Thursday, December 29, 2011
In a move so trivial and inconsequential many members of congress are too embarrassed to talk about it, and a move which escaped scrutiny by the mass media since it had nothing to do with sex, Republicans in the House, as part of the budget extension deal that averted a government shut down, insisted on including language that eliminated the ban on incandescent light bulbs that was due to go into effect on January 1. The ban the Republicans scuttled was actually part of an energy efficient initiative signed into law by George W. Bush in 2007.
Supposedly this conservative uprising over the ban on incandescent light bulbs began on -- where else -- conservative talk radio who seemed to feel the bulb ban was a threat to personal freedom. And many Republicans in the House agreed..
So Republicans, sensing the threat to our freedoms that the phasing out of incandescent bulbs represented in favor of new energy efficient bulbs, banded together and drew a line in the sand, insisting on language that blocked the energy efficiency standards from going into effect January 1.
This, they claim, was necessary to keep government interference out of the living rooms and light sockets of America and to preserve the freedom of choice they believed was the right of all Americans when it came to light bulbs.
So Republicans and conservatives are fanatically pro choice. When it comes to light bulbs.
They insisted that the government had no business interfering with a person's right to choose an incandescent bulb no matter how inefficient they are. For them it was a matter of principle and how much control the government can and cannot have over a person's life. When it comes to a person's freedom of choice, light bulbs yes, pregnancy no.
The Republican's "keep your government hands off my light bulbs" initiative succeeded, and the energy efficiency standards set to go into effect January 1 have been rescinded. Rescinded even though the major manufacturers of light bulbs began phasing out the incandescent bulbs long ago in anticipation of the 2007 standards going into effect.
So while the country continues to struggle with unemployment, a stagnating economy and huge deficits, Rep. Greg Walden, a Republican from Oregon said about the light bulb issue:
"There are just some issues that grab the public attention. This is one of them. It's going to be dealt with in legislation once and for all".
That's what he said. Really. And this came from a Republican congressman from, of all places, Oregon, the same Oregon where Republicans and conservatives called environmentalists trying to save the forests in Oregon "tree hugger"s. Who knew they would turn out to be light bulb huggers?
Its also hard to know if Republicans were getting pressure from groups on the Christian Right who believe the words in the Bible "let there be light" mean incandescent or those interpreting it to mean a natural right to any light a person wants.
Democrats could have taken the light bulb issue and made Republicans look like idiots while scoring huge political points if they had Democratic political strategists, commentators and elected officials in congress who weren't so busy making themselves look like idiots when it comes to politics.
So the second joke becomes, how many Democrats does it take to cave in to Republican efforts to unscrew efficiency standards? The answer is always the same: three. The same three that are always caving in to something. Pelosi, Reid, and of course, the one man mining disaster himself, the sanctimonious impurist, Barrack Obama.
So now, thanks to the light bulb issue, we now have two new categories of jokes to add to the lexicon - "Republican Jokes", and "Democratic Jokes" . The problem is that most of the country don't think either are very funny. Because the energy standards which would have made light bulbs 30% more efficient, still provided for light bulb choices that were more than adequate.
It's our current choices for president and congress that are inefficient.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
No one knows if Joe Paterno will sue Sean Gregory, Time Magazine, Jason Whitlock at Foxsports.com, Jemele Hill, the Philadelphia Daily News and almost every commentator covering college football at ESPN for libel and defamation. Money wouldn't be the motive. All the money could be donated to children's causes and scholarships to the Penn State School of Journalism for any journalism student signing a pledge to not become an incompetent, mob-brained idiot when they go out into the real world. But if Joe Paterno had an open and shut case before against the news media (and he did), that case is now sealed shut completely against the media.
The last nail in the news media's coffin was hammered in a few days ago by Dr. Jonathan Dranov, a family friend of Mike McQueary who also testified in front of the grand jury.
