Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My comments on American- made products hit a chord with several readers last week who sent in letters to me...one for and one against.

If you're serious about trying to consciously buy more American-made products, there are some interesting Web sites that can help, including
  • Shop union-made
  • that directs consumers to products made by union labor.

    By the way, I found another American made brand of jeans as well: Pointer Brand. More information is located at
  • Pointer jeans
  • . Prices for standard jeans range from $29.45 to $41, depending upon your size.

    Here's another angle to this on-going issue to consider: we have heard for years that government officials and think tankers believe the United States is heading to an information-based high tech economy. I remember former Governor Michael Dukakis advocating such a vision when Massachusetts was a center for the computer industry in the 1980s. Remember Digital? Wang?

    I think Dukakis had a vision of technocrats supported by entry-level service jobs. I liked him, but he was dead wrong about this view of the state.

    Anyone who is talking about that today is either behind the times or just not telling the truth. Everyone in the high tech field has been threatened by the continual out-sourcing of those jobs to qualified people in foreign countries who will gladly work for a fraction of what Americans want and need.

    There was a story earlier this year about a Pasadena, Calif. publisher who was hiring a writer in India to cover local city council stories. She was going to do it by phone and e-mail.

    Now I think this is patently ridiculous and I hope the Flying Buendo Brothers do as well but clearly there is a mind-set among some business owners to do whatever is necessary for short-term profits regardless of those actions' effects over the course of three or five years.

    But who knows if this if something freakish or a trend?

    And remember that more and more of our food is coming from foreign countries and you might not even realize it. Beef, for example, can be stamped with a Department of Agriculture seal and not be raised in this nation. Although Congress passed legislation in 2002 that mandates detailed labeling, the legislation is not going into effect until next year. And according to Food and Water Watch, food industry representatives are working to weaken the legislation.

    The more money we send out of the country in the form of wages or the cost of goods, the weaker our nation becomes.

    Here's my mantra: buy as much as you can from locally owned businesses and as much that is made in this country that you can afford.


    Speaking of trends in the press, I must have been sick the day the memo went out that female reporters should kiss public officials as a way of greeting. I see this more and more and frankly it bewilders me.

    Yes, it's great to be friendly with the officials you cover day after day, but giving them a hug and kiss might prove to be an impediment to asking a hard question.

    I know it's a question of style and, yes, I come from a fairly uptight family where hugs and kisses to casual acquaintances was not the norm.

    It's just when you ask a question bound to irritate someone, a habit of kissing them just seems to be awkward to say the least.

    Of course, I've noticed the use of the "air kiss" a lot. That's a phenomena I don't understand either. What's the point of smooching into the air and pretending it's a moment of some sort of affection?

    To the mayors, state reps and senators and others I see regularly, don't worry about me. It's going to be a firm handshake instead of a kiss, I promise.

    © 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

    Thursday, July 26, 2007

    Shameless plug time...the book's publication date is Nov. 1. Go down to the link to Bear Manor Media at the right and tell them you want a copy! Several! They make great Xmas presents...maybe not as good as a Chia Pet, but not bad!

    Okay Steve...I changed it! I changed it!

    Tuesday, July 24, 2007

    An initial inquiry to Arcadia Press has resulted in some interest in a postcard book featuring Springield. I'm working on the proposal and rounding out my collection.

    In the meantime, I published this rant this week. I received a reaction from a reader who stated that tariffs and other protectionary trade policies would only result in a greater trade imbalance. He advised folks who could afford to buy American to do so, allowing "the poor people to shop at Wal-Mart."

    The trouble isn't the fact that Wal-Mart has policies that have weakened American manufacturing, the problem is that it's the only game in town for many Americans. It's great to have free will but your free will as consumers is controlled by your paycheck and the availability of products. Control the distribution and you control a shopper's free will.

    And perhaps there is a rich person store where one can buy top-of-the-line tube socks, dish racks and other mundane necesssities of life that the poor folks like me couldn't afford. We have to settle for the stuff made in China at the Wal-Mart.

