Wednesday, June 29, 2005


I have a venerable IBM 765L Laptop computer. I've had the thing for ages and don't want another because I like the feel of the keyboard. After saying that I'll admit to a conflict: I'm a great lover of toys. I want the latest gadget to come down the pike, even if it really doesn't fit my elderly image. That's a polite way of saying that I got a WiFi card for my laptop. It works fine, but it brought out a weakness on my old friend the ThinkPad: I needed a new battery.

Usually, the battery isn't used much. I normally have the laptop hooked up to the 110 here in the office, and often it works just fine when I'm on the boat... also attached up to the 110 source. Anyhow, I want a battery that is a little newer and capable of being fully charged so that I can run around a bit and use the WiFi. Hmmm... the old battery won't hold a charge more than a few minutes. Like maybe twenty.

So... I accosted my local computer guru (Advantage Computers... nice guys) about a battery. Silly boy. IBM doesn't support their old stuff. Grow up. You can't buy a new battery. Get a grip. So... I sought solace from the usual source -- a got one on Ebay. Guaranteed to take a charge and costs about $20 rather than the $150 I expected to pay from IBM.

Here's the trouble -- I opened up the box and looked at the old battery. Easy as pie. But at that point I couldn't get the old battery to lift out of its hidey hole in the box. The gizzard of the 765L seems to be easy enough, but I can't get the components out of the thing without force. That bothers me.

I have seen my guy at Advantage pull the battery out in the past but I wasn't following closely and now I'm afraid that I'll mess the thing up. Anybody out there know how to remove the components properly? My guy Justin is off being a good tech and starting up another store for his owners for two weeks and I'm shaking in my boots.

What a wimp.



My daughter says that in a lot of ways I'm naive. I suppose she's right. I tend to think that I am typical and that norms for all can be defined by asking myself questions. But that method often fails.

My views on the most recent Supreme Court decisions about private property ownership are precisely 180 degrees opposite to what the majority of the Court sees as normative behavior. And as I study the whole issue of confiscation I'm learning that this business of government just transferring ownership from one person to another without any window dressing of "the public good" is actually fairly common.

Scary, eh? And here I sit with my thumb up my butt thinking that I have some constitutional protections when in fact, I don't. And I find myself listening to the politicians preening and chirping abut how great they are...

And I find myself hating them all. Who do they thnk they are? They know exactly who they are and what they're doing. And I hate them.

When I get to the place where I hate more than them and get to actually hating my country... then we've all got trouble. How far does this go before people just give up trying to be citizens and patriots and parents. When did the Romans just give up trying to be Citizens of Rome? Maybe we're closer to the end than I thought.

Am I alone in feeling this way? Right now I feel like I have been abandoned by my country. Peggy Noonan has a good article in the Journal today asking the same kind of questions... only she is better at speaking the unasked questions than me.

I'm sorry. I just hate this shit. Let's flush the toilet and start over somewhere else. We've screwed this one up.


Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Well, I guess that is pretty neat. Blogspot joins the rest of the world. Neat.



I got some mail from Seminole County today. They say that all my paperwork is in and I can submit job requests. Gee, I thought that I already had. I guess not. So slow and ponderous. I've applied for 3 of the CPI jobs being advertised in DCF and I've been shortlisted for 2 of them.

Truth is I wanted to go do some teaching next year, but if the state comes in and offers me a job then I'm gonna take it. I've sat on my butt too long.


I wonder if this wierd spacing junk will heal itself some time soon.

Monday, June 27, 2005


As if I didn't have enough ugliness on my plate, this business of eminent domain forfeiture continues to lurk. My lawyer says let's wait and see... and I guess he's right. There's really nothing to do unless the county decides to bring suit, and there has been a lot of press. My lawyer says that they're cowards at heart and not willing to be exposed as whores and thieves. Maybe....

In the meanwhile, there's this from the good folks as Wall Street Journal. Good read. Give it a look.



One of the necessary qualities of modern life is the possession of infinite patience. For example... my ISP provider, Hawk Communication, was gobbled up by Earthlink last month. That, in itself, isn't a big problem. But dealing with Earthlink is kind of like dealing with IBM, or dealing with the bumbling military. They have their own way of doing things, even if it's wrong, and can't seem to see any other way of operating.

Earthlink is geared to serve single stream users, and that is OK. But I have a website, and that means that I have an email address that accompanies the website address... has it's own domain.... but the email address that was sent to Earthlink by my old ISP is different from my site address. So here I am with 2 separate addresses. Now, I delt with this problem with the old ISP by doing my own spam blocking and virus blocking (McAfee does pretty good job) and I was able to deal with the torrent of crap that poured daily into my inbox.

But will Email allow multiple domains? Nope. The only thing they can see in their mail handling software is the old ISP address (aaahawk). That means that the mail address that I ordinarily use because of the website (domain raindogsurety) comes in outside of the Earthlink server. The mail handling software picks up the other domain. but it doesn't do any of the spam filtering that I used to get done by my McAfee software. Of course, the Earthlink thing can't have the McAfee software installed if it's going to work for me. Too many IRQ conflicts. And the Earthlink mail software looks pretty good. The only trouble is that it will only work on addresses directly associated with Earthlink That means that my website domain is screwed.. and not protected from evil spamming. It just pours in in all its glory. Up to a thousand a day! So.... I have an inbox with spam protection for the miniscule trickle of stuff that accidentally appears in that domain, and a huge horde of crap put in the inbox by my unfiltered website domain. Still following me?

