Friday, January 30, 2009

What good is freedom of the press when you have no press?

Below, one day's worth of headlines (Friday January 30th) from an e-mail sent to me five times a week by, a journalism and communications website.

For full details and a lot of pain, go here and click on any story:

Disney Finally Makes Its Cuts: 200 Fired at ABC, 200 at ESPN (AllThingsDigital)
ABC is firing 200 people and leaving another 200 positions vacant, which amounts to an overall workforce reduction of five percent. Meanwhile cable powerhouse ESPN is cutting 200 jobs of its own. There's little detail about who was cut where. TVNewser: ABC News is cutting 35-40 staffers as part of the larger cuts at Disney-ABC Television.

LAT Kills Local News Section (LA Observed)
LA Times publisher Eddy Hartenstein has ordered the California section killed. The publisher decided to fold local news inside the front section -- which will be reconfigured to downplay national and foreign news -- despite the unanimous and vocal objections of senior editors.

Page Six Magazine Goes Quarterly (FishbowlNY)
The entire staff of Page Six Magazine will be packing up their desks on the heels of yesterday's announcement that the weekly New York Post insert would move to a quarterly publication schedule. The only full-time employee left will be editor-in-chief Margi Conklin.

Cuts Coming Next Week at WSJ (Portfolio)
When Gerard Baker starts his new job as The Wall Street Journal's new deputy EIC next Wednesday, he'll have a lot of names to learn. But not quite as many as if he'd started sooner. Multiple sources say the newsroom is due to undergo another round of personnel cuts late next week.

Baltimore Examiner Can't Find Buyer, Will Close (Baltimore Sun)
Less than three years after its debut, the Baltimore Examiner free newspaper will cease publication next month. The decision comes after months of unsuccessful attempts to find a buyer for the paper and failed efforts to package ads with a sister publication in Washington.

Slate Editor Sends Staffers on Sabbaticals (NYO)
In a season of media cutbacks, thus far the staffers at Slate have escaped the scythe. Editor David Plotz has made no layoffs. Even more remarkably, Plotz is sending his writers out of the office to go work from home and pull together a big project and all the while still get paid for it.

Metro Shuts Spanish Edition (Guardian)
Freesheet group Metro International has closed its operations in Spain, in a sign of the chill wind blowing through the global newspaper industry. Metro said it would no longer publish in seven Spanish cities in the face of "unsustainable" losses.
And also at the MediaBistro web site last Friday:

Analyst Downgrades News Corp Pali Research analyst Rich Greenfield downgraded News Corp to sell from buy. His reasons include decreased earnings per share estimates; the possibility that COO Peter Chernin may not renew his contract; and a suspicion that Rupert Murdoch is without a strategy for the company's core businesses.

Recession Rocks Hollywood's Showbiz Papers (Reuters)
For more than 75 years, Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter have battled to be the movie industry's top newspaper, but recent layoffs due to the recession and competition from Internet blogs has Hollywood wondering if it will soon become a one paper town.

Hell Week for Print Media (The Wrap)
Slate's Jack Shafer tries to view the death of newspapers with optimism: "I love newspapers, and at the same time, their dying makes me a mortician -- it gives me a lot of work," he said. "I still think the newspaper has a long way to go before it's taken the dirt nap."

LA Shakeup at People (P6)
Tongues were wagging this week when People's top editor, Larry Hackett, sent Manhattan-based assistant managing editor J.D. Heyman to run the LA bureau, a job formerly held by LA bureau chief Liz Leonard. "It's kind of embarrassing for Liz," said one source.

Note to the last reporter out the door: Don't bother turning out the lights. Just burn the building down before they turn it into more loft residences for Wall Street bankers. I hear lots of them are looking for digs to invest in with their government-sponsored bailout bonuses.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

What Republican cooperation? Maybe, President Obama, you should abandon “bipartisan” appeasement and try some fiercer tactics.

Not one — not a single, solitary one! — of the House Republicans voted in favor of President Obama’s bailout package.

