Thursday, November 20, 2008

How Obama Got Elected

(Editor's Note: This comes courtesy of "Mrs. S", who runs a couple of blogs called Common Sense Mason and Common Sense Kitsap. The video is interesting to watch, as it supports everything that has been posted below on the Mainstream Media's irresponsibility and blatant partisanship in this past presidential election...)

On November 4th, 2008 millions of Americans were shocked that a man of Barack Obama's limited experience, extreme liberal positions and radical political alliances could be elected President of the United States.

For many of these Americans, the explanation was rather simple... the news media, completely enamored with Obama, simply refused to do their job. On Election day twelve Obama voters were interviewed extensively right after they voted to learn how the news media impacted their knowledge of what occurred during the campaign. These voters were chosen for their apparent intelligence/verbal abilities and willingness to express their opinions to a large audience. This rather shocking video seeks to provide some insight into which information broke through the news media clutter and which did not.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Abusing The Legal System For Fun And Profit

For those of you who don't know Rick Gehring, owner of Buck's A&W, he is a good guy who has been caught up in the meat grinder of what amounts to a legal system run amuck.

Rick and his wife, Karen were sued in 2004 for sex discrimination by two former employees of their popular Mile Hill Drive eatery, Amanda L. Sandberg and Jennifer K. Johnson. The case involved a former manager of the restaurant, James D. Border, who earned a 20-month prison sentence for sexual misconduct. The sexual misconduct did not involve Rick or Karen directly, nor were they accused of any. However, the suit did claim the Gehring's "aided and abetted" Border's activities, and attorneys for the plaintiffs alleged a "pervasive" atmosphere of sexual harassment led to on-site sexual incidents in 2002.

While the jury in the 2007 trial did find for the plaintiffs and penalized the Gehring's for sex discrimination, awarding $75,000 to Sandberg and $35,000 to Johnson along with "reasonable" attorney's fees, it also absolved Rick and Karen of financial damages.

However, the lawyer representing the two women, Timothy Kosnoff, has now filed an order in U.S. Bankruptcy Court placing Buck's of Port Orchard Inc. into involuntary bankruptcy. The action calls for an independent party to determine the value of the corporation's assets, and alleges that the Gehrings misappropriated money from the corporation to avoid liability for more than $750,000 in attorneys fees.

This is a genuine tragedy. The Gehrings have done more for the kids of South Kitsap for longer, than just about anyone else I can think of. It's been a family tradition that began with Rick's father Buck, and one that Rick and Karen have continued throughout their entire working lives. They are outstanding individuals and corporate citizens who have supported the youth of our community at every opportunity.

Am I missing something here, or is there just something fundamentally wrong when an abusive legal system allows an attorney to collect more than seven times in fees than he won for his client — and bankrupt a business that has been a positive influence in South Kitsap for two generations in the process? Meanwhile, the actual perpetrator of the crime gets off with no financial accountability for his actions.

This is a sad day for all of us here in South Kitsap.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veterans Day

Let me take this opportunity to express my sincere "Thank You" to all the veterans who have served our great country.

Your service is sincerely appreciated and every American owes you a debt of gratitude.

Friday, November 07, 2008

It's Finally Over...

Everyone I've talked to is glad it's over...

While we may or may not agree with the results of the recent election, there are a number of good things to consider.

• No more vicious attack ads cluttering up the radio, TV and the Internet
• No more politically biased stories dominating the pages of the Kitsap Democrat
• No more uninformed morons offering what they believe is witty political repartee on the local blogs
• No more of what amounted to little more than political hate mail cluttering up our mailboxes on a daily basis
• No more of the constant, brain-numbing posturing by political candidates

A couple of comments though...

This election was perhaps one of the most stridently polarizing experiences of my lifetime. It seemed as if there was no civility, no common courtesy, and no middle ground where the political parties or the candidates were concerned — absolutely nothing was off-limits, and no personal attack was too sleazy.

