S9. Salutations comrades! We have good news to report! Okay, well-- there is also some ancillary qualifying information-- but there is good news! Good news from the independent cyberspace enclave of Blogovia-- the area of cyberspace where all the left-liberal bloggers live (which is not to be confused with the much larger autonomous tribal region of Blogistan, where all the right-wing lunatic monsters live-- nor with any of the other regions of the blogosphere, i.e. the libertarian Blogodonia, the green Blogotopia, the neo-confederate New Blogshire, etc.)
The good news is that Blogovia has successfully exposed a fake journalist with a fake name working for a fake news organization asking fake questions after almost two years of hiding in plain sight among the White House press corps. Using the alias "Jeff Gannon" and working for a cutout of a Texas Republican political activist outfit called "Talon News" that has no paying advertisers or subscribers, James D. "Bulldog" Guckert-- as he is otherwise known professionally-- finally lost his long-running battle to keep his secret identity as a male prostitute for hire on several free Internet sites from being exposed to... well, people who read free Internet sites. His fake career as a fake journalist is over. That's the good news. The information is that he was just a soldier, and there are plenty more where he came from.
The lads up here on S9 Station are mostly laughing up our sleeves at the side show of all the prurient aspects to the Jeff Gannon story, with which we assume our listeners are already familiar. We won't dwell on them. The real news you can use is that Gannon was a first-class media whore, with no experience in journalism, who could not qualify for a "hard pass" to cover the White House. So instead, the White House Press Office issued their pet bulldog temporary day passes-- in his fake name-- on a regular daily basis, with which he systematically and deliberately worked to undermine the reliability of independent sources of public information by helping the Administration make a mockery out of the White House press corps. (Not to mention, we're still wondering how he managed to get access to classified information that earned him a subpoena from the Plame investigation, but that's a mystery for another day.)
"Gee whiz, S9," I can hear you shouting. "Aren't you being a little harsh? You don't really think the Bush Administration is trying to kick the supports out from under the fundamental notion of an
independent press being necessary to the proper function of our basically democratic system of government, do you?"
I do. My first clue that the Bush Administration regarded the White House press corps with an unprecedented level of contempt came when I noticed that they were using the pejorative term "gaggle" in official documents to describe press briefings. It said quite clearly that they view their encounters with the press not as an opportunity to engage the public but as an exercise in feeding the geese.
Jay Rosen, a professor of journalism at New York University, says he first noticed what he calls the "Bush Media Thesis" when he noticed John Ashcroft using secret service agents (and others in the employ of the Justice Department) to bar newspaper reporters-- all of them, not just freelancers and reporters from little small-town dailies-- from press opportunities as he traveled to promote the USA Patriot Act in 2003. Ashcroft only granted short interviews to local TV stations, which was-- in the words of a DOJ spokesman-- a way of "explaining key facts directly to the American people and not having as much of a filter from people who are already invested in having a different view
But why believe me, or a cranky liberal NYU professor? Why not take down the words of President Bush himself, speaking frankly in his characteristically blunt manner on the subject. April 2004, the President is at a barbeque gearing up for his reëlection campaign. A reporter asks him if it's really true: that he doesn't read the newspapers, doesn't even watch the news. Bush says: it's really true; he doesn't. Reporter asks: Well then, how do you know what the public is thinking? Bush quickly responds: "You're making a powerful assumption, young man. You're assuming that you represent the public. I don't accept that."
The President is right about one thing: that's a mighty powerful assumption. It's so powerful that it's the reason the press is known as The Fourth Estate. (By the way, today's extra credit homework
assignment is to read up on what were the first three estates and how the press makes a fourth.) When the President challenges that assumption, he is saying he doesn't recognize any obligation to answer questions of the press or deal with them in any way but however he feels like dealing with them.
Consider the words of Andrew Card, the White House Chief of Staff, who said of the press, "They don't represent the public any more than other people do. In our democracy, the people who represent the public stood for election. I don't believe you have a check and balance function."
Indeed. We had an "accountability moment" in November, and that's all the check and balance that's required. Once you recognize that the Bush Administration views the institution of an independent press as an obstacle to communication with the public, rather than a facilitator,
all those reports about conservative commentators getting undisclosed payments to pimp Administration policies in their columns are easily shown to be part of the pattern. Not to mention, the whole Gannon story makes all the sense in the world.
Offline, our dear Mojo has told me he thinks the White House didn't know about James "Bulldog" Guckert's black market sex trade business, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if they did and viewed it as an added bonus to his résumé. After the partisans in Blogovia are done getting Gannon ousted from the White House press corps and dancing mirthfully about the joys of catching out yet another shining example of sexual hypocrisy among the anti-gay policy elite, what will they
have accomplished? Nothing but the further cementing of the Bush media thesis into the public consciousness.
Loyal wireheads: listen to me. You must not let your friends and neighbors forget that democracy is impossible without the existence of a diverse array of truly independent news organizations. Every effort to undermine the role of an independent press in representing the public interest is stab with a long knife at the heart of our freedom and the foundation of our democratic system.
Cue James music for exit
If they succeed in destroying the credibility of the independent press, there will never be another "accountability moment" again.
TERMINATOR 4: ATTACK OF THE GIRLIE MEN
J. And now back to our feature presentation, Terminator 4, Attack of the girlie men, already in progress:
A few weeks back, we told you about the Governator's budget proposal for the next fiscal year, which was supposed to wipe away California's budget woes, improve education, lure more business to California, and restore freedom to the galaxy. All of these promises were made with the explicit promise by Herr Governator that taxes would not be raised.
In fact, our Cyborg Governor convinced his fans, errr, constituents, to pass a bond measure that was supposed to deal with the budget deficit issues. So when Skynet, I mean governor Swastinator, busted out with his scheme to fix the new budget gap by stealing from Worker Pension funds, Schools, and the ultimate Political Prison Bitch of them all, California cities, we popped several blood vessels on the air bringing the wretched thing to you.
Oh, and lest we forget that the Gropenator is just as much of a GOP stooge as the rest of them, he proposed getting rid of many of the Boards that regulate professional groups and business because it made some of the Jabba's at the California Chamber of Commerce uncomfortable while drinking the blood of virgins from mugs made from the skulls of their child workers, who were horribly deformed at birth from the presence of Rocket Fuel Perchlorates and Chromium Six in the drinking water which we can thank Uncle Newt for.....
Did I say that out loud?
Sorry. I meant to say that the business lobby represented by the Chamber of Commerce felt that many of the regulatory boards were a deterrent to luring new business to our fair state.
Well, the Thuginator backed off from dissolving those boards and now swears it was all just in the service of eliminating bureaucracy and darn it, can you believe those special interests. Those terrible special interests that he ran against in the recall and bashes every time his CPU runs the Political rhetoric program, and whom he is currently raising a projected $150 million at $1000/plate fund raisers. Apparently Skynet failed to include the desperate hypocrisy application in this model's suite of political software. But we digress...
The Scuminator is pushing full steam ahead with his proposal to steal from the pension funds of schoolteachers and other public employees. Oh, and the education governor still plans to welch on the promise he made to California Schools and Universities to fully fund them that he made when they agreed to budget cuts in the last cycle. So the stage is set for the mother of all budget battles with those pesky California Dems, who think that education and protecting peoples property in retirement funds is more important than protecting wealthy billionaires from tax hikes.
So without further adieu, we bring you the official word from Elizabeth Hill, the legislative analyst whom both parties look to for accurate and non-partisan assessments of government proposals. The analyst laid out her opinion on the Dumbinators budget proposal. Prognosis: Wretched stupidity with a near terminal case of sublime evil. Or as the LA Times put it:
"Offering withering appraisals of key parts of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's schools agenda, the nonpartisan legislative analyst warned Thursday that the governor's plan to change teacher pensions was probably illegal and recommended that lawmakers repeal his first foray into politics, the 2002 initiative expanding after-school programs.
Elizabeth G. Hill, whom lawmakers of both parties look to for advice on budget matters, said legal problems with the governor's plan to stop $469 million of teacher retirement payments - leaving schools or teachers to pick up the tab - made it unlikely that the state would save any money. "
Doh! So not only is the Governors proposal blatantly illegal, it won't do a damn thing for the Budget Deficit. Nice work Gomer Pyle. Is that all Ms Hill? No?...Please continue:
She also urged the Legislature to repeal Proposition 49, Schwarzenegger's attempt to bolster after-school programs, warning that it creates exactly what the governor says he opposes: "autopilot" spending that leaves the state on the hook for programs it can't afford. "It would require a $428-million general fund augmentation at a time when the state is still facing a significant budget problem," Hill said. Her report calls the measure "autopilot spending badly timed."
Nice, the governors signature proposal has turned out to be a worthless boondoggle. Umm, can Skynet send us a better robot to be our governor? That liquid metal guy seemed pretty spiffy. Or that blonde chick, with all the cool attachments. Maybe they could do a better job...
Do you have anything else to add Ms Hill?