When I called the support guys at Earthlink a kid who sounded twelve years old told me that there was nothing he could do and suggested that I call my webserver provider because there was nothing Earthlink could do. Sigh.

Now remember, I had all of this foolishness working fine a month ago before Earthlink gobbled up my ISP. Now I don't even have a website working. The webhost guys (NetPivotal... great service by the way) tried to give me a different control panel so that I could forward email differently but it won't install... I don't know why yet but I haven't given up... so I'm just hooked.

It's no mystery to me why NASA engineers are at greater risk for suicide than the general population. Those guys must have the same kind of problems with the simple problems they have, like getting a huge contraption like a Saturn rocket to the moon and back without crashing, as I have dealing with the mutants at Earthlink.

I need better drugs. Don't you miss the 60's too?


Sunday, June 26, 2005


I spent all day making a visitation back to the distant whispers of my youth. I've been reading old Tom Swift novels on my ebookman. I just love that thing. Anyhow, I got my hands on a set of discs with 15000 titles on it and there was Tom whispering to me of my misspent youth. So, I naturally fell of the edge of the earth and devoured three of them in a row. There are 26 on the discs... that's about half of the total... I wondeer where I can find the others... so I may not be back for a few days.

Man... when I was a kid I absolutely devoured those books. They're still good. I guess they did for me what todays kids have with Harry Potter. Great stuff.

Hell, I didn't have anything to do this weekend anyhow.


Friday, June 24, 2005


Just yesterday I was telling my friend Gary over at Snugg Harbor that I didn't have any beefs with Blogger. I should have known. Shortly after that mistake I had the post creation editor give a little hiccup and got an error message. But... the thing sorted itself out and eventually posted the thing, except that it put a long mystery header at the top that I can't seem to get rid of. Well... I'll live.


Thursday, June 23, 2005


Well, I'm thinking that I'm about to get bitten in the butt by the Supreme Court. Pretty wild, eh? I'm not used to having national news sneak in here and do something to get my attention. I guess that I'm used to being parochial. Small time Bob... that's me. Right? Well, maybe.

My grandfather loved muckland. And my dad loved it too. Me? I mostly wanted to teach... and do something that could be done in the air conditioning. Well, that's not exactly true. I've enjoyed doing some farming and I took a non-air conditioning sailboat around the world and never gave it a second thought. But... I really prefer to stay somewhere that doesn't need repacement of fluids. No rehydration please.

My grandfather's ghost is right there hovering over a chunk of muckland outside of Umatilla, all laid out in blocks of manageable and productive row crop farmland. There really isn't much you can do with it except grow row crops or feed crops... forty feet of muck. It's either yellow crooknecked squash or alfalfa. The muck is forty feet thick and it took millions of years for being a lake bed accumulating the capability of being a farming goldmine.

Since I wanted to teach I didn't make a "career" of farming like my dad did and my grandfather and his father and his father. I guess I've broken the chain. But I still don't want to undervalue the land. That muck is black gold and really needs to be farmed by someone. Just not me. My solution has been to rent all 800 acres of it to my close friend Wayne who lives and dies farming. He grows something on that whole lakebed year round. Mostly alfalfa fed to milk cows as green chop and he makes a damned good living at it. Works his ass off. I own the land and rent it to him cheap. But...

Every year I get literally dozens of guys who come to me and want to buy my grandfather's favorite piece of lakebed muck so that they can build houses for the burgeoning home building craze in rural Lake County. It's amazing. Guys want to dig up the muck... all forty feet of it... and then bring in limerock to stabilize the ground... then build houses on my granddaddy's lakebed. Amazing. Up till now I've been able to just tell the developers to stick it where the monkeys stick the nuts, but now... but now... the whores of development driven county politicians (they just want 'best use' for the future of the community.... then they say that it's 'best' for the children... huh?) may be able to to just push me and Wayne off the place and give it to guys who want to grow suburbs rather than alfalfa. Oops.

Now... I'm afraid that the whores who are the Lake County Commissioners who have encouraged me to sell may be able to just come and take it away from me and give it to some damned developer via a "best use" domain case. I've managed to duck it for a long time, but now my friend and his wife and three kids came over here and spent the whole afternoon talking with me and our attorney... plotting strategy for what might happen to the farm. Wayne is scared. So is his old lady.

This really sucks.


Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Word out of Iraq via one of the milblogs (Blackhawk) is that Army Capt. Chuck Ziegenfuss was injured in an IED incident yesterday. His wife sent a line to Blackhawk that he was injured but not as bad as it might have been and that he was being medvaced to Germany as she wrote. Apparently with no injury to his sight, just skint up.

Our prayers go out to Chuck and to his family. We all here appreciate everything and hope that he is OK.



