Thursday, September 25, 2008

McCain's October surprise, a Clinton?

On Tuesday I noted Bill Clinton was making life difficult for Obama with not so subtle comments to the media favorable of Sarah Palin. Well, he was at it again today, big time. This time he’s singing the praises of John McCain on the ABC’s News segment on Good Morning America. Speaking with Chris Cuomo, Clinton supported John McCain’s decision to suspend his campaign, skip the debates and return to Washington to address financial meltdown. This from ABC/Political Radar: "We know he didn't do it because he's afraid because Sen. McCain wanted more debates," Clinton said, adding that he was "encouraged" by the joint statement from McCain and Sen. Barack Obama. This portion of the interview wasn’t reported by ABC/Political Radar. It’s the most significant portion of it. Via Newbusters: Going very much against the media meme that the current financial crisis is all George W. Bush and the Republicans' fault, Bill Clinton on Thursday told ABC's Chris Cuomo that Democrats for years have been "resisting any efforts by Republicans in the Congress or by me when I was President to put some standards and tighten up a little on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac" These aren’t slips of the tongue. Bill Clinton just doesn’t do that. And it isn’t bitterness. Bill looks ahead, not behind. But something John McCain said on CBS/Face the Nation on September 7 might have relevance. Here’s CNN’s report: Promising a "very bipartisan approach" to how he'll run his administration, Sen. John McCain said in an interview broadcast Sunday that he would appoint Democrats to his Cabinet. Speaking to CBS' "Face the Nation," the Republican presidential nominee vowed that he won't just have a single token Democrat in his Cabinet. "It's going to be the best people in America, the smartest people in America," McCain said. "So many of these problems we face -- for example, energy independence -- what's partisan about that?" Could this be McCain’s October Surprise, an announcement of a Clinton in his Cabinet? Hillary as Secretary of Health and Human Services? Nothing surprises me in this election, especially when it involves the Clintons.

Nailing Obama

There is hope for newspapers. Here’s something straight from the heartland that absolutely nails Obama. Not only does the author, David Deming write a column for the local newspaper but he is an academic, an associate professor at the University of Oklahoma. Here is his latest column from the Edmond (OK) Sun. Read it in full. When Benjamin Franklin was dispatched to France as ambassador of the United States in 1776, he won the hearts of the French through his authenticity. Rather than take on an affected and phony continental style, Franklin eschewed the powdered wig of the European gentleman and donned the fur cap of an American frontiersman. Original genius and polymath, Franklin understood that the French would see through any false pretension but respect an authenticity that sprang from an unpretentious and naive love of country. What a contrast there is between Franklin and Barack Obama. Obama is a Harvard lawyer who is a mile wide and an inch deep. He is only the latest in a long line of shallow elites that consider it stylish and intellectual to despise their own culture and heritage. Nothing exemplifies Obama’s antipathy for American culture better than his statement that Americans “cling to” religion and guns out of frustration or bitterness. We only can suppose that Obama regards religion or firearms as aberrations that need to be eradicated He continues: The American Revolution started when the British marched to Concord with the intention of confiscating colonial arms. Both the right to “keep and bear arms” and the right to “free exercise” of religion are enshrined in the Bill of Rights. We have come a long way when the presidential nominee of a major political party regards the exercise of fundamental rights as a mental aberration. More: The choice of Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate has been devastating for the Obama campaign precisely because she is everything Obama is not. Palin is not ashamed of her culture or country. She is not embarrassed by being an American, but naively embraces her birthright. Unassisted by affirmative action, Palin has risen to national prominence on the basis of her character, intelligence and natural gifts. In a word, she has guts. This is a woman who is proud of her country, not because it has granted her personal success, but because she respects what America stands for: freedom, opportunity, and individualism. Obama is a vapid demagogue, a hollow man that despises American culture. He is ill-suited to be president of the United States. As the weeks pass, more Americans will come to this realization and elect McCain/Palin in a landslide. What a breath of fresh air!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

With friends like this, who needs enemies?


