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March 19, 2004

BizJournals is a site worth registering for because it provides you with a wealth of good information about cities and towns all over the country. For those of you not registered, though, here's an excerpt from a recent story in the Denver edition. The article explains how and why a 'both sides' talk radio station is becoming ever-more conservative.

KNRC 1150 AM riding out rough airwaves of change

Denver-based KNRC (1150 AM) isn't even 2 years old, yet the talk-radio station has had more than its share of turnover and turmoil -- mostly in the past two weeks.

Through either resignation, firings or layoffs, KNRC has lost a program director, morning talk show host, evening talk show co-host, reporter and promotions.

The most dramatic departure was the resignation of Greg Dobbs from the morning talk show, arguably the most important time slot of any talk station.

Dobbs was well-regarded for his experience as a longtime ABC News reporter and provided a balance for the "hear both sides talk" format the station promoted. Dobbs was considered more left-of-center in an AM talk world dominated by conservative talk shows.

For the record, Dobbs left because of serious health problems.

NRC has permanently replaced Dobbs with one of his temporary replacements, conservative Jimmy Lakey. Some listeners have written the station, asking why NRC did not hire Reggie Rivers, who filled in for Dobbs when he was first on leave. Rivers did not want the job and NRC couldn't force him to take it, Brown said. The CEO has been trying to respond personally to every e-mail he has received about the decision.

"We'll recover -- I hate to use that word, but Jim has big shoes to fill," Brown said.

More changes followed. Shortly after Dobbs resigned, program director Alan Eisenson decided to leave in what Brown called a "mutual decision." Eisenson's contract was going to expire in March anyway, and the station supported his move, Brown said.

NRC promoted afternoon host Doug Kellett, also a conservative, to program director. NRC canceled the weeknight "Dominick and Bill Show," with co-hosts Dominick Brascia and Bill Thorpe. Brascia was fired, Brown said. Thorpe will stay on as an assistant to Kellett and may help Lakey out in the morning. The syndicated, conservative "Michael Reagan Show" now fills that timeslot.

Michael Reagan? He's dreadful.

Here's the kicker:

Lee Hood, an assistant professor in broadcast journalism at the University of Colorado, said the move toward right-of-center ideologically reminds her of the national success Fox television news has earned following that format. KNRC may just be making a sound business decision, she said.

"[Fox] found a significant audience being conservative and not apologizing for it," Hood said.

Fox has received criticism from journalism purists who say it shouldn't take a side, but it's built an audience.

It always gets back to ratings. Why don't liberals listen to talk radio? Or do they all listen to NPR, the way I do?

The article goes on to say they're moving away from an actual news-station format to...I'm not sure what. Something more informal. Chattier. Less based in actual fact. When I turn on talk radio, I'm looking for facts. Presumably the audience this station is searching for won't be.

We're told that they've bought 8 FM stations (subject to FCC approval) in Colorado mountain regions. One assumes they're hoping to push their format out to a wider audience.

Ratings are currently at less than 1% of the Denver listening audience, so we can only speculate whether or not toward opinion and away from fact will draw more of their target audience.

We also learn that notorious conservative Philip Anschutz is bankrolling the station.

Interestingly enough, this same Qwest-founding billionaire has also just snapped up the San Francisco Examiner, the free, five-days-weekly tabloid. Sources close to the man himself (he never grants interviews) says it's just wrong to think he might want to influence editorial opinion on the paper.

And checking out the newspaper's site leads me to the story of The Bushman.

Tourists beware: The Bushman is back in business.

On Thursday afternoon, a jury acquitted Fisherman Wharf's growling leafy leaper of four criminal misdemeanor charges of being a public nuisance.

An hour later, The Bushman -- whose real name is David Johnson -- was back on Fisherman Wharf's Jefferson Street, celebrating with a fresh branch, a milk crate, a money bucket and crowds of easily amused visitors.
"It's incredible to behold the joy and the laughter again," he said. "In a way, it felt like Jesus going to the cross. I was fighting a crime I didn't do."