Most people following the events at Penn State already know that Dr. Dranov stated publicly and in his grand jury testimony, that Mike McQueary gave him a totally different account of what he saw in the showers at Penn State than what he testified to in his grand jury testimony.
According to Dr. Dranov, McQueary told him that as he approached the showers, he "heard the shower running" and saw a young boy poke his head out around the corner of the stall, then saw a male adult arm pull the boy back. He then says he saw Sandusky wrapped in a towel leave the shower with the boy.
Dr. Dranov testified to the grand jury that he asked McQueary three times if he had seen any sexual activity between the boy and Sandusky and all three times McQueary answered "no".
Based on McQueary's answers Dr. Dranov advised him not to go to the police but to report what he saw to Joe Paterno. For the record the Philadelphia Daily News has not run a picture of Dr. Dranov on the front page with the word "Shame". And Jay Bilas at ESPN has not demanded that Dr. Dranov lose his license for "failing to do enough". And I have not heard Stuart Scott on ESPN say of Dr. Dranov, "doesn't he get it"?
While Joe Paterno said from the beginning that he was never told any of the things by McQueary that McQueary told the grand jury, Paterno was not given the opportunity to say exactly what he was told. Penn State canceled Paterno's press conference where he was going to tell what he knew.
Without knowing what McQueary told him but knowing that Paterno had said he wasn't told details or specifics of what McQueary saw, the press simply invented and fabricated what Paterno knew, or just as bad, assumed it, then accused Paterno of not "reporting it" or "doing enough" based on their fabrications, and demanded he be dismissed because of it.
Now with Dr. Dranov's statement, it is a certainty that McQueary never told Paterno anything more in substance than he told Dr. Dranov. If Dr. Dranov advised him to go to Paterno and not the police based on what McQueary told him, it is not possible that in going to Paterno he would have given him a different and more specific account of what he saw.
Dr. Dranov's statement and grand jury testimony makes a few more things clear as well for those too factually and logically challenged to have not seen this from the beginning: Mike McQueary, as Joe Paterno said in his first statement never told him anything about any sexual contact involving Sandusky and a young boy and it's clear from what McQueary told Dr. Dranov, that he was much too uncomfortable to give anyone, Dr. Dranov or Joe Paterno, the whole story about what he had seen. Until he testified to the grand jury.
McQueary's grand jury account is undoubtedly the correct account. It is highly unlikely McQueary would have fabricated what he saw to a grand jury. But now, for those who foolishly swallowed the initial press accounts and believed what they read and heard and not Joe Paterno, there is corroborating evidence that McQueary did not relay exactly what he saw, or thought he saw, whether to Dr. Dranov or Joe Paterno.
What impact it will have on the legal proceedings involving Curley and Schultz remain to be seen. If they were told the same thing by McQueary that he told Paterno and Dranov, it will be hard to prosecute someone for not reporting a crime they were never told about in the first place.
But as it relates to Joe Paterno, and those who unthinkly swallowed the nonsense the media was peddlng there is a lot of soul searching that needs to be done, though its always hard for people to admit they were made fools of. And among those that need to do the soul searching are the Penn State trustees and two U.S. senators from Pennsylvania.
Paterno was the media cash cow in all this. His name and picture were seen more than twice as much as Jerry Sandusky's. He became the story and all as a result of of incompetence, dishonesty and greed and of course the phony facade of protecting children if you dont think it was phony try finding a media outlet demanding the resignation of the Pope over the institutional child abuse committed by priests with the knowledge of the Pope and other higher ups in the church heirarchy.)
As has been said here before, this is bigger than Joe Paterno. The country is poorer because of a news media with no journalistic standards, populated by incompetents on every level and motivated by nothing except profits and self interest. Which makes these journalists, the way they practice journalism, and those who believe what they sell a real threat to democracy and American values. In other countries in other times it was called propaganda. And it was very effective.
