Thursday Mashup (2/7/13)

February 8, 2013

  • With the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers having just played another Super Bowl (the Ravens won, of course)…well, you just knew there would be a story like this (a little late here, I know)…

    The Parents Television Council urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Monday to take action against CBS for airing a curse word during its coverage of Sunday’s Super Bowl.

    Immediately after the game ended, an exuberant Joe Flacco, the Baltimore Ravens’s quarterback, could be heard saying “f—ing awesome” to one of his teammates.

    “Despite empty assurance after empty assurance from the broadcast networks that they would never air indecent material, especially during the Super Bowl, it has happened again,” Tim Winter, the Parents Television Council’s president, said in a statement.

    “No one should be surprised that a jubilant quarterback might use profane language while celebrating a career-defining win, but that is precisely the reason why CBS should have taken precautions,” he said. “Joe Flacco’s use of the f-word, while understandable, does not absolve CBS of its legal obligation to prevent profane language from being broadcast — especially during something as uniquely pervasive as the Super Bowl.”

    I should let Tim Winter know that, when the Phillies won the World Series in ’08, the team held a party at Citizens Bank Park, and everyone on the team as well as the coaches and the announcers spoke to the fans. In the course of the festivities, Chase Utley unleashed an “F” blast heard all over the place, and I don’t recall that anyone fell down and died or turned into a pillar of salt.

    Simply put, this is just another excuse for a “values” freeloader like Winter to let everyone know he’s still around (“I’ll take ‘Desperately Trying To Remain Relevant’ for 100, Alex!” – more here). And here is more on the Parents Television Council, including the fact that it was founded by the perpetually angry Brent Bozell.

    In other Super Bowl news, this tells us who was upset over the performance of Beyoncé at halftime, and this tells us that at least one person was upset by the performance of the national anthem by Alycia Keys because she was sitting down, even though she was apparently quite good also (full disclosure: I saw a few minutes of the second quarter, including the fake field goal and Dwayne Johnson’s milk commercial, both of which I thought were pretty cool, and that was about it).

    You know what, people? If you don’t like what you’re watching, then change the channel and tune into something else. Or, if you want to do something really “cutting edge,” try reading a book or a newspaper instead (or maybe this blog :-)).

  • Next, I’m going to go for more “low-hanging fruit” here with Kristol Mess on the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense (here)…

    Our brave men and women in uniform deserve better than Chuck Hagel. Are there any courageous liberal voices who will find it within themselves to say so? Are there a few courageous Democrats in the United States Senate who will announce that they will not consent to a secretary of defense unqualified for that high office? Is there even one Democratic senator who will hearken to President Kennedy’s admonition, “Sometimes party loyalty asks too much”?

    I’ll admit that I really don’t have a lot to add, only to point out from here that Hagel earned two Purple Hearts, an Army Commendation Medal, the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross and a Combat Infantryman’s Badge for his military service.

    And when it came to the prospect of serving our country, the only thing Kristol did was run away with all speed (here).

    And Kristol is the one trying to invoke courage…

    I understand that there are substantive disagreements people have with the Hagel nomination. But let’s make them on a fair appraisal and not on the partisan spin of one side or another (including more on Kristol’s ridiculous charge here that Hagel is “anti-Israel” and said that Iraq was a war for oil…Hagel didn’t say that last part either, though that is most definitely correct).

    Aside from Number 44’s sometimes ridiculous attempts to be “post-partisan,” I don’t know why he could not have settled for a Democrat as Secretary of Defense instead. But I have no substantive disagreement with Hagel; his service is commendable, and at least he recognized that we needed to stop digging the proverbial hole in Iraq and said as much. So I’m inclined to give him a chance.

    Which of course means that the Repugs in the U.S. Senate will do everything possible to obstruct Hagel even more (here).

  • Continuing, I give you more corporate media tut-tutting from Howard Kurtz here

    Now it’s true that Fox or Rush can boost or batter any lawmaker, and that they can help drive a controversy into the broader mainstream media. But we’re talking here about the president of the United States. He has an army, a navy and a bunch of nuclear weapons, not to mention an ability to command the airwaves at a moment’s notice. And he’s complaining about a cable channel and a radio talk show host?

