Thursday, June 05, 2003

Howell Raines Walks the Plank

The New York Times has purged itself of the two men who sat at its helm while corrections and retractions that were ultimately numerous enough to fill two full pages, were printed - all in an attempt to apologize for a blatant liar. The liar in question (whom I'm sure you're familiar with) is Jayson Blair, a 27 year-old, journalism school drop out, who'd been forced to resign as Editor-in-Chief of his university's newspaper because he'd been caught manufacturing facts. The indifference shown towards Blair's misdeeds by upper management, point to an attempted cover up and complete disregard for the truth. According to the New York Observer, Raines was given four weeks after the Blair mess broke, to see if he could shore up sufficient confidence amongst his underlings to justify his staying on. His failure to garner the neccesary support is what led to his calling a meeting at the Times' headquarters earlier today. The meeting set the stage for Executive Editor Howell Raines and Managing Editor Gerald Boyd to ceremoniously sacrifice their tarnished careers, once and for all. Boyd started out as a decorated White House correspondant before climbing the internal political ranks at the Times.

Gerald Boyd was perhaps the most personally tarnished by the Blair fiasco. News of a personal relationship between he and Boyd was leaked to the press. Evidently, Blair was involved in a serious relationship with Boyd's wife's best friend, numerous shared smoke breaks were also witnessed by suspicious staffers at the Times. They must've wondered, "Why is the Manging Editor engaging in chronic, friendly discusions with a troubled, floundering, twenty-something writer?" Boyd and Blair were buddies, undoubtedly their friendship was strengthened by their shared status as African Americans, of which there were very few, at the Times.

Howell Raines was born in Alabama, and achieved a status in the journalism world as a gifted writer and editor. By many accounts his reign at the Times was extremely successful. The "Old Grey Lady" earned seven Pulitzer Prizes during Raines's watch. Following September Eleventh, the Times ran exposes on each and every victim of the terrorist strike, a task which was celebrated widely within the journalism world. However, at the first meeting following the Blair bombshell, the first words uttered by Raines to a captive audience, consisting of the entire journalistic staff of the New York Times were, "Many of you view me as arrogant and inaccessible." Why did it take a catastrophy of historical proportions for him to reach out to his staff, and acknowledge their well founded animosity towards his fear-driven management style? My answer: Howell Raines was absolutely correct when he labled himself arrogant.

Ultimately, I view the entire Times debacle as a cautionary tale of what can happen when liberal management become blinded by an employee's skin color. I acknowledge that this sounds simplistic, but allow me to explain. Sometimes in life, things are exactly as they appear. Jayson Blair was seen as an ambitious, up-and-coming, young African American journalist. This perception was so romantic to the liberal (or as they like to disguise, er, I mean, call themselves nowadays: Progressive) management that they were willing to shortcircuit their commonsense. "The kid means well." " He's confused." " Print another retraction, whatever it takes." These are phrases I can imagine being muttered by both Raines and Boyd, as they sought to preserve their cozy environment at the Times, which I envison as a warm soup of NPR-styled-liberalism, full of easy smiles and a mutually projected idealistic reality.

Idealogues make poor journalists. Objectivity should be paramount while relaying any story. Raines injected many Times stories with his own beliefs and prejudices. One example is the Augusta Country Club's refusal to admit women - he was simply obsessed. The writers forced to write, write, and write some more about this subject began to complain about Raines forcing them to "develop" news, instead of breaking it. I believe this kind of infusion of ideology is an abuse of the Executive Editor's position (no surpise that Raines's previous job had been as Editor of the Times editorial pages).

Hopefully the resignation of Howell Raines and Gerald Boyd will trigger a new day in American journalism, a day when its overwhelmingly liberal editors will come to view the world through a lense more approximate to reality.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