On 9/11 there was a face to face luncheon meeting between Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. It was held in Harlem in a private dining room adjacent to Clinton’s 14th floor office. Ostensibly it was to soothe the wounds from the long and bitter campaign. The meeting was between the two of them with each allowed a single aide. And it wasn’t to talk about what they would wear at the inaugural ball. Ask yourself what would be the number one question for each to ask the other. For Obama it would be, what would it take for you and Hillary to get on board my campaign with some serious support? Would a UN ambassadorship do it, or how about the Court of St. James’s (London)? As for Clinton, there is only one question for Barack. Do you want to win? And the only way to do it is with Hillary on the ticket. Will you dump Biden? Is there a secret deal as this widely circulated email alleges?

Let me share some info with you that I have gotten from excellent sources within the DNC: On or about October 5th, Biden will excuse himself from the ticket, citing health problems, and he will be replaced by Hillary. This is timed to occur after the VP debate on 10/2.”

Fat chance! All you have to do is listen to Clinton and see the knife going into Obama’s back day after day. It isn’t pretty. This is from last Thursday:

Bill Clinton said in an interview Thursday that “it would be a mistake to underestimate” Sarah Palin, adding that he’s not surprised by the bounce John McCain saw in the polls after naming the Alaska governor as his running mate. “She is an instinctively effective candidate with a compelling story,” Clinton told CNBC. “And I think it was exciting to some that she was a woman, that she is from Alaska.” And again yesterday (from Fox): Former President Bill Clinton said Monday he understands why Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is popular in the American heartland: because people relate to her. “I come from Arkansas, I get why she’s hot out there, why she’s doing well.”

Anyone who thinks things will calm down, they won’t. Bill is costing Obama the election and Obama knows it.

Update, September 24 Democrats are are noticing this and reacting bitterly. Here’s one from Paul Slansky over at HuffPo. Read it all.

But that's not what you're doing, Bill, and it's not going unnoticed. We see your rage, Bill, it's too huge to hide. We see that -- as Chris Rock so brilliantly pointed out -- it pains you to even speak Obama's name. We see you petulantly rooting against him even as you go through the motions of doing the barest minimum on his behalf to avoid being blamed if he loses.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Saving history

As I watch the troubled newspaper world, I find myself with mixed emotions. I take a bit of pleasure watching those papers that have taken such a partisan tone on their news pages pay the price in lost circulation and revenue shortfalls. But in other areas I am concerned. It saddened me to read this “Letter from the Editor” of the NY Sun that ran September 4. In part it reads: Dear Readers of the Sun: This morning I write to you about the future of The New York Sun, which is in circumstances that may require us to cease publication at the end of September unless we succeed in our efforts to find additional financial backing. The managing editor, Ira Stoll, who is one of the founding partners in the paper, and I have shared this news with our colleagues, and we would like our readers as well to be aware of the situation. There are no white knights out there and it appears the worst will happen. The most tragic consequence of a newspaper dying is the loss of its historical articles. Yes there are microfilm copies of my old paper, the Washington Star, but you have to go to the Library of Congress to find them. Today’s researchers don’t have enough time to do that. Even in the digital age when a paper closes, their archives may be lost unless someone comes along to manage them. Google is working on a massive project to digitize all back issues of newspapers in their Digital Archive Project. This will allow researchers to access online previously irretrievable information. Many newspapers have given up maintaining their archives for non employees and gone to outside services on a pay for play basis. Gannett’s is the worst and totally unusable unless you don’t mind going through 13,000 articles to find the result of a three word search. In anticipation of the worst, I have been searching and copying articles from the Sun that may be of historical interest. Four years ago they were the only newspaper to do an in depth analysis of John Kerry’s military status and discharge. This is an outstanding article and you can find it here. I have saved it (I had to copy the text into MS Word). You may want to do the same.

North Korea, where are the Chinese?

