Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Feb. 27: McCain shows grace in apology

*Not hard for McCain to say "I'm sorry"

Sen. John McCain gained plenty of respect yesterday by apologizing for a slur at Sen. Barack Obama by radio talk show host Bill Cunningham, who disparagingly used Obama's middle name, Hussein. Cunningham, showing his real stripes, is now jumping off the McCain bandwagon.

McCain stated his intentions to show respect to his fellow senators running for the Democratic nomination by using their title, Senator - which is as it should be by politicians and the news media. I'm sick of all the informality.

Note to Cunningham: Hussein was also the name of a king who showed grace and courage in the last years of his life by making peace with Israel. The way you use it slurs not only Obama, but also all Muslims. Go wash out your brain with soap, Mr. Cunningham.

*About a fashion statement

Newsday has a good commentary about the photo of Obama in Somali wear:,0,7325011.story

Can't say much about it from a strictly fashion point of view, but it should be pointed out that a number of former presidents (including Bill Clinton) and world leaders (including the late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir) have been dressed in tribal wear and have even undergone special ceremonies. Except for those who promote hate and division, there's no "there" there for criticism.

*William F. Buckley dies at 82

Whether one agreed with him or not, William F. Buckley, who died today at age 82, was a genuine intellectual.

The Bill Cunninghams and Ann Coulters of the world might take a lesson from Mr. Buckley on how to make a case for conservatism with class.

*Bravo to Philharmonic

As the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin once said, you can't make peace with your friends. When you make peace with enemies, you have to start somewhere. So bravo to the New York Philharmonic for taking a step and going to North Korea to perform. The program included Antonin Dvorak's "Symphony From the New World" and George Gershwin's "An American in Paris." They also rehearsed with North Korean musicians:

Bouquets to all.

*Frank Deford, living legend

Here's a link to a Roy Peter Clark column at the Poynter Web site about Frank Deford, a terrific sportswriter (and National Public Radio commentator):

Deford forever won my respect years ago, when he wrote so movingly about his daughter Alex' struggle with cystic fibrosis.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Feb. 26: What FPL and the Oscars need

*Answer the questions, FPL
After today's major power outage in South Florida and through other parts of the state, Florida Power & Light will have some 'splaining to do. The power company should have a thorough investigation - preferably by an outsider - and a very detailed report to the public about what went wrong. It affected a lot of livelihoods.

*Oscars need the big pictures
It's no surprise that the Academy Awards telecast received likely its lowest ratings ever, given the lack of box office powerhouses among the major nominees. It's no coincidence that these low-budget, independent nominees coincide with a lack of quality production by the major studios. They've decided to do franchise blockbusters instead of quality films.
Once upon a time, they did both. Remember "Titanic," anyone?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Feb. 25 Commentary: What George W. Bush and Ralph Nader have in common

Once upon a time, there was a man named Ralph Nader who became a consumer advocate. He was an excellent consumer advocate - so good that corporations shuddered when his name was mentioned. He succeeded in getting laws passed or changed, and was immortalized by none other than Steve McGarrett of the classic CBS television series "Hawaii Five-O," who told a complaining criminal to "call Ralph Nader."

Then, something bad happened. Nader started to believe his own legend.

In 2000, he decided, apparently, to try to fight corruption in campaign financing by entering the system - in the biggest way. He ran for president of the United States.

Whatever Nader hoped to bring about went completely out the window Nov. 7, 2000, when the election was thrown into turmoil. All he accomplished was angering a majority of voters. He has since proven that his own glory seems to be above his desire for consumer reform by running again in 2004, and this year.

Meanwhile, his old beat, consumer advocacy, is suffering from a dearth of people with the charisma, persuasion techniques and fame of - oh, someone like Ralph Nader - to fix things.