    And in Springfield, a city of 152,000, we have a sputtering K-Mart and a dirty nasty (literally) Wal-Mart. Take your choice! Thank the consumer gods there is a Target and a Costco nearby.

    You know we like to fool ourselves. We go through life thinking that walking around the office is going to take care of that extra donut we had that morning or it doesn't really matter if that empty water bottle makes its way into the trash instead of the recycling box.

    All of us do it.

    Recently I needed a pair of jeans. I went to the Wal-Mart because they have fat guy sizes and selected a pair that cost me under $20.

    They fit fine. The price was right, but I did something that I shouldn't have: I supported the gross trade imbalance in order to get something quick.

    At this time when we're at war, some people would think how we buy a pair of jeans is a pretty trivial matter. It is, of course, unless you're a person who has worked in manufacturing and have seen the steady decline of that sector of our economy for years.

    The all-American blue jeans a fashion icon representing this nation around the world is scarcely American any more. The company that invented the denim jeans, Levi Strauss, moved its last American manufacturing facility to Mexico in 2003.

    Here in Western Massachusetts we ought to be pretty sensitive about such things. Since the end of World War II, our manufacturing has seen a steady erosion.

    In the chase for increased profits, we seen businesses relocate first to the South to avoid union labor, then across the border and finally to places such as China.

    Add the country-destroying legislation of NAFTA and the ballooning trade imbalance with nations such as China and we have a huge problem on our hands that few politicians want to talk about.

    I'm all for making money, but the short-term effort to boost the bottom line has meant a decrease in the number of people who can afford anything but the cheapest of goods. The more cheap foreign stuff one buys, the less of a chance that American manufacturing can come back. It's a vicious circle.

    Without having decent paying manufacturing jobs, there are less opportunities for people to have a vehicle to reach middle class status.

    I've not decided whom I want to support for president, but I can tell you I'd be interested in the first candidate who speaks of repealing NAFTA and reinstituting tariffs that protect our manufacturers.

    I doubt that any of them will want to tackle such an un-sexy topic of re-building the manufacturing base, though.

    So the next time I need jeans, I'm getting a pair from Gusset (www.gussetclothing.com), one of the few American-made brands of jeans left. They cost about double than what I've been paying, but at least I know my money is staying here paying some fellow American a wage hopefully something close to a living wage.


    Speaking of fashion, I've been wearing my summer Panama hat (made in the U.S.A, by the way, and bought locally at The Brim and Crown in Springfield) and from some of the reactions I've received one would think I had dyed my hair purple and spiked it.

    Wearing something other than a baseball cap is considered radical these days.

    It's just a hat and a venerable style at that.

    I must admit I'm compelled to wear hats. It's my DNA. My dad wore a wide variety of hats and the hat-wearing habit was imprinted at an early age.

    I'm not going to apologize.

    Now I must admit I've been tempted to cram a press pass under the band and whenever I wear it I feel the spirit of Karl Kolchak (you young people can look him up on the Internet) bubbling through.

    Thankfully, I don't have to chase any vampires.

    Just a warning, I'm going back to the Brim and Crown for a snap brim fedora for the fall.

    © 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

    Monday, July 23, 2007

    Gosh, has it been almost a week since I last posted? This has been a brutal week at work and I've been incapable of summoning the time or energy to post anything.

    There's a lot I'd like to write about, but for the sake of my employment I really can't. It's not that I want to defame my bosses or complain about works conditions, it's that I'd like to write about Springfield, Chicopee and Holyoke in a more candid manner. I can't though, as my comments would undoubtedly affect the way I do my job.

    You see reporters and editors are forever walking a line between being insiders and outsiders. Yes, we know things, and folks like to treat us like best friends until of course we have to write something negative and then we're in the freezer. We're also quite jaded about the political process and yet we're True Believers as well.

    There are many, many times I'd like to say what I really think, but as all journalists, especially ones in local markets, I must always exercise a certain level of restraint.

