Eat At Joes

Just a regular Joe who is angry that the USA, the country he loves, is being corrupted and damaged from within and trying to tell his fellow Americans the other half of the story that they don’t get on the TV News.

Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Monday, March 28, 2005

State Judge in Schiavo Case is a Conservative Christian and Republican: His Church Kicked Him Out and He Now Needs Armed Guards to Protect Him

Great Christian example these Conservative Republican “Christians” are modeling for the rest of the world to see. A Conservative Republican Christian Judge rules in the other party’s favor and the other Conservative Republican “Christian” “Pro-Lifers” kick him out of his church and threaten to kill him. I use Christian and Pro-Life in quotes because if any of these hate mongering venom dripping from their fangs un-American Neanderthals actually considered the teachings of Jesus Christ such as loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you they’d think it was the ravings of some knee-jerk wild-eyed liberal…and they would be 100% right. Jesus was and is! Just read the crazy leftist ideas he had about feeding the poor, paying taxes (render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s) rather than looking for ways to cut them, how it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, etc. Clearly this man would be turned away at a Bush speaking engagement as an obvious Democratic sympathizer! As a Middle-Easterner he probably would have been rounded up as an enemy combatant and tortured at Guantanamo Bay terrorist holding facility until he gave us such pro-enemy ideas such as loving them.

Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay Pulled the Plug on His Father When He Was A Vegetable in 1988

Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay has been filling up the airwaves saying that it is murder for Michael Schiavo to pull the plug on his wife who has been in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years. But DeLay’s mother made the same decision in 1988 when DeLay’s father was in a coma for only a few days. According to family members DeLay agreed with the decision to let his father die. A decision that he now denies Michael Schiavo. There are a number of similarities between the Schiavo case and that of DeLay’s father as reported in the link above: Both stricken patients were severely brain-damaged. Both were incapable of surviving without medical assistance. Both were said to have expressed a desire to be spared from being kept alive by artificial means. And neither of them had a living will. DeLay is silent about his father’s death, but calls Michael Schiavo’s decision to pull the plug on Terri murder.

Perhaps this is displaced remorse for his agreeing to his own father’s mercy killing 17 years ago. Or as those who have read the memo from the Republican Leadership to Republican Members of Congress saying that they were going to use the Terri Schiavo case to win votes in the 2006 Mid-term Election, perhaps it is just Political Opportunism. We report you decide.

Friday, March 25, 2005

What does it mean to be pro-life?

E. J. Dionne Jr. ponders the question of what it means to be pro-life. He brings up the point that part of Terri Schiavo’s care has been paid for by Medicaid, and President Bush and the Republican Leadership in both the House and the Senate support cutting funding to Medicaid. Also Florida Governor Jeb Bush is pushing for cuts to Medicaid despite also pushing for re-inserting Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube. If she continues to live she will need more Medicaid funding to keep her alive. When Democrats in Congress point this out Republican’s cry foul saying that the Democrats should leave poor Terri Schiavo and all the others whose medical support would be cut (and who would likely die under the Texas Law) out of any discussions of Medicaid. Excuse me? The money goes to sick people—some of whom will die if there is no way to pay for their medical treatment. Why should Democrats be prevented from bringing up the very people who will be hurt most by these cuts? The answer: Hypocrisy. It is alright to use Terri Schiavo to get Republican votes for the 2006 Mid-term Elections, but not to bring up who will be directly impacted by Medicaid cuts. If you happen to be a member of the Republican Party.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Are Conservatives who call themselves Christians Condemning America?

A Christian named Jack Clark examines whether right-wing conservatives who call themselves Christians are condemning America by their deliberately ignoring the teachings of Jesus Christ such as those contained in Matthew chapter 25. The essay is worth reading here.

