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News Bits — August 4, 2004

August 4th, 2004

Haven’t done this in a while, but there are a few peripheral stories of interest out there today, so…

Conservatives and conservative news organizations were allowed unparalleled access to the Democratic National Convention (will Al Franken get a desk at the RNC? Hope so, but bet not), and unsurprisingly used that access to best sabotage and derail the Democratic message. After each speech, hard-right-wingers like Tucker Carlson, Ralph Reed and others were given the chance to smash & smear the Democrat who had just spoken and Democrats in general. Fox News had a desk there, but used it to do little more than deride the Democrats–they spent very little time showing the convention at all. Mostly it was Bill O’Reilly taking pot-shots at Democrats. For example, when Gore came up to speak, O’Reilly quipped, “We might listen in for a minute or so, but we’re trying to stay away from partisan speech in both conventions this year.” Stay away from partisan speech at conventions? Isn’t that a bit like staying away from sand at the beach? And there’s mlittle doubt that at the Republican convention, they’ll decide that very little is “partisan.”

Fliers from Boston to D.C. were forced to wait two hours while their plane was diverted to Albany, N.Y. Why? To pick up stranded passengers who had been stuck there because their plane had mechanical difficulties. The passengers were told of the diversion just as the plane was getting ready to take off, and they were not happy at all. None of them had ever experienced or even heard of such a thing before (and indeed, airline experts say that this is “extremely rare”). Unhappy, the fliers sat through the prolonged flight, and when they arrived in Albany to pick up the extras, guess who waltzed on the plane with a secret service entourage? That’s right: Jenna and Barbara Bush. The US Airways representative claimed that this happened “often,” but no one is buying it.

Cheney has someone new to blame for higher oil prices: the Democrats. Yep, it’s them pesky Democrats at work again. Apparently, the administration’s war in the Persian Gulf, failure to seriously pursue alternative energy sources (despite the tremendous lip service given) and reckless economic “stimulus” packages (i.e., forking over tax dollars to the wealthy) are not nearly as responsible for higher gas prices as the Democrats, who, according to Cheney, drove prices up at the pump–how? By not voting for every last bill for more drilling and oil company tax breaks that Bush tried to ram down the Congress’ throat. Yeah. That must be the reason.

Al Franken will be on TV starting in September–or at least on cable TV, the Sundance Channel. I think it’s good news, but not nearly enough of it. He’s only getting one hour a week (correction: once a day, rebroadcast three times), and supposedly it is slated only to last until the election, though Franken hopes it will last longer than that. I would hope that they get a longer time slot, on a more watched channel (Bravo or something). Still, one can’t be too grabby–Air America Radio is still in its infancy, and though its initial key demographic ratings are excellent, it is still in the stages of building an audience. And yet, better TV exposure would help the new network attract more listeners.

In the meantime, we’ll be holding our collective breath for this Friday’s employment report, which will tell us how many jobs were gained or lost during the month of July. This will be a rather crucial report: June’s numbers were down significantly (to 112,000), and if July’s are lackluster as well, it would indicate that the “recovery” that Bush grasped at this Spring may have been more of a blip than a recovery. Current estimates report that perhaps 200,000 jobs were created in July; if true, the Bush administration will jump on them, essentially saying, “see? That sounds like a pretty high number!” But it should be kept in mind that 150,000 is considered ‘treading water,’ the number needed to match population growth. Meaning an extra 50,000 jobs, while an improvement over June, would still be pretty anemic. In the meantime, the market has been down, consumer confidence and consumer spending have sagged, and energy prices are soaring. If this is a “recovery,” on can get an idea of what a “normal” Bush economy would be like.

On the lighter side, NBC has offered Clinton the chance to host an episode of Saturday Night Live this season. If he takes it, it should be interesting–and probably damned funny. James Carville had a good story, reported by a member of the Democrats Abroad Japan mailing list: “Back in 2000 a Republican friend warned me that if I voted for Al Gore and he won, the stock market would tank, we’d lose millions of jobs, and our military would be totally overstretched. You know what? I did vote for Gore, he did win, and I’ll be damned if all those things didn’t come true!”

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  1. Enumclaw
    August 5th, 2004 at 02:06 | #1

    I’m an air traffic controller, and I can tell you that seeing a flight be diverted to pick up passengers stuck because *their* plane broke down does happen from time to time… but it’s pretty rare.

    Usually it’d only be in the case of an airport where there’s not a lot of scheduled service anyway by that airline, because if there were more flights they’d just put the passengers on the next one.

    In this case, I have almost no doubt that part of US Air’s decision-making was that the Bush girls (and their Secret Service guards) were part of the stranded passenger list… but in a way, we can’t really fault US Air for doing that.

    Nearly every airline treats its big-time customers like that, and it’s just how things go. I recently heard of an example where, during massive weather delays for Atlanta, Delta re-arranged things to get one of their chartered planes (which just happened to be carrying the Atlanta Braves baseball team) into ATL much earlier than if they’d have had to wait their turn.

    So it’s typical; it’s a bit pathetic, but everyone should have already known that the rich/famous/powerful are treated differently than the regular Joes.

    I mean, if you can’t use your money to buy better treatment, why bother getting the money in the first place? :)


    PS You want another example? Ever wonder why you have to enter your account number as the first thing when dialing into an automated line for the bank, or credit card company, or whatever- but later they still ask you for your account number?

    Easy. They have phone system software that routes the accounts of the uber-rich directly to real live people much FASTER than the average dork. The reason they’re asking for the account number is to see if your account is one of the “platinum treatment” accounts.

  2. Luis
    August 5th, 2004 at 02:15 | #2

    Nearly every airline treats its big-time customers like that, and it’s just how things go. I recently heard of an example where, during massive weather delays for Atlanta, Delta re-arranged things to get one of their chartered planes (which just happened to be carrying the Atlanta Braves baseball team) into ATL much earlier than if they’d have had to wait their turn.Oh, absolutely, they treat bigwigs like this–but that’s my point. This is not your “everyman” non-elitist family that doesn’t pull strings, and it should be pointed out that when Clinton got his infamous runway haircut, the Republicans screamed bloody murder about how Clinton didn’t care about inconveniencing the little guy. It should be duly noted that Republicans will be mute about this, ergo the hypocrisy.

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