    The level of ego-drive maniacs and morons in local governments is astounding. Statements any more specific than that become the subject of libel, though.

    There's a lot of censorship I do to protect people from themselves such as the local mayor who dropped the "f" bomb a few times when describing certain members of that town's council. He did so during an on-the-record conversation. Now he knew the game. He could let me know what he thought without feeling threatened.

    Let me say that in every town I cover there are some honestly good elected officials who are succeeding in making a positive difference. There are also in every town some first-rate chowderheads whose re-election to their positions defy all logic.

    That's why I seldom write about local politics here – and if I did I wonder just how many people would give a damn.

    I'm cleaning my home office as one book is now done and I've got two more in the hopper. For some reason I actually feel good about bothof them since both have received some initial interest from a publisher. Here is one of the items that has come to the surface....Charlton Heston's Christmas cards.

    No, the acclaimed actor and conservative didn't send them to me. Max Fleischer's daughter Ruth gave them to me. She was on his mailing list as he had done several films directed by Richard Fleischer. She asked me if I would like them and I thoought it was fairly surreal thing for me to have so I took them.

    But now what do I do with them? Would someone reading this post want them? They're handsome photos taken by Heston's wife Lydia.

    © 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

    Tuesday, July 17, 2007

    Howie Carr, columnist for "The Boston Herald" and long-time talk show host for WRKO in Boston has jumped ship and has left his regionally syndicated show in the lurch. I wrote the following as a response in my column last week:

    With the departure of Howie Carr from the local airwaves, one wonders who fill his sport on WHYN AM. Hmmm.let's see, like Howie, I'm in my fifties, my hair is thinning and I'm not svelte. I'm a working newspaper guy and I have broadcast experience. Some people like what I do and some don't.

    Of course, my politics are different than his and I'm not one of the beautiful people. I'm not making the money nor have the lifestyle Howie has. I actually give out Halloween candy, too. Maple High Six Corners isn't an exclusive neighborhood. I'm not obsessed with gangsters. I actually buy clothes.

    That might count against me. And, unlike Howie, I actually love this region.

    I know one thing for sure. It would be refreshing if a local radio station actually had original non-music programming during the afternoon drive period. The conventional wisdom in the industry is to put syndicated programming in that time slot.

    Now in reality, the chance Clear Channel, which owns the station mentioned, wold invest in a local host is pretty slim. The economics for a syndiacted show are much more attractive. Most syndicated shows are offered on a barter basis...you get the show for free as long as the national commercials play and you have time for local spots. No host is necessary and neither is a producer. All you need is someone at the controls making sure everything runs correctly.

    Marky Mark and I have been exchanging some e-mails and responses on other blog postings on this subject. Not to repeat myself (but I will), to me it's more important to have local programming regardless of its ideological bent than to have stuff off the satellite. I know the chance for a local host to be a conservative would be good as it would match the other shows on the schedule. But I care less about that than I do hearing local voices discussing local events.

    Would I perfer a liberal or a moderate? Sure. But trying to reverse the trend of the dominance of canned national opinion on local radio is more my priority.

    © 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

    Monday, July 16, 2007

    You know, you've got to trust a publicist about setting up a time for an interview and the person who put me in touch with comedian Paula Poundstone arranged for me to call her at 9:30 a.m. my time...6:30 a.m. her time. She was remarkably gracious about the time and very politely asked if I could call her back later than morning. That impressed me.

    During a telephone interview there are the sounds of vacuuming and children in the background, but that’s typical for working mother and comedian Paula Poundstone.

    Poundstone, named one of the 100 greatest stars of comedy by Comedy Central, balances a performing career and being a mother of three children. She will be appearing Aug.18 at the Colonial Theater in Pittsfield.

    Poundstone is also a regular on “Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me,” the weekly news quiz show heard on National Public Radio including WFCR and WAMC. When asked if she prepares for the show that will test her knowledge of the week’s events she said, “Sadly, I do cram. But it does no good.”