With that, he did what he has been doing for 25 years: He jumped from his crouched position with an improbable growl that sent two women scurrying sideways like a couple of crabs.

"This cracks me up," said Marcello Bernal, a 21-year-old Sacramento resident who was drinking a Heineken out of a paper bag and eating chowder from a sourdough bowl. "Man, this is the best dollar I ever spent."

Johnson, 51, grew up in Indiana and worked on Market Street as "Dr. Shoe Shine" before experimenting with various street performance styles. He tried the silver robot thing for a while, and then one day in 1980 he saw some freshly cut branches in a dumpster.

"I saw the branches, and I saw dollar signs," he said.

Thus Johnson created The Bushman -- and the controversy. Standing behind a camouflage of tree branches, The Bushman's performance consists of waiting for an unsuspecting victim to approach before leaping up and startling them.

He figures he has been arrested close to 1,000 times, but it wasn't until new public-nuisance laws were passed that the cops and the District Attorney's Office had the power to give Mr. Bushman a real scare.

In late January, Johnson was locked up five times in five days in a concerted effort by the police and the District Attorneys Office to once and for all rid Fisherman's Wharf of The Bushman's antics. The action followed years of complaints by a handful of area business owners.

Across the street Thursday, two business owners shook their heads at the acquittal. Simon Lee, who owns Golden Gate Leather, and Ted Kim, proprietor of Graceland Gifts, said The Bushman's crowds of onlookers blocked their front doors and scared away the elderly.

"People think it's funny, but not if you have heart disease," Lee said. Other merchants said they were glad The Bushman was exonerated.

"It's a lot of fun," said Eric Chen, owner of Lucky Gifts. "People stop in front of my store and watch The Bushman, then maybe they come in and buy something."

Juror John Conley said that the jury was not all that sympathetic to The Bushman's plight during the trial but that the prosecution and police presented a weak case against him.

Conley said many jurors found The Bushman "sadistic" and thought there was something unseemly about wanting to watch others get "scared and humiliated." But the police had not kept written records of the number of complaints lodged against The Bushman, and the prosecution's two witnesses were unconvincing.

"They were asking us to believe estimates of complaints when it was clear all they wanted to do was get rid of this guy," Conley said.

Central District police Sgt. Carl T -- he recently legally changed his name from Carl Tannanbaum -- said cops would continue to watch The Bushman.

"I think he crossed the line from street artist and street performer," he said. "It goes beyond annoyance into a realm of criminal behavior."

While the rest of you are debating whether this guy should have been locked up for being a public nuisance (there can be little doubt that he is one), I'll be over here in the corner, wondering why Carl T made such an unlikely name change.

Back to the BizJournals, take a look at this. It showed up in the Denver edition under the headline, "Bush wants to limit risk from SBA venture capital program" and was longer than this on-line version, by the way. The essentials are here, though.

Bad investments made through the Small Business Administration's venture-capital program will cost taxpayers nearly $2 billion, according to the White House's budget office.

Bad investments made through the Small Business Administration's venture-capital program will cost taxpayers nearly $2 billion, according to the White House's budget office.

SBICs say they lost money for the same reason conventional venture-capital firms lost money: the high-tech collapse and the economic slowdown.

But the president wants to limit the government's future risk by increasing the SBA's share of profits in SBIC's equity investments by 300 percent and charging SBICs a lot more for the use of the government's money.

The proposed changes would kill the equity investment program if they are enacted, said Lee Mercer, president of the National Association of Small Business Investment Companies.

Private investors would not invest in SBICs because their returns would no longer be worth the risk, he said.

Remember this when people say Bush is all about supporting business, and you can shout triumphantly, "Not small business, he isn't!"

Also, a comment earlier from Jonathan Dresner reminded me that I hadn't had the chance to check out Cliopatria since I got back to town and so I did and now I'm telling you to go on over and read all of the recent posts, all of which are good, but especially to read this one as Jonathan takes on one of my favorite topics - rhetoric. Specifically, the kind of flawed thinking that makes so many of us so difficult to talk to about serious issues. Numbers 1, 4, 6, and 8 are all pet peeves of mine.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:37 PM | Comments (0)

Always read Avedon Carol, who led me today to Kathryn Cramer and the connection between that planeload of mercenaries and the supposedly defunct army-for-hire, Executive Outcomes.

And, speaking of mercenaries and private armies, read Juan Cole. (Edward at Fistful of Euros has an opinion about the situation.)

Also read Holy Warriors at Avedon Carol's site.

John McKay has a very interesting post up about "imperfect knowledge" when it comes to science versus, well, those who want to disprove what scientific inquiry suggests is true.

Chris at Back To Iraq has a good post up on the latest Baghdad bombing.

Riverbend is also talking about that and other Baghdad happenings.

Pandagon points out one of the tactics from the Bush Administration that should be making us all mad.

Always read Molly Ivins, too. She's the only writer I've ever read who manages to make Texas's problems funny.

Jane Galt talks about China trying to shut down Chinese access to blogs.

Via Eric Alterman's column today, we see what purports to be a collection of Park Service memos about funding and service cuts. Rather than focusing on what Alterman's correspondent saw as the inequity of the Park Service's attempt to mislead the media (and in turn the public) about services provided, I see this as proof of the Bush Administration's ongoing disinterest in and disdain for what most voters would see as a logical and proper function of government - the adequate administration of our public areas.

I'm just saying. You can't say they don't walk the talk. They said they didn't believe in 'big government' and almost everything they're doing, from tax cuts for the wealthy to under-funded education mandates to budget-busting Medicare 'reforms' is designed to achieve one goal - to break the power of the federal government and force the states to pick up the slack by raising taxes and providing new and expanded services.

Those of you who think there isn't any method in the madness are wrong.

For more wrongness, take a look at Andrew Olmsted today who points out an essential wrongness.

Acts of terrorism are going to affect any election in any country touched by such insanity. Calling for any candidate to bow out because of such an act...well, you're letting the terrorists win because you're letting them dictate who will or will not be allowed to run for office.

Besides, that, if it's appropriate for Bush to run based on what he claims he's doing to fight terrorism, then it's appropriate for us to vote based on the consequences of those actions.

David Neiwert is discussing domestic terrorism.

Winston Smith asks an interesting question. "What if Bush lied in order to get us to do the right thing?"

This idea occurred to me before, but I dismissed it as irrelevant because, as y'all know, I don't believe the end justifies the means.

Also? Based on the massive instability in Iraq, I'd imagine that it's becoming clear to anyone who supports this theory that the consequences of lying to achieve your ends, regardless of the merit of those ends, creates its own problems.

And you should read this article about the continuing squabble between the judiciary and the legislative branches over the latter intruding on the former's prerogatives and responsibilities.

Go, says TBogg.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:29 PM | Comments (2)
Insanity all over the world

The headlines? Bah and humbug.

Buncha crazies. Every place you look, you find people acting like crazies.

If you've been thinking about civil liberties, you might want to read Barbara Clark Smith on the 'freedoms' enjoyed by early colonists in this country. Some interesting stuff.

If you're worrying over government spending, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has everything you ever wanted to know (and more) about the 2005 budget currently under debate.

If you're wondering about November, you might care to know that there are more than two horses in the race.

(And while you're at CJR, take a look at how WaPo's "no more anonymous sources" policy is working out for them.)

If unemployment is what's on your mind, you may be interested in reading about how undercounting unemployment numbers works and how it affects us.

Is defense and security spending your thing?

A policy task force comprised of nine defense and national security experts today released a report that concludes the Bush Administration's steep military spending increases haven't strengthened U.S. security since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Found it here and you can read the Executive Summary or the full 22-page report For the record, I think the problems with military budgeting and spending go far beyond the current Bush Administration. We've needed changes there for a long time.

And, speaking of an unwise use of money, do our expenditures to fight 'terrorism' fall into that category?

And, speaking of fighting, that's what's happening in Kosovo.

If social and economic equality are your bag, consider attending a conference to discuss the problem and, hopefully, frame some possible solutions.

If gay marriage is where your attention is these days, maybe you want to read more about Jason West, the New York state mayor charged for issuing gay marriage licenses. Seems this guy is likely to build a political career on this issue.

Also read about the " thunderclaps of repression against a ritual most Americans believe will become law in their lifetimes ring[ing] a bit hollow."

Ellis Henican disses Dubya's wardrobe and points out that constant reminders of the man's problematic 'military service' aren't likely to do his campaign any good. All on the one-year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, another activity that isn't currently winning many supporters.

Nor is Guantanamo. As even the military's appointed defense lawyers are saying. And as some publications are saying rather more dramatically.

There are other problems with the prosecutions in the ill-starred camp. Like...what do you do when the investigator investigating an alleged infraction winds up under investigation?

Others are even less polite about the Bush Administration's record to date.

A blogger finds his belief in a liberal media machine challenged.

Also, I hadn't realized some people disagreed so strongly with Eric Alterman's book that they actually formed a group blog to prove him wrong.

I took a look at the blog. Interesting. I'm hoping they shake down into something a little more rational. There are places where there the nitpicking is absurd and (as I've said before) namecalling is childish and never sways me to agree with the writer.

Also, I'd be more impressed if they consistently provided links to back up their assertions of bias. Some entries, like this one not only illustrate that they should but also serve as an object lesson to the newbie blogger on why not to go overboard with formatting. The combination of italics and bold text makes this read like an hysterical wingnut rant.

I may keep an eye on the blog, though. It's an interesting idea.

Bias is one thing. Stealing and making stuff up is something else entirely.

Public opinion can do a lot. It can force a group of ignorant bigots to back down from a plan to institutionalize discrimination.

If only we could fix their brains as easily as we can fix their public actions.

And, speaking of bigotry, don't let anyone tell you that a subtle racism isn't alive and well in this country.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:09 AM | Comments (0)
March 18, 2004
Silence is Golden

Or something like that.

I've deleted the accumulated comment spam and banned the relevant IPs. It's amazing how much of that can pile up in two days.

I've read the day's headlines...dead bodies here, dead bodies there, criminal activity in one place, unethical behavior in another place....and I just don't have anything to say about them.

When I read a piece of blatant bigotry like this and realize that people burdened with this kind of hate and fear are actually in positions of power in this country...there are no words.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:53 AM | Comments (3)
March 15, 2004
Shutting up is hard to do

I know, I already said good-bye. Picture me standing in the doorway, talking endlessly while you fight the temptation to shut it in my face.

But there are things I just had to ask about.

Like, just how how democratic was Putin's victory if some election officials filled out the ballots themselves?

And, are USofA soldiers mistreating Iraqi journalists?

Is a "targeted" draft constitutional? (Via Cursor.)

(And speaking of the draft, David is still on the Bush National Guard story and still finding new things. Also, the Spokesman-Review.)

Meanwhile, China's constitution seems to be changing for the better.

Why does the "Small Government!" Republican party not want to curb Federal government spending?

And, in the "read 'em and weep" category, two offerings:

Read Riverbend and weep for our lost ideals.

Read Wampum and weep for families and children.

South Dakota, is on the verge of outlawing abortions.

Lead Balloons at Bad Attitudes is right. Our country should have responded better to Spain's catastrophe.

Josh Marshall is right about the "Committee on Resources" website and I'm glad he's on the story now, because no one seemed to care when I blogged it last June. Watch that page...the one I saw originally was even more outrageous than the one Josh is discussing now. (It would be worth poking around on government websites and seeing which other ones are being used as re-election tools, don't you think?) (Note: I've discovered that the press release linked to in my original post has been removed from the site, possibly when they redesigned it. We need a way to save individual pages to track this stuff,)

Read Healing Iraq for Zeyad's perspective on the new transitional law in Iraq.

Jeff talks about the polarization of our country and how the gay marriage issue is highlighting what the problems are.

Avedon Carol is defending Howard Stern. Me, I find Howard Stern obnoxious, annoying and not very bright (based on a whole sixty seconds of viewing time), but I agree that the timing of his 'suspension' in certain markets is a bit suspect.

Read how a bad bill becomes a law.

If you like scary stories, read a "neocon among the Tories" and learn about some of the more extreme views those will money (and, by implication, power) have.

Via Bark Bark Woof Woof, we learn that, " the Department of Health and Human Services is under investigation for producing stealth "news" segments for local TV station consumption promoting the new Medicare legislation."

Body and Soul hasn't given up hope that we can do something about the electronic voting fiasco-in-the-making.

TomPaine ponders the Gay GOP.

Buzzflash puzzles over the Bush campaign ads so far.

The Poor Man designs an ad of his own.

The other Kennedy speech you should read. (Via Editor's Cut.)

Good news! Henry In Africa is back! At least, he will be if his internet café connection works.

How do you know who's really naughty or nice?

And now, let's finish off with a bit of humor. Helen Thomas on The Gridiron Club.

There. That should keep you busy for a few minutes. Now I really am gone for two days.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:57 PM | Comments (0)
Beware the Ides of March

I wonder how many hundreds of people will use the Ides for a post title today?

Let's all pause to consider the fact that on March 15, 1938 oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia.

On March 15, 1973, President Nixon hinted that the five week-old "cease-fire" in Vietnam might have been more conceptual than factual.

A cease-fire under the provisions of the Paris Peace Accords had gone into effect on January 27, 1973, but was quickly and repeatedly violated by both sides as they jockeyed for control of territory in South Vietnam. Very quickly, both sides resumed heavy fighting in what came to be called the "cease-fire war."

It seems that, while the "major combat" was over, the war was going on.

Now where have we heard that recently?

And what do Silvestro Palma, Nicola Vaccai, Gaetano Gaspari, Eduard Strauss, Henrique Alves de Mesquita, Jozef Surzynski, Johan Halvorsen, Leslie Stuart, Will Rossiter, David Vaughan Thomas, Rudolf Piskacek, Slava Vorlova, Lockrem Johnson, Benjamin Burwell Johnson, Nicolas Flagello, Tiezo Matsumura, Cecil Perceval Taylor, Ronald Roseman, Daniel George Apolinar, Wolfgang Hufschmidt, Dick Higgins, and Stomu Yamash'ta have in common? All composers, born on March 15. The Ides are a big day for music.

Yesterday was, "Freedom of Information Day." Remember that concept?

It's not that I don't care what's going on in the world, but I'm sure you've all read about the bomb found in Pakistan and the problem in Korea and other problems so what's the point in me being the fiftieth person to link to stories about them?

Many of you probably also have already read about the new Willie Horton campaign and our contributions to Venezuela's problems and Spain's threat to leave Iraq and the increased Palestinian-Israeli violence and how neo-conservatives would like to rewrite the laws, here and elsewhere. Not much for me to add to those.

Take a moment to thank the human rights organizations still protesting conditions in Guantanamo.

Then read Peter Preston as he takes a look at today's terrorist situation, post-invasion

As for me, my boss is breathing down my neck because our company has its own short-term crisis to deal with at the moment, so I'm saying good-bye to the chaos of international politics for a couple of days. I'll be on the road and offline until Thursday. Y'all behave yourselves while I'm gone.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:37 AM | Comments (2)