The Republicans got some compromises from the Democrats. More tax cutting than common sense calls for. Less money plowed directly into some projects and segments of the economy than common sense would seem to demand. All because Republicans said they wanted it that way and the President was encouraging a conciliatory mood.

And then the Republicans turned around and stabbed President Obama, and the electorate, in the back.

The President’s a good guy. But it’s time to get away from the good guy bi-partisan approach. Instead of appeasing Republicans, President Obama should do what the voters asked for when they elected him. He should roll right over them and start undoing the last eight years of Bush incompetence, idiocy and thuggery.

This is about much more than pouring money into the economy. The taxpayers need to make certain the money they’ve poured into banks and automobile manufacturers produces a return, not executive bonuses for the greedy thugs who run the banks.

If that means temporary seizure of some of the banks, then seize the damn things. And while we're at it, break 'em up into smaller banks so that no bank will be "too big to fail" in the future.

We also need investigations and, if warranted, prosecutions for torture, civil rights violations and corruption and cronyism under the Bush Administration. We need them not only to punish the guilty, but to show the world and our own citizens that the United States will no longer conduct or condone such behavior, or accept the damage that it does to constitutional law, America's reputation abroad, or the health and safety of our citizens.

Hell, when laissez-faire government gets all the way down to allowing disease-carrying peanut butter into the food chain, we know the right wing has raised hell with the life and health of Americans. Justice demands a powerful precedent to discourage such behavior.

The time to start is now. We’ve just seen that cooperating with the right wing gets you nothing but a finger in the eye.

Turn the dogs loose on ‘em.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


The presidential election didn’t stop the conservative crazies. They’re coming out of the woodwork again.

Congressman John Boehner — formerly an upholder of the Bush borrow-and-spend program that helped run the United States into the ground — is now criticizing Obama for a borrow-and-spend program.

This is just when, thanks to the previous administration, we have no other choice if we ever want to dig ourselves out of the financial mess we're in.

And since tax-cuts for the rich were great for the rich but ultimately didn’t do much for the economy — just look where we were before Bush got elected and where we are now, after the Bush tax cuts — bonehead Boehner is avocating…well, you almost guessed it!

Boehner wants tax cuts that would lower tax rates while essentially giving nothing to the poor and unemployed. Yet it's the poor and jobless who would have no choice but to pour their money into the economy as fast as more comfortable citizens have shunted their tax refunds to the banks in the past.

I’m not wildly enamored of the currently evolving Obama program either. It tries to make nice to too many uncooperative forces, including the likes of economic obstructionists like Congressman Boehner.

On the other hand, at least the Obama tax cuts and credits for the struggling middle class and poor will quickly inject some money into the economy, as will a program of infrastructure repair. However…

Here's what we need most

We’ve got to start thinking long term. Highway repairs are just another temporary palliative.

Yes, we need to repair infrastructure. Desperately. But we also need the equivalent of the space program of the 1960s and the Manhattan Project in the 1940s to create new American technological advances, prosperity and new industries. Otherwise, 20 nears from now, in our ever-weakening “service economy,” we’ll all still be grubbing a living by taking in our neighbors' laundry and flipping each others’ hamburgers.

Parts of this got talked about during the election campaign. Why, oh why, has it almost gone away?

We need programs to fund nonprofit laboratories in universities and governmental facilities, from which the technologies (and the technical innovators) of the future will emerge.

We need to educate the engineers and architects who can build not only the cars and transportation systems of the future, but also the homes and offices and (let us pray) factories of the future.

Let America become the world’s leader in developing and manufacturing wind turbines rather than coal plants.

Let’s be innovators in making power-generating light cells rather than buzz-generating celebrity gossip.

Let’s pioneer more energy-efficient and less toxic ways to dispose of waste.

Instead of developing new and improved anthrax strains for germ warfare, how about putting government scientists to work on anti-malarial drugs to replace the ones that are losing effectiveness against new strains of the disease? Let’s have a government push to create a truly effective an AIDS vaccine. And better (and cheaper) anti-cancer drugs.