Sept. 21 (Bloomberg) -- South Korea may suspend planned energy supply to North Korea if the communist regime accelerates processes for restarting its nuclear reactor, Yonhap news agency reported. North Korea has begun restoring three facilities at the Yongbyon site, including a fuel rod plant, the 5-megawatt reactor and reprocessing equipment, Yonhap said, citing a diplomatic official it didn't name Well here we go again. I mistakenly felt confident in June when North Korea destroyed the cooling tower for its plutonium production reactor. If for any reason they went back on their agreement, the reconstruction of the tower would provide several months’s warning of their intent. We have that warning now. Former UN Ambassador John Bolton’s stern warnings that President Bush had seriously miscalculated now have proven true. Trusting North Korea on anything without a lock and a key is always a miscalculation. History has proven this. Whether it was Jimmy Carter, Madeline Albright or willing fool Ted Turner, they all ended up with egg on their faces trying to negotiate with the Kim regime. The real question in this mess is where do the Chinese stand? They were the critical factor in backing the North Koreans down at the 6-party talks. China has their own motives to halt Kim’s nuclear plans. They know and fear Japan’s reaction. Japan will go nuclear when North Korea has a credible nuclear offensive capability. A nuclear Japan would throw a monkey wrench into China’s long term efforts to become the dominant power in the Far East. Unless there are some dramatic signs of pressure from the Chinese, it looks as if all they wanted was two weeks of peace and quiet in the Far East for their showpiece Olympic Games.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The power of Palin

Sarah Palin’s appearance on ABC World News Tonight on September 11 and 12 vaulted them from second place to first among total viewers. From a half a million behind, they beat NBC by over a half a million with only two days of Palin. Lest you think this a fluke, it’s the first time ABC was number one since the week of May 26. 9/08-12 Total Viewers: ABC: 8,880,000 / NBC: 8,360,000 / CBS: 6,210,000 (Palin ABC 11&12) 9/01-05 Total Viewers: NBC: 8,230,000 / ABC: 7,700,000 / CBS: 5,530,000 (No Palin) Source: Mediabistro Likewise on cable last night, perennial number two Hannity and Colmes whupped O’Reilly by over a million with Ms. Palin. CABLE RACE, WED, SEPT 17 FOXNEWS HANNITY/COLMES 4,921,000 FOXNEWS O'REILLY 3,839,000 FOXNEWS GRETA 3,561,000 FOXNEWS SHEP SMITH 2,184,000 FOXNEWS HUME 2,108,000 MSNBC OLBERMANN 1,854,000 CNN COOPER 1,719,000 MSNBC RACHEL MADDOW 1,716,000 CNN KING 1,646,000 MSNBC HARDBALL 1,145,000 Source: Drudge Next week, Sarah will be on last place CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. With the world hungry for more Palin, the effects will likely be the same, but unlikely to move CBS into second place. Now here’s the conflict for the network news producers. Do you risk offending Sarah Palin and not having her back, or in the case of NBC and ABC being fair and ensuring yourself more weekly first places? Tough choices. That's the power of Palin.

The real meaning of "lipstick on a pig"

During my career in the newspaper business, there were times I was called on to use creative writing techniques to cover what were truly disasters. Never was anything I did as creative as this. Never. The company said advertising revenue at The New York Times, Boston Globe, International Herald Tribune and other newspapers slipped 16 percent combined last month compared with August 2007. That's better than the 18 percent year-over-year advertising drops the company reported for June and July….

Both are unmitigated disasters

This is truly lipstick on a pig.

