Friday, April 28, 2006

'The magic people'

The Washington Press Corps buzz this week that Fox News commentator Tony Snow will replace Scott McClellan as Bush's press secretary is just that: buzz. Pressthink has an insightful look at how McClellan was the cornerstone in operation 'rollback'. And, former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer added his take this week in a Washington Post op-ed piece, recalling that ever since the press briefings were televised live in the mid '90s the event has become more theater than anything else. It's a "TV show" in which the press secretary aims to get out a "sound bite for the evening news" while the public gets to watch a "good fight," Fleischer says.

An exchange from Thursday's press "gaggle" tells it all. Here, a reporter questions whether all the nearby televisions have been tuned to Fox News, including the one on Air Force One, because of an official White House policy. The reporter questions whether there's an unwillingness on the part of the White House to tune into, say, CNN instead:

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I'm going to go see if we can change the channel for you. Have you called up?

Q: I was the Fox victim, and I was told — the quote was, "No," when I asked for CNN.

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know who you talked to, so — it didn't come to my attention. You don't know who you talked to either?

Q: Well, the magic people at the other end off the phone.

MR. McCLELLAN: The magic people at the other end of the phone. Well, I'll see if this cabin is —

Q: I was told, "We don't watch CNN here, you can only watch Fox."

MR. McCLELLAN: As I said, it's hard to respond to something when I don't know who it is you talked to.

Q: I used the phone back here.

MR. McCLELLAN: I find this all quite amusing, to tell you the truth. I mean, there are a lot of people on this plane that do watch that channel.

Q: I've never been told, no. They're such nice guys up there.

Later, McClellan informs the press corps that
"they're going to be changing it, at your all's request, to the channel that you requested, which is CNN — from the press corps."

I think Howard Beale from the movie "Network" said it best: "Television is not the truth. Television is a goddamned amusement park."

Are you green?

If so, reporter Marina Knight would like to hear from you.

This week, there's the first of two parts at the Stowe Reporter on the area's overall picture, and with Stowe’s environmental consciousness.

Let Marina know if you practice environmentally-friendly habits: marina@stowereporter.com

Friday, April 07, 2006

Immigrant Song

Surprise, surprise.

Yesterday, we learn that Senate Democrats and Republicans had "rallied" around the proposed immigration plan and brokered a bipartisan compromise. The plan, according to the Dallas Morning News, "would place most of the 11 million-plus illegal immigrants in this country on course to become Americans."

Fast-forward 24 hours and the compromise goes down in flames. Same song, different tune. The 60-to-38 vote on the plan, according to to a New York Times report today, has all but stalled the bill. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, described the effort of some Republicans to amend the legislation as "filibuster by amendment."

The immigration legislation hits close to home, here in Stowe. Included in the immigration bill is the so-called Mikulski Amendment, sponsored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland, and co-sponsored by Vermont's congressional delegation. Basically, the amendment extends for three years the “Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act,” which was signed into law last May. That exempts workers who are already enrolled in the H2B Visa program from having to reapply for a work visa. Many businesses in Stowe, including Stowe Mountain Resort and other hotels, hired seasonal workers to do hospitality jobs. The program, however, has a cap of 66,000 such visas, which has been reached early for the last two years — barring many businesses from hiring these workers.

But, with the controversial immigration bill in trouble at the moment, the Mikulski Amendment might not see the light of day. That's not good news for some Stowe businesses that have relied on the program in years past.