Get out your pitchforks and torches, here’s tonight’s WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD
Saturday November 06th 2010, 10:14 am

MSNBC has suspended Keith Olbermann, indefinitely and without pay for donating $2400 each to three Democratic candidates.

NBC has a policy against straight news journos making political contributions, but didn’t enforce the policy against MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough when he made a $4200 contribution to a Republican candidate in 2006, commenting that Scarborough is an opinion journo and as such is not expected to conform to standards of impartiality. Scarborough also contributed $5000 in 2010 to Republican Alabama State Senate candidate John Merrill. In other words, IOKIYAR (it’s OK if you’re a Republican).

Gawker notes that MSNBC has been exempt from the formal NBC ethics rules for years.

Think Progress reports that Olbermann’s suspension comes after a major GW Bush supporter took over MSNBC.

Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) comments: If Olbermann’s Donations Are Bad, What About GE’s?

Media Matters for America remarks: Does NBC’s ethics policy apply to CNBC anchor Larry Kudlow and MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough?

Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders has issued a statement condemning MSNBC’s suspension of Olbermann:

“It is outrageous that General Electric/MSNBC would suspend Keith Olbermann for exercising his constitutional rights to contribute to a candidate of his choice. This is a real threat to political discourse in America and will have a chilling impact on every commentator for MSNBC.

“We live in a time when 90 percent of talk radio is dominated by right-wing extremists, when the Republican Party has its own cable network (Fox) and when progressive voices are few and far between.

“At a time when the ownership of Fox news contributed millions of dollars to the Republican Party, when a number of Fox commentators are using the network as a launching pad for their presidential campaigns and are raising money right off the air, it is absolutely unacceptable that MSNBC suspended one of the most popular progressive commentators in the country.

“Is Rachel Maddow or Ed Schultz next? Is this simply a ‘personality conflict’ within MSNBC or is one of America’s major corporations cracking down on a viewpoint they may not like? Whatever the answer may be, Keith Olbermann should be reinstated immediately and allowed to present his point of view.”

Frequent MSNBC guest commentator and Rachel Maddow Show fill-in host Chris Hayes has declined to fill in on Countdown for Olbermann, saying on Twitter:

OK: I’m not filling in on Countdown tonight because I didn’t feel comfortable doing it given the circumstances.

Onya, Chris.

I call bullshit, MSNBC- and so does Twitter, with ‘Keith Olbermann’ being the second or third top worldwide trending topic for the last several hours.

MSNBC would do well to swiftly correct this massive brainfart.


UPDATE: Rachel Maddow comments:

Rachel’s contention is that unlike F*x Noise, MSNBC is not a political spruiking and fundraising organisation- and MSNBC management has made that point with Keith. I agree, but I don’t think it was wise or productive to suspend him to make that point. Olbermann, while covered by the ‘no donations without management approval’ clause, remains an opinion journo. Suspending him for donating to the side of politics that he obviously supports proves absolutely nothing about the objectivity not required for his role. It does, however, prove that MSNBC’s Griffin is a heavy-handed manager who wants to win a dick-waving match at the cost of the viewing public’s good-will toward his firm.

Rand Paul wants to take America back
Wednesday November 03rd 2010, 10:38 pm

The only question is- just how far back?

Paul doesn’t think there should be federally mandated mine safety laws, in a state where coal miners tend to die a lot. Paul doesn’t think much of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act, so at least, he’d like to go back to 1977.

Paul is opposed to abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. Paul would like to see Roe v. Wade repealed, rolling reproductive freedom back to 1973.

Paul thinks a business owner should be able to serve only whitefolk if he so chooses. If Paul had his way, there’d be no Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Paul’s no fan of trade unions. He’d much prefer the time in the USA when labor unionism was illegal, as when Commonwealth vs. Pullis established that labor unions were unlawful, criminal conspiracies. The year? 1806.

Wait til Kentuckians get the government they’ve voted for. They’ll kinda wish they’d been curbstomped.


