. Why should newspapers and television news devote coverage to someone who’s campaigning part-time? Why should registered voters help put a candidate on the ballot when he can’t convince anyone to invest money (which in politics represents more a currency of credibility and accountability than anything else) in him or his ideas? Being a Congressperson is all about collaborating with peers to effect action and change in the political process; if a candidate can’t demonstrate powers of persuasion during a campaign, it’s not likely they can swing it if they actually wind up holding office. Idealism is great; delivering on its promise is the rest of the equation.

Invoking some measure of success on the “political internet blog circuit” hints at this being another example of falling under the Web’s exaggerating spell. How many of Grandlund’s prospective constituents ever visited his blog or read any of his posts, there or elsewhere? Web traffic doesn’t mean much in a Congressional race. At best, it’s a required ancilliary component to a campaign, not the centerpiece. And no matter how many messages of support you get, it comes down to how you influence the local voters, period.

I don’t live anywhere near Grandlund’s area, and I don’t read his blog regularly (I come across it without fail during my infrequent Blog Explosion clickarounds). But I’d noticed his now-removed sticky post informing about his independent campaign, and over the past week, I plugged his name into Google News, just to see if he was generating any sort of media heat. Obviously, he wasn’t, and I wondered if the campaign existed anywhere but on the Web. I guess I know the answer to that now.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 08/26/2006 03:38:52 PM
Category: Bloggin', Politics
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Friday, August 04, 2021

Interesting assessment of the state of poli-blogging in an article looking at the influence of bloggers in the Joe Lieberman-Ned Lamont Democratic primary in Connecticut:

“Too much of what passes for political commentary in the blogosphere is pretty juvenile and petulant, and that’s not the way you persuade people,” [Joe Lieberman campaign aide Dan Gerstein] said. “If the blogging community is going to have a real impact, they’re going to have to have a reckoning soon about their place in the real political world, because in that world there’s a caricature of them as being dominated by crazies.”

As opposed to, say, the sane voices on talk radio and television shoutfest shows?

Not that I’m disputing Gerstein’s statement, nor am I coming to the defense of the blogs. It’s true: They’re often nothing but glorified message boards, with the subject of individual posts scarcely mattering to the trolls that populate their commenting sections.

But that’s the case with all media. The shrillest voices will always attract a disproportionate amount of attention. This is especially acute in the polarizing arena of politics. No one flips on the radio or visits a website looking for sober, reasoned exposition — that’s boring, and takes too long to absorb. People look for entertainment in their civic discourse, and the soundbite/infobite electronic media is tailor-made for that. (I think when/if people want to take a serious look at issues, they sit down and read a newspaper or magazine, online or off.)

Which, depending on your outlook, casts poli-blogging in a rather revealing light: An outlet no more guilty of immaturity than any other, but at the same time, not particularly groundbreaking.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 08/04/2021 01:25:39 PM
Category: Bloggin', Media, Politics
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Tuesday, July 25, 2021

I hate to break it to my poli-junkie friends in Florida, but guess what: New York’s got its very own Katherine Harris.

It’s true! Kathleen Troia “KT” McFarland is also a Republican running for Senate, also has no shot in hell of winning, and can give Harris a run for her money in terms of campaign ineptness:

[Former Yonkers mayor John] Spencer and his allies, including state GOP Chairman Stephen Minarik, have repeatedly called on McFarland to quit the race, but she said again Thursday she wasn’t giving that notion any thought.

McFarland has attempted to use her work as a Reagan-era Pentagon official — she was a speech writer and public affairs executive there — to boost her national security credentials.

“I’ve spent my entire life in the national security field. I’m a Cold Warrior,” she said in Rochester. “We won the Cold War. We’re now at war again, the war on terror. I want to be part of the decision process to make those choices.”

Yeah, a PR flack who last worked in Washington 21 years ago is the ideal terrorist ass-kicker. And I’m sure all those cups of coffee she fetched at the DoD were crucial to taking down the Soviet Union.

The similarities with Harris’ shipwrecking odyssey are astounding:

- Both women’s state GOP leadership have pleaded for them to drop out and avoid an embarrassing trouncing;

- Both have pumped in their own funds to keep their campaigns afloat, making them look like little more than reality-detached vanity projects;

- Both claim credentials based on little more than being errand-girls for a conservative Republican powerbase;

- Both have practically no popular appeal for a Senate run.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out they used the same base primer for their makeup jobs…

I’m seeing a separated-at-birth scenario here. Perhaps something good will come of this collective foolishness in New York and Florida — Katherine and Kathleen will discover each other, find out they had the same mother or father, and have a big family reconciliation! (Hey, a likelier fantasy than the two of them someday conferring in the Senate chamber…)

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 07/25/2006 09:17:21 AM
Category: Florida Livin', New Yorkin', Politics
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Saturday, July 22, 2021

I guess we all need to be re-reminded about how your blogging indiscretions can land you on the unemployment line. Even when you’re blogging from within the bowels of the Central Intelligence Agency, on the CIA’s private intranet:

[Software contractor Christine] Axsmith, 42, said in an interview this week that she thinks of herself as the Erma Bombeck of the intel world, a “generalist” writing about lunch meat one day, the war on terrorism the next. She said she first posted her classified blog in May and no one said a thing. When she asked, managers even agreed to give her the statistics on how many people were entering the site. Her column on food pulled in 890 readers, and people sent her reviews from other intelligence agency canteens.

The day of the last post, Axsmith said, after reading a newspaper report that the CIA would join the rest of the U.S. government in according Geneva Conventions rights to prisoners, she posted her views on the subject…

She said BAE officials told her that the blog implied a specific knowledge of interrogations and that it worried “the seventh floor” at CIA, where the offices of the director and his management team are.

I guess some folks become so enamoured of the popular concept of a blog being more genre than format — a common mistake — that they take that as carte blanche to scribble down anything that comes into their heads. Why someone would imagine that they they could publish opinion about such a hot-potato issue like torture under the Federal government’s aegis, and not get called on it, is baffling. You might as well start up a blog at one of the Big Tobacco companies, and then start posting lung cancer study findings…

Aside from all this, I think Axsmith has an exaggerated sense of continuing repercussions. No one’s going to come after her in the dead of night because of this; this was a simple pest-removal operation. No one on “the seventh floor” gives a rat’s ass about this self-styled Erma Bombeck, now that she’s not goofing around on their time.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 07/22/2006 03:19:32 PM
Category: Bloggin', Politics
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