Thursday, April 27, 2006



Tony Guzzi is a DWT reader from New Jersey-- born and raised (Rutgers). He escaped corporate culture recently and works in cartoon art now-- I'm hoping he can get us some artwork when Adam goes on his inevitable every-week-is-spring-break drunken binges and we're reduced to stealing images from Google.  A concerned dad of three, Tony wants his kids to grow up in a safe, sane and rational world. He's a Paul Hodes enthusiast and I invited him to do a guest blog on the importance of Paul Hodes' campaign to replace the odious rubber-stamp Republican Charlie Bass.

Hodes the Phone! Where did my rights go?
-Tony Guzzi

For two days this past March, I attended a children’s entertainment conference in NYC called Braincamp. The seminar, hosted by noted entertainment attorney Howard Leib of New York, is a confab for the free exchange of ideas between the neophytes like me, industry veterans and a roster of executives who provide insight into the direction of education/entertainment entities like Nickelodeon, Disney, PBS and Frederator.  Going to Braincamp is an opportunity to soak up valuable information and trends from some very intelligent folks. This year, however, I got something extra out of it. I’ll share more about that in a minute, but for now some background.

The first Braincamp I attended was actually last year, right around the time when a show called Postcards from Buster, airing on PBS and produced by Cookie Jar Entertainment, raised the ire of the newly installed Department of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings. An episode entitled ‘Sugartime’ saw our friend Buster traveling to the great state of Vermont and sending back a postcard to his friends about the process involved in creating maple syrup. Nothing sinister so far, unless you don’t like maple syrup, but then, lo and behold, the program, a blend of live action documentary footage and animation, had the temerity to show a same sex couple and their child. All in the course of showing how maple syrup is made.

Mrs. Spellings, under pressure from her own bigoted outlook and activist Christian groups, among others, demanded that any federal money used to produce the show by PBS be returned. She was quoted as saying at the time, "…many parents would not want their young children exposed to the life-styles portrayed in this episode." True enough.   By the same token, then, many parents can change the channel. Also, many parents don’t mind exposing their children to the real life, inclusive and open life-style shown in this episode. That is called FREEDOM of choice.

Sadly, under the chilling pressure of this funding blackmail, PBS decided not to air the episode, but member stations in New York and Boston (WGBH), aired the episode despite the attempts at censorship.

Prior right wing Christian attempts to disparage children’s entertainment as subversive efforts at poisoning youths’ minds were ultimately dismissed as the folly they were. Remember Jerry Falwell and the purple Teletubby. I do. Remember James Dobson’s lament that Spongebob Squarepants was introducing homosexuality into our schools? I do. However, the difference between those unbelievable examples and Mrs. Spellings’ foray into censorship is twofold. She is an officer of the United States Government, sworn to uphold the Constitution. Not diminish it. Remember All Men Are Created Equal. I do. She wants to tell everyone what their children should be able to see! She might as well stand in your home and change the channels with the remote! You are just the ignorant parent!

In addition, the hypocrisy of someone who had no problem spending taxpayer dollars to pay for propaganda and fake news stories about the crap that is the No Child Left Behind Act is galling. Mrs. Spellings, via a deal with the Ketchum Group, paid commentator Armstrong Williams $240,000 to tout the merits of the NCLB Act on his TV and Radio shows as if it were his true belief of its benefits. Not to mention that Mrs. Spellings was a co-author of the legislation. How is that for a conflict of interest? You can’t make this stuff up. Paid propaganda. Probably illegal to boot. “Questions have been raised about that arrangement, it ought to be looked into, and there are ways to look into matters of that nature,” said Scott McClellan, White House liarperson. Sure, sure. What ever happened to this ‘investigation’?

As the once funny Dennis Miller used to say, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to get off on a rant there…” but the point of all of this, then, is that at that first Braincamp I attended, I was angry and disturbed by the actions of the Secretary of Education and figured the whole affair might be afforded a bigger reflection at the seminar. To my dismay, in response to a question to an executive from Cookie Jar Entertainment about the affair, there was only a brief discussion about the censorship of PBS and ultimately it was generally agreed upon that this was an aberration. I honestly didn’t believe so.

Fast forward to this year’s Braincamp. More examples of governmental censorship, FCC indecency fines and paid propaganda were prevalent in the year’s time between sessions. So, I was happily surprised that some of the discussion turned on several occasions towards the need to create a rational voice in Washington that could explain and espouse to the lawmakers both the quality of entertainment being created for children and to refute the hysteria and misinformation being spread by groups like the Family Research Council.

This finally brings me to the something extra I mentioned above. At the close of the two days, amid the thanks and information exchange, Mr. Leib mentioned a cause in relation to a candidate for Congress from the New Hampshire 2nd District by the name of Paul Hodes. As a friend and colleague of Mr. Hodes, Howard Leib spoke of the competent ability and unique viewpoint Mr. Hodes would bring to bear in Washington. I took note and left the meetings hopeful for a lot of reasons.

So, as both a concerned parent and an aspiring creator of children’s entertainment, I began researching Mr. Hodes background and based on what I found, learned that Mr. Leib was right about this candidate’s integrity, credentials and unique qualifications. Not to mention that he could supplant a rubber stamping Republican incumbent in Charlie Bass.

Putting it all together, I realized I was still stinging from the level of Margaret Spellings’ hypocrisy and heavy handed approach to PBS. That despicable behavior, coupled with the growing intrusion into the privacy of parents everywhere by groups like the Family Research Council, pushed me to take action. When I found the post here on DWT about the rubber stamping Mr. Bass’ stance against keeping the internet neutral, and Mr. Hodes opportunity to win in that District, I knew I had to act by working for a candidate I feel will give progressive parents, in New Hampshire and beyond, a voice that is, “committed to cleaning up the culture in Washington that places the interests of a very few above the rights of all Americans.” Visit for more info!

-Tony Guzzi

And in honor of Tony's guest blog, we just started an ACT BLUE Page for Paul Hodes. Please help in any way you can. He has pretty much been running neck-and-neck with Bass for campaign contributions, but, if patterns hold on, any day now a huge chunk of bribes corporate donations will fatten Bass' campaign coffers considerably. Hodes doesn't have Big Business to depend on-- only us.


David over at Swing State Project makes the case today about why Paul Hodes is a much stronger candidate this time. And SpongeBob Squarepants contributes to Hodes' campaign.


At 11:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was Dennis Miller ever funny?

At 8:29 AM, Blogger TSop said...

There was a brief period where his 'angry guy' humor appealed to me. One line about tension in society running high - where he likened it to "general admission at a Metallica show and the gates were closing." Then came the ill advised Monday Night Football stint and then he got pulled into the cult of Bush and did that awful show on MSNBC and so on.

At 7:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Parents Television Council (PTC) is the main instigator of hysteria and misinformation in the TV indecency debate. This vocal minority claims 1 million members who try to make decisions for all Americans in 110 million TV households. They are responsible for 90-95% of all indecency complaints to the FCC, thanks to sophisticated e-mail campaigns. Hardly democracy in action.

Check out TV Watch at for a common sense voice of reason in the TV indecency debate.

At 3:23 PM, Blogger snakeman said...

Well written! Here in Melbourne a reptile party company was shut down as a result of a michievous publicity campaign against them. A small group of business competitors created a media campaign based on falsehoods and lies leading to the company being shut down. Only after several months of legal battles were they allowed to trade again and in the meantime the owner lost over a million dollars as his 11 staff company was literally shut down in the relevant time and as a result losgt a clientelle built up over 40 years.
The relevance is that a small but determined group of people can pretend to represent far more to cause damage.


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