The Dismantling of an Ayatollah

Recently, 126 of the 286 legislators that make up Iran's parliament asked their leader to step down. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei angrily defied them. The successor to the infamous Ayatolla Khomeini, Ayatollah Ali, is clinging to his position with, what can best be described as a death-grip. The division between the current Ayatollah, and the rapidly expanding majority sentiment, is quickly evolving into a civil crisis. Fear of an impending U.S. attack has dissatisfaction with the ruling clerics quickly achieving critical mass. "Why the massive backlash," you might ask? Consider the two following outrages to be typical behavior of the current regime. (1) When James Cameron's "Titanic" was shown in Iran, Leonardo De Caprio's hair style became envogue amongst the young men of Tehran. This practice was viewed by the ruling clerics as pro-American, and therefore un-Islamic. The punishment for sporting the taboo coif: ten years in prison. (2) In 2002, a University of Tehran professor who criticized the ruling clerics (also known as mullahs), was sentenced to death. Days of fervent protest, carried out by millions of mostly younger Iranians, spilled into the streets of Tehran. His sentence was eventually reversed by the same Islamic court that had earlier condemmed him. This scenario also serves to illustrate the sheer ferocity of outrage, which the majority of Iranians hold for their strict and beligerant leaders. The mullahs retreated on the issue of the professor's death sentence, because they fear revolution at any moment. This revolution will occur, it will be brought to the world via the United States of America; and, yes, it will be televised. The genesis of Iran's current governmental structure can be found in a branch of Islam known as shiite, which is practiced by a large portion of the Iranian population. This belief system differs from the Sunni sect (which is widely practiced in Iraq, Syria, Jordan and other nations) because they believe their highest clerics possess the authority of Allah. This affords the top twelve clerics divine authority in the eyes of their followers. This belief system is flawed because, as we all know, mortal men make plenty of mistakes. This traditional philosophy of the Shiites is what gave the Aytatollah Khomeini the power to compel believers to hunt down and kill Salman Rushdie for authoring the book "Satanic Verses." He literally said that Allah wanted Mr. Rushdie dead; such declarations are known as Intifadahs. This belief system is what grants men the title of "Ayatollah" in the first place, its translation: Man of God. Man is far too weak a specimen to assume the title of spokesman and errand boy for God, if you don't believe me check out the recent travails of another religious sect which holds similar beliefs: Catholicism. Perhaps the most pressing reason behind those 126 legislators' plea can be found in the content of a 2001 speech by President George W. Bush. In the speech, Bush refers to the Islamic Republic of Iran as a member of the "Axis of Evil." The reason for this proclamation can be found in Iran's extensive ties to terror. They created Hizbullah in Lebanon during the late'70s and early '80s. Their fingerprints can also be found all over Al Qaeda, recent intelligence reports show that Saaed bin Laden (Osama's son) and military chief Saif al-Adil are both being protected and sheltered in Iran. These latest developments, by themselves, warrant U.S. intervention, but there are even more provocative machinations occuring at present in Iran. Yesterday, the Ayatollah Ali Khomeini told a large gathering of supporters that the U.S. "would never dare attack Iran." This public statement came on the heels of Iran's confirmation that they were, in fact, quickly becoming a nucler power. Most of the younger people in Iran are struggling to mount an uprising that will eliminate their current Islamic-fundamentalist rulers. Their pleas for help will not go unanswered by the United States. One can reasonably conclude that American special forces and their CIA counterparts, have already been working the "Iranian revolution" angle for some time now. The U.S. government simply cannot and will not allow Iran to continue on its current heading. A nuclear Iran is not an option. Unlike in Iraq, the U.S. doesn't need to mount a full-scale invasion of Iran. This time around, the role of the United States will be to incite the Iranians to take their rejection of Islamic rule one step further. This next step will be the taking up of arms. During upcoming battles, the American government will provide the weapons, but the oppressed people of Iran will have to do the firing.

Monday, June 02, 2003

America's Malignant Neighbor
(Being Revised)

Thursday, May 22, 2003

MSNBC's Painful Journey

MSNBC couldn't beat 'em, so they're now hoping to join 'em. I'm talking about their pursuit of the Fox News audience. I, along with the rest of America, have watched MSNBC's tortured journey to find and claim an identity. Before the present evening line up of Keith Olberman and Joe Scarborough (as well as the new addition on saturday night, arch-conservative Michael Savage), there was Editor-in-Chief Jerry Nachman, and the mothballed Phil Donahue. During the first manifestation they were attempting to gouge a chunk out of Fox's outsized share of the cable news market, by confronting Fox's conservative slant with a decidedly liberal one. The oversized Nachman was a nightly fixture sweatily spewing the type of liberal ideology (he recently claimed that racial preferences played no part in the NY Time's deferential treatment of Jayson Blair) that was undoubtedly crucial in his rise to the top of a major news organization. Next to Nachman in the line up was Phil -the ultimate liberal. This strategy was fundamentally flawed, and rapidly failed due to CNN's death-grip on the liberal cable news niche. MSNBC simply couldn't compete. Chris Matthews was the anchor of the evening line up, and continues to host "Hardball" in his uniquely forceful manner. At least management knew enough to leave Matthews in place. Soon, Nachman returned to his desk behind the camera, and Donahue was, mercifully, forced back into retirement. Next, MSNBC decided on a strategic shift in their operations. Rather than pull viewers away from Fox utilizing a liberal lineup, they would try to capture a portion of Fox's niche by directly competing with them at their own game. Ex-ESPN anchor, Keith Olberman, is by no means a leftist talking head, and former congressmen, Joe Scarborough, far eclipses Bill O'Reilly's conservative tendencies. This type of flakey, contrived, programming renders the station's claim of being "fiercely independent," a very hollow statement indeed. How does one trust that which is constantly fluid in concept, philosophy and creed? An LA Times article (4/23/03) listed that Fox News pulled in 3.1 million viewers on average, as opposed to MSNBC's & CNN's 1.8 and 1.0 million respectively. Caught between the two vastly differing philosophies of Fox and CNN, MSNBC has got to be arriving at or near the crisis point. The best and only choice left to MSNBC, is to pick one side of the ideological fence, drop anchor, and stay awhile.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

