May 9, 2005
The BuzzFlash Mailbag
The opinions expressed in the Mailbag are not necessarily those of BuzzFlash. Read the BuzzFlash FAQ for info on submitting to the Mailbag.
Subject: Remarks on Melinda Fulop's Excellent Submission 5/6
Subject: The Revised Downward Pool
Today's Washington Post trumpeted the economic news that in the last month, " ... employers hired 274,000 additional workers, the Labor Department reported today ..." Yet strangely the unemployment numbers remained the same. I've heard these great economic numbers before only to find that two months later the numbers are "revised downward." It happens pretty regularly with the Bush administration and I wonder if it would be useful to create a Revise Downward pool, you know, like a football pool where people buy squares and see who wins in two months. It might be an interesting way to revisit the issue from a progressive viewpoint two months from now when the revision will likely happen. Wouldn't it be fun to announce a winner of the Revised Downward Pool as a news release? Any takers?
Subject: Is Impeaching Bush the Right Direction?
Like I said, Americans should be afraid because you have the
rest of the world scared skinny of what this error-prone/self-serving,
evangelical-oriented administration is capable of doing. The same
message must be delivered to the U.S. gov't as the U.S. gov't
has delivered to about 40 governments around the world ... George
Bush/Cheney/Wolfowitz, etc. must be taken out! Send a message
to the administration ... it isn't your people we're angry at
... it's this administration.
Subject: NC Anti-Dem Preacher - call the IRS and report him as
a tax fraud
... and report the violation: Report a government action that you believe violates the Constitution's requirement that church and state be kept separate.
A BuzzFlash Reader
Subject: Col. David Hackworth
He was nominated for the Medal of Honor three times (one is currently under review). With two Distinguished Service Crosses, ten Silver Stars, eight Bronze Stars, eight Purple Hearts, and scores of other awards, he was the most decorated living soldier in the United States of America. After an wartime interview in which he said, "... it can't be won. We need to get out," the colonel was pressured to get the hell out. He retired and went into self-imposed exile in Australia. After several years there, he decided that he was, ultimately, an American. He returned to his homeland to fight the good fight against the "perfumed princes" he felt had taken control of the military. He was an outspoken critic of the way "warriors" were replaced with political appointees.
He served as a war correspondent in the first Gulf War. With his Soldiers for the Truth website, he sought to right the wrongs inflicted on the U.S. armed forces by its civilian leadership. He raised issues affecting our men and women in uniform when few dared. He bitterly attacked the Bush administration for putting our boys in harm's way for questionable purposes. He sought to expose the dishonesty and incompetence behind the current Iraq debacle. His autobiography, About Face, is 896 pages long, but it is almost impossible to put down.
How did I find out about the loss? I cannot say whether it was
mentioned on the televised media, as I had my cable cut off soon
after the inauguration. I found out on the anti-Bush websites
Bartcop and BuzzFlash. When I looked on the broadcast media websites,
I only found mention of it on MSNBC. A cute young private getting
"rescued" from a hospital gets 24-hour play on every
channel. A former football star dies in Afghanistan and it is
front page news. A living corpse allowed to rest after 15 years
is the only focus of every national medium for weeks. And we now
have a "runaway bride." Disgusting.
Subject: Down the Rabbit Hole ... Through the Looking Glass ...
We have the overwhelming evidence from polls and public opinion (gee, guess they're only 'focus groups') that the Busheviks have their lowest support ever, whether it be Iraq, Social Security, foreign affairs or the economy. Yet everything is going simply wonderfully in BushWorld.
Yet with all the frightening, disturbing things happening, nothing scares me as much as the Christian fundies and the culture wars. I was a child of the 60s and 70s ... it was always a fight to achieve more equitable rights for all, to allow everyone's voices to be heard. Dissent and debate were present at the founding of this country and are at the core of what makes (or once made) this country great. This is now being stifled in a way that absolutely terrifies me. No dissent or debate of Jesus W. Shrub is allowed, in any way, shape or form. A bumper sticker can condemn you, and we don't even have to tell you why or who decided that you were a threat. If you have to ask, I guess you hate 'Merika, now, don't you?
I now see no difference between the extreme rightwing religious nuts and the Taliban. I fully expect that if we continue down this road, we'll soon have our very own 'Department for the Preservation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.' Won't that be fun? We can take more money away from the poor and elderly to pay for it ... it's for the greater good, after all. It frightens me that so many people have no inkling of the history of this country's founding, or of the beliefs that the Founding Fathers held (dare I say?) sacred. This is not, and never was, a 'Christian' nation. I do not want to live in a 'Christian' nation, especially as envisioned by people like the pastor in North Carolina.
