Thin-skinned journalists who schmooze with the powers-that-be

by Steve, October 2nd, 2012

The Oregonian clings to the outdated 20th century charade of objectivity, even while nagging their reporters to get with social media, and even while editors and reporters continue to socialize with the people they’re supposed to be covering. (The pretense of “objectivity” is, in the end, just another way of comforting the comfortable.)

It’s well known that former editor Sandra Rowe and late editorial page editor Bob Caldwell partied with child rapist Neil Goldschmidt. Then there was golden boy reporter Tom Hallman taking gifts from Andy Wiederhorn, the subject of a Hallman puff piece who later plead guilty to federal tax charges.

Now, with twitter, the schmooze fest between reporters and the powers-that-be is occasionally revealed in all its quaint naiveté, as when self-absorbed columnist-cum-beat reporter Anna Griffin glibly invited the mayor’s deputy chief of staff over for brunch.

The thin-skinned part comes when she’s called out on this…

…and then blocks the twitter user calling her out.

Of course, anybody can continue to see (and laugh at) her tweets (variously begging for story ideas, telling scatological stories on her child or just creating found poetry), which, as has been pointed out, don’t necessarily fit with Bhatia’s pleas to use social media to drive traffic to the O’s comically horrid Web site.

And, as one reader notes, “All her stories make me go WTF….” Just another “Digital Day” in the life of a soon-to-be unemployed hack writer.

What is Portland’s most Awesome!-ist Web site?

by Steve, June 19th, 2012

Portland may have a shortage of affordable housing, family wage jobs, diversity, good public schools and trustworthy leadership, but there is one thing in ample supply: enthusiasm about how great Portland is. There are any number of white people with blogs who want to tell you all about it!

So, herewith is our list of Portland’s Top Ten Most Awesome!est Web Sites! (As measured by Google hits on the word “awesome.” See, Portland also seems to have a shortage of thesauri.)*

Number 10: Byron Beck is beyond Awesome! (and he probably owns a thesaurus); consequently he barely tips the meter with 203 Awesome!s.

Number 9: Food Carts Portland suffers an unexpected dearth of Awesome!ness with only 283 Awesome!s. (We think this might be a technical problem with Google.) This site is self-described as “an ode to Portland’s food carts,” with a focus on the “positive,” though “we will always be honest in my findings.” (We try to be honest with my findings, too, even when they don’t support our preconceived notions.)

Number 8: You wouldn’t expect grouchy megalomaniac blogger BoJack to score high on the Awesome! scale, but you might be surprised. Maybe it’s by sheer volume, but in his approximately 36 years of tossing out red meat for libertarian gubmint haters, he and his followers managed a respectable 526 Awesome!s. (There used to be a blog called “Portland’s Future Awesome!” that was a direct response to BoJack’s crankiness, but I think they ran out of exclamation points and had to shut down!)

Number 7: Willamette Week scores a middling 663 Awesome! points.

Number 6: The shameless political bottom feeders at Blue Oregon clock in with 807 on the Awesome! scale. You might think it would be higher, what with their shilling for paid clients and all. But then they try so hard to be taken seriously. (Erstwhile wannabe BO competitor Loaded Orygun shut down and nobody noticed, so we can’t even do a query there.)

Number 5: Silicon Florist is a continual gush about how cool the Web and mobile app startup scene is in Portland (never mind the thousands of engineers working at Intel and Tektronix and the like in the actual Silicon Forest), so you’d think they’d score higher than 853 Awesome!s.

Number 4: Urban Honking, the Portland blog nobody ever heard of that once hosted a lame sycophantic blog nobody read called Portland’s Future Awesome!, takes it to the next level with 2,500 Awesome! points.

Number 3: The party rockers at PDX Pipeline up the Awesome! with 5020.

Number 2: The alt weekly Portland Mercury serves the hipster demographic, so it’s hard to know what to expect. On the one hand, they try to come off as jaded. But they also like to appear ironic. Despite that, they’re some of the biggest suckers when it comes to gentrification polices shrouded in the Awesome!ness of sustainability, bikes, pop music, fashion, public nudity or gayness (not that there’s anything wrong with that). The results? A whole next next level with 27,000 on the Awesome! scale!

But what’s the singular, most incredibly Awesome!est Web site on the scene?

