Friday, October 31, 2008

Head Games, That's All I Get From You...

Dear Mainstream Media:

Just shut up. Really.

Dear McCain-Palin supporters:

This election is not sewn up, despite what ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and others have said. The media is not acting as a nonpartisan observer. And the folks at Hillbuzz explain very nicely how the media is trying to keep you at home, so that you don't cast that vote for Senator McCain. ("It's over anyway, so what's the point?")

Here are the three things you have already seen and will continue to see until November 4 at about 10pm:
(1) Calls for McCain to just give up and quit, because the race is over.

(2) Wild claims of Obama winning states that shock and surprise you.

(3) Repeated insistence that blacks and young people will decide this election, and they are all going to vote in record numbers for Obama.

Hillbuzz knows all about this, because the same thing happened to Hillary voters earlier this year. Don't listen to what the media is telling. Make your own decision, and get out there and vote.

Seriously: go read this story. And really, don't believe the hype. Actually, I advise the following for the next few days:

  • Don't watch the news. Not ABC, not CBS, not NBC, not Fox, not CNN, nothing. (Especially not KXAN, if you happen to be here in Austin. Let 'em tank in the November sweeps ratings.)
  • Don't read the newspapers. Not the unwanted daily, not the worthless weekly, and absolutely not the New York Times.
  • Don't read the comments on a lot of the media's political blogs. Or if you do, do your research on astroturfing. (What about comments on your blog, Snowed? C'mon, I don't get those types of comments. Heck, I usually don't get any comments, period.)
  • If you must watch or read, take all these stories with a grain of salt.
  • Tell your fellow McCain voters that they also should take these stories with a grain of salt.
  • Get out there and vote!
(Hat tip: Jim Treacher)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

KLRU2 To Be Removed From Channel 20 November 4th

It is now official: Time Warner Cable is moving KLRU2 to be a digital-tier-only channel on November 4. (That's Tuesday, for the calendar-challenged. There's some sort of important thing going on that Time Warner hoping that with everything happening, we won't notice the change?)

And, unlike the recent KXAN situation, I do not expect that KLRU2 will be replaced with a fairly good family movie channel. Instead, I expect channel 20 will look a lot like the test pattern currently appearing on channel 77 for basic/standard customers (or, as the 23-month-old calls it, "rainbow").

I'm running out of reasons to stay with Time Warner.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

KXAN Returns

While most Austinites slept last night, KXAN/LIN-TV reached a deal with Time Warner Cable, and KXAN has returned to channel 4. This appears (per KXAN's site) to be a permanent deal, and just in time for sweeps to begin.

Mrs. Snowed found the return of KXAN to be "very disappointing". Mrs. Snowed was enjoying Starz quite a bit more than NBC.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Beyonce's New Album, Jay-Z's New Smear

This just in: Beyonce would like to be known as "Sasha Fierce". (Per Yahoo! Music)

But, at this point, I think I'll just think of her as someone married to a severe misogynist. Is this really someone Senator Obama wants associated with his campaign?

(Note: "Misogynist" was by far the nicest term I could come up with to describe him.)

Vote Smart!

Haven't seen this posted anywhere yet, so as a true public service, let me remind everyone that the League of Women Voters Austin Area website has lots of good information for the would-be informed voter, including a voter's guide and sample ballots (with all races listed by precinct). Please check it out, and do your homework before you vote.

What Would an Obama Presidency Really Mean for America?

Set aside some time in the next few days and look through a couple of items that show just how important your vote for President will be.

First, Fred Thompson describes what a President Obama and a heavily Democratic Congress would do:

Then, check out The comprehensive argument against Barack Obama.

Look into what these people are saying. They're not smearing anyone; they're laying out facts. Check the facts and decide for yourself.

Don't just vote, vote smart!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Another Day, Another Palin Hit Piece

The good folks at ABC's Nightline seem to be continuing the newfound tradition of throwing everything they can at Sarah Palin. Take, for example, the report they produced for the October 22, 2008 episode. Titled "The Palin Problem", it is currently at the top of the Nightline page. But, in an attempt to be helpful, I'll do my best to reproduce what I heard last night using my admittedly faulty memory. That way, you don't have to bother to watch.

MARTIN BASHIR: And now, here's Terry Moran to smear Sarah Palin some more.

