Saturday, December 27, 2003

Today's entries from the St. Louis edition of the Devil's Dictionary

chatter 1 trivial talk, jabber. 2. To utter short, inarticulate, speechlike sounds. 3. Such noise emitted from the mouth of George W. Bush.

coalition forces 12 Italians, 10 Spaniards, 6 Poles, 2 Bulgarians, 1 Thai, 10,000 Brits and 130,000 U.S. troops.

They're Called GIs, Stupid
St. Louis Post-Dispatch military cheerleader Harry Levin has requested readers submit their suggestions for a word that would generically define military servicemen and women. The Time magazine Man of the Year award prompted Levin to put out the call. Levin took exception to Time casting all military personnel as "soldiers." The appropriate term should be "a pithy and punchy word -- one short enough to nestle comfortably in a single-column headline -- to cover everybody in all four branches of the service," Levin wrote in his Saturday column. I'm assuming Levin is looking for a bit of 21st-Century jingoism, sufficiently imbued with a video-game vision of war. How about an acronym lik e DOF, for Defenders of Freedom. I can see the headlines now: 25 DOFs Killed in Roadside Bombing; or DOF Amputees Flood Walter Reed.

Of course, a perfectly suited "pithy and punchy" word already defines members of the armed services -- GIs. A GI, accord ing to the American Heritage Dictionary, is an "enlisted person or veteran of any of the U.S. armed forces." The acronym is an abbreviation for government issue. Originally, though, GI stood for galvinized iron, the stuff from which gar ba ge cans used to be forged. It came to represent men who swallow garbage and develop skins of iron.

Maybe Levin would object to reissuing GI for the Iraqi war because it excludes officers. Like all wars, however, the grunts do the most fighting and dying. Back in the "Good War," GIs coined another phrase based on reality -- SNAFU. The acronym stands for situation normal, all fucked up.

There's no need to fashion any new words for this war. Some things never change.

Friday, December 26, 2003

There's a War on, People
... But you couldn't tell from reading the pages of the Riverfront Times. The owner of the weekly newspaper, New Times Inc.of Phoenix, prides itself for being founded on an anti-war platform during the Vietnam era, which is a loooong time ago. Most of New Times' readers weren't even born until after Mike Lacey, "executive" editor of the chain, neutered his love child.

Times change and so has New Times and Mike Lacey. There's the mortgage on the Malibu manse to worry about and those testy investment bankers from back East.

Yes, times change.

Nixon may have been a crook, but he beat McGovern in a landslide. Now we have a Republican president who wasn't even elected, launching an unprovoked invasion on another nation, and lying to the Congress and the American people about the reasons for going to war. Moreover, under the pretense of national security, the current attorney general -- who hales from Missouri -- has taken a wrecking ball to the Constitution. Does anybody at the somnabulistic RFT question any of these unprecedented moves. No. Instead,they write 10,000-word opuses about an adolescent juggler or crime cases so old that the bodies are moldering in the grave.

The corporate management in Phoenix expects no less and a dwindling readership expects no more.

St. Louis Confidential, On the QT, and Strictly Hush-Hush
Informed sources tell Media Mayhem that the only real reporter at the Riverfront Times is married to a lawyer who works for the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's office. That's worthy of an award isn't it? Somebody get the bar association on the line.

Not to worry. There's no conflict of interest. The RFT rarely covers the courts, unless a story is gift-wrapped and plopped directly in its institutional lap. Ditto, City Hall and Jeff City. Nobody's home. The lights are out. The ink well is dry. The paper fired D.J. Wilson earlier this year and Melinda Roth, the state legislative expert, has been gone for years. Juggling, anyone?

The Clowns of Camelot
President John F. Kennedy had just been shot. As his motorcade raced to Parkland Hospital, a fight developed in the press pool's car. Riding shotgun, veteran UPI reporter Merriman Smith had instinctively grabbed the radio-telephone in the front seat and began dictating a bulletin to the wire service: DALLAS, NOV 22 (UPI) -- THREE SHOTS WERE FIRED TODAY AT PRESIDENT KENNEDY'S MOTORCADE IN DOWNTOWN DALLAS ...