This seems fitting as a follow-up to my post of how President Bush and the Republican Leadership in Congress are supportive of a Texas Law that allows hospitals to withdraw feeding tubes or in other ways pull the plug on patients who happen to be poor at the same time they try to make it appear they support life by involving themselves in the Terri Schiavo case.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Republican Hypocracy over Terri Schiavo Case

Sun Hudson, a six-month-old boy with a fatal congenital disease, died Thursday after a Texas hospital, over his mother's objections, withdrew his feeding tube. Unlike Terri Schiavo this little baby was not brain damaged. He was fully conscious right up to the end. Unlike Terri Schiavo whose cerebral cortex is so damaged that her doctors say she will not feel hunger, little baby Sun had a fully functional cortex and felt the pangs of hunger right up until he died in his mother’s arms drenched in her tears. This was done in accordance with a bill former Texas Governor George W. Bush signed into law in 1999 allowing hospitals to pull the plug on patients who could not pay their hospital bills and the hospital did not believe they would get better. (Note section 166.039 of that law which designates the spouse as having primary decision making responsibility over parents of an adult despite Republicans' claim now—Terri’s husband is also her legal guardian which the law also recognizes as a higher decision maker than the parents) Why did George W. Bush fly back from one of his many vacations to sign a bill bent on keeping Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube re-inserted against her husband’s wishes and according to 6 witnesses her own wishes not to be kept alive if she became a vegetable and not give a care to the little six-month old black and poor baby who was killed by hospital officials against his mother’s wishes? Why hasn’t President Bush or the Republican Leadership in Congress tried to save patients like baby Sun Hudson or other patients who are going to be killed against their loved ones wishes? Well, to understand that you only need to read about the memo that the Republican leadership in Congress sent to Republican politicians in Congress saying that they were going to use the Schiavo case to try to win votes in the 2006 midterm elections so that they wouldn’t lose control of either house of Congress. They are not interested in the sanctity of life or they would be fighting this Texas statute that George W. Bush signed into law. Rather they are only interested in using the Schiavo case to get votes in 2006. Another victim of this Texas Law Bush signed into law is a swarthy Greek man who the hospital is trying to kill despite his family’s wishes for him to stay alive. The family is franticly trying to keep him alive. Bush and the Republicans aren’t meeting to keep him alive. His family can’t afford to pay the huge cost of healthcare so it is alright to kill him just as it was alright to kill baby Sun Hudson. Read this Houston newspaper’s coverage of the Texas law that allows hospitals to kill patients despite their families’ wishes. More interesting is that National Right to Life, the organization that is helping to lead the fight to keep a Florida hospital from removing life support for Terri Schiavo, helped write the Texas law. Texas newspapers are covering this but TV and radio news are not. Why won’t CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN or Fox News (read Faux News) report on these aspects of the case? Well their parent corporations know which side of the bread is buttered. Why is it okay for hospital’s to kill poor black and Mediterranean patients against their family’s consent but is not okay for a white upper-middleclass woman who according to her husband and 5 of her friends asked not to be kept alive in a persistent vegetative state? Why will Congress open up for special session to save one woman (at a cost of millions of taxpayers dollars), but allow others who are poorer (and of darker complexion) to die according to a law George W. Bush signed in 1999? It’s all about votes and money. These politicians don’t give a damn about life. They just want to remain in power, and will do whatever they can to keep that power.
As a follow-up after signing the Terri Schiavo act into law, President Bush went back to his vacation in Crawford, Texas. The state where hospitals continue to pull the plug on patients who are too poor. The Republican Leadership in Congress also went home on Easter Break. No effort has or will be made to combat the Texas law that allows hospitals to end the lives of their poorest patients. The sanctity of life vs. the lure of votes. Votes won!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Shipping was extra — a lot extra!

Iraq needed fuel. Halliburton Co. (the company that still pays Vice President Dick Cheney a yearly deferred salary) was ordered to get it there. So the Houston-based contractor charged US Tax Payers $27.5 million to ship $82,100 worth of cooking and heating fuel. And we paid the bill. Some of which ends up in Dick Cheney's pocket. Nice! Read the story from the Houston Chronicle here or another report here. Two Democratic Congressmen (Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich) have informed the public. The Bush Administration is angry that they did. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which had assigned Halliburton the job of getting fuel into Iraq, declined to comment on the substance of the audit report, noting that it contained confidential commercial information that had not been authorized for release outside government channels. It's a secret! We the Tax Payers aren't supposed to know. So just pay no attention to the man behind the curtain and pay your taxes that keep Dick Cheney and his wife in designer suits! This is what's wrong with the current administration. Too many secrets. Too many payoffs. And we're not supposed to know about it. Did you hear about this on the evening news controlled by one of the five huge corporations that control the news? No? I didn’t think so!