Moral sickness at AP

This from Editor & Publisher (emphasis added) WASHINGTON Hackers broke into the Yahoo! e-mail account that Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin used for official business as Alaska's governor, revealing as evidence a few inconsequential personal messages she has received since John McCain selected her as his running mate. "This is a shocking invasion of the governor's privacy and a violation of law. The matter has been turned over to the appropriate authorities and we hope that anyone in possession of these e-mails will destroy them," the McCain campaign said in a statement. The Secret Service contacted The Associated Press on Wednesday and asked for copies of the leaked e-mails, which circulated widely on the Internet. The AP did not comply. The reason the FBI wants the e-mails isn’t to review the content, as E & P implies, it is to find the sender/s addresses, so they can trace down the hackers. Only the AP knows the sender/s and they refused to comply. There is a moral sickness at AP. Whether they are trying to equate this to a “shield law” situation, which it is not, or simply show their disdain for the Secret Service and the Republican VP nominee, it puts them on the side of the hackers. Not good company to have. One wonders what their attitude would be if an email had been sent to them warning of the 9/11 attacks. Would they share the email/sender address with the FBI, or protect their source? Sick.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bad times for newspapers

McClatchy To Trim 10% of Workforce -- August Revenue Down 17% 'Star-Ledger' Publisher Threatens January 2009 Shutdown Gannett Reports Ad Revenue Off 16.8% for August Fort Worth Daily Selling Its Historic Headquarters 'Rushville Republican' Drops a Day's Edition 'OC Register' for Sale? 'Sac Bee' Buyouts Cut Staff 7% -- Second Reduction Since June Three Montana Papers Announce New Round of Layoffs 'Novato Advance' to Fold This Month 'Star-Ledger' Newsroom Buyout Count Low -- As Deadline Nears N.J.'s Largest Paper Goes Without AP For a Day -- Protest or Test? Gannett to Re-Org, Cut 100 Management Positions Nevada 'Daily' Will Drop Three Days 'Orange County Register' Studying Switch to Tabloid Washington 'Olympian' Faces More Cuts, Just as Exec. Editor Retires The above are headlines of major trade news stories for the past 7 days (9/9-16) in Editor & Publisher. It is a sign of the malaise the industry is going through. The Gannett and McClatchy ad revenue drops are devastating. They are the country's two largest newspaper chains. Three months ago, monthly year to year figures were in the minus 10 to 13% range. Now it's 17. The downward trend is accelerating. Most significant of these stories is the one about the threatened closure of the Newark Star-Ledger if all unions don’t reach agreement on a designated number of buyouts. The Drivers are balking. The publisher has said the next step will be to sell the paper and barring that, to close it. There simply aren’t any buyers for newspapers now, so this isn’t an idle threat. AP isn’t exempt from problems either. Their member papers have been chafing under the burden of high rates. About a year ago, the AP revised its rate structure to help the smaller papers and allow the larger ones to buy certain services on an a la carte basis. Still many are thinking of withdrawing and some already have given notice. In recent months, several newspapers have announced plans to drop the news service, with at least one -- The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Wash. -- challenging AP's two-year notice requirement. Other dailies that have already given notice to AP are The Bakersfield Californian, The Star Tribune of Minneapolis, The Post Register of Idaho Falls, and The Yakima Herald-Republic and Wenatchee World, both of Washington. Yet throughout this doom and gloom, E & P parrots the same liberal line as most newpapers, totally oblivious to the damage such partisanship is doing to their industry. Here are E & P's stories on the election. Pretty one-sided. Economists Favor Obama in Massive Survey Conducted by 'Dilbert' Cartoonist McCain Tells AP and Newspaper Editors: OK, Obama Did NOT Call Palin a 'Pig' Media Confirms: Palin Exaggerated Trip to Iraq LexisNexis Study Finds No Media Bias Against Palin, GOP -- So Far Will Public Believe McCain 'Doublespeak' -- Or the Press? AP Hits Palin for Not Taking Questions I keep wondering how liberal editorial minds work. All I can surmise is these stories are their psychological release, their only joyful moments, before the inevitable doomsday. Sick.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Chevy Volt