Well, I got my WiFi card in the mail yeterday and stuck it in my trusty old IBM 765L Pentium II laptop. Works fine and I can almost get the hotspot at the courthouse to work from here. 12%... not enough for a good connection but enough to encourage me to use the thing. Come ride with me my dear and I'll show you the sights of the City Beautiful... and many a lonely spot in between. Leaping from hotspot to hotspot.

I've got a feeling that WiFi is the next big wave to roll over all of us. I've been wanting it for a while because I spend so much time on my boat and I've lusted after the wireless capacity for quite a while. I have a couple of cruising buddies who have a webside (Bumfuzzled) that you might have checked out if you've ever wandered around in my blogroll. They're a young couple making a circumnavigation in their catamaran. They're over in Australia now. My daughter and I (the elderly mother of my young grandson Matt) made the same trip ten years ago and I recall what a struggle it was to stay in touch then. We did it... lots of email through single sideband and cacheing of mail. The stuff would accumulate and then I'd send it in a burst about once a week. Nothing like what Pat and Ali are able to do now. Pat actually massages his website while onboard boat while traveling as if he was sitting in his apartment in Chicago or back home in St. Paul... nothing like what Katie had to deal with just to stay in touch with her school chums and her teachers back here in the world.Anyhow, wireless is the cat's bannana and I like the idea of dispensing with the damned phone or Brighthouse cable DSL. Freedom is what it's all about, right?

The struggle is in staying current. So much of the computer world is driven by planned obsolesence. This laptop is a perfect example. My friends on the Bumfuzzle have a very nice new IBM Thinkpad, brand new with all kinds of bells and whistles. Powerful enough to contain their entire website and faster than most anything imaginable. Wireless, multiple ports, a DVD player that is better than most of the home units that lowly folks have in their apartments. But the damned thing cost them several thousand dollars (like 5K$!). Well... I have a Thinkpad too and I really like it. But it is an older one and runs on a 16 bit bus. That just about puts me out of the high speed world. No DVDs for Bob, or streaming videos over the cable for me. But I still really like my laptop because of this thing that I'm doing right now -- typing. The IBM keypad is so comfortable to use that I'm spoiled rotten and don't want to type on anything else. Of course, you realize that I still have my old IBM Selectric "ball" electric typewriter underneath my desk... in storage. I don't need a new laptop computer because the old one works OK and I like the feel of the keyboard of the 765L.

I have this struggle all the time. The machine I've got does the job but it isn't fast enough or powerful enough to load and run the latest gizmo. Naturally, I want the latest gizmo so I kludge the thing into sort of running then I bitch about how slow things are running. Mostly, the problem is in managing the size of the throughput. I'm one of those antiques who remembers writing code that had to pass through a 8-bit bus even on a mainframe. Remember the good old days of writing assembler for the 370? How 'bout Cobol? Pascal? Why, yes... there is quite a bit of grey in my beard. Like I said, my daughter (the one who needed communications during our circumnavigation a decade ago) is now a mother which makes me a doting grandfather. I honestly never thought that I'd live this long! Fortran? Hell, I used to teach the stuff at a university that didn't even have a college of computer science yet. Ah, the good old days.

So I had to go hunt for a 16 bit WiFi card. Believe it or not, there is such a creature... a Wireless LAN Card GN-WLM01 from Gigabyte Technology. Works fine. I can't see any throughput issues rearing their ugly little heads to bite me yet... but we'll see. Truth be known, I want the wireless capacity so that I can check my email while on the boat, just like my younger friends on the Bumfuzzle. And, I'm willing to go a little slower getting there. At least until I win the Lottery and get one of the brand new laptops from IBM like Pat and Ali.

Just trying to stay alive. That's all I can hope to do in this Brave New World.

By the way, the inteview down in Bartow went very well yesteday. The big question is do I want to go down there and be a Child Protective Investigator for DCF. More cop stuff, eh?


Tuesday, June 21, 2005


I finally got in early enough to do some housecleaning in the trusty old blog. Actually, I've been trying to get Wretchard over at The Belmont Club to settle down and get his house in order with Blogger. This is one of those guys who should be read... like some others who have gone away in the last few years (Clueless, eh?). Anyhow, I've glad to see that there's a new variation up and He has apparently been slogging along without me for some time. Anyhow, I've got the template fixed for the time being. I know... I know... he's probably been fixed for months and I've just gotten the message, but at least I managed to get it going finally.

His struggles with Blogger raise some questions for me. I've never had a bit of trouble with my site here, but I know that my buddy Guy over at Snugg Harbor has moved. What's the big deal? I'm thinking that maybe it's pictures... I know that Blogger doesn't support imbedded jpgs.. or at least I don't think so... but there never have been any pics at the Belmont Club, so that must not be it. So you tell me guys... why move?

Good day, but tiring. I had to go down to Bartow and talk to a fellow who may be my new boss next year. Hopefully. He seems like a very nice guy. Ex-military retired from the Air Force. Used to be a tech on nukes, he said. Man, that sounds like the kind, don't it? I'm getting pumped about the big shift. Keep your fingers crossed kiddos.


