Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sept. 27: Asterisk in; what about Sarandon and Robbins?

Just a followup to the placing of the Barry Bonds ball with the asterisk into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Hall leaders are being awfully democratic about accepting it - a lot more democratic than they were in 2003 to Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins when they cancelled a forum about the film, "Bull Durham" because of Sarandon and Robbins' opposition to the Iraq war:

Will they now be invited back? This piece also refers to the inconsistency:

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sept. 26: Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy and an asterisk

*Florida to appeal ruling on Jan. 29 ballot measure
I’m sorry to hear that. However, the AP story says
that Gov. Charlie Crist and House Speaker Marco Rubio
plan to work on revised language during next week’s
special session.
Tell you what, fellas: Save the
money, drop the appeal, and just fix the language. Please.

*Who’s sloppy?
The San Francisco Examiner has a story with Katie
Couric’s comments at the National Press Club yesterday
during a Q and A conducted by reporter-turned-academic
Marvin Kalb. Here’s what she said about Dan Rather:

“There were things in there that were quite egregious
in terms of how it was reported,” she said. “And
sloppy work is sloppy work…They did not dot their I’s
and cross their T’s when it came to that story…And our
job is to get right.”

Yes it is, so we won’t mention the ethical problems
with your commentaries, Katie.

*Mistrial in Spector case
Late this afternoon:,0,7325416.story?coll=la-home-center

About juries in L.A. when it comes to celebrities: To
quote Casey Stengel, the late, great baseball manager:
“Can’t anybody here play this game?”

*Getting away from FCAT dependence
Bravo to the Broward School Board, which is trying to
find a way to get back to basics in the classroom and
not have the curriculum be FCAT-prep heavy:,0,6413660.story

Quality learning should prepare students for any test.
And by the way, the state should still untie the knot
between the test, which was created as an evaluation
tool, and funding for schools.

*Ecko against Bonds


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sept. 25: Security Reservations, Wimpy GQ and Taxes

*Oh Mr. Bin Laden, you're ready for boarding
Is TSA kidding about this?

How long would it take a terrorist to get around such a system?

*GQ caves in
A link, via Romenesko, to the Politco piece about
Gentleman’s Quarterly being too much of a gentleman to
the Clintons:

Ugh. I hope someone picks up that article. Shame on GQ
– and on the Clintons.

*Florida Democrats don’t cave in
The St. Pete Times editorial says it best:

Maybe a Florida Democrat should be recruited as the
party’s presidential nominee. They seem to have more
guts than the leading party contenders.

Michael Mayo of the Sun-Sentinel also addresses the

*Property tax ruling fallout
Please, Florida Legislature, just make things easier
for yourself and your state and don’t appeal the
ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge Charles A. Francis that struck the property tax
proposal, as currently worded, from the Jan. 29
ballot. You have a special session coming up. Just fix
the language. If you say you want to save Floridians
money, start with yourselves – and fix the language. No more court cases (at least until after the election).

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sept. 24: Guns, Dan Rather and TV lists

*Rudy sucks up
Heaven help Rudolph Giuliani if he ever has to face
the families of the Miami-Dade and Broward County
police officers who have been killed and wounded in
recent months:

He’s not the only one; Democrats have wimped out on
the issue of gun control ever since they decided to
try to court Southern hunters. Hey, Bill Clinton is a
Southern hunter, too, and he signed the Brady Bill and
the assault weapons ban that was stripped away three
years ago.

*Being rather charged up over Rather
Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post makes some good
points about the lawsuit Dan Rather has filed against

It’s time to see a full public vetting of the process
not just of this story, but that CBS News went
through. The division’s slow decline started in the
mid-1980s, when Lawrence Tisch, who owned the network,
started chopping away at employees. Andrew Heyward,
who headed the news division for almost a decade,
completed the disintegration.
Rather, who is a natural reporter, was never cut out
to be a news anchor, though he had the ambition for
the job. However, CBS blew it in its treatment of him
at the end. I’m not entirely sure that it wasn’t the
plan all along for Les Moonves and company to tell him
so long, one way or another, and the mess over the
Bush/National Guard story gave the needed excuse. is now posting a number of Rather’s reports
online. His next one will be an interview with former
Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Recent ones
focus on Iraq, voter fraud, Somalia and the safety of
the planned 787 plane:

TV critics can rip him all they want, but he ain’t
chasing Britney and O.J. He’s still doing journalism
that’s truly important.

*Happy 40th to 60
Speaking of important journalism, 60 Minutes, now in
season 40 (wow!) still practices plenty:

I don’t agree that the Greenspan interview was boring;
I think it gave personal insight into a man who has
had a great deal of power over the last two decades,
but who many Americans don’t really know.
Scott Pelley is now the “go-to” interview guy, the
role Mike Wallace had for so many years. (I thought it
would be Bob Simon, but the one-time Middle East
correspondent who was a prisoner during the first Iraq
war seems to be going soft.)

*The goat and Wayne Huizenga
I agree with Sun-Sentinel columnist Michael Mayo:
In fact, any number of South Floridians (including me)
probably wouldn’t mind laying claim to inflicting the
curse after the Marlins breakup.

*Television’s top 100
Let’s start some new arguments, as Time magazine’s
television critic does:,,1651341,00.html

The nice thing is (Take a lesson, American Film
Institute) the public’s comments are put right below
the list. Those comments include virtually all of what
he left out.
Omissions included:
1. Omnibus—1950s program that showed the arts and
predated PBS and its programs (Live From Lincoln
Center, Great Performances, etc.)
2. Perry Mason: Set the standard for every legal show
that followed.
3. Bonanza: Gunsmoke may have lasted longer, but this
one set the standard.
4. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: The children’s program
that not only made “Sesame Street” possible, but also
proved nice guys finish first, as Fred Rogers did in
gaining the respect of a nation.
5. The Beverly Hillbillies-Not only side-splittingly
funny, but subversive in poking at the upper classes.
6. Get Smart: Terrific spoof of spy movies and shows.
Created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, who would go on
to do some other things……
7. Mission Impossible: Good morning, Mr. Phelps, you
have the Cold War down pat. Much better than those
noisy Tom Cruise films.
8. The Fugitive: The greatest chase in television
9. Hawaii Five-O: Went out – way out – on location and
changed the way police shows looked and sounded. There
would have been no “Miami Vice” without “Hawaii
10. All My Children: General Hospital may have gotten
the headlines in the 1980s, but this drama was the one
that started to break taboos.
11. The Waltons: A quiet family drama that captured
viewers’ hearts.
12. The Rockford Files: Answering machines have never
been so much fun.
13. Maude: I know he left out spinoffs, but this one
(from All in the Family) developed a life of its own.
14. Cagney and Lacey: Took the sharpest look at women
and their ups and downs.
15. Murphy Brown: No show ever did a better job of
poking fun at Washington.
16. Designing Women: Ripped away stereotypes and
tackled AIDS, abuse, obesity, plastic surgery and the
challenges of aging.
17. Frasier: Better than Cheers, with a great deal
more heart and scripts that suggested the best in

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Sept. 4: Make Broward sheriff appointed

Broward County Sheriff Ken Jenne, who is making a plea deal, resigned today. Of
Florida’s 67 counties, Broward is the only one that
still has an elected sheriff. That should change.
Because Broward doesn’t have a strong mayor, some
recent sheriffs have used the post as their own
billboard. In Jenne’s case, his business activities also wrecked
what had been a solid two-decade career in public
Jenne was a Broward County commissioner and a state
senator. After the death of Ron Cochran, Gov. Lawton
Chiles appointed Jenne sheriff in 1998 – a serious
mistake. Jenne had no law enforcement experience.
The elected sheriff is a holdover from the days of
rural communities and hand-shaking politics.
Broward’s gotten too big and too complicated to have a head of
law enforcement who does not have the experience to do
the job properly. Certainly, those with law enforcement experience aren't always immune from criticism; Miami Police Chief John Timoney is currently under fire for accepting a year's worth of free car use from an auto dealer. But most police are less susceptible to politics.
There should be a ballot question allowing the sheriff's post to be appointed, and voters should say yes to such a question.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Aug. 30: Chavez, CO2 and Katrina

*Chavez’ influence rising
It looks like Fidel Castro has his successor, at least
in terms of Western Hempishere influence:

That and the problems in the Middle East are two good
reasons for the United States to start cutting its
dependence on oil – theirs or ours – and start
focusing on solar power, wind power and anything else
that can save the planet and wallets in the long run.

*And speaking of the environment….
Here’s a link to another Christian Science Monitor
article on what western states are doing to curb
greenhouse gases:

Florida is also starting to make strides. States are
way ahead of the Bush Administration (as usual) on
this issue.

