The prison rape continues

FOX News Channel (FNC) garnered more than 50% of the cable news audience in primetime and total day during 2Q’04, according to Nielsen Media Research. In contrast, CNN and MSNBC both attracted less than a third of the same market share in 2Q ’04. In primetime, FNC commanded 55% of the cable news market share, averaging 1.4 million viewers, while CNN claimed just 32% of that audience with 828,000 viewers. During Rick Kaplan’s first full quarter as president, MSNBC’s primetime line-up attracted a paltry 13% of the cable news audience with 321,000 viewers (down 41% in viewership year to year).

FNC’s Total Day average of 820,000 viewers made up 54% of the cable news pie, nearly doubling CNN’s 31% (468,000 viewers) and more than tripling MSNBC’s 15% share (226,000 viewers). In the key 25-54 demo, both CNN and MSNBC lost more than half their 25-54 audience in these day parts over the same period last year. FNC averaged 457,000 persons in primetime and 291,000 persons in total day, exceeding CNN and MSNBC’s combined totals of 344,000 persons in prime and 231,000 persons in the total day time periods.

In addition, FNC sustained its programming dominance capturing nine out of the top ten shows in cable news, as CNN’s heavily promoted primetime lineup continued to flounder. CNN’s only show in the top ten, Larry King Live, remained stagnant at number four with 1,291,000 viewers, trailing FNC’s The O’Reilly Factor (2,051,000 viewers), Hannity & Colmes (1,492,000 viewers) and The FOX Report with Shepard Smith (1,339,000 viewers) respectively. Since launching in September 2003, Paula Zahn Now and Anderson Cooper 360 have yet to rank within the top ten cable news programs — Zahn currently ranks at 16th while Cooper is languishing at number 21.

Obviously there’s no market for right-wing commentary. Six months ago the St. Paul Pioneer Press turned down my column – for the second time in five years – despite the fact that I’m one of the only writers in their history to have been nationally syndicated. In thematically related news, the Pioneer Press’s readership just dropped below 200,000 for the first time in a long, long time and a (ahem) restructuring was announced last week.

Now, I understand that newspaper editors have probably studied less economics than the average NBA draftee, but you wouldn’t think it would take a rocket scientist to understand that if your dominant competitor does X, then you have to do Y if you want to compete. Offering more of X simply means that you’ll eventually be run out of business or acquired. Rupert Murdoch, on the other hand, saw the huge market left unaddressed by the ABCNNBCBS cabal and is cleaning up with a monopoly position in the rightward 50 percent of the political spectrum while he leaves all the others to fight it out for the leftward half. Surprise, surprise, guess who’s winning?

I wonder how Eric Alterman explains this. I suppose he thinks the number of stupid people is growing every day. No doubt it’s George Bush’s fault.

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Eco on the end of democracy

Big Chilly once told me that he greatly respected how I often use my public platform for mysterious and seemingly nonsensical purposes. In that light, it gives me great pleasure to present more of that for which no one is asking, a translation of an article by Umberto Eco which appeared on June 25th in L’espresso: Apparire piu come essere.

To appear more than to be

Sixty-four years before Christ, Marcus Tullius Cicero, already a celebrated orator but the epitome of a New Man, estranged from the nobility, decided to declare himself a candidate for Consul. His brother, Quintus Tullius, wrote for him a manual in which he was instructed how to make an impression. In the front of the current Italian edition, (Manuele del candidato – Istruzioni per vincere le elezioni, editore Manni, 8 euros), are comments by Luca Canali, in which he lucidly describes the histoical circumstances and the personalities of that campaign. Furio Colombo writes the introduction, with a reflective essay on the First Republic.

In fact, there are many similarities between our Second Republic and this Roman Republic, in the virtues, (very small), as well as the defects. The example of Rome, over the course of more than two millenia, has continued to hold much influence on many successive visions of the State. As Colombo records, the antique model of the Roman Republic inspired the authors of the Federalist Papers, which delineated the fundamental lines of the American Constitution. They saw in Rome, more than in Athens, the example of what was truly a democracy of the people. In their pragmatic realism, the neocons around Bush were inspired by the image of imperial Rome and many of their actual political discussions gave recourse to the idea of an empire, that of a “Pax Americana” which makes explicit reference to the ideology of the “Pax Romana”.

I must note that the image of electoral competition that emerges in the 20 pages of Quintus is of extremely small virtue compared to that which had inspired the federalists of the 18th century. Quintus does not seem to even consider the possibility of a political man who boldly confronts the electorate in the face of dissent with a courageous project, with the hope of conquering the voters on the powerful strength of a utopian idea. As Canali also notes, totally absent from these pages is any notion of debating ideas; instead, there is recommendation to never expose oneself on any political issue, so as to avoid making enemies. The candidate envisioned by Quintus must only be sure to appear fascinating, doing favors and other self-promotion, never saying no to anyone but leaving everyone with the impression he will do what they want. The memory of the electorate is short, and before long they will forget old promises….

At the end of the letter we ask: but is democracy truly only this, a form of conquering the public favor that is founded on nothing but appearances and a strategy of deceit? It is certainly so, and it cannot be differently if this system, (which, as Churchill said, is imperfect, but is less imperfect than all the others), allows one to arrive at power only through consensus and not through force and violence. But we must not forget that these instructions for a political campaign were written at moment when Roman democracy was already in crisis.

