Friday, November 30, 2007

The GOP marches on towards the cliff

- The reports of the GOP debate the other night are alternately hilarious and frightening.

Hilarious because you have candidates like Mitt Romney who won't say that waterboarding is torture. (Hmmm... maybe that's frightening.) And you have others who are screaming that the biggest issue in this election is illegal immigration.

Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney

It hard to say for sure, but most of the nation seems a lot more worried about whether they will be able to afford their homes when their ARMs adjust in a few months - and whether they will still have a job - than if we should be concered about the influx of labor, legal or otherwise.

Oh, and do you have any stocks? Or been to the gas station this week?

Interestingly, Ron Paul keeps moving up in the polls, his plain talk eclipsing John McCain. The GOP would never let a true conservative like Paul loose. But his ideas are not as nutty as his opponents claim. And the money he is raising - via the Internet - is amazing.

Ron Paul
Ron Paul

Here's a link to a NY Times story passed along to me this morning from Capt. Sanders Lamont of the sailing vessel Good News. It looks at the recent debate and is very illuminating.
  • Gail Collins column
  • Saturday, November 10, 2007

    Rethinking Journalism Education Version 2.0 - a hit

    - I generally dread academic meetings with faculty. There have been waaaaaay too many since I started teaching in 1982 at California State University, Chico. And last year as chair of the Faculty Senate at CSU, Sacramento?

    Don't get me started.

    So it was with great relief that even before the meeting began on how to best educate our students in the Digital Age, I was able to chat with one of the guest speakers, Jeff Pelline the editor of the Grass Valley Union, in Grass Valley, Calif.

    Yes, that's the same Grass Valley Union where I hung my hat from 1977 to 1981 before I left to take over the newspaper in Chico, Calif. Jeff and I joked about the state of the industry (sad), the state of the community in Grass Valley (not much changed since I was editor) and a fellow who worked for me in 1981 who just celebrated his 50th year working for the newspaper.

    Fifty years. Jaysus.

    But the day was peppered with good conversations from very earnest professors from all over the state who are trying to figure out the best way to get our university students up to speed with the skills they need.

    The session, sponsored by the California Newspaper Publishers Association and chaired by Professor Sylvia Fox, was a followup to meeting held in the spring of editors and publishers who spent their time putting together a squawk list of skills they hoped college graduates would bring when they arrived at their various newspapers' doorsteps. The list hasn't changed much since I was an editor hiring right-out-of-school grads: graduates should understand ethics, be incredibly curious, be able to find information, relate to their audience, and, and, and...

    But new to the list is that students should have video skills, be able to upload stories, photos and video to to the Web, tell a story in many formats and perhaps even be able to use HTML.

    I marveled at the conversation, remembering the fights in newsrooms I worked in over whether reporters should even be allowed (allowed!) to carry cameras. Photographers didn't like the idea (nor did the union representing them). Technology has blown past all those concerns.

    As my part of the day's events, I shot some quick video with my Flip video camera and then quickly threw together a brief 'movie' (see below) during the period after lunch, which I played for the group in the afternoon. I actually got some applause.

    It's always nice to get applause.

    Sunday, November 04, 2007

    The dilemma facing the Republican party - Rudy or?

    ACRAMENTO, Calif., USA
    - The conservative radio talk shows are buzzing (pehaps fawning) over the various GOP candidates for president, all salivating over the possibility of another Republican in the White House and spending as much time as possible demonizing Hillary Clinton.

    No surprise there, of course.

    A local radio station features three national hosts daily: Michael Medved, Dennis Prager and Hugh Hewitt whose various patters are all pretty similar, though if you didn't allow the use of the words unbelievable, astounding, amazing or incredible, it's doubtful they could get through a 15-minute segment, let alone the hours-long programs they put on day after day after day after...

    But these shows are interesting to listen to now because they wrestle daily with the GOP's awful dilemma this year of selecting a candidate who the most conservative elements of the party will back.

    And that is a huge problem.

    Topping the voter polls is Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York who only wants to talk about 9-11, and not that he supports a woman's right to have abortion - a position that makes him a real problem for the majority of conservative voters. When you add his three marriages and the photos of him in drag, his family values credentials are pretty weak and many evangelicals (who hold tremendous sway) say they can't vote for this guy.

    Rudy Giuliani in drag
    Rudy Giuliani - presidential candidate?

    The other candidate that has generated a lot of excitement is Mitt Romney whose Mormon faith keeps him off the boards for most Christian Evangelicals who consider Mormonism to be practically a cult. Romney's 'family values' credentials are impeccable, but a recent San Francisco Chronicle story points out that some of the evangelicals are reconsidering how stident to be - more afraid of a Hillary Clinton than someone who might believe in polygamy.

    Mitt Romney
    Mitt Romney - his Mormon faith has him in trouble
  • Chronicle story on Evangelicals and voting

  • Rounding out the GOP field are John McCain (considered to be too old and perhaps too liberal), Mike Huckabee, a trained Baptist minister who opposes abortion but who is unlikely to have enough money to be a serious contender, and Ron Paul, a congressman who in GOP debates has taken on the war in Iraq, saying it's a mistake and should be ended right now.

    Paul has been pilloried on the talk shows for that view, though the talk show hosts are fascinated with the guy and can't get through a show without taking at least a few cheap shots.

    Mike Huckabee
    Mike Huckabee - former governor and short on cash

    Ron Paul
    Ron Paul, the candidate talk show hosts hate

    And then there is Fred Thompson, an actor-turned politician (does this sound familiar) who is so unenthusiastic in public appearances that people are starting to compare him to the late Gerald Ford when it comes to charisma. The best things he has going for him so far are his gorgeous (and young) wife, and the fact that most people remember his acting roles on Law & Order and as a commander in films like The Hunt for Red October.

    Fred Thompson & wife Jeri
    Fred Thompson and his wife Jeri

    The Democratic convention will be fun to watch this year, even if it is just a coronation of Hillary. There will be some antics. They're Democrats, after all.

    It's the GOP confab where the catfight might take place. We might have a real GOP convention for the first time in, well, I can't remember. Perhaps since Barry Goldwater grabbed the nomination, only to lose disastrously to Lyndon Johnson.

    Can we hope for a repeat of history?