Stewart’s Rally to Restore Inanity
Sunday October 31st 2010, 10:02 am

*sigh*I had immensely high hopes for the Stewart/Colbert rally in DC- high enough to get me out of bed at 3:00AM local time to watch the online stream.

It had all the trappings of making a difference- satellite rallies all over the planet, big splashes in mainstream media, celebrity endorsements (Oprah ‘anti-vaccination’ Winfrey, no less), a crazy amount of Twitter chatter, drew around 150,000 215,000 people to The Mall in DC… but then near the end, Keith Olbermann was cited as an hyperbolic offender of the ilk of Glenn Beck. That’s a false equivalency that pulled the rug out from under the whole thing.

Olbermann is not in any way, shape or form comparable to Beck. Olbermann’s an editorialist but doesn’t distort and lie. Beck is a complete corkscrew nutball tinfoil-hatted fantasist who spreads fear using hate speech for fun and profit.

In his attempt to appear moderate, Stewart changed the tone of the event such that it became a clarion call for inanity. To quote @UncommonRecords: “All Stewart really represents is the thought that if you are passionate about ANYTHING, you must be a radical.” While that may be a bit of a generalisation, that’s where the tone of the event landed when Stewart threw Olbermann under the bus.

Sorry, Jon, but you stepped on your dick.


The kind of atheist I’m not
Friday October 22nd 2010, 10:10 pm

I was raised in the 1960s by an upstanding pair of parents in a rather conventional US midwestern household. Mom was a hairdresser when she wasn’t housewifing and Dad was an elementary school teacher and later, principal. As a schoolteacher in that place and time, one was expected to keep up appearances, so Sis and I were dutifully shepherded off to a Lutheran church every Sunday. Even as a 7 year old, I had a belting voice and could rattle the rafters, so I was put in the choir. There was a Sunday school after the church service. The high point was doughnuts in the church basement after the service. Bring on the cream sticks with chocolate icing.

But somehow, Pastor Buchholz never was able to get one rather core idea through my head- that there really was a god. Even as a kid-kid, completely innocent of any contact with anyone who professed a lack of belief in gods, I thought the whole idea of an all-powerful invisible man was just about the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard. The idea that the Earth was created in 7 days by some bloke snapping his fingers was a total implausibility. The NASA Apollo missions were ongoing at the time and I was very much a big science geek kid. As such, I had a fairly realistic idea that an Earth would be pretty hard to cook in just 7 days and that it was just a tiny speck in a very large universe full of such specks. It was immediately obvious to me that humans were animals like any other and that save a few differences, not terribly special by comparison.

I didn’t think everyone who did believe in gods was a blithering moron, because in the midwestern USA in the 1960s, that would have been… well, everyone. Probably the most accurate term to describe my relationship with religion was indifference.

One day when I was perhaps 9, Dad piped up and asked Sis and I if we would mind much if we didn’t go to church anymore. This sounded to me like more pancakes and comics on Sunday, far superior to getting in uncomfortable clothes and schlepping off to a place full of people I really didn’t care to see, to listen to some man in a gown tell me more and more about something that I couldn’t possibly care less about. Waytago, Dad! More pancakes, please.

And so ended my relationship with religion for a good long time.  As a schoolkid through the 1970s, I always identified as a non-believer and simply ignored any religious activities promoted through the school. (more…)

Aus govt thumbs nose at separation of church & state, blows $1.5m on MacKillop crap
Friday October 15th 2010, 8:00 am

MacKillop celebrations funding a waste, say atheists

The Atheist Foundation of Australia has criticised the amount of Federal Government funding for celebrations over the canonisation of Mary MacKillop.

Blessed Mary (1842-1909) passed the first stage to sainthood when pope John Paul II beatified her in 1995, after recognising a first miracle attributed to her in which a woman was said to have been cured of terminal leukaemia.

Last year the Vatican decreed she has cured a woman with inoperable cancer, giving her the second miracle she needed for canonisation.

She will be canonised on October 17 as Australia’s first Catholic saint.