Portland, I give you the inspiration for this whole ridiculous Awesome! exercise…

Number 1: Bike Portland, with an Awesome! 52,500 Awesome! points. How can Bike Portland beat the closest contender by a nearly two-to-one margin of Awesome!? We don’t know… Maybe because everything is Awesome! when your majority white male demographic wields out-sized policy influence at City Hall. (Now listen, take it easy, I’ve been a white male Portland metro bike commuter since I moved here in 1989.)

Disclaimer: This study is non-scientific. Actual Awesome!ness may vary. Some Awesome! sites we’ve never heard of were probably omitted. Our own Portland blog, which nobody reads, was never even in the running, with a mere 52 on the Awesome! scale (not counting this post, which still wouldn’t put us in the running). The only people who will read this post are my wife and people with Google alerts set up for mentions of their Awesome! Web sites. Yeah, that’s right, I’m looking at you.

Stupid, stupid Oregonian

by Steve, May 17th, 2012

You know I’ve repeatedly dinged The Oregonian for failing to “get it” with new media. Like that time back in 2009 when they were experimenting with Reddit (right about the time the rest of the world was big time on Twitter and Facebook) and everybody got excited because they could get their links on the front page of the local daily’s Web site.

All the SEO morons were loving it, because they could drive a ridiculous amount of traffic to their clients’ sites really fast. Many people clicking through links on the Oregonian Web site didn’t even realize they were going to third-party content, as evidenced by this comment on a post I wrote about buying a new car (for another crappy outfit that didn’t really get new media).

Sure, it was juvenile, but when I punked The Oregonian (and their hack reporter Bryan Denson), there was a point to it. We also had fun putting other links on the Oregonian’s front page under the heading “Today’s hottest links,” like “No Arguing With Assclowns On The Internet Day” (Nancy’s brainchild) and “Oregonian: a Day Late and a Dollar Short”.

(Reddit, by the way, is owned by Advance Publications, which also owns The Oregonian and its ugly Web step-sibbling, OregonLive. No wonder it sucks so hard.)

Some time in the past few years (I don’t know, I don’t bother with their clunky Web site much), they got hip with the Twitter program. I noticed this yesterday when checking election results.

Take a closer look at that Twitter feed:

Heh heh heh. Ohhh…. You fracture me, Oregonian.

Rush to judgement

by Steve, March 7th, 2012


Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them. –Margaret Atwood

When you put it in that light (and as a man, I can assure you the first half is true), it’s not hard to imagine why the altogether reasonable Sandra Fluke making the altogether reasonable case for the inclusion of contraception in health care would send Rush Limbaugh into a three-day conniption fit.

Rush, after all, is a walking, stumpy, flacid little dick who needs Viagra to get it up (prescribed in somebody else’s name, because he’s ashamed of his emasculated state). He’s a hypocritical drug addict and a know-nothing blowhard, who is so freaked out by a confident, independent, well-educated woman speaking up in a public forum, he nearly wets himself trying to discredit her, ultimately resorting to puerile name-calling and bizarre, perverted innuendo.

But Limbaugh is the least of our concerns; just a distraction, really.

It was the Catholic Church, with all their medieval misogyny and repressed sexuality on display, that first emerged to challenge the president on his altogether reasonable requirement that private employers provide comprehensive health insurance policies to their employees. It was Obama who entertained this outrageous challenge from the other side of the bright constitutional line, and offered a compromise. It was the Catholic Church again which expressed its dissatisfaction with Obama’s compromise. (To his credit, Obama refused to give more.)

It was GOP congressman Darrel Issa who called on 10 men, five of them clergy representing retrograde religious institutions, to testify as experts about women’s health policy, and refused to let Sandra Fluke testify… on the grounds that she wasn’t qualified to speak about women’s health policy.

No, this isn’t about Rush Limbaugh. This is about systematic attacks on the most basic advancements of women’s rights over the past 50 years. This is about the rump of the old guard, who want women back in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, under the control of their husbands.

The Catholic Church is at the vanguard of these attacks (small wonder), but it’s the GOP, in the throes of an existential identity crisis, that’s seizing the moment. It’s the endangered white male all over again, positively panicked at the reality of waning influence unfolding before them.

It will backfire on them, of course. The GOP base is a rapidly shrinking demographic, and no amount of pandering to it can reverse inexorable demographic trends.

It already has backfired on Rush. Varying accounts put the number of major advertisers who have pulled support of his show at as many as 36. His show may or may not survive. No big deal either way.

