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January 22, 2004     The Columbia Star
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/ Buster White uzz words Little ' Flectronically speak- heir pc buzz words for . hning year are digi y |. tour reless, HD, media I and a few others. plug = came about at the )t- liner Electronics January 8-11 in Las L, Known in the a try as CES, it's the sew t trade show of its n the world with nd ;.3 million sq. ft. .ned display space, Y !300 exhibitors and L to L10,000 attendees. I rs. )uch for the atten- figures because I ed into at least half m. RES is so big there ow within that The largestand .... after is Show Over 65 give press writ- up view and of" the newest and technologies. is where the who run the stores All the newest wonders are at CES. Some small, but this they make their for '04 listening to today will install equipment that will digitize the signal to make it clearer than ever. "It makes AM sound like Energizer introduced some batteries that seven times than normal ones digital camera. of digital cam- they were every- Some names you like Canon, Sony, Kodak plus many and SOme new s that will be ring on the shelves Digital cameras already started to ll film types. Kodak renounced that in the they were going to film cameras for the mail-in in favor of digital Everyone's heard of and the Philips LG ch Plasma display talk of the show. there's also HD A consortium HD radio where station you are FM and FM sound like CD." Receivers are on the market and stations in some areas are already on the air. The term wireless is not just for phones any- more. Your stereo and computer can communi- cate with each other wire- lessly. Soon your alarm clock will wake up your coffee pot and toaster when it wakes you up. Can't keep your cell phone charged? A compa- ny called Cellboost'has a  ', charged module thttt'Fou ..... '  "' ' '' keep in your briefcase until you need it. You plug it into your phone for another hour of talk time then throw it away. You know about Satellite TV but in the car? Yes there's a system or two that will allow you to cruse the open road while watching the latest Oprah. (passengers only) Remember .VHS tapes and audio cassettes? I say remember because they will be no more. They will be replaced by the DVD in its many forms from the mini that fits right into some digital video cameras to the stan- dard sizes that can hold about four hours of recorded video. DVD burners are replacing CD burners. A DVD will hold about seven CDs worth of info. There's even a new format or two on the hori- zon that will store 30 GB on one side of one disc. ' I saw a GPS system that will keep track of your kids, but what I saw most of all is the US mar- ket place working -- com- panies displaying goods and services, people buy- ing those items and mak- ing them available to Us. Will they all make it? I doubt it, but you and I are the ones who decide and CES is the marketplace. Sorry really doesn't cut it "I wanted to win," she said with a shaky voice. "I wanted to win so bad for my kids and my family. I apologize." Elecia Harris stared into the TV camera, her eyes clear and unwavering, a slight smile on her face. Her husband sat next to her, lending obvious support. "I'm not a bad person. I'm really not. Everyone has a past," she said. "The numbers were so overwhelming." Harris lied to authorities and filed a false police report claiming the winning Mega Millions lottery ticket belonged to her, and she had lost it. She caused a near riot by pointing out which garbage dump the ticket was likely located in. This woman even threatened legal action against Rebecca Jemison, the per- son who really had the winning ticket. Yet, she thought by sincerely apologizing, everything would be okay. I'm sure she got advice from a media expert who told her all the right things to do to look sin- cere. And she probably did the best thing possible for her situa- tion. These days, an apology is like a Get Out of Jail Free card. Expressing remorse for bad behavior is all one needs to do in order to gain redemption. An apology also works well on past sins. When I was about seven, my brother and I destroyed a neigh- bor's mailbox. It really wasn't malicious. The neighbor was a music teacher and had a trom- bone hanging from the post. We were just trying to make music, and the stupid thing came apart. I remember having to go and apologize to Mr. Leuth. It was a hard thing to do. I was sincere and had tears in my eyes. So did Rick. But we hadn't been coached by a media savvy handler. We really were sorry it had hap- pened. A few minutes with Dad and his belt had made us honest- ly regret having played with the horn. Mr. Leuth later encased the trombone in bricks. He could have hung it from spider webs, and we would never have come close to it again. Jimmy Swaggart tearfully apologized on camera for trans- gressions with a prostitute. He had big o1' crocodile tears rolling down his cheeks, messing up his TV makeup. He apologized to God and his followers. The way I understand things, God knew Swaggart sinned the moment he did it, not after he got caught, which is when the reverend apol- ogized. I'm pretty sure God knows if Swaggart was sincere, too. I wonder how the Lord feels about coercing poor widows to send money to support the cause. The Charleston Chief of Police recently referred to drug related murderers as SOBs. Now he's in trouble with the local NAACP. His statement of clarifi- cation didn't go far enough, and the civil rights group has demanded, yes, an apology. At Mike Cox least they want him to apologize for something he actually said. Descendants of slaves, Native Americans, and Japanese- American citizens have all