Now that we can begin thinking seriously about stem cell research again, how about a government-funded push at universities to become stem cell innovators?

Better teachers, free college tuition

How about a government-funded program to train and pay for a legion of well-paid and inspirational science teachers —a program that will not only increase employment in the near future, but also supply well-trained Americans to develop new technologies? If we attract the most innovative minds to education, not only will education in this nation become better but fewer people will spend their time devising arcane and mischievous financial derivative training programs.

How about a free — yes, that’s free — college tuition program. It’s outrageous, for example, that a Ph.D or M.D. finishes his or her education carrying a debt big enough to mortgage a McMansion. Little wonder some of the smartest young graduates have been headed to Wall Street where they were able to pay back these crushing debts quickly — and ultimately at the expense of the nation.

Free (and all right, dirt cheap) city and state colleges helped make the United States the 20th Century’s most innovative nation. Then, late last century, we started charging more and more for tuition and insisting that more and more students borrow the money to get their degrees. Now we’re a nation of increasingly desperate, debt-ridden money-grubbers.

Yes, fix the roads. Yes, fix all the infrastructure. We need to do that. But listen up: all that won’t really fix the economy until we also fix our thinking.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

It wasn’t the “umm” that killed Caroline Kennedy’s Senate candidacy. It was the lack of, umm, anything else.

If you read The New York Crank with any regularity, you know that I’ve supported Caroline Kennedy’s now-abandoned candidacy for Senator against the right-wing blogomaniacs who trashed the truth in order to trash Caroline.

They declared she lived in a townhouse (an outright albeit petty lie) to make her seem somehow over-privileged and unworthy of the job.

Alas, what really finished Caroline’s candidacy wasn’t the non-existent townhouse. Nor was it her seeming inability to finish an English sentence without saying “umm” at least once, and often two or three or more times — even though this conversational tic opened her to ridicule. Here’s an example.

Nope. I kept quiet about what it really was. But inside, I despaired.

What killed the Kennedy Senate candidacy was her complete lack of any stated vision, or any apparent willingness to disclose the kind of information about her finances that every public politician must reveal.

A family “tradition of public service” is not enough reason to demand anybody’s vote, most especially not in these particularly perilous economic times. Not to mention that these are also deeply troubled diplomatic times. Not also to mention that the Bush family has given political dynasties a bad name.

Who let that poor woman declare her candidacy without coaching her in the most basic elements of political discourse and rules of the game?
The truth is, Caroline Kennedy was doing a Sarah Palin, but with a New York accent. She refused to disclose. She limited her press accessibility. She wasn't prepared for interviews.

I don’t know what she thought she was up to, but the end result was to shoot herself in the foot. Ultimately, as Gertrude Stein said, there was no there there.

I like Caroline Kennedy as a person, but I’m glad she resigned. She simply wasn’t ready for prime time. At least not yet.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Class vs. No class: The words of Barack Obama and those of far right "Conservative" J.R. Dieckmann

Recently J.R. Dieckmann, a Conservative blogger, resigned from the Republican Party. You might say, he left in a purple snit.

And today, President Obama gave the greatest inauguration address I have heard since John F. Kennedy took the oath of office almost half a century ago.

I thought it might be interesting to contrast the classy language of Obama during his inauguration speech with the no-class language of Dieckmann in his resignation letter. Here goes.

