PR Spending brought to light

You can see that what Bush says, and what he does are two different things. First, his administration buys commentators for No Child Left Behind. Then, his administration buys commentators for Prescription Drug Cards. Then, he says 'no more paid commentators'.

I wonder how much public money is going to be spent convincing people that social security needs to be privatized?

Report: PR spending doubled under Bush
By Jim Drinkard, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON . The Bush administration has more than doubled its spending on outside contracts with public relations firms during the past four years, according to an analysis of federal procurement data by congressional Democrats.

The administration spent at least $88 million in fiscal 2004 on contracts with major public relations firms, the analysis found, compared with $37 million in 2001, Bush's first year in office. In all, the administration spent $250 million on public relations contracts during its first term, compared with $128 million spent for President Clinton between 1997 and 2000. The analysis did not examine what the Clinton administration spent during its first term.

The top-spending agency during the past four years, at $94 million, was the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The biggest federal public relations contractor in that period was Ketchum, with $97 million.

"While not all public relations spending is illegal or inappropriate, this rapid rise in public relations contracts at a time of growing budget deficits raises questions about the priorities of the administration," said the report by the Democratic staff of the House Government Reform Committee.


Ownership Society?

Once again the Bush administration shows what they really mean by an ownership society.

What do I mean? I mean that, if you got the money, you can pretty much own society.
This article shows that the Bush administration didn't just let the marriage issue happen.

In 2002, syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher repeatedly defended President Bush's push for a $300 million initiative encouraging marriage as a way of strengthening families.

"The Bush marriage initiative would emphasize the importance of marriage to poor couples" and "educate teens on the value of delaying childbearing until marriage," she wrote in National Review Online, for example, adding that this could "carry big payoffs down the road for taxpayers and children."

But Gallagher failed to mention that she had a $21,500 contract with the Department of Health and Human Services to help promote the president's proposal. Her work under the contract, which ran from January through October 2002, included drafting a magazine article for the HHS official overseeing the initiative, writing brochures for the program and conducting a briefing for department officials.

"Did I violate journalistic ethics by not disclosing it?" Gallagher said yesterday. "I don't know. You tell me."

No, you tell me. That's what you were paid $20K for.

Google Video

This is really pretty google...I mean... cool.

As Conan says "Have you heard about this "spongebob squarepants" thing?"

"Our agenda ought to be able to stand on its own two feet"

Under pressure from my blog, Bush has decided to stop letting people know when the current administration uses paid commentators.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- President Bush ordered his Cabinet secretaries Wednesday not to pay media commentators to promote his legislative agenda, saying payments by the Education Department were improper and new leadership was now in place.

Bush said it was an improper use of government funds, and told a news conference: "I expect my Cabinet secretaries to make sure that that practice doesn't go forward. There needs to be independence."

Bush said, "We didn't know about this in the White House."


SpongeBob Brainwashes Kids?

So, apparently SpongeBob, Diana Ross, Whoopi Goldberg, the Souther Poverty Law Center, Bill Cosby, all the Muppets, Arthur, Clifford and one-time Bowie guitarist Niles Rodgers are all pro-homosexual! It's a huge conspiracy, of which Nickelodeon, the public school systems, and several major broadcast networks are all participants.

What am I talking about? Here's an excerpt from the story of SpongeBob GayPants:
WASHINGTON - A music video promoting tolerance of others and featuring cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants is under fire from several U.S. religious groups, who charge that the "pro-homosexual video" is an attempt to "brainwash" kids.

Dr. James C. Dobson, founder of religious group Focus on the Family, spoke of the video Tuesday evening at a black-tie dinner in Washington, criticizing what he called a "pro-homosexual video."

A DVD of the music video is set to be mailed out to U.S. elementary schools along with educational lesson plans developed in collaboration with the Anti-Defamation League and a "tolerance pledge" that includes a mention of tolerance for different sexual identities. Barney, Clifford, Arthur, characters from Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, Bill Cosby, Diana Ross and Whoopi Goldberg also appear in the footage.

The work itself, which has already appeared on several TV networks, doesn't include any reference to sexual identity. Though not mentioned on the video, the "tolerance pledge" . which is borrowed from the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center . is available on the foundation's website.