The foundation says the $1.5 million is a waste of taxpayers’ money for a cause that has no right to be government subsidised.

President David Nicholls says the funding could be better spent in areas like cancer research.

“That is $1.5 million taken from every taxpayer. Now we know in Australia 50 per cent of the population don’t have a god in their life at all, why are we continually spending money on this?” he said.


So, do dead nuns really cure cancer? A larger statistical study should be performed.


MOAR: Dave (The Happy) Singer tweets:

Seriously. What is the world coming to when the Cancer Council issues a press release saying, ‘No, wishing on a corpse doesn’t cure cancer’?

Thursday September 23rd 2010, 7:54 am

Damn those greedy disabled and aged pensioners for sucking up all our valuable public transport seats!

Call to make pensioners pay full fare

By transport reporter Kylie Simmonds

A new report has recommended scrapping concession fares for pensioners travelling on public transport during peak hour.

The peak lobby group, the Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF), says public transport in Australia costs $5 billion per year.

But the forum says only one-third of that is recovered through fares and the rest is subsidised by governments.

TTF chief executive Chris Brown will today launch a new report which makes several revenue-raising and cost-cutting suggestions to deal with Australia’s growing population.

Mr Brown says one of those would be allowing concession holders cheaper fares on public transport only during off-peak hours.

“You can’t sustain a system where concession pensioner rates are clogging up peak-hour transport,” he said.

The report also suggests congestion charging, franchising different modes of transport and raising revenue through better advertising.

Clogging up peak-hour transport! Yep, that’s what TTF’s Chris Brown said.

Obviously, all those socially subsidised pensioners on their way to their 1st and 2nd jobs are bludging up all the facilities. Those poor people… they’re so POOR and… unprofitable.

I expect Mr Brown to do two things; 1) come up with some hard numbers on how many pensioners actually ride public transport in peak hour and 2) stand on train platforms checking that blind folks have bought tickets for those seeing-eye dogs. Oh, and… explain to his own aged parents or relatives why they should get the hell off his gravy train and WALK.

What Mr Brown is suffering from is called ‘downward envy.’ It’s the irrational belief that aged and disabled pensioners somehow have it too good.

NEWSFLASH, Mr B: It’s not easy living with disabilities and the diminished capacity to earn that comes with advanced age. Australia is a wealthy country and we as a society afford certain consideration to those who are not as well-off as those in the earning mainstream.

Utterly shameful, Mr Brown.


Portrait of a douchebag: How MediaWatch got used to grind an axe
Tuesday August 31st 2010, 9:39 pm

What a douchebag looks likeFairfax reporter Adam Turner made the grave error of referring to Tony the Abbott in rather foul terms while livetweeting the Mad Monk’s post-election speech- and found himself the subject of a segment on MediaWatch. This indiscretion got Turner reprimanded by his boss.

[Adam Turner] has received an official first and final warning.

— Statement from Paul Ramadge (Editor in Chief, The Age) to Media Watch, 26th August, 2010

Well, okay.

Doubtless, working journos damage their credibility when they make such crude commentary about politicians who are the subject of their reportage. Does nothing for the credibility of the reporter nor the news op they work for. Turner deserved to be upbraided.

Now… if the person who dobbed Turner in to MediaWatch had been Helen Lovejoy, who in pureness of heart and filled with innocent desires, both to improve the standard of Australian journalism and to protect the virgin eyes of her Twittering 9 year old daughter, alerted MW, that’d be one thing.

But the dobber wasn’t Helen Lovejoy.

The MediaWatch informant was one Robert Candelori, an out-n-proud right-wing nutjob who simply wanted to cause trouble for a journo who made an untoward comment about his favourite politician.

Candelori set about gloating and bragging about causing some grief for Turner:

Hahahaha – I reported @adam_turner to media watch, and they’re playing it! #mediawatch

Wow, how ’bout that.

Despite Candelori’s claim in this tweet

@guru_kscope I’ve got nothing to be afraid of because I’m not in the habit of using vulgar expletives to describe politicians or others.