*New Orleans has key to newspaper survival?
Maybe this is the formula to rebuild newspapers across
the country:

No, not to have a major disaster, but to get back to
brass tacks: Good journalism, good journalism, good
journalism. That’s the best way to get readers and viewers.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Aug. 29: South Korea held hostage

*South Korea held hostage
The Taliban have released 19 South Korean church
volunteers they held hostage in Afghanistan. The
ransom: South Korean’s foreign policy. South Korea has
pledged to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by
year’s end and also end its missionary work there.
Now held hostage: The entire population of South

*Will they go back?
Yesterday's Boston Globe had a column asking whether the group of newspeople, historians, etc. will go back on any new radio show Don Imus might have. They shouldn't. Enough silent sanctioning of hatred.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Aug. 27: Gonzales and the Democrats' battle in Florida

*Gonzales resigns
The decision of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign is welcome. But it came after he did a great deal of damage to the Bush Administration and the reputation of the Justice Department. From the war against terror to the fate of thousands of federal cases around the country, not an item was left untouched, it seems. President Bush's reputation for blind loyalty to his friends failed him yet again.
He's got a year and a half to mend fences; the question is whether he will with whoever replaces Gonzales in the long run.

*Let the votes count
The battle between Florida's Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee over the Jan. 29 primary shows just how ridiculous the current system is. How did we get to this point, anyway?
Once again, former Sen. Bob Graham may have a point with his suggestion of a rotating, regional primary. Every four years, let someone else rack up the delegates (As long as Iowa and New Hampshire go first.....).

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Aug. 23: Candidates, delegates, Deaver and AJR

*No-go to Morongo
USA Today reports that the Big Three Ds – Mrs.
Clinton, Obama and Edwards – will not attend a debate
at an Indian reservation in California.

I agree with Kalyn Free’s comment. As the late, great
House Speaker Tip O’Neill said, people like to be

*No-go for delegates?
This fight is still going on between the Democratic
National Committee and Florida’s Democratic Party:

Does the national party really want to risk the third
most-populous state in the nation after what happened
in 2000?

*On Michael Deaver
The St. Petersburg Times reprints a column in the
Washington Post by Lou Cannon, who covered and
continues to write about Ronald Reagan’s presidency.
This one is about Michael Deaver, Reagan’s assistant
chief of staff during his first term:

The last sentence is telling, particularly in the wake
of today’s philosophy at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue that
being a loyal member of the Bush Administration means
never having to say you’re sorry.

*AJR on the brink?
It is terrible news that American Journalism Review
has great financial difficulties and may go out of
business sooner or later. To me, it is the best of the
three journalism magazines I receive (besides Columbia
Journalism Review, which has gotten back on track
recently after playing with being a political magazine
instead of a journalism one, and the Society of
Professional Journalists’ Quill). AJR has had an eagle
eye on the troubles of the journalism profession for
many years.
I understand that Thomas Kunkel, the magazine’s
president, tells the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz
“we can’t be a charity case.” But what is stopping the
University of Maryland Foundation from helping the
magazine out? It’s their magazine.

*Slap on the wrist
One word about the too-light charges against Lindsay
Lohan: Preposterous.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Aug. 21: Clothes, bloggers and the Orange Bowl

*Clothes make the candidate
I really didn’t want to address the issue of
you-know-who, but the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s
reader representative does a good job of it, so I’ll
post the link to her column:

And I agree.

*Can bloggers report?
Interesting column about bloggers by Michael Skube in
today’s LA Times:,1,7873849.story?coll=la-news-comment

I don’t agree, however, that a blogger would not have
been capable of uncovering the scope of the scandal at
Walter Reed Army Medical Center. A blogger who is also
a journalist, who understands the ins and outs of
uncovering records and who is a good writer and
reporter, could do so. Indeed, part of blogging can be
to report.
Incidentally, here’s Jay Rosen’s reply:

*Telling it like it is, indeed
Yay, Charlie Reed:

All that, and the skyrocketing of tuition fees since
the pre-Jeb days…..I don’t quite agree that Bright
Futures was a dumb idea, but the distribution of it,
without taking family income into account, is. The
state would do well by making it proportional to need.

*No more OB
I can't say I'm terribly surprised that the University of Miami decided that the Hurricanes will soon start playing their football games in what I still call Joe Robbie Stadium, instead of the Orange Bowl. The city spent a couple of decades, going back to the tenure of the inept, corrupt former City Manager Cesar Odio, neglecting the needs of its sports teams, including the Baltimore Orioles for spring training and the Dolphins and Hurricanes at the OB. Only by the grace of former Dade Mayor Alex Penelas, the Miami Heat stayed in the city, but the relatively new Miami Arena was rendered useless.
Now the city is negotiating with the Marlins about a new baseball facility. I'm still not convinced, between the ineptness of some in the city and the intransigence of Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and team president David Samson.
How intransigent? Not only wouldn't they bring back Jeff Conine so he could retire in the uniform he should, but now he's a Met. Yuck.

*Ashes not to ashes?
I know journalists aren’t getting much respect these
days, but this is ridiculous:

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Aug. 16: Leaks and listening

*No leaks in L.A. (or the rest of California)?
Tom Newton has the perfect name for this piece of legislation, which the California Legislature should torpedo. This ain't national security:,1,3107767.story

*Are we listening?
Great column by Bruce Kluger in USA Today:

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Aug. 15: Imus, Trans-Fat and I-95

*You go, Kia
Rutgers University student Kia Vaughn, a member of the
women’s basketball team insulted earlier this year by
radio host Don Imus, has sued Imus and his then-radio
host CBS for slander and defamation. This comes the
day after Imus and CBS reached a settlement that will,
unfortunately for good taste, allow him to come back
somewhere else.
Go, Kia!

*Fie on trans fats?
OK, this banning trans fats thing is getting a little

Should there be a federal ban by now? Don’t people
understand that those who eat fried foods do so
because they want to?

*Accident on I-95
Only in Florida can our public officials be
short-sighted enough (yes, other words do come to
mind) to approve something like this without taking
the time to improve public transportation:,0,6747080.story

It won’t solve anything. It will only make the
bottleneck worse on 95 and make life tougher for
working-class drivers who can’t afford to cough up the
HOV fee.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Aug. 14: China, Records and the Scooter

*Warning: Made in China
I know people who have warned about products from China for years; the series of recalls are now giving conclusive proof to the theory that letting the manufacture of this country’s products out of this country for something cheaper ain’t always cheap. The recalls are expensive for the various companies and their reputations.

*Graham did it better
USA Today has an article on Hillary Clinton following
a nurse at a Nevada hospital. Other presidential
candidates are also participating in the Service
Employees International Union “Walk a Day In My Shoes”

None of them can top Florida’s Bob Graham, though, who
came up with one of the best strategies ever when he
ran for governor in 1978: Workdays. Graham actually
did the labor he went to see. He’s taken on both white
and blue-collar jobs, though my mother jokes that
she’s still waiting for him to mow the lawn. He did
the workdays once a month through his years in the
governor’s mansion and the United States Senate, and
during his own, brief presidential race in 2004.
Anyone running now want to get their hands dirty? I mean, literally?

*Open those records, Hillary
This is in today’s LA Times:,0,1390329.story?coll=la-home-center

Rule of thumb for Hillary Clinton and all presidential
candidates: If you did it, no matter what you were
when you did it, and it affects public policy, you let
the rest of us see it. Period.

*Rest in peace, Scooter
Before there were the Florida Marlins, South Florida
radio and television carried the games of the
franchise that, sadly, still remains my community’s
favorite baseball team: The New York Yankees (I say
“sadly” because I’ve been a loyal Marlins fan since
day one.). I blush to say that I used to root for the
Yankees as a youth, but I did like their broadcasts
(both radio and TV), with Frank Messer, Bill White and
Phil Rizzuto (Much better than that obnoxious John
I join with baseball fans everywhere in mourning
Rizzuto, “The Scooter,” who died today at age 89. He
is in the Baseball Hall of Fame, deservedly so. He
also touched plenty of hearts in the broadcast booth.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Aug. 13: Rove, Roosevelt and DVDs?

*Rove’s sad legacy
Karl Rove will leave the White House by the end of the
month. His sad legacy is political nearsightedness,
sticking to the right-wing political base to take the
White House twice, but forgetting that to govern well,
it’s necessary to govern in the middle and reach out
to the opposition. That omission is the reason his
boss has those 20-something percent approval ratings.