But for Republicans, who still need at least a few women to vote for them, alienating half the voting public is a very bad move. There’s a lot of schadenfreude to be gleaned as GOP presidential contenders fall all over themselves trying to out-caveman one another, but the unfortunate side effect is that we actually have to publicly re-litigate matters that we thought were settled in, say 1972.

Contraception is not radical to most Americans, even if it is to regressive religious organizations some of them affiliate with. Most citizens of the industrialized world have easy access to it, and it is not a source of the slightest controversy. As a matter of public policy, it leads to lower overall health care costs and a higher standard of living for all citizens when women are provided with the means to control their reproductive destiny.

This is not a matter for the Catholic Church — an organization which has repeatedly shielded child rapists; contributed to countless AIDS deaths with its prohibition on condoms; brought us not one, but four Inquisitions; and which still seems to yearn for a repeal of the Age of Enlightenment — to weigh in on. For them to play this as an attack on their religious liberty is cynical to say the least, as they aggressively try to assert their dominion over the constitutional rule of law.

We can only hope that all this bluster is a last gasp of dead-enders, and a clarion call for women to repudiate the toxic brew that passes for political discourse these days. We’ve come too far to revert to naked phallocracy.

Anna Griffin Tweet Mash-up

by Steve, February 2nd, 2012

A collection of Anna Griffin’s tweets, compiled and mashed up by Fred Leonhardt. (Anna Griffin is on leave from The Oregonian, but will once again grace its pages with her substantive musings soon).

Tomorrow’s column

    Tomorrow’s column
    is decidedly mediocre
    and touchy feely.
    I apologize
    and promise that Saturday’s column
    will be
    snarktastic and meaty.

Thursdays

    Is it time for Project Runway?
    Is it time for Project Runway?
    Hell, is it time for Jim and Pam to get married?
    I love Thursdays …

Life is Weird

    Life is weird:
    Working in a coffee shop,
    sitting right next to a guy who is reading my column
    and oblivious to my presence.

Starbucks

    On the blissful Monday agenda:
    homelessness
    unemployment
    prostitution
    campaign finance reform,
    sore throats
    nasty headaches and
    snot galore.
    Anybody got any happy news for me?
    I am thankful for coffee
    There is no amount of bad morning that a maple bar and coffee cannot fix.

My Basic Philosophy

    My basic philosophy:
    If they have a maple bar,
    you buy it.
    Not hungry?
    Watching your weight?
    Doesn’t matter.
    A maple bar trumps all.

Bag, Dang It

    A co-worker just referred
    to my cute little bag
    as a purse.
    I am 99% certain
    I never have carried a purse.
    It’s a cute little bag,
    dang it.

Ode to George Clooney

    I dreamed I was pregnant last night
    It’s been a long time since I was this happy to wake up.
    Dear George Clooney:
    Next time you appear in my dreams, could you ditch
    the horn,
    tail
    and weird lizard tongue?
    Actually, keep the tongue.

Badass

    When the badass black boots
    in my giant size
    are marked down from $110 to $60,
    I’m meant to buy them, right?
    Isn’t that a sign
    from above?
    Tom McCall,
    any way your ghost might come show us the way?

B.J.

    Headed to a kiddie bday party featuring
    B.J. the Clown.
    I just bought real pork sausage
    Now I feel naughty.
    Neil Goldschmidt, could you lend someone your vision,
    if not your morals?
    And yes,
    I’m 13.

Eileen Brady’s pass expires

by Steve, February 1st, 2012

labor

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Let’s all go shopping

Last year, when Eileen Brady declared her intent to run for Portland Mayor, I started trying to draw attention to her and her husband’s anti-labor past with Nature’s fresh Northwest and its successor, New Seasons Market. Portland’s non-union (and often anti-union) media missed the boat completely and gave her a pass when she claimed credibility as a “progressive” employer.

Now Nigel Jaquiss, one of the few reporters in town who not only “gets it” on any number of issues, but also has the editorial freedom to “write it,” has dug up a remarkable passage in the New Seasons employee manual Brady takes credit for writing (her paternalistic husband claims he wrote the passage in question).

Labeling unions “extremist” and lumping them in with “anti-human rights organizations,” the manual appears in conflict with federal labor law (which guarantees workers the right to talk with and about unions).

Read Nigel’s piece to get all the hilarity of Brady’s husband Brian Rohter (who screamed sexism at an earlier WW piece) trying to shield his wife from criticism on this.