Bush Administration Deceives Public with Fake News

Online source here.

The New York Times reported this weekend on the Bush administration's extensive abuse of public funds and trust in producing television propaganda. Over the past four years, at least 20 different federal agencies have been involved in producing hundreds of fake TV news segments, many of which were "subsequently broadcast on local stations across the country without any acknowledgement of the government's role in their production," according to the Times.
  • The Bush administration has spent one quarter of a billion dollars in taxpayer funds to produce phony government PR. Since President Bush took office in 2001, the White House has spent at least $254 million on fake "news" segments and other public relations schemes. In a now-infamous segment by the Department of Health and Human Services, a PR official named Karen Ryan posed as a reporter interviewing then-Secretary Tommy Thompson. The Government Accountability Office found the agency "designed and executed" her segments "to be indistinguishable from news stores produced by private sector television news organizations," according to the Times.
  • The administration willfully violates government restrictions on "covert propaganda." The non-partisan Government Accounting Office, the non-partisan investigative branch of Congress, has forbidden federal agencies from creating prepackaged news reports "that conceal or do not clearly identify for the television viewing audience that the agency was the source of those materials." The administration's response? The NY Times reports that on Friday, "the Justice Department and the Office of Management and Budget circulated a memorandum instructing all executive branch agencies to ignore the GAO findings."
  • Congress or the courts should immediately intervene to stop the Bush administration’s corrupt use of taxpayer funds. The legislative or judicial branches of government should exercise its constitutional duties to immediately force the executive branch to stop deceiving the public. This abuse of executive power is an affront to all Americans and violates basic tenets of our democracy. If President Bush won't put his money where his mouth is on "spreading democracy" by adhering to it at home, the other branches of government should step in to give him a reminder.

Contact your Congressman and both your Senators today and demand that they lay down the law to prevent further abuse by the Executive Branch misleading the American people and misusing our tax dollars in doing so!

Friday, March 11, 2005

10 Things Big Media Doesn't Want You to Know

Learn about the barriers that have been constructed around the public airwaves.

By the Staff of Free Press


Five media conglomerates — Viacom, Disney, Time Warner, News Corp. and NBC/GE — control the big four networks (70% of the prime time television market share), most cable channels, as well as vast holdings in radio, publishing, movie studios, music, Internet, and other sectors.


The total worth of the publicly owned airwaves that U.S. broadcasters utilize has been valued at $367 billion — more than many nations’ GDPs — but the public has never been paid a dime in return. And the broadcasters claim they can’t afford to be accountable to the public interest!


Media companies intent upon changing the FCC media ownership rules have spent nearly $100 million on lobbying in the last four years. FCC officials have taken more than 2,500 industry-sponsored junkets since 1995, at a price tag of $2.8 million.


Since 1975, two-thirds of independent newspaper owners have disappeared, and one-third of independent television owners have vanished. Only 281 of the nation’s 1,500 daily newspapers remain independently owned, and more than half of all U.S. markets are dominated by one paper.


Minority ownership — a crucial source of diverse and varied viewpoints — is at a 10-year low, down 14% since 1997. Today, only 4% of radio stations and 1.9% of television stations are minority-owned.


The number of radio station owners has plummeted by 34% since 1996, when ownership rules were gutted. That year, the largest radio owners controlled fewer than 65 stations; today, radio giant Clear Channel alone owns over 1,200.


After Viacom purchased the independent KCAL in Los Angeles, children’s programming plunged 89%, dropping from 26 hours per week in 1998 to three hours in 2003 (the minimum requirement set by Congress). TV stations air programs like NFL Under the Helmet and Saved by the Bell, claiming they meet educational programming requirements.