Classy Obama:

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
No-class Dieckmann:
[This is] the first time in history that a majority of American voters have not only elected a black man to POTUS, but also elected an unqualified, no résumé, unaccomplished, radical left, and likely illegal alien, without ever demanding personal history, educational records, health records, military records, or proof of citizenship from this man. He is an absolute zero on qualifications for POTUS.
Classy Obama:
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics. We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
No-class Dieckmann:
You and your Democrat-Lite candidate, John McCain…allowed this illegitimate candidate to usurp the office of the president. McCain’s campaign was pitiful and failed to bring up even the most basic issues of the Obama candidacy. Issues not only of his citizenship, but his dark associations with radicals (other than Bill Ayres, which was a non starter), his empathy with Islamics, his complete lack of understanding of the Constitution, the free marketplace, American history other than black separa
Classy Obama:
In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.
For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.
For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.
For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sanh.
No-class Dieckmann:
Why was George Allen forced out? For daring to call a liberal agitator “macaca” (monkey)? Why have Republicans caved to the liberal agenda of political correctness and the global warming fraud? America used to be the land of the free and the home of the brave. You have simply allowed this America to be trashed by your liberal counterparts with little or no resistance.
Classy Obama:
Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.
What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
No-class Dieckmann:
You have allowed liberals to pull the entire country into a socialist cesspool of immorality, atheism, socialist indoctrination masquerading as education, welfare handouts, infanticide, environmental extremism, government dependence, and lack of personal responsibility. These are the very opposites of the American foundation. We expected the Republican party to defend the American experiment, not hand it over to the communists.
Classy Obama:
The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.
No-Class Dieckmann:
There can be no compromise between the two opposing forces of liberalism and conservatism; of socialism and capitalism. You have lost sight of what it means to be Republican. You have allowed the socialists to take over the country without a fight.
Classy Obama:
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions.
No-class Dieckmann:
In fact, if you would simply promote conservative American principles, you wouldn’t have to reach out to anyone. They would be reaching out to you. Show some pride in conservatism. That is how it should be, but you just don‘t get it, do you?
Classy Obama:
Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.
No-class Dieckmann:
If you really want to rebuild the Republican party, I would suggest to go to the Heritage Foundation and read what Reagan would do. That would be a good start. The course you have chosen now leads to nowhere and it‘s time to abandon ship.
Moral: Trust noble aspirations over mean-spirited aspersions. Trust truth over baseless rumor mongering and outright falsehoods. Trust calls to greatness over calls for pettiness. In short, trust class every time.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Is waterboarding “torture?” A modest proposal for YOU, Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo, Michael Mukasey, and George Bush.

I know, I know. It’s not “torture.” It’s merely “enhanced interrogation.”

Sounds lovely, sort of like “enhanced perfume” or “enhanced natural sweetness” — a way to improve and expand upon the wonderful quality of the experience.

In fact, Dickey Cheney, you recently said:

I think there were a total of about 33 who were subjected to enhanced interrogation; only three of those who were subjected to waterboarding…Was it torture? I don't believe it was torture. We spent a great deal of time and effort getting legal advice, legal opinion out of the Office of Legal Counsel, which is where you go for those kinds of opinions, from the Department of Justice as to where the red lines were out there in terms of this you can do, this you can't do. The CIA handled itself, I think, very appropriately.
So I have a life-enhancing experience for you, Dick, and your buddies who defended “enhanced interrogation,” such as John Yoo, Alberto Gonzalez, your mutual boss George W. Bush, and I’ll in throw Attorney General (for the next few days) Michael Mukasey, for saying he isn’t sure whether waterboarding is torture or not.

Here’s what we’ll do

I propose that the Fox TV network introduce a new TV reality show called, “That’s Not Torture, That’s Enhancement.”

During each episode of the show, one of you will be strapped to a board and subjected to "enhanced interrogation," consisting of tightly covering your faces with a cloth and pouring a steady and powerful stream of water on the cloth to create the feeling of getting enhanced.

If you put up with this continuously for the hour the show is on air, you win and get awarded a free resort hotel room in beautiful Guantanamo-by-the-Sea, Cuba, yours to enjoy for the next, oh, 20 or 30 years.

However, if you find the enhancement so disagreeable that you want it to stop instantly, you may make that happen by admitting that

A) Waterboarding is torture
B) That you raped and strangled 50 prostitutes in the Washington DC area and that
C) You ate their corpses and picked your teeth with their bones

Since waterboarding is such a reliable means of obtaining useful intelligence, the world will instantly know it is true that you have done these things and you will be arrested and put on trial for your lives.