Realizing that he was getting scooped on a the story of a lifetime, the AP's Jack Bell grabbed for the phone and a fight broke out. "Just before we went swinging into the driveway of the hospital, Bell reached forward and was grappling with Smitty, trying to get the phone out of his hands," recalls Bob Clark of ABC News. "I guess Smitty got hit a couple of times during the scuffle for the telephone. Jack did not succeed in gettng the telephone. Then the car screeched to a halt and we all jumped out."

Clark's recollection is quoted in President Kennedy Has Been Shot, a newly released book that gives a minute-to-minute account of the assassination of Kennedy and the event that followed from the perspective of the reporters at the scene. The book, published by Sourcebooks, Inc., includes a CD recording of news broadcasts and police radio tranmissions with narration by Dan Rather. The book is a product of the Newseum, an interactive museum funded by the Freedom Forum, a non-partisan, non-profit foundation. Kennedy Assassination records can be searched online through the National Archives and Records Administration web site.

False Alarm
Air France has resumed flights between Paris and Los Angeles, after canceling six flights over Christmas because of fears broadcast by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Last week, the American internal security apparatus issued a blanket warning that terrorist attacks exceeding those of 9/11 were eminent. At the same time, it raised the threat level to "code orange," the second highest level, during the busy holiday travel season, which, of course, raised anxiety levels, too. Speaking out of both sides of his mouth Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge cautioned Americans to be vigilent but go about their daily lives as usual. In the past, these national alerts have always been vague, which has led the public and local law enforcement agencies to question the efficacy of such alarms. This is the first time, the internal security apparatus has specified a potential target. Homeland Security claimed that "terrorists" may have been among those passengers flying into the United States from Paris. In response, Air France canceled the suspected flights. The French air carrier, however, says it found no evidence that any passengers scheduled to fly on the alleged target aircraft were found to have links to terrorism. Ï

You Are Now Free to Fly to the War Zone
The New York Times reports today that the U.S. Defense Department paid passenger airlines $1.2 billion to transport troops and cargo to the Middle East this year. The average flight from Dover AFB in Delaware to Kuwait City cost $379,965. This breaks down to 8.3 cents per mile per seat. The average trans-Atlantic commercial flight last year cost 6.4 cents per mile. The military flights are seen as a lift to American air carriers that have seen business nosedive since 9/11.Ä

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Take Your Fascism and Shove It
All of us have had ample opportunities to stare at the faces of the current regime: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Ashcroft. ... The one personality trait they share, besides a propensity to repeat the Big Lie, is they are all cowards. You can see it in their faces and hear it in their voices evertime one of their mugs shows up on television. Kentucky writer and farmer Wendell Berry directly questions the subterfuge spewed by these swine in cooperation with the mass media, responding to the Bush Bund's assault on the Constitution in an essay published in the online edition of Orion magazine. Berry writes:
"As a policy, this new strategy depends on the acquiescence of a public kept fearful and ignorant, subject to manipulation by the executive power, and on the compliance of an intimidated and office dependent legislature. To the extent that a government is secret, it cannot be democratic or its people free. By this new doctrine (pre-emptive war and the national security state), the president alone may start a war against any nation at any time, and with no more forewarning than preceded the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. ..." [read more]

Doomed to Repeat It
Fifty years ago, the CIA instigated a coup that overthrew the democratically elected leader of Iran. British and American oil interest in the region have dictated U.S. foreign policy decisions in the Middle East ever since the CIA launched Operation Ajax against Iran in 1953. The result has been nothing short of disasterous. In All the Shah's Men, author and New York Times reporter Stephen Kinzer traces the origins of the quagmire in which the U.S. now finds itself. Kinzer writes: "It is not far-fetched to draw a line from Operation Ajax through the Shah's repressive regime and the Islamic revolution to the fireballs that engulfed the World Trade Center in New York." Corporate Crime Reporter interviewed Kinzer on the subject earlier this year. [read more]

