Supremes Say No to Media Consolidation

The U.S. Supreme Court today refused to rule on a lower-court judgement that found against the Federal Communications Commission and a Repug-led attempt to ease TV and radio station ownership limits.

The decision was a loss for broadcast and newspaper companies and a victory for critics of media consolidation.

Without comment, the justices let stand a ruling by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that blocked the 2003 rules change.

The Supreme Court’s decision not to intervene sends the rules back to the Federal Communications Commission for revision.

The rules, adopted by the FCC on a 3-to-2 Republican-led party-line vote, aimed to let companies own more TV and radio stations in a single market, and to own a daily newspaper and nearby broadcast station.

FCC: “Curses! Foiled again!”

Speak Out for Howard Dean

If you think the Dems have been too hard on their leader for being too hard on the Republicans, sign a petition letting them know here. The peition, written by members of the Daily Kos, is almost as short as the warning message about invalid signatures is long:

To: Democrats in U.S. Congress

Recently some Democrats in Congress have chastised Governor Howard Dean, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, saying that he does not speak for the party.

We the undersigned have a simple message we would like to convey to you:

Howard Dean Speaks For Me

And, we respectfully request that you refrain from public criticism of your fellow Democrats and that you begin to speak for us as well


The Undersigned

If you think the chairman of the Democratic Party should be able to call a wingnut a wingnut without being pilloried by his party, consider signing.

Energy Bill Handouts to Benefit Former Enron Execs

Public Citizen has broken a story based on a close reading of the 700-plus-page energy bill currently being debated by the Senate and other public documents. Apparently, under the bill, a consortium formed by four former Enron executives qualifies for hundreds of millions of dollars in federal loan guarantees for a $2.8 billion coal gassification facility in Wyoming.

Public Citizen’s investigation to find out who this loan would benefit narrowed the answer to just one company: Houston-based DKRW Energy. This company, named after the four Enron executives that founded it – Jon C. Doyle, Robert C. Kelly, H. David Ramm and White – formed a subsidiary, Medicine Bow Fuel & Power, to develop a $2.8 billion coal gasification project in Medicine Bow, Wyo. The DKRW facility meets all the criteria required in the legislation: The coal will be supplied from Arch Coal mines neighboring the power facility; it will stuff carbon dioxide emissions into oil wells; and the facility will be located in a western state (Wyoming) at an altitude above 4,000 feet.

Following the release of the story, Senate Energy Committee representatives contacted Public Citizen with an explanation that several other companies also qualify for funds under the bill’s provision. But since neither the names of the companies nor their projects are publicly available, Public Citizen has not been able to confirm the assertion.

The organization did note that the former Enron execs likely finagled the loan provisions because, given their track records, they were finding it difficult to secure private funding for their pork-barrel project.

VP of “Dukes of Hazard” Institute Hired

In another sign of the end of civilization as we know it, Country Music Television has hired an ex office temp to be vice president of the “Dukes of Hazard” Institute. The salary — $100,000 for a one-year contract. The job — watch nightly reruns of the 1979-85 silly sitcom on CMT and write a blog about it.

Christopher Nelson was one of 2,000 people to apply for the job. The contract mentions no time off for vacation.

“For $100,000 he’d better watch that show every night,” said James Hitchcock, CMT’s vice president for marketing.

AFA Boycott Targets Ford’s Gay Marketing

No sooner did the American Family Association call off its nine-year boycott of Walt Disney World (universally deemed a miserable failure) than it tuned its homophobic attention to that bastion of testosterone-tanked truck drivers, Ford Motor Co. According to a Detriot Free Press article, the Ford boycott is primarily in response to Ford’s advertisements in gay publications that offer to donate $1,000 to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation for every Jaguar or Land Rover sold. (Supposedly, those vehicles are considered gayer than, say, the F150 pickup or Ford Expedition.)

But, while AFA Special Projects Director Randy Sharp said with its marketing ploy, “Ford is willing to do something they have refused to do for any other group,” AFA Chairman Donald Wildmon painted Ford with a broader brush:

“From redefining family to include homosexual marriage, to giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to support homosexual groups and their agenda, to forcing managers to attend diversity training on how to promote the acceptance of homosexuality… Ford leads the way.”

Sounds terrible, don’t it, but Ford is actually a leader is such diversity and philanthropic activities.

In 2004, Ford donated $77.9 million to a wide variety of groups last year. The majority — $39.6 million — went to education. A much smaller percentage went to community organizations for gays, Hispanics, blacks, Asians and other groups.

AFA e-mailed an announcement about the Ford boycott to 2.2 million supporters. So far, less than 55,000 people have signed a pledge supporting the boycott. That’s less than one-quarter of 1 percent of the total who received the announcement.

Looks like AFA is off to another great boycott start. If they do for Ford what they did for Disney, the automaker can expect sales to increase during the boycott.

Let’s Burn Us Some Books!

Human Events Online has performed the valuable public service of convening a panel of 15 “conservative scholars and public policy leaders” to develop a list of the “Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries.”

The wingbut panelists were almost unanimous in their choice for number one: Karl Marx’s “The Communist Manifesto,” followed at second by Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.” I suppose it would be difficult for even a left-leaner to argue those choices, but the problem I have with the list is that it seems to do what all book-fearers do — blame the book for either the actions of the author (Hitler) or for the actions of others in the name of or under the aegis of the author (Marx).