    Sooo…as far as Kurtz is concerned, Number 44 is supposed to just shut up and take any nonsense doled out by The Roger Ailes BS Factory?

    But Kurtz of course has no issue with attacking Fix Noise himself, and rightly so, calling out Sean Inanity here for defending a typically scurrilous race baiting mess from The Daily Tucker. Also, the Foxies couldn’t wait to report the ruling by The Supremes that the health care law was unconstitutional last June…of course, the problem is that such a ruling was never handed down (here). And Kurtz called out Bill Orally here for not apologizing for messing up on the health care ruling in particular (if O’Reilly apologized for all of his screw-ups, he wouldn’t have time to do anything else, though he did issue a mea culpa the next day).

    Media Matters provided a better take-down of Kurtz here; I guess Kurtz thinks the Repugs are supposed to run the show, he and his media pals are supposed to be the referees, and the Dems are supposed to retreat to a neutral corner and be quiet (a perfect formula for electoral losses by our side, by the way).

  • Further, somebody named Chris Edwards over at Irrational Spew Online concocted the following from here (there’s a lot I could get into from his joke of an opinion column, but I’ll focus on the following for now)…

    High-speed rail represents another federal effort to create a one-size-fits-all solution for the country. The economic justification for high-speed rail is weak, yet the Obama administration is trying to impose its grand rail vision on the whole nation. Such infrastructure decisions should be left to the states. If California wants to blow its own money on a boondoogle (sp) rail system, it can do so, but the federal government shouldn’t foist the costs on the rest of us.

    Yeah, don’t you hate it when the federal government engages in its “boondoogle” projects (if you’re going to be snarky, learn how to spell first, OK?).

    To begin, this tells us that Repug Governors Lex Luthor Scott, John Kasich and Scott Walker all turned down high speed rail funds (in Scott’s case, to the disappointment of John Mica, U.S. House Repug and Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee). Also (and taking a page out of Edwards’ playbook I’m sure), Erick (“Son of Erick”) Erickson cropped comments by former Obama Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to make it sound like the latter supported the Chinese over this country on infrastructure (uh, no).

    More to the point, this tells us why the federal government should have a role in infrastructure projects, along with the attendant benefits (for example, does anything think we actually would have our highway transportation system from coast to coast if it had been left up totally to the states?). And this tells us how the Repugs have blocked transportation infrastructure projects, thus hindering our recovery (though they have no trouble with funding infrastructure in places like Afghanistan, as noted here).

    And as long as Edwards decided to take a shot at the “Big Dig” project in Massachusetts, the following should be noted from here

    The Big Dig is a marvel, even considering the construction problems that have surfaced since the project officially concluded in 2007. Traffic jams still occur in Boston but nothing like those on the elevated Central Artery and en route to and from Logan Airport when the only access was through the Sumner and Callahan Tunnels. A trip from the South Shore to Logan, which on weekdays was a crawl and stall through the tunnel, is now a breeze.

    The birth of a new Boston waterfront is not just a boon for tourists. The Seaport District finally is taking off. A few years ago the Institute of Contemporary Art was a lonely addition near the federal courthouse. Now the area is filled with new restaurants, a neighborhood of galleries and 1,700 new apartments built or planned. The new housing is a lure for young college grads especially; they have been leaving Boston in large part because of expensive housing costs and a dearth of apartments close to downtown offices.

    All this means more business – housing and entertainment dollars that add more money to the state’s bottom line. A good chunk of that money goes back to the cities and towns in the form of local aid, something lawmakers conveniently forget when they rail against what they call a Boston project. The capital city will always be the state’s primary economic engine, so what’s good for Boston is good for residents from Plymouth to the Berkshires.

    And as if we need another reality check on this issue, allow me to provide the following from here.

  • Finally, it looks like former Repug U.S. House Rep and (still, to my knowledge) deadbeat dad Joe Walsh is forming his own Teahadist Super Pac for the 2014 midterm congressional elections here (dear God, are we in this cycle already??!!).

    So let’s backtrack for a minute and look at where we are, OK?

    The name of Walsh’s former peer in the House, Steve King of Iowa, gets floated around a bit as the potential Repug candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in Iowa formerly held by the departing Dem Tom Harkin (here).

