Archive for October, 2009

Washington Post Pulls a Fast One with Pundit Contest

Posted in entertainment, Politics, Tech with tags , , , on October 31, 2009 by Bitch Slap Poli

My condolences to all you normies who entered the America’s Next Great Pundit Contest put on by the Washington Post. I had my misgivings about the contest from the start. Being that I work in online media day in and day out I knew the reasoning behind the contest.

I knew what the Washington Post was hoping to get out of it and the upside was even bigger than I imagined it would be.

Online Contests Mean Increased Traffic (At Least That’s the Idea)

Any contest you see online will award a winner with some sort prize whether it be something tangible or simply notoriety, but the site conducting the contest is typically rewarded with much more – increased visibility and traffic. Ultimately, no matter how nicely they spin it, in the end they have to be getting something out of it to make it worth their time.

The Washington Post has put together a contest that I have to applaud. Many times sites will get a short term bump in their traffic numbers from contestants just before and after the contest as they eagerly check the site for updates. In the case of Washington Post there were about 4,800 contestants.

However, the Washington Post understands there’s a way to better capitalize on online contests. By making it partially interactive in choosing the contest winner from 10 finalists not only will they get a boost during the entry period, but they’ll also see a little more traffic during the voting period.

Not to mention they get a lot of free content from contestant entrants.

Normies Never had a Chance at Winning

I was skeptical when I first heard about the Washington Post Pundit contest on NPR.  But I was excited after going on the site and reading more about it. The Washington Post positioned it as a contest where Joe Anybody was given the chance to speak their peace, that those on Main street had valid, valuable points of view that should be heard.

Though some critized the Washington Post for excluding those who had already written or contributed for a major publication, I thought it was genius. In this online world we’re starting to see the power of public opinion and that regular day people can provide insights that are extraordinary. (though a lot of insight is fairly shortsighted as well)

Still, in the back of my mind was nagging suspicion. It’s kind of like in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy shows up to the Wizard’s joint and is told to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Well, once you’ve worked behind the curtain there’s no way to ignore what you know is going behind the scenes even though you can’t see it as it’s happening.

After reading the bios and posts of the 10 finalists it seems to me that entrant’s credentials was the biggest determining factor in who made the cut. Don’t get me wrong all the contestants seem intelligent and some of the posts were good. But normies never had a chance. Despite excluding published pundits high credentials still seemed to be qualifying factors.

Courtney Martin must have read the same Time magazine report on women in the workforce as I did. BSP has a post in the works that examines how this shift in society has affected violence against women. I agree with the comments.

Burton Richter is a Nobel winner so, yeah. I like the facts, I’m big on facts so thank you for this piece.  While the whole ethanol boom has helped some of our nation’s farmers, it has also been a bust overall. Another example of business overriding science.

Darryl Jackson

Jeremy Haber

Kevin Huffman’s piece was a let down in that there’s a lot of important issues needing discussion and  political jabbing helps drown out the conversation. He does get a few points for creativity.

Lydia Khalil

Maame Gyamfi

Mara Gay

Mark Esper

Zeba Khan

Did the Washington Post Cave to Criticism?

Those who saw the online Q&A with Wa Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt a week before the end of the entry period probably remember he caught a lot of flack about not giving professional pundits an opportunity to enter.  They questioned the quality level and qualification level of those the Washington Post was willing to feature in their paper and online.

The Washington Post certainly fooled them. They made sure the majority of the 10 finalists had accomplishments that answered the question of whether they could hang with the big media big leaguers. After all, they have a reputation to uphold.

Would I have done anything differently if I were the Washington Post? Probably not, at least not much.

A Public Option Will Help Us Avoid CARD Act Issues in Health Care

Posted in government, Politics with tags , , , , on October 21, 2009 by Bitch Slap Poli

Currently the government has come to a harsh reality; companies that were profiting heavily before the recession, even at the expense of consumers, will do whatever they have to now to maintain those profitable margins.

Case in point, credit card companies in wake of the CARD Act. Though the bill was passed in May of this year, the changes weren’t slated to go into effect until February 2010. Credit card companies moved swiftly to squeeze as much as they could out of their cardholders before stricter regulations were enforced. Now Congress is considering their options for expediting the process so that US consumers aren’t bled dry by next year.

So during all this health care reform discussion, Congressman should consider one thing; will health insurers do the same once a bill is passed?

A Public Option Would Keep Health Insurers Honest

Many credit card companies saw their window of opportunity and took it, raising rates on cardholders with no warning (something that is prohibited under the new CARD regulations). It was a business move not humanitarian move, which is understandable – they’re a business. Profits are the bottom line, not how many people go bankrupt to get those profits.

With health reform on the horizon that overhauls and increases regulations over health insurers, I question whether they will do the same thing. There will be an interim period between the passing of the law and the law actually taking affect.

What’s going to stop insurers from jacking up premiums or dropping and denying coverage while they can? What about after the laws go into effect? What’s going to stop insurers from taking advantage of loopholes in the legislation?

A public option, that’s what.

Unlike the credit card industry, we have the means right now while the bill is being crafted to create competition that will keep health insurers more honest. Without a public option it’s a win-win-win for health insurance companies.

If reform mandates that most people get health insurance and there’s no public option that leaves only the health insurance companies, guaranteeing them more business. For the most part we’d be rewarding an industry that has operated so unethically and inefficiently that a drastic overhaul is now needed.

We must have a public option to keep insurers honest. Just because the regulations are being reformed doesn’t mean the mindsets and priorities of health insurance companies will as well. Legislators need to learn from their mistakes with the CARD Act and take the necessary steps now to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen with the health reform bill.