Unfortunately, that amnesia seems to have stuck to
some of the people vying to succeed George W. Bush:

Candidate John Edwards is right: There are two
Americas – in economy, and politics. That doesn’t help
us. To quote President Abraham Lincoln: “A house
divided against itself cannot stand.” And we’re

*Bully for Teddy
Holly Ramer of the Associated Press writes about how
the presidential candidates are trying to channel
President Theodore Roosevelt:

By the way, has any one of them mentioned his love of
the environment? Roosevelt was the first genuine
environmentalist in the White House, (creating the
national park system, among other things). I’d be
surprised if they hadn’t. Is going green suddenly out?

*Greenhouse gets away
Journalist Linda Greenhouse did not want C-SPAN at a panel
discussion she was participating in about the Supreme
Court; she covers the High Court for the New York
Times. Sadly, the Association for Education in
Journalism and Mass Communication went along, and
C-SPAN was forced to pull the plug. Here’s the full
story on Columbia Journalism Review’s Web site:

Slate had its response:

Given Greenhouse’s position, perhaps she needs a
refresher on Harry Truman’s famous quote: “If you
can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen” – or at
least the conference. You’re a reporter, dearie. If
you’re talking in front of others, expect to be

As for AEJMC, what kind of example does this provide
for its members? Yay to its board for this resolution:

*Merv Griffin dies
They must be creating a whale of a talk show in
heaven: First Tom Snyder, now Merv Griffin, who made
even more of a landmark with “Wheel of Fortune” and
“Jeopardy” than with his talk show, which ran for two
decades. His last legacy, “Crosswords,” is supposed to
make its debut in syndication soon. He was also a
hotel mogul. Not bad for a one-time big-band singer.

*Cooper cologne?
I’ve never been an Anderson Cooper fan, and now I may
get even less of a reason to be one:,1,6075686.story?coll=la-news-a_section

To quote one-time New York Met Marv Thornberry in
those old Lite Beer commercials, “I knew this was a
bad idea.” Also journalistically unethical. No reporter is supposed to endorse a product. Period.

*DVD change should PO many

Will consumers be angry? Yeah, I'd say so:

To the big studios: ENOUGH!!!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Aug. 9: We're voting now (almost)

*The 2007 presidential election?

How ridiculous is this?

OK, anyone with the guts to change the current system,
which is preposterous, please step forward.
Actually, someone has: Former Florida Sen. Bob Graham,
who suggested rotating regional primaries in a column
in the New York Times earlier this week. Well, it
would be a start.

*Twist of Lyme
More from the “What President Bush hasn’t told us”

And he wants to know our secrets?

*More on Bonds and steroids
Great column by Christine Brennan of USA Today (and
one-time Miami Herald sportswriter):

By the way, a Canadian columnist, Bob Elliott, wrote
today that "Even if he took steroids between 1999 and
2003, Bonds never 'broke the laws of baseball,' since
there was not a rule preventing players from taking

Actually, that’s not true. Former Commissioner Fay
Vincent banned steroids in 1991, after the federal government banned them first. What is true is that there was no testing mechanism in place to catch
Bonds. But he still broke federal law if he took them
without a prescription, and that’s part of what the Feds are
investigating now.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Aug. 8: Legendary anchor and true achievement

*Mourning Hal Fishman
Being a South Florida gal, I’d never heard of Hal
Fishman until the last few days; he was apparently to
Los Angeles what Ralph Renick and Ann Bishop were to
South Florida – and then some, because of his
longevity. Here’s the Los Angeles Times obit:,0,6792962.story?coll=la-home-obituaries

And here’s the KTLA Web site page:,0,7719129.story?coll=ktla-promo-layout

People have poked fun at serious anchors, but they
weren’t trying to be flashy. They were just trying to
tell viewers what’s going on, as accurately as
possible. No problem with that.

*Bum at the bat
Bravo, Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel for this
twist on “Casey at the Bat,” in homage (?) to Barry

Just perfect.

*Worthy achievement
Tom Glavine, who may have the only achievement in
baseball worth truly celebrating this week, keeps
getting the well wishes:

His last quote clinches it for me. This man does get

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Aug. 7: Jobs, TV and PE

*Jobs unprotected?
Here’s something else for Congress to take a look at; whether members of the National Guard – or others serving in Iraq, for that matter – are being fired when they finally do return home:

Yet another example in this Era of Job Insecurity, in which that Social
Darwinism – survival of the supposed fittest, but most
assuredly the richest – took hold. I haven’t heard
enough yet from most politicians in either party about
how they plan to help solve this.

*Accuracy, accuracy
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution had an article about
running letters that are factually inaccurate:

Sorry, but I don’t agree with Cynthia Tucker.
Political polarization is no excuse. We only think
it’s more politically polarized today because we hear
so much, but there were previous times when
politicians were killed (Alexander Hamilton, Huey
Long) over differing beliefs. If we work for an entity
committed to finding the truth, that’s it. That
includes letters. Truth and accuracy are the same, at
least to me.

*I want my…digital TV
An article in USA Today discusses the looming deadline
for full conversion of televisions from analog to

At the end, there’s also a reference to those most
likely to be affected by the change: The poor, who
can’t run out and buy that new, gargantuan digital TV
set at the local store. And what about those people
who own the small Cort and other brands of televisions
you can buy for $40 at the discount store? Well, at least the
radio still works.

*Bonds reflects society (ugh to both)
Kurt Streeter of the Los Angeles Times wrote this

Agreed. It reminds me of an episode of the classic
sitcom “¿Que Pasa USA?” (classic if you have spent
your life in South Florida, where it was produced, but
also in some other parts of the U.S.) In the episode,
teenager Carmen Peña (Ana Margo now, Ana Margarita
Menendez then) is caught cheating on an exam at her
Catholic school. School administrator Sister Josepha
comes to the Peña home to talk to her parents, Pepe
(Manolo Villaverde) and Juana (Ana Margarita Martinez
Casado), about what to do. But only Juana seems to be
in the spirit of the conversation. Pepe is trying to
manipulate a business deal, Abuela (Velia Martinez)
takes towels and dishes from the Fontainebleau in
Miami Beach, etc. In other words, Carmen’s actions
correspond to those of much of her family. And that’s
what we’re seeing with Bonds.

*What’s OK for PE?
The Sun-Sentinel has an article about mandatory
physical education in Florida, and what the Palm Beach
County school district is doing to implement it:,0,4364513.story

Why does this have to be such a head-scratcher? I grew
up with phys ed classes from first grade through
ninth. There were exercises, laps, kickball, softball,
flag football, soccer, etc. They require a lot less
maintenance (and money) than hiring a dance teacher to
come in. A half-hour of good, old fashioned exercise
is what’s best to get the kids off their backsides.

*Anyone for Collins?
Good news for Bud Collins fans; ESPN has picked up the
man who is to tennis what Vin Scully is to baseball.
Collins, who was unceremoniously dumped by NBC last
month (They say he left, I say he was dumped), will call the shots
for ESPN2’s Grand Slam coverage:

I’m not a big tennis watcher, but I am a Collins fan.
And he’ll be reunited with another of my favorites:
Dick Enberg, who’s good at calling just about any

Thursday, August 2, 2007

August 2: Infrastructure, Emile Zola and more

*Time to look at infrastructure
If the steam pipe accident in New York a few weeks ago didn't bring the message over, then yesterday's disaster on a bridge in Minneapolis should have: The infrastructure in this country and its maintenance need proper review.
The death and injury totals are still being added up from the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge, which spanned the Mississippi River. Two years ago, a federal (study) rated the bridge as "structurally deficient" and possibly in need of repair. The bridge is 40 years old.
The American Society of Civil Engineers actually says fewer bridges are structurally deficient compared to 15 years ago, but they do have to be repaired, rebuilt, etc. and there's a heavy price tag (Thanks to Al Tomkins at the Poynter Institute, whose Morning Meeting column had this link):

The Christian Science Monitor has a comprehensive article on the problems with this country's infrastructure:

*Looking back at Zola
The film "The Life of Emile Zola," made in 1937 and starring Paul Muni, has an account, albeit fictionalized, of Zola's writing about the innocence, eventually proved, of French Capt. Alfred Dreyfus in committing treason. The film is available on DVD. Watch it, and compare the backside covering of the French military bigwigs to what's going on now with the Bush Administration, and the similar clamming up of its members. The truth has a way of getting out, though....

*No more aliens
On a slightly different wavelength:
The Weekly World News, the only tabloid I’ve ever read beyond the cover, will cease publication in coming weeks. In fact, the only time I ever bought a tabloid was when the WWN published its list of 12 senators who were space aliens. They included John McCain, Alan Simpson, John Glenn (Is that why he went into space twice?) and Jay Rockefeller, who was trying to spearhead health care reform in Congress at the time and said he came from a planet with universal health care.
WWN’s parent company, American Media, is folding the tabloid to focus on its moneymaking (groan) celebrity (double groan) tabloids. For the time being, its Web site will continue. Guess someone online will have to make up the space alien/politician deficiency.