Then there's Kansas. As an earth scientist, I've been following this evolution debate for years. The sheer ignorance of the people involved just amazes me. What constitutes science and why it's important to keep science and religious belief separated seems obvious to me. Science is factual, able to postulate what SHOULD be ... and lo! When we find that a theory can predict future findings, we stick with it. If not, we modify our hypothesis and try again.
Rarely (especially in recent history) has a theory been 'disproven.' At most, it may need some tinkering, and yes, it will evolve. Any so-called 'theory' which cannot offer the possibility of testing and analysis is NOT science. ID ["intelligent design"] is not science, and religious beliefs have no place in public schools, unless it be as social studies or mythology.
If current trends continue, I foresee the US ending up even farther behind other nations when it comes to technological advances. Not that we were doing so great before, but with such a hostile environment, even people from overseas will go elsewhere, as we will be taking a fast track back to the Dark Ages.
I think after the whole theocracy/evolution thing, I have the biggest gripe with the demonization of gays and lesbians. I'm straight, but I have known and worked with many gays and lesbians, and in general, I find them to be some of the finest people I've ever known. It royally pisses me off that they are the latest targets of narrow-minded, hypocritical a-holes. That story about the mayor of Spokane was classic! These people have no shame ... they will vilify an entire group of people, while being a member of that same group (shhhh! Don't tell anyone though!). If it's not Finklestein getting married, it's West soliciting sex with 18 year old boys online.
And don't even get me started on Gannon/Guckert! I still have no idea what the homosexual agenda is, or how they plan to take over. How is heterosexual marriage threatened, exactly? And of course, the voices from the right wing who scream the loudest about morals are the hypocrites ... the closeted gays, the adulterers, the addicts, the ethically challenged.
And in the end, it's their own children who will suffer, by being denied an education that includes science, and controversial ideas, and safe-sex education and the acceptance of people unlike themselves. It's a sad, sad thing.
Every day, I think it can't get any worse ... and then I wake up and find out that it can, and has. When will this incompetent, criminal, immoral regime be brought to justice? What will it take for those of us who are sane to take this country back? It will take decades to undo the damage already wrought, and I fear that more is to come. I know history is bigger than us, and that eventually this corrupt regime will fall ... but when? I simply hope I will live to see common sense and simple human goodness rise once again.
In the meantime, I am so glad I have sites like BuzzFlash to
keep me sane. Thank you for all the work you do, and thanks to
everyone who writes in. Buzz on, everyone! :)
Chao, GOP Hypocrite of the Week
The policy at Bank Of America when I worked there was that, in theory, you got the hours back as "Comp Time," a policy that was to later be replicated at the national level. Many former Bank employees will tell you that the "Comp Time" they earned, was a fraction of what they actually worked--let alone at a basis of 1 and 1/2 times the overtime worked (the rate at which Overtime is to be paid).
This is how it worked when I was there: I was never given any guidance on how to report this overtime and in fact, the pressure was to get the job done and my management didn't care what it took to get it done! No formal record keeping was ever done nor was any attempt made to compensate me for those extra hours until the pressure of a class action suit forced all of us to report unpaid overtime for the prior two years. All overtime before the dates included in the settlement was not compensated.
I'm certain that the settlement was viewed by Bank Executives
simply as a cost of doing business. Of course, by the time the
suit was in place, Chao was already a member of the Administration.
Those "rules" were of course what was proposed that
the unions resisted, with good reason.
Subject: Democrats Voted Out of Baptist Church
Republicans have mixed politics with religion to the detriment of both government and religion. That is becoming the downfall of this country, along with their many other mistakes including the war against Iraq, complete fiscal irresponsibility and their only concern of bowing to the wishes of the wealthy and corporate America. The worst of all is their abuse of power and ignoring the important issues affecting all citizens.
Subject: Bush ginned up Iraq war - "free" press is
Impeachment Time: Facts Were Fixed (Greg Palast/BuzzFlash)
To Tell the Truth (Joe Conason/Salon)
Subject: Dear Buzz Readers ...
Subject: Bush Fixing Iraq Facts Compounded
If Bush was fixing facts, as the July 23, 2002 memo proves, then the lie and fraud is compounded by the sham WMD search, which cost us hundreds of millions of dollars. Wow, where's Bob Barr introducing articles of impeachment when you need him?
Subject: I HAVE HAD IT!!! The AP just hung up on me
which is a different story completely).
I have sent numerous emails to the MSM about this article, and Knight Ridder News Service are the only ones in America who wrote anything about the Blair/Bush memo. We are talking about a news media who is reporting about Harry Reid calling Bush "a loser" yesterday -- but who will not report on the high crimes and misdemeanors that happened when Bush made up lies to take us to war. What the heck is going on? How can they blatantly cover up this story?