    Karl Rove responds with this.

    And now, Joe Walsh responds also here (aren’t circular firing squads fun?).

    All of which makes me want to say the following (for the primary election anyway)…

    GO STEVE, GO!


  • “Hanging Up” The Teabaggers On Net Neutrality

    August 13, 2010

    This post from The Hill tells us the following…

    Tea Party groups are staking out an anti-regulatory position in the fight over net neutrality rules for phone and cable companies.

    A coalition that included 35 Tea Party groups sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Wednesday urging the agency not to boost its authority over broadband providers through a controversial process known as reclassification.

    The process could give federal regulators the power to impose net neutrality rules, which would prevent Internet access providers from favoring some content and applications over others.

    The Virginia Tea Party Patriot Federation was among the groups that signed the letter. Jamie Radtke, the group’s chairman, said interest in net neutrality is rising in the Tea Party movement.

    I am not surprised in the least to hear that, given their propensity for being on the wrong side of partly-corporate causes (and more’s the pity, I might add).

    As noted here, what “reclassification” means is that the FCC “will seek to reclassify broadband as a transport service, opening up a way for the agency to enforce network neutrality recommendations and implement some aspects of the National Broadband Plan.”

    And as Michigan Law Professor Susan Crawford tells us in the post…

    …the FCC plans to forbear from rate regulation but ensure that the transmission portion — but not Internet applications and content — is subject to basic rules of the road. They still have a lot of work to do to develop the factual record that will support regulatory reclassification of transmission services, but courts will likely defer to their classification if they do their job right. I have every expectation that they will.

    And at that point, things were progressing smoothly – that is, until this from earlier in the week…

    Efforts to protect net neutrality that involve government regulation have always faced one fundamental obstacle: the substantial danger that the regulators will cause more harm than good for the Internet. The worst case scenario would be that, in allowing the FCC to regulate the Internet, we open the door for big business, Hollywood and the indecency police to exert even more influence on the Net than they do now.

    On Monday, Google and Verizon proposed a new legislative framework for net neutrality. Reaction to the proposal has been swift and, for the most part, highly critical. While we agree with many aspects of that criticism, we are interested in the framework’s attempt to grapple with the Trojan Horse problem. The proposed solution: a narrow grant of power to the FCC to enforce neutrality within carefully specified parameters. While this solution is not without its own substantial dangers, we think it deserves to be considered further if Congress decides to legislate.

    From what I can determine, the plan concocted by Google and Verizon features the following pitfalls (here)…

    …the framework also contains two features that trouble many Silicon Valley start-ups and public-interest lobbyists.

    First, it allows for a second layer of vaguely defined digital services in the future, a sort of gated Internet. These digital entities would have to be substantially different from services being offered now, such as 3-D video or medical monitoring, both heavy users of bandwidth.

    Critics call this a first step toward a two-tiered Internet, creating a pay-to-enter private tier of premium services and a public Internet for those who can’t afford it. Might carriers like Verizon concentrate on delivering service to their premium customers and leave the Internet as we know it as a dusty relic that receives little attention or maintenance?

    Google claims it plans to compete only on the open “public Internet,” including keeping its YouTube video service there. That provides some assurance for now, though company policy could change in the future.

    The proposals also only apply to the “wired” Internet, through which most homes and businesses receive service today. The mobile wireless networks – companies such as Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless – would be left free to discriminate – say by offering faster speeds to websites that pay for the privilege, or slowing delivery from sites that compete with the companies’ own offerings.

    Of course, leave it to the crowd wearing those funny hats and carrying their racist signs to interpret Net Neutrality as a government plot to censor the Internet, when in reality it assures a level playing field for all participants, with any “regulation” (or hierarchical content designation anyway) to be done by private entities.

    I think there are two things we can do in response: 1) Learn about the Electronic Frontier Foundation, for anyone who hasn’t done that already (here), and 2) Sign Sen. Al Franken’s petition to support Net Neutrality (here).

    I don’t really care much about the internet habits of the teabaggers, but I care very much about my own and those of a like-minded political view. And I’d like to make sure we don’t see a day when the telcos can roll out their fancy new apps with the exquisite streamlining of a Porsche 911 Carrera, for example, while humble blogger types such as yours truly do what we do with the speed, precision and reliability of a Yugo by comparison.

