Mar
30
2012

The One Graph That Explains Why Copyright Is Too Long

Infinite Copyright Is Killing Culture

From Matthew Yglesias (3/30/12), one simple chart that illustrates why copyright terms are way, way, way too long for the good of the culture: Books published before 1923 are in the public domain; we read a lot of them (based on Amazon shipping figures). Books published in the past 10 or 20 years or so are in copyright, but are still in high demand; they're making a lot of money for publishers and are encouraging a supply of new books. Between these two periods, there's a vast desert of books that are still in copyright but are in very low […]

Mar
28
2012

Tom Friedman Likes Countries to Our Left– So Advocates Moving Ours Rightward

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is doing what he does best–traveling the world. In today's column (3/28/12) he finds that other countries' political systems– Australia and New Zealand–are well to the left of our own: In New Zealand and Australia, you could almost fit their entire political spectrum–from conservatives to liberals–inside the U.S. Democratic Party. And somehow both countries manage to confront big issues head on: a carbon tax and cap and trade. They have single-payer healthcare, income support for the poor, and so on. So what's the lesson for American politics? The same as always, according to Friedman. […]

Mar
27
2012

Progressive Budget vs. Paul Ryan, Round 2

Last year Republican Rep. Paul Ryan presented a budget plan that was, according to one analysis, full of "dubious assertions, questionable assumptions and fishy figures." But Ryan's brand of budget austerity makes the media swoon–hence we saw coverage (FAIR Media Advisory, 4/12/11) of Ryan's "piercing blue eyes" that dubbed him "a PowerPoint fanatic with an almost unsettling fluency in the fine print of massive budget documents." Ryan's budget was never going to be adopted, but its release was widely covered across the corporate media. He was given credit for presenting a plan to reduce government deficits, even though his plan […]

Mar
27
2012

Afghan War Just Needs a Better Sales Pitch

The big New York Times story on the Afghan War today (3/27/12) focuses on public opinion in the United States, which is now dramatically anti-war: 69 percent think we shouldn't be there. An interesting point argument is raised later in the piece, when two sources make the argument that the war wouldn't be so unpopular if Barack Obama would just do a better job of selling it: Peter Feaver of Duke University, who has long studied public opinion about war and worked in the administration of President George W. Bush, said that in his view there would be more support […]

Mar
27
2012

Geraldo Rivera and the Pre-Post-Racial America

Remember when the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama was going to usher in a new "post-racial" era in American politics? It was obvious at the time that that was a pipe dream, but it's remarkable how much the U.S. discourse on race has actually gone backward–as illustrated by Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera's comments on the killing of Trayvon Martin. Appearing on Fox & Friends (3/23/12), Rivera asserted that the 17-year-old's attire was as much to blame for his death as the person who shot him: "I am urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters particularly to not let […]

Mar
26
2012

CNN Pushing Alarmist Tales of Hezbollah Sleeper Agents

With discussions of a military attack on Iran circulating among U.S. and Israeli political elites, CNN has added fuel to the fire with a series of alarmist reports about supposedly Iranian-linked terrorist operatives inside the United States who are ready to strike. On the March 21 broadcast of the Situation Room, anchor Wolf Blitzer announced that there could be "a terrifying new reason for all of us to be potentially very worried about U.S. tensions with Iran." What's the terrifying potential worry? Some U.S. officials apparently claim: Iran has a large terrorist-trained force right here in the United States right […]

Mar
23
2012

The New Campaign to 'Silence' Rush Limbaugh

Conservative talker Rush Limbaugh used to tell his listeners that the government was trying to silence him, based on a completely bogus tale about what the Fairness Doctrine would do. This time around, it's an ad campaign by the liberal group Media Matters for America directed at some of the stations that air Limbaugh's show. The group is encouraging citizens to contact stations and let them know they object to Limbaugh's degrading, sexist comments about Sandra Fluke. So what's the controversy? Fox News host Bill O'Reilly thundered (3/22/12) that "the far-left is a primary source of censorship in America." He […]

Mar
23
2012

Misinformed on Health Costs by Fox, Rush–and WaPo

Newspaper columnists often seem to get to write what they want. So it's interesting when two of them are writing about the same thing on the same day–and arriving at the opposite conclusion. In the Washington Post (3/23/12) , conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote this about the Affordable Care Act's costs, as tallied by the Congressional Budget Office: Obamacare was carefully constructed to manipulate the standard 10-year cost projections of the CBO. Because benefits would not fully kick in for four years, President Obama could trumpet 10-year gross costs of less than $1 trillion–$938 billion to be exact. But now […]

Mar
22
2012

Wanted (by NYT): One Woman to Represent All Feminists

Over the weekend, the New York Times (3/18/12) published an article pondering why no one has taken Gloria Steinem's place as ubiquitous spokesperson for women's rights: Over the last 40 years, Gloria Steinem has almost always been at the other end of the phone when some member of the news media has sought comment about a pressing issue involving women's rights…. And that raises a question well worth asking in 2012: Where is the next Gloria Steinem, and why–decades after the media spotlight first focused on her–has no one emerged to take her place? But is it well worth asking? […]

Mar
20
2012

U.S. Can't Win Afghan War Because We Aren't a Colonial Power

Now here's an anti-war argument I hadn't heard before, courtesy of conservative blogger/journalist Andrew Sullivan (on NBC's Chris Matthews Show, 3/18/12): SULLIVAN: Again, it just shows that America colonizes without any real colonial talent because this is a country built on escaping colonialism, not actually imposing it. MATTHEWS: Yeah. Well… SULLIVAN: You're doing something against the DNA of the United States. While the idea idea that the United States is not and has apparently never been a colonial power struck Matthews as a reasonable one, it might strike other people as rather odd. The Spanish-American War would seem to qualify […]

Mar
20
2012

Our One Percent Media

From Politico (3/20/12): David Gregory, host of NBC's Meet the Press, and Bret Baier, host of Fox News's Special Report, are among the latest applicants to the Chevy Chase Club, the historic social club that has catered to Washington's wealthiest for over a century. The Club's recent "Membership Report" shows that both Gregory and Baier are up for consideration as "newly proposed candidates for membership." Gregory is being sponsored by Joseph Stettinius and William M. Walker. Baier is being sponsored Burke F. Hayes and by Brit Hume, the former anchor of Fox News' Special Report. The Chevy Chase Club would […]

Mar
19
2012

NYT's Anonymous Drone Defenders

There is a big piece in the New York Times today (3/19/12) on the U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan. And, as has been the case before, the U.S. perspective comes via anonymous government officials: A senior American official in Washington said that the CIA had consistently taken precautions to reduce the risk to civilians, and noted that some strikes had killed Pakistan's insurgent enemies, too. "These efforts have been extremely precise and effective," said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the program's covert status. And later readers get this: "The overriding concern is to avoid […]

Mar
19
2012

Is PBS Trying to Hide Some of Public TV's Best Work?

In the New York Times (3/19/12), Elizabeth Jensen reports on some unusual scheduling decisions at PBS that are diminishing the audience for some of the best stuff you're likely to see on public television–the acclaimed documentary series Independent Lens and POV: After being bumped from Tuesday nights to a hodgepodge of time slots, Independent Lens has lost 39 percent of its average audience for new episodes this season, compared with a year ago, according to Nielsen ratings provided by ITVS, which produces the series. Jensen's report–which expanded on news first reported by the public broadcasting newspaper Current–noted that many prominent […]