[BuzzFlash Note: Now the Chicago Tribune has run the Knight-Ridder story; it's also here: http://www.thestate.com/...]
Subject: If it quacks like a duck
Subject: aren't you wondering what happened with those two downed
planes in iraq?
A BuzzFlash Reader
[BuzzFlash Note: This AP report ran May 4 in The Houston Chronicle: Body of second pilot killed in collision found.]
Subject: I thought the youth would take up marching, but now I see we will have to do it
I am old now ... 57 and disabled. Thought I would not have to march on Washington to stop the lies and the corruption and the war. Thought the new generation could do it -- they have not. So here I am in Los Angeles ... ready to march on Washington. Can someone arrange a huge peace march? I will get my old ass up and over and march with the rest of us people who are living deja vu. This time, though, it is worse. Nixon looks like an angel compared to these crooks.
Let me know when to pack. We need hundreds of thousands to come.
Subject: (sent Sunday) We will pass 1600 dead on the
field in Iraq very soon
In Sept, 1950, there were 128 advisors using US equipment for the first time in Vietnam. In Oct, 1963 there were 16,000 advisors in Vietnam, the USA reached the number of US soldiers we now have in Iraq sometime in 1965. Troop strength in Vietnam jumped from 23,300 in 1964 to 184,300 in 1965. Keep in mind there were no smart bombs in Vietnam, but there were insurgents. South and North Vietnam both had their own armies and we got rid of the one in Iraq and are rebuilding it. I am only counting from 1964 because we didn't have that many soldiers in place until 1965.
Deaths in Vietnam were:
As I see it, and I am no military expert, we have lost 1600 on
the field and who knows how many in transport and hospital, and
we aren't fighting a conventional military anywhere in Iraq. Another
little tidbit. We seem to be losing more soldiers who are older,
in their 30s, 40s and 50s than we were when we first arrived in
Iraq. I don't think it's true that the youngsters aren't joining
up and they are calling up older reservists and guardsmen. Outfitting
a 59-year-old National Guardsman for war requires some unusual
skills, like persuading a doctor and an insurance company to approve
and supply 18 months' worth of anti cholesterol and blood pressure
medication. All this so Bush can say he isn't going to draft anyone.
Some of these kids will get their 20 years in when they only intended
to get money for college, but are having their duty extended again
Subject: re: jeb bush at Ga. republican convention--all talk
Gov. Jeb Bush strikes moral tone at Ga. Republican convention (AccessNorthGA.com)
PS/i can't believe people believe this stuff-are they blind
Subject: Laura's Bush jokes. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink; say no
Self-mocking humour is a risky area to stray into when the entire world genuinely thinks that your husband is a dangerous imbecile and the not very clever smutty jokes seem to be appealing to the lowest common denominator in humorous standards.
This is the "First Lady?" How very embarrassing for
the USA, you have the commiserations of the planet! By the way,
I thought that joke about George Bush growing taller after taking
Viagra was much funnier!
A BuzzFlash Reader
Subject: Profs who argue with their students could get sued
Subject: transcript - meet the press-he is still saying we caught
#3 man-he doesn't know about mistaken identity
LINK TO ARTICLE SAYING IT WAS NOT # 3 MAN http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-1602568,00.html
Subject: Gary Schroen on Meet the Press/Video
Also Schroen proved that John Kerry was right about Tora Bora,
and a few other tidbits like Iraq is not helping the war on terrorism
Subject: What planet are these guys from????
A BuzzFlash Reader
Subject: Rolling Stone quote
A BuzzFlash Reader
Subject : USWeb remakes the Art of the Shill into the Art of the Shull
It looks like the folks at USWeb.com, a leading Internet marketing firm, have taken the idea of shilling one step further and could very well be in violation of the Federal Trade Communications Act. While searching the online postings at CraigsList, I came across an interesting post which read,
So I sent off an email requesting further information. The reply email came from Ed Shull (ed@uswest .com) and read,
Being a poor out-of-work ex-techie hoping to get into writing as a way to make money, the first thing that came to mind was, Hey, that's a pretty good deal to make a quick five bucks, and possibly more while doing very little work. Being a one-time journalism major, the second thing that came to mind was, to go ahead and do something like this would be unethical and possibly illegal.