    She didn’t audition for the program, but was asked by the producers and has appeared for the past six years. Originally, she would go to a local NPR in Los Angeles and be connected electronically to her fellow contestants and host Peter Sagal.

    But now the show is taped live either on the road or in a theater in Chicago and Poundstone said, “It’s definitely better.”

    “Before I was a ball player in a batting cage,” she said. She added she likes actually seeing her fellow cast members.

    The live tapings mean travel, though, and Poundstone said it can be difficult being both a parent and a touring comedian. Generally, she tries to be away from her home and family only an average of eight days a month.

    And when she is home she focuses on her family duties.

    “When I’m home, I’m really home,” she explained.

    Poundstone started her comedy career at age 19 in 1979 performing in Boston. She said she had no responsibilities at that age and “rode the wave of that time” – a time that she called a “renaissance of stand-up comedy.”

    She said she had “no particular skill or talent” but was in “the right time and the right place.

    “I went around the country learning and having fun, when it was fun,” she said.

    She credits Robin Williams for attracting attention to the new generation of comics and for allowing random thoughts and non-sequitors to be part of the new comedy landscape.

    Although her act is not known for profanity or adult material, Poundstone said “the stupidest thing” for a comic to worry about today is language.

    “My goal is to entertain people. I don’t want to say things that are mean,” she said.

    She added she doesn’t deliberately want to insult people and that words are not as important as intent.

    She admitted she is not as in tune with changes in stand-up comedy as some of her colleagues because many of her performances are at theaters rather than nightclubs. The advantage, she said, is that people really want to be at her shows and they’re not drinking.

    Today, there are fewer venues for aspiring comedians. She said that a recent club appearance she noticed several young comics who drove an hour and a half just to be able to appear a few minutes at an open mic night. She explained that in the 1980s and ‘90s, in a city such as San Francisco, she could do three open mics during one evening.

    When asked if she had pursued the sitcom career route as so many other comics had done, Poundstone said with a laugh that she hadn’t rejected sit-coms, they rejected her.

    She said that her efforts to develop a sitcom hadn’t made it as far as being a pilot. She said that when she first started exploring a career in television she didn’t understand the language used by television executives.

    This was apparent on the ABC variety show she did in 1993 that lasted three episodes. She recalled networks officials using phrase such as “We’ll leave you alone.” “We’ll give you time to develop.” and “We want something different.”

    She thought the show was an interesting experience that presented some “really great ideas.”

    She realized that there are “only a handful of people lucky enough [that]when an executive said those words they mean something.”
    After her cancellation she had lunch with another ABC executive who was interested in having Poundstone host a daytime program. She recalled she was uncertain over whether or not that would be a good move for her until the exec said, “We’ll leave you alone.”

    “I’ve had a lot of good lunches out of show business,” she said with a laugh, although she added she no longer discusses businesses over a meal.

    Network execs aside, Poundstone said, “I love my job. I’m the luckiest comic in the world.”

    © 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

    Friday, July 13, 2007

    Please go over to That's 30, my blog on media, for today's posting.

    Wednesday, July 11, 2007

    Well, our Springfield didn't win the Simpson's movie contest and I'm a little disappointed. I thought the video that was produced was solid and funny and should have been a contender (we came in fourth).

    Springfield VT won the national contest. Please, no gloating Steve!

    Some of the people at work didn't vote for ours which drive me nuts. For our community this was not so much about having a premiere, but about economic development and civic pride. Too many people kick the crap out of Springfield and this effort was designed to do something different and positive.

    Supposedly we still getting some sort of "special" screening whatever that means. I'm still seeing the film, but it would have been great thing for this city to land a little more positive national press.

    © 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

    Tuesday, July 10, 2007

    From the October 1938 ediition of Popular Science is this three-page spread on the cult film "The Terror of Tiny Town," the infamous midget Western.