No copyrighted work created after 1922 has entered the public domain — an incubator for new ideas — due to corporate-sponsored legislation extending copyright terms. If laws being considered today had been in effect a few generations ago, you wouldn’t have access to products such as VCRs and copy machines.


Cable companies lobbied for and won deregulation in 1996, arguing that it would lower prices. Since then, cable rates have been rising at three times the rate of inflation. On average, rates have risen by 50%; in New York City, they’ve risen by 93.7%.


In 2004, television stations earned more than $1.4 billion from political advertising — more than they earned from fast food and automotive ads. You were four times more likely to see a political ad during a TV news broadcast than an election-related news story.

Get involved by singing up as a Free Press e-activist here.

The Immorality of the Bush Budget

By Jim Wallis, AlterNet
Posted on March 9, 2005
Budgets are moral documents. They reflect the values and priorities of a family, church, organization, city, state, or nation. They tell us what is most valued to those making the budget. It’s time to do a “values audit” of this budget, and a “moral audit” of our priorities. Who benefits in this budget and who suffers, who wins and who loses, what things are revealed as most important and what things are less important? America’s religious communities are required to ask of any budget, what happens to the poor and most vulnerable, especially the nation’s poorest children.

President Bush says that his 2006 budget "is a budget that sets priorities." Examining those priorities is a moral and religious concern. Just as we have "environmental impact studies," it’s time for a "poverty impact statement", which would ask the fundamental question of how policy proposals affect low-income people. Such a moral audit might reveal unacceptable priorities for many of us, including in the religious community where the president finds much of his political base. In a recent letter to the president, nearly 80 prominent evangelical leaders warned: “We know there will be powerful pressures, from some places, as you and the Congress work to reduce deficit spending, to cut even effective programs for poor people. We pray that you will not allow this to happen.”

But it is happening. In this budget, the cost of deficit reduction is mostly borne by those least able to bear the burden—the lowest-income families in America, rather than by those most able to afford it—the wealthiest Americans who benefit from the largest tax cuts. The budget projects a record $427 billion deficit, along with a promise to make tax cuts permanent. Does that make fiscal or moral sense?

Religious leaders have spoken clearly in past years about the perils of a domestic policy based primarily on tax cuts for the rich, deep program cuts for low-income people, and an expectation of faith-based charity to make up the huge gap. This budget runs directly counter to that religious wisdom. Billions of dollars are cut from programs that most directly impact America’s poorest families—in education, nutrition, child care, health care, affordable housing, job training, heating and cooling assistance, and in community and rural development. At the same time, mere millions of dollars are added as increases to a number of faith-based programs focusing on marriage, fatherhood, and abstinence. On the street, that would be called “chump change.” The warning that faith-based initiatives should provide a partnership with effective government anti-poverty programs—and not a substitute—has not been heeded. And the added tax cuts for the rich merely compound the moral and biblical offense.

Worst of all is the politicization of the faith-based initiative, with the bulk of support going to the most conservative evangelical groups that politically support the administration rather than to the most effective faith-based initiatives regardless of political affiliation. And the drastic cuts in community block grants, education, and housing programs that go to support the efforts of faith-based organizations may ultimately result in a net loss for religious charities.

Low-income people should not be punished for decisions that placed us in financial straits. Rather than moving toward a "living family income" this budget stifles opportunities for low-income families, which are vital for national economic security. Our future is in serious jeopardy when one in three proposed program cuts are to education initiatives (after a highly touted "No Child Left Behind" program); when fewer children in working poor families will be included in Medicaid; when the food stamps that supplement families’ grocery budgets are threatened; and when affordable housing is put out of reach. Cutting pro-work and pro-family supports for the less fortunate jeopardizes the common good. And all this while defense spending rises to $419 billion (not even including any additional spending for the war in Iraq), with an overall increase of 41 percent in military expenditures during the Bush years.

It is time to speak clearly about a budget lacking moral vision. A budget that scapegoats the poor, fattens the rich, and asks for sacrifice mostly from those who can least afford it, is a moral outrage. These budget priorities would cause the prophets to rise up in righteous indignation, as should we. Our nation deserves better vision. Morally-inspired voices must provide vision for the people when none comes from its leaders.