…Candelori is about as squeaky clean as a dunny brush as regards his use of colourful language in political discussions:

RobertCandelori swears like a Scottish Comedian

Ranked: 174,376th worldwide Swears: 93 Score: 95 of 100

Consequently, Candelori’s complaint about the shocking, SHOCKING, I TELL YOU language used by Adam Turner stinks of utter partisan hypocrisy and mean high-school girl tattletale politics.

When called out, Candelori put on his very best nonchalant act

@renailemay @weezmgk I’m quite enjoying the wet lettuce twitspit #mediawatch

Before gloating over dobbing in Turner, Candelori’s Twitter profile proudly told us all about his ‘family biz,’ Candelori’s Ristorante + Bar on The Horseley Dr in Smithfield NSW:

But after Candelori was called on the carpet by Renai Lemay and myself, Big Rob’s Twitter profile suddenly changed:

Wow, where did the reference to the ‘family biz’ go? So much for that nonchalant act, eh? Maybe an elder Candelori advised young Rob that foul-mouthed bitchy political commentary isn’t so good for the ‘family biz.’

Huh, maybe it’s not just journalists who need to mind their civility in public political discourse.

Rob, let me tell you what you are: you’re a hypocritical bitch. You make Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan look positively macho. There’s a picture of you in the dictionary next to the definition for ‘catty.’

MediaWatch can’t necessarily be faulted for being used to drive some Liberal douchebag’s political agenda… but MW certainly should be mindful of the possibility. Moreover, at the end of the day, just how newsworthy was this little snit? Was it as good as David Marr’s keelhauling of Alan Jones and John Laws over ‘Cash for Comment’?

I don’t think there’s any Walkleys in this one, dearest MediaWatch.

You can do better.


Australian elections as viewed from Taiwan
Saturday August 21st 2010, 6:10 am

You can’t accuse the Taiwanese of a lack of a sense of humour.


(h/t to Angelica from Taiwan for this screamingly funny vid.)

The 500 crazies in Bennelong
Friday August 13th 2010, 5:55 pm

From the SMH:

Some 500 people have since signed a petition objecting to the tower and have put candidates on notice it will influence their decision come election day – a threat the major parties are not likely to ignore considering the seat is tipped to be decided by a handful of votes

Proof that there’s at least 500 nongs in the Bennelong electorate who haven’t got clue number one about science and the utter lack of hazard from mobile telephone towers.

How much do you want to bet that each one has a microwave oven? Microwave ovens are 1000-1200 watt radio transmitters which operate slightly above the frequency of mobile phones.  Mobile phones themselves max out at about 600mW (0.6W) and 3G base stations sear the sky with a blazing 3-10 watts.

There’s no scientific evidence that humans are in any way affected by radio signals, but the crazies are fearful anyway.

Why are there no petitions to ban microwave ovens?

The stupid… it burns.


Labor’s mandatory ISP level internet filtering: It’s dead, Jim
Friday August 06th 2010, 2:12 pm

Joe Hockey has announced that the Liberal Party will block Labor’s internet censorship scam.

The Greens had announced their opposition to Labor’s impossibly stupid internet censorship idea almost as soon as it was floated.

Family Fist’s Steve Fielding had indicated his support for the scheme (and also thinks global warming is a hoax). However, Fielding will almost certainly lose his seat to the Greens in the upcoming election. As such, the Greens will hold the balance of power in the Senate… and Labor will not be able to assemble the numbers to push internet censorship through Parliament.

Conroy appears shocked- shocked, I tell you- that the Coalition have put the nail in the mandatory filter’s coffin.

Conroy has derided citizen filtering opponents as being pro-kiddie porn on numerous occasions. Anyone taking bets on how long it will take for Labor/Conroy to label the Coalition and the Greens as paedophiles as well?