In Joe Paterno's case we saw journalists like Sean Gregory at Time magazine, Jason Whitlock, Jemele Hill and others report as fact things they knew for a fact they didn't know, and then pontificate about these things, for the sake of a big story as if they inhabited some delusional moral high ground. This time it was Joe Paterno who suffered the temporary consequences. But unless something is done about the media we will all suffer greater consequences. In fact a case can be made that just about all the problems the country has now and has had for the last 15 years can be traced to a news media too incompetent and too cowardly to do the job the Founders envisioned for the news media when they wrote the first amendment. Because the media will not hold politicans accountable for anything if they think it's not in their self interest.and when it comes to government accountablity, self interest for the media is money and access. And they wont endanger either one. For anything.
Committing immoral acts in the name of morality is nothing new. It's what mobs do whether its the Salem Witch Trials or the modern day news media. The media do it all the time. They did it to Richard Jewel in 1996 when without a shred of evidence, labeled him the Olympic Bomber and made his life hell for three months. Jewel ended up suing and settled out of court for tens of millions from NBC, Tom Brokaw, CNN, the Atlanta Constitution and others. But it didnt solve the bigger problem.
The bigger problem is the media's lack of standards which is on display every day whether its politics or policy or "scandals" that arent really scandals. They will inflate anything they think will bring in a bigger audience and generate more revenue even if they have to diminsh and set aside the things that really matter. They are afraid to report the truth about anything if they think it will cause a backlash that will hurt their bottom line. But they will lie and distort if they think it will make money and they can get away with it. And with the lies they told about Joe Paterno, they believed, in their uniquely sanctimonious way, they could get away with it
The out of control, dishonest media frenzy involving Joe Paterno was as much an abuse of the first amendment as Sandusky's alleged abuse of children. And just as vile. And unfortunately for the country a lot more frequent. But maybe this time, if enough people get angry, it will be time for some real accountablity for the news media and there will be demands that wrongs and injustices be made right.
A libel and defamation suit by Joe Paterno against certain news outlets would be absolutely patriotic. But that is solely for Joe Paterno and his family and his lawyers to decide. But there are other things people can do if they are outraged enough to demand accountability. And there will be more to say about what those things might be, in the future.
UPDATE 11:32 p.m. 12/15/2011. Finally there is some specificity to what Joe Paterno was told by Mike McQueary and what Paterno's reaction was and what he did. Paterno's previously sealed grand jury testimony was read along with testimony from the stand by Mike McQueary about what he had told Paterno. And in all cases it convicts the mainstream news media of the gross abuse, lying, incompetence, dishonesty and distortion they displayed from the beginning when they not only didnt know the facts of what Paterno knew and what he did, they knew they didnt know the facts and fabricated lies anyway.
According to the Sporting News account of what happened in the hearing for Curley and Schultz, "McQueary testified on Friday that he did not go into graphic detail with Paterno about what he had witnessed out of respect for Paterno". This jibes with Paterno's first and only public statement that he was never told any of the things McQueary told the grand jury about what he saw.
According to Paterno's grand jury testimony Paterno took what he thought was the appropriate action when he told Curley.
“I figured Tim would handle it appropriately,” Paterno told the grand jury. He added: “I didn’t push Mike…because he was very upset. I knew Mike was upset, and I knew some kind of inappropriate action was being taken by Jerry Sandusky with a youngster. Monday, I talked to my boss, Tim Curley, by phone, saying, 'Hey we got a problem' and I explained the problem to him,"
Eventually Paterno did meet with Schultz the overseer of the Penn State police with McQueary present.
So now we can substantiate the only facts that had been out there from the beginning, facts which the mass media ignored. McQueary made it clear that he did not go into graphic detail about what he had seen in the shower. Paterno made clear that he knew that McQueary felt "some kind of inappropriate action" had taken place with Sandusky and a boy.