I think you can blame Hitler, not his rambling prison-cell rant, for the Third Reich. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to read Marx, but all we can really blame him for is turgid prose, not the Great Communist Conspiracy. To say that Russia or China or North Korea really implemented Marxian ideals, as elucidated in his “Manifesto,” to create their totalitarian states and foment the Cold War is ludicrous.

Here’s the rest of the list:
3. “Quotations from Chairman Mao,” By Mao Zedong
4. “The Kinsey Report,” by Alfred Kinsey
5. “Democracy and Education,” by John Dewey
6. “Das Kapital,” by Karl Marx (a two-fer in the Top 10!)
7. “The Feminine Mystique,” by Betty Friedan
8. “The Course of Positive Philosophy,” by Auguste Compte
9. “Beyond Good and Evil,” by Freidrich Nietzsche
10. “General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money,” John Maynard Keynes

There are some interesting selections among the runners-up as well:
“On Liberty,” by John Stuart Mill
“Beyond Freedom and Dignity,” by B.F. Skinner
“Origin of the Species,” by Charles Darwin (thought that would have scored higher)
“Madness and Civilization,” by Michel Foucault
“Coming of Age in Samoa,” by Margaret Mead
“Unsafe at Any Speed,” by Ralph Nader
“Silent Spring,” by Rachel Carson
“Introduction to Psychoanalysis,” by Sigmund Freud
“Descent of Man,” by Charles Darwin

While some of these choices perhaps are not surprising (absent Margaret Meade), it’s well to note that these are labeled as “harmful” books, not just books they disliked. Once you marginalize a book by deeming it “harmful,” can the matchbox be far behind?

Prosperity Through Ownership

In an effort to simplify the sometimes confusing and always rancorous debate over Social Security reform, the ever-helpful wingnuts at The Heritage Foundation have come up wth a little SocSecCalculator for your convenience. Just plug in your age range and salary range, and voilá! All your retirement problems solved in two different scenarios, both of which put the moolah where it belongs — in YOUR pocket. Thanks Heritage Foundation!

What Dead Afghans?

Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin poses the question nobody is asking: If 15 to 18 people really were killed in Afghan riots sparked by Newsweek’s story about a Koran being flushed down the toilet by U.S. military interrogators in Guantanamo, who are they?

Farah claims to have scoured every available document in Lexis-Nexis, as well as the entire Internet, and talked to an anonymous source (gotta love those) and has been unable to find a single mention of a name of one of the dead anywhere. Indeed, he can find no substantive proof that the riots in fact ocurred.

Then there were riots in Afghanistan, the Far East and the Palestinian Authority – all, the international media reported, connected to the Newsweek story.

Later, many who had first-hand knowledge of the disturbances said they were planned months in advance and had little or no connection to the Newsweek story.

But now there’s a new twist.

Virtually every major news agency in the world has reported without verification that between 15 and 18 Afghanis were killed in the riots.

There’s just one problem. There is no more evidence for these deaths than there is that a U.S. interrogator flushed a Quran down the toilet.

Not a single name of even one victim has been released. No details of the circumstances of the riots were released from any official sources – either U.S. or Afghan.

Who were these victims? Were they rioters killed by police or military forces? Were they innocent victims attacked by fanatics? Were they Afghanis? Were they relief workers?

Farah claims he has queried both U.S. and Afghan official sources for details about “these alleged deaths.” but has been stonewalled, forcing him to rely on that old chestnut, unnamed sources.

Now, some sources inside the U.S. government are saying off the record that they believe the death toll may have been deliberately exaggerated by Islamists – perhaps even some Afghan government officials – who want to make a point about the grievous nature of the supposed Quran desecration.

Hmm, what if there were no dead Afghans ….

McClellan Lies About Lying About Newsweek Story’s Effect

Editor & Publisher published a report that uses White House press conference transcripts to show Press Secretary Scott McClellan is a (surprise!) liar. McClellan claims that he did not say that people died in the riots in Afganistan following the Newsweek article on abuses of the Koran at Guantanamo, Cuba.

He also claimed that he had never said it did, even though a check of transcripts disputes that. On May 16, for example, he said, “people have lost their lives.” On May 17, he said, “People did lose their lives,” and, “People lost their lives” due to the Newsweek report.

Here is part of the transcript from the latest White House press briefing which shows McClellan in full BS mode:

Q: One other question. Karzai was quite definite in saying that he didn’t believe that the violence in Afghanistan was directly tied to the Newsweek article about Koran desecration. Yet, from this podium, you have made that link. So —

McCLELLAN: Actually, I don’t think you’re actually characterizing what was said accurately.

Q: By whom?

McCLELLAN: As I said last week, and as President Karzai said today, and as General Myers had said previously, the protest may well have been pre-staged. The discredited report was damaging. It was used to incite violence. But those who espouse an ideology of hatred and oppression and murder don’t need an excuse to incite violence. But the reports from the region showed how this story was used to incite violence.

Today’s Sign of the End of Civilization as We Know It

“Crazy Frog Axel F,” a cell phone ringtone, is set to top the British singles pop charts by this Sunday, knocking off Coldplay’s “Speed of Sound,” the band’s first single in two years. Retail-sales tracker HMV said Crazy Frog would be the first hit ringtone to cross over into the singles charts. According to HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo:

“Music purists might not be too happy at the prospect of the Crazy Frog outselling Coldplay. But it shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise when you consider its huge novelty appeal and the massive amount of exposure it’s currently getting.

“Kids obviously find it cute and cool, but students and even office workers seem to be drawn to its rather kitsch, ironic appeal. The only real issue is whether the record label can press enough copies to keep up with the huge demand that we’re seeing right now.”