The problem is that the posts are not reviews at all. They are in fact paid advertisements disguised to look like the actual view or opinions of the person or consumer writing the blog. The Blogger is not required to say anywhere in the post that the views presented have been paid for by the advertiser. Even though it's common practice for advertisers to write copy that has the look and feel of a news story or a consumer endorsement, according to the FTC they are required to include that the information in the article or review is in fact a paid advertisement. In section 255.2-(b) of the "FTC GUIDES CONCERNING USE OF ENDORSEMENTS AND TESTIMONIALS IN ADVERTISING," it clearly states that, "Advertisements presenting endorsements by what are represented, directly or by implication, to be 'actual consumers' should utilize actual consumers, in both the audio and video or clearly and conspicuously disclose that the persons in such advertisements are not actual consumers of the advertised product."
So who's responsible for violating the FTC guidlines? Would it be the responsibility of the agency or company that approved and paid for the review (ad) or their client, and not that of the person writing and posting to their blog. In other words, the Blogger is merely writing poor copy that amounts to a deceptive ad. Or does the responsibility rest on the shoulders of the Blogger posting the paid review on their site without disclosing that the reviews are actually paid advertisements?
I phoned the FTC to ask how these rules apply to Bloggers. Unfortunately they were unable to answer my question. I was told that they could not answer my question in regards to how the rule applies or offer any legal interpretations as to how it may be applied. In addition, also I sent the FTC an email asking the same question and stating that I was writing an article regarding bloggers and advertising on the Internet.
I did receive a reply back from the senior press officer at the FTC, Claudia Bourne Farrell (CFARRELL@ftc.gov). She wrote me back to inquire as to whom I was writing the article for. I informed her that I was a freelancer and not working for any particular publication. After my reply I received no further emails from her regarding the matter and additional emails went unanswered.
As far as any legal issues, I can only surmise that if the opinion filed February 14, 2003 by THE DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL OF FLORIDA SECOND DISTRICT which states, "the FCC's policy against the intentional falsification of the news, which the FCC has called its "news distortion policy," does not qualify as the required ,law, rule, or regulation" under section 448.102.Ē, sets any precedent, then the rules under the FTC Guidelines are also not applicable laws but are merely suggested guidelines, which leaves only the ethical issue.
So who is Ed Shull and what company does he represent? A quick search on the Internet and I found out just who Mr. Shull is. He is in fact the C.E.O. of USWeb. His profile on the USWeb website refers to him as a "marketing genius" and a leader in the field of online marketing and advertising who has been featured in publications such as The New York Times and Newsweek.
Mr. Shull was kind enough to answer some questions by email. According to Mr. Shull when asked if this was a new approach to advertising on the Internet or have they done this before, he replied "We have been doing this for a few months now, but I do see it growing. The more people create and read blogs, the larger the opportunity to create buzz for our clients." When asked if he sees this form of advertising growing in the future and what kind of benefits their clients will have using this form of advertising, Mr. Shull replied, "With blogs we have seen the business of online publishing change. Some Bloggers have press credentials and get readership in the thousands. When most people think of blogs, they think of a younger demographic. This is not a bad thing, but it's also becoming less true everyday. I see a lot of blogs popping up in the area of financial advice and health."
I went on to ask Mr. Shull how the response has been regarding the use of Bloggers to promote their clients' services? According to him most of their clients have had reservations regarding the type of exposure they would receive and many of them insist on reviewing the postings before hand. Mr. Shull felt that doing this was "counterproductive for the blogging idea. We want blogs that provide good information and speak in the candid, loose manor that makes blogs appealing to readers."
In regards to the reactions of the Bloggers, Mr. Shull says, "Bloggers have had mixed reactions to earning cash to blog. Some feel it's a betrayal to their readers. We encourage bloggers to express themselves as much as they like. They don't have to write about a particular blog if they choose not to. The blogger writes what they want to write, and how they want to write it. We simply ask them for their honest opinions and let them know some of the benefits we see in the service or product." ...
"We just ask that the blogger review the site and let us know. If they find it to be a site they don't like, we just move on to the next posting for them."
Yet I have to question the part about asking for their "honest opinion" since in his reply to my original request for more info on getting paid to blog, Mr. Shull clearly stated that I should write a "favorable review." Just how much does a client of U.S. web expect to spend to get reviews posted by bloggers? According to Mr. Shull, "Our blogging budget varies from client to client. Most start at around $5,000, with the expectation of getting 500 blog postings. We verify every blog posting to make sure that it followed the guidelines."
So in conclusion, regarding the matter of ethics, it is up to the individual blogger to determine if what they are doing is right or wrong and up to the reader of this article to determine if what Mr. Shull is doing is right or wrong for that matter.
But to the reader of blogs, just remember that what you think may be the honest opinions of consumers are really nothing more than paid-for advertisements.
© Copyright J. Ryan
[BuzzFlash Note: Readers?? We have not checked into this.]
Subject: Church and State
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