Ah, c’mon, Lois, isn’t “bribe” just another word for “love”?

Remember how Janet Jackson almost ruined America? Parents Television Council president Brent Bozell hasn’t. And he’s mad because Congress, specifically the Senate, has. Consider:

“This should have happened a long, long time ago,” said L. Brent Bozell, president of the Parents Television Council, an entertainment industry watchdog group. “The House continues to do its job and the Senate continues not to do its job.”

Last year the Senate bill was held up and eventually scuttled by Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings, D-S.C., who wanted the legislation to include a requirement that the Federal Communications Commission study violence on television. This year the issue has been bottled up in the Senate Commerce Committee.

Is it safe to consider this a situation in which our un-oiled wheels of government encountered the friction of common sense and ground to a halt? (Did I take the metaphor too far?) I would like to believe that the bill hasn’t passed the Senate because enough senators are smart enough to understand this:

“What has become clear is this really isn’t about protecting kids. This is about changing television,” said Jim Dyke, executive director of TV Watch, an advocacy group funded in part by the entertainment industry. “A politically active, savvy group of Americans has figured out a way to make TV in their own image.”

Unfortunately, I don’t believe our senators are that smart. Remember, the Senate’s Majority Leader, a medical doctor (dare I say “scientist”) recently backed President Bush’s call for Intelligent Design lessons in America’s science classes. This is also the same Senate Majority Leader who initially failed to correct ridiculous claims of how HIV can be transmitted so as not to discredit scare-mongering nonsense from a few radical conservatives. So, no, that’s probably not it.

So what is it? What could be the reason? Perhaps this is an answer:

Lanier Swann, director of government relations at Concerned Women for America said the panel’s chairman, Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, “needs to answer for the reason that he isn’t helping move this forward when it’s something that the American public would really like to see.”

Stevens hasn’t said why two indecency bills pending in his committee have yet to get a hearing. He has advocated stronger indecency rules for broadcasters, and has complained about vulgarity on cable. His aides say he is not ignoring the issue and is crafting his own legislation.

Committee staff director Lisa Sutherland said Stevens would use the House bill as a framework, but would make changes. She did not detail them, but said Stevens was exploring how parents with cable television can protect children from indecent programming.

Senator Stevens is crafting his own legislation, which I think implies that he’ll use this to gratify his ego, since he’s already spouted off about regulating cable. Perhaps he’ll name it after himself. I hope he does, because history will not be kind to that. Another possibility is that he is determining, with other senators, ways to bury pork in the indecency bill. Perhaps he could fund a free television, with V-chip, for every citizen of Alaska. I would complain, but I vow to stop complaining if he offers one of those televisions to Mr. Bozell.

I get 70 miles to the gallon on this hog.

I can’t read and article about the impact of rising gas prices on poorer families without highlighting this nugget:

Morales and a cousin who lives next door are saving gas money by working together to cut trips. Maria Puicon, 28, a single mother of three, works in the office of a local hospital. If one of them is out, that one checks with the other to see if she needs anything.

They also gather at home on Friday nights instead of going out, and their kids play in the backyard.

“We cannot go anywhere because of the gas,” Puicon says.

Right, so now you know that my sense-of-humor tends toward the four-year-old mentality.

Shut your mouth, funny guy, and make it.

I’ve taken on the potentially misguided task of refuting liberal media bias claims by partisan hacks over the past few months. I’ve tried to make it clear that I can accept bias in individual media outlets, but for every liberal bias, there’s a corresponding conservative bias. My argument, even when poorly stated, is that bias is bad, regardless of its blue or red tint. The facts are what matters. Anyone who claims otherwise isn’t interested in learning, just propagandizing.

Perusing through the Internets (I’m making the Ha Ha there, people) this morning, I stumbled upon an interesting article relating to the perpetual nonsense that is the media bias argument. Consider:

Pardon me for being either ignorant or naive, but isn’t a reporter’s first responsibility the finding–and publishing–of the truth? And isn’t it at least possible that this drive “to make the world better” is at the core of the media’s current malaise? My point here is that if one goes into a job with a zeal to transform the world, instead of a zeal to tell the world’s stories, isn’t it more likely that one would search for and “find” those stories that serve to support and reinforce one’s own prejudices?

I’m not abandoning my underlying assumption that bad news sells (“if it bleeds, it leads”), but yeah, I think that paragraph highlights a contributing factor. Report on facts with a view of how the world “needs” to be and the reporting will slant to a bias. That’s as true for conservative media outlets as it is for liberal media outlets. Any journalistic notion disappears when facts become soapbox-support.

I may be reaching here, but I consider myself sufficiently intelligent to understand what’s going on. I don’t care about non-stories. Blather on about how America is run by imperialistic, capitalist pigs and I’ll turn away from your news. Shock me with the latest missing pretty blonde and I’ll turn away from your news. Give me the facts because that’s what I want. Then, because media is a business, sell me an extension (news) product, such as interviews, features, or even something radical with a blogging mentality. Give me a reason to stay tuned. Call-in radio shows succeed for more reasons than just the opportunity for listeners to shout “Baba Booey” over the phone.

However, make certain that there’s a difference between the two. The first, I can get anywhere, or better stated, elsewhere. The rest is the part that gets my brain going and makes me a (semi-) participant in the process. Treat me as though I’m intelligent and I might not hate media outlets. Educate me without pandering to a lowest common denominator mentality, or what some blow-hard thinks I should think, I might even stay tuned.

(Hat tip: Donklephant)

There’s this chick… there’s these two chicks… they’re triplets, man.

In a recent mailbag column, Bill Simmons fielded this question:

Q: In your “Midseason Form” column, you write about how your wife hates Mariah Carey and that most women do. Try this: Tell your wife that you find Jennifer Love Hewitt attractive and you enjoy her acting. You may even be able to squeeze a whole column out of her reaction and the pure bile that women spit when hearing her name. Ask any sisters, sisters-in-law, other female friends; they all hate her universally, and it is unexplainable.
–Jack, Cleveland

SG: Just for the record, I tried this with the Sports Gal this week … she reacted like George Brett in the Pine Tar Game. Highest of high comedy. Somebody needs to film the pilot, “Everybody Hates Jennifer.”

I encountered this very topic Saturday when flipping through the new issue of Entertainment Weekly. Encountering an underwear ad featuring Jennifer Love Hewitt, I made some random comment about it to Danielle and tilted the magazine so she could see. A look of scorn quickly pierced the magazine’s flimsy paper, followed by a “She can’t act and that photo is so airbrushed.” Hmmm… interesting.

I agreed, of course, but not just because it was the manhood-saving correct response. I don’t give Jennifer Love Hewitt much thought, other than my inability to turn the channel if I land on an airing of Can’t Hardly Wait, but that’s really little more than my enjoyment of the Preston Meyers character. Or maybe it’s just my inexplicable man-crush on teen comedies. Regardless, I don’t get the Jennifer Love Hewitt hatred, but it obviously exists and seems universal. Fascinating.

Perhaps I should draw horns and facial hair on the picture and leave it on top of the trash, just to be safe.

My belief system is in flames

For everyone who believes the media has a liberal bias, I’ve found irrefutable evidence. I rescind every previous statement I’ve made. This statement from the BusinessWeek story in my last post is all the proof I need. Consider:

More than 260 domain name suffixes exist, mostly country codes such as “.fr” for France. Recent additions include “.eu” for the European Union and “.mobi” for mobile services.

Dot F R. I’m shaking my head. How can I deny the bias any longer? And dot E U! BusinessWeek clearly hates George W. Bush and can’t even keep its bias out of a story about the Internets.

I can’t wait to read the new Google searches

Who knew America could offer such overwhelming concern for our culture? Consider:

The Internet’s key oversight agency agreed Tuesday to a one-month delay in approving a new “.xxx” domain name after the U.S. government cited “unprecedented” opposition to a virtual red-light district.

Michael D. Gallagher, assistant secretary for communications and information at the Commerce Department, had stopped short of urging its rejection, but he called on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers [ICANN] to “ensure the best interests of the Internet community as a whole are fully considered.”

The department received nearly 6,000 letters and e-mails expressing concerns about the impact of pornography on families and children and objecting to setting aside a domain suffix for it, he said.

Wow, 6,000 letters from 300 million Americans. That’s a lot. It’s good to know so many (probably) one group cares so much. And wants the rest of us to understand so little.

Oppose porn? Fine, oppose it. But answer this simple question: why would porn sites convert to ‘.xxx’? That would allow the porn filters to block them with one simple edit to the filter. Ah, but the 6,000 concerned Americans know this, I would think. Perhaps not.

“Pornographers will be given even more opportunities to flood our homes, libraries and society with pornography through the .xxx domain. The .xxx domain will increase, not decrease, porn on the internet,” [Family Research Council] said.

This is a blatant scare tactic. Hide the women and children, the porn is taking over. Except, as I’ve just stated, internet filters exist. Add ‘.xxx’ to the filter criteria and, although the porn has increased, the user’s exposure has not. This isn’t about families being exposed to more porn. If that were the case, the Family Research Council would have no opinion. Instead, it’s about access to porn by willing adults. The FRC essentially spelled this out in its press release.

“Selling hard core pornography on the internet is a violation of federal obscenity law so the Bush Administration is right to oppose the ‘.XXX’ domain. The Bush Administration should not, in any way, be seen to facilitate the porn industry which has been a plague on our society since the establishment of the internet. The ‘.XXX’ domain proposal is an effort to pander to the porn industry and offers nothing but false hope to an American public which wants illegal pornographers prosecuted, not rewarded.

“The ‘.XXX’ domain was never intended to force the porn industry to leave the ‘.com’ domain, which has been a cash cow for pornographers. Indeed, any law attempting to force pornographers to relocate to ‘.XXX’ would be constitutionally suspect and not likely to be effective. Instead, if the ‘.XXX’ domain were established pornographers would keep their lucrative ‘.com’ commercial sites and expand to even more sites on ‘.XXX,’ thus becoming even more of a menace to society. Pornography violates the dignity of the women and men involved, destroys marital bonds, and pollutes the minds of child and adult consumers.

“The Family Research Council supports Attorney General Gonzales’ major new prosecution initiative against the porn industry, announced in May. We are confident of his determination and of his ultimate success. The pornographers, instead of expanding their presence on the internet, would be well advised to get out of business all together right now before they are called to court to answer for their crimes.”

A few quick observations.

— I have no idea if selling hardcore pornography is illegal, but the claim seems dubious, at best. I suspect it has more to do with what the pornography depicts.

— The American public wants “illegal” pornographers prosecuted. What about the legal pornographers? And I suppose those 6,000 letters constitute the American public. And the billions of dollars spent on pornography are clearly stolen from customers.

— Why bother to (unconstitutionally) force pornographers to switch from ‘.com’ if their businesses are illegal? Wouldn’t it make more sense to shut them down and prosecute them? Or is that also constitutionally suspect?

— Who’s to say porn violates the dignity of the women and men involved? I tend to agree, but I acknowledge that as opinion, not fact. If you make a statement like that, prove it.

— If the pornographers are committing crimes right now, how will getting out of the business prevent them from being “called to court to answer for their crimes”? If I embezzle money, but stop before being caught, am I no longer eligible for prosecution?

Technology is robust enough to block the overwhelming majority of porn from Generic Internet User’s computer. Install a firewall and anti-spyware software and, with minimum diligence, porn will not sneak up and expose itself to Generic Internet User. It really is that simple. If Generic Internet User is an ignorant Ludditte, learning how to protect his computer is the solution.

But groups like Family Research Council aren’t interested in that. Without pretending that the threat is scary, overwhelming, and pervasive, they wouldn’t gain sufficient political clout to pursue their true objective of Puritan nanny-statism. Instead of working to show porn consumers how it’s a detriment to a happy, productive life, groups like the FRC seek governmental control over the actions of all. We can have any freedom we want, as long as no one is against it.

Is the idea of freedom and personal responsibility really as dead as it seems?

Aren’t we a fine pair of misfits?

Everyone has probably seen this already, but I’ve never been prouder of the fine residents of the county where I grew up. Behold:

What do you get when you mix record heat, $50 4-year-old iBooks, and a burgeoning back-to-school season? Riot! Folks in Richmond, Virginia piled up at the doors of the Richmond International Raceway to get their hands on one of about 1,000 laptops.

There really isn’t anything to add that this picture. Ok, maybe I can add one thought. These computers were pounded on for four years by middle-schoolers. Like my brother, who sliced a scratch into the monitor because he was bored. But those people should have great luck with their bargains.

What aisle did you find that in?

Yesterday Wil Wheaton posted this when referring to Sun Volt:

Heh. If the 1990 me ever met the 2005 me and discovered that I’d become a fan of alt.country, I think I’d kick me in the nuts. Goddamn know-it-all 18 year-olds.

The 1990 1991 version of me would do the same to the 2005 me because I love alternative country. With so many over-produced, talentless hacks on the airwaves today, it’s hard to believe anyone is still producing good music, but it’s true with alternative country. I find myself listening to Outlaw Country on Sirius more than other stations, including the Big ’80s. Specifically, artists like Kasey Chambers, Maria McKee, Kasey Chambers, Kim Richey, Kasey Chambers, Josh Ritter, and Kasey Chambers. Oh, and Kasey Chambers.

I’m shocked by this evolvement (or is it Intelligent Design?) of my musical tastes, but I’m prepared for whatever the 1991 me can dish out, should we ever meet. I like the music so much, I’m not even scared. That may have more to do with his weight of 135 pounds than any virtue of my current self, of course, but I’m still not scared.

Trapped in the amber of the moment

Today is the perfect day for me to accidentally discover that Kurt Vonnegut has another book, A Man Without a Country, due in September. (Pre-order it here.) Here is the publisher’s marketing description of A Man Without a Country:

Based on short essays and speeches composed over the last five years and plentifully illustrated with artwork by the author throughout, A Man Without a Country gives us Vonnegut both speaking out with indignation and writing tenderly to his fellow Americans, sometimes joking, at other times hopeless, always searching.

As much as I’d love to read a new Kurt Vonnegut novel, this will suffice. His opinions tend to veer more pessimistic, further left-wing than mine, but he can write a scintillating phrase like no one else I’ve ever read. His works occupy my bookshelves and even provided the inspiration for the name of this site. Is it September 15th yet?

— This news is perfect because today is RollingDoughnut.com’s second anniversary (blogiversary?).

Will it perform a lobotomy on you?

Overheard in PETsMART last night:

Woman: Did you buy the equipment?

Man: Yes.

Woman: But it cost like $450. You paid for it?

Man: I didn’t pay for it; the U.S. government paid for it.

Hey, guy, guess what? You did pay for it. So did I, which is not cool. You may think that passing it onto the government is a convenient way to “avoid” the burden yourself, but if you haven’t noticed, there’s a rather ginormous national debt that’s going nowhere but up. That debt didn’t just appear because the U.S. government bought one too many bullets 75 years ago. So, on behalf of everyone who will never get to use your machine, allow me to tell you to stop being a leech.

P.S. You owe me $0.0000018. I accept PayPal. Thank you.