‘Boy in the Balloon’ Kids Need a Spanking – And Police Should’ve Been More Thorough

Posted in breaking news, entertainment on October 16, 2009 by Bitch Slap Poli

Update: It appears BSP Politech contributor jwilhelmy may have been right about the boy in the balloon incident being a complete set-up. We also predict there will be a lot of boy in the balloon  Halloween costumes this year.

Today the media was ablaze with a whooper of  a story that only comes around every once in a while. A 6-year-old was afloat thousands of feet in the air in a home-made aircraft powered by helium. One of the boy’s older brothers alerted their parents that his brother had climbed into a box at the base of a home-made aircraft just before it took off into the air.

After hours of horrible anticipation and balloon tracking the world watched the aircraft slowly come to a nice, soft landing. However, the boy wasn’t inside.

These Kids Need a Good Spanking

Unlike some others I was very much hoping the kid wasn’t inside, no matter how it landed. The aircraft was powered by helium which meant after more than 2 hours there’s no way the boy in question, Falcon Henne, could have survived without an oxygen supply. But now there was the fear that he must have fallen off along with the small box at the base of the aircraft. (No one thought to mention the box compartment until the contraption landed.)

After several more grueling hours of police and emergency crew searches the boy was discovered in perfect health. It seems that the lad was hiding in the aircraft box in the family’s garage attic. Yeeeeeeah.

See I enjoy a well thought out prank, but my cousin did something every similar during a game of hide and go seek when we were around 6 years old oddly enough. It happened while we were at our Grandmother’s house for Sunday dinner and the whole houseful of adults and kids went on a frantic half out search involving  a call to the police before I found her wedged in the narrow gap between the couch and a wall.

That day all five of us kids learned a very valuable lesson as we watched Miranda get a good old fashioned spanking. The general relief  of all involved saved my cousin from reprimand for only a few minutes. What I took away from the situation is that the joke is over once someone mentions getting the police involved.

All joking aside the stunt today cost Colorado a lot of money. Taxpayers’ money. Not to mention that the aircraft could have gotten in the way of a plane’s flight path.

The one that needs the spanking isn’t Falcon. He’s the youngest of the group and stuck up in the attic he most likely had no idea how the situation had escalated, unlike his older brother. He’s the one that needs a good old fashion spanking, and a few ours of community service wouldn’t hurt either.

The Police are Also to Blame

I’ve got one question; how thoroughly did the police search the home before the whole damn county went into media saturated panic mode? Did you ask for a complete description of the aircraft so that you could rule out the possibility that he was in the balloon that everyone was chasing?

Because if you had, a few people could have chased down the balloon and that would be that.  The police could have then narrowed their search for the child to the family’s property and the local area. Then policemen, EMS personnel and reporters wouldn’t of had to stand around in a field today.

And the general public could have used that media coverage time for real news reports, like the issue of increased violence against peaceful protesters the world over.

America Wins the Nobel Peace Prize – Thanks Obama

Posted in 1 with tags , , , on October 9, 2009 by Bitch Slap Poli

Today president Barack Obama was announced this year’s Nobel Peace prize recipient, a big surprise even to our commander in chief. It’s not unheard of for a U.S. president to receive the honor – both Franklin Roosevelt and Woodrow were Nobel Peace prize winners – however, Roosevelt and Woodrow were seasoned leaders at the time and president Obama in just breaking the 9 month mark in office.

Despite his short stint on the global stage, I feel Obama was an excellent choice for the Nobel Peace prize this year. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I feel he deserves it.

Obama’s Nobel Win is a Win for America

Obama’s Nobel Peace prize is further evidence that the U.S. has turned a page in its history that was badly needing to be turned. Throughout the last 2-3 decades our country’s experienced eroding social awareness, declining global support, corporate misdeeds that shame capitalism and government policies that weren’t focused on the majority of the American people’s well being.

We could have kept going along that same path, but in stepped a young, idealistic and driven man named Barack Obama. An underdog in even his own party up against Hilary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primaries, Obama was able to win over many of those that doubted his slim track record. It was his call for bringing America back to what it once was, back to a country that’s the world leader for diplomacy and democracy in the world.

His Nobel Peace prize is a win for all Americans. It signifies that we are still dedicated to the ideals that this country built its foundation upon – liberty, peace and justice for all.

Obama has Proven Himself to be a Peaceful Uniter in Mere Months

As mentioned above the shock of the selection of Obama stems from the fact that he hasn’t been the president very long. Despite that, he has already changed the dialog at home and around the world in a decidedly positive way.

Changing the U.S. Focus

Here at home, even though major policy changes early on – especially the always controversial topic of health care – could harm his political standing, he dove right in. He did so because it was the right thing to do for the American people, even if it ended up being his “Waterloo”.

He’s proven himself to be a man of action set to right the wrongs that have been building up in the U.S., even steadily trying to reach out to an opposition that seems hell bent on breaking him. I would have told Republicans that after nearly a decade of bad, bad decisions their input really wasn’t needed in regards to policy making like health care reform, but hey Obama has more character than I do.

He kept his cool during the heated health care debates in August. When the country was splitting into political divides fueled by misinformation, uncertainty and for some real life or death concerns, Obama gave a speech to Congress and the public that ultimately calmed the rough waters enough to keep the cause afloat. We’re now closer to health care reform than ever before, closer to making good health care not a privilege for those that can afford it but a basic right for every American.

The Message Obama Sends to the World

Obama is also focused on bridging divides the world over. He’s begun the process of closing Guantanamo prison, is working towards nuclear proliferation, and repairing our ties with the Muslim world among many other things. His global impact has been nothing short of a phenomenon.

He’s lived up to the hype of being the first African American U.S. president – one his first, and most definitive steps towards making America a place that truly is an example of equality for all people.