Tag: Media

Press Keeps Talking About Phantom Left Shift Among Dems. I Wish

This morning while reading yet another piece on Hillary Clinton and how she might govern if she got to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., I ran across another one of those mysterious comments that I find sprinkled all over the largely conservative media. Andrew Ross Sorkin said in the piece that, “[the] Democratic Party, in the wake of the financial crisis, appears to have shifted leftward since Mr. Clinton left office.”

Say what? Where? Where?!

I think the Democratic Party has shifted right. It’s just that the national landscape has been titled even farther to the right by the combination of dark money, GOP gerrymandering, and the Democrats’ inability to articulate a position that is anywhere near the left space occupied by many if not most self-identified Democrats in the nation.

This is a theme I read over and over again. Yet it is impossible for these common taters (spuds with no cred) to point to a single significant policy shift to the left in the past 20 years. Repeatedly faced with the opportunity to shift the agenda and the policy to the Left, Clinton and Obama both resisted, choosing instead to “compromise” positions not yet taken in favor of keeping the Democrats Lite in charge. The current situation is no different.

So let’s stop talking about the media bias to the left, can we? It’s non-existent except in the wishful thinking of commentators who have long since abandoned their own progressivism.



Selling Elder Scooters Probed for Wrong Motive? Really?

An AP story today says the government and insurers are looking into the way scooters are being advertised to the elderly. The fear, apparently, is that old folks will see the commercials and want a scooter as a convenience rather than as a medical necessity.

Seriously, people? You have nothing better to do with your time?

As I read the rules, Medicare won’t cover the cost of these mobility devices unless a doctor prescribes them as medically necessary. So what difference does it make what the commercials about them say? Maybe more seniors who need them will ask about them if they’re not sold a if they were just another drug on wheels.

Sometimes, I wonder. Other times, I’m sure.

Are the Media, Complicit in Iraq Debacle, Patsies for Obama’s Team on Iran?

lamestreammediaAlong with Michael Calderone at HuffPo, I too am worried that the complacency of America’s mainstream media may play a key role in the run-up to yet another Mideast war by America, this time on Iran.

Ten years ago, a blindly subservient media corps — enamored of their privilege and worried about losing access — mouthed the Bush Party Line and lulled Americans into a false sense of complacency as we needlessly and foolishly entered on our biggest foreign policy blunder since Vietnam.

Today, many of the same national “leaders” are still in place, both in government and in the media, and the idiot sounds they are making with respect to Iran’s “nuclear program” are just as full of false bravado and certitude as they were a decade ago.

obamagrimaceMeanwhile, the Nobel Peace Prize winning President Obama (I bet the committee wish they had that one back) is not as vocal but nearly as bellicose as his predecessor. Witness his observations today that the United States is pledging its “undying” support for Israel. He didn’t say but also means “unquestioning” support. The Israelis are at least as much to blame for the ongoing hostility in the Middle East as the other nations with which it is engaged there, but you’d never know it from U.S. media reports or State Department memos. Their “remarkable story of redemption” as Obama put it, apparently entitles them to be as pre-emptively warlike in the name of self-defense as…well…the United States in its new age of Imperialism.

The pro-peace movement needs to be on its toes this time around. The Iraq War was the first one in world history that was preceded by millions and millions of protesters all over the world. King George ignored the multitudes and we can now see to what end. This time around, peace-loving people must start sooner, speak more loudly, and issue a drumbeat that is at least as loud and insistent as that of the warmongers in U.S. policy circles.

Failing that, we are destined for another long, costly, deadly, meaningless war in the Middle East, all ultimately in the name of defending American oil companies’ interests. Nothing is worth that, not in an age of global climate change. Nothing.

Time to Let Stock Market Lose Influence on Policy?

I find it mostly amusing and only occasionally infuriating that any time there’s a shift in any direction politically, the well-trained media cock their collective ears toward Wall Street, breathlessly report the movement the change triggered, and wring their hands in doom and gloom over downturns.

