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Archive for June 2007

Does money talk? Lobbying on immigration on the rise

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As my colleague E Rocha pointed out earlier today, get ready for the next attempt to wrestle an immigration (or is it an anti-immigration?) bill through the U.S. Congress, complete with secrecy, parliamentary maneuvering, general political chicanery — and lobbying.

Don’t forget to keep an eye on the money. News stories, for reasons of brevity, usually refer to lobbying “groups” or “organizations.” Until one sees the lobbying activity by amount of money and name of player, it’s impact cannot be fully appreciated.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 22, 2007 at 3:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Earmarks: Congress hides money requests behind narrowed definition

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Parents teach their children not to make promises they cannot — or will not — keep. In the matter of earmarks, more members of Congress should have listened to their parents.

Earmarks represent power. Members of Congress can direct how money drawn from the U.S. Treasury can be spent. For example, if a representative or senator wants to keep open a factory in his or her district that makes defense-related equipment, he or she can insert an earmark into the federal budget designating money for that use. Then he or she can claim credit for bringing that money into the district. There had been no requirement that an earmark be identified with a member of Congress. It could be a secret. So earmarks represented both power and secrecy, a democratically unhealthy combination.

Politicians like power and secrecy, especially when money is involved. So they have resisted mightily transparency in earmarks — revealing who sponsored what amount of money for what project benefiting whom. Transparency reduces power.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 19, 2007 at 5:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Recent statements from morons

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I gotta learn how to laugh at myself.

— Laredo, Tex., Mayor Raul Salinas after fielding criticism for directing an employee of the Laredo Convention and Visitors Bureau at an airport information booth to remove copies of LareDOS, an alternative monthly newspaper whose “cover featured a drawing of traditional Mexican calaveras —skeletons — labeled as Salinas and the county judge dancing at the chance to do business with a corrections company that the paper has criticized.”

She’s just figuring things out.

— Britney Spears’ mother, Lynne, in a USWeekly interview about her 25-year-old, just-rehabbed, just-divorced, just-shorn, just-pussy-pictured, just-baby-car-seat-instructed, pre-divorce-worth-$50-million daughter.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 15, 2007 at 1:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tony Blair whacks the press; the press whacks back: Chill, dudes

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In a reversal of the old adage “dance with the one who brought ya,” outgoing British prime minister Tony Blair is taking shots at the press, calling it “a feral beast” — despite admitting that his government paid “inordinate attention” to “courting, assuaging and persuading the media.”

The title of his speech: “Reflections on the Future of Democracy and the Media, or Why Don’t You Love Me?” (emphasis added; see full transcript)

A pack mentality less concerned with accuracy than impact has led to “the confusion of news and commentary,” says Mr. Blair:

The fear of missing out means today’s media, more than ever before, hunts in a pack. In these modes it is like a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits. But no one dares miss out … (T)he media are facing a hugely more intense form of competition than anything they have ever experienced before. They are not the masters of this change but its victims.

The result is a media that increasingly and to a dangerous degree is driven by ‘impact.’ Impact is what matters. It is all that can distinguish, can rise above the clamor, can get noticed. Impact gives competitive edge. Of course, the accuracy of a story counts. But it is secondary to impact.

Whoa. Talk about a hissy fit. What did he expect after backing President Bush’s ill-advised, cavalier misadventures in the Middle East? That’s the principal theme of some critics who responded with hissy fits of their own. Once the critics cool off, they’ll see some of Mr. Blair’s insights into the press are worthy of sober reflection.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 14, 2007 at 4:45 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Blogging a sports event: What’s ‘live’ and what isn’t?

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An NCAA official ejected a sports reporter Sunday from the press box at a college baseball tournament game for providing “live” blog updates on his paper’s Web site.

The NCAA booted Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal sports reporter Brian Bennett during the Louisville-Oklahoma State “Super Regional” game. The beef, it seems is over the word “live.” Sayeth the wire services:

Rights to the Super Regional games were owned by ESPN, and memos were circulated in the Louisville press box that said blogs were a “live representation” of the game and thus not permitted.

The evolution of sports reporting to include blogs written as an athletic contest unfolds has collided with the NCAA’s desire to protect its contractual commitments with broadcasters such as ESPN. The NCAA owns the television rights to all 88 of its championships. It sells these rights through bidding. CBS and ESPN are the primary broadcast television rights holders for NCAA championship events. This commercialization of college sports began in earnest decades ago — and blogging constitutes a complication of and perhaps a threat to that culture of college sports as a profit center.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 12, 2007 at 5:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Who’s running ‘mystery leadership PACs’?

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I’m looking for the wimp of a politician who won’t fess up to taking $29,000 from six political action committees (PACs) and then writing 22 checks for $1,000 each to support Democratic congressional incumbents and challengers.

This trickster hiding in the fiscal equivalent of a smoke-filled back room used as his or her guise a “leadership PAC” to circumvent the intent of campaign finance limits. Shocked! Shocked am I that a politician would do that. And he or she has plenty of shady company in this.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 9, 2007 at 12:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Coverage of Paris Hilton’s return to jail: Is it fair?

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I’d like to thank the august Old Gray Lady for being hip and catching me up with all things newsy and entertaining. At 4:23 p.m. EST, The New York Times informed me that Paris Hilton, famous fleshpot, would return to jail. Complete with Nick Ut’s AP photo, too.

Yep. There’s the weeping Ms. Hilton. Right next to the lede heds: “General Pace to Retire as Joint Chiefs Chairman” and “Immigrant Bill Sponsors Vow to Press On.”

The rest of the Big Media piled on, too.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 8, 2007 at 5:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized