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Archive for July 2009

Boycotting Glenn Beck Sponsors For Calling Obama A Racist

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Update #9: Healthy Choice, Radio Shack, Roche, Sanofi-Aventis & Travelocity all pull ads from Glenn Beck Program.  More, more, more…how do you like it, how do you like it… [8/12/09]

Update #8: State Farm Insurance states says that ads should not have been run during the Glenn Beck Program.  They state that they have corrected the error and ads will no longer run during Beck.

Update #7: Men’s Wearhouse has stated that they will not be airing any ads during the Glenn Beck Program.  Full statement below. [8/11/09]

Update #6: Sargento Cheese also stated that they will be dropping Glenn Beck.  Full statement below. [8/11/09]

Update #5: GEICO announced today that they will be pulling their ads from the Glenn Beck Program on Fox News. [8/11/09]

Update #4: I know that there is a lot of effort to contact Glenn Beck’s wide array of sponsors and that’s good. I urge everyone to continue.  BUT, in order for this effort to work, it must be somewhat organized.  UPS is one of Glenn Beck’s largest, if not the largest, direct sponsors. Accordingly, UPS should be the primary focus of this campaign.  If you haven’t already contacted UPS, please do.  Start with them first, then contact the others.

Update #3: If you are looking for Glenn Beck sponsor/advertiser information, scroll down to the bottom of this post.

Update #2: It was recently announced that Procter & Gamble, (owned by LexisNexis) and Progressive Insurance are distancing themselves from Glenn Beck. I will be posting my thoughts on this later as well. These actions are a useful first step, but they are by no means adequate.

Update #1: I received a response from UPS. See it below.


Beck doesn't want you to contact his sponsors. shhhh

Beck doesn't want you to contact his sponsors. shhhh

On July 2, I began a campaign of systematically contacting Glenn Beck’s sponsors after he expressed his hope for another terrorist attack against the United States in order to advance his political agenda.  You can read about those efforts here.  Although they were largely unsuccessful, I continued to organize on Twitter and research Beck’s sponsors.

Well, as expected, Beck continued spewing vitriol.  Most recently, he said that President Obama was a racist and that Obama has a “deep-seated hatred of white people.” [Video]

As expected, this has caused quite a stir.  It’s even breathed new life into the notion that Glenn Beck’s sponsors must answer for their financial support of Glen Beck’s outrageous and sometimes downright dangerous statements.  If you are interested, follow our organizing efforts on Twitter and feel free to check for updates.

It is important that we organize and that we act systematically in order to have the largest impact.  Feel free to contact whatever sponsors you would like, but right now the primary focus should be on UPS.  If you ever watch the Glenn Beck program (and I do not suggest you do), you will hear several times: “The Glenn Beck show is brought to you by UPS.”  Well, isn’t that dandy.  Contact UPS and ask them why they continue to fund Glenn Beck’s vitriol.

UPS Contact Info:
Twitter: @ThomasatUPS

Here is the text of the email that I sent to UPS:

On July 28, 2009, Fox News Channel host Glenn Beck called President Obama a racist and stated that “[Obama] has a deep-seated hatred of white people.”  Despite widespread public admonishment of these remarks, Mr. Beck continues to stand by his statements.  UPS is a Glenn Beck sponsor on Fox News and has thus far been silent on Beck’s remarks.  I just wanted to inform you that after these malicious statements, members of my family, friends and I will not use your services until you cease sponsoring Mr. Beck or take significant action to rebuke these remarks.

In case you are not aware, you can watch a video of Mr. Beck’s comments here [].

I recognize that as advertisers, you are not directly responsible for the statements made by hosts. I am also aware that given the diversity of opinions that exist on cable news, it is challenging to find a message that will satisfy all audiences. Certainly, some groups will always be upset by something that is said. However, this is not a simple political disagreement.  Mr. Beck is intentionally exploiting historical racial tension and ginning up additional racial tension for personal gain and to advance his political agenda.  Moreover, given the sensitive security situation associated with the first black president, it is especially pernicious for Mr. Beck to validate the positions held by some extreme groups and people.

Further, this is not the first time that Mr. Beck has made outlandish statements with little regard for their veracity or the consequences.  For example, in March, Mr. Beck suggested that Pres. Obama was constructing “concentration camps,” where he would send conservatives and political opponents.  Earlier this month, Mr. Beck agreed with a guest’s advocacy of the detonation of a major weapon in the United States as the only means available for implementing their shared political agenda.