It’s time to drag the stock market down from its lofty perch as a major influencer of U.S. policy and recognize it for what it primarily is: a plaything of the rich largely manipulated by automatic trades triggered by computers at huge institutions. Allowing its numbers to define a broad national reaction to political policy is just plain dumb.

Stock Exchange Indexes Don’t Tell Us Squat About How the Economy is Faring

The stock exchanges — and more particularly their “indexes” — are, we are told, accurate readings of the public’s confidence in the economy. That is pure unadulterated tommyrot. Each company’s share price on any given day is determined by how its current shareholders and active stock players view the company’s performance. That’s it. If you watch and listen carefully, on any given day the index results are different for each sector of the economy. Technology is up and manufacturing is down one day. The next, transportation stocks are hammered but manufacturing makes a big rebound. The overall index fluctuates very little if at all so the media report the market as stable. But that’s a macro view.

And that macro view is governed in large part by huge institutions — mutual funds, labor unions, state government pension funds and others who hold a massive percentage of the stocks sold each day on the market. These shareholders are not making any actual bets on any given company; they are interested in minute-by-minute fluctuations of fractions of a penny because they own gigantic blocks of stock in a given company and can make a small fortune by flipping the stock multiple times over a span of minutes.

The media’s obsession with the daily changes in the indexes is a knee-jerk response to a perception that “people” who invest in the market are hanging on every shift in the numbers. Savvy investors who are not institutions often share one common characteristic: patience. My former stockbroker (I’ve been out of the market for 3 years now) told me, “If you invest in a stock and you live or die by its daily fluctuations, you will not live to enjoy the fruits of your investment. Let things ride unless there’s a really compelling reason to do something.” This from a guy who only made money if I ordered a transaction.

So let’s stop publishing and paying attention to these ridiculous, artificial indexes. (Heck, these days you can even invest in the indexes, which clearly have zero intrinsic value. It’s insane!) If we need a daily indicator of how we’re doing — and I’m not at all sure that’s healthy — let’s find something that works more intelligently and relevantly than what a bunch of institutional computers think is going on in the economy.

I Love What Oreo Does on Facebook

I seldom promote a brand of any kind (other than Apple, of course. Oh, and the San Francisco Giants and 49ers. And I suppose the Democratic Party could be a brand. But I digress.)

But I have to say the Oreo page on Facebook regularly makes me smile, chuckle or, as in today’s post, belly laugh. Periodically, they post a graphic of an Oreo “dressed up” in some way that’s relevant to the day or the news. Today’s image welcomes back the NFL refs. It’s just classic stuff and the fact that it gets them talked about by brand name like it obviously just did here is a testament to its marketing power.

Of course, my family all like Oreos with or without their Facebook page. But still….

Reality Shows Are NOT News Dammit!

I was on the verge of incensed this morning by headlines in two of my primary online news sources touting the winner of the reality show "X-Factor."

In what universe is the outcome of a TV show news? I don't see headlines announcing today's Jeopardy winner (though a long-running champ did get some perhaps deserved national attention a few years ago), or who's divorcing whom on a popular soap opera or how last night's case on The Good Wife came out for the lead actress. That's because none of those is real. None of those is an actual "event". Nothing actually happened.

And the reality shows are the same. Yet, news media seem to be blinded to the truth of what they're doing — acting as touts for shows under the guise of news — to the extent that they have even spent time and energy trying to find out the outcome before it appears on the show, as if such a "news scoop" gave them some cred.

Have they NO shame? Where is Walter Cronkite when you really need him?

Study Blames TV But Truth Takes More Thought

File this one under Plain Silly Stats.

A new study finds that for every two hours of television per day, a viewer's risk of an early death rises by 13 percent. The chances of diabetes jumps by 20 percent, and the risk of heart disease increases by 15 percent.

Let's do the math. If you watch TV for four hours a day, your risk of an "early death" (whatever that means) goes up by 26%, right? So if you watch for eight hours a day, your risk goes up 104%? Making you an absolutely sure bet to die "prematurely." Just over six hours a day and, bang, you are magically a diabetic?