Friday, June 17, 2005


My friend Jim over at his blog got me thinking about history repeating itself. Things have been fairly quiet lately in blogland... not too many windmills to tilt at, no Dan Rathers to pull down or damsels to save. But that doesn't mean that there aren't issues bubbling away over the fire. The Patriot Act is an unfought battle that we need to handle carefully... what to keep, what to toss. This isn't your usual kind of war, eh? Liberals to quash? Surely. Dangers lurking? You betcha. But nothing to get gloomy about.

But... it all seems to have a familiar ring. Let me recommend an excellent book to you: "Black Lamb and Grey Falcon" by Rebecca West. This thing was written by the best writer of her time about a visit she made to the Balkins just prior to WWII, an attempt to understand the complicated sorrows of her time. There is one of the best quotes I've ever read in it about human nature. Allow me to quote it directly so that you won't skip over it as a link:

"Only part of us is sane: only part of us loves pleasure and the longer day of happiness, wants to live to our nineties and die in peace, in a house that we built, that shall shelter those who come after us. The other half of us is nearly mad... and wants to die in a catastrophe that will set back life to its beginnings and leave nothing of our house save its blackened foundations. Our bright natures fight in us with this yeasty darkness, and neither part is commonly quite victorious, for we are divided against ourselves and will not let either part be destroyed."
--Rebecca West (Black Lamb and Grey Falcon)

West was writing at a time of great fear of the future. The first war had gutted most people's hopes for the future and Hitler seemed to be lurking right on the borders of sanity. Armageddon... eh? Well, here we are again Jim. Right on the cusp of another rotation of the gyre.As Yeats said, What rough beast... it's hour finally come round... slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?

The big test, IMHO, is whether we have the courage of our parents to face the future with a clear image of what we want the world to look like for our children and grandchildren. I think that we do. The only thing is that we shouldn't get gloomy about it. Doing the right thing doesn't necessarily mean that we have to be filled with angst. The fact that we live in interesting times doesn't mean that we have to go down the street advertising "Stinking fish! Stinking fish!"

Cheer up Jim.


Monday, June 13, 2005


I just read the post about COPS from the Cheesemistress . Oh, God.... I just gotta get copies of that and have it bronzed. Uh.. I think I peed on myself.I'm so ashamed.


Sunday, June 12, 2005


It's been an eventful weekend: I was loafing around playing with my email program (Earthlink has bought my ISP and nothing seems to work right) here at the old office on Colonial when the little Vietnamese accountant across the hallway got shot at. Yup... another Asian love affair gone bad. Anyhow, suddenly kabam... loud shotgun noises in the hallway. Well, I got out my handgun and peeked out into the hall, saw this tiny Vietnamese woman picking herself up from the floor after shooting the guy's door off its hinges. Wow! She picked up the double barrelled 12 gauge shotgun and then didn't know what to do next I guess. She didn't have but the two shells and after letting the double barrels rip she didn't have any more ammo. About then the guy from the accountant office came running out of the communal mens room... he had shit all over himself. There ensued a one sided but very loud discussion... the gal screaming at him and the guy cringing and apologizing and trying to placate her.

My buddy Sunny, who runs an "entertainment and gaming establishment" in the neighborhood was standing around after the cops came and hauled the lady off to 33rd St jail told me that the accountant dude had been coming upstairs to see the girls who work for Sunny and his wife had caught him. Guess the girl had no sense of humor.

Anyhow, I sent Steve down to bail the girl out and Sunny paid for the bond. Guess that he figures that he can get more business that way. He has a nice little business here but the woman could have blown him to kingdom come if she had a few more shells. Heh... blew the damned door clean off its hinges. What a hoot. And the guy crapped his pants when she got started on him.

What a life.


Saturday, June 11, 2005


My friend Dan Gilmartin sent me a good article by Bill Moyers that does some interesting things: Moyer is finally addressing public radio/TV's liberalism. My opinion is that public anything should be politically neutral, but PBS has never been anything but kneejerk liberal. The only... and I mean only... conservative voice on MY public TV station has been Bill Buckley and I don't see him there anymore either. Now there's a Republican president after a Democratic bloodbath last November and there are serious rumbles about making PBS just go away. A big part of me says fine... although I would miss shows like Nova and Mystery... but mostly the mavens at PBS are seeing a huge drop in numbers that is making it increasingly difficult to ignore the fact that nobody is listening to what they have to say. I call it the free enterprise system at work. Others say it's a shame. Me... I say that the failure is on PBS's part, not Mr. Bush.

Anyhow, Dan sent me a copy of a Bill Moyers article defending, or at least trying to explain the liberal viewpoint, and he does a pretty good job for his team. I sent this back to Dan:


Dan --
As you know perfectly well, I have always been a great lover of the Heglian dialectic.. and because of this love of the non-Randian brand of antisocial libertarianism I applaud the rancor between the lunatic left and the rabid right. I figure that the balance is somewhere in the middle. I will say this: It is high time that some fear crept into the one sided conversation coming from the left PBS. I figure that I pay my dues to WMFE every year because I want to watch Mystery and listen to public radio and I do like Garrison Keillor.. but you have to admit that they are just about as radical left a crew of weeping liberals as you'll find. And the brand of reportage that you get from Moyer and his ilk are just as repugnant as the screeching foam at the mouth conservatism that you get from Savage or Buttonhead... excuse me Dittohead.
The business of keeping my attention has been changing in the last decade. Talk radio and the internet has made print media nearly extinct and the smug liberalism esposed by PBS is reaching fewer and fewer people. They're preaching in an empty church Dan and you know it. Does that mean that the dittoheads have "won" or that they're "right". Nope. I figure that Michael Savage is as whacked as Michael Moore is. I'll stay in the middle thanks. But admit it.. it is nice to see the fuckers sweat a little bit, eh?