The governor's race was especially nasty as blatant, outright lies were told to our faces. Locally, one legislative race was more like a catfight than an election. At the national level, the mainstream media was so blatantly biased towards Barack Obama that it never even bothered to attempt to to portray itself as neutral.

But it's over. Now it's time for us to come back together and begin healing what's wrong with America. And it begins right here at home.

I didn't vote for Barack Obama, but an overwhelming majority of Americans did, in what was truly a historic election. The people have spoken, and that's how our democracy works. Barack Obama is going to be our president, and as an American, I will respect both the man and the office.

He has a tough job ahead of him. And while he doesn't have the worldly experience of John McCain, hopefully he will surround himself with smart people who do, and he'll take their advice. He has promised a lot of things to a lot of people — many of them diametrically opposed and at cross purposes — so it's going to be tough for him to deliver on all of it. But let's give him a fair chance.

Our governor and legislators have huge problems to solve, and Christine Gregoire looked us in the eye during this election and promised us she won't raise our taxes to do it. I intend to hold her feet to the fire editorially on keeping that promise — and no excuses will be acceptable.

But I think the downright mean and negative tone this campaign has burned people out. The Washington State Supreme Court ruled sometime back that it was permissible to lie in a political campaign, because to prohibit it would violate the First Amendment. I understand that logic, and while I don't don't like it, I have to very reluctantly agree that it was the right call.

With that in mind, I'd like to see the legislature enact a "Truth in Campaigning" law, as was suggested by 35th District candidate Randy Neatherlin. After the way this election was conducted, I would think that would be a Tim Eyman intiative that even people who hate him could get behind.

Your thoughts?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Get The Facts Right KIm

A friend of mine sent me an email that came from the opening page of Kim Abel's election Web site. It talks about Jan Angel's final campaign mailer being full of "blatant lies." It states the following...

"Claim Three: Abel's term as 'Mayor of Port Orchard ended in failure.'
Fact: The source they site is a Letter to the Editor in the August 6 Gateway written by Mayor Coppola. Mayor Coppola has also written that he is a 'Radical Centrist' and that 'The liberal mainstream media (MSM) coupled with the Democratic Party (a branch of the MSM — or is it the other way areound?) has a field day vilifying McCain. Hardly a valid source. In fact, Coppola shares a vacation home with Angel in Arizona."

I stand by everything I've written — including the "Radical Centrist" commentary. I've included the link to it so you can see where I stand. However, the previous three postings here pretty much sum up how I feel about this election and the role of the Mainstream Media. Obviously, I'm not the only one.

But on to the true facts at hand...

Fact: That Letter to the Editor of the Peninsula Gateway — and a blog post here — were similar in content. They were in response to a story written by Paige Richmond that basically trashed Jan Angel with highly questionable, and in some cases, blatantly false, accusations.

That story quoted Commissioner Josh Brown and Port Orchard City Councilman Fred Chang among others, who are both highly partisan Democrats. Both are also financial contributors to Kim Abel's election campaign. At that point in time, according to PDC reports, Fred Chang was Kim Abel's single largest campaign donor.

The story was so biased in Abel's favor, in my professional opinion as a newspaper editor, it belonged on the OP/ED page, not the front page, and I had a series of email exchanges with Richmond's editor about that. Shortly thereafter, I met Richmond at a non-political event, and we talked about it. She claimed her editor had a hand in the final content and it reflected his bias. Go figure...

All that said, I believe, as the person having to clean up the mess Kim Abel left in Port Orchard, I have a unique perspective on this situation, and have stated facts that are all completely documentable. Personally, I like Kim Abel as an individual, and think she's highly intelligent. But frankly, her term as Mayor proved her administrative and people skills leave a lot to be desired.

Fact: When Kim Abel left office, the City's Comprehensive Plan was YEARS out of compliance with the GMA. That's an undeniable truth. It has cost the City the ability to compete for literally millions of dollars in grant money. One of the requirements to apply for grants from DOE, Fish & Wildlife and other state agencies, is for your Comp Plan to be valid. As an environmental lawyer and an elected official, Kim Abel knows this as well as anyone. Still, she didn't take action to bring it into compliance. Why not?

