Nota Bene #119: Think! It Ain't Illegal Yet

“My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #93: Linksgiving

Welcome to my home Continue reading

Following bliss: Joseph Campbell, myth and living the authentic life

nullToday we’re putting Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) on the masthead. Chances are that you already know all about his thought and work without realizing it. When George Lucas wrote the first few drafts of Star Wars, it was shaping up to be standard, 70’s sci-fi action schlock. Then he put the screenplay aside to settle and re-read Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces. That changed everything. Sculpting his imaginary galaxy around the skeleton of Campbell’s monomyth thesis produced a set of films that took a generation by storm and still reverberates through popular culture. Continue reading

Maybe 'banksters' are the exception, not the rule

If you’re not familiar with the term “bankster,” it was coined, writes Harold Evans for BBC, “by an American immigrant, a fiery Sicilian-born lawyer by the name of Ferdinand Pecora. He was the chief counsel to the US Senate Committee on Banking set up in the early 30s to probe the origins of the Crash of 1929.” Continue reading

WordsDay: the art of the possible

In case you’ve been off-planet, the dumpster fire that is Election Season 2008 is in full swing. While this can be entertaining if you’re cynical enough, it’s a process that can exert a warping effect on the perspectives of even the best among us.

In times like these, it’s often helpful to turn to the wisdom of the ages. Today, then, we offer a collection of insights on politics from some of history’s more astute observers of public life.

Enjoy. Continue reading

The big story with the least MSM coverage? (Guess again.)

by Brad Jacobson

What critical news story received less overall mainstream media coverage than Dennis Kucinich’s introduction of 35 articles of impeachment against President Bush? What same news, with immense impact on our First Amendment rights, got even shorter shrift than last week’s Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report confirming that the Bush administration “led the nation to war on false premises”?

Give up?

Here’s a hint: Fox News, if inadvertently and riddled with falsehoods, devoted more attention to this story than almost any other news outlet.

The answer? The National Conference for Media Reform (NCMR).

You know, where all those “fascists” and “loons,” who “live in an alternative universe,” come together to revivify freedom of the press even though “about 50% of the liberals say [the media] is unbiased.” (Please click on that link to see video of Bill O’Reilly, “journalist” Juan Williams – who officially forfeits any remaining semblance of journalistic credibility – and “political analyst” Mary Katherine Ham discuss the conference; it’s a cartoonish example of what inspired the media reform movement to begin with.) Continue reading

Even better than the real thing: mass media and manufactured beauty

Give me one last dance
We’ll slide down the surface of things

You’re the real thing
Yeah the real thing
You’re the real thing
Even better than the real thing

I figured out a long time ago, even before I began encountering grad-level feminist critiques, that our media’s stylized construction and portrayal of female beauty was problematic. It’s bad enough that unattractive people don’t appear in movies, on TV or in magazines unless the narrative expressly requires someone unattractive, and sometimes even that isn’t enough. I mean, the star of Ugly Betty isn’t really ugly.

But it goes beyond this. Continue reading

God-talk in the presidential election (or why evangelicals are voting for Barack)

by Dr. Lynn Schofield Clark

When it’s time for politics in the U.S., it seems, it’s also time to talk about religion. So first there were stories of Huckabee’s success among evangelicals, and then there was the quelched rumor about Obama’s supposed connections with Islam (he is a member of the United Church of Christ, a liberal Christian denomination). Hillary Clinton received fewer stories about her Methodist faith, although she did speak of it at the Global Summit on AIDS at a large California megachurch pastored by Rick Warren (best selling author of “The Purpose-Driven Life”), according to one story.

By far the most religion-and-politics coverage so far has gone to Huckabee. Continue reading

Britney coverage is in the public interest and Iran isn't; are we as dumb as they think we are?

Well, here’s a fine howdy-do first thing this morning: an absolutely breathtaking bit of misdirection and pro-monopolist hackery masquerading as a good-faith critique of Bill Moyers.

Moyers’ point seems to be that the opposite of more consolidation is the existence of more stations like this one in Chicago.This is absolutely false and Mr. Moyers should know it.

The opposite of more consolidation is, in fact, more ownership by smaller owners who have exactly the same profit motivation as the larger owners. More of the same, in other words. With a different company name on the letterhead.

Now I know what you’re thinking: Radio companies don’t own the airwaves, we Americans do. And those stations are licensed to serve “in the public interest.” But what could be more in the public interest than content which is interesting to the public? And in Chicago there are 32 examples of this ranked higher than the poster child Moyers chose.

The author is Mark Ramsey, president of Mercury Radio Research, and once you sift through a lot of self-serving rhetoric designed to make him seem more fair-minded on the subject than I suspect he really is, there are a couple of core assertions that we’re expected to accept as wisdom: Continue reading

Bush’s counselor lies about Bush

Dan_bartlett_and_bushBy Robert Silvey

Dan Bartlett is counselor to George Bush. George Tenet was CIA director during the preparations for the Iraq War.

In his new book, At the Center of the Storm, Tenet writes, “There was never a serious debate that I know of within the administration about the imminence of the Iraqi threat.” In response, Bartlett says, “The president did wrestle with those very serious questions.”

The counselor is being parsimonious with the truth. Or, in the more direct words of James Fallows:

I say plainly: that is a lie. Continue reading

The Net Neutrality Fight, One Year Later


Click here
By Martin Bosworth

Today marked the first anniversary of the launch of the Save The Internet coalition, a massive multi-group effort that was brought together to support the cause of net neutrality, the principle that all Internet content should be accessible to all users equally, and no provider has the right to favor their offerings over another. Continue reading

Moyers returns with ‘devastating’ probe of press

According to Greg Mitchell at Editor & Publisher, “the most powerful indictment of the news media for falling down in its duties in the run-up to the war in Iraq” will be the subject of a 90-minute PBS special next week entitled ‘Buying the War.'” From E&P:

While much of the evidence of the media’s role as cheerleaders for the war presented here is not new, it is skillfully assembled, with many fresh quotes from interviews (with the likes of Tim Russert and Walter Pincus) along with numerous embarrassing examples of past statements by journalists and pundits that proved grossly misleading or wrong. Several prominent media figures, prodded by Moyers, admit the media failed miserably, though few take personal responsibility.

More at E&P at this link.