The president said this budget represents his priorities. But are these the priorities of the American people? It’s time for a national “moral values” debate about the president’s budget.

© 2005 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at:

Jim Wallis is a Christian leader for social change. He is a speaker, author, activist, and international commentator on ethics and public life. Wallis was a founder of Sojourners - Christians for justice and peace - more than 30 years ago and continues to serve as the editor of Sojourners magazine, covering faith, politics and culture. In 1995, Wallis was instrumental in forming Call to Renewal, a national federation of churches, denominations, and faith-based organizations from across the theological and political spectrum working to overcome poverty.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

What Jesus Wouldn't Do

By Jim Wallis, AlterNet

Editor's Note: The following is an edited excerpt from Jim Wallis' new book, God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It (Harper San Francisco).

The politics of Jesus is a problem for the religious right.

In Matthew’s 25th chapter, Jesus speaks of the hungry, the homeless, the stranger, prisoners, and the sick and promises he will challenge all his followers on the judgment day with these words, “As you have done to the least of these, you have done to me.” James Forbes, the pastor of Riverside Church in New York City, concludes from that text that, “Nobody gets to heaven without a letter of reference from the poor!” How many of America’s most famous television preachers could produce the letter?

The hardest saying of Jesus and perhaps the most controversial in our post–Sept. 11 world must be: “Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you.” Let’s be honest: How many churches in the United States have heard sermons preached from either of these Jesus texts in the years since America was viciously attacked on that world-changing September morning in 2001? Shouldn’t we at least have a debate about what the words of Jesus mean in the new world of terrorist threats and pre-emptive wars?

Christ commands us to not only see the splinter in our adversary’s eye but also the beams in our own, which often obstruct our own vision. To name the face of evil in the brutality of terrorist attacks is good theology, but to say they are evil and we are good is bad theology that can lead to dangerous foreign policy. Christ instructs us to love our enemies, which does not mean a submission to their hostile agendas or domination, but does mean treating them as human beings also created in the image of God and respecting their human rights as adversaries and even as prisoners. The words of Jesus are either authoritative for Christians, or they are not. And they are not set aside by the very real threats of terrorism. The threat of terrorism does not overturn Christian ethics.

The issue here is not partisan politics, and there are no easy political solutions. The governing party has increasingly struck a religious tone in an aggressive foreign policy that seems much more nationalist than Christian, while the opposition party has offered more confusion than clarity. In any election we choose between very imperfect choices. Yet it is always important to examine what is at stake prayerfully and theologically.

This examination among evangelicals became clear in the 2004 Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility, an unprecedented call to social action from the National Association of Evangelicals. In contrast to the Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson era, evangelicals are now showing moral leadership in the fight against global poverty, HIV/AIDS, human trafficking, and sustainability of God’s earth.

These changes represent both a reaction against overt partisanship and a desire to apply Christian ethics to a broader set of issues. Many people of faith have grown weary of the religious right’s attempts to narrow the moral litmus test to abortion and gay marriage. For example, when likely voters were asked in a 2004 poll whether they would rather hear a candidate’s position on poverty or on gay marriage, 75 percent chose poverty. Only 17 percent chose gay marriage. Any serious reading of the Bible points toward poverty as a religious issue, and candidates should always be asked by Christian voters how they will treat “the least of these.” Stewardship of God’s earth is clearly a question of Christian ethics. Truth telling is also a religious issue that should be applied to a candidate’s rationales for war, tax cuts, or any other policy, as is humility in avoiding the language of “righteous empire,” which too easily confuses the roles of God, church, and nation.

War, of course, is also a deeply theological matter. The near unanimous opinion of religious leaders worldwide that the Iraq war failed to fit “just war” criteria is an issue for many Christians, especially as the warnings from religious leaders have proved prophetically and tragically accurate. The “plagues of war,” as the pope has referred to the continuing problems in Iraq, are in part a consequence of a “Christian president” simply not listening to the counsel of religious leaders who tried to speak to the White House. What has happened to the “consistent ethic of life,” suggested by Catholic social teaching, which speaks against abortion, capital punishment, poverty, war, and a range of human rights abuses too often selectively respected by pro-life advocates?

