Ramblings From the Ragged Crumbling Edge Of The Reality-Based Community

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Media Insanity Or Turing Test? YOU Make The Call 

...there may well not be enough ones and zeros in all of cyberspace to fully document the stone-cold craziness that has seemed to infect the Main Stream Media over the last decade and a half. It's almost like trying to describe in real time the individual nature of any particular wave crashing onto an Oregon coast beach. Examples of either MSM insanity or those waves keep pounding toward us with such a rapid, numbing, and regular frequency that it isn't possible for any one human to keep track of them all. There are those instances, however, where the rancid cream does rise to the top of that spoiled milk we know as the Fourth Estate and we can get a solid look at the disgusting mess...

Today's example is one of those offerings that could well be catapulted into the MSM Insanity Hall Of Infamity by the raw wrongheaded audacity of it's underlying premise. Humbly offered for your consideration, courtesy of Mark Hosenball and Michael Isikoff of Newsweek Magazine: "Congress: Say Goodbye to Oversight?"

No; really. That's what they wrote.

This visitation from some strange, not quite parallel universe doesn't even suggest the need for one of those "oh, my, where to I start" moments. Between what was generally Republican control of Congress for six of the last eight years and the erection of a massive wall of "Executive Privilege" against what could charitably be described as feeble Democratic efforts since 2006, it would be a hopeless errand to find anyone other than a fool, space alien, or toothless meth-addled freak who would agree with the suggestion that there has been anything other than a Looney Tunes version of oversight exerted over the Bush Administration. Nor is there any reason to hold the MSM blameless in any of this sordid little history. There may be individual examples of reporters pulling back the curtain on various aspects of a dizzying array of episodes of misfeasance, malfeasance, and outright felonies committed by members of the blessedly departing administration, but the corporate entities comprising the MSM that could have relived those glory days of the Watergate era or even reprised the sordid gossip columnist muckery that first brought Isikoff to national journalistic prominence back in the Monica Lewinsky day generally sat on their hands...

There aren't a lot of options here. There are only two choices. On the one hand, the MSM has sunk to some previously unplumbed depth of irrationality that would lead to an editor even daring to loose a piece of writing on the world suggesting that we are about to wave goodbye to some rock-ribbed, Mom-and-apple-pie era of Congressional oversight of the Executive branch. Either that, or some Evul Jeanyus has figured out how to solder enough flash drives and Eee PC
CPU's together to create a remarkably realistic form of artificial intelligence that can produce entire paragraphs of remarkably lifelike text that have no connection to the reality we have experienced over the last eight grim years. No clear-thinking sentient being could cook up the proposition that we are saying 'goodbye' to Congressional oversight when we haven't even said 'hello' for eight long years...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Why I Didn't Shoot The TV Tonight 

...no, it wasn't Gee Dub's valedictory speech tonight that made me glad that the effort of dragging a suitable firearm out of the gun case, unlocking the trigger lock, loading the weapon, and putting a few rounds through the screen. It was David Gregory...

I'm sitting here late in the evening, watching the last rebroadcast of the day of the Colbert Report, and there is the newly-crowned Master of NBC's Press The Meat sitting at the desk with Stephen Colbert, generally seeming to be oblivious to the snarky arrows that Colbert is shooting at him, and former NBC White House correspondent Gregory says, in effect, that 'we will keep asking the same questions of the Obama administration that we asked Bushco; we will (and this is direct) hold his feet to the fire'...

Any video evidence of the Main Stream Media holding
any member of the Bush administration's feet to the fire on anything resembling a regular basis over the last eigth years would be the sort of thing that would rank right up there with Bigfoot sightings in Manhattan. David Gregory may think that he fought the good fight against various White House press secretaries, but that's not the same thing as his and other media outlets actually pursuing stories. Neither his network(s) or any of the others that comprise the MSM need ever fret the risk of standing accused of holding the Bush administration's feet to the fire...

We are starting to see the first glimmerings of the reestablishment of that concept as the last few days before the inauguration of a Democratic president. It shouldn't be even in the least little bit surprising for anyone who has around and able to pay attention for the last thirty years; a Democratic president will suffer a great deal more personal inspection that will a Republican president. Gregory's comments were the sort of thing that should make me whip out any one of my several firearms and empty a clip into the TV if for no other reason than to save myself from further exposure to this sort of basic bone-deep stupidity. I didn't do it, though, because I don't need a new TV and it's a lot of work to unlock all those gun locks. As a result, my little ol' ancient 13-inch bedroom TV will live to annoy me another day...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The End Of The Days Of Lists 