    Update 8/17/10: What mcjoan sez here…


    Tune In For The New, Post Kev-Mart FCC!

    May 5, 2009

    radio_tower1Of all of the incoming Obama appointments, one that is truly important but could be easily forgotten in the flood of news since our 44th president was sworn in is that of a new FCC commissioner to replace the happily-now-departed Kevin Martin and his predecessor, Michael Powell (and oh yes, please remind me once more how Powell was nominated as a commissioner by Bill Clinton – he was nominated as chairman by Dubya, though).

    This gives us a rundown on Martin’s tenure, the only redeeming aspect of which was his continued oversight (some would say persecution, but not me) of Comcast for “blocking access (to) its subscribers (of BitTorrent’s) file sharing software in (the company’s) first documented instance of violating net neutrality,” though, as Matt Stoller also notes at Open Left (embedded in the prior post), Martin also “aggressively pushed through a merger of AT&T and Bellsouth into the largest telecom company in the world, supported the massive Sirius-XM Merger, supported relaxed cross-ownership restrictions on local media, deregulated DSL broadband providers, and enforced indecency provisions” (nothing wrong with that last one, I know, except when you consider how ridiculous those provisions became under Bushco).

    And considering that last item in particular, this Murdoch Street Journal story tells us that the soon-to-be-Souter-less Supremes…

    …order(ed) a federal appeals court to re-examine its ruling in favor of CBS Corp. over Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction.

    The court Monday directed the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia to consider reinstating the $550,000 fine that the Federal Communications Commission imposed on CBS over Ms. Jackson’s breast-baring performance at the 2004 Super Bowl.

    Last year, the appeals court threw out the fine against CBS, saying the FCC strayed from its long-held approach of applying identical standards to words and images when reviewing complaints of indecency.

    The appellate court said the incident lasted nine-sixteenths of one second and should have been regarded as “fleeting.”

    But last week, the Supreme Court narrowly upheld the FCC’s policy threatening fines on so-called fleeting expletives on live television.

    So the court basically reinstated the fine against CBS for the whole “Tit That Will Never Die” fiasco AND the fine in the case of Bono saying that winning a Golden Globe was “f*cking brilliant!” (yeah, way to add onto this mess by not curbing your tongue, Mr. “I’m Trying-To-Save-The-World” Potty Mouth!).

    I thought this was an instructive portion of this Journal story on the subject…

    “Programming replete with one-word indecent expletives will tend to produce children” who use them, Justice Scalia wrote.

    In dissent, Justice Stevens called it “ironic…that while the FCC patrols the airwaves for words that have a tenuous relationship with sex or excrement, commercials broadcast during prime-time hours frequently ask viewers whether they too are battling erectile dysfunction or having trouble going to the bathroom.”

    Yeah, Stevens blew it on the Indiana Voter ID ruling last year, but he has a thing or two “on the ball” here.

    But the most important aspect of this to me is as follows…

    The decision (on the fleeting expletives) effectively sends the issue to the Obama administration, which has three vacancies to fill on the five-member FCC. With broadcasters pledging to press the free-speech argument next, the commission will have to decide whether to continue a defense of the Bush administration rule or, as many in the entertainment and communications industries have urged, drop it altogether.

    Obviously, I would tend to believe that the latter here is the best course of action.

    And what’s needed fairly urgently I think are hearings on the person named by Obama to head the FCC, and that would be Julius Genachowski; as noted here, Genachowski’s nomination has been received by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, but hearings have yet to be scheduled. My suspicion is that hearings are likely to be delayed until Obama names a Republican appointee (the commission must have two Democrats and two Republicans; the other Dem commissioner nominated, as noted here, is Mignon Clyburn, the daughter of James Clyburn, the Dem U.S. Hose rep from South Carolina and House Majority Whip).

    Well, if Obama is looking for a Repug nominee, here and here are two individuals who I believe should be considered – hard to find a still-moderate Repug under the age of 70.

    And once the new commission is in place, these ridiculous fines and rules for indecency and language should either be eliminated or rolled back to Clinton-era levels, the last time we had adults running the executive branch of government before now.

    Update 6/26/09: Good news (here).


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