Also, it makes me wonder why all those Democratic environmental groups that support Abel haven't questioned this. If the situation was reversed, they would be shouting it from the rooftops. Is it just me, or does hypocrisy abound here?

Fact: The Bay Street repaving almost didn't happen because paperwork due to the state during Kim Abel's time in office wasn't returned to WSDOT. If it hadn't been for the personal intervention of Sen. Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor) with WSDOT, it might not have happened at all.

Fact: Port Orchard had officially lost $3.3 million in PSRC funding for the Tremont Gateway project for the same reason. It was only because of the good nature of the other KRCC members, and personal lobbying to PSRC, that it was reinstated as a priority project. Otherwise, that money would have been long gone. As it is, the delay this caused has ballooned the cost of the project from around $9 million, to almost $15 million.

Fact: The City's reserves were depleted significantly due to a basic lack of oversight of how a lot of City money was spent.

Fact: Employee morale was at an all time low when Kim Abel left office, with key employees leaving the City due to what they termed "intolerable" and "hostile" working conditions. I've read the exit interviews, so I know what they say.

If Kim Abel calls leaving office under these conditions a "success," our definitions of that word are extremely different.

Finally, as for the Arizona condo mentioned on the Web site and in her mailer...

This is especially sleazy. This is basically a private time-share situation, involving 5 friends and longtime business associates. Several of the owners spend significantly more time there than Jan Angel and her husband Lynn Williams. Obviously, I haven't had the time to use my share this year either.

But this just goes to show how desperate Kim Abel is to get elected. Nothing is out of the bounds of decency.

But if she had done the wonderful job as Mayor she claims, why is it — at least according to her Web site — that only one current City Council member — Fred Chang — and none of the council members in office during her term as Mayor, have endorsed her? Just a question...

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Eloquent Words From an ABC News Journalist

Apparently, I'm not the only one who believes this to be true...

The Media's Presidential Bias and Decline

ABC News columnist Michael Malone looks at slanted election coverage and the reasons why

By Michael S. Malone
October 24, 2008

The traditional media are playing a very, very dangerous game -- with their readers, with the Constitution and with their own fates.

The sheer bias in the print and television coverage of this election campaign is not just bewildering, but appalling. And over the last few months I've found myself slowly moving from shaking my head at the obvious one-sided reporting, to actually shouting at the screen of my television and my laptop computer.

But worst of all, for the last couple weeks, I've begun -- for the first time in my adult life -- to be embarrassed to admit what I do for a living. A few days ago, when asked by a new acquaintance what I did for a living, I replied that I was "a writer," because I couldn't bring myself to admit to a stranger that I'm a journalist.

You need to understand how painful this is for me. I am one of those people who truly bleeds ink when I'm cut. I am a fourth-generation newspaperman. As family history tells it, my great-grandfather was a newspaper editor in Abilene, Kan., during the last of the cowboy days, then moved to Oregon to help start the Oregon Journal (now the Oregonian).

My hard-living -- and when I knew her, scary -- grandmother was one of the first women reporters for the Los Angeles Times. And my father, though profoundly dyslexic, followed a long career in intelligence to finish his life (thanks to word processors and spellcheckers) as a very successful freelance writer. I've spent 30 years in every part of journalism, from beat reporter to magazine editor. And my oldest son, following in the family business, so to speak, earned his first national byline before he earned his drivers license.

So, when I say I'm deeply ashamed right now to be called a "journalist," you can imagine just how deep that cuts into my soul.

Now, of course, there's always been bias in the media. Human beings are biased, so the work they do, including reporting, is inevitably colored. Hell, I can show you 10 different ways to color variations of the word "said" -- muttered, shouted, announced, reluctantly replied, responded, etc. -- to influence the way a reader will comprehend exactly the same quote. We all learn that in Reporting 101, or at least in the first few weeks working in a newsroom.

But what we are also supposed to learn during that same apprenticeship is to recognize the dangerous power of that technique, and many others, and develop built-in alarms against them.