A Modest Proposal
A St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial on Dec. 23 decried the failure of the Republican-controlled Congress to renew extended federal unemployment benefits before recessing for Christmas. The editorial accuratley points out that these Republicans are not true fiscal conservatives, as they would prefer to be viewed, but your garden-variety pol, who enjoys misappropriating tax dollars for pork barrel projects in the their home states and districts. It's obvious that the current administration and their congressional partners in crime don't care a rat's ass about American workers, and, of course, never have. Millions have been lost their jobs over the last couple of years. Chronic unemployment plauges large portions of the nation. The number of homeless in the streets of America burgeons. The Republicans real agenda is the same as it always has been, stealing from the working class to further enrich the wealthy. After all, social Darwinism and economics of Adam Smith are more relevant than ever in the dim-witted minds of the Bush Bund and their minions in Congress. So in the spirit of the season, Media Mayhem is republishing the ultimate solution that Congress, in its infinite wisdom, should consider when it returns from feasting next month.

Excerpted from a Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift, first published in 1729:
I have been assured by a very knowing American of
my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child
well nursed is at a year old a most delicious,
nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed,
roasted, baked, or boiled ...”
[read more]

The Ashcroft File
Attorney General John Ashcroft started his political career in 1972, running a losing campaign for a congressional seat from Missouri's 7th District in the southwest part of the state. In 1973, then-Missouri Gov. Christopher Bond appointed the 30-year-old Ashcroft state to the state auditor's job, which Bond vacated after being elected chief executive of the state. Ashcroft later served two terms as Missouri Attorney General before being elected governor in 1984, in a tight race against then-Lt.Gov. Ken Rothman, a Democrat and lawyer from St. Louis. During the 1984 gubernatorial contest, Ashcroft made his pact with the devil, and was transformed from a self-righteous "good government" Republican into a mudslinging, backstabbing, corrupt pol. He served two terms as governor and then was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1994. Ashcroft lost his Senate re-election bid to the widow of the late Gov. Mel Carnahan, who took her husband's place on the ballot after he died in a small aircraft crash in October 2000. President George W. Bush subsequently nominated Ashcroft for U.S. Attorney General, after stealing the 2000 presidential election. A divided Senate ultimately approved the appointment in early 2001. Following the 9/11 attacks, Ashcroft became the enforcer of the Patriot Act, and began a systematic campaign to deprive U.S. citizens of their rights and destroy the U.S. Constitution. [to be continued]

It's Just a Piece of Paper
In the current online issue of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Lewis Z. Koch spells out how John Ashcroft crumpled the Constitution in the Jose Padilla case.[read more]

The Big Thaw
NASA scientists reported this week that soot from diesel engines and other sources blocks snow and ice from refelcting sunlight, contributing to global warming. A melt down of ice throughout the world is occurring at unprecedented levels, scientists say. The warning came in a report released Monday by the National Academy of Sciences. One of the authors, James Hansen, told the Associated Press that the soot effect was the same as putting a Christmas tree light bulb over every two square yards in the Northern Hemisphere. Keep on Truckin'.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

The Sky is Falling
Secretary of Homeland Security Tom "Chicken Little" Ridge declared a "code orange" emergency, saying that the U.S. could sustain a terrorist attack exceeding that of 9/11. At the same time, Ridge asked Americans to go about their holiday activities as usual. In announcing the alert, Ridge cited increased "chatter" by terrorists as the reason for sounding the alarm. A more plausible reason is the fact that the Thomas Kean, the chairman of the committee investigating the 9/11 tragedy, told CBS news last week that it could have all been avoided and that those responsible were still in power.

Whichever Way the Wind Blows
Twenty years ago this week, Donald Rumsfeld, the current wisecracking U.S. Secretary of State, visited Saddam Hussein in Baghdad. The trip, the first of two, was initiated by the Reagan-Bush administration to open up relations with Iraq's dictator. During the 1980s, the U.S. government helped subsidize Hussein's weapons programs. No wonder the occupying U.S forces can't find any evidence of WMD now. In an effort to shed light on the Bush Bund's secret ties to Saddam, the National Security Archives has released government documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. [read more]

Egger Eggs His Own Face
St. Louis Post-Dispatch publisher Terry Egger announced yesterday that Pulitzer Publishing Co. would stop demanding that the new labor contract with the Newspaper Guild include an open-shop clause, which would bust the union. In a letter to employees, Egger said it was still his personal opinion that non-union scabs be hired to work in the newsroom but to further the neogotiations he was tabling the issue.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Born to Blog
After applying three times for openings at the Post-Dispatch in the last year -- and not even being provided the courtesy of a form letter rejection in return -- I have decided I was born to blog. For cheap thrills, I scan the bylines to note the new hires who have been granted special dispension, with the blessing of family ties. In the last two days, I've noticed three: Shinkle, Frankel and Sutin. Nothing wrong with nepotism, as for as I'm concerned, but I'll still be curious to see whether these kids know how to honor a picket line.