Although you are not directly responsible for these remarks, you are indirectly responsible in that you provide the funding that supports Glenn Beck’s program. This is unacceptable. Something must be done to address these horrific remarks and until something is done, your company will lose out on my business. Further, I will continue to spread the word that you are paying money to a news network that allows its hosts to stoke racial tensions for personal and political gain.

Best Regards

I will update this post as additional information becomes available.

UPS sent the following reply:

Thank you for your e-mail regarding our recent advertising on Fox. We value your input and take your comments very seriously.

UPS is very sensitive to the type of television programming with which we associate our messaging. While our advertising schedules are purchased months in advance, we work with our agencies to monitor programming for offensive, inappropriate or controversial content as our schedules run. We do not, however, always have complete visibility into which programs will be promoted in purchased shows.

Occasionally, our advertising ends up near polarizing content. If we find that this becomes a consistent pattern, we will re-evaluate our commitment to particular programs or networks.

This is pretty much the standard response that I expected, although unlike other sponsors I have contacted, UPS provided for the possibility that they will drop Glenn Beck if enough people complain over a period of time.  In other words, if we continue apply pressure to UPS, then they will inevitably drop him.  So lets…

Sargento Cheese confirms that they will be pulling their ads from the Glenn Beck Program. Here’s their response email (much appreciation to Wrotte from Twitter for passing along this info):

We deeply appreciate your reaching out to us and sharing your comments and concerns about Sargento ads appearing during “The Glenn Beck Show.” We sat down with the marketing department to talk about it and I learned that we buy time periods not specific programs. But in any event, they’ve made the decision to exclude that program from our future ad rotation. Simply stated, Sargento ads won’t be airing during that show. Again, thanks for contacting us.

Received the following email from Men’s Wearhouse stating that they will be pulling their ads from Glenn Beck:

Thank you for contacting Men’s Wearhouse and bringing to our attention your concerns with the Glenn Beck program on Fox News. While we support free speech and do not make advertising decisions based on our own personal ideologies, after reviewing his recent incendiary comments we have decided to remove our advertising from his program. We hope that this decision will allow you to continue to patronize Men’s Wearhouse. I would encourage you to please share our decision with anyone else who may have expressed a similar concern.

Thank you again for contact Men’s Wearhouse.

Sponsor information after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »


Written by Angelo

July 29, 2009 at 5:14 pm

Reality Check: America’s Failing Water Infrastructure Relates To Healthcare Costs

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Apropos a post that I wrote a few weeks ago about America’s looming infrastructure woes, I’d like to add an additional consideration relevant to the current debate about rising health care costs.

Each year, the United States dumps 1.3 trillion gallons of raw sewage and industrial waste into our freshwater.  In large part, this is because our current water treatment facilities simply cannot handle the processing demand.  And here’s how it relates to health care costs:

Each year, 1.8 million to 3.5 million illnesses are caused by swimming in water contaminated by sewage overflows, and an additional 500,000 from drinking contaminated water.

Already, this is a sizable and avoidable medical expense.  In the future though, as our water processing facilities continue to fall apart, the amount of waste and the number of sick will increase. My point is this: controlling our health care costs is about much more than designing a system and working the numbers.  Ultimately, controlling health care costs is going to need to be about having an adequate infrastructure, living more sustainably, and revamping our corn based diet (which is both unhealthy and horrible for the environment).

Now, here’s the rub….those in the older generations really don’t and will not give a damn about this stuff because by the time it matters, they’ll be gone.  But, I sure do give a damn because I’m going to be in my 40s when the shit hits the fan (possibly literally).  And, everyone else in my generation and younger should also give a damn, because if we don’t doing something now, our predecessors are going to completely destroy everything on us.

Written by Angelo

July 24, 2009 at 11:45 am

What A Metaphor: National Mall In State Of Disrepair

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Apparently, our Congress has allowed the National Mall to fall into a state of disrepair.  It’s not surprising.  If anything, it serves as a fitting metaphor for the state of Washington governance – self-serving disregard for public trusts.