*Hawaii 5-No-no
Never make a promise you won't keep.
After CBS/Paramount made a promise to release all of Season 2 of Hawaii Five-O on DVD, they released it with one episode missing and a note on the back of the DVD about some programs being edited.
The episode that's missing is called "Bored, She Hung Herself." It has never been repeated by CBS or in syndication since its initial 1970 showing because a woman tried a supposed yoga hanging technique shown in the episode and died.
It's OK to change your mind. But CBS owes consumers an explanation as to who did and why. They should also talk about what else is missing. Viewers aren't dumb.


Evander Holyfield, who's already done the retire-and-back thing, wants to box again. There's no fool like one with boxing gloves.....

Monday, July 30, 2007

Loss and more loss

*Lose the choppers
After the loss of four professionals in Phoenix last Friday when two news helicopters collided, I really can't say it better than Alan Mutter says it on his blog:

Once in a blue moon (after hurricanes, in certainstories), news helicopters are useful. But stations could save money and jobs by renting one from time to time. This ain't the 1970s. You can't impress anyone with Sky8 anymore.

*Snyder dies
Sad news with the death of Tom Snyder, one of the last of the old-style, classic interviewers. The cause of death was leukemia.
Snyder, who hosted interview shows on NBC and CBS, was known for having a cigarette in hand, sitting casually, as he interviewed guests from many walks of life. It really leaves Charlie Rose, who has that excellent show on PBS, as the last of those television interviewers who can talk to someone about Iraq one day and rock music the next. It's too bad. We need to see more of that today, not less.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Money, Bonds and Nick Saban

*Follow the money
The non-profit Public Citizen has this site, where you can track who's giving the gobs of green to the presidential candidates:

"For sale," indeed.....

*Bonds keeps adding to his a miserable human being
Aside from apparently being a cheater in just about every sense of the word, Barry Bonds also doesn't know jack about in Costas, one of baseball's announcers extraordinaire, lifelong fan and astute observer:

When asked about Schilling, according to the Associated Press, Bonds replied "Don't worry. My day will come." Yes it will, Barry....and you'll pay a higher price than you ever imagined.
By the way, Costas had a typically humorous response:

Quote of the day: "When I made those statements, they were true." Former Miami Dolphin Head Coach Nick Saban about his repeated denials last year about becoming the head coach at the University of Alabama. Saban is now - yep - head coach at the University of Alabama.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Yes to meetings; no to DNC, Naugle

*It’s who you meet with:

Well, this will go over big (not):

Castro, with his health problems, may be a moot point. Chavez is not, however. Edwards is already facing heat for campaigning with actor Danny Glover, a Chavez buddy. And while the answer won’t affect Obama and Edwards in the rest of the country, it will hurt them in cash-rich South Florida. Let’s see what they have to say the next time they answer that question in these parts.

By the way, Ron Fournier of the Associated Press has an article about the Democratic presidential candidates not wooing the centrist Democratic Leadership Council.

It points out that Bill Clinton appealed to them before he annouced his run for the presidency. His wife, who addressed them last year, isn't doing so right now. Let the Democrats remember the late House Speaker Tip O'Neill's words: People like to be asked. And Democrats need the middle to win the White House.

*Go bye-bye, Jim Naugle
Fort Lauderdale residents must be counting the days until the 2009 municipal election for mayor. Incumbent Jim Naugle can't run again, and it's just as well, because he's worn out his welcome by repeatedly insulting others. In the last year, he's managed to insult working-class families, civil servants and gays, all of whom play a major role in the city.
Back in the early 1990s, Fort Lauderdale was the darling of South Florida even though it had another mayor, Bob Cox, who had a tendency to say things he shouldn't have. This time, though, Naugle's mouth is hurting the city. Hopefully, in 2009, Fort Lauderdale voters will elect a mayor with a sharp eye on the city's future.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Journalism and journalism and correcting my boo-boo

*Keys to teen interest in news?
Following a Harvard University study on the low
interest of teenagers in getting hard news in
newspapers and online, my question is: What’s the key
to getting them interested? It may be in two
locations: The home and the classroom. Kids will be
interested in current events if parents are interested
in current events. And they will be engaged in the
classroom if they’re presented details about current
events in an interesting way.
The current standardized-test-heavy curriculums in
many classrooms across the country, including Florida,
don’t lend themselves to a critical study of current
events. That has to change, if Americans want a
brighter future for this country. We have to know
what’s going on in order to have – and elect – the
best and the brightest.

*Why Jacobson needed to be fired and what did WBBM do?
Another key to gaining the interest of young people in
the news: Make sure reporters act ethically.
Again, Amy Jacobson, fired the other day from
WMAQ-Channel 5 in Chicago, did not act ethically when
she was at the house of the estranged husband of a
missing woman, in her swimsuit and with her children.
Jacobson apparently had a tendency to try to get close
– too close - to her sources to get information. That
crosses the line of impartial, honest and honorable
journalism. I would imagine her personnel file had
included previous reprimands for that sort of thing,
and if it didn’t it should have.
Some have suggested sexism. My problem isn’t that she
was in a swimsuit. My problem is that she was there,
period, and with her kids, yet. The professional
became personal.
Phil Rosenthal of the Chicago Tribune writes that
Jacobson is on her “Image Rehab Tour.” Here’s what she
should say: “I violated journalism ethics by going to
the Sebac house with my kids. It crossed the line that
is necessary between reporters and their sources. I
blew it, and I’m sorry.” Then, she should catch up on
what she apparently didn’t learn about journalism
ethics in J-school.
That’s what she should do. However, what she is doing
is the usual celebrity mea culpa-rehabilitation jazz,
which will probably wind up with her doing a tabloid
or reality show someplace. My best hope is that
journalists and journalism students who do care about
being responsible learn from what she did.
(CORRECTION: By the way, I believe I wrote that
Jacobson and her family had been swimming at the Sebac
home. I goofed. Apparently, they were in their
swimsuits on their way to another locale when they went to
the Sebac place. I’m sorry for making that
WBBM, the station that ran the footage of Jacobson,
may not be guiltless, either. There are questions
about how the station obtained the video and its
process in bringing it to air.
Bob Steele of the Poynter Institute writes about the

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mourning Lady Bird

Late word today of the death of former First Lady Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson, the wife of President Lyndon Baines Johnson, at age 94. "Lady Bird" was an appropriate nickname for her, given her love of the environment. In recent years, the release of tapes LBJ and she made in the White House confirmed how much she advised her husband on various issues. Here is the Associated Press obituary link:

*Chicago reporter in swimsuit fired

*More ethics trouble in Chicago
Amy Jacobson was fired from WMAQ-Channel 5 in Chicago
after showing up in a swimsuit at the backyard pool of
the estranged husband of a woman who disappeared. If
this was an effort to get more information from a
source, it seriously backfired, as a Chicago Tribune
article says today:

Her bosses made the right decision. There are varying degrees of closeness between reporters and sources; this was way too close.

*Hollywood includes television, too
A Washington Post article by Ann Hornaday mentions the
film industry’s slow toe-dipping into movies about the
civil rights movement. It is too slow, but “Hollywood”
doesn’t just include film; it also features
television, and TV was tackling the civil rights
movement when all television sets were still black and
white and reached its peak during the 1970s, with a
number of weekly series, movies and miniseries. The
bad news is that there hasn’t been much on television
since then.

*Marlins should keep it local
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig says he’s still
hopeful of getting financing for a new stadium for the
Florida Marlins. Major League Baseball should give up
on the Florida Legislature as a potential source for
funding, though. The Marlins’ annual trek to
Tallahassee has come to resemble Charlie Brown’s
efforts to kick the football Lucy pulls away from him.
In a community of 6 million people (South Florida),
there have to be civic and business leaders with the
minds, hearts and wallets to pull a new stadium
project together.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

July 10: McCain, water and movies

*McCain’s problem is Iraq stance
If any of the advisers who are now gone from Sen. John
McCain’s presidential campaign were the ones who
suggested he support President Bush’s strategy in
Iraq, then that departure is well founded. That stance
and a general deviation from the likable maverick
status McCain had in 2000 has dropped him in the
polls. Considering that the Bush folks have repeatedly
stabbed McCain in the back, I’ve found his support of
Bush puzzling. Other candidates (Mitt Romney in
particular) are proving it’s possible to appeal to the
party’s conservative wing with more grace (and a little bobbing and weaving).

*Turn it off!
A couple of local papers report that water
restrictions in South Florida could be eased with the
return of rain. No, no, a thousand times, no! At least
not right now. People need to learn how to do with
less. That car can stay dusty a little longer. Plants
that need less water and grow well in South Florida
are available. Turn off the water when you brush your
teeth or soap your hands or the dishes.

*Vote for your 100 favorite films
Want a chance to clean up the American Film
Institute’s recent mess? Daily Film Dose is asking for
the public’s top 100 movies:

Monday, July 9, 2007

Media Storms, Storm Center Storms, Baseball Storms and Jack Lord

(Note: Sorry I can't seem to post a title...)

*The new media and the mayor

Interesting column by Tim Rutten of the Los Angeles Times about how the new media has driven the story of the affair of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa:,1,3927783.column

He also mentions the issue of what Mirthala Salinas, the Telemundo anchor and reporter involved with the mayor, knew, and what Telemundo knew about this relationship, and when they knew it. That’s a relevant case study for all journalists.

Reporters and columnists have sometimes been friendly with sources. But how friendly and how much it affects coverage is always a concern. Good rule of thumb for journalists: When in doubt, beg out of the story. Make sure someone else covers it.

By the way, I wonder how Hillary Clinton feels about Villaraigosa’s endorsement now. Yikes!

*Make the Internet count

Given the Chicago Tribune’s article today about how people are catching television newscasts online and on Ipod, and given the fact that more people are catching movies on DVD instead of (or in addition to) theaters, it’s time to make the new media count alongside the old. Whoever calculates ratings, box office, etc. should count everything. Take it from a Floridian who knows the importance of counting everything, and the consequences when it’s not….

*Speaking of newscasts….

New York magazine has a story about Katie Couric (still “Katherine” to me after her 1980s Miami stint) and her second thoughts about accepting the CBS Evening News job. People just want to know what’s going on in the world; they don’t want any fancy stepping.

I still don’t know whether she can adjust, and audiences with her, or not….But expect to see her going the Barbara Walters route of newsmagazines and special interviews if she doesn’t make the adjustment within two years.

By the way, I never did comment on Dan Rather’sstatements a few weeks ago. No, he wasn’t being sexist. Yes, he was right about what’s been done to the newscast. And I don’t agree with CBS boss Les Moonves that national audiences aren’t ready for a woman. They’re ready for the right woman. I think Diane Sawyer would have been the right woman. And audiences have had no trouble with weekend and substitute anchors that have included some of the best, including former ABC anchor/reporter Carole Simpson.

By the way, this paragraph in Joe Hagan’s piece hits the nail perfectly:

“The reaction to Couric as anchor has less to do with the fact that she is a woman than it has to do with the type of woman she is—or at least the type she has played on TV. Despite a long list of accomplished interviews with world leaders and politicians, fromTony Blair to President Bush to Kofi Annan, Couric has a hard time shaking the perception that she’s light and girlish, as opposed to serious and mature.”


The article continues:

“She blames it on the later incarnation of the Today show.

'I think the show got increasingly soft during my tenure, during the end of it,' she says, referring to the version of the program run by former executive producer Tom Touchet, with whom she often clashed.'And that’s one of the reasons I wasn’t fulfilled journalistically in the job. Perhaps the most recent memory of me in the eyes of some people is of the softer, fun aspects of the Today show, which I totally enjoyed and I think I did well in, but it wasn’t the whole enchilada for me.'

The algorithm for why a news personality appeals or doesn’t turns out to be much more complicated than gender or reporting chops or whether someone came from morning television. After all, Charlie Gibson—the leader in the ratings—came from Good Morning America. Although, as Couric points out, 'he was more of anavuncular figure on that show. I was encouraged toshow a fun, playful side more.' And Diane Sawyer,Couric’s chief competitor for the mantle of most powerful and respected woman in television news, has done basically the same job as Couric for the last decade, yet no one questions Sawyer’s seriousness and credibility when she bags exclusive interviews or does hard news. Couric suspects that if Sawyer were doing an evening news broadcast, she might have run into the same issues. 'Perhaps.'

But as it stands, Sawyer has exceptionally high favorability ratings, topping a Gallup poll last year measuring viewer opinion on TV news people. Meanwhile, as Couric has shifted away from her flirty, funny, line-flubbing, relatable morning personality to a harder, edgier, and ultimately more humorless evening persona, her Q score—the gold standard of favorability ratings—has declined. (As of last year, she was on par with Dan Rather.) Maybe it’s just growing pains as she moves from one phase of her career to the next. But the worry is that her transformation into Anchor Katie might be obscuring what made many people like her to begin with.”

Here’s the link to the whole article:

*Watch your language, AP

I must question the Associated Press headline that says anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan “threatens” to run against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“Threatens?” By whose standards?

If she’s an American citizen and has her civil rights, she has a right to run. Someone please tell the AP headline writer.

*1977 Yankees: At the library

If you watch (or even if you don’t) the ESPN miniseries “The Bronx is Burning,” about the 1977 NewYork Yankees and based on a 2005 book, you can get even more by looking for a great book written the year after that season: “The Best Team Money Can Buy,” by then-Newsday Yankees beat writer Steve Jacobson. It’s in diary form and an excellent chronicle of that tumultuous season. Jacobson, incidentally, was a consultant for this film.

*Williamsburg Five-O?

The answer to last week's question about the longest-running movie ever: "Williamsburg: The Story of a Patriot," shown in Colonial Williamsburg every day for the last 50 years. Hmmm....50.....Appropriate, then, that its star, playing fictional planter John Fry, is Jack Lord, who would later go on to play Steve McGarrett in the long-running CBS series "Hawaii Five-O." Lord, who died in 1998, seemed to have a thing for records: "Hawaii Five-O" is still the longest-running police drama in television history ("Law and Order" topped it as the longest running crime drama, but "Five-O" had mostly cops, rarely courtroom.).

Anyway, here's more from the Colonial Williamsburg site on the film:

And here's an article about the film....I love the title:

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

OK, Top 50 and movie trivia question

Well, I'm cheating a bit....I'm posting a top 50, since the criteria are films I've seen, and I haven't seen 'em all......

1. Casablanca
2.The Wizard of Oz
3. Singin’ in the Rain
4. The Best Years of Our Lives
5. The Sound of Music
6. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
7. Gentleman’s Agreement
8. To Kill a Mockingbird
9. The Ten Commandments
10. Judgment at Nuremberg
11. Mrs. Miniver
12. Gone With the Wind
13. Adam’s Rib
14. Rear Window
15. The Big Sleep
16. All the President’s Men
17. The Maltese Falcon
18. Charade
19. The King and I
20. The African Queen
21. Miracle on 34th Street
22. Roman Holiday
23. Meet Me in St. Louis
24. Woman of the Year
25. North By Northwest
26. Father of the Bride (1950)
27. The Band Wagon
28. Anastasia
29. An American In Paris
30. State of the Union
31. To Have and Have Not
32. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
33. The Thin Man
34. It Happened One Night
35. Suspicion
36. In the Heat of the Night
37. Gaslight
38. 12 Angry Men
39. The Candidate
40. Mary Poppins
41. Easter Parade
42. Field of Dreams
43. Yankee Doodle Dandy
44. How the West Was Won
45. Lilies of the Field
46. Dances With Wolves
47. My Fair Lady
48. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
49. The Court Jester
50. The Great Escape

Can you tell I like old movies? And as you can see, there are quite a few the AFI poobahs forgot.....

Movie Trivia Quiz
In honor of our national holiday, name the longest-running movie in continuous play. Hint: Its star is part of another record, on television.

Happy 4th!!!

Monday, July 2, 2007

July 2: Commution, Cheney and communication

Commution commotion
Terrible, terrible decision by President Bush to commute Scooter Libby's prison sentence, but sadly, not surprising. It is sad and tragic for this country, indeed, the entire world, to see a president who is so blinded by his own view that he can't see the other side. It is a presidential trait to be stubborn, but to be blindly stubborn, as Bush is, is a major fault. In addition to the blind stubbornness is a moral vacuum that is the biggest at least since Richard Nixon was in the White House.
The Washington Post recently did a series about Dick Cheney's actions as vice president and his penchant for secrecy. A reader from Olney, Md. sent a post to Post columnist David Broder, saying, "We, as citizens, need to know this stuff far sooner than the eighth inning of the Bush ball game. As each administration comes to town, we need to learn-- as soon and as clearly as possible -- who is pulling the strings and how."
Broder basically responded that it was difficult to dig up. Come on, Mr. Broder. Almost as soon as Bush and Cheney had moved in, we knew they had a liking for secrecy, so the press, indeed, should have been more diligent. That's our job.

Economic integration?
In the wake of last week’s Supreme Court ruling essentially cancelling out race as a major factor in determining school assignments, school districts are wondering how to make their populations more diverse. One possible way is economic integration. There is no question that schools in certain parts of town have a tendency to have more resources than other schools. I saw evidence of this years ago, when I took a tour of a school district and saw the shiny, new school on the west side versus the run-down facilities on the east side.
Kids have a right to the best, anywhere. And oh, yes, minorities and immigrants still get the short end of the stick with regard to school assignments and resources. With one brand of equality comes another.

Note about movie list
I know I owe my picks for 100 movies. That will come tomorrow, I hope, along with a movie trivia quiz. Sorry for the delay.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

June 27: Look back at Blair

The Blair years
Gordon Brown is Great Britain’s new prime minister, replacing Tony Blair, who had the job for a decade.
Blair got the top spot after a campaign in which he modeled himself after Bill Clinton. In fact, his economic policies (with the help of Brown) were modeled after the Clinton Administration’s as well, and kept Britain economically successful for much of his run. He can also claim a great deal of credit(along with Clinton) for peace in Northern Ireland.
However, Blair entered into an unholy, unwise and unpopular partnership with the Bush Administration in Iraq. Blair may have done so to be a control on Bush, but sadly and tragically, he couldn't control the Bush streamroller any more than anyone else has been able to.
Now, Blair moves on to try to figure out the Middle East mess. Good luck.....

It doesn’t pay to pay, part 1
The controversy over whether network news divisions should pay for interviews continues in the wake of NBC withdrawing from a Paris Hilton interview and denying offering $1 million to the heiress to appear on the Today Show.
Network news divisions who build their stories and reputations on the public’s trust should not, not, NOT pay for interviews. Period.
Paid interviews arenothing but very expensive press releases, with no glory but a whole lot of grief – ethical and otherwise– for the news divisions and their reputations. It's not worth the ratings if the result also includes leeching the integrity of a news operation.

It doesn’t pay to pay, part 2:
Here’s a link to Bill Dedman’s followup at about journalists contributing to political campaigns. At least one has gotten the heave-ho:

Monday, June 25, 2007

June 25: From Cheney to Chairman Mao

Decide (and Disclose), Dick…..
So, which branch does Vice President Richard Cheney belong to? The executive, or, as Senate president, the legislative? Cheney says that the latter means he is exempt from a presidential order that Executive Branch employees must report numbers of classified and declassified government documents.
U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., says if that’s true, then taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill for his expenses. Some members of Congress have mulled cutting the vice president's budget. The problem with that argument is that someone will find a counterargument against Congress, which is, after all, Congress.
Cheney must have been quite a hopscotch player as a child; he’s kept up his hopscotch against public records laws ever since he became vice president….Some in Congress have suggested the courts might decide the role of the vice president. That might be interesting, since the wheels of justice turn slowly. By the time the Supreme Court, which now leans in a conservative direction, gets around to deciding the issue, there will be a new vice president, anyway.

LA Times commentary on presidential candidates and Fox News
Good commentary in the Los Angeles Times by Scott Collins about the effects of Democratic candidates not accepting invitations to debates hosted by Fox News:,0,6048034.story?coll=cl-calendar

I've already said they're making a big mistake.....

Not holding up the family legacy
SPJ Leads newsletter has a link to this article in the Fort Worth Star Telegram about KYTX in Tyler, Tx. and its new anchorwoman. Carole Simpson she’s not:
Much to my dismay, the producer of this dreck for Fox is Brian Gadinsky, also known as J. Brian Gadinsky,once the producer of high-quality journalism at WTVJ (when it was Channel 4) in Miami. In addition, his mother is the late, great public servant, former Florida St. Rep. Elaine Gordon. Mr. Gadinsky, what you’re showing now is not why your mom campaigned so long and so fervently for women’s rights.

Stackhouse troubles may stack up for Meeks
The squeaky-clean reputations of former U.S. Rep. Carrie Meek and her successor and son, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami, are facing a sharp test following Miami Herald reports about their support of a proposed biotech project in the Liberty City neighborhood in Miami. Dennis Stackhouse, the Boston developer who proposed the project, started spending the public money he received to keep the favor of public officials, while the project didn't get built .
Carrie Meek got$40,000, a leased SUV and a rent-free office for her foundation, The Herald reported. She said she was a paid consultant for the project. Kendrick Meek got congressional money for the project. Mother, son and Stackhouse all say Carrie Meek never lobbied Kendrick Meek for funds. But the Meeks will both face more questions.
So will a majority of the Miami-Dade County Commission, which once again did its worst in lack of oversight. Only Katy Sorenson, Joe Martinez and Carlos Gimenez asked questions. Gimenez was apparently satisfied with what he heard, voting in favor of the project. Sorenson and Martinez voted against it.

Pat Tornillo dies
Word today of the death of Pat Tornillo, former head of United Teachers of Dade. Tornillo had a tough grip on the teachers union in the county (and the state of Florida) until he undid himself by bilking the union of $650,000, which he used for vacations, an Associated Press report says.
A UTD press release quoted by AP puts it aptly: ``Pat Tornillo's death marks the end of a life once dedicated to education reform and teacher leadership in Florida, but unfortunately was compromised at the end of his career by his admission of fraud and tax evasion.''

But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao....
Obviously, actress Cameron Diaz hasn’t heard the Beatles’ song “Revolution” in a while, or the rest of that sentence: “You ain’t gonna make it with anyone anyhow."
Diaz wore a handbag with a Maoist slogan during a tour of Peru. Now, I don’t know why anyone would choose to wear such a thing, period, but what made it worse was that Peru had great difficulties with Shining Path,whose battles with the government killed tens of thousands of people during the 1980s and 90s. She has apologized.

Happy Birthday Morikami
Otanjou-bi Omedetou Gozaimasu! (At least that's the way Yahoo says it.) Happy 30th Birthday to the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Boca Raton, a true South Florida treasure. May it celebrate millions of years more. Here's the Web site:

Thursday, June 21, 2007

June 21: Politics, Politics, Politics

*Michael D. Shear of The Washington Post writes about the non-candidates who play coy with their answers about whether they will run for office….Makes you wantto strangle them, doesn’t it? Or at least show them the last scene of the last episode of “The Sopranos.”

*Followup: The Miami Herald reports that a group of Venezuelan-Americans in Miami wrote to presidential candidate John Edwards, protesting his decision to campaign with actor Danny Glover, a supporter ofVenezuelan President Hugo Chavez. I mentioned a few days ago that something like this might happen......It could affect Edwards here in Florida, and in the Jewish community as well, given Chavez' anti-Semitic statements.

*MSNBC’s Bill Dedman reports on journalists who gave to political campaigns:

Oy. Journalists are not supposed to do so because it could compromise the need in the job to be fair and accurate. Some media companies have allowed sportswriters and arts critics to give. But there, too, is a slippery slope, because they could potentially cover news in their fields involving elected officials – like a new stadium or arts funding from the legislature.

Incidentally, here’s the section in the Society ofProfessional Journalists' Code of Ethics about this issue:

Act Independently
Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public'sright to know.
Journalists should:
—Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
— Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
— Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
— Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
— Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
— Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
— Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.

*Great column in USA Today by Sandy Grady about Barry Bonds and his bogus home run chase. I’d add Sammy Sosaand his faux 600 homers, too:

I’d also add one more reason the steroid problem causes such damage: Kids. They look up to players, and they will use what their heroes use – or what they think their heroes use – even if it kills them (which it has in a couple of circumstances).

*I find the American Film Institute’s revised, so-called “100 best” list preposterous.
No “DancesWith Wolves,” “Roman Holiday,” “Gentleman’s Agreement,” “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner,” “Judgment at Nuremberg?” Come on.
“Toy Story” is listed, but not“Dumbo,” “Pinocchio” or “Fantasia?”
No “Breakfast at Tiffany’s?” “Mrs. Miniver” or anything Katharine Hepburn made with Spencer Tracy? No Tracy, in fact.
Only one Paul Newman film (“Butch Cassidy and theSundance Kid,” ranked too low). Only one Gregory Peck film (“To Kill a Mockingbird,” also ranked too low). And evidently, Martin Scorcese’s friends had a hand in putting this list together (“Raging Bull” at number 4? Please.)
What the heck is “West Side Story” doing on the list?Does the panel know the two leads didn’t do their own singing? And where are “Top Hat,” “An American in Paris” and “The Band Wagon?”
The movies were chosen by Hollywood insiders and critics. It’s time for AFI chief Jean PickerFirstenberg to let the selection process include those who really know something about movies – the public. Aren’t these films made for them?
I would recommend that AFI put their original lists of400 films on their Web site, and let the public make its picks from the list.
And as I wrote yesterday, someone should have a list of the best television programs, as well.

*To end on an upbeat note, here's a presidential candidate we can all get behind, or at least have a good time reading: Dave Barry.

See you next week with my own Top 100 films....