The religious right’s grip on public debates about values has been driven in part by a media that continues to give airtime to the loudest religious voices, rather than the most representative, leaving millions of Christians and other people of faith without a say in the values debate. But this is starting to change as progressive and prophetic faith voices are speaking out with a confidence and moral urgency not seen for 25 years. Mobilized by human suffering in many places, groups motivated by religious social conscience (including many evangelicals not defined by the religious right) have hit a new stride in efforts to combat poverty, destructive wars, human rights violations, pandemics like HIV/AIDS, and genocide in places like Sudan.

In politics, the best interest of the country is served when the prophetic voice of religion is heard—challenging both right and left from consistent moral ground. The evangelical Christians of the 19th century combined revivalism with social reform and helped lead movements for abolition and women’s suffrage—not to mention the faith-based movement that directly preceded the rise of the religious right, namely the American civil rights movement led by the black churches.

The truth is that most of the important movements for social change in America have been fueled by religion—progressive religion. The stark moral challenges of our time have once again begun to awaken this prophetic tradition. As the religious Right loses influence, nothing could be better for the health of both church and society than a return of the moral center that anchors our nation in a common humanity. If you listen, these voices can be heard rising again.

© 2005 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at:

Joe's response: As a Christian, I have no problem with God. It’s just some of the arrogant SOBs down here who claim that He’s on their side as they sh*t on His Son’s teachings that I can’t stand! As Abraham Lincoln once said, “The question we should ask is not whether God is on our side, but rather are we on God’s side!”


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Padilla's indefinite detention puts your rights at risk

Online article here.

Fri Mar 4, 6:13 AM ET

Picture yourself in this scenario:

You're a U.S. citizen landing at a major airport from abroad. You're pulled out of line at customs, arrested, thrown in jail for a month and then spirited off to a military prison.

Nearly three years later, you're still there, never charged with any crime. The government claims it can hold you forever without answering to any judge or court.

The scenario is not fiction. It's happening now. Only a federal judge in South Carolina is standing in the way. At stake is the constitutional guarantee of every American to be free from arbitrary imprisonment.

Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen born in Brooklyn, N.Y., was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare Airport in May 2002. He's still being held. No charges have been filed.

Despite the clear language of the Constitution that prohibits detention without trial, the Bush administration insists that it can indefinitely hold Padilla - or anyone else it chooses - as an "enemy combatant" without trial or even formal charges.

Padilla is one of a handful of Americans known to have been swept up in the war on terror, but he is the lone suspect not released or handled by the courts. So far, he has received only indictment by press conference - and with dubious credibility at that.

The Justice Department first claimed Padilla was sent home by al-Qaeda to set off a radioactive "dirty bomb" in Washington. That scenario was downplayed last year in favor of new allegations: An alleged plan to blow up high-rise apartment buildings using natural gas. Still no charges, still no trial.

In South Carolina on Monday, U.S. District Judge Henry Floyd ordered the government to either try Padilla or let him go. Floyd, a Bush appointee, ruled that the government had failed to cite any law or legal precedent to justify holding him indefinitely.

Defenders of the administration argue that Padilla is dangerous. Putting him on trial, they say, could endanger intelligence sources that provided evidence against him.

Perhaps he is a threat. Perhaps there's reason for suspicion but not enough evidence to convict. Or perhaps the government erred in arresting him and would rather not admit it. Without a trial, there's no way to find out.

For obvious reasons, the Constitution denies the president or his aides the power to decide by themselves that a citizen can be imprisoned indefinitely without judicial review. Armed with such power, an administration could imprison its political opponents or silence them with the threat.

Yes, there is a risk that if Padilla is freed he might make trouble. But tracking potential criminals is a job intelligence and police agencies can handle. The cost of setting a precedent that presidents can jail whomever they choose would be far greater.