Way to go, Nigel. Glad there’s at least one reporter in Portland who is willing to probe Brady’s questionable past with regard to organized labor.

Update 2/1/2012 2:00pm: Brady’s campaign wasted no time getting a defensive e-mail blast out (read it on her campaign Web site).

Child rapist Neil Goldschmidt and what would have been (convicted felon, registered predatory sex offender)

by Steve, January 30th, 2012

If justice had been served in the case of Neil Goldschmidt’s serial rape, he would now be in prison, or, if he’d already served his time, he would be a registered sex offender.

If, as he said, he started raping his victim when she was 15, he would have been convicted of one or more counts of third degree rape, a class C felony.

If, as she said (may she rest in peace), he started raping her when she was 13, he would have been convicted of one or more counts of second degree rape, a class B felony.

Second degree rape is an Oregon Measure 11 crime; each count carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 6 years and 3 months.

In either case (second or third degree), Goldschmidt would have been branded a convicted felon and compelled to register as a sex offender after serving his time, likely as a predatory sex offender. As such, he would be prohibited from schools, parks, day care centers, skate parks, or other places minors congregate.

So, Krista Swan, you may have your feelings hurt by getting called out on this, but think of it this way: if justice had been served, would you be as giddy to have run into a registered predatory sex offender at the West Café, and would your friend April Severson be honored to be on his top five list? Would you write about it and post it under “Family” on your mom blog? What if it had been Jerry Sandusky instead of Neil Goldschmidt?

You ask the twitterverse “Does it mean I’ve ‘made it’ as a blogger when I start getting hateful, ‘What kind of mother are you?’ comments on the blog?”

What do you expect to hear back? “Oh, it’s okay that you venerate a child rapist. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t go after your daughter.”

I’m sorry you think we “suck” for pointing out how disgusting it is to pay homage to this sick bastard. Maybe you should consider how much it “sucked” for Goldschmidt’s victim, knowing that if she went public, she’d be pilloried by people who still worship Goldschmidt, who still think he’s “the man.”

The fact is, Neil Goldschmidt didn’t just repeatedly rape a teenager. He destroyed a human life. Was that life worth nothing in the end?

From within the hermetic little world of Portland’s elites, it must create a great deal of cognitive dissonance to hear Goldschmidt called what he is: a child rapist, a destroyer of human life. After all, so many people in this little berg owe their careers, wealth and status to the patronage machine he created.

As his victim said, “Neil Goldschmidt is God.”

But from outside that incestuous world, to normal parents fiercely protecting their children above all else, he’s sick and dangerous. He needs to be separated from the herd, not revered, not allowed to re-emerge as a public figure whose opinion is to be valued.

The “conspiracy of indifference,” as Fred Leonhardt called it, must finally be exposed and destroyed.

So here’s what you do, if you’re at a restaurant and a known child rapist (say, Neil Goldschmidt) walks in: Inform your server that you are not comfortable dining in his presence. If they seat him anyway, get your food packed to go, get up, and walk out.

Update 2/6/2012: Krista has, to her credit, removed the offensive post about Goldschmidt.

Update 2/9/2012: Evidently, the post was only removed by accident. Or maybe Krista wants to stand up to the Internet Meanies. In any case, it’s back. Some people have no shame.

Don’t believe the hype

by Steve, October 10th, 2011

The corporate media of the world first tried to ignore the Occupy Wall Street movement. Then they tried to portray it as clueless.

Many people seem to be buying that portrayal.

Watch as former Rep. Alan Grayson smacks down Libertarian talking head P.J. O’Rourke while neatly summing up the raison d’être of the movement.

Rev. Chuck Currie: “You are a jerk”

by Steve, September 9th, 2011


The Right Reverend Chuck Currie

Like a one-legged man eagerly hopping into an ass-kicking contest, the Right Reverend Chuck Currie, Portland’s celebrity spokes-model and Great White Hope for “progressive” Christianity, penned a finger-wagging open letter in response to anti-religious comments on the Portland Mercury’s blog post about an anti-gay church moving in to Southeast Portland.

For those who don’t read the Merc, you should know that it’s an “alt weekly,” with a young and edgy reader demographic. They drop the F-bomb all over the place, so any reader of their blog shouldn’t be shocked to see a few dropped in comments, or by the generally irreverent tone.