Here's what's been in need of repair since Nov. 7, 2000 (or maybe Jan. 20, 2001):

*The job market: Hundreds of thousands of workers have been laid off in the years George W. Bush has been in the White House. Many of those who have found jobs usually work for less pay and fewer benefits than they had in the jobs they lost. Some industries have gone into freefall. Instead of excellence and customer service, corporations have concentrated on cutbacks and cutting corners. Americans have bought rotten goods from China and rotten beef, vegetables, peanut butter and other products from its own backyard.

*Prices: While consumers have less, merchandise costs more. Gas prices and food prices have skyrocketed. There has been a serious crisis in housing and subprime mortgages.

*Disasters: Not just the natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, but man-made disasters like the bridge collapse last year in Minneapolis. What's been fixed in the infrastructure? Practically nothing.

*Troops and veterans: Armed forces have been heading overseas with substandard equipment going in and substandard medical care in some spots going out. Remember the scandal at Walter Reed?
In addition, resources for families of the troops have also been in question, including government benefits for spouses and children.

Where was Ralph Nader, once this country's foremost consumer advocate, during all of this? Polishing his campaign speeches, evidently.

Since 2001, we've had a president who obviously doesn't care about all of his fellow Americans. With each presidential campaign he enters, it becomes more obvious that Ralph Nader no longer cares about them, either.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Feb. 21: The full N.Y. Times piece on McCain

*Times and Post articles on McCain

Here is a link to the article by the New York Times on Sen. John McCain's possible ties to a lobbyist:

Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute asks some good questions about the Times piece:

My take: The Times piece is more about lobbying questions than anything else. That's relevant, because of McCain's past problems as one of the Keating Five, and his current reputation as a reformer. Of course, that's not the part everyone's going to be talking about. But this isn't Monicagate - at least not for the moment.

*It's all about us

Naturally, the McCain story has a Florida connection:

*When it rains....

More troubles for McCain, this time concerning election funding:

*More on Michelle Obama

The McCain story gets Michelle Obama off the media hook for her comments the other day. Here's a Los Angeles Times profile of her:,0,5061497.story

It will be interesting to see whether the substance in her speeches changes, and whether her negative comments will have an effect on the Obama Express.....

Speaking of which, couldn't someone in his campaign have shown propriety in scheduling his speech about Wisconsin after Hillary Clinton had finished her concession speech? The timing just lends more to those accusations of arrogance by Obama and his campaign.

*What have you done for me lately?

Memo to politicians endorsing Barack Obama: At least read the guy's Web site:

Of course, the upside is that it gives him less time to get in trouble with lobbyists.

*You bet PBS is necessary - and relevant

Thousands of PBS viewers answered a Feb. 17 New York Times column that questioned whether PBS should still exist. My favorite assertion is the one that other channels do what they do.

Who, exactly? The shoutfests and propaganda mongers on cable? The reality trashmasters on the networks? Where else can you find "Frontline," "Nova," "Live From Lincoln Center," etc.? As someone who spends roughly 90 percent of her TV viewing time on two PBS channels in South Florida, I say: Long May It Live!

With one caveat: The pledge drives should include regular PBS programming and limit Andre Rieu, Celtic Woman and all those neo-imitators of classical and traditional popular music to only one broadcast per pledge period - combined.

*On DVDs

Final note: I don't care what the DVD technology is, HD, Blu-Ray, Sugar Ray; I just want the darn thing to play in the computer.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Feb. 20: Mrs. Obama's Ooops

*Watch those words

Hillary Clinton lost forever the support of virtually everyone to the right of center in 1992 when she made her infamous statement about not having stayed at home and baked cookies. Now, Michelle Obama finds herself with a similar quandry about her husband's campaign being the first time in her adult life she's proud to be an American.

It's one thing if you say you haven't been proud since Nov. 7, 2000, but this is another thing entirely. Carol Marin writes an excellent commentary in the Chicago Sun-Times:,CST-NWS-marin20.article

Incidentally, Newsweek has a profile of Mrs. Obama that I've just started to read; among other things, it says she's inclined to speak her mind. What will she say now?

*Threading the needle?