But even more important, we are also supposed to be taught that even though there is no such thing as pure, Platonic objectivity in reporting, we are to spend our careers struggling to approach that ideal as closely as possible.

That means constantly challenging our own prejudices, systematically presenting opposing views and never, ever burying stories that contradict our own world views or challenge people or institutions we admire. If we can't achieve Olympian detachment, than at least we can recognize human frailty -- especially in ourselves.

Reporting Bias

For many years, spotting bias in reporting was a little parlor game of mine, watching TV news or reading a newspaper article and spotting how the reporter had inserted, often unconsciously, his or her own preconceptions. But I always wrote it off as bad judgment and lack of professionalism, rather than bad faith and conscious advocacy.

Sure, being a child of the '60s I saw a lot of subjective "New" Journalism, and did a fair amount of it myself, but that kind of writing, like columns and editorials, was supposed to be segregated from "real" reporting, and, at least in mainstream media, usually was. The same was true for the emerging blogosphere, which by its very nature was opinionated and biased.

But my complacent faith in my peers first began to be shaken when some of the most admired journalists in the country were exposed as plagiarists, or worse, accused of making up stories from whole cloth.

I'd spent my entire professional career scrupulously pounding out endless dreary footnotes and double-checking sources to make sure that I never got accused of lying or stealing someone else's work -- not out of any native honesty, but out of fear: I'd always been told to fake or steal a story was a firing offense & indeed, it meant being blackballed out of the profession.

And yet, few of those worthies ever seemed to get fired for their crimes -- and if they did they were soon rehired into even more prestigious jobs. It seemed as if there were two sets of rules: one for us workaday journalists toiling out in the sticks, and another for folks who'd managed, through talent or deceit, to make it to the national level.

Meanwhile, I watched with disbelief as the nation's leading newspapers, many of whom I'd written for in the past, slowly let opinion pieces creep into the news section, and from there onto the front page. Personal opinions and comments that, had they appeared in my stories in 1979, would have gotten my butt kicked by the nearest copy editor, were now standard operating procedure at the New York Times, the Washington Post, and soon after in almost every small town paper in the U.S.

But what really shattered my faith -- and I know the day and place where it happened -- was the war in Lebanon three summers ago. The hotel I was staying at in Windhoek, Namibia, only carried CNN, a network I'd already learned to approach with skepticism. But this was CNN International, which is even worse.

I sat there, first with my jaw hanging down, then actually shouting at the TV, as one field reporter after another reported the carnage of the Israeli attacks on Beirut, with almost no corresponding coverage of the Hezbollah missiles raining down on northern Israel. The reporting was so utterly and shamelessly biased that I sat there for hours watching, assuming that eventually CNNi would get around to telling the rest of the story & but it never happened.

The Presidential Campaign

But nothing, nothing I've seen has matched the media bias on display in the current presidential campaign.

Republicans are justifiably foaming at the mouth over the sheer one-sidedness of the press coverage of the two candidates and their running mates. But in the last few days, even Democrats, who have been gloating over the pass -- no, make that shameless support -- they've gotten from the press, are starting to get uncomfortable as they realize that no one wins in the long run when we don't have a free and fair press.

I was one of the first people in the traditional media to call for the firing of Dan Rather -- not because of his phony story, but because he refused to admit his mistake -- but, bless him, even Gunga Dan thinks the media is one-sided in this election.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those people who think the media has been too hard on, say, Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin, by rushing reportorial SWAT teams to her home state of Alaska to rifle through her garbage. This is the big leagues, and if she wants to suit up and take the field, then Gov. Palin better be ready to play.

The few instances where I think the press has gone too far -- such as the Times reporter talking to prospective first lady Cindy McCain's daughter's MySpace friends -- can easily be solved with a few newsroom smackdowns and temporary repostings to the Omaha bureau.

No, what I object to (and I think most other Americans do as well) is the lack of equivalent hardball coverage of the other side -- or worse, actively serving as attack dogs for the presidential ticket of Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Joe Biden, D-Del.