TERRY MORAN: Sarah Palin can sure excite a crowd. But actually, she's a real drag on the ticket. I mean, really, she spent just barely more on clothes that she's going to donate to charity after the election is over than Barack Obama spent on styrofoam faux-Greek columns that were tossed in the trash (along with the American flags) after the Democratic National Convention.

Look, Joy Behar has another obnoxious comment about Ms. Palin. And everyone agrees with Joy, right? Right?

Look, a lot of people view her negatively now. I wonder if it's because of non-stop slanted media coverage?

Look, a retired general and former Secretary of State has slammed her when it was politically expedient to do so, so obviously his opinion is more important than those tens of thousands of people who go to her rallies.

Now, to present a semblance of balance, I'll interview a local yokel who thinks she's a good choice, but I'll question his judgment to his face. Are you sure she's a good choice? Really? No, come on.

Of course, Sarah Palin ignores her critics, such as, for example, certain people at ABC News, but we hope you don't. You don't really think this election's a toss-up, do you? Really?

Well, it looks as if Caribou Barbie is gonna be around for a while, much to my chagrin. Excuse me while I purge.

MARTIN BASHIR: Thanks, Terry. Coming up on Nightline, we'll have an actual balanced story about airlines, and then we'll go after McCain.

BARACK OBAMA: I'm Barack Obama, and I approved this message.

(endless commercials for people not in my district)

I didn't stick around to see what they said about McCain.

Like I said, this may not be an exact reproduction of yesterday's Nightline, but it pretty well sums it up for me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

HD-47: Commercials in Review

Valinda Bolton and Donna Keel have released their first television ads of the season, and as a public service, both are presented right here for your convenience.

Valinda Bolton (D, incumbent):

Donna Keel (R):

A constant among Rep. Bolton's ads appears to be the placing of blame for everything on Republicans. This time, she blames the Republicans for cutting CHIP. Let's see...CHIP's funding wasn't cut in the last legislature, it was increased to allow 127,000 more children to be enrolled. Would someone please remind me which party was in control of both the Legislature and the Governor's Office? Ah, yes, the evil Republicans. How dare they do this to...oh, wait, this was good for CHIP. Never mind...

Both candidates mention education. Good so far. Telling, though, is the manner in which they mention it. Ms. Keel wants more education funding to go directly to the classrooms, whereas Ms. Bolton just wants more education funding, period. Given that there are some districts in Central Texas which spend less than 45% of their revenue in the classroom, I would venture that something more than the amount of funding for education needs to change to improve schools.

One more thing: Ms. Bolton discussed acting like a grown-up. Unfortunately, she wasn't thinking that way when she assisted in delaying the consideration of all bills during the last legislative session (out of an apparent desire to embarrass Tom Craddick), thus destroying any semblance of efficiency and causing a time crunch at the end of the session. (To be sure, Mr. Craddick didn't help things either, but a vote seemingly designed entirely to embarrass someone is rather childish.)

My call on the two commercials: Both mention general policy desires. But Valinda Bolton's continued playing of the blame game makes for an inferior ad, in my opinion. Winner: Donna Keel.

Morons on Both Sides

Apparently the modern way to handle political disagreements in Austin is to damage the other party's vehicle. And it doesn't matter if you are a Democrat or a Republican. And no, no one gets to claim the moral high ground on this one. Both sides have their share of idiots who need to grow up (yes, and be prosecuted). And kudos to them for taking the level of discourse right down the tubes.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

KLRU2/Time Warner Update

Well, as was obvious to anyone with basic cable who checked, October 15 came and went without Time Warner's following through on their threat to remove KLRU2 from channel 20, leaving it only on channel 255. However, I have been told now that this will still happen, probably sometime around November 14.

Time Warner's given rationale for this decision is that they need more bandwidth for their HD channels. But I'm sure it has nothing to do with the hope that their basic cable is becoming so lame, for so high a cost per month, that people are sure to upgrade to standard or, more likely, digital, probably out of frustration if nothing else.

Keep up the good work, Time Warner. You'll have a dish on my house by Christmas at the rate you're going.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Avoiding Lines in Austin

If anyone ever wondered what Saturday was the best in Austin for car repairs, oil changes, or visiting fast food restaurants with play areas for small children, I can't think of a better one than the second Saturday in October. There was virtually no wait for the repairs or the oil change, and I don't think I've ever seen a Chick-Fil-A as empty as I saw today. (For some reason, most sit-down restaurants and sports bars were quite full, however...)