    I've tried to watch this production but it is so exploitative that I always turn it off. It's not like the Westerns aimed at African-American audiences starring Herb Jeffries that were made about the same time. Their goal was to create a Western hero for black audiences.

    I doubt though there was a clamor from the community of little people for this film! We're supposed to be amazed the midgets are "normal" within the context the film establishes.

    Made on a low budget by Sam Newfield, one of the auteurs at PRC, the film is a pretty standard B western only with little people. They ride ponies instead of horses. I bet this thing was exhibited for years.

    Go over to youtube and search for it. There's a variety of clips.

    © 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

    Monday, July 09, 2007

    Marky Mark wants me to answer his question about who cares about local radio programming.

    He wanted to know if I care before he posts a new installment of our on-going volleyball game.

    At the risk of being repetitive, I do indeed care about the amount of local airtime and as I have already written, the general public cares, or at least the people I speak with, also would like to see more local time.

    Please note I'm not in the favor of the Fairness Doctrine. I believe in the free marketplace, HOWEVER, the airwaves do not belong – unlike publishers' presses – to the owners of radio stations. They are licensed by the government to serve the public good. If Clear Channel or whatever other media company doesn't like that they can go to the unfettered world of the satellite.

    Hour upon hour of syndicated programming does not serve the public good. I don't care if it's liberal or conservative.

    This isn't an arguement about ideology. It's about an economic model of a public utility that doesn't serve its consumers well.

    To recap: no to the Fairness Doctrine. No to government censorship. Yes to mandated local programming, no ideology indicated.

    Okay, I hope this clarifies my position. I know the fate of the Western world rests upon it!

    The ball has been vollied, but not spiked to Marky Mark's side of the court.

    Hey, when in beautiful Holyoke Massachusetts visit the Volleyball Hall of Fame! The birthplace of volleyball!

    Housekeeping notes...revised link to Heather Brandon's new blog...added Bill Dusty's blog...my publisher...and more!

    ©2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

    Friday, July 06, 2007

    Movies, movies, movies! And a new post on my animation blog!

    The return of the "Mystery Science" guys is highlighted in this week's DVD column.

    The Film Crew: Hollywood After Dark

    Like many people, I mourned the passing of "Mystery Science Theater 3000," the innovative television show set up hundreds of cheesy movies. Now, though, three of the Mystery Science" principals are back doing essentially the same act, only on straight to DVD releases.

    Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett are "the Film Crew," three guys who've been hired to provide commentary tracks to obscure movies because their boss has decided that every film deserves a commentary track.

    Their first assignment is perhaps one of the very worst films I've ever sat through which through their work became one of the funniest something called "Hollywood After Dark." Shot apparently in 1961 or '62 but not released until 1968, this black and white exploitation film wants to have its intellectual cake and eat it, too it's supposed to be deep and philosophical and titillating at the same time.

    Director and writer John Hayes apparently had the idea he was going to tell a hard-hitting emotional story of two people on the fringes of Hollywood. Rue McClanahan (yes, from "The Golden Girls") stars as a would-be actress making a living as stripper who falls in love with a bitter junkyard attendant. The result is a pretentious, poorly acted, terribly edited movie punctuated with nudity-free strip routines.

    The Film Crew does a great job with this subject and it's the kind of production that's gets better with repeated viewings.

    It's great to see these guys back in action.

    For more information, log onto www.shoutfactory.com

    This is Tom Jones

    You have to hand it to Tom Jones. While many of his contemporaries from the 1960s music scene have become parodies of themselves, Jones has ridden the wave of musical trends and stayed afloat. Like Tony Bennett, Jones is actually relevant to the current generation of music lovers.

    Time-Life has now released a three-DVD set of eight of Jones' ABC variety shows from 1969 and 1970. The set includes new introductions from Jones as well as archival interviews.

    The only reason to watch these shows is the music. Jones looks a little overwhelmed and uncomfortable gabbing with guest stars or participating in skits. The moments where he looks most at home is when he is singing.