Here’s an example:

Last year, when dozens of ducks and ducklings died of avian botulism because the water in a mall pool near the Capitol was so fetid, and as urgent repairs were needed to stop the Jefferson Memorial’s sea wall from sinking into the mud, the Senate killed a $3.5 million earmark for the mall.

Instead, funding went to projects back home.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton opined on the state of the mall:

“It does not deserve the name ‘National Mall. We ought to call it something else until it looks decent.”

For all the ‘America is #1’ chest pounding that politicians are willing to engage in, you’d think they’d at least be willing to prevent the capital city from falling apart.  Ah! But fear not, like is too oft to happen, the supposed solution comes in the form of a public-private partnership.  In 2007, the Trust for the National Mall was created.  It strikes me as somewhat absurd that in order to properly maintain our national mall, we have to engage in public-private partnerships (I’ll spare you my rant on public-private partnerships).  On the bright side though, at least corporate control of D.C. will be a little more obvious now.

Imagine signs: This Portion of the National Mall is maintained by You Incorporated. You’re Welcome.

Written by Angelo

July 23, 2009 at 10:00 am

The Sound of Silence: Knowing When to Not Blog

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So ,if you’ve noticed (and judging by our traffic you’re not even reading this), we took last week off – were were busy and nothing pressing was going on that we wanted to discuss. It’s a luxury in many ways – we have no audience, we’re not being paid, etc.

But it’s also knowing when you can’t add anything to a discussion. The topic dujour last week was Sonia Sotomayor’s hearing, and we either could have doven into the political pool, or the realistic “this is all stupid kabuki theater’ pool, but ultimately, other people made those posts better.

And when you lose motivation to blog, it’s better to stop blogging rather than to keep doing it and burn yourself out. On that note, kudos to Hilzoy, who decided rather than to keep blogging, found that she would be better off to stop once the drive left. In her words:

The main reason I started blogging, besides the fact that I thought it would be fun, was that starting sometime in 2002, I thought that my country had gone insane. It wasn’t just the insane policies, although that was part of it. It was the sheer level of invective: the way that people who held what seemed to me to be perfectly reasonable views, e.g. that invading Iraq might not be such a smart move, were routinely being described as al Qaeda sympathizers who hated America and all it stood for and wanted us all to die.

I thought: we’ve gone mad. And I have to do something — not because I thought that I personally could have any appreciable effect on this, but because it felt like what Katherine called an all hands on deck moment. I had heard about times like this in the past — the McCarthy era, for instance — though I had never expected to live through one. Nonetheless, I was. And I had to try to do something, however insignificant.

That said, it seems to me that the madness is over. There are lots of people I disagree with, and lots of things I really care about, and even some people who seem to me to have misplaced their sanity, but the country as a whole does not seem to me to be crazy any more. Also, it has been nearly five years since I started. And so it seems to me that it’s time for me to turn back into a pumpkin and twelve white mice.

It strikes me that it would be better if many of the professional bloggers took her advice and blogger for a reason and a purpose, and just shut the hell up when there was nothing to say – on both sides. The need to fill space has ginned up numerous false controversy. Hell, it’s the primary cause that SCOTUS hearings have become the joke they are.

I wouldn’t even mention this, but the conceit of many bloggers is obvious – they don’t even see the value of silence, the value of hearing and listening to other people, except of course the self-selection of their commenters (or emailers), but that’s only to draw more commenters in the future.

The world would be a better place if more full time loggers had a filter on everything they write. I try to (sometimes in vain) and that’s why I’ll take days off at a time when I don’t have anything to write on.

Written by John Whitehouse

July 20, 2009 at 6:51 pm

Posted in Politics, Random

Don’t Read the Bill Yourself

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Via Jonathan Adler, Jeff Jacoby complains about lawmakers not reading bills:

“Transparency’’ is a popular buzzword in good-government circles, and politicians are forever promising to transact the people’s business in the sunshine. But as Hoyer’s mirth suggests, when it comes to lawmaking, transparency is a joke. Congress frequently votes on huge and complex bills that few if any members of the House or Senate has read through. They couldn’t read them even if they wanted to, since it is not unusual for legislation to be put to a vote just hours after the text is made available to lawmakers. Congress passed the gigantic, $787 billion “stimulus’’ bill in February – the largest spending bill in history – after having had only 13 hours to master its 1,100 pages. A 300-page amendment was added to Waxman-Markey, the mammoth cap-and-trade energy bill, at 3 a.m. on the day the bill was to be voted on by the House.