Scrooge by Any Other Name
Members of the Newspaper Guild have nominated St. Louis Post-Dispatch publisher Terry Egger for the honor of being the 2003 Grinch of the year for his efforts to bust the union. Read all about it at postgreed.com.

Stating the Obvious
Former New Jeresy Governor Thomas Kean, the head of the 9/11 Commission, told CBS news last week that the disaster was preventable. Despite the overwhelming evidence of negligence, the Bush Bund has not sanctioned any of those responsible. Since then, the London Guardian reports that Kean has waffled. [read more]

Wanted in France
The French newspaper Le Figaro reported yesterday that government prosecutors in France are considering whether to charge U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney for a $180 million scam carried out by Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidary of Halliburton, the company he headed from 1995-2000. The prosecution alleges that KB&R conspired with its French counterpart Technip to make payoffs to influential Nigerians to grease the wheels for gas complex in that African nation. [read more]

Pulitzer Dances to the Wurlitzer
The front page of the Sunday St. Louis Post-Dispatch
featured two New York Times accounts of the
offically sanctioned government doseage of "all the news that's fit to print."
The first story by well-coiffed Times correspondent John F. Burns and
Eric Schmitt recited the Washington-approved version of events
leading up to the capture of Saddam Hussein. But a
story that appeared in today's Sydn ey Morning Heraldgives a different account. According to the Australian
report, a Kurish militia took credit for leading the
American military to the location where Hussein was
found. The American media, however, dismissed the early
reports of Kurdish involvement in favor of the official U.S. line.[read more]

In the second story, the Times reported on the secret
diplomacy that led Libya to stop it s weapons of mass
destruction program. A subsequent Times report,
however, has already added confusion as to exactly
what transpired. Times reporter William Broad and
other staffers reported today that Korea, Iran and possibly
Liby a ma y have received nuclear technology from
Pakistan, a American ally in the war on "terrorism."

Slow News Day
Meanwhile, the Post-Dispatch ran a story on the front
page of its Monday edition on Time magazine's "per son
o f the year." The magazine honored the generic American
solider this year, and featured a trio of
heavily-armed, helmeted warriors, including Sgt.
Ronald Buxton of Lake Ozark, Mo. ...

Make Me Barf
The rest of the paper contained a similar dearth of news.
Most of the front page of the Metro secti on, for instance, was taken
up by a story and photos of pagans celebrating the shortest day
on the year atop Cahokia Mounds, and a feature about a
guy who collects barf bags from airlines. ...

Foot Not e
The business page was dominated by a story and photo about a
Russian immigrant who clips toenails for a living.

Pulitzer Plot
Ed Bishop, the editor of the St. Louis Journalism
, suspects the Pulitzer Pulbishing Co. acquired
the Suburban Journals two years ago as a means of
breaking the Newspaper Guild at the St. Louis
Writing in his monthly column, Bishop
observes that the Pulitzer management will likely
force non-union Journal staffers to act as scabs, if
the Newspaper Guild strikes the Post.

You Don't Need a Weatherbird to Know which Way the
Wind Blows
The St. Louis Journalism Review reports that the
Post-Dispatch charged little or nothing for grocery
chains to advertise during the recent strike and
lockout, while requiring the grocery workers union to
pay full cost. For example, on Oct. 6, the
Post-Dispatch charged Schnucks nothing to run a
full-page ad that denounced the union and solicited
strikebreakers. Whereas, the Post charged the United
Food and Commercial Workers Local 655 $22,772.82 for
an ad, which appeared Oct. 26., which gave the union's
side of the labor dispute. The St. Louis Labor Tribune
first reported the discriminating policy, using
internal Post documents obtained by the Newspaper
Guild and the United Food and Commercial Workers

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