-----Original Message-----From: Dan Gilmartin Sent: Jun 8, 2005 7:24 PMTo: Dan Gilmartin Subject: Bill Moyers: Muting the Conversation of Democracy

I wrote to one of my more conservativefriends that I thought the present administrationwas "authoritarian". The below, concerning theattempt to shut up PBS is what I mean. Who needsdissonance in a democracy? We all do. Butapparently, we're all supposed to salute the samecliches. I dissent. I would hope you would too.

Muting the Conversation of DemocracyThe Corporation for Public Broadcasting UnderAttackTranscript of a speech by Bill Moyers

Bill Moyers is a broadcast journalist and formerhost of the PBS program "NOW With Bill Moyers."The following is an excerpt of the closingaddress Moyers delivered at the NationalConference on Media Reform in St. Louis on May15, 2005.

The story I've come to share with you goes to thecore of our belief that the quality of democracyand the quality of journalism are deeplyentwined.
As some of you know, the Corporation for PublicBroadcasting was established almost 40 years agoto set broad policy for public broadcasting andto be a firewall between political influence andprogram content. What some on this board aredoing today, led by its chairman, KennethTomlinson, is disturbing, and yes, evendangerous.

We're seeing unfold a contemporary example of theage-old ambition of power and ideology to squelchand punish journalists who tell the stories thatmake princes and priests uncomfortable.
I mean the people obsessed with control, usingthe government to threaten and intimidate. I meanthe people who are hollowing out middle-classsecurity even as they enlist the sons anddaughters of the working class in a war to makesure Ahmed Chalabi winds up controlling Iraq'soil. I mean the people who turn faith-basedinitiatives into a slush fund and who encouragethe pious to look heavenward and pray so as notto see the long arm of privilege and powerpicking their pockets. I mean the people whosquelch free speech in an effort to obliteratedissent and consolidate their orthodoxy into theofficial view of reality from which any deviationbecomes unpatriotic heresy.

That's who I mean. And if that's editorializing,so be it. A free press is one where it's okay tostate the conclusion you're led to by theevidence.

One reason I'm in hot water is because mycolleagues and I at "NOW" didn't play by theconventional rules of Beltway journalism. Thoserules divide the world into Democrats andRepublicans, liberals and conservatives, andallow journalists to pretend they have done theirjob if, instead of reporting the truth behind thenews, they merely give each side an opportunityto spin the news.Liberation vs. Occupation

Jonathan Mermin writes about this in a recentessay in World Policy Journal. Mermin quotespublic television's Jim Lehrer acknowledgingthat, unless an official says something is so, itisn't news. Why were journalists not discussingthe occupation of Iraq? Because, says Lehrer,"the word occupation...was never mentioned in therun-up to the war." Washington talked about theinvasion as "a war of liberation, not a war ofoccupation, so as a consequence, "those of us injournalism never even looked at the issue ofoccupation."

"In other words," says Mermin, "if the governmentisn't talking about it, we don't report it." Heconcludes, "[Lehrer's] somewhat jarringdeclaration, one of many recent admissions byjournalists that their reporting failed toprepare the public for the calamitous occupationthat has followed the 'liberation' of Iraq,reveals just how far the actual practice ofAmerican journalism has deviated from the FirstAmendment ideal of a press that is independent ofthe government."

[The] "rules of the game" permit Washingtonofficials to set the agenda for journalism,leaving the press all too often simply to recountwhat officials say instead of subjecting theirwords and deeds to critical scrutiny. Instead ofacting as filters for readers and viewers,sifting the truth from the propaganda, reportersand anchors attentively transcribe both sides ofthe spin, invariably failing to provide context,background, or any sense of which claims hold upand which are misleading.
I decided long ago that this wasn't healthy fordemocracy.

I came to believe that objective journalism meansdescribing the object being reported on,including the little fibs and fantasies as wellas the Big Lie of the people in power. In no waydoes this permit journalists to make accusationsand allegations. It means, instead, making surethat your reporting and your conclusions can benailed to the post with confirming evidence.
This is always hard to do, but it has never beenharder than today. Without a trace of irony, thepowers-that-be have appropriated the newspeakvernacular of George Orwell 's 1984 . They giveus a program vowing "No Child Left Behind" whilecutting funds for educating disadvantaged kids.They give us legislation cheerily calling for"Clear Skies" and "Healthy Forests" that give usneither.

An unconscious people, an indoctrinated people, apeople fed only on partisan information andopinion that confirm their own bias, a peoplemade morbidly obese in mind and spirit by thejunk food of propaganda, is less inclined to putup a fight, to ask questions and be skeptical.That kind of orthodoxy can kill a democracy—orworse.A Limited Set of VoicesWe intended to do strong, honest, and accuratereporting, telling stories we knew people in highplaces wouldn't like.