However, since by your own admission waterboarding is not torture, I am confident that after a half hour you will have admitted to nothing that that you will feel vindicated and enhanced beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Gentlemen, America
is waiting for you

All you need to do, Dick, John, Alberto, George and Michael is step forward and volunteer to be a subject in this televised experiment demonstrating that waterboarding is not torture but merely a charming way to enhance an interrogation.

I’m waiting, guys.

C’mon, c’mon, which of you is going to step forward and volunteer to enjoy an enhanced interrogation experience?

I’m still waiting.


But I’m still waiting.

I’m waiting.

I’m still waiting….

Sunday, January 11, 2009

FBI TO CRANK: You’ve got a mass forger red-handed, with documentary evidence? All we have to do his pick him up What?!?! And ruin our nap?

Dear President-elect Obama,

I know you have more than enough to do, what with saving the economy, providing universal healthcare, extracting our soldiers from Iraq and catching Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan. Or is it Pakistan?

All the same, I wish you’d take just one morning off to fly up to New York FBI Headquarters on Federal Plaza in Manhattan with a great big bucket of ice water. Give that ice water your most athletic toss. Dump icy gallons of it on all the special agents who surely must be sleeping under their desks.

Tell ‘em,”Wake up guys! This means you. NOW!”

What makes me think they’re asleep? Well, President-elect Obama, here’s my story.

Mystery shopper scammer tries to
snare the Crank’s beautiful girlfriend

Some time back in December, the New York Crank’s beautiful girlfriend received an e-mail solicitation asking her to make money in her spare time doing mystery shopping right in her own neighborhood.

Right, you guessed it, Mr. Obama. This is becoming one of the most shopworn scams in the book, with Internet warnings about it posted everywhere from hither to yon.

Nevertheless the beautiful girlfriend figured, “What the hey. On the outside chance it’s legitimate, I’ve got another excuse to go shopping on my lunch hour.” So she shot back a return e-mail saying okay, she wanted to mystery shop.

A few days later, the forgery arrived in the mail.

Forged check for $2,800 comes complete
with step-by-step self-scamming instructions

The Crank’s beautiful girlfriend received the forged check shown above (I’ve crossed out her name and address for obvious reasons). It came in a USPS confirmed delivery envelope (also above) showing it had been mailed from a post office in Massachusetts.

Enclosed with the check, evidently home made on somebody’s computer graphics program and drawn on a non-existent account on a bank in Arkansas, was a note that said in part:

Accompanied with this letter are the funds you will use to carry out your Mystery Shopping duties. As soon as you receive the funds, I want you to send a confirmatory e-mail to your supervisor; he in turn will provide you with instructions and guidelines on how you are about to go about your Mystery Shopping duties…It is important to note that you are to wait for his instructions before you carry out your Mystery Shopping Duties…
And that in turn, President-elect Obama, was soon followed up, by an e-mail demanding that the Crank’s beautiful girlfriend go to the bank, cash her check, take the money to a Wal-Mart in Secaucus, NJ, buy $100 worth of “any” electronics equipment, and hold out $500 for herself. The remaining “change” of $2,200 was to be converted into a MoneyGram and sent to an address in Katy, TX.

How many desperate Americans
have been suckered?

Wow, Mr. President-elect! Can you imagine how many out-of-work, desperate and financially-marginal Americans have been suckered out of $2,200 by these scammers? Because by the time the victims deposit the forged checks in their own accounts and the checks bounce, the con artist will have picked up and cashed his MoneyGram in Texas and moved on.

These check forgers must be the Poor Man’s Bernie Madoff, doing to those who are starving for work what Madoff did fto those who were thirsty for outrageous investment returns.