This case is not just about Jose Padilla. It's about every citizen's liberty. If the foundations of freedom crumble under the stresses of the war on terrorism, the terrorists will have won.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Newspaperman Quotes his Rates for Whoring Himself for the Bush Administration

This column shows what the Bush admin has done to Journalism in America. His point is well taken. I don't know which is worse. The members of the Corporate-Owned US Media who take bribes from the Bush Administration to hawk their policies and positions or those who prostitute themselves for free:

Anything for the right fee

Sunday, March 06, 2005 -

One sad memory from my days as managing editor of the local daily comes from the morning when a sweet little old woman walked into the newspaper office and explained that she'd been arrested for shoplifting on the day before at a supermarket. It was all a mistake and a misunderstanding, she said, and would I please not follow the newspaper's policy of reporting all local arrests?

I told her she'd have her day in municipal court, and we'd report that too. Further, I believed it was important to report every local arrest, because in some countries (this was long before our Patriot Act) you could be secretly arrested and held incommunicado.

She didn't see it that way, of course, and offered me $200 to keep the arrest out of the paper. I declined, and she raised her bid to $300. I told her that I could be bribed, but her offer was way too low. I'd need at least $1 million, enough so that I could invest it and live comfortably off the interest, since if I took a bribe, I'd never be able to work in my profession.

How ignorant I was. The Bush administration spent $88 million on public relations last year, and some of it was bribery: $240,000 to columnist Armstrong Williams to tout No Child Left Behind; $10,000 to columnist Michael McManus to promote Republican marriage ideals; $41,500 to columnist Maggie Gallagher for more marriage promotion.

And then there was James Guckert, aka Jeff Gannon, the porn website operator who lobbed softball questions at White House news conferences.

While this may turn out to be some Karl Rove conspiracy to discredit the media - "they're all for sale, and look at the kind of people who are calling themselves journalists these days" - I have a family, and so I can't afford to ignore these financial opportunities. Thus I offer a price list:

For a mere $10,000 per occurrence, I will pretend that No Child Left Behind is not an unfunded federal mandate. For the same fee, I'll contend that the Healthy Forests Initiative means healthy forests, and that the Clear Skies Initiative is connected to better air quality.

For only $5,000 per usage, I will learn to write in the Republican dialect. That means that the administration's proposed Social Security changes will involve "personal accounts" rather than "private accounts." I shall never write treasonous phrases like "the occupation of Iraq" when I could be patriotic and upbeat with "the liberation of Iraq."

And I will always refer to that partisan farrago of collectivists and traitors as "the Democrat Party," rather than use proper grammar with "the Democratic Party."

As a life-long resident of our red state, I won't need more than $100,000 to write about how wonderful it is to live in the only place in the world that has the verb "to de-Bruce." I'll ignore our statistics on church attendance (low) and divorce, suicide, alcoholism and drug abuse (high), and instead write often about how wholesome we are.

The last time I called the White House press office, I got shunted to an intern who promised to call back with an answer to my question, and never did. It was a totally innocuous question: I just wanted to know if there had been any special ceremony when the president signed the Lincoln County Conservation, Recreation, and Development Act of 2004 last Nov. 30.

So I doubt I could even get into the briefing room. But if they agree, I'll charge only $15,000 a month, plus first-class travel expenses, to attend White House news conferences and ask questions like "How soon will the Interior Department be ready to add George W. Bush to Mount Rushmore?" or "Will the president walk on water again when he visits Mobile Bay next month?"

Every now and again, I run into somebody I went to high school or college with, and I hear something like "We're so proud of you, Ed, because you never sold out."

Outwardly, I graciously accept the compliment. But the truth is that no one's ever made me a good offer. Now that the Bush administration is writing checks to columnists, though, journalistic prostitution is starting to look rather promising. On the other hand, the pay may never be all that good, since so many people are willing to do it for free.

Ed Quillen of Salida ) is a former newspaper editor whose column appears Tuesday and Sunday.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Two-Time Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Laurie Garrett of 'Newsday' Rips Tribune Co. 'Greed' in Exit Memo

By E&P Staff

Published: March 01, 2005 11:00 AM ET

NEW YORK Laurie Garrett, the prize-winning Newsday reporter, left the Melville, N.Y., paper Monday with a blistering memo to her colleagues that may provoke debate elsewhere in the newspaper industry.