PBS asked me after 9/11 to start a new weeklybroadcast. They asked us to tell stories no oneelse was reporting and to offer a venue to peoplewho might not otherwise be heard. That wasn't ahard sell. Extensive research on the content ofpublic television over a decade found thatpolitical discussions on our public affairsprograms generally included a limited set ofvoices that offer a narrow range of perspectiveson current issues and events. Instead offar-ranging discussions and debates, the kindthat might engage viewers as citizens, not simplyas audiences, this research found that publicaffairs programs on PBS stations were populatedby the standard set of elite news sources.Whether government officials and Washingtonjournalists (talking about political strategy) orcorporate sources (talking about stock prices orthe economy from the investor's viewpoint),public television, unfortunately, all too oftenwas offering the same kind of discussions, and asimilar brand of insider discourse, that isfeatured regularly on commercial television.

Who didn't appear was also revealing. Hoynes andhis team found that in contrast to theconservative mantra that public televisionroutinely featured the voices ofantiestablishment critics, "alternativeperspectives were rare on public television andwere effectively drowned out by the stream ofgovernment and corporate views that representedthe vast majority of sources on our broadcasts."The so-called "experts" who got most of the facetime came primarily from mainstream newsorganizations and Washington think tanks ratherthan diverse interests. In sum, these two studiesconcluded, the economic coverage was so narrowthat the views and the activities of mostcitizens became irrelevant.

All this went against the Public Broadcasting Actof 1967 that created the Corporation for PublicBroadcasting. As a young policy assistant toPresident Johnson, I attended my first meeting todiscuss the future of public broadcasting in 1964in the office of the Commissioner of Education. Iknow firsthand that the Public Broadcasting Actwas meant to provide an alternative to commercialtelevision and to reflect the diversity of theAmerican people.

This was on my mind when we assembled the teamfor "NOW." It was just after the terroristattacks of 9/11. We agreed on two priorities.First, we wanted to do our part to keep theconversation of democracy going. That meanttalking to a wide range of people across thespectrum—left, right and center. It meant poets,philosophers, politicians, scientists, sages, andscribblers. It meant Isabel Allende, thenovelist, and Amity Shlaes, the columnist for theFinancial Times. It meant the former nun andbest-selling author Karen Armstrong, and it meantthe right-wing evangelical columnist Cal Thomas.It meant Arundhati Roy from India, Doris Lessingfrom London, David Suzuki from Canada, andBernard Henry-Levi from Paris. It also meant twosuccessive editors of the Wall Street Journal,Robert Bartley and Paul Gigot, the editor of theEconomist, Bill Emmott, the Nation's Katrinavanden Heuvel and the LA Weekly's John Powers. Itmeans liberals like Frank Wu, Ossie Davis, andGregory Nava, and conservatives like FrankGaffney, Grover Norquist and Richard Viguerie. Itmeant Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Bishop WiltonGregory of the Catholic Bishops conference inthis country. It meant the conservative Christianactivist and lobbyist Ralph Reed and thedissident Catholic Sister Joan Chittister. Wethrew the conversation of democracy open to allcomers. We had a second priority. We intended todo strong, honest, and accurate reporting,telling stories we knew people in high placeswouldn't like.A Spectacle of Corruption

I told our producers and correspondents that inour field reporting our job was to get as closeas possible to the verifiable truth. This was allthe more imperative in the aftermath of theterrorist attacks. America could be entering along war against an elusive and stateless enemywith no definable measure of victory and no limitto its duration, cost, or foreboding fear. Therise of a homeland security state meantgovernment could justify extraordinary measuresin exchange for protecting citizens againstunnamed, even unproven, threats.

Furthermore, increased spending during a nationalemergency can produce a spectacle of corruptionbehind a smokescreen of secrecy.
For these reasons and in that spirit we wentabout reporting on Washington as no one else inbroadcasting—except, occasionally, "60Minutes"—was doing. We reported on the expansionof the Justice Department's power ofsurveillance. We reported on the escalatingPentagon budget and expensive weapons that didn'twork. We reported on how campaign contributionsinfluenced legislation and policy to skewresources to the comfortable and well-connectedwhile our troops were fighting in Afghanistan andIraq with inadequate training and armor. Wereported on how the Bush administration wasshredding the Freedom of Information Act. We wentaround the country to report on how closed-door,backroom deals in Washington were costingordinary workers and taxpayers their livelihoodand security. We reported on offshore tax havensthat enable wealthy and powerful Americans toavoid their fair share of national security andthe social contract.

And always—because what people know depends onwho owns the press—we kept coming back to themedia business itself—to how mega mediacorporations were pushing journalism further andfurther down the hierarchy of values, how giantradio cartels were silencing critics whileshutting communities off from essentialinformation, and how the mega media companieswere lobbying the FCC for the right to grow evermore powerful.

The broadcast caught on. Our ratings grew everyyear. There was even a spell when we were theonly public affairs broadcast on PBS whoseaudience was going up instead of down.
Our journalistic peers took notice. The LosAngeles Times said, "NOW's team of reporters hasregularly put the rest of the media to shame,pursuing stories few others bother to touch."
The Austin American-Statesman called "NOW" "theperfect antidote to today's high pitched decibellevel—a smart, calm, timely news program."

