Dancing Early

The first editions of the morning papers are out and they are salivating over the prospect of an Obama victory. Headlines like “The family 24 hours away from changing the world”, “Obama in Poll Position” (showing him side-by-side with Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton, another young black man), “The last lap” (showing Obama in a victorious pose).

The press over here is biased at the best of times. This is not the best of times.

Television news presenters here are even more gleeful than Katie Couric. I am waiting for one of them to jump up and do the dance of joy. Perhaps I will have to wait until tomorrow night to see that. Perhaps there will be a miracle instead.

The Prince of Darkness and the Unaccountable Media Bias

Anyone who has been watching media coverage of the US Presidential election can hardly have missed that any misstep by the Republicans is amplified and that of the Democrats is minimalised. Right now, with Obama leading in the polls, Katie Couric (who I watch most nights) is almost bursting with enthusiasm and joy.

Things are not much different here in the UK. George Osbourne, the Shadow Chancellor (Opposition spokesman on treasury matters) once attended a party given by rich Russian businessman on his really big yacht. He didn’t ask for a donation to the Conservative Party and he did not receive one. As a result, the BBC and other media outlets have been running this story non-stop. They are almost urging people to call for his ouster.

On the other hand, the sleaze-ridden twice-resigned and twice-rehabilitated Prince of Darkness, Peter Mandelson, back in the cabinet again, has now admitted that he lied about when he also met with the same Russian oligarch. He had previously said he met Oleg Deripaska, merely in a social context, in 2006 and 2007. Or as he finally had to admit, “During the weekend when I moved from Brussels to London and prior to me being admitted to hospital for an urgent medical procedure, a statement was released to the press which said I had had meetings with Mr Deripaska in 2006 and 2007.  Some people formed the reasonable view, therefore, that my first meeting with him was in 2006. This is not the case: To the best of my recollection we first met in 2004 and I met him several times subsequently.”

It also just happened that Deripaska’s aluminium business made huge profits because Mandelson, as European Trade Commissioner, cut back the import duties in 2005. Deripaska owns the largest aluminium producer in the world, UC Rusal.

But it’s not Mandelson, a member of the Government, that is being pressured to resign again, it is a front bencher in the not-so-Conservative Party. As David Cameron, the Leader of the Opposition, said, this must be the first financial scandal where there weren’t any finances involved. In fact, it is not even illegal to solicit political donations from foreigners (something both Mr Osborne and Mr Deripaska agree didn’t happen), it is only illegal to accept them (something the Tories didn’t do).

And it would seem that the only one in a position to start the allegations against Mr Osborne was someone else who was at the party, namely, Lord Mandelson. This would be the same Lord Mandelson that was recently attacked by George Osborne for his ties to Deripaska. Mandelson’s approach seems to be, “Attack me for my long-time relationship to a dodgy Russian tycoon and not only will I lie about it, I’ll say you were the one doing a dodgy deal.”

And unsurprisingly the BBC and print media have go along with it. They ignore the fact that Mandelson has fallen from power in a Government that has made it very difficult to fall from power in two separate financial scandals. They turn on the otherwise squeaky clean George Osborne.

It is as if the BBC is playing a game. Someone has decided that they will continue to report on this long enough and often enough that the Tories have to say something to deny it and then report the denial long enough and often enough until people figure there must be something to it, or the Tories wouldn’t keep denying it.

Yet Another Apology for Slavery

When I saw on the CNN website that New Jersey was considering joining the misguided legislators of the Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland in apologising for slavery, I thought, here we go again, more of liberal white folks and their politically correct guilt. Then I got curious.

The resolution is sponsored by Assemblymen William Payne and Craig Stanley. They are both black. Funny, CNN didn’t mention that. Why are they apologising for slavery? So it’s not so much that they feel guilty for slavery as they want to make other people feel guilty for it.