    Performers such as The Who, Mary Hopkin, Burt Bacharach, Joe Cocker, Janis Joplin, Little Richard, and Aretha Franklin joined Jones on his show, providing the set with some great performances.

    For Jones fans, this set is essential and is probably the first of a series.

    For more information, log onto www.timelife.com.

    Engineering An Empire

    My mom always tried to get my brother and I to do something constructive during summer vacations by insisting completing math and English workbooks would be "fun."

    I love my mom.

    I've got a 2007 suggestion that might work a bit better. This 12 documentary set might be the cure for those kids who think history is boring.

    "Engineering an Empire" is a great combination of travelogue, mystery, archeology and history and looks at civilizations from the British Empire to Russia under the Czars to the ancient Mayans.

    Peter Weller, the actor known for his role as "Robocop," is the host of the series and has some legitimate history chops himself he lectures at Syracuse University on the Roman Empire.

    This is fascinating stuff that kids and adults should like. You'll learn and not even realize it!

    For more information log onto www.historychannel.com.


    My friend Frank Lapointe lent me a copy of this recently- released colorized version of the 1935 adventure/fantasy film and I was pretty excited about the prospects of viewing it.

    "She," for many years had been considered a "lost" film. There are literally thousands of movies most of the silent era that no longer exists. Negatives and prints were either trashed years ago or allowed to decompose.

    Generally the motion picture industry has done a pretty lousy job of preserving its own history.

    Sometimes these films do turn up in private collections or in foreign archives. Some have proven to be well worth watching while others might deserve to stay lost!

    "She" was a major film produced by Merian Cooper, the man who brought us the original "King Kong." The movie adapted a popular adventure novel by H. Rider Haggard about the queen of a hidden nation who can live forever thanks to a mysterious blue flame. The queen, known as "She Who Must Be Obeyed," is waiting for the return of her great love and he arrives in the form of a distant ancestor who is following up on a cryptic story passed down in his family.

    This is a lot of fun for those of us who enjoy movies from the 1930s. Helen Gahagan's performance as the queen is deliciously over the top and the film has a handsome epic look to it.

    And the color? I hate to say this, but I liked it. It was tastefully done by people who actually wanted their color choices to have reflected the time this film was made.

    The disc has extras including a feature of the colorization process and has an interview with special effect legend Ray Harryhausen, who endorsed this process.

    For more information, log onto www.legendfilms.com

    Pumpkinhead: Ashe to Ashes

    This will be the last Sci Fi Pictures release I will ever watch. I just don't have enough time left to endure yet another cheapjack piece of tripe from the cable channel.

    This one is the third "Pumpkinhead" movie. The first, directed by Academy Award winning make-up artist Stan Winston was a great little film about a grieving father who turns loose a demon of vengeance on the teenagers who accidentally killed his son. The father, played by the great Lance Henriksen, quickly regrets his decision and battles the monster himself in order to save others.

    The film had a deep emotional core, which made it a cut above the typical monster movie. It also had Winston's great make-up for the demon.

    This new film does have a cameo by Henriksen we all have to pay the rent but has none of the attributes of the first film. It's merely an excuse to present a series of gore sequences that get old and stupid very quickly.

    Director Jake West doesn't even have the skill to let us know when and where the action takes place. It's supposedly today in the deep, deep South, but who knows?

    And who cares? In the old days this film would have received third billing at the drive-in and shown at about 2 a.m.


    If you must learn more, go to www.SonyPictures.com.

    Tuesday, July 03, 2007

    Previews of coming attractions: I will finally address Marky Mark's question about why I won't admit the media is leaning left in this country! Will Mark succeed in wringing that out of me just like my promise not to vote for Hilary Clinton? Stay tuned!....Plus selected shorts: Terrors of Tinytown! (pun intended)

    Yes, I know you’re reading this before the Fourth of July and you have other things than politics on your mind. I wonder, though, whether people even think about the reasons for the celebration between lighting up that illegal firecracker, taking a trip to the beach or deciding what to put on that hot dog at the family picnic.