Paterno called his boss, Tim Curley to tell him what he knew on Monday after he met with McQueary. In one of the most spectacular displays of hypocrisy ever seen, ESPN, one of the loudest voices in criticizing Paterno for "not doing enough", had an audiotape containing admisssions of child sexual abuse related to Bernie Fine and did nothing, called no one, reported it to no one, alerted no one, and never even revealed the existance of the tape for ten years.
Sean Gregory's lie in Time magazine in early November that "Joe Paterno knew a ten year old boy was anally raped in a shower and didnt report it" when he had not a shred of evidence or testimony to support it, speaks for itself.
McQueary's statements on the witness stand involving his own activity, badly damage his credibility as I point out in a response in the comments section since he contradicts himself repeatedly.
What the testimony of Paterno and McQueary will mean to Curley and Schultz at trial remains to be seen. But it convicts the mainstream media on all counts of lying, distorting, and sanctimonious self-serving incompetence What remains to be seen is exactly what the sentence against the media will be. For those who still want to swallow whole the nonsense they push, it will probably be intellectual diabetes.
UPDATED: 12/21/2011: WHAT BOBBY BOWDEN SAYS HE WOULD HAVE DONE
Former Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden decided, for reasons known only to him, to once again weigh in on Joe Paterno and the results are both headshakingly funny and mind numblingly dumb by both Bowden and the media. Both Bowden and the media characterized Bowden's remarks as "how Bowden would have handled the Sandusky matter differently".
Here is what Bowden said:
“I’ve tried to think what I would do,” Bowden said, “if one of my coaches had come to me and told me what happened. I would have gone to that guy (Sandusky), asked him if it was true and I would have told him to get away from here and don’t EVER come back. And then I would have gone to the police. I think that’s what I would have done.”
Wait a second. Aside from the utter waste of time of going to Sandusky "to ask if it were true" isnt this exactly what Joe Paterno did? How is this Bowden "handling it differently"? Instead of wasting his time going to Sandusky Paterno went to Tim Curley the Penn State AD and the upshot was Curley made sure Sandusky was no longer allowed on Penn State grounds. And then Paterno went to Gary Schultz administrative head of Penn State campus police, the law enforcement agency with jurisdication.
Aside from Bowden's useless histronicis of telling Sandusky to never darken his door again, Paterno did pretty much what Bowden said he'd do only, just like on the football field, Paterno did it a little better.
Unfortunately the radio hosts were too busy fawning over Bowden to pretend they were actual journalists so they never asked Bowden what he would have done in his fantasy if , when he asked Sandusky if it were true, Sandusky had denied it. Which is why its always a good idea for people to keep their noses out of other people's business and not pass judgement when they arent standing in the same shoes. Bowden calling what he would do "handling it differently" is not just laughable but embarrassing epecially since his fantasy is predicated on Sandusky doubling over in contrition and confessing all so that Bowden can deliver his exit line. Bowden sounded like he was having the kind of fantasy people have of telling off their bosses.
Only a news media both morally and journalistically bankrupt, and so dumb its painful, could have characterized what Bowden said as "doing it differently". And given Bowden's statement of what he would have done compared to what Paterno actually did, and the media's subsequent treatment of Paterno, one can only wait and see if the Philadephia Daily News will put Bowden's picture on the front page with the word "Shame". Not likely but the list of people who deserve it is growing.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Ted Koppel, the respected television newsman and former host of the ABC News show Nightline, said almost 20 years ago, " the amount of credibility the news media has with any individual is in inverse proportion to the amount of knowledge that individual has about the subject being reported". That is the long way around of saying, the more you know, the more facts you have, the more personal knowledge you possess, the more you know that journalists and the editors who over see them are incompetent.
Sometimes it's about life's most serious issues, like the erroneous front page stories by Judith Miller of the New York Times about Saddam and his horde of WMD which not only didn't exist but for which Miller was never even shown proof and for which neither she nor her editors required any corroboration. That helped sell a war, land Miller in jail, get her "source" a perjury conviction in the Valerie Plame episode and eroded the credibility of the New York Times.