Sen. John McCain seems to be trying to have it all ways on a bill that would bar waterboarding:

However, I do like what he says at the end about signing statements, which President Bush has used and abused: "If I disagree with a law that's passed, I'll veto it." Amen.

*Flake frosted by GOP

U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. has some problems with his own party leadership over his efforts to cut the budget fat:

Nice to know he doesn't only see things in shades of red and blue (By the way, he's also supported free trade with Cuba for a long time; I wonder how the post-Fidel era will shake down, and whether Flake will get any credit for it if relations open up.)

*International journalism under cover

You know, CNN, the president is involved in foreign matters, too:
Why don't these news executives seem to get that people ARE interested in overseas news?

*Journalists under fire

Journalists are under attack for doing their jobs in the anthrax case:

Meanwhile, why hasn't the federal government made any progress in solving these cases? If Hatfill is not involved, the government should say so, officially. By the way, the media does hold responsibility for not following up on these cases. Too busy chasing you-know-who (rhymes with "beers")? Five people died in those attacks, and many others had to take preventive measures. Many others lost their jobs. That's more important than one singer's mental problems.

*Live from New York.....

After a most frustrating three months, it's Saturday Night:

*Not live from New York....

NBC is changing its tradition of unveiling programs.....

I don't know that it's the way to go. I think a lot of the audience loss the networks have been undergoing in recent years is connected to the crazy schedules the shows have been on.
CBS shows have been most consistently at or near the top of the ratings, with the most consistent scheduling. People like to know when their programs are coming on, even if they do like new technology.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Feb. 19: While Fidel gets his gold watch....

*Who succeeds Castro?

Who might succeed the retiring Fidel Castro, and what will they do?

Bottom line: Will things open up between Cuba and the U.S.? I wish I had a better answer than "who knows?"

*Who leads Pakistan?

It won't be Pervez least, if the majority of the Pakistani people have their way....

Hopefully, things will go better for "our new best friend."

*Who recognizes Kosovo?

The U.S. does, which means Serbia's in a hissy fit:

There is a serious question of whether another Bill Clinton achievement has been undone by the Bush administration.

*Some perspective about campaign coverage

Here's a very good column from the publisher of the Anniston (Ala.) Star:

Finally, a cooler head. Now, if we can get an equally sane column about the other elephant in the room: Sexism.

*Speaking of the elephant in the room....

Shades of 2000, when Al Gore was the one who was shafted by the press. I still think sexism is another factor, though it isn't mentioned in the New York article. I agree with the article's conclusion that if Obama's the nominee, he'll have a tougher time with McCain.

Veteran journalist Terence Smith also weighs in:

And the Boston Globe has this:

*Maybe a remix of "They Like Ike?"

Republican candidates, meanwhile, have trouble finding theme songs:

The best ever was probably "They Like Ike," which Irving Berlin wrote originally not as a theme song, but as a song for the hit musical play "Call Me Madam." Berlin later allowed Dwight Eisenhower to adopt it as his campaign theme.
Another good one was a rewrite of the song "High Hopes," originally sung by Frank Sinatra for the film "A Hole in the Head," for John F. Kennedy.

And I can't hear Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" without thinking of Bill Clinton. I also remember the late, great broadcast journalist David Brinkley's comment at the 1992 Democratic convention about that song being a far cry from the Democratic standard "Happy Days Are Here Again."

*Who is he?

Walter Rodgers has an interesting take on how the Republicans (or Hillary Clinton?) might defeat Barack Obama:

It works for me, because I feel like I still don't know who he is. And I consider myself informed.

*Amtrak to start screening bags

My response: Hallelujah. It's about time.

*Why isn't our children learning?

This New York Times article addresses knowledge in general:

It, and a piece Morley Safer did on Sunday's "60 Minutes" about Denmark, beg the question of why Americans in general are so close-minded about the rest of the world, new thoughts, new ideas, universal health insurance, mandated other words, anything that makes life better in most industrialized countries worldwide? What's wrong with us?