Who knows, maybe even President Bush is part of this. I mean, after all he
mentioned this during his inauguration:
There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment and expose the pretensions of tyrants and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant. And that is the force of human freedom.

Also, Stan Lee (who's smiling about something else) was a major force in comics in the 20th century may have influenced SpongeBob in his alleged homosexuality. After all, the article alleges:
Critics have previously suggested that the yellow sponge character is gay, pointing to his affectionate relationship with his sidekick Patrick and his
favourite TV show, The Adventures of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy.


Bible Theory

ATLANTA - A federal judge Thursday ordered a suburban Atlanta school system to remove stickers from its high school biology textbooks that call evolution “a theory, not a fact,” saying the disclaimers are an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.

“By denigrating evolution, the school board appears to be endorsing the well-known prevailing alternative theory, creationism or variations thereof, even though the sticker does not specifically reference any alternative theories,” U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper said.

The stickers were put inside the books’ front covers by public school officials in Cobb County in 2002. They read: “This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.”

As an alternative, the judge suggested this sticker be posted on bibles:
"This bible contain material on religion. Religion is based on faith and hearsay, not facts regarding the observable world. This material should be approached carefully, studied critically, and openly considered."

Search for WMD is over!

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. inspectors have ended their search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in recent weeks, a U.S. intelligence official told CNN.

The search ended almost two years after President Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq, citing concerns that Saddam Hussein was building weapons of mass destruction and may have hidden weapons stockpiles.
The Iraq Survey Group report said that Iraq's WMD program was essentially destroyed in 1991 and Saddam ended the country's nuclear program after the 1991 Gulf War.
Many of the military and intelligence personnel, who had been assigned to the weapons search, are now working on counterinsurgency matters, the official said.


Lack of Integrity II

I take back what I said about not much press.
The Armstrong Williams "scandal" is all over daypop:

  • USATODAY.com - White House paid commentator to promote law
  • CNN.com - Feds paid pundit to push Bush policy - Jan 7, 2005
  • Administration Paid Commentator (washingtonpost.com)

In addition to that, there's more evidence of the Whitehouse's Department of Propaganda:

In the second ruling of its kind, the investigative arm of Congress this week scolded the Bush administration for distributing phony prepackaged news reports that include a "suggested live intro" for anchors to read, interviews with Washington officials and a closing that mimics a typical broadcast news sign off.

Although television stations knew the materials were produced by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, there was nothing in the two-minute, prepackaged reports that would indicate to viewers that they came from the government or that Morris, a former journalist, was working under contract for the government.

"You think you are getting a news story, but what you are getting is a paid announcement," said Susan A. Poling, managing associate general counsel at the GAO. "What is objectionable about these is the fact the viewer has no idea their tax dollars are being used to write and produce this video segment."

Integrity lacking?

This article gets lots of press:

Four CBS employees were fired Monday following the release of an independent investigation into a "60 Minutes Wednesday" story about President Bush's military service that relied on forged documents.

The network fired Mary Mapes, producer of the report; Josh Howard, executive producer of "60 Minutes Wednesday" and his top deputy Mary Murphy; and senior vice president Betsy West.

Dan Rather, the anchor of the "CBS Evening News" who served as the story's correspondent, announced in November he would be stepping down from his anchor position in March. Rather did not mention the controversy when he made his announcement.

But this article gets hardly any:

Tribune Media Services will stop distributing columns written by conservative commentator Armstrong Williams because he received money to promote President Bush's education programs, the company said.

Meanwhile, the nation's largest African-American journalists' organization has asked other media outlets that use Williams' work to do the same.

Williams confirmed Friday that he received $240,000 from the Department of Education in exchange for promoting No Child Left Behind, the centerpiece of Bush's education agenda. Williams said the payment was merely for advertising time.

Yet, the Bush administrator has used the same tatic previously.
Notably, the fake news report they paid for with gov't funds to promote the Prescription Drug Discount card.


Hitler's Hit Parade

There's a new movie out about entertainment during the reign of the Third Reich. For some reason, these song titles seem like they could be applied to current events....

"Hitler's Hit Parade" is hardly a trip down memory lane. This film's juxtaposition of romantic songs and wartime brutalities can cause viewers to squirm or turn away in horror.