Frazier Moore of the Associated Press said wewere "hard-edged when appropriate but never'Hardball.' Don't expect combat. Civilityreigns."
The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 had beenprophetic. Open public television to the Americanpeople—offer diverse interests, ideas, fearless in your belief indemocracy—and they will come.

The more compelling our journalism, the angrierthe radical right of the Republican party became.

Never mind that their own stars were getting afair shake on "NOW": Gigot, Viguerie, David Keeneof the American Conservative Union, Stephen Mooreof the Club for Growth, and others. No, ourreporting was giving the radical right fitsbecause it wasn't the party line. It wasn't thatwe were getting it wrong. Only three times inthree years did we err factually, and in eachcase we corrected those errors as soon as weconfirmed their inaccuracy. The problem was thatwe were getting it right, not right-wing—tellingstories that partisans in power didn't want told.Standing Up to Your Government

Strange things began to happen. Friends inWashington called to say that they had heard ofmuttered threats that the PBS reauthorizationwould be held off "unless Moyers is dealt with."The chairman of the Corporation for PublicBroadcasting, Kenneth Tomlinson, was said to bequite agitated. Apparently there was apoplexy inthe right-wing aerie when I closed the broadcastone Friday night by putting an American flag inmy lapel, and here is [an excerpt of] what Isaid:

"I wore my flag tonight. First time. Until now Ihaven't thought it necessary to display a littlemetallic icon of patriotism for everyone to see.It was enough to vote, pay my taxes, perform mycivic duties, speak my mind, and do my best toraise our kids to be good Americans.
"So what's this doing here? Well, I put it on totake it back. The flag's been hijacked and turnedinto a logo—the trademark of a monopoly onpatriotism.

"I put this on as a modest riposte to men withflags in their lapels who shoot missiles from thesafety of Washington think tanks, or argue thatsacrifice is good as long as they don't have tomake it, or approve of bribing governments tojoin the coalition of the willing (after theyfirst stash the cash). I put it on to remindmyself that not every patriot thinks we should doto the people of Baghdad what Bin Laden did tous. The flag belongs to the country, not to thegovernment. And it reminds me that it's notun-American to think that war—except inself-defense—is a failure of moral imagination,political nerve, and diplomacy. Come to think ofit, standing up to your government can meanstanding up for your country."

That did it. That—and our continuing reporting onoverpricing at Halliburton, chicanery on KStreet, and the heavy, if divinely guided, handof Tom DeLay.
When Sen. Lott protested that the Corporation forPublic Broadcasting "has not seemed willing todeal with Bill Moyers," a new member of theboard, a Republican fundraiser named CherylHalperin, who had been appointed by PresidentBush, agreed that CPB needed more power to dojust that sort of thing. She left no doubt aboutthe kind of penalty she would like to see imposedon malefactors like Moyers.

As rumors circulated about all this, I asked tomeet with the CPB board to hear for myself whatwas being said. I thought it would be helpful forsomeone like me, who had been present at thecreation and part of the system for almost 40years, to talk about how CPB had been intended tobe a heat shield to protect public broadcastersfrom exactly this kind of intimidation.

I simply never imagined that any CPB chairman,Democrat or Republican, would cross the line fromresisting White House pressure to carrying it outfor the White House. But that's what KennethTomlinson has done. On Fox News this week, hedenied that he's carrying out a White Housemandate or that he's ever had any conversationswith any Bush administration official about PBS.But the New York Times reported that he enlistedKarl Rove to help kill a proposal that would haveput on the CPB board people with experience inlocal radio and television. The Times alsoreported that "on the recommendation ofadministration officials" Tomlinson hired a WhiteHouse flack named Mary Catherine Andrews as asenior CPB staff member. While she was stillreporting to Karl Rove at the White House,Andrews set up CPB's new ombudsman's office andhad a hand in hiring the two people who will fillit, one of whom once worked guessedit...Kenneth Tomlinson.

According to a book written about Reader's Digestwhen he was its editor-in-chief, he surroundedhimself with other right-wingers—a pattern he'snow following at the Corporation for PublicBroadcasting. There is Ms. Andrews from the WhiteHouse. For acting president he hired Ken Ferrerfrom the FCC, who was Michael Powell's enforcerwhen Powell was deciding how to go about allowingthe big media companies to get even bigger.According to a forthcoming book, one of Ferrer'sjobs was to engage in tactics designed to dismissany serious objection to media monopolies. And,according to Eric Alterman, Ferrer was even morecontemptuous than Michael Powell of publicparticipation in the process of determining mediaownership. Alterman identifies Ferrer as the FCCstaffer who decided to issue a "protective order"designed to keep secret the market research onwhich the Republican majority on the commissionbased their vote to permit greater mediaconsolidation.