Some anti-scam websites advise people who’ve gotten this far simply to tear up the check and forget about it. But not us, Mr. Obama. We figured, “Whoa! Some naïve person who’s teetering on the edge of poverty and home loss is going to fall for this and tumble into the abyss. Or maybe lots of naïve people will fall for it. This is mass forgery, mass deception, mass theft. And we’ve got a way to stop it.”

That way was to play along and pretend the beautiful girlfriend had cashed the check and ordered the MoneyGram. Then all the FBI would have to do was send a couple of guys from the Houston office over to Katy, TX. And when the scammer showed up to pick up his MoneyGram, they could slap the cuffs on him and haul him off to the pokey on charges of interstate fraud, wire fraud, check forgery and using really, really bad punctuation in his e-mail instructions.

All we needed was to get the FBI to tell us when to tell the scammer that his MoneyGram was on the way.

Does “Carlton Your Doorman” now
eat Qualuudes and work for the FBI?

So here’s what I did, Mr. Obama: the next morning, check, e-mail printouts, and USPS-franked envelope in my briefcase, I went to my office and called my local FBI office. When the automated system picked up, I pressed the right buttons to speak to a live person.

Well, maybe “live” person is too strong a word to use for the individual I spoke to. Remember “Carlton Your Doorman” from the old “Rhoda” TV show and later from a TV cartoon show built directly around the doorman character?

Well, the FBI person sounded exactly like slow-speaking, sleepy-voiced, super-mellow Carlton Your Doorman, only more so. It was as if I had reached Carlton your Doorman at FBI Headquarters only to discover he was strung out on qualuudes.

I told Carlton Your Doorman Of The FBI exactly what was going on and what I had in mind. I asked if he wanted me to bring the evidence in that same day, if the FBI wanted to come and get it, or…

“You can just mail it in,” he said, slowly and sleepily. He sounded perhaps a trifle bored.

“No no, I think we have to act fast,” I said. “The guy keeps bombarding my beautiful girlfriend with e-mails asking if she’s cashed the check yet. If he doesn’t hear from her, he may decide something’s wrong and pull up stakes…”

“Well, where are you?” asked Carlton Your Doorman Of The FBI.

I told him I was in my office on West 36th Street.

“Oh, it only takes a day for the mail to reach us from there. Just mail it in,” said Carlton.

Case, ummm, forgotten

President-elect Obama, I mailed the documents some 60 minutes later, pausing only to scan a copy of the documents for myself and to write a cover note entitled:

RE: Apparent interstate fraud, check fraud and Internet fraud, and a short-term opportunity to catch those who are responsible for it.

And among the things I said in the cover note were:
…somebody may be showing up in Katy to claim the funds, and this might be an opportunity to catch some of the people involved in this scam. Please also note that that the envelope in which the check came has a USPS delivery confirm number on it, which, if genuine, means that there is a record of someone checking to see whether [Crank’s girlfriend’s name redacted] has received the check. I’ve enclosed everything we have concerning this including the check, the envelope it arrived in, a note enclosed with the check, and various e-mail correspondence. If someone would be kind enough to contact either me at either of the telephone numbers above, or [Name Redacted] at [telephone number redacted] — or by mail — to let us know what happened as a consequence of this correspondence, we would greatly appreciate it. I am sending this by mail (despite a rather tight window for finding the person or persons involved in Katy, Texas before he/she/they disappear) on the insistence of the FBI operator that the way to do this was by mail.
And guess what, Mr. Obama?

I never heard from the FBI again. Although I bet plenty of financially desperate victims have heard from the scammer since then.

Do you need to expand the FBI budget?
Mr. President elect, I wonder if the problem is a personnel shortage at the FBI. I’m willing to bet that FBI you get is the FBI you pay taxes for. Your predecessor was such a tax cutter that he may have cut personnel at the nation’s leading law encorcement agency just to make up the income shortfall.

Or maybe your predecessor had ordered the Department of Justice to put so many special agents on Osama bin Laden that they don’t have time any more to track down domestic criminals — except maybe for Muslim families who wonder aloud where the safest seat on the airplane is.

