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When I was a real newspaper journalist in ’04 with my own Sunday op-ed column, I made Internet enemies with the late Keith Olbermann, who was hallucinating about vote fraud in Florida and Ohio.116603122-e1424806219751

Olbermann, then a professional ranter on MSNBC’s “Countdown With Keith Olbermann,” went to his grave thinking that Bush II stole Florida a second time.

Shortly before he passed away, I tried to set him straight with this:

Keith Olbermann’s Dan Rather moment

So, America, what’s sloppier?

Our shaky elections system or the jayvee journalism practiced on Keith Olbermann’s fake MSNBC news show “Countdown With Keith Olbermann”?

I cast all of my votes for Olbermann.

The recovering sportscaster is openly liberal and his irreverent, run-and-quip offense is easy to detest. But I kind of like him and his fast-paced infotainment show, which has the fatal misfortune to occupy the 8 p.m. time slot opposite Fox’s “The O’Reilly Factor.”

Olbermann, however, really made a Dan Rather of himself last week.

He never directly charged that Republicans stole the election or demanded that Karl Rove should be picked up for questioning by the U.N. But for 15 minutes on Monday, Olbermann pointed to a “small but blood-curdling group of reports of voting irregularities and possible fraud” from across the country, topped it with some vague partisan innuendo from Democrat Congressman John Conyers, and acted like he deserved a Peabody Award for Civic Journalism.

On Tuesday I checked out some of Olbermann’s claims. Using a high-tech personal communication device professional journalists refer to as a “telephone,” I called an elections bureau person in Cuyahoga County, Ohio (greater Cleveland), where, as Olbermann pointed out, 93,000 extra votes had been inexplicably cast Nov. 2.

It turns out the votes were “a computer anomaly” that didn’t affect or reflect the official vote count. And those 18,472 votes Olbermann said were counted in Fairview Park, a Cleveland suburb that had only 13,342 registered voters• Absentee ballots from many precincts had been grouped together by the computer and credited to Fairview Park, where 8,421 voted.

But what about Florida, the Vote-Fraud State?

Olbermann had made a big sinister deal about 29 counties whose registered voters were predominantly Democrat “suddenly” voting “overwhelmingly for Mr. Bush.” He slyly left the impression that massive vote-stealing could have been perpetrated by ballot tabulating companies like Diebold, whose bosses were known Bush allies.

I called Baker County, Fla., Olbermann’s first example. Yes, twanged the cheery election lady, 69 percent of voters in her rural county on the Georgia border are registered Democrat. Yes, “Mr. Boosh” got 78 percent of the vote and trounced Kerry, 7,738 to 2,180.

This was nothing new or untoward, she said. Folks in Florida’s Panhandle are conservative, especially on social and moral issues. They mostly register as Democrats and vote that way on local issues, but in national and state elections, they go Republican. Been doing so for years.

I heard the same explanation from election ladies in the tiny and large counties of Calhoun, Lafayette, Escambia, Highland and Liberty, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by as much as 9 to 1. Yet Bush beat Kerry in every one.

If they had cared, Olbermann and the producers of “Countdown” could have discovered these facts before they began flogging their sloppy Internet-spawned conspiracy Monday and Tueday nights. Non-Republican journalists on Salon.com and Slate.com. had no trouble explaining/debunking it. Nor did bloggers.

By Wednesday, Olbermann’s fever had cooled. But he had abandoned the Florida conspiracy angle, explained Cleveland’s oddities and mostly was yukking it up about a Unilect computer that ate 4,000 votes in North Carolina.

Still, he and his guest enabler from the grownup world of journalism, Jonathan Alter of Newsweek, were concerned about the wussiness of the news media. Why had no major print or electronic outlet pursued this shameful story•

I don’t know, boys. Maybe it’s because before they start making wild charges of “vote fraud,” real journalists pick up a telephone.

If anyone knows where Keith is buried, please tell me so I can put some of my old baseball cards on his grave.

billofhannityControversy is raging in America. The First Amendment, long the bulwark of our country’s freedom, is under attack from the left and the right. Our freedom to say whatever we want, anytime we want, to whomever we want, is being threatened by the fascist forces in our government, hellbent on silencing the last true American patriots.

Wait, are you telling me this doesn’t have anything to do with the government?

You’re telling me it’s about a redneck duck?

Oh, not a redneck duck, a redneck on a show loosely based around ducks.

And who else?

From The Hunt for Red October?

That’s it?

Ah yes, the guy who wants Sarah Palin defecated on.

No America, the government isn’t trying to take away our rights to say moronic things. That freedom is very obviously still intact. In reality this matter has nothing to do with the government, and thus is completely unrelated to the First Amendment.

