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So Long, Farewell, We Say Goodbye With an Obit

| Thu Jun. 14, 2007 3:14 PM EDT

Okay, so this is a little strange. The San Francisco Chronicle's Executive Editor Phil Bronstein is writing short, eloquent posts remembering former colleagues let go because of the paper's downsizing.

The paper announced this spring they were laying off 25 percent of the newsroom by end of the Summer, and readers can now learn tidbits about folks who were let go. For example, one former Style editor was a "renaissance guy with broad knowledge of jazz, literature and other subjects," and one editor was able to deconstruct complicated stories and reassemble them as mini-masterpieces every day.

What's odd is that the blurbs say things like "Her departure after 32 years of faithful, professional service represents an irreplaceable loss," which sounds more like an obit. But sensitive remembrances don't make good on the fact that many talented journalists are going jobless. As the Project for Excellence in Journalism points out in its 2007 State of the News Media report, two important journalistic pursuits — monitoring of local governments and regional issues — are losing out to newsroom downsizing. (Other Bay Area news staff reductions get frequent updates here, and MoJo's "Breaking the News" investigation digs even deeper.)

If news companies do not assert their own vision and take risks, the PEJ report argues, their future will be defined by those less invested in and passionate about news than the heroes being eulogized by Bronstein.

--Gary Moskowitz

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You Can Go Home Again

| Thu Jun. 14, 2007 2:53 PM EDT

police_50s.jpgLast night I relived my childhood. I saw The Police in concert. The sound of Sting's voice filling an open-air stadium (this time in Oakland) really took me back—though the biggest Proustian moment came when I saw Police posters for sale. Posters!

The performance was fantastic. Sting can still sing gorgeously. He's still got a winning little twist to his mouth as he does it, and if my ass and biceps look as good when I'm 55, I will be seriously, seriously happy. (I'm not sure if it was an ironic note or not, but the band revisited its 80s look, headbands, sleeveless shirts and all.) The really great thing about the show was seeing the band feeling free to delve deeper into their influences. Sting got a little scat into "Roxanne," which might have been borderline cheesy in a solo performance, but with Stewart Copeland there to reign him in, it was amazing. There is obviously still some interpersonal tension, but, damn, hearing them let their songs get a little abstract and airy, but then—POP!—bring them back down to earth, made me really wish they had been able to make that compromise as a band. In my younger years, I would send a dozen roses backstage for Sting at every concert. Last night, I thought the roses were for Stewart. (Andy came across as a man with ample skills but little soul.)

One disappointment: There was no political statement or undertone. Correction: During "Invisible Sun," a song about the bleakness of the industrial age, the video monitors showed footage of what might have been Iraq. But, come on, "Bombs Away" was an obvious follow-up:

The President looks in the mirror and speaks
His shirts are clean but his country reeks
Unpaid bills
In Afghanistan hills
Bombs away
But we're O.K…

"Walking in Your Footsteps" also begged to become a song about exploding the carbon bomb instead of the atom bomb (Hey there mighty brontosaurus / Don't you have a message for us? You thought your rule would always last / There were no lessons in your past. … / If we explode the atom bomb, / Would they say that we were dumb?).

Nonetheless, the songs revealed their well-craftedness as the band turned some major chords minor, filled up some places that had been emptier, and emptied out some places that had been fuller. The Police aren't just the pivotal band of my youth; they're also a band that has earned a significant place in musical history.

Giuliani Contradicts Himself in Rush to Blame Dems for Terrorism

| Thu Jun. 14, 2007 10:05 AM EDT

Rudy Giuliani's efforts to fit in with the Republican mainstream by, in part, Democrat-bashing is resulting in some ugly contortions. Speaking recently on FOX News, Giuliani slammed Bill Clinton's presidency for making America less safe, saying the administration's attitude towards terrorism was "don't react, let things go."

Not only is that wrong (see Richard Clarke's work) and misdirected, it directly contradicts what Giuliani said just nine months ago, when commenting on ABC's 9/11 docudrama:

"The idea of trying to cast blame on President Clinton is just wrong for many, many reasons, not the least of which is I don't think he deserves it."

One can only hope that if Rudy wins the Republican nomination, the mainstream media will focus on contradictions such as this and what even conservatives say is Rudy's facile understanding of foreign affairs.

There Must Be No More Racism, Then

| Thu Jun. 14, 2007 9:47 AM EDT

Maybe the reason why the DOJ's civil rights division is comically lacking in minority lawyers is because, as the New York Times reveals today, the division's focus is on protecting religious conservatives instead of prosecuting racial injustice.

Moot Science

| Wed Jun. 13, 2007 7:31 PM EDT

A few headlines on studies that, somehow, don't seem to need study:

Daddies' girls choose men who look like their fathers

Patient Care Improves when Medical Residents Work Fewer Hours

Catastrophic Events Can Affect A Person's Sleep

The American Academy of Sleep Disorders is a treasure trove of research into the obvious, including "Sleep Disorders Highly Prevalent Among Police Officers," "Sleep Restriction Affects Children's Speech," "Children With Sleep Disorder Symptoms Are More Likely To Have Trouble Academically," "Sleep Deprivation Affects Airport Baggage Screeners' Ability To Detect Rare Targets" ... Yawn. --JULIA WHITTY

Breaking: Two White House Officials Subpoenaed

| Wed Jun. 13, 2007 2:09 PM EDT

Sara Taylor, former White House political director, and Harriet Miers, former White House counsel, are being subpoenaed as part of the fired U.S. attorneys investigation. More details from CNN. Emails released late last night by the Justice Department show the pair was deeply involved in the scandal.

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You Could Be the Next Senator From Wyoming!

| Wed Jun. 13, 2007 1:19 PM EDT

Live in Wyoming? Ever wondered what it's like to listen to Robert Byrd drone on and on in a barely conscious state? Want to shin kick have a few words with Joe Lieberman?

Then it's your lucky day. Over at Wonkette, they've discovered that the Wyoming GOP is honoring the recent death of Republican senator Craig Thomas by posting an application for his job on its website. Jeez, Craig, why'd you die? Your job couldn't have been that taxing. It's basically reality TV show fodder.

Anyway, there's a PDF application that you have to fill out, and apparently it helps if you're a member of the GOP/have served the state of Wyoming previously/have a platform. But whatevs, MoJoBlog readers could probably do a better job than a lot of the goofs currently in Congress. Go give it a shot.

Americans Favor Amnesty by Wide Margins: Poll

| Wed Jun. 13, 2007 1:01 PM EDT

Looks like a vast majority of Americans favor preserving the American dream.

A new LA Times/Bloomberg poll shows that two-thirds of Americans support giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, assuming they have no criminal record, pay a fine, pay taxes, learn English, and meet other requirements. Those numbers cut across party lines -- roughly two-thirds of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans feel this way.

The immigration bill is dead for now, but these findings bolster the president's claim that the conservatives who opposed it because its amnesty clauses were too lenient on illegal immigrants were nothing more than a very vocal minority far detached from America's mainstream. The population at large apparently feels like Barbara Ehrenreich.

One last note: only 34 percent of Americans favor the much-maligned point system for distributing visas that would weigh professional qualifications and command of English more heavily than having family already in the States.

When Tort Reformers Slip And Fall

| Wed Jun. 13, 2007 12:34 PM EDT

So-called "tort reform" is one of the Republican Party's favorite issues, and this administration in particular has done a lot to limit the power of employees and victims of government, industrial and consumer discrimination and negligence to bring lawsuits against employers and corporations.

Like so many things, however, the concept of tort reform is easier to talk about than to incorporate into one's own life. George W. Bush, the nation's tort reform cheerleader, is a good example. When he was the governor of Texas, he also conducted a major tort reform campaign, but he took time out to file a lawsuit against a rental car agency because of an accident involving one of his daughters. According to legal experts, the lawsuit was probably not necessary because the insurance company would have handled the settlement. Bush's attorney said the suit had to be filed because of problems with the insurance company, a statement that is easy for most of us to accept.

Now it is another major tort reformer, Robert Bork, who has filed a lawsuit against New York City's Yale Club because of a fall he sustained there a year ago. Bork claims that the exclusive club failed to provide a handrail or stairs that would lead to the dais from which he was scheduled to speak at a banquet. In trying to ascend, his leg hit the side of the dias, and he whacked his head on a heat register.

Bork suffered a hematoma on his leg. It burst, and he had to have surgery, medical treatment and physical therapy. His lawsuit claims that he suffered "excruciating pain" and continues to walk with a limp.

Eric Turkewitz, who publishes the New York Personal Injury Law Blog, describes Bork's lawsuit as "frivolous," and you can read his reasons here.

Assume, for a moment, that the lawsuit is frivolous. That would make Bork a world-class hypocrite. Now assume that the lawsuit is justified: Does that make Bork a changed man? It will be interesting to hear what he has to say.

Clinton Loads Up on Earmarks, Cementing Status as Big Money Candidate

| Wed Jun. 13, 2007 12:13 PM EDT

Because there are few substantive differences between the Democratic presidential candidates on the issues, primary voters are left with less-than-ideal metrics like "likeability" and "who Oprah favors."

I'd like to propose a new and better issue with which to make a distinction: Big Money. That is, Hillary Clinton plays the game of money in politics -- and plays it well -- while Obama opts out, arguing that a political system awash in cash can't possibly serve everyday American citizens. The impetus for this argument comes from an article from today's Hill that reveals "Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has secured more earmarks in the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill than any other Democrat except for panel Chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.)." The article goes on to explain the bill has $5.4 billion in earmarks, 26 of which were requested by Clinton, to the tune of $148.4 million in federal spending. (To be fair, most of the earmarks requested by Clinton were also requested by the senior senator from New York, Chuck Schumer.) According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, Clinton secured 360 earmarks in the four years between 2002 and 2006, worth a combined $2.2 billion.

Contrast all that with Barack Obama, who has only one earmark request in the defense bill. It's a request made by several senators on behalf of a Department of Education program for children with severe disabilities.

This shouldn't be mind-blowing stuff. Consider that after Clinton's bid for comprehensive health care reform failed in the nineties, she went on to become the Senate's second-largest recipient of healthcare industry contributions. Or that her advisers "represent some of the weightiest interests in corporate America." Or that she happily takes campaign contributions from lobbyists and special interests, while Obama has pledged to take no money from such folks, even going so far as to return $50,000 in contributions after he discovered the givers were lobbyists.

Clinton is a divisive figure who voted for the Iraq War, occasionally takes ideologically troubling positions, and whose presidency would perpetuate the dynastic nature of America's presidential politics. I'm not saying I can't support her, but I do find it trying. And her willingness to eat from the money trough while other Democrats try to clean up Washington makes it even more difficult.