The news media both in and out of the sports world, sold a story to the country about Joe Paterno, for their own self-serving reasons, and also without any facts or proof to back up a single word and ignoring all the existing facts that ran contrary to the story they wanted to push.
The facts were there if they cared at all to report them. But that wasn't be in their self interest, which was going after a big name to make the story bigger for financial reasons and to help make a lot of very small people feel, momentarily, bigger than they are.
And because the issues swirled around child abuse, they felt safe to commit to their own form of abuse, which was abusing the First Amendment, and abusing every known standard of journalism and instead substituting fabrication. They felt safe because they could hide behind the pretense that was writing in defense of children when it was really for their own self aggrandizement and profit.
In Paterno's case the news media had confidence that the world would be on their side, that they were reporting in defense of children and they believed, to use a football metaphor, which they had a free play so to speak, to say and do anything they wanted with no fear of penalty or repercussion. So Time magazine prints Sean Gregory's outrageously dishonest report that "Paterno knew that a 10 year old child was being raped, in the showers and didn't report it to authorities", to the somewhat obscure Jemele Hill's sloppy, casually and factually dishonest, report on ESPN.com about Paterno's " knowledge of alleged sexual abuse of children".
Hill casually, sloppily, and in providing as pointed an example as possible of the egregious dishonesty that permeates journalism and the people in it, she simply tosses out of the word "children" as in plural, as in multiple, as in many, in essence accusing Paterno of knowing about multiple cases of sexual abuse of children and doing nothing, when she knows there is not even an accusation that Paterno had knowledge of multiple abuses of children.
There is another phenomenon at work here which proves with virtually every sentence and word written or spoken about Paterno in connection with the crimes Sandusky is accused of, that for the media this has been all about selling a story, getting web hits, selling newspapers and advertising, getting ratings being a mob without a brain and enjoying for a brief time, a phony and fabricated and dishonest feeling of superiority.
And that is Jerry Sandusky's name is almost never mentioned. It is Joe Paterno that is talked about. It is Joe Paterno's picture that was all over the media. It was Joe Paterno's picture on the front page of the Philadelphia Daily News, (a newspaper and it's advertisers that should be boycotted until the editor is fired). In Jemele Hill's sentence she mentions "Joe Paterno's knowledge of alleged sexual abuse of children" but not even "Joe Paterno's knowledge of Sandiusky's alleged sexual abuse of children".
Because for journalists this isn't really about the sexual abuse of children. In Hill's sentence the actual abuser isn't even named. Because to Hill and other journalists that isn't what the story is really all about. That isn't where the money is. Or the momentary false sense of superiority. Or that warm fuzzy feeling you get from joining a mob. After all, who in their right mind could get a warm glow feeling superior to Jerry Sandusky?
Well okay, there might be some in the media who could, but for most of them it was about Joe Paterno. Because that's what sold. And that's what could make them feel superior to someone whose accomplishments would forever outstrip anything they will ever do. And that is the kind of journalistic trash the Penn State trustees succumbed to. When what was needed was a standing up to the media if for no other reason than a defense of the values they preach and teach at the university.
Paterno was the big name and the media knew it. Karl Ravetch unintentionally confessed to it on ESPN within 48 hours of Sandusky's arrest when he said that Sandusky would have his day in court but "until then the only way to move the story forward is to focus on Joe Paterno". And that's what was important—pushing the story.
Over the weekend a relatively new and unreported fact came to light to add to the mountain of evidence against the news media in their dishonest attacks on Paterno.
CNN reported that in 1998, the mother of one of Sandusky's victims, (they didn't say if it was the mother of Victim One or a mother of a different victim,) was told by her son that Sandusky had taken a shower with him and "hugged him in the shower", an act which clearly made the boy uncomfortable enough to tell his mother.
The mother, immediately reported what her son had told her to guess who -- the Penn State campus police.
The same Penn State campus police that the news media en masse claimed was tantamount to "not going to the authorities" or "not doing enough".