If the current polls are correct, we are about to elect as president of the United States a man who is essentially a cipher, who has left almost no paper trail, seems to have few friends (that at least will talk) and has entire years missing out of his biography.

That isn't Sen. Obama's fault: His job is to put his best face forward. No, it is the traditional media's fault, for it alone (unlike the alternative media) has had the resources to cover this story properly, and has systematically refused to do so.

Why, for example to quote the lawyer for Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., haven't we seen an interview with Sen. Obama's grad school drug dealer -- when we know all about Mrs. McCain's addiction? Are Bill Ayers and Tony Rezko that hard to interview? All those phony voter registrations that hard to scrutinize? And why are Sen. Biden's endless gaffes almost always covered up, or rationalized, by the traditional media?

Joe the Plumber

The absolute nadir (though I hate to commit to that, as we still have two weeks before the election) came with Joe the Plumber.

Middle America, even when they didn't agree with Joe, looked on in horror as the press took apart the private life of an average person who had the temerity to ask a tough question of a presidential candidate. So much for the standing up for the little man. So much for speaking truth to power. So much for comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable, and all of those other catchphrases we journalists used to believe we lived by.

I learned a long time ago that when people or institutions begin to behave in a matter that seems to be entirely against their own interests, it's because we don't understand what their motives really are. It would seem that by so exposing their biases and betting everything on one candidate over another, the traditional media is trying to commit suicide -- especially when, given our currently volatile world and economy, the chances of a successful Obama presidency, indeed any presidency, is probably less than 50/50.

Furthermore, I also happen to believe that most reporters, whatever their political bias, are human torpedoes & and, had they been unleashed, would have raced in and roughed up the Obama campaign as much as they did McCain's. That's what reporters do. I was proud to have been one, and I'm still drawn to a good story, any good story, like a shark to blood in the water.

So why weren't those legions of hungry reporters set loose on the Obama campaign? Who are the real villains in this story of mainstream media betrayal?

The editors. The men and women you don't see; the people who not only decide what goes in the paper, but what doesn't; the managers who give the reporters their assignments and lay out the editorial pages. They are the real culprits.

Bad Editors

Why? I think I know, because had my life taken a different path, I could have been one: Picture yourself in your 50s in a job where you've spent 30 years working your way to the top, to the cockpit of power & only to discover that you're presiding over a dying industry. The Internet and alternative media are stealing your readers, your advertisers and your top young talent. Many of your peers shrewdly took golden parachutes and disappeared. Your job doesn't have anywhere near the power and influence it did when your started your climb. The Newspaper Guild is too weak to protect you any more, and there is a very good chance you'll lose your job before you cross that finish line, 10 years hence, of retirement and a pension.

In other words, you are facing career catastrophe -- and desperate times call for desperate measures. Even if you have to risk everything on a single Hail Mary play. Even if you have to compromise the principles that got you here. After all, newspapers and network news are doomed anyway -- all that counts is keeping them on life support until you can retire.

And then the opportunity presents itself -- an attractive young candidate whose politics likely matches yours, but more important, he offers the prospect of a transformed Washington with the power to fix everything that has gone wrong in your career.

With luck, this monolithic, single-party government will crush the alternative media via a revived fairness doctrine, re-invigorate unions by getting rid of secret votes, and just maybe be beholden to people like you in the traditional media for getting it there.

And besides, you tell yourself, it's all for the good of the country.

This is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

(Editor's Note: Michael S. Malone is one of the nation's best-known technology writers. He has covered Silicon Valley and high-tech for more than 25 years, beginning with the San Jose Mercury News as the nation's first daily high-tech reporter. His articles and editorials have appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, the Economist and Fortune, and for two years he was a columnist for The New York Times. He was editor of Forbes ASAP, the world's largest-circulation business-tech magazine, at the height of the dot-com boom. Malone is the author or co-author of a dozen books, notably the best-selling "Virtual Corporation." Malone has also hosted three public television interview series, and most recently co-produced the celebrated PBS miniseries on social entrepreneurs, "The New Heroes." He has been the "Silicon Insider" columnist since 2000.)