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

June 20: Politics, Sunshine and Films and Television

*Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has expressed dismay with the presidential primary schedule moving up so much. In an Associated Press story, McCain suggested it would hinder the process of getting to know the candidates better. I agree. It doesn’t do much for general media coverage of the election, either, which is usually pretty bad and gets progressively worse with each cycle. I couldn’t care less about Hillary Clinton’s (check) “Soprano” finale imitation….

*But I do care about her answers to questions. The Associated Press' Ron Fournier writes about Hillary Clinton today:
I never found her husband evasive on these types of issues.....In fact, former President Bill Clinton has a tendency to go into biblical detail, chapter and verse. But she can't even manage an "I'd have to review the details" (which her husband would probably say) on Scooter Libby? Come on....

*Nice commentary by James P. Pinkerton in the Christian Science Monitor about “Three Americas:”

It's the middle class that have been getting the brunt of the hits the last six years. It hasn't been economic prosperity for them. One example is the number of veteran businesses (Stores, etc. that have been in business 40 years or more) that have been going out of business. I don't think there have ever been so many failed businesses of long standing.

*Applause to Florida Gov. Charlie Crist for creating a Commission on Open Government – which includes many of Florida’s finest at making sure records stay open, including Florida First Amendment Foundation President Barbara Petersen and Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte, former president of Florida State University and an attorney who played a principal role in getting cameras into Florida’s courtrooms in the 1970s. They will examine what is being done, and what needs to be done, on access to government forums and records. Kudos to Crist for keeping the sunshine in.


*Memo to the American Film Institute, or somebody: Instead of doing a second, useless look at the "top 100 films," how about taking those 400 you have and letting the public have a crack at them? Put a poll on your Web site.
Also, how about one of the governing bodies for television having a program on the 100 greatest television programs of all time (including miniseries and films)? I think TV Land has done something to that effect, but let's have another program for those of us who don't have cable.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

June 19: World's Fair, Judge on Display and Journalism Advice

*The Chicago Tribune has an article today by Charles Storch called “Whatever Happened to the World’s Fair,”noting that the last time the United States hosted one was in 1984, in Knoxville, Tenn. The article says that one lost money. Meanwhile, U.S. cities keep bidding for the Olympics.
As far as the United States is concerned, the World’sFair lacks the components that would have cities lining up to bid on it: Television coverage and financial profit (the Olympics feature the first, and if things are done right, the second). With tight budgets, municipalities aren’t going to bid on something without those two components built in somehow. It’s unfortunate, because I’ve heard family members talk about attending the 1964 New York World’sFair, and it was at these fairs that the public got their first looks at television, video conferencing and other marvels of technology.

*Broward Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin, who made a mockery of the process with his behavior during the Anna Nicole Smith case, is resigning…probably to contaminate daytime television with yet another court show (or possibly primetime television with yet another pseudo-reality show)….Just another one of the disgraces recently on Broward's bench, and one reason Chief Judge Dale Ross had to step down. Here's hoping both Ross and Seidlin's replacements will be true professionals.

*Nice column about Nelson Poynter, and how his philosophy might relate to the Bancroft family, who owns the Wall Street Journal and is trying to figure out whether to sell it to Rupert Murdoch:

Monday, June 18, 2007

June 18: Hillary's choice, hurricanes and Rosie the radio host?

*A St. Petersburg Times editorial about Sen. Hillary Clinton's 2002 vote authorizing President George W. Bush to take the country to war in Iraq:

And my answer to that last paragraph would be that the junior senator from New York wanted to cover her political hide.

*Bill Proenza may depart his job as director of the National Hurricane Center faster than Bob Burpee did (Burpee was the guy who came before Max Mayfield.). Unlike Burpee, though, Proenza may not have a say in the matter. He's been warning about the aging QuikScat satellite, and is now being warned by his superiors to button his lip. I hope he doesn't get fired. When a hurricane is threatening, I'd hate to see local news anchors interviewing some guy who's kept up his Republican National Committee donations, but doesn't know a thing about meteorology.....

*Greg Sandow writes a commentary in the Wall Street Journal about the decline of classical music criticism:

I do take issue with his remark in the last sentence that "popular culture is getting smarter." Uh uh. Trashier, maybe, but not smarter.


*Finally, Bob Barker suggests Rosie O'Donnell as the new host of "The Price is Right." I have a better suggestion: Radio talk show host. Only Rosie can be for the liberals what Rush Limbaugh is for the conservatives.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

June 13: State income tax, more on blogging and bad reception


*Today's Miami Herald included a commentary by Ana Menendez on a state income tax, the great third rail of Florida politics. No one will touch it. And that's too bad, because it might help solve a lot of budget problems.


*This is infuriating. The Broward County Commision, which is mostly made up of Democrats, is considering terminating its contract with radio station 610 WIOD for emergency broadcasts because the station carries Rush Limbaugh's show.
Dumb decision, if a majority of commissioners make it. Dumb, Dumb, Dumb. One has nothing to do with the other. This certainly should not be about politics, it should be about saving people's lives. If WIOD can clear the space for the county if a hurricane threatens or some other emergency occurs, so much the better. Rush Limbaugh isn't going to be on the air when a hurricane is over us, anyway (Heaven knows a hurricane is trouble enough.).


*More on that Louisville Courier-Journal reporter being thrown out of the pressbox by the NCAA. Here's a great column by Troy Johnson of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer:


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

June 12: From Barack to Baca


*Starting with a Chicago Tribune article about Barack Obama's calculated path to the presidency, which was originally supposed to be on the relatively slow path - similar, I think, to the kind of experience John F. Kennedy picked up in Congress before he ran for president in 1960. But with the opposition to the war in Iraq climbing, Obama decided to accelerate the process - too fast, in my opinion. When I heard him speak during the 2004 Democratic convention, I figured he'd run for president one day, but this is much too soon. Mr. Obama, you're no Jack Kennedy - at least not yet.

*Just an observation on presidential polls, which seem to veer from one day to the other, with Hillary Clinton 10 points ahead of Obama on Tuesday and 3 points ahead on Wednesday, or Rudolph Guiliani way ahead on Thursday and tied with Fred Thompson on Friday (or today, as one poll says): I think the polls have become their own force of nature, seemingly motivated by forces that have nothing to do with the problems this country has or how to solve them. They've become like junk food - empty calories that do a lot of damage to what should be a healthy entity - the electoral process.

*The Christian Science Monitor had an article today by Mark Trumbull about the struggle by teenagers to find summer jobs:

The article came closest to the mark, I think, in mentioning that teens are competing with others in the workforce.....But I don't agree that there's been any "solid economic growth," over the last few years, at least not for the middle and lower classes. Look at the thousands of workers, both blue-collar and white-collar, who have been laid off over the last few years. Many of them get jobs with twice as many duties and a lower salary than what they left......


*Behold the ghosts of Florida Legislatures past in the promises by the Republican leaders that they'll restore the money their property tax proposal threatens to cut from the education budget.....Behold and beware. They sound just like the Democratic leaders of the late 1980s who said that Florida Lottery money would pay for education "enhancements." All it enhanced after that was the main education budget, which got cut. Florida needs property tax relief, but not like this....


*Hal Bodley of USA Today writes a good column about Gary Sheffield's statements, and why Sheffield is mostly wrong:

It's good to know that, in fact, Major League Baseball is planning various domestic baseball academies, which will help matters all around. The game also faces a serious marketing problem, not only losing athletes to the convenience and bigger bucks of basketball, but also with the image problems some of its own (Barry Bonds) face. And Bodley brings up a good point with colleges not providing enough baseball scholarships to African Americans.

*Speaking of colleges, a boo-hiss to the NCAA for throwing out Courier-Journal reporter Brian Bennett for blogging. The organization said it was protecting against unsanctioned live coverage of the game. Bennett has been covering the Louisville Cardinals' run to the College World Series. Here's a link to his blog:

By the way, in a USA Today article about this, Ronald Collins, a scholar at the First Amendment Center, points out that someone can just as easily write a blog while watching the game on ESPN. Get a clue, NCAA.....And get off Bennett's back.


*There's an effort underway for a voter recall Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, who, you may recall, handed Paris Hilton her "Get Out of Jail Free" card last week. Since Baca is an elected official, that's the only way they can get rid of him for his celebrity glad-handing and general incompetence. Recalls are difficult, but this is California, where they managed to recall a governor.

*Finally, a word about series finales: I've never seen "The Sopranos," so I didn't see the now-infamous last few seconds of the last episode. But it sounds similar to the end of the soap opera "Dallas," where Bobby Ewing hears a shot go off in J.R.'s room, walks in and says, "My God," and the camera fades to black.
With "The Sopranos," I was kind of hoping that after the fade to black, Bob Hartley would wake up and tell his wife, Emily, that he'd had another strange dream (A reference to the classic end of "Newhart," which had a touch of "The Bob Newhart Show" in it).