However, the retort from the Australian Christian Lobby’s Jim Wallace regarding the death of the filter is probably the most astounding (if predictable):

Coalition ISP filter announcement incomprehensible

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) described as incomprehensible Joe Hockey’s announcement that the Coalition would do away with ISP level filtering of the internet.

“This announcement is incomprehensible on a number of levels”, said Mr Wallace. “Firstly to say it doesn’t work is to deny the trials that show it does. Secondly to have a system that orders takedown notices for Australian sites carrying Refused Classification (RC) material, but allow it to come in unhindered from overseas sites is simply illogical. And finally to imply that parents rather than the ISPs are best equipped to manage the technology by presumably introducing the discredited Net Nanny system, again simply defies technological reality.”

Mr Wallace said the anti-filter proponents have run a well funded scare campaign on the issue, beginning with claims it would slow down the internet by up to 87%, only to be proven it was less than 1/70th of the blink of an eye, and conspiracy theories that saw us all becoming like China and North Korea.

“On every level arguments against ISP level blocking of RC material have been disproved or shown to be illogical,” said Mr Wallace. “Even the much publicised statement by the US Ambassador that he was against it because he wanted to see the internet free “as the oceans have to be free”, conveniently overlooked the fact that the US blocks drugs been brought by boat from Central America to the US because of their harm to US society. ISP level filtering does the same with harmful internet product, and offends the freedom of the internet no more than the US does that of the sea in drug control,” he said.

Important to understand in the Government’s plan is that ISP filtering is only part of the solution to the problem of RC material on the internet, that it includes in particular additional funding of police efforts to intercept illegal peer to peer material and find the perpetrators of it.

“The Govt is absolutely right to retain its resolve on this issue,” said Mr Wallace, “and it is extremely disappointing to see the Coalition adopt a policy that, as the civil libertarians behind it intend, will establish a principle where this medium is beyond regulation – quite unlike the supposedly free seas.”

If Jim Wallace thinks the Liberals’ stance against mandatory ISP level filtering is incomprehensible, he is only indicating his limited ability to comprehend.

Joe Hockey gave a fully adequate and accurate description of why the Coalition opposes the filter, based in the results of the Enex test.

The Enex test did NOT indicate that the filter would work. It indicated that it could be circumvented by any 12-year-old, using web proxies, the Tor online anonymity program, peer-to-peer file sharing and VPNs- and ISPs can do nothing at all about circumvention. As such, the Enex test declared that the filter was a failure, right out of the box.

The ‘87% slowdown’ figure was also arrived at by the Enex test and describes the performance of the filter scheme that most correctly identified material to filter- yet even that filter would be easily circumventable.

The nut is that the filter would be ineffective, in any iteration. Filtering at the ISP level won’t stop children from accessing age-inappropriate material. Joe Hockey correctly observed that claiming the ineffective filtering regime would prevent children from accessing inappropriate material would deceive parents into thinking that children were actually insulated from net nasties, when this is demonstrably false.

Comparing the proposed- and now quite dead- internet filter to similar censorship regimes in totalitarian countries is not a conspiracy theory- it’s a wholly valid comparison. Conroy was asking for a filter that was based upon a secret, unappealable blacklist. Only in totalitarian nations is secret evidence, lack of transparency and lack of governmental accountability to the people considered normal. If that’s the sort of government Jim Wallace and the ACL find desirable, there’s nations in this world where they can get it- like China, Iran, North Korea and so on.

“1/70th of the blink of an eye” is not a scientific measurement. What is the SI standard measurement for an eye blink? This is the silliest excuse for evidence I have yet to see in the entire debate.

So, opposition to filtering is ‘well-funded?’ Really? By whom? Your evidence, please, Mr Wallace? Or is this just a conspiracy theory to explain that the Australian people, en masse, don’t want censorship?

Parents are indeed best placed to supervise and moderate their children’s internet use- not ISPs, not governments and DEFINITELY NOT the Australian Christian Lobby.

It’s indeed dead, Jim- and the ACL have cemented themselves to their irrelevancy. Will Labor choose to wear that cement overcoat going into the 21 August election?