"Progressive" Enlightenment

Chris Hedges of The New York Times fulfilled his self-conceived obligation as a liberal: to enlighten us all. Who the hell did he think he was to crash the graduates big day at Rockford College by making a long winded, politically motivated and absurdly innapropriate speech? He refers to those in the military as hapless have-nots who die in accordance with the will of America's powerful elite. I presently know a Captain in the army who is a lawyer by trade, but serves out of a sense of duty. What about him Chris? Hedges is a perfect example of the disconnect between the media elite and the American public. The media elite is fueld by a self-righteous belief that they are obligated to guide the public, whose "ignorant" views they are beholden to shape. Why? Why did Phil Donahue disrupt North Carolina State's ceremony with his sappy idealogy? Why did Jessica Lange do the same at her daughter's alma mater? As former CBS journalist Hank Goldberg stated, liberals marry their beliefs with their self-images. The reason it is impossible to argue with a liberal without them becoming offended is because they are not wired for debate. An affront on their ideals is perceived as an affront on their person. A schsim is heard in the audio recording of Chris Hedges address, common sense does not tolerate rarefied upper east side politics, because it faithfully attacks the very system which has made America the world's truest beacon for dissent and free speach. A stance so predictable cannot be objective nor based in logical reasoning. With the advent of alternative news sources, the arrogant and stagnant liberal (or as they prefer to now be called "progressive") media is coming under attack by all sides. The American masses are assembling at the gates, torches in hand, venting their anger at having foreign values rammed down their throats for decades. As Matt Drudge commented "the statue of Peter Jennings has been toppled." America is in revolt, just ask Chris Hedges.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

A Price Paid In Full

Every now and again, when the world is sleeping, quiet descends on one's life and allows for retrospection to unfurl and work it's mojo beneath and between the night's silvery shadow world. I've spent a great deal more time than I care to claim dulling my senses to what life was always faithfully trying to reveal. Lately, whenever I've emerged from a recent marathon session of "partying," carousing with friends, and the indulgences that inevitably accompany such activities, I find that my psychic foundation pulls through chipped away at, and temporarily eroded. It seems my mind is an impossibly complex stereo equalizer which God sets with exacting precision - resulting in a proper and balanced existence. After a relatively long stretch of sobriety, I find the clouds of anxiety which inevitably follow a chemical binge eventually ascend and reveal (thankfully) the same comfortable consciousness I've always known. But here's the kicker: I'm getting older and my mind is finally beginning to behave accordingly. Suddenly, partying and seeking distraction in alcohol and it's even more malignant chemical cousins is no longer such a priority. I can actually say that I prefer waking up early on a saturday morning and not having to worry about the previous night's activities; and I love not being subjected to the stale hellish existence a hangover always demands. The vibrancy in life is found when the day is at full throttle and your body's biorythms are humming in accord with the rest of the world - not when spun out, drunkenly working your way around a shifting, smokey bar room. To me, it seems that life taps you on the shoulder and ushers you along when its ordained natural path becomes violated. As the shadows grow longer across the landscape of my youth, the time for maturation, and the necessity for growth are now clearly revealed. Indifference will no longer function.

Monday, May 19, 2003

Dem's Poor Showing

As a tweny-something person coming of age in today's political climate, my overwhelming impression of the Democratic party can be summed up in one word: childish. Whether it be Daschle or the recent collection of clowns who comprise the democratic presidential candidacy, they all appear petty and transparently partisan. Now, I realize that politics is petty and disingenuous by it's very nature but the stances that the democrats have recently taken are so contrived (the $$ spent by the white house during Bush's recent carrier visit, etc.) and futile that they should be instantly stripped of any credibility before being filtered into America's collective neurosis. The latest position being jockeyed by democratic presidential hopefuls is that Bush is weak on homeland security - this from the same party that attacked Atty. Gen. Ashcroft's crackdown on people living in America who originated in nations known to sponsor terrorism. They labled such actions as extreme and un-American. The democratic leadership was beligerant in their assertion that Bush's harsh response to terrorism was allowing the hijackers to "win" due to the fact our "freedom as Americans is being eroded." Such inappropriate and dramatic attacks create a perception of the republican party as being the party of "adults." Since my awareness of politics has been fairly short-lived, I can't help but wonder 'Are democrats always this pathetic?' Do the appointments of San Francisco liberal Nancy Pelosi and the histrionic Terry McCaulife (sic) to leadership positions signal a new horizon for the democratic party in which it will grow even more liberal and unpredictable? If so, the Grand Ol' Party can count me in for several years to come.

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