Keith Olbermann Needs A New Sign Off

I have MSNBC on in the background, for the first time since Obama’s inauguration, while killing time until Battlestar Galactica starts. I just started getting CNN in HD, tipping the balance in their favor. Besides, MSNBC is almost as much opinion as Fox, except that at least Olbermann and Maddow don’t claim that their shows are “fair and balanced” journalism. Plus Olbermann and Maddow are far more reality based and, while I wouldn’t use either as a primary news source, they do speak about what is happening in the real world far more than on Fox.

Before he left office, Keith Olbermann ended every show with a running count of the number of days since George Bush declared mission accomplished in Iraq. I thought he might end that practice when Bush left office. First thing Wednesday I removed the anti-W sticker from my car (which took quite a while after being on there since 2003).  I would have done it on Tuesday if I ever moved away from the televised coverage of inauguration day.

I’ll still post an ocassional Bush-bashing item if I find it worthwhile, but the time is over to make opposition to Bush the centerpiece of anyone’s political identity. Unfortunately Olbermann has not changed. He ended his show with a count of how many days since the former president declared mssion accomplished in Iraq.

We So Rock

We know something big happened this week. The election and inauguration of Barack Obama felt like a combination of New Year’s Eve and the fall of the Berlin Wall. While some conservatives were saying they hope Obama fails, Peggy Noonan observed the inauguration and concluded “we so rock.”

Every time a nation does something big, the members of that nation who are 4 feet tall—the children who are 10 and 12—are looking up and absorbing. Forty years ago, in 1968, that grim and even-grimmer-in-retrospect year of war protests, race riots, taunts and assassinations, our 4-foot-tall citizens would have been justified in thinking that America is a scary place marked by considerable unhappiness and injustice. But the past week they could look up and see either harmony and happiness or peaceful acceptance and resolve. Washington was a town full of families and full of kids this week, and they must have picked up this: Anything is possible in America. We decide to go to the moon and soon it’s “Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed.” We decide to cure polio and soon it’s a nation of Wilma Rudolphs, running. We struggle over civil rights and then the young black man raises his hand and says “I, Barack Hussein Obama . . .” We so rock. That’s what 4-foot-tall Americans must have learned this week. A generation that will come to adulthood in 2020 and 2030 and has in their heads this sense of optimism and America-love will likely be stronger for it. It augurs well.

Clean Coal

Barack Obama has been praising clean coal saying,  “Clean coal technology is something that can make America energy independent.” More recently the Reality Coalition has been running ads saying, “In reality, there’s no such thing as clean coal.” Fact Check has tried to sort through the conflicting claims. Their conclusion is that clean coal is possible “though it would come with a big price tag.”

The Lessons of George Bush


A toddler explains what she learned from George Bush and says bye-bye.

FDA Approves First Human Trials on Treatment From Stem Cell Research

It will be a while before we see practical results from embryonic stem cell research, and the likelihood of this will increase with the anticipated end of  George Bush’s ban on federal funding. The FDA has now approved the first human trials on a treatment developed from embryonic stem cell research. The Wall Street Journal reports:

In a watershed moment for one of the most contentious areas of science and American politics, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared the way for the first-ever human trial of a medical treatment derived from embryonic stem cells.

Geron Corp., a Menlo Park, Calif., biotechnology company, is expected to announce Friday that it received a green light from the agency to mount a study of its stem-cell treatment for spinal cord injuries in up to 10 patients. The announcement caps more than a decade of advances in the company’s labs and comes on the cusp of a widely expected shift in U.S. policy toward support of embryonic stem-cell research after years of official opposition.

“This is the dawn of a new era in medical therapeutics,” said Thomas B. Okarma, Geron’s president and chief executive officer. The hope that stem-cell therapy will repair and regenerate diseased organs and tissue “goes beyond what pills and scalpels can ever do.”

Limits on stem-cell research, which prevented federal funding and were imposed by Congress and former President George W. Bush for ethical and religious reasons, have had a chilling effect on both academic and corporate research involving such cells. Proponents of stem-cell research say restrictions have delayed development of promising new treatments, while critics contend that harvesting stem cells from embryos destroys human life.

The 25 Most Influential Liberals In The US Media

Forbes has posted a listing of  The 25 Most Influential Liberals In The U.S. Media. As Libby writes, “I don’t think Forbes quite understands what Liberal means.” Their definition is somewhat odd:

Broadly, a “liberal’ subscribes to some or all of the following: progressive income taxation; universal health care of some kind; opposition to the war in Iraq, and a certain queasiness about the war on terror; an instinctive preference for international diplomacy; the right to gay marriage; a woman’s right to an abortion; environmentalism in some Kyoto Protocol-friendly form; and a rejection of the McCain-Palin ticket.

Considering that even some conservatives agree with some of these positions this definition leads to the inclusion of people that many would not consider to be liberals at all, such as Fred Hiatt and Andrew Sullivan. The relative influence of those on the list can also be argued with. Blog readers might still find the article worth glancing at, primarily as bloggers fill many of the spots. This does provide a good example of the degree to which the line between bloggers and the media is now as murky as the line between liberals and conservatives.