For  you see gentle readers, the government has absolutely no control over whether or not employees get fired by their employers. If you want to go on YouTube and make racist, sexist, or profane comments about your company, your boss, blacks, whites, Jews, Jamaicans, short people, women, men, cats, dogs, the blind, or the deaf you have every right, as granted by the First Amendment, to do so without fear of government repercussion.

But your ass is gonna get fired if you do. That’s because your First Amendment rights absolutely do not protect you from your place of work. You can rail all you like against the repressive policies arbitrarily placed on you by your employer, but guess what, if you want to go around airing your views, you better make damn sure you’re not going to offend the people in charge (and I’m not talking about Obama).

Therefore when Willie Robertson compares homosexuality to bestiality or Alec Baldwin uses offensive language or Martin Bashir hopes people shit on Sarah Palin they’re going to get fired. It may not be the “right” thing to do, but it sure as hell isn’t a First Amendment issue. So next time a mentally deficient, fake-constitutionalist like Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin, or Bobby Jindal decides to bring up the First Amendment, you can politely point them to this: First Amendment to the Constitution. They obviously need a refresher.

  • Gold-PanningA new tragedy on 9/11: this unspeakably horrible CBS New York piece on — dun dun dun — unregulated dinner parties. Reason jumped on this for good reason (my mom said it looked like a Reason TV parody of something). It’s a staggeringly pathetic imitation of something I think is supposed to be called journalism.
  • Seriously, just look at it. But at least feast your eyes on the fact that ever single commenter things that these “reporters” are morons.
  • Volokh Conspiracy post on tacky 9/11 memorializing (with muffins) notes such things might be well-meaning and “[t]hat is why we send thank you notes even for ugly wedding gifts.”
  • My most recent VICE piece was about — among other things, since there is always an exciting bullet point list! — the EPA sending armed teams to test the water on Alaskan mining claims
  • I threw together a little review of Jesse Walker’s new United States of Paranoia for The Libertarian Standard
  • I’ve started compiling a Youtube list of videos in which I am somewhere (if not technically seen). So far it’s mostly just Old Crow Medicine Show and La Plebe. I don’t think I will add weird protests or Sarah Palin at CPAC 2012, because who would want to look back fondly on those?
  • I’m still obsessing over the Cold War, particularly movies about nuclear war. I plan to do a post on that sometime soon. In the meantime I was interested to read this short blog post on Soviet movies about nukes and about the conflict with America. It sounds like there just aren’t that many, and they’re not usually the On the Beach kind of grimness. If anyone has any recommendations for nuclear war movies, send ’em my way, please. Same with novels.
  • It’s not just the Bloomberg piece my brother tears apart below, there has been a plague of complete nonsense pieces on libertarians lately. These include AlterNet on the corporate astroturf (is that still a thing?) nature of this philosophy (the 19th century — not a thing! Nor are this country’s founding documents! Weeeee!) and Salon on “11 question to see if libertarians are hypocrites.” (The latter managed to notice that there are degrees of libertarian and no, it’s not just a word for Ayn Rand lover all the time, but it’s still awful.)
  • Horrible things with the word “libertarian” in the title also includes this Cato Unbound piece headlined “The Libertarian Case for National Military Service”, The author gives it his all, and this is a debate format, but it’s still nauseating as a concept. Not to mention, I don’t think the author is a libertarian. Not that supporting the draft isn’t antithetical to libertarianism (though it is), but I actually don’t think the author is a libertarian. I mean, he’s French.
  • Noah Rothman at Mediaite trashes John Stewart and Stephen Colbert for having stopped trying. He notes that Colbert did a staggeringly disingenuous piece about the  right-wing outrage over the Obama puts feet on desk “controversy” (yeah, I missed that), including a short Red Eye clip that suggests Greg Gutfeld and Andy Levy’s horror over the photo was genuine instead of snarky. Lame, lame, Colbert.
  • Antiwar.com: The X-Files as a purely pre-911 phenomenon.
  • (Right now I’m trying to watch what Jesse Walker and io9 commenters and other credible people say is the best X-Files episode ever, Josie Chung’s From Outer Space. I keep rewinding — as we used to call it — and missing stuff. I’ve seen it, but it’s been a while.)
  • Finally!(?) the final word on what killed old Alexander Supertramp (Christopher McCandless).
  • I will forever defend McCandless, Holden Caulfield, and moshpits, even if they are all varying degrees of stupid. It’s the principle of the thing, people.
  • Actually, I think I like marriage better now, Buzzfeed.
  • Awesome.
  • Interesting — especially since they killed of the transgender teen on Degrassi, those bastards.

And finally, let’s have at today’s video:

Let me pass on this ear-worm to y’all for a spell.

Today’s video:

Old Crow Medicine Show playing “Sewanee Mountain Catfight” off of their most recent album. This is a ridiculous song that sets my toes tapping. The killer fiddle helps. Fiddle usually does.