The resolution is being considered today by committee. The Assembly Appropriations Committee. When I saw that, I thought it seemed odd. There’s no spending involved in the resolution. Why would it get assigned to Appropriations? Somebody must have convinced the Assembly Speaker to send it to Appropriations. Will it get an easier ride there than somewhere else?

After all, the closest comparable legislation this session was ACR 175 which “Honors victims of the Holocaust forced to wear yellow badge with Star of David.” It was sent to the State Government Committee, where it died there without action. It was, however, introduced by two Republicans.

And maybe the Holocaust resolution wasn’t forceful enough. It was, after all, a modest five “Whereas” sentences long. ACR 270, the slavery resolution, with a verbosity that would make Al Sharpton proud, runs 26 paragraphs, some of them quite lengthy. See for yourself.

When I looked into why ACR 270 might get an easy ride in Appropriations, I saw that Chairwoman Nellie Pou had co-sponsored other legislation with Payne and Stanley, including extra money for the Wynona M. Lipman Ethnic Studies Center at Keen University. So you know me – I wanted to find out more about this facility. I found a report on the dedication of the center in 2003. It was in this report that I found a unique bit of journalism.

The daughter of the late Senator for whom the center is named spoke at the dedication. Or as the writer put it, “In memory of her mother, and in honor of the event, she read a stirring poem from the late poet, rapper and activist Tupac Shakur. . .” This is the same Tupac Shakur who shot two police officers, went to prison for a sexual assault that the judge descibed as “an act of brutal violence against a helpless woman”, went back to jail for an attack on a former employer, paid off a family in six figures for the death of their six-year-old son, had a former friend murdered execution-sytle, and finally beat the crap out the wrong person which led to Tupac’s death the same night in a drive-by shooting.

But for Assemblymen Payne and Stanley, all that is no doubt the fault of white people in the 18th and 19th century, so they want an apology.

No Tears for Media Giants

The Government here is under a lot of pressure from media companies to put a lot of pressure on ISPs to stop file sharing downloads. At the same time, the High Court ruled against a pub landlady who used a foreign service to show Premier League football, rather than BSkyB, which has the exclusive right to show the matches in the UK.

I think there is a difference between using a camcorder in a cinema to get the scoop on the release of a film and downloading a telelvision programme that has already been shown. It’s a bit like the pub landlady, only with no cost implications for the viewer. The programme has already gone to air. It doesn’t cost the end user anything wherever they watch it. If companies want to maximise profits from advertisers, they need to broadcast simultaeously worldwide, rather than go from country to country in a piecemeal fashion.

When it comes to music downloads, I think there is a question as to whether it is mass larceny or mass revolt against the fleecing of the record companies. The record companies are complaining that they face ever-declining profits.

However, back in January 2006, “Sony BMG reported net income of $178 million on sales of $1.49 billion for the three months ended December 31 [2005].” Then this month Bloomberg reported on the BMG half of that partnership:

Bertelsmann AG, Europe’s largest media company, plans to boost revenue by about 50 percent over the next eight years as it expands the Arvato services unit and in countries including China and India.

Sales will exceed 30 billion euros ($44 billion) by 2015, Chief Executive Officer Designate Hartmut Ostrowski said in Berlin today. That’s similar to the revenue Time Warner Inc., the world’s largest media company, posted last year. Bertelsmann will have as much as 7 billion euros to invest in the next four to five years, he said.

Doesn’t your heart just weep for them when somebody shares music? Read the rest of this entry »

Christianophobia

After Mark Pritchard, MP, said British Christian traditions are being threaten by “Christianophobia”, someone with the Daily Telegraph posted the question on their website: “How should we tackle ‘Christianophobia’?”

The comments have poured in. Most of them have been vitriolic against Christianity. It was all an eye-opener for one trans-Atlantic reader:

As an American, I enjoy reading the European view of things and this is where I come to see it. We are so very different. I think that for the first time I am worried about the future of England. I had no idea that there was so much loathing for Christ.

Welcome to my world.