    I tend to think we’ve forgot as a society the risky experiment this country represented to its founders and first citizens. Generally we tend to take for granted the freedoms we have today – those that were denied to so many over 200 years ago and those that this imperfect republic denied to many years after that.

    I’d like to remind you what the holiday is all about. Don’t worry, I’ll skip all of the reasons why we wanted to form our own nation and I won’t correct the funky spelling:

    “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

    “Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”

    Isn’t it a fascinating concept that government should serve the people and not the other way around?

    Too many people seem content today to not only allow their freedoms to become eroded in the name of political expediency and to disengage from the process of governing their town, their state and their nation.

    In our nation’s history there have always been people who are eager to assume the power that others have abandoned. I know it’s a cliché, but in order to have a republic such as ours we actually need to be part of it.

    Let someone else make the decisions? Well, the result can be seen in the pithy definition of the word “liberty” by another great American, newspaperman and Ambrose Bierce: “Liberty: One of imagination’s most precious possessions.”

    © 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

    Monday, July 02, 2007

    Sorry for the lack of activity, but it's been a taxing week at work. I've got a lot to post this week, though, including an article on the making of the only-to-this-date midget Western, "The Terror of Tinytown."

    Some folks on the right wing like to talk about how the press in general is left leaning. Generally, I find a lot of reporters to be mistrustful of anyone in power – left or right – and the corporate ownership of most media tends to produce products that advance their own status quo agendas.

    The Center for American Progress (CAP) recently released an analysis of talk radio that is pretty eye opening for folks who feel that somehow talk radio isn’t “big” media and that it isn’t dominated by a single point of view.

    Take a moment to go to http://www.americanprogress.org/pressroom/releases/2007/06/radio_release.html and read the whole report for yourself.

    Here’s one of their major points: radio stations licensed by the Federal Communications Commission are supposed to serve their local area. Are they actually serving the public good by running one kind of viewpoint and eliminating most local programming?

    From the report: “Our analysis in the spring of 2007 of the 257 news/talk stations owned by the top five commercial station owners reveals that 91 percent of the total weekday talk radio programming is conservative, and 9 percent is progressive.

    “Each weekday, 2,570 hours and 15 minutes of conservative talk are broadcast on these stations compared to 254 hours of progressive talk—10 times as much conservative talk as progressive talk.

    “A separate analysis of all of the news/talk stations in the top 10 radio markets reveals that 76 percent of the programming in these markets is conservative and 24 percent is progressive, although programming is more balanced in markets such as New York and Chicago…

    “Our conclusion is that the gap between conservative and progressive talk radio is the result of multiple structural problems in the U.S. regulatory system, particularly the complete breakdown of the public trustee concept of broadcast, the elimination of clear public interest requirements for broadcasting, and the relaxation of ownership rules including the requirement of local participation in management…

    “‘There is little free speech or free choice in a market system that pushes out one-sided information 90 percent of the time on the radio,’ said John Halpin, senior fellow at CAP. ‘Radio stations are licensed to operate in the public interest. Promoting one point of view over all others does not meet any reasonable public-interest standard. We need to restore the original purpose of broadcast licensing – to ensure that radio stations are responsive to local and community needs.’”

    Interestingly, they found that corporate-controlled radio is conservative, but radio stations owned locally or by women and minorities tend to be progressive.

    Here are their suggestions: “This analysis suggests that any effort to encourage more responsive and balanced radio programming will first require steps to increase localism and diversify radio station ownership to better meet local and community needs. We suggest three ways to accomplish this:

    • Restore local and national caps on the ownership of commercial radio stations.

    • Ensure greater local accountability over radio licensing.

    • Require commercial owners who fail to abide by enforceable public interest obligations to pay a fee to support public broadcasting.”

    This was published in one of our papers on Monday morning and I already have received a letter saying that liberals want to supress freedom of speech by eliminating conservative radio. I'm convinced no matter what I write, people simply read what they want to believe.

    © 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs