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Have the Republicans Jumped the Shark?

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Everybody knows about Jumping the Shark. Some of my all-time favorite shows jumped the shark at some point. Babylon 5 Jumped when they ended the series one year early (year 4 vs. year 5). Buffy the Vampire Slayer Jumped when Buffy died (again) and the show switched to UPN. MASH Jumped when Trapper John left the series. Etc., etc. People argue about exactly when a favorite series Jumps the Shark, but almost everyone agrees that a show has Jumped.

Driving home from work today, I had the thought that perhaps the Republicans have Jumped the Shark with this Terri Schiavo deal. I keep hearing conflicting things. Her cerebral cortex has been largely replaced with cerebrospinal fluid, and that she's conversing as best she can with her visitors. I don't know anything about neuroscience, but I wouldn't think both of these could be true.

On the one hand, the first-hand testimonials of her awareness from her family are not credible. I'm sorry, but in those situations, people see and hear what they want to hear. On the other hand, the actions of Mr. Schiavo are . . . questionable? Living and having two kids with another woman, for instance. So does he have a motive for letting Terri die? Maybe, but then how come he waits 15 years?

I don't know where the truth lies. That's the problem. So now the Republican Congress charges in and passes a law giving Federal Courts authority, and the Republican President signs it into law. What I really want to know is which political genius thought that this was a good idea, and what did he/she think they'd gain from opening up the political spigots? I can't shake the feeling that this should have been (in basketball terms) a "no-call" on the part of the Congress and the President. It is the same feeling you get when you realize your favorite TV show has jumped the shark.

Morning Whip, 3/21/05

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The Whip The Story That Wasn't: Anti-Iraq War protests fizzle coast to coast. Crowds in anti-Bush bastions like San Francisco and New York are reported in the hundreds. CNN gamely titles their story "Thousands of protesters mark Iraq war anniversary" anyway. In the text of the story, "about a thousand" protesters marched in Chicago, but in the photo caption, this gets transformed into "thousands."

Nice spin, CNN.

In a related story, the press is in a tizzy about Video News Releases --government-produced video clips that are presented by the news media as internally-produced news features ("stop me before I drink again!") This article amusingly mentions Sunshine Week, a press-backed program to promote open government. Fair enough, there's plenty of needless government secrecy to expose. It seems however that the problem with the VNR's isn't so much government secrecy, but press secrecy. How about a Sunshine Week to promote open press? Media Research Center, anyone? (OK, I've now completely alienated any center- to left-leaning readers, if I hadn't done that already).

Conveniently enough, a behind-the-scenes-in-the-newsroom article is on Poynter.org entitled The Day I Shadowed A Reporter wherein a TV producer finds out what it's like on the mean streets for beat reporters. Sample:
We did spend most of the day in the car, driving around searching for interviews and information. We were covering a story about a potentially dangerous man who was robbing flower shops and preying on women. The safe environment of the newsroom was gone. Now we were out with the public. The walls that once closed in on me seemed more like a security blanket, protecting me from the problems and concerns of the people. I was now standing in places this suspect had been, and it was a chilling reality that made me understand the job of a reporter was more than just telling a story; reporters are advocates for the community, too.I thought producers started at the bottom and worked their way up, Lou Grant-fashion. I guess not.

Shifting our attention, we turn to the Tragedy-Into-Farce department where we have a Bo Gritz sighting in the Terri Schiavo affair. (This should do the trick to alienate the right wing, leaving me with no readers whatsoever. Hey, it works for South Park!)

Morning Whip, 3/20/05

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The Whip I've stayed away from the Terri Schiavo story, mainly because I find the entire affair incredibly distasteful. But now, Congress is involved. I still don't know what to think, other than This Should Not Be Happening.

SecDef Rumsfeld was on Fox News Sunday this morning. I wasn't able to catch the full interview, but snippets sounded typically Rumsfeld-amusing. If I can I'll find a transcript somewhere on the web and comment on Rummy's comments.

Gas prices continue rising. Many news stories are of the "sky is falling and Joe/Jane Sixpack Whines" variety, but there don't seem to be many stories giving a reasoned analysis of why this is occurring. We have nonsensical linkages of the Iraq war to the gas price spike. Some articles mention speculators. Increasingly, industry observers are thinking that this is indeed a price bubble. But underneath the bubble, there is a long-term shift in the energy market driven by increased energy demands, primarily from China and India. Prices might come down a bit, for a little while, but long term, get used to higher gas prices, folks.

Send in the Panthers. Apparently, Bucknell couldn't round up their own band to play at the NCAA tournament, so they offered t-shirts and $150 in pizza to the Northern Iowa band to play the Bison fight song during their win over Kansas. Given the result, perhaps Bucknell will extend a permanent offer to the UNI band, as well as change the pronunciation of their mascot to the Bi-SOHN after the CBS TV commentator persistently mangled the relatively simple name for the American Buffalo (was it Billy Packer?). (My friends from NDSU pronounce it "BI-zunn" by the way).

Finally, how high are you on the Ladder of Accountability?

Upset?

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This is a big part of why the NCAA Basketball Tournament is the big deal it is. The little dog gets his shot at the big dog.

Sometimes David does slay Goliath:
Vermont beats Syracuse.
Bucknell beats Kansas.

And sometimes the little dogs just get a bit bigger:
Nevada beats Texas.
Wisconsin-Milwaukee beats Alabama.
UAB beats LSU.

Under Construction

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From time to time over the next few days you might see something different when you visit Medary.com. I've installed the Geeklog blogging software to replace my current Greymatter software, which is really kind of obsolete and no longer actively supported.

From time to time I'll be activating the Geeklog system for configuration and testing purposes. My hope is to replicate the basic look and feel of the current Greymatter-based Medary.com interface in the new Geeklog system. All part of the service you get from Medary.com--Feel free to click on the donation button over there to the right if you're finding this site entertaining and/or informative.

Apologies for any interruptions you may see, and thanks for visiting Medary.com.

Morning Whip, 3/18/05

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The Whip Computer running slow? Haven't updated your antivirus? Don't have a good spyware detector? Maybe yours is one of the million home computers which have been hijacked and used to attack other sites.

Do everyone a favor and get patched, get antivirus, get anti-spyware, and for heaven's sake quit using Internet Explorer. Go get Opera or Firefox.

What is a journalist? One answer from the Christian Science Monitor. Do you think the "mainstream" media is nervous?

This just in: being fat is bad for you. Make sure you eat plenty of carbs in a low-fat diet. Yeah, that's been working so well to date--obesity and diabetes rates are way down . . . oh, they are up? Oops.

Morning Whip, 3/17/05

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The Whip Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone!

Not quite "Bush Was Right" but close: Arabs Wonder at Shift Away From Autocracy.

Conference 32? Division I independents are talking - a conference stretching from Virginia and Georgia to Utah. The Fort Wayne newspaper has this take from the IPFW point of view.

OpinionJournal's Best of the Web on the hoo-hah regarding Harvard's President Larry Summer's dreadful suggestion that women and men might perhaps be different in some ways. I might have let this one go, but for this paragraph:
The Harvard faculty majority are acting like a china service in a bullring. Their attitude, with its toxic mix of self-pity and thuggery, is common on campus and is often characteristic of an alienated political minority. You can imagine some hysterical Harvard prof shouting, "Larry Summers is not my neighbor! Now you sit down!"

"Toxic mix of self-pity and thuggery." Very nice turn of phrase.

Sheep Rustlers Caught

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You can't make this stuff up. (Hat tip: Freerepublic.com).

Article itself from the Corvallis Gazette-Times:

There's more ba-a-a-d news for Oregon State University's football team.

Beavers player Ben Michael Siegert was apparently caught driving the getaway vehicle that whisked a ram away from the university's Sheep Center, according to police.

A Benton County Sheriff's deputy found the animal in the bed of a pickup after pulling Siegert over for speeding on Southwest Whiteside Drive about 1:34 a.m. last Friday morning.

So now we have Beavers kidnapping sheep.

Libertarians . . .

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In the couple of days, I've seen two different articles focusing on that "L" word. Not "liberal." Libertarian. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that prior to my current life as a right wing wacko with serious lassez-faire tendencies, I was formerly an actual card carrying member of the Libertarian Party. This was before I realized that the world was as much about power as it was about liberty, that the Libertarians didn't have any power, and weren't likely to wield political power much more extensive than the occasional dog catcher, back-bench state legislator, or end-of-the-bench alderman.

Plus, Ronald Reagan really was a pretty darn good President.

Anyway, back to the strange confluence of articles about libertarians. First, the Wall Street Journal's Opinionjournal.com site ran a Julia Gorin piece titled Party On! Her money paragraph:

Politically, the Libertarian world isn't a bad place to be. Libertarians have more credibility with the left than Republicans do, even though their conservative side is callous compared with the charitable Christian right. And they have more credibility with the right than Democrats do, despite being more godless than the left. If Republicans and Democrats are the thesis and antithesis, Libertarians are a synthesis.

It's perhaps noteworthy that the column runs on their "On The Fringe" section. See above comment re: dogcatchers.

Then, I stumble across a Pejman Yousefzadeh article on Tech Central Station: Saving the Marriage: Conservatism and Libertarianism. This much more serious article tries to salvage what Yousefzadeh sees as the fraying coalition of libertarians and conservatives.

(Law professor Randy) Barnett also best makes the argument in favor of a continued collaboration between libertarians and conservatives for the purposes of augmenting each faction's political power. As Barnett aptly notes, via the creation of a Libertarian Party, libertarians have prevented themselves from gaining influence in either the Democratic or Republican parties. As noted above, libertarians and conservatives can and should find common cause on a number of key policy issues and fundamental political principles, so if libertarians wish to enhance their political strength, they should find a natural home in the Republican Party. Their entry should be welcomed by conservatives who sense the creation -- at long last -- of a governing political majority that will displace and eclipse the remnants of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal majority, and who should look for any and all opportunities to expand that coalition. Each side, therefore, has an interest in courting the other and furthering the historic political partnership with one another.

I would think that the prospect of securing the GOP's status as a majority party for at least a generation would hold some appeal for even the most unreconstructed paleoconservative, not to mention the shady and dangerous neocons.