Posts from March 17, 2005

Can a Men’s Studies Department be far behind?

Can a Men’s Studies Department be far behind?

: In reply to all the gender-defending going on lately, Dave Winer vows to post some positive male images.

Pot calls kettle hot

Pot calls kettle hot

: Tina Brown — who made her career on the foibles of celebrity — now laments that everybody can find foibles; it is no longer the exclusive calling of the tony-cocktail-party-throwing editorial elite:

We are in the Eggshell Era, in which everyone has to tiptoe around because there’s a world of busybodies out there who are being paid to catch you out — and a public that is slowly being trained to accept a culture of finks.

Finks, formerly known as reporters; busybodies, formerly known as sources.

We’re always under surveillance; cameras watch us wherever we go; paparazzi make small fortunes snapping glamour goddesses picking their noses; everything is on tape, with transcripts available.

And without the paparazzi, where would magazines be?

No matter who you are, someone is ready and willing to rat you out. Even the rats themselves have to look over their shoulders, because some smaller rat is always waiting in the wings. Bloggers are the new Stasi. All the timidity this engenders, all this watching your mouth has started to feel positively un-American.

If bloggers are Stasi, then magazine editors are, what, the politburo? I write this off to petty jealousy. But Dana Blankenhorn has a fit fit for Buzzmachine.

Regaining the environmental lead

Regaining the environmental lead

: There’s a warning to liberals in Dick Morris’ column: He says that Arnold Schwarzenegger is taking the lead on alternative energy. And he says this isn’t an environmental issue; of course, it is now an issue of national security. We must must must reduce our dependence on dangerous oil; we’ve said that for years and done squat about it; so the Saudis have us by the balls and we have been too wussy to push them toward democracy as we are beginning to push other countries.

Just making smaller cars isn’t the answer because they don’t save enough and, as we saw in crash-fatality stats released this week, they’re less safe than the big cars the market wants. No, the solution is supporting radical solutions, like new engines. Says Morris:

Start with the War on Terror. While President Bush hunts the terrorists down and pressures nation-states to give up their sponsorship of terror gangs, Schwarzenegger is working to solve the problem of Islamic terrorism once and for all

Alterman & Wolfowitz

Alterman & Wolfowitz

: I find it intriguing that Eric Alterman does not join in the blanket vilification of Paul Wolfowitz engaged in by others. A week ago, Alterman went to a tony party (is there any other kind?) thrown by Tina Brown and Harry Evans and he wrote:

Though he was clearly the celebrity guest of the moment… Paul Wolfowitz was more whispered about than talked to last night. So I felt bad for the guy when I saw him standing by himself [note how I resisted the tempation to mock that moment of humanistic hubris -ed] and went over to see what cocktail party banter might yield in the way of global understanding. (I began with, and remain committed to, the admittedly controversial hypothesis that Wolfowitz is a genuinely misguided idealist

Publius Pundit reporting

Publius Pundit reporting

: There were rumors of a coup attempt in Syria. Publius Pundit debunked them.



: How do you like that name for all this: Volksmedia?

Yesterday, I was reading a big story about citizens’ media in Focus, the German newsmagazine — about Flickr, blogs, and all that — and they translated the phemon into the german as Volksmedien.

I like that. It has a funky, retro, populist, Volkswagen feel, of course, with that buggy attitude. NYTimes Executive Editor Bill Keller complained that “citizens’ media” — my moniker of choice, was a bit pretentious or at leas presumptuous. I don’t disagree. He proposed “people’s media,” but that seemed all too Internationale to me. I once called it “populist media,” but that brings too much baggage.

So how about volksmedia?

: LATER: Well, this one laid an egg, judging by the comments.

I’d be curious to hear German bloggers react to the reaction.

: NIGHTTIME UPDATE: Well, a couple of German bloggers don’t like the idea.

: Jim Treacher proposes “wedia.” [I was lazy and didn’t give him a link so here is a link, a very long link….]

The new national nanny: Another FOIA

The new national nanny: Another FOIA

: I filed a Freedom of Information Act request for correspondence from FCC commissioners to Brent Bozell, head of the so-called Parents Television Council. Here are excerpts from a letter to Bozell from Kevin Martin, the new chairmanof the FCC:

First, I want to thank the Parents Television Council and the many organization with which you are working for alling attention to the issue of indecency on our airwaves. I share your concern about the increasing courseness of the programming on television and radio.

The FCC plays an important role in protecting Americans — particularly children — from obscene and indecent material….”

It’s his right, but I’m uncomfortable with Martin thanking Bozell; it puts him on Bozells side; it encourages him.

I also have trouble with him saying that he is protecting adults, and not just children, from indecency.

Martin tells Bozell he supported reducing the requirements for filing complaints (no longer requiring tapes or transcripts). And he pushes to count every utterance of an alleged indecency as a violation to pump up the fines: “Classifying each indecent utterance as a separate violation could result in significantly higher fines for many complaints.”

Nothing damning there, mostly echoes of Martin’s statements (see a complete list of them here).

: Among the other letters, there are a few interesting notes.

Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy sends what appears to be a form letter but then adds in her handwriting: “Happy Holidays. I’ll see you in the new year!” Almost sounds as if they socialize.

: LATER: Terry Heaton sends along a link to this good edwardpig analysis of Martin’s relationship with Bozell:

Martin worked for Ken Starr during the witch hunt against Clinton, and when the Florida fix was in danger of falling apart in 2000, “Martin left for Miami so quickly he didn’t pack a bag. Working round the clock, he could be seen on TV peering over ballot counters.”

The possibility of having a Bush rubber stamp in the position of FCC chair is bad enough. What’s worse is that Bush’s primary motivation for naming Martin is to throw a bone to the cultural conservatives. Specifically, Brent Bozell, the head of both the Media Research Center (MRC) and the Parents Television Council (PTC), strongly endorses Martin for the post….

But the fact is that Bozell, for all of his conflicts and sleaze, is about to wield considerable power at the FCC. Not only do PTC members account for 99.8% of the complaints filed with the FCC in the past year, Martin seems favorably disposed to heed those complaints and act on them in a big way. Furthermore, Martin does not appear to be content with simply regulating broadcast television. He has suggested that he’d like to explore broadening FCC authority to regulate satellite and cable TV as well.