(Yes, I watched it. The fourth quarter, that is. I guess that's fitting, since only a fourth of the family was interested.)

Time Warner Squanders Good Will

Is it just me, or is the Time Warner vs. LIN TV (KXAN) debate one in which most observers want to see both sides lose? Like I said, I think LIN has the worse hand right now, but either way, I figure this'll be over right around October 29. See, November sweeps start October 30, and as I understand it, they will affect advertising rates for six months, not three, since the normal February sweeps are being affected by the digital switchover.

At this point, I'm fine not having KXAN. (I'm also not watching a lot of KNVA, given that that station is bombarding viewers with annoying announcements about KXAN as well.)

With that said, Time Warner's continual lousy service and channel changes may drive me to another provider anyway. Sure, they've added Starz Kidz & Family on channel 4 as a stopgap while we're without an NBC affiliate, but what else have they done? Well, if you have basic or standard cable, here are the main highlights for October (courtesy their own site):

  • Moved channel 77 to digital only (as of October 1). If you enjoyed watching Rangers or Astros games on Time Warner Cable, I hope you also enjoy paying $6.99 a month for each converter box.
  • They are preparing to move KLRU2 (channel 20) to digital only (where it is already on channel 255) on October 15. According to Maria Rodriguez, PD of KLRU, they are trying to meet with Time Warner to discuss why this change is taking place. As for Time Warner, they are being rather tight-lipped about their reasons, though it certainly appears to be all about getting more people to switch to digital.
  • Raised the price of basic cable to $19.95 a month. Effectively, the cost of basic cable has doubled in thirteen months in Austin. There's not a lot of price difference now between basic cable and a much, much better package via satellite.
So, thanks for nothing, Time Warner. Hope you and KXAN enjoy the doghouse.

Oh, and I did say I expected Michelle Valles to be on KVUE soon. Almost as soon as I said it, KVUE and KXAN both announced their new anchors. I'll admit when I was wrong. Best wishes to Ms. Valles.

Friday, October 03, 2008

KXAN Overplays Its Hand

As they've been warning for days, KXAN has disappeared from Time Warner Cable in Austin, just as it did from Suddenlink early this year. KXAN has for days been repeatedly showing dire warnings about Time Warner pulling KXAN's signal. Quite honestly, it was incredibly annoying after a while. ("You'll never see Wheel of Fortune again! The horror!" [this may be a paraphrase])

The truth is, KXAN is well within its rights to demand that Time Warner carry their signal. It's called the must-carry regulation. But, stations don't have to use the must-carry clause if they want to negotiate a retransmission agreement, wherein a station is paid in cash or other consideration by the cable provider to carry the signal.

Dish Network, DirecTV, and Grande all have a retransmission agreement with KXAN, as KXAN is all too eager to point out*. Why? Because most people in Austin have Time Warner. Would you switch to another provider if a major network wasn't available? Neither would I.

So, having been successful in rattling their saber with Suddenlink, KXAN apparently figured the same tactic would work with Time Warner. But, particularly for those of us who have downgraded all the way to basic cable, there is no other provider in town who touches the price we pay for the channels we get.** KXAN is shooting itself in the foot in this so-called negotiating tactic. As a reminder: November sweeps are coming soon--the period stations use to set advertising rates. KXAN needs Time Warner to be retransmitting them by then, so my guess is they'll cave in about three weeks.

*Well, they were eager to point this out until they pulled their signal. Now their website doesn't even mention Time Warner.

**This does not, of course, excuse the rather lousy service Time Warner provides as well, and it especially does not excuse the fact that Time Warner is raising basic cable rates another $5 within a couple of months. That'll make it more palatable for people to look into other providers, you guys...

Update: As mentioned in the comments, the real culprit here is KXAN's owner, LIN TV. Apparently only the bottom line matters to LIN TV, instead of, you know, providing a quality product. (This appears to be the same reasoning they used in lowballing Michelle Valles. She wasn't perfect, but she deserved better than she got. I wouldn't be surprised to see her sitting beside Tyler Sieswerda in about six months.)

Update 2: Hi KXAN! How's it working out for you so far?