But hey, if you don’t get the FBI — or somebody — cracking on interstate crime, there’s going to be a whole lot more of it. And posting Carlton Your Doorman to answer the FBI’s phone won’t solve anything. Mr. Obama, you need get up to New York with that big pail of ice water.

Crankily yours,
The New York Crank

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Hey, you nincompoop right wing copycat bloggers: Does this really look like a townhouse to you? Or will you simply repeat any lie to smear a Kennedy?

Look at the building in the photograph. Does it look like a “townhouse” to you?

Me neither.

In fact, it’s a generic Manhattan co-op apartment building, about the size that typically holds 50 or so separate tenants. It happens to be the one where one of the tenants is Caroline Kennedy . (While the street address is a matter of public record, I won’t reproduce it here. Given all the right wing lunatics in America, I don’t see the need to equip Ms. Kennedy's frothing-at-the-mouth stalkers with information they can misuse.)

So what, you’re probably asking yourself, if Caroline Kennedy lives in that nondescript Manhattan apartment building? Here's what.
Why this matters

Some weeks ago, a fast-and-loose-with-the-facts slimeball blogger named Victor Davis Hanson laced into Caroline Kennedy for putting her name forth as a Senate replacement for Hillary Clinton . As evidence of the wrongness of Ms. Kennedy’s cause, Hanson wrote on the Pajamas Media blog.

Ms. Kennedy apparently spends a great deal of her time divided between her Park Avenue Upper-East-Side Manhattan townhouse and her hereditary estate on Martha’s Vineyard.
Where did Hanson get the townhouse from? Is he lying in an attempt to ignite some of the “class warfare” that Republicans were railing against only — was it something like 15 seconds ago? And how come right wing opponents to what they were calling “the death tax” suddenly resent a “hereditary estate” — whatever "hereditary estate" turns out to mean in terms of a tangible asset?

Beats me. All I know is, suddenly that exact Hansonian lie suddenly began popping up on what seemed like every third right-wing blog in the universe. Word for word.

Right wing lie spreads
like a metastasizing cancer

It was repeated verbatim on No Pasaran.

The same defamatory sentence also popped spontaneously into the head of whoever pens a blog called The Doc Is In, which bills itself, somewhat incongruously, as “a lively current events blog.”

Ed’s blog, also was inspired to pick up the magical sentence. The blog’s author also says his blog is “a look into the sights, sounds and smells of me.” Well, that’s for sure, Ed. And incidentally, the “information” you’re spreading around stinks.

Who else is spreading  lies about Caroline Kennedy? Well, among them there’s Conservative Women for Truth, who evidently wouldn’t recognize the truth if it jumped up and bit them on their conservative asses.

And there’s the History News Network, which probably ought to take a few lessons in historical sourcing. Or at least learn how to use Google Earth to check out what a townhouse doesn’t look like.

Are they ventroliquists' dummies?
Or just plain dummies? Or worse?

What is it with these lie-propagating, falsehood-huckstering, uncritical right wing idiots?

Are they all ventriloquists’ dummies? Or battery-powered robot clones?

Can you walk up to any one of them, yank the string coming out of the back of their necks, and hear them mouth the identical lie, “Ms. Kennedy apparently spends a great deal of her time divided between her Park Avenue Upper-East-Side Manhattan townhouse and her hereditary estate on Martha’s Vineyard?”

Are they mostly incapable of coming up with original ideas? Or even original smears? Or are they just too stupid to know the difference between a townhouse and a 50-tenant apartment building?

I don’t know the answer. But I can tell you this: I came back from vacation the other day with a hacking cough and a cold. Despite my illness, I had to go out in the pouring rain this morning just to take a picture of the apartment building where Ms. Kennedy lives to refute you right wing idiots.

Now my cough feels worse. So at this point, it’s not even a matter of politics or fact checking any more. At this point, you lying bastards, it’s personal and gets more so with every cough and sneeze!