*Build Marlins' ballpark

I won't argue with this:,0,7094475.story

I will say, to quote the late baseball executive Gabe Paul, "until it's been done, it hasn't been done."

*Glavine back where he belongs

Finally, after all the steroid stories, here's one about a genuine class act: Tom Glavine:

I know they're the Marlins' rivals, but Glavine in a Braves' uniform is a perfect match.

*Quit your kvetching?


Sorry, but I don't think it's either in my professional or genetic makeup to give up kvetching.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Feb. 14: Unhappy Valentine's Day

*Once again....where are the candidates?

After today's terrible shooting at Northern Illinois University, again, the question is: Why are so many candidates for elected office, including the major presidential candidates, being so gutless on the matter of gun control, even though a majority of Americans favor tougher laws?

*Why is Clemens now a political issue?

I didn't find any political donations from Roger Clemens in, which tracks campaign donations. Apparently, though, he's a friend of the Bush family. So a suggestion to any prosecutors.....Wait until next Jan. 21 to charge Clemens with anything.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Feb. 13: Obama's cult following?

*Does Obama have the "Big Mo?"

Interesting sentence by John Zogby in this column:

"There is also an almost cult-like quality to Obama's following."

Too fast and too soon for a man who hasn't clearly communicated his stands on hot button issues or how he would lead....I can't help but feel that Democrats are doing to Hillary Clinton this year what Republicans did to John McCain in 2000. We know how that turned out......

*Bond or Sharpton: Who would you listen to?

Julian Bond recommends seating Democratic delegates from Florida and Michigan. Rev. Al Sharpton says no:

Speaking as a Floridian, I have one word to say to Sharpton: Hush.

*Senate Dems play Charlie Brown to Bush's Lucy

They voted to expand spy powers:

No wonder Congress gets even lower ratings than President Bush......Will the House
cave in, too?

*Open up!

From Nieman Watchdog:

Let's hope whoever wins the presidency means it.

*Britney law?

Los Angeles may be considering a law that restricts where the paparazzi can go:

The problem with this, as with many laws seeking to curtail the tabloid folk, is that it also affects the legitimate reporters and photographers trying to do their jobs in other circumstances. Would such a law mean that reporters can't follow, for instance, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa if a story breaks?

*Subtexts in the steroid hearings

Check out the entry under 1:54 p.m.:

Politics takes an undertone in Major League Baseball; a lot of money has been donated by the sport and its owners (and some prominent players) to political candidates. Haven't found anything given by Roger Clemens, but maybe it just means fan worship is blind.

Still, with all the baseball books around, maybe someone can write about the game's political shadows.

*Writers' strike over

Before the writers' strike, I watched PBS, DVDs and video. During the writers' strike, I resorted to watching PBS, DVDs and video. Now that the strike is over, I can go back to watching PBS, DVDs and video.

*Cool story of the day (Well, maybe not for the horse)

Riding across Israel:

*Photo of the Day

From the Web site Click and enjoy:

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Feb. 12: Thinkin' about Lincoln

*Happy Birthday, Abe

Happy 199th Birthday, Abraham Lincoln.......

*More steroids mess

Wonder what Honest Abe would have thought of the steroid mess in baseball....which, thanks to John Rocker's comments about Commissioner Bud Selig and the players' union knowing about players using steroids and either not caring or tacitly giving the green light, threatens to get even messier.
Messers Clemens and McNamee will appear in front of Congress tomorrow. Everybody duck.....

Monday, February 11, 2008

Feb. 11: Mourning Tom Lantos

U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos, a Holocaust survivor who had recently announced he was retiring because of cancer, has died:

Farewell to a true mensch.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Feb. 8: Romney stopped, but a turtle went

*Why Romney blew it

The International Herald Tribune explains how Mitt Romney's campaign went wrong:

He's not the first, nor will he be the last, presidential candidate to get lost in "Mount Ideology" (in either major party).

*Vets struggle to find jobs

It's been tough for veterans returning from Iraq:

Of course, the military and the Veterans Administration have also had their own holes to fix.

*Consolidating Chrysler

Here we go again:

I can't wait to meet the business executive who decides that a way to run business is to respect the customer. We certainly can't find one least not in the automotive industry.

*Bigger not better for Newseum?

Slate has its critique of the new facility:

And charging $20 at a time when many journalists, who would be interested in seeing it, can't afford to pay is a travesty. I'll keep my pleasant memories of the original Virginia site, which I visited 10 years ago.

*Tidy protests?

From the First Amendment Center:

The great South Florida political reporter (and my friend and former colleague) Michael Putney once said that democracy works best when it's messy. That includes a messy Mall, too.

*Here's to the turtles

Cool story of the day:

Didn't even lose the luggage.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Feb. 7: Bye, Mitt

*Romney out

Mitt Romney spent millions of dollars of his own money to run for president of the United States, and all he got.......You know the rest. He likely won't get the vice presidential nod from John McCain, either. However, Secretary of Commerce is a possibility, because there's no question that he's good at that.....unless he's running for president.

*It's the economy, stupid

Now Macy's is planning to lay off thousands of workers. And an article at AOL's Web site suggests eight longtime companies, including the venerable Sears, that could go out of business this year. How do the candidates plan to deal with that and the rest of the economic mess? It's not enough to say workers have to be trained for a 21st century economy if they don't like the components of the 21st century economy.

*Kinder and gentler Al Qaida?

USA Today reports about Al Qaida's changing tactics in trying to lure a new generation of terrorists. Heck, maybe those David Letterman skits aren't so far off the mark.......

*Mourning John McWethy

We mourn the death of John McWethy, who was an excellent correspondent for ABC News:

Bob Steele of the Poynter Institute has his own memories:

*Steroids and cockfighting

OK, why did Brian McNamee hold on to the evidence he says he has on Roger Clemens' steroid use for so long? (I'll avoid the details here in case some of you are eating your meals.) The best mystery writer couldn't come up with possible twists in this plot.

To further chip away at the reputation of baseball as a wholesome game is the news of pitcher Pedro Martinez and Hall of Famer Juan Marichal watching a cockfighting match. I think I'll stick to checkers......

*Go Atlantis

We have liftoff of Space Shuttle Atlantis:

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Feb. 6: Post-Super Tuesday

*More about journalists, politics and objectivity

From Dana Parsons of the Los Angeles Times:,1,3201154,full.column?ctrack=7&cset=true

Bottom line: All sides have the right to be treated with respect, fairness and full detail.

*And another thing: Shut up!

Bless you, Ms. Lewis. My sentiments exactly.

*Gun control legislation needs repair

The Miami Herald focuses on a bill that will be considered in Tallahassee:

I suspect Margolis and Jenne will fix the loophole.

*What would Darwin say?

Some more proposed legislation:

The legislation may prove that evolution does not exist among elected officials.

*Baseball bummer

From Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and MSNBC:

Absolutely right. I know I don't have the joy in anticipating spring training that I used to have, between the steroid scandal and the Florida Marlins' coupon-clipping ways and lack of stadium resolution.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Feb. 5: What the journalists do

*Problems with journalists' personal outlook

From Jon Margolis:

He is absolutely right. Journalists have an obligation not to let personal opinions of politicians color their coverage of those politicians, and if they can't keep the personal out, they shouldn't be doing straight news reporting.

Another note: The kind treatment reporters gave George W. Bush in 2000 has come back to bite the industry in a big way. Bush's policies certainly take part of the blame for the corporate bloodletting that's been going on in journalism the last few years. And once upon a time, Al Gore was a journalist himself......

Monday, February 4, 2008

Feb. 4: It doesn't only take a moment

*It's about our future, stupid

Maria Shriver, who endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination, said yesterday that it was about a "moment."

No it's not. It's about the future, and who is best qualified to clean up the mess in the economy, foreign policy, health insurance and the environment. Obama ain't it - not yet.