Monday, June 11, 2007

June 11: Presidential Pop-ups and Downtown Miami

*Remember what I said last week about additional information about the presidential candidates during debates? Matthew Felling of CBS Public Eye has an interesting suggestion, which you can read at this link:

Pop-up data? I like it! And I think the voters will pay attention.


*Following Miami Herald stories last week about the comments of Macy's Florida CEO Julie Greiner about the condition of Downtown Miami, and Miami Today stories earlier this year about the prospect of Macy's leaving the downtown site I will always think of as Burdines, I think a different approach needs to be taken to repairing what ails the heart of downtown, the Flagler Street/Miami Avenue corridor, and its surrounding areas.

My mom worked at that Burdines, and we had friends who owned a nearby children's clothing store, so I spent a lot of time in that area when I was growing up. It's where Miami got started.

So bring the historians into the picture: Arva Parks, who wrote "Miami: The Magic City." Paul George, South Florida history teacher extraordinaire. Dorothy Jenkins Fields, head of The Black Archives Foundation. Let them join business leaders and government leaders and discuss what the heart of Downtown Miami should be.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

June 7: Iraq/Korea, Bob Graham, baseball and good kids

*Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is concerned about a long-term Iraq policy that would create something resembling Korea, with troops bogged down for decades. While Iraq could certainly be a decades-long quagmire, the comparison is not valid. North Korea invaded South Korea, and the Korean War was a legitimate hot point of the Cold War. Also, it was the United Nations that went into the Korean conflict, not the go-it-relatively-alone-with-a-few-countries mentality of the Bush Administration in Iraq. Here's a link to an article by Bill Powell in Time Magazine that has an even better explanation:,8599,1628185,00.html?xid=rss-world


*One person who did get it right on Iraq from the very beginning was former Florida Sen. Bob Graham. Years ago, Tom Fiedler, the former executive editor of the Miami Herald and onetime political columnist for that paper, said that when Graham served in the Florida Legislature (during the 1960s and 70s), he would sometimes make a well-reasoned, detailed proposal that wouldn't get many takers, but would prove right. This article in today's Tampa Tribune proves the validity of that:

And all of the senators who are now running for president could have and should have taken the time to read the full National Intelligence Estimate. Graham was absolutely right from the very beginning with his reservations about the war. And I don't think he's particularly bitter; he's not the type. As for his endorsement, which is prized: Does anyone wonder whether he wants to endorse a former Senate colleague from Tennessee - one who later went on to be vice president and won the popular vote in the 2000 presidential election - one who also opposed the war from the very beginning?


Back to the presidential race for a moment, and the difficulty of dividing debate time evenly among so many candidates. An article in today's Christian Science Monitor had the suggestion of dividing the candidates into a couple of debates. I have a better one: Before a debate, the host network should get the candidates' written responses to various questions on important issues and either post them on the television screen or online, or both, so audience members get a chance to hear what everyone truly thinks. Then, announce several topics in advance , and ask the candidates about those topics only, and do it in a way that everyone gets a fair forum. They have the multimedia capabilities. They should use them.


Baseball has three candidates for its (or my) Bonehead of the Week award: Candidate 1 is Gary Sheffield, current Detroit Tiger and former Florida Marlin, who was quoted in a GQ magazine interview that Major League Baseball finds it easier to control Latin players than blacks, and that's why there are more Latin players in the big leagues. Huh? I will say this: Sheffield was right when he said that baseball currently puts more resources into recruiting players from Latin America than in recruiting African Americans. Clearly, the RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities) program, as successful as it is, is not enough.
Actually, a big reason for the numbers is a simple one: Profit. At the moment, baseball executives must feel they are getting far more out of the dollars they spend in Latin America (in terms of the publicity that comes back about their baseball heroes). Here, they lose blacks to basketball and football. But what if they try, in American inner cities, some of the strategies they're using in Latin America? How about at least a pilot program? The game that Jackie Robinson integrated 60 years ago is owed that much.
Bonehead candidate #2 is Chicago White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen, who believes baseball unfairly targets Latin players in the steroids probe, on the basis of what he was asked. Uh, Ozzie....You're from Venezuela. You're not going to be asked if you saw players taking steroids in London. Unfair? Stereotyping? Maybe, but you're going to be asked about what they think you know.
Which leads to bonehead candidate #3: Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig himself, who now wants to give Jason Giambi (See, Ozzie? ) an either/or choice: Talk to Ambassador George Mitchell, who is leading MLB's investigation into steroid and other performance enhancing drug use by players, or face punishment for your steroid use. How about giving us baseball fans an either/or choice: Eliminate all the jokers (including Selig and Major League Baseball Players Association chief Don Fehr) who had a hand in perpetuating the fraud that is the steroid era of baseball, or eliminate all the jokers....Well, you get the idea.


Finally, while everyone spends time grumping about Paris Hilton (and yes, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca should be fired), here's a link to a Boston Globe story about a young person who knows what he wants to do after graduation:

Andrew Orr understands what life's all about.

See you next week, folks....

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

June 6--On leaders, would-be leaders, anchors and pitchers?

*Remember those 1980s G8 summits, when the world leaders (Reagan, Thatcher, Kohl, Mulroney, Mitterand, etc.) got along so well? And then there's the current G8 summit, otherwise known as German Chancellor Angela Merkel wondering, "How long before I get them out of here?" There's President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin exchanging the latest insults....There's Bush disagreeing with everyone else's proposals on global warming....There's Iraq......Actually, Merkel, whose discomfort when Bush suddenly began giving her a neck rub is still remembered, must be wondering, "How long before I get HIM out of here?" She can get in line behind most of the American people and all the presidential candidates, including Republicans....

*Speaking of presidential candidates, one of the Democrats, former U.S. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, have rallied in several cities in support of poor hotel workers. However, Edwards may have a few questions to answer about the support of a man (Glover) who has embraced Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Chavez has been showing more and more dictatorial tendencies recently, shutting down Venezuela's oldest television station, which had been critical of him. There's no such thing as six degrees of separation, much less one degree, for a presidential candidate.

*On to something completely different: Katie Couric (who I still think of as "Katherine," the name she went by when she was a correspondent at WTVJ-Channel 4 (at the time) in Miami in the 1980s). Her ratings keep shrinking, but there's a fundamental reason for that: The majority of the television news-viewing public thinks of her more as a celebrity than a journalist. Gender is somewhat relevant, but if "Access Hollywood's" Billy Bush was to start anchoring the CBS Evening News tomorrow, would he get a free ride? (I hope not, particularly since he's W's nephew, which provides various conflict-of-interest opportunities.)
If circumstances had worked out, I could have seen Diane Sawyer becoming one of the major network news anchors. She hosts a morning show, as Couric did, but unlike Couric, there's a trust factor evident when Sawyer is discussing a news story. (She's been in television journalism for more than 30 years, following her stint in the White House during the Nixon administration.)I still remember Sept. 11, 2001, and watching Sawyer and Gibson with capable, solid coverage of the horrific events of that morning - while at NBC, a then-newly blonde Couric and Matt Lauer looked very uncomfortable and like they were just back from the beach.
The fact that Couric once covered hard news doesn't matter now; it's what she's done lately. If she is to pick up viewers, CBS is going to have to give her a wide space. How does five years sound? It sounds like something CBS head Les Moonves probably won't consider. Remember, though, that Dan Rather kept CBS in first place for most of the 1980s after he replaced Walter Cronkite in the anchor chair. Peter Jennings at ABC went into first place for a few years, then Tom Brokaw at NBC.
If Couric wants to stay in that anchor chair, she should ditch the focus groups...and keep her name out of the papers, at least the gossip columns. You're a journalist, Katherine. Show the audience that, and you might have a chance.

*Finally, in the sports world, New York Yankees relief pitcher Kyle Farnsworth stated in a radio interview that all the players should be with the team, apparently a criticism of Roger Clemens, the semi-invisible man. Clemens has a contract clause that allows him to leave the team when he's not pitching. The AP reports that Hall of Fame player and former manager Frank Robinson also criticized Clemens.
At this point, Clemens has retired more often than Jack Benny, only to come back (and not be as welcome). I remember his first retirement, the one we all thought was real. I was there at what I call Joe Robbie Stadium (see yesterday's post), during Game 4 of the 2003 World Series, when Clemens walked off the mound to a well-deserved standing ovation. He should have stayed gone. He has groin problems, and with each year he pitches, questions about how he's doing it get a bit louder.
As it stands, Roger, you currently have a clear path to Cooperstown. Just go.