Senators and representatives who vote on bills they haven’t read and don’t understand betray their constituents’ trust. It is no excuse to say that Congress would get much less done if every member took the time to read every bill. Fewer and shorter laws more carefully thought through would be a vast improvement over today’s massive bills, which are assembled in the dark and enacted in haste. Steny Hoyer chortles at the thought of asking members of Congress to do their job properly. It’s up to voters to wipe the grin off his face.

This conflates two separate and distinct problems. The first is passing bills that no one has read. Clearly this is problematic. The second is making representative and senators themselves read the bills. This is a giant waste of time. Congressmen and women have staffs who should be able to read bills and brief their bosses. This is how the White House works – can you imagine Obama sitting down for ten hours to read a thousand page bill? Can you imagine Bush doing the same? No. Nor should they. Bills should be read, and transparency is important enough to make short delays acceptable in most cases. But pledging members of Congress to read bills themselves? That’s just obstruction.

Written by John Whitehouse

July 12, 2009 at 8:09 pm

Posted in Law, Politics

Sotomayor Confirmation Hearing Preview…

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In this podcast, we offer a preview of the upcoming Sotomayor Supreme Court confirmation hearing…

[Subscribe to Jus Ad Bellum podcast] or [Download this episode]

Written by Angelo

July 10, 2009 at 5:19 pm

Posted in Law, Podcast, Politics

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On why we call them “Parkways”

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The New York Times is running a piece stating that cities are being short changed on stimulus funding.  They link to several figures and reports to back up this assertion.  If we take a look at the NYT generated graph, there a few things that leap out.  First is the use of Per Capita to visually display how the money is spent.  According to population figures from the Washington State Office of Financial Management the county would need nearly three times the amount of money to balance out the population disparity between Seattle and next populace place, Spokane alone.  Of course, all of this makes that tacit assumption that population and needs correlate.  Suburban growth has been traditionally viewed as free rider on the cities they border.  Or as the article puts it:

“We have a long history of shortchanging cities and metropolitan areas and allocating transportation money to places where few people live…Professor Gutfreund said that in some states the distribution was driven by statehouse politics, with money spread to the districts of as many lawmakers as possible, or given out as political favors. In others, he said, the money is distributed by formulas that favor rural areas or that give priority to state-owned roads, often found far outside of urban areas.

They cite an excellent study by the Texas Transportation Institution on the cost of congestion in cities.  However, by dint of their population density, Cities can have an adverse effect on their surrounding counties.  Take for example of Upstate New York.  With the rising cost of gas and tolls, increasing numbers of trucks are cutting through local villages to avoid sections of the the Thruway and its toll.  As this press release from Governor Patterson announcing a state-wide study on the issue:

Each day, non-local, garbage-laden trucks leave the interstates and cut through towns across the Finger Lakes and Central New York to save money on gas and avoid tolls and weigh stations. The trucks jeopardize the region’s quality of life by hazardously barreling down small rural roads that are unable to handle their weight.

It then goes on to point out that most of these Trucks come from New York City.  The link between population pressure and garbage seems self evident, so too should the link between truck traffic and wear on a given roadway.  Also one might ask if New York City is hard up for transportation money, perhaps they should scale back the 3.2 Billion dollar PATH terminal?

So where does this leave us; besdies the fact that once again a doubious criteria is choosen to make a graphic easier to read?  Parkways were named for nammed for their intended purpose; one was supposed to park along the road to enjoy nature and perhaps have a good old fashioned frolic.  However, anybody who has driven the Taconic Parkway or tried to leave Stewart Airport quickly realize these roads have evoled into narrow, deer infested lanes whose only improvement seems to be the prepesnity to flood.  All of these shortcomings are becasue of the choosen design astetic.  Hence the defects become apparent with a literal translation of the name.  The TIGER stimulus projects were also nammed in a literal fashion.  These were projects that construction could start on as soon as possible in order to stiumlate the economy.  It stands to reason that most of the proects would be as simple as possible to minizme the often complex regulations that involve dealys in planning and permitts (none of which are being waived) and not be a grand WPA style monstosity.  In retrospect, the deer are starting to appear on the perhiary of this idea.

Written by mb1066

July 9, 2009 at 6:02 pm

Posted in Data, Economics

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