According to the CNN report, the mother and Penn State campus police arranged for the mother to have a confrontational conversation with Sandusky on which two Penn State campus police detectives would eavesdrop. Just to repeat, that's two Penn State campus police detectives, not Penn State campus crossing guards. Not TV cops from Law and Order. Detectives from Penn State campus police.
In that conversation, the mother confronted Sandusky with what her son had told her about the shower incident and Sandusky reportedly said, " I know, I was wrong. I wish I were dead."
There was reportedly a second conversation between Sandusky and the mother, also with detectives from the Penn State Campus police eavesdropping.
Why that 1998 investigation went nowhere is for others to determine. But as it pertains to Joe Paterno, it was his reporting what McQueary told him to Gary Schultz, the administrative head of that same Penn State campus police, which was deemed and damned as "not reporting it to authorities" by the ignorant media who called for his dismissal.
So now that we know that the mother of one of Sandusky's victims, in taking action against what she believed happened to her own son, took her allegations to the same police agency to which Paterno reported what he had been told by McQueary. It was the Penn State campus police that the mother cooperated with, and it was detectives from the Penn State campus police, who were trying to gather evidence against Sandusky.So with the mother of one of the victims feeling that reporting what she knew to the Penn State campus police was"doing enough", will the Philadelphia Daily News now put the mother's picture on the front page with the word "Shame"? Or will they put a picture of themselves?
Will Jay Bilas, Stuart Scott, Sean Gregory, Jason Whitlock, Jemele Hill and the rest of the ESPN college sports crowd accuse the mother of " not going to the authorities" or "not doing enough"? Will Stuart Scott say of the mother “doesn’t she get it?" Will Sean Gregory in Time Magazine call her unfit for "not going to authorities" ? Will all of them demand that she lose her son?
No accountability of the media and their hypocrisy can be presented without once again revisiting ESPN and the audiotape they had nine years ago, given to them as evidence by a victim of molestation by assistant Syracuse basketball coach Bernie Fine.
After hearing his allegations and listening to a tape he secretly recorded with Fine's wife telling her of his molestation by Fine and her virtually admitting her husband's abuse, ESPN did nothing. They told Fine's victim that he didn't have enough evidence for them to report it, and that they needed more corroboration by way of another victim.
The blatant hypocrisy by ESPN is twofold. First, if it was journalistic standards and corroboration they needed before they would report accusations against Fine, they applied no such standards to Joe Paterno ( one makes the cash register ring, the other doesn't). And secondly, no one pontificated more about "moral responsibility" than the commentators at ESPN, moralizing that Paterno should have "done more" than simply report it to the very authorities they ignorantly didn't understand were the authorities Paterno was supposed to report it to in the first place.
So while spewing about morality and what actions others should have taken, the moral actions taken by ESPN when given even more specific allegations and proof of child abuse than Joe Paterno ever had was to take no action at all.
It's one thing to say there wasn't enough evidence to meet certain journalistic standards (standards they seem to apply selectively based on self-interest) but more to the point, morally they did nothing.
They didn't call the police to say what they had. They didn't refer Fine's victim to anyone at any law enforcement agency for a police investigation. They didn't call a child protective agency. They didn't even call the AD at Syracuse University to say what they had. They did nothing. If they couldn't report it as a story, if it wasn't for their own benefit they weren't interested. So they did nothing. For 9 years.
So what can be done about the news media? Commentators at ESPN, Sean Gregory at Time Magazine, Jason Whitlock at Foxsports.com, Jemele Hill at ESPN. com, the Philadelphia Daily News and really just about everyone reporting on this in and out of the mainstream media have abused the First Amendment to the same degree that Jerry Sandusky abused children, and as viciously, thinking only of themselves, their own desires, being exploitive and not even thinking about, much less caring about the rights of others.
The legal system will deal with Sandusky. But what to do about the news media? More on that soon.