It was not long after when Caesar definitively took power with the assistance of his legions, and with his life Marcus Tullius paid the passage from a regime founded on consensus to a regime founded on the fist of the State. But one cannot avoid the thought that Roman democracy had begun to die when its politicians understood that they no longer had to be serious about their policies but had only to engineer the obtaining of the sympathies of those we might well call television viewers.

This demonstrates that there is truly nothing new under the sun. In our modern arrogance, we believe that we are different, that our pseudo-democracy, (as false in every way to the democratic ideal as was its Roman predecessor), is a light illuminating all mankind. Quintus Tullius might easily have been Dick Morris or Karl Rove, advising hollow-suited frauds such as Bill Clinton and George Bush.

The laws of history are not as easily discerned as the laws of physics, but they are every bit as inexorable. Eco gives us one more reason to believe that we are living in the last days of the American Republic.

Dayan wouldn’t be surprised

The American marine who is being threatened by his kidnappers with beheading had deserted the military because he was emotionally traumatized, and was abducted by his captors while trying to make his way home to his native Lebanon, a Marine officer said Tuesday. The officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he believed that Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun was betrayed by Iraqis he befriended on his base and ended up in the hands of Islamic extremists.

The officer said Corporal Hassoun, a 24-year-old Marine linguist who was born in Lebanon, was shaken up after he saw one of his sergeants blown apart by a mortar shell.”It was very disturbing to him,” the officer said. “He wanted to go home and quit the game, but since he was relatively early in his deployment, that was not going to happen anytime soon. So he talked to some folks on base he befriended, because they were all fellow Muslims, and they helped sneak him off. Once off, instead of helping him get home, they turned him over to the bad guys.”

The Israeli general Moseh Dayan was once asked what made him so successful. “Fighting Arabs”, he is said to have replied. Hassoun’s desertion would seem to suggest that even the USMC can’t make warriors out of them. A Marine deserting? I can’t even imagine what my Marine grandfather would have to say about that. I think he’d be torn between leaving the guy to his fate and, as he liked to say, giving the guy a fair trial and hanging him.

In World War II the 442nd Regiment (of American-born Japanese Nisei) were sent to fight in Europe because it was considered unwise to put them under the psychological stress of fighting the Japanese. They acquitted themselves heroically, taking tremendous losses in rescuing the surrounded Lost Battalion and ended up as one of the most decorated units of the war. So, it’s not a new problem and it should hardly come as a surprise to learn that using foreign-born Muslim troops to fight other Muslims in a Muslim country doesn’t work out well.

This is yet another suggestion that this administration is hopeless when it comes to war-fighting. Foreign auxilaries can certainly be useful, but not within your own elite units.

Where’s my bottle?

Urs Meier, the referee who single-handedly knocked England out of Euro 2004, has the nerve to say:

I’m absolutely shocked by what’s gone on and the attacks from The Sun, the supporters and the other newspapers. I’m really shocked because the decision was 100 per cent correct and the whole world saw this decision was correct.

Meier certainly doesn’t deserve the death threats he’s been getting, but all the stick he’s been receiving from the English press is absolutely justified. Their outrage would probably be significantly mitigated if he simply admitted that he made an honest and all-too-typical mistake of awarding a phantom foul in the box. But instead he flings this “100 percent correct” nonsense around and makes even lukewarm England supporters like me want to punch him in the face.

The truth of the matter is easy to ascertain. All that’s required is a simple review of all the fouls called in the penalty box when there is a chaotic situation and the referee can’t see exactly what is going on. I’d be willing to bet that at least 90 percent of the whistles blown are fouls called on the attacking team. This defies belief, and the unfair bias can be proved by comparing the ratio with the ratio of fouls called in the open field of play.

The only thing I hate more than phantom fouls in the box are diving strikers and phantom offsides calls. UEFA has done a good job dealing with the latter two, it’s now clearly time to do something about the former.

New look

It’s just another Blogger template, but I figured it was time to get rid of that old “F11” problem. If you had that problem beforee, let me know if all the posts are showing up now.

And besides, I dislike orange.

How they cling to their misconceptions

Bellatrys comments over at Dark Window:

Anyone who starts talking ‘Kinder, Kirche, Kuche!” talk *deserves* to be tarred with the fascist brush.

This is an interesting confession. So anyone who supports children, church and women being able to stay at home with their children “deserves to be tarred with the fascist brush”. This would make approximately 75 percent of the planet fascist, but never mind that. The fact that both Hitler, (who was not a fascist), and Mussolini, (who was), saw the Catholic Church as one of their most dangerous and troublesome rivals doesn’t seem to trouble this poor leftist. Note too, that while the actual party manifesto written by the party founder is to be cast aside as mere propaganda, subsequent actions notwithstanding, a general slogan belonging to a different party in a different country somehow suffices to shine a light on my true fascist ideology. Stupendous stuff, Sherlock!

From each… to each….

“the tax cuts may have helped you,” Sen. Clinton said. “We’re saying that for America to get back on track, we’re probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.”

And who was it that was saying that modern Democrats are NOT left-wing? This is the message of Marx, of Lenin, of Hitler, of Mussolini, and every left-wing demagogue since Socrates who would elevate the collective over the individual. It is not possible to subscribe to both human rights and left-wing collectivist ideology. The two are in inherent and fundamental contradiction, which is why decent, well-meaning left-wingers so often find themselves trapped in a maelstrom of cognitive dissonance.