Updated. One of the highlights of the 2008 Olympic TV coverage was the General Motors commercial, with Brandi Carlile’s hauntingly beautiful music. But the commercial that caused a stir, also a masterpiece, was the one for the Chevy Volt. GM announced the Volt in 2007 at the Detroit Auto Show and it immediately captured the imagination of the trade press and the general public. Designed as a 4 passenger, 40 mile range electric vehicle with a range extending internal combustion engine, it overcomes the impracticalities of GM’s first production effort for an electric car, the EV-1. The EV-1 was a good faith effort by GM to fulfill the California Air Resources Board mandate to the 7 major auto manufacturers to sell 2% of their California cars as zero emission vehicles. Eventually 10% would have to conform. The EV-1 was a totally purpose built car, not a conversion of an existing model as all the other manufacturers did. Tooling was designed for high volume production including very expensive injection molding dies for the lightweight body panels. But the very concept of a battery operated ZEV is flawed, but this was and will be the only practical ZEV technology for many years. The fundamental problem with battery only cars is the “stranding factor.” If you run out of “fuel” in an electric, you can’t just call road service for a gallon of electrons to get you to the nearest filling station. You need a tow home or to a recharging station with a several hour wait to fill up. Try that with screaming kids in the back of the car, or worse yet, your mother-in-law. Where the EV-1 missed the mark, the Volt nails it. GM’s research shows an average daily commute of 35 to 40 miles. So it aimed at that mark for battery-only operation with a backup engine capable of operating the car without reduced performance. The engine drives the wheels through a generator via the battery pack. According to Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman of GM the Volt will cost about $1 for electricity for the first 40 miles, as opposed to $4 under engine power (40 mpg, $4 gas = 10¢/mile). The Volt will have better energy recovery from braking or coasting down hills than the current Prius because of a far larger battery capacity. Energy recovery is the most important reason for the Prius’s phenomenal mileage. Many of the Volt’s specs remain shrouded in mystery, but reading through statistics released by GM it appears the battery will be about 16 kWh of which only about 8 will be used in an effort to extend battery life. Recharging from a standard 120v/15a outlet will take about 5.5 hours, a comfortable overnight charge. GM’s biggest challenge and greatest risk is the battery pack. They are working with technology that is less than 5 years old, that they have been testing for less than a year. And they intend to have it on the market in 2 years (by the end of year 2010). And they plan to warrant them for 10 years/150,000 miles. They have expressed confidence in the longevity and durability of the packs, but costs are still a problem. The Volt’s original target price of $30,000 has risen to high 30s and now, “we’re not sure.” First year production is now pegged at 10,000 which should keep a tight market for the intended initial purchasers, technology buffs with fat wallets. The Volt is an exciting concept. It holds the promise of significantly reducing the use of petroleum products. It may not satisfy the “purists” who want only ZEVs, but until fuel cells can be made competitive and hydrogen produced from non-fossil fuel sources, it is a giant step in the right direction. Update Sept. 16: GM rolled out the production version of the Volt today to celebrate its 100th anniversary. See the article and video here. Actually looks better than the artist’s rendering. Everyone wanted the long hood look of the prototype shown at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show. That just couldn’t be. Aero considerations require a highly sloped windshield and a narrower, longer body, especially for 70 mph highway speeds. GM did a great job considering the constraints they were operating under. Still I was hoping for the lightning bolt headlights in the rendering.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Rathergate remembered

Four years ago today, Sept. 8 2004, Dan Rather aired his infamous and decidedly false 60 Minutes Wednesday piece on CBS. It ultimately caused his own ouster from CBS Nightly News, not the piece’s intended victim, President George W. Bush. It was a cataclysmic event, forever shattering the MSM’s sacrosanct position as the sole arbiter of news. The internet effectively challenged CBS and won. Two events involving the internet have shaken the MSM like no others. Both involve patently liberal bias. And both were victories for the internet. The first was the Monica Lewinsky/Bill Clinton sex and perjury story. Newsweek had the story in type ready to run, and spiked at the very last moment. Two days later Drudge broke it and you know about the rest. Instantly Matt Drudge was a household name, and the Drudge Report at or near the top of the ratings. It became the go-to site for so many, including media types, for top news headlines. The second and most important was Rathergate. Within hours of airing a documentary asserting Bush had shirked his duty in the Texas Air National Guard and received preferential treatment, conservative voices challenged the documents CBS had posted on its website documenting the segment’s assertions. A lawyer from Atlanta posted on Free Republic questioning the typography in the documents, pointing out it appeared to be Times New Roman a photocomposition typeface, not in use on typewriters. He also questioned the variable spacing and superscript in the memos. Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs went one better. To him the documents looked like they had been composed on a modern day computer. So he retyped one of them in MS Word in the default settings. He then superimposed his over one of the Killian documents, and except for distortions from Xeroxing it multiple times, they were identical in typeface, spacing and line breaks. Instantly a firestorm ensued from conservative blogs. Drudge steered readers to them. Lightly read blogs such as Powerline, Captains Quarters,and Little Green Footballs became instant hits. They chimed in with their expertise overwhelming the timid coverage of the MSM. New blogs started such as Rathergate concentrating on this one issue. Of the MSM, only the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz and ABC News gave it serious coverage. The New Your Times covered it with wire service reports and an occasional article by Frank Rich, their uber liberal art and TV critic. The rest is history. After 12 days (Sept. 20), CBS publicly repudiated the validity of the documents. Rather also made a public statement in part saying, “if I knew then what I know now – I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired.” Subsequently an independent panel, commissioned by CBS came to the conclusion the segment shouldn’t have aired. Precisely 26 weeks to the day after the segment ran, Rather had his last day anchor chair of CBS Nightly News.
It is my understanding will be giving a day by day repeat of coverage as it happened four years ago. The media still doesn’t appreciate how badly it is perceived. makes sure the reading public knows it. Follow what happened four years ago there.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Is Obama cheating?

To say I was impressed with Sarah Palin’s speech at the convention is an understatement. Her delivery and her ability to land telling body blows on her opponents, with a smile, was simply outstanding. And then to learn she had done this without the full use of a teleprompter is even more impressive. She didn’t miss a beat and appeared more natural in her delivery later in her speech. Curt over at Flopping Aces has the same admiration for Palin and points out the difference in Obama's response in a video when he had similar telprompter problems. Lots of uhhs and errs, and he never does complete the sentence he started. But the more I watch that video, the more the problem isn’t one of a teleprompter. He isn’t working from a teleprompter, he is moving. But he gets totally hung up after saying “…it would cost us.” He gets hung up three or four times and seems to be looking for help on a dollar amount he can’t remember. He glances up and to his right. Finally he finishes by saying “I can’t hear myself.” Could it be Obama is doing precisely what Democrats accused President Bush of doing in the 2004 debates? That was when they thought they saw a “lump” under the back of his suit jacket and said it was a radio receiver. Could it be Obama had a loss of signal or some interference problem that blocked reception and then moved around trying for a clearer signal? Modern hearing aids have 5 mm dia. earpieces that fit loosely in the ear canal. Their batteries are only slightly larger. It is not inconceivable that small radio receive could be made the same size and be totally hidden in the ear canal. Is Obama using outside help in his ad lib talks? Something is funny. You decide.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is a dreamland and a visual delight. The weather is perfect, clear with highs in the high 70s and lows in the 40s. As soon as the sun comes up, it warms right up. Today is just another perfect California day. Here are some photos. The last three are from the Hellman-Ehrman mansion, now a California state park. Scroll down a bit for additional photos. Try as I may, I can't get blogger to let me tuck the photos directly under each other.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Blogging lite

Blogging will be light for the next 11 days. Julie and I are taking some time away from Florida to visit the Lake Tahoe area, Yosemite and Sequoia. It is leg 3 of a 4 summer odyssey that will take us next year to Alaska on the ferry. I have several articles in the works, but they are taking longer than planned. I am concerned I will lose my momentum as traffic builds on this site but I will put my nose to the grindstone when I return. In the meantime I’ll post some photo stories about the trip.