been apologized to recently for actions the person apologizing had noth- ing to do with. Now, maybe I shouldn't say anything, since I've never been directly involved in this situation, but I don't under- stand the concept. The past actions aren't reversed, the present situation isn't altered, and no money changes hands. All it does is give lots of free publicity to both sides. I could be off base here. If there is more to this, and I'm missing an obvious point; I'm well, really, really, you know, sorry. Jim Babka The death of the First Amendment is near The First Amendment died earlier this month. And if the First Amendment is dead, can we honestly claim to be a democratic republic any more? This is not hyperbole. Imagine you're at a meet- ing of civic-minded folks and it's nearly Election Day. Your congressman is just about to vote on an issue of great concern to your group. You suggest it's time to pass around a hat, collect some money, and buy an ad alerting your neighbors - urging them to call the congress- man. You collect the money, and the next morn- ing you go to buy your ad. You think you're being a good American - getting involved in the democratic process. After all, the First Amendment said you have the freedom to associate, which you did, with other civic-minded people. That same amend- ment also said you have a right topetition for redress of grievances, and that you have free speech and press rights - so you can make a commercial that might reflect poorly on your con- gressman. After all, this is America. But if you haven't filed for your "license," you'd be wrong. You need to become famil- iar with a complex web of laws or you need to hire the consultants, lawyers, and accountants who already are familiar with those de'.rees - before you go to your local station, even before you collect the proverbial $200. Because ff you don't, then youll go directly to jail. Who came up with such an idea? Why, incum- bent politicians of course. It bothers them to be criti- cized. They'll grudgingly put up with it from their opponents because chal- lengers usually can't raise sufficient money to pub- licly and effectively broad- cast similar criticism, and they haven't (yet) found a "Supreme Court-sanc- tioned" method for sup- pressing their opponents. But if you and your neighbors discuss an incumbent's record in a paid commercial, those are now called "sham issue ads." According to the majority of the Supreme Court, you need govern- ment approval to criticize a politician. However, Justices Thomas, Scalia, and Kennedy were a bit old-fashioned. They said this new law, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), better known as McCain Feingold, violated free speech and free press rights. Just in case you think I'm full of hyperbole, or something worse - that I've overstated the damage done to the First Amendment or that the members of Congress who supported this bill had good intentions - consider these quotes that Justice Scalia cut and pasted into his judicial opinion: "This bill is about slowing the ad war.., making sure the flow of negative ads by outside interest groups does not continue to permeate the airwaves." Senator Maria Cantwell, D-WA "These so-called issues ads.., directly attack candidates without any accountability. It is brutal. We have an opportunity in the McCain-Feingold bill to stop that..." Senator Barbara Boxer, D-CA "I think these issue advocacy ads are a night- mare. I think all of us should hate them... [By passing the legislation], we could get some of this poi- son politics off television." The late Senator Paul Wellstone, D-MN Justice Thomas closed his opinion by pre- dicting the institutional press had seen their tights downgraded to a privilege, granted by the good graces of Congress. He wrote: "Media corporations are influential...What is to stop a future Congress from determining the press is too influential, and that the appearance of corrup- tion is significant when media organizations endorse candidates or run slanted or biased news sto- ties...? ...what is to stop a future Congress from con- cluding the availability of unregulated media corpo- rations creates a loophole that allows for easy cir- cumvention of the limita- tions of the current cam- paign finance laws? "Indeed, I believe that longstanding and heretofore unchallenged opinions such as Miami Herald v. Tornillo, are in peril... Now, supporters... need only argue the press capacity to manipulate popular opinion, gives rise to an appearance of cor- ruption.:. Atr drumming up some evidence, laws regulating media outlets in their issuance of editorials would be upheld under the [Majority's] reasoning. "...Although today's opinion does not expressly strip the press of First Amendment protection, there is no principle of law or logic that would prevent the application of the Court's reasoning in that setting. The press now operates at the whim of Congress." Days before McCain-Feingold was to be debated in the US Senate, columnist George Will called an old col- league, Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation. He got tight to the point, "I hope you and yours are doing every- thing you can to defeat McCain-Feingold in the House." Weyrich said his troops were gearing up as they spoke. To which Will replied, "I assumed that was the case, but I wanted to be sure. This is the end of the world, you know." It may not be the Apocalypse, but the enact- ment of McCain-Feingold signals the death of an already bruised and bat- tered 1st Amendment. And the destruction of the First Amendment means an apocalypse for democracy. American Democracy, R.I.P. Jim Babka is the president of RealCampaignReform.org, Inc. and the American Liberty Foundation.