Mr. Tomlinson also put up a considerable sum ofmoney, reportedly over five million dollars, fora new weekly broadcast featuring Paul Gigot andthe editorial board of the Wall Street Journal.Gigot is a smart journalist, a sharp editor and afine fellow. I had him on "NOW" several times andeven proposed that he become a regularcontributor.
But I confess to some puzzlement that the WallStreet Journal, which in the past editorializedto cut PBS off the public tap, is now beingsubsidized by American taxpayers although itsparent company, Dow Jones, had revenues in justthe first quarter of this year of $400 million.
I thought public television was supposed to be analternative to commercial media, not a funder ofit.

Only two weeks ago did we learn that Mr.Tomlinson had spent $10,000 last year to hire acontractor who would watch my show and report onpolitical bias. That's right. Kenneth Y.Tomlinson spent $10,000 of your money to hire aguy to watch "NOW" to find out who my guests wereand what my stories were.Taking Back Public Broadcasting
Having spent that cash, what did he find? Heapparently decided not to share the results withhis staff or his board or leak it to RobertNovak. The public paid for it—but Ken Tomlinsonacts as if he owns it.

That's not the only news Mr. Tomlinson tried tokeep to himself. As reported by Jeff Chester'sCenter for Digital Democracy, of which I am asupporter, there were two public opinion surveyscommissioned by CPB but not released to themedia—not even to PBS and NPR!
The data revealed that, in reality, publicbroadcasting has an 80 percent favorable ratingand that "the majority of the US adult populationdoes not believe that the news and informationprogramming on public broadcasting is biased."

In fact, more than half believed PBS providedmore in-depth and trustworthy news andinformation than the networks and 55 percent saidPBS was "fair and balanced."
This letter came to me last year from a woman inNew York, five pages of handwriting. She said,among other things, that "After the worst sneakattack in our history, there's not been a momentto reflect, a moment to let the horror resonate,a moment to feel the pain and regroup as humans.No, since I lost my husband on 9/11, not only ourfamily's world, but the whole world seems to havegotten even worse than that tragic day." Shewanted me to know that on 9/11 her husband wasnot on duty. "He was home with me having coffee.My daughter and grandson, living only five blocksfrom the Towers, had to be evacuated withmasks—terror all around ... my other daughter,near the Brooklyn son in high school.But my Charlie took off like a lightning bolt tobe with his men from the Special OperationsCommand. 'Bring my gear to the plaza,' he toldhis aide immediately after the first plane struckthe North Tower...He took action based on theresponsibility he felt for his job and his menand for those Towers that he loved."
In the FDNY, she continued, chain-of-commandrules extend to every captain of every fire housein the city. "If anything happens in thefirehouse—at any time—even if the Captain isn'ton duty or on vacation—that Captain isresponsible for everything that goes on there24/7." So she asked: "Why is this administrationresponsible for nothing? All that they do is passthe blame. This is not leadership... Watcheveryone pass the blame again in this recenttorture case [Abu Ghraib] of Iraqi prisons....."

She told me that she and her husband had watchedmy series on "Joseph Campbell and the Power ofMyth" together and that now she was a faithfulfan of "NOW." She wrote: "We need more programslike yours to wake America up.... Such programsmust continue amidst the sea of false images andname calling that divide America now....Suchprograms give us hope that search will continueto get this imperfect human condition on to ahigher plane. So thank you and all of those whowork with you. Without public broadcasting, allwe would call news would be merely carefullycontrolled propaganda."

Enclosed with the letter was a check made out to"Channel 13–NOW" for $500.
Someone has said recently that the great raucousmob that is democracy is rarely heard and thatit's not just the fault of the current residentsof the White House and the capital. There's toogreat a chasm between those of us in thisbusiness and those who depend on TV and radio astheir window to the world. We treat them too muchas an audience and not enough as citizens.They're invited to look through the window buttoo infrequently to come through the door and toparticipate, to make public broadcasting trulypublic.

To that end, five public interest groupsincluding Common Cause and Consumers Union willbe holding informational sessions around thecountry to "take public broadcasting back"—totake it back from threats, from interference,from those who would tell us we can only thinkwhat they command us to think.

We're big kids; we can handle controversy anddiversity, whether it's political or religiouspoints of view or two loving lesbian moms andtheir kids, visited by a cartoon rabbit. We arenot too fragile or insecure to see America andthe world entire for all their magnificent andsometimes violent confusion. "There used to be athing or a commodity we put great store by,"
JohnSteinbeck wrote. "It was called the people." Some Things You Should Know About PublicBroadcasting

According to the Roper Center for Public OpinionResearch, 79 percent of Americans believe thatmoney given to Public Broadcasting is well spent.In fact, 51 percent think it's too little, and 35percent think it's about right, yielding acombined 86 percent of the public who statesatisfaction with PBS funding.

Public Broadcasting was signed into law byPresident Lyndon Johnson in 1967, following theCarnegie Commission's outline, with the missionto "provide the miracles of education and theideals of citizenship and culture," and to serveas a "forum for debate and controversy" andprovide a voice to groups that may not otherwisehave a voice.

The Corporation of Public Broadcasting wascreated to help carry out that mission, allocatefunds, and in general, to guard PublicBroadcasting against undue political pressure.The full text and video of Bill Moyers's speechat the National Conference on Media Reform, aswell as a host of other resources on how readerscan become involved in the media reform movement,can be found at