The disturbing collage of Third Reich musicals, newsreels, home movies, cartoons and commercials, including rare segments in color, shows how the Nazis relied on escapist entertainment to promote their murderous ideology and bolster the veneer of normalcy during the nightmare of Adolf Hitler's reign.
Portraying themselves as protectors of German traditions and historic continuity, the Nazis promised law and order and national respect at a time of economic despair
Allusions to discipline and obedience were reflected in seemingly innocuous popular tunes with titles like "Don't Ask How, Don't Ask Where," "Don't Let It Bother You" and "Everything in Life Will Pass."


Laser Terror

The FBI claimed they didn't think there was a link between the laser pointers shining at aircraft and terrorism.

But, they seem to have a keen interest in tracking down each event.

I heard on OPB that Bigha, a Corvallis company, has been questioned by the counter intelligence unit of the US Army re: lasers. They normally create astronomy equipment, but they came up with a chair / binoculars / laser combo that allows you to target and view stars.

The lasers were so popular that they started making & selling just the lasers as pointers. They make them within the gov't specs, but they've heard about college kids altering them to make them 20x brighter.


Comic Book Artist Will Eisner dead

I met Will Eisner at a comics roundtable talk at the Lake Oswego cultural festival (I know, it sounds like an oxymoron). Eisner, along with Mike Richardson from Dark Horse Comics and Harlan Ellison (no tag needed here) talked about what makes any given comic great, and who are the leaders in the art. Will Eisner was at the top of the pyramid.

I shook his hand and then got him to sign a Spirit Sunday Supplement.
Here's an example.

Pretty cool to meet him.
And Harlan Ellsion was pretty interesting, too.

Next Big Entertainment

Did you read the article in Wired.com about BitTorrent?

Cohen realized that chopping up a file and handing out the pieces to several uploaders would really speed things up. He sketched out a protocol: To download that copy of Meet the Fokkers, a user's computer sniffs around for others online who have pieces of the movie. Then it downloads a chunk from several of them simultaneously. Many hands make light work, so the file arrives dozens of times faster than normal.

Paradoxically, BitTorrent's architecture means that the more popular the
file is the faster it downloads - because more people are pitching in. Better yet, it's a virtuous cycle. Users download and share at the same time; as soon as someone receives even a single piece of Fokkers, his computer immediately begins offering it to others. The more files you're willing to share, the faster any individual torrent downloads to your computer. This prevents people from leeching, a classic P2P problem in which too many people download files and refuse to upload, creating a
drain on the system. "Give and ye shall receive" became Cohen's motto, which he printed on T-shirts and sold to supporters.

If enough people start getting their TV online, it will drastically change the nature of the medium. Normally, the buzz for a show builds gradually;
it takes a few weeks or even a whole season for a loyal viewership to lock in. But in a BitTorrented broadcast world, things are more volatile. Once a show becomes slightly popular - or once it has a handful of well-connected proselytizers - multiplier effects will take over, and it could become insanely popular overnight. The pass-around effect of blogs, email, and RSS creates a roving, instant audience for a hot show or segment. The whole concept of must-see TV changes from being something you stop and watch every Thursday to something you gotta check out right now, dude. Just click here.


How to buy an election

Here's an article from the Washington Post that details pretty well how
the Republicans targeted the 7% of voters who really were undecided.

It also talks about Kerry's lack of overall strategy and marketing plan,
and the lack of communication between Kerry and the 527 groups.

The ultimate test of the two campaigns is in the success of their efforts to increase turnout from 2000. Kerry and his allies increased the Democrat's vote by about 6.8 million votes; Bush increased his by nearly 10.5 million. In the key battleground of Ohio, Bush countered Kerry's gains in the metropolitan precincts by boosting his margin in exurban and rural counties from 57 to 60 percent, eking out a 118,457-vote victory.

A supposed strategic advantage for the Democrats -- massive support from well-endowed independent groups -- turned out to have an inherent flaw: The groups' legally required independence left them with a message out of harmony with the Kerry campaign.

A large part of Bush's advantage derived from being an incumbent who did not face a challenger from his party. He also benefited from the experience and continuity of a campaign hierarchy, based on a corporate model, that had essentially stayed intact since Bush's 1998 reelection race for Texas governor.