In his letter, Currie essentially equates ridicule of magical thinking with actual oppression experienced by gays and ethnic minorities: “…general intolerance and even hatred toward people of faith is just as evil as hatred directed at people because of their sexual orientation or color.”

But… but… but… Christians don’t get the shit kicked out of them by gays just for being Christian, or have laws passed infringing on their basic human rights! (Can I get an amen?) This is patently offensive, of course, and it was immediately called out with a chorus of hoots from Merc readers.

Commenter Graham, who probably writes more copy on the Merc blog than any single Merc staffer, nailed it right away: “This idiot is confusing acceptance with tolerance. I have to tolerate that religious people are idiots and live in my city, I don’t have to accept their stupid fucking drivel.”

I decided to jump in, using a bit of the Merc lingua franca (cussing), ending with and invitation for “all believers to shut the fuck up about their Gods, no matter how just and merciful they may imagine them to be. ” (I can’t help it; I’m a little sensitive to all the godliness being trotted out on the eve of the 9/11 anniversary.)

I ultimately questioned Chuck’s beliefs, quoting from his denomination’s “statement of faith,” which talks about Christ as savior. This pissed him off, and he responded in delicious fashion.

First he basically renounced John 3:16 (“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”) with the Universalist statement “there are different paths to God….” Having brushed aside a perfectly legitimate logical query into his take on the fundamental tenet of Christianity, he turned on me, showing his true colors.

“Your problem, with respect,” he wrote, “is that you lack any real understanding of the great diversity within Christian tradition. And you are a jerk.” (Emphasis mine.)

I gave him some jazz for being a charlatan and cherry-picking from the bible, which he countered with more ad hominem: “You are letting the Religious Right define Christianity for you. You’re letting them set the terms of what is acceptable thought. That’s dumb.” (Emphasis mine, again.)

I closed with this:

No, Chuck, I’ve let the history of Christianity define Christianity for me. Despite you calling me “dumb” (another badge of honor!), I know a thing or two about that history. Modern fundamentalists do not aberrate from this historical arc. The real “fringe” elements in the continuum of this ancient faith are those few who reject the basic tenet of Christ as savior.

My final word here, just to wrap it back to your original sin in writing this ridiculous, sanctimonious, finger-wagging letter: You want us to tolerate bigots, and equate ridicule of their magical thinking to bigotry.

Modern human society has no responsibility to tolerate retrograde thinkers who advocate categorical infringement of basic human rights based on irrational beliefs. In the public policy sphere, whether domestic (basic rights) or foreign (religious wars), we have a responsibility to oppose them at every turn, for the good of human civilization.

If you can’t handle ridicule of your faith, don’t talk about it in public. Instead, “enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret.” (Matthew 6:6)

I have heard that Chuck is a real nice guy total asshole (I’ve never met him). But for somebody who is very public about professing his magical thinking, he sure has a thin skin. And a lot of damn nerve equating intolerance of bigots to bigotry.

Happy Labor Day, from the anti-labor Oregonian

by Steve, September 5th, 2011

laborThe Oregonian has been nominally anti-labor, at least since their acrimonious 1959-1961 destruction of their own union. They have become more actively anti-labor since the 2009 appointment of libertarian N. Christian Anderson as publisher.

This Labor Day the Oregonian splashed the headline “A public unions battle in Oregon?” across A-1, above a story by clueless political hack Jeff Mapes which, without a hint of irony, details the anti-labor initiatives which may or may not make it onto the Oregon ballot, as well as past measures which have lost.

And who’s been the O’s go-to guy on this shit for years? Why of course, we get a money quote from and convicted felon Bill Sizemore above the fold on this day to celebrate working people: “It would be fun to have this on the ballot again…. It would be the ghost of Bill Sizemore on the ballot again.”

You’ve got to read well past the jump, to A-7, to find to a couple quotes from labor leaders. You know, the folks who actually have credibility with working people in this state.

Also above the fold is a headline about the US Postal Service’s fiscal woes, with a deck blaming “generous labor contracts” (and “the Net”).

Of course the O can’t be expected to note that working people are the vast majority of people, or that public sector unions buoy wages, benefits and working conditions for all workers, or that a major aggravating factor in the current, persistent recession is the loss of public sector jobs. Instead, we get the persistent drum beat of anti-worker, libertarian/monetarist, anti-deficit, counter-progressive propaganda. It’s not just the O, of course. But it’s kind of sickening to wake up to this crap on Labor Day.