To make matters even more ridiculous, this longer report on the study carried on the Reuters wire leaves out the word "prematurely." The implication is that more TV pushes you closer to guaranteed death. Hello! We are all gonna die, folks. Nobody gets out alive! And, by contrast, watching no TV won't make you immortal, either.

Yeah, I know. My use of stats is only somewhat more accurate than these reports. But the point is just that: stats don't prove anything when they're cited to prove an abstract point. We're all going to die. "Premature" death isn't a valid objective measurement. Even the study said the real culprit isn't TV, it's a sedentary lifestyle which "presumably" gives rise to bad eating habits. TV was just a convenient scapegoat for sedentary living. By the same measure, reading too much can do you in.

Gimme a break.

What Does AOL Purchase Mean for HuffPo’s Editorial Control?

The news of AOL's $315 million acquisition of Huffington Post yesterday stunned the media world whose pundits didn't see the deal coming at all. 

Loyal HuffPo readers reacted swiftly, angrily and in large numbers. Many of them tossed off hasty posts accusing founder Ariana Huffington and her management team of selling out, sure that the acquisition will ultimately mean that HuffPo will lose its decidedly Liberal edginess in the presumed suffocation of a mega-media outfit known less for thoughtful journalism and support for Liberal causes than for bad grammar ("You've Got Mail!") and a least-common-denominator approach to content.

I'm not so sure. I'm not one of those HuffPo fanatics who feel personally betrayed at the possible loss of a home on the Lefty Web. But I am a relatively frequent if selective reader of HuffPo. AOL may seem to be trying to gain editorial control here, but if that's their intent they have a strange way of approaching it. They've made Ariana the chief of the newly forming Huffington Post Media Group which will encompass all of HuffPo's present content and all of AOL's content as well. Ms. Huffington is not a shrinking violet and she's not likely to take kindly to anyone attempting to censor her properties. The AOL folks know that. 

I suspect this may turn out to be a big win for HuffPo faithful (at least those who stay around and those who come slinking back as the worst outcome doesn't materialize) and for the Political Left, which will at last have a major media vehicle that is at least not predisposed to ignore or attack it. Surely there will also be a significant decrease now in the share-of-site devoted to politics but that was already in Ariana's 2011 game plan. More celebrity news, sports coverage, bimbo content and other such drivel will undoubtedly proliferate. And it is inevitable that there will be cause conflict between conservative and liberal viewpoints across the board. But I doubt Ariana is ready to hang up her hard-earned Lefty cred at this point as she's become a powerful influencer in that arena. 

This is going to be interesting to watch, trust me.

Netflix Becoming an Internet Company: They Can Have a Bunch of My Money!

At Netflix' quarterly earnings call this week, the company made the strongest statements yet on its intent to become a largely if not purely Internet company, focusing its business on streaming video content rather than on the mail-delivery-and-return of DVDs, a business they pioneered and still heavily dominate.

I love Netflix. My only objection is that not nearly enough content is available for streaming delivery. I pore over the listings and locate stuff to watch when I'm in the mood, store it in my queue, and visit it often. If they had more content — and particularly more of the recent TV series and movies — available for streaming, I'd probably reduce or eliminate my cable company's role in my entertainment life. (I'd still keep Comcast for Internet, though.)

Why? The primary beef I have with Comcast and its cable competitors is the pre-packaged menu-options approach they take to content delivery. I want my entertainment a la carte. Not only do I not watch 99% of the channels Comcast rams down my throat, but having them around makes finding interesting content on the networks I do like much more difficult. By contrast, the Netflix locate-and-deliver user experience is absolutely first-rate and all but seamless.

I already have access to Netflix streaming over my LG Blu-Ray DVD player. If Netflix gets serious about being in this business, they'll see a huge uptick in my use of their service. And, yes, I'm willing to pay for that convenience.