...The List is long, and it risks putting the worst days of Richard Nixon or the smiley-faced "aw shucks" assaults of the Reagan years in a deep shade. It would take more time than I have the patience to devote to the effort to even create a truly comprehensive list, so think of this as basically just a starter kit in response to the recent specter of "Gee Dub - The Legacy Tour":

The Florida recount, James Baker, the SCOTUS, and all the rest
Karl Rove
John Ashcroft
Donald Rumsfeld
Dick Cheney
West Coast energy crisis
Enron coverup
Tax Cuts primarily for the well-off
Ignoring that Presidential Daily Briefing, Richard Clarke, and a host of other signs
Smoking guns and mushroom clouds
Karl Rove
The Office Of Special Plans
The Downing Street Memo
Operation Iraqi Liberation...soon changed to Operation Iraqi Freedom (acronym control)
Patriot Act
Patriot Act II
Karl Rove
Illegal Wiretapping
Camp Xray at Guantanamo
Abu Ghraib
Dick Cheney
The flight suit and the "Mission Accomplished" banner on the USS Abraham Lincoln
Extraordinary Renditions
Alberto Gonzalez
Michael Chertoff
Michael "heckava job" Brown
Chief Justice John Roberts
Associate Justice Samuel Alito
Dick Cheney
The Justice Department in general
The firing of specific United States Attorneys in particular
Bradley Schlozman
Karl Rove
Active attacks on long-established environment protection regulations
Dick Cheney
Active attacks on real live scientists and actual science
Karl Rove
And the list goes on and on and on...

This doesn't even do anything approaching justice to the last eight years, but there is finally a light at the end of this long, brutal tunnel we've been barreling through for most of the last decade. One week from today, around noontime in the Eastern Time Zone (9 am locally), the need to think about this list as anything but a marker to where the bodies are buried will finally, mercifully be over...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

If You Click "Reply All", The Terrorists Win 

...I know how these sorts of things happen. I've seen them happen. Somebody screws up with a mass emailing, somebody else decides to reply to the sender and unfortunately selects "Reply All", and then fight's on. In this case, the wide-ranging flamewar brought the State Department email system to its knees, which I must confess made me laugh out loud...

I laugh because, like I said above, I've seen this before. I'm a bit surprised, in fact that these sorts of self-induced DDS attacks aren't more common. The first e-storm whacking the gang I hang out with was a couple of years ago with the pre-announcement of an opportunity to apply for a vacant position that an almost immeasurably small number of the thousands of upon thousands of employees to whom the email was sent were either interested in or qualified for. There had been a great many email pre-announcements for various jobs over the previous months, many of which were similarly of little interest to most of the recipients, but this one was an email too far for one fed-up employee. His demand that "this sort of crap" not be sent to "the whole wide world" - sent "Reply All" - was responded to by a host of coworkers from across the US - also sent "Reply All" - suggesting with greater or lesser degrees of cordiality that he was now part of the problem rather than a path to the solution. A massive volley of "Reply All" responses immediately began filling inboxes across the nation, most of which suggested in one way or another that the first group of responders should consider wearing mittens until they got smart enough to be trusted with the email system...

At this point, the email traffic broke down into small, angry individual skirmishes - all sent "Reply All" - where many thousands of employees were entertained by the same sort of harsh, emotional confrontations that would look comfortably familiar - absent the expletives, of course - to any veteran of Usenet groups, BBS forums, or even the more recent blog comment threads. At first it was annoying but easy to delete all these new messages tumbling into the inbox, but names started to look familiar and it became a little bit of work-killing fun to start reading the individual dramas playing out across the official email system. Stern emails from bean counter poobahs (you just
know these people think they look GOOD in those green eyeshades) shortly began to intermingle with the electronic bar fight and productivity no doubt plummeted in other offices as it did in mine as we laughed until we drooled while reading the subsequent marvelous stew of newly discovered gems to each other...

The final tally of received emails ran to the far side of a couple hundred each for most of a couple tens of thousands of employees. The impact to agency servers was probably meaningful, although any concerns about the impact to the email system were apparently more important to those higher up the ladder who want to send lots of emails than it was to those of us on lower rungs who are the recipients of those emails; there are, after all, telephones on many of our desks if we really need to communicate and voice-mail if the objects of our communication desires are 'away from the phone'...

These sort of eruptions seem to come around about once every 18 months or so in the system I'm connected to, so its good to see that all those hoity-toity stuffed shirts in the State Department aren't any more immune to the same impulses than the rest of us (it's also good to see that their little e-storm is the one that made the news). This probably means that the terrorists win, because everything has meant that over the last eight years, but at least this time they're winning with style...

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