Wednesday, December 08, 2004

All Enigmas Resolved Here

Sweet Mystery of Life At Last You’ve Found Me

If you’re like me, you daily rise up with naive hope for the race, only to have it dashed time and again by a cursory glance at the news, or worse, a step outside your door. You wail and beat your breast over the mysterious stupidities of the world, not the least of which is how Robert Novak, hack and lowly worm of media renown, continues to pull a paycheck for crawling on his belly like a reptile. Most recently you may be considering the plight of Judith Miller and Matthew Cooper, and trying to find some explanation for why Novak continues to ply his worthless trade with impunity while those whose shoes he is not fit to lick are facing jail time. Well, wonder no more!
Amy Sullivan wraps it up for us quite nicely over at The Washington Monthly:

"His set-up is nearly perfect—as a syndicated opinion columnist and executive producer of his own show, Novak can say what he wants without fear of punitive consequences, and he can ignore what he wants, safe in the knowledge that no one of significance will ever press him. He is hardly alone in being used by sources or having dicey conflicts of interest. But unlike journalists Dan Rather and Howell Raines, who provided full explanations and apologies once their errors were revealed—and who faced well-organized mau-mauing campaigns waged by critics on the right—Novak is an island, untouched by criticism. His privileged position would count for nothing if his peers and colleagues held him accountable."
That's right. His own kind let him get away with it. When I was in school they taught ethics with journalism. Now this morals-happy culture can't be bothered.

Oh, Whither Janet Jackson’s Breast?

Behind all those FCC indecency complaints everyone has been moaning about—one source. And what a surprise:

“The number of indecency complaints had soared dramatically to more than 240,000 in the previous year, Powell said. The figure was up from roughly 14,000 in 2002, and from fewer than 350 in each of the two previous years. There was, Powell said, “a dramatic rise in public concern and outrage about what is being broadcast into their homes. What Powell did not reveal—apparently because he was unaware—was the source of the complaints. According to a new FCC estimate obtained by Mediaweek, nearly all indecency complaints in 2003—99.8 percent—were filed by the Parents Television Council, an activist group.
This year, the trend has continued, and perhaps intensified.
Through early October, 99.9 percent of indecency complaints—aside from those concerning the Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction” during the Super Bowl halftime show broadcast on CBS— were brought by the PTC, according to the FCC analysis dated Oct. 1. (The agency last week estimated it had received 1,068,767 complaints about broadcast indecency so far this year; the Super Bowl broadcast accounted for over 540,000, according to commissioners’ statements.)”
Another tempest in a fundamentalist teapot.

Rumsfeld to Troops: Tough Shit.

And finally, more of that sensitive Pentagonian empathy we’ve been learning about:

"Army Spc. Thomas Wilson, for example, of the 278th Regimental Combat Team that is comprised mainly of citizen soldiers of the Tennessee Army National Guard, asked Rumsfeld in a question-and-answer session why vehicle armor is still in short supply, nearly two years after the start of the war that ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
“Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmor our vehicles?” Wilson asked. A big cheer arose from the approximately 2,300 soldiers in the cavernous hangar who assembled to see and hear the secretary of defense.
Rumsfeld replied that troops should make the best of the conditions they face...“You can have all the armor in the world on a tank and it can (still) be blown up.”
And what do you know! They had to put on a nice face for "our elfin Secretary of Defense", as Gore Vidal called him, but not everyone was amused:

"Colonel Zimmerman said he appreciated the efforts by Army supply officials here, but he and his troops said they could not help but fume at the sight of the fully "up-armored" Humvees and heavy trucks set out on display here for Mr. Rumsfeld's visit.
"What you see out here isn't what we've got going north with us," he said."
Now we know where they get it in Fallujah.

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