Garrett, whose leave of absence allowing her to work at the Council on Foreign Relations ends March 8, announced that she would not be returning to her paper “largely because” her work at the Council had proven to be the most exciting challenge of her life. But clearly there were other circumstances as well.

“Ever since the Chandler Family plucked Mark Willes from General Foods, placing him at the helm of Times Mirror with a mandate to destroy the institutions in ways that would boost dividends, journalism has suffered at Newsday,” she wrote in the memo, which was posted at the Poynter Institute's Romenesko site. “The pain of the last year actually began a decade ago: the sad arc of greed has finally hit bottom. The leaders of Times Mirror and Tribune have proven to be mirrors of a general trend in the media world: They serve their stockholders first, Wall St. second and somewhere far down the list comes service to newspaper readerships.”

Garrett won a Pulitzer Prize in 1996 for her reporting on Ebola. She’s also won a Polk Award and a Peabody and was finalist for another Pulitzer in 1998. She left National Public Radio to work at Newsday in 1988.

“The deterioration we experienced at Newsday was hardly unique," she wrote in the memo, describing the past few years. "All across America news organizations have been devoured by massive corporations, and allegiance to stockholders, the drive for higher share prices, and push for larger dividend returns trumps everything that the grunts in the newsrooms consider their missions. Long gone are the days of fast-talking, whiskey-swilling Murray Kempton peers eloquently filling columns with daily dish on government scandals, mobsters and police corruption. The sort of in-your-face challenge that the Fourth Estate once posed for politicians has been replaced by mud-slinging, lies and, where it ought not be, timidity.

“When I started out in journalism the newsrooms were still full of old guys with blue collar backgrounds who got genuinely indignant when the Governor lied or somebody turned off the heat on a poor person's apartment in mid-January. They cussed and yelled their ways through the day, took an occasional sly snort from a bottle in the bottom drawer of their desk and bit into news stories like packs of wild dogs, never letting go until they'd found and told the truth. If they hadn't been reporters most of those guys would have been cops or firefighters. It was just that way. ...

”Honesty and tenacity (and for that matter, the working class) seem to have taken backseats to the sort of 'snappy news', sensationalism, scandal-for-the-sake of scandal crap that sells. This is not a uniquely Tribune or even newspaper industry problem: this is true from the Atlanta mixing rooms of CNN to Sulzberger's offices in Times Square. Profits: that's what it's all about now. But you just can't realize annual profit returns of more than 30 percent by methodically laying out the truth in a dignified, accessible manner. And it's damned tough to find that truth every day with a mere skeleton crew of reporters and editors.

”This is terrible for democracy. I have been in 47 states of the USA since 9/11, and I can attest to the horrible impact the deterioration of journalism has had on the national psyche. I have found America a place of great and confused fearfulness.”

Garrett lamented “Judy Miller's bogus weapons of mass destruction coverage, the media's inaccurate and inappropriate convictions of Wen Ho Lee, Richard Jewell and Steven Hatfill, CBS' failure to smell a con job regarding Bush's Texas Air Guard career and, sadly, so on.” But she added: “It would be easy to descend into despair, not only about the state of journalism, but the future of American democracy. But giving up is not an option. There is too much at stake.

”So what is to be done?

“Now is the time to think in imaginative ways. ... Opportunities for quality journalism are still there, though you may need to scratch new surfaces, open locked doors and nudge a few reticent editors to find them. On a fundamental level, your readers desperately need for you to try, over and over again, to tell the stories, dig the dirt and bring them the news. ...

"Make me regret leaving, guys: Turn Newsday into a kick ass paper that I will be begging to return to.”

E&P Staff
Hats off to Laurie Garrett for telling the truth about what has been and is still happening in the Mainstream Corporate-Owned News Media in the US! I wish every reporter with an ounce of journalistic integrity would do the same and let the American people know that they are being constantly hoodwinked by these Media Mogul Con Artists and Milk-toasts who will not inform the American People of the Truth!