The analyst's office also disputed Schwarzenegger's contention that even with the proposal, schools would still receive enough money in his budget to pay for enrollment growth and cost-of-living adjustments. Hill said the governor's budget would leave schools about $500 million short. She suggested that the governor's proposed spending on schools would be close to adequate if he abandoned the plan to stop making teacher retirement payments
S. Pardon us, that last bit is causing the staff to foam at the mouth and spontaneously combust. Cut school funding by Half a Billion? That's billion with a B suckers! Look this is pretty simple. The state cannot stop paying the required retirement contributions and expect school districts, already desperate just to keep the lights on at band practice, to make up 500 Million by holding a freakin bake sale.
Let's be clear on what the Darthinator is proposing here. He wants the local school districts to make up the difference by trying to raise local taxes to pay for it. He knows that a tax hike is in some fashion is inevitable, he just doesn't want to be on the hook for it. So why not just move the fight to local school board and PTA meetings?
Obviously, the budget process in Sacremento is a dreadful sham. It's been a sham long before the freakinator showed up. California, before Prop 13, was a state that had the best, literally and beyond dispute, the best K-12 education in the country. It had a world reknowed higher education system, supported by a free and highly regarding community college system that lured the best and the brightest students from all over the world to study and eventually live and work here.
Yes, we had high income and property taxes. And during the seventies, property taxes did get out of hand, and needed a fix. But what we got was a horrible tax reform that moved the tax burden from business and homeowners to just homeowners who recently bought their homes after the mid 1970's. Property taxes formed the basis fro the revenue we built our great schools with, and our cities and counties used to provide the great roads and public infrastructure the fueled the Post War California Boom.
Prop 13, because it enables commercial property owners who own their property in perpetuity to avoid paying their fair share, has driven to the state into it's awful spiral of failing public schools, chronic state deficits, cities so desperate for revenue they beg for the Walmarts and Big box retailers to bankrupt all of the local businesses in order to reap a a few more quatloos' in sales tax.
Prop 13 isn't the only culprit here. The Proposition system has been hijacked by wealthy interest groups who hire professional signature gatherers to acquire enough signatures to meet the states preposterously low requirement and then lock dedicated spending in stone forever. So now the scraps that are left after this mess aren't' enough to cover the bills.
The point is, Arnold knows this, as does everyone not wearing a tinfoil hat in Sacramento knows. Remember when his own finance guru, Warren Buffett, actually had the temerity to point out the utter stupidity of the Prop 13 system. He pointed out that wealthy property owners had been able to protect themselves at the expense of the middle class property owners that 13 was supposed to protect.
But the Undeadinator has promised the moon and the stars to so many people, primarily the Talk Radio Tax and guns crowd that determine who gets the GOP nomination for Governor, he can't do what people thought he was actually supposed to be running as, an independent moderate who could make the tough decisions that everyone else was afraid to make. And that is to fix Prop 13.
Yes, I know all of you are so well versed in California tax policy that you jumping up from the jaggermeister stupor you were wallowing in and shouting: The whole California tax code needs a fix, why not tax our uberwealthy a few percentage points more? We agree, wireheads. But 13 is so egregiously bad for the state, and ultimately so terrible for the working people of this state, that we need to cut out the heart of the Jarvis infection.
The Governors budget is so devoid of any serious intention to fix the problem, it almost elevates him to the level of sick venal behavior the Bush White House exhibits whenever it begins the sham of it's budget submissions. And that's a level of subversive evil that would make the devil queasy.
It's more than just he's a GOP monkey. He's not a gay bashing thug like the freaks in the West Wing, for example. But he is no brave crusader. He is exactly what he called his opponents, A girlie man. A girlie man who knows the right thing to do for California, but cannot summon the courage to do it. Be a man Governor, save the state. Send the Howard Jarvis Kool Aid freaks back to the apocalyptic future they belong to.
Stop trying to destroy our schools and the great state we built over the last 50 years so you can run for President, or dog catcher, or whatever it is you think you are doing. California needs more than a cyborg, it needs a leader. Are you that leader Governor?
J. It's 622 days until the midterm election and our patriotic thought for the week is: a legitimate White House Press Corps means the terrorists win (an' preznit don't giv mee turkee), or as John Ashcroft used to say... “Al Qaeda will use Social Security to fund the Gay agenda and weaken our will to fight the war on terror...you are getting sleepy...veeerrrry sleeeeepy...”
S. And that’s all for this week, tune in again soon for another exciting installment, until, of course, we are declared enemies of the state.
And remember, you can now email the Mojowire at Mojohaus@hotmail.com, that’s M-O-J-O-H-A-U-S@hotmail.com. Email, us hippies!
J. And now you can check out the Mojowire online at Mojowire.Blogspot.com; you can read the entire archive along with our general ramblings...
This has been the Mojowire, brought to you by Mojohaus...Mojohaus-fine journalism, afflicting the comfortable since 1988, and produced by our super funky fly producer Mike Payne and the Darkling Eclectica, here on KUCI, 88.9...