Sunday, June 29, 2003
I had some problems with Blogger last week. They have been resolved. I've been crazy busy on a work project lately, so in some ways the disruption worked out.
I've bought a new domain, and will be publishing a mirror site to this, with enhancements and deeper content, shortly. I will announce when it is ready. With that site, I will be introducing many new blog elements, including intelligent agents. This Blogger site will remain here, as I'm confident I'll concoct a straight-forward way to update two sites with new posts, at least for awhile.
Last, Sandra Day O'Connor deserves praise for her intelligence and integrity in the latest Supreme Court case decisions. Buzzflash does her a disservice, and contributes to an irrational and overblown atmosphere of conspiracy and intrigue, by suggesting as publicly as they do that O'Connor is privy to Right wing machinations to assure W. Bush reelection.
I won't go into their arguments, if you could indeed characterize them this way, but instead I will repost on this a bit later (by tomorrow). This is the real world, not the X-Files, and Sandra Day O'Connor has contributed to a great victory in the ongoing march for civil rights in this country, not to mention an expanding defense of equal protection under the law.
Thursday, June 26, 2003
Sometimes I ask myself what is happening with the American Dream. We've come a long way here in America, from the founding fathers keeping slaves and bearing children with them, while all the time expounding on the inalienable dignity and rights of man. And they meant man. Not human. At least in the beginning.
Since then, we've grown a lot as a culture and nation. We have given women, and people who are not white, or Irish, equal rights and dignity. More or less. There is still a lot of personal and subcultural opposition, but this is to be expected, and not suppressed. A change can't be completed overnight. It takes time and generations. And people need to choose freedom and tolerance, it can't be forced on them.
Michael Savage is one of these people. To be honest, who knows what his deal is personally, but his public persona is deplorable. Who is this guy? He sues people for making fun of him, and for pointing out his mistakes, because he has made such a colossal ass of himself in the public arena. Boo hoo. If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.
I don't listen to Savage's show. Never have. I've heard here and there some snippets, and some resulting controversy, and that's all I need. I have no tolerance for those who despise, ridicule, or work to marginalize those who express themselves sexually in a different way than oneself. It's tawdry, and often makes one wonder why this seeming fear of this behavior is aroused anyhow. Is there a secret titillation? A curiosity that upon being considered momentarily brings on the threat of religious doom?
Perhaps we will never know. I do know this however. Savage needs to back off his homoerotic arousal, and accompanying subsequent denigration and humiliation of such feeling, for the better good of this country, and our people. He is on the public stage, and shows no sensitivity or wisdom at all in his diatribes on the air. With this in mind, neither should his critics have to display these qualities either. As for the truth, this is not Savage's game, and thus is also up for his critics manufacture.
With freedom, all expression is fair game, to a limit. We haven't even come close to the limits, so let Savage cry and whine all he wants, he has brought this on himself. Show some courage man! Fight back with words, not lawsuits! If it were up to Savage, we would be home of the correct, land of the sissies, and homeland of the weak-willed. Beginning with his name, Savage is just a limp joke.
My fellow man of rock'n'roll, Neal Pollack, has more on the situation. I encourage you to go visit him.
Wednesday, June 25, 2003
does anyone expect that W. Bush knew exactly how many troops we had months before the party convention? does anyone remember how little he knew at all when ambushed in a similar fashion as Dean in his run?
affirmative action - need to assure that the minority kids who do get in really are from a diverse base, and not just coming from the same good schools. how would this work? differentiation by school, or neighborhood? probably best by school, so that an elite sampling from each, of the best achievers at each, would get into the best schools, and thus ensure a representative sampling of the nation
actually, this makes more sense than anything, since if true diversity is what you're looking for, than it should be a diversity rooted in the diversity of our schools. this would also assure against receiving less of an education at one school than another, since the university should equally educate individuals from all regions and neighborhoods of America, and minor differences in entrance scores and grades don't necessarily predicate success at the university, as a low-income student with a lower quality education isn't necessarily worse off for wear at the university because the SAT scores are less. it doesn't mean much, plus the success of the university itself shouldn't be solely on the so-called "brilliance" of its students, compared to each institution, but in successfully educating the incoming diversity of students so that the mission is met.
one would also want to assure that an individual does not transfer to a lesser school for just the final year, or any such nonsense as that. there must be a workable and accountable system in place, to determine the grades a student receives along with the ranking of the school from which the grade took place.
Israel is detaining individuals for being in the same mosque? or being a friend or associate of, having grown up with, a "suspected" Hamas militant?
the anti-semitism forces just seem too heavy-handed in the face of freedom of expression and art. surely all portrayals of Jews cannot be cleansed of any negativism, just as negative portraits of any ethnicity can similarly not be cleansed. otherwise, what do we end up with? what kind of history? "revisionist" history? surely there are bad guys in the course of world history, of any number of ethnicities and cultures, take the Catholics during the Crusades for example, but does this mean one should not ever portray one's interpretation of such events? so we will only have positive portrayals of everything? what kind of history is that? or is history now to be seen as distinct from media and entertainment?
if this history is to go forward, how would it depict the peoples of the world throughout history, the wars, and culture clashes? as unfortunate remnants of the past, and that's it, with no critical examination? I mean, the Jews themselves in Zionist Israel do not embrace any postmodern dignified global transhumanism. far from it. they support and defend cultural difference, while at the same time seeking to control the communication and interpretation of such difference.
will we have "official" enemies or evil that can legitimately be portrayed negatively, or would this be just a cynical turnaround of the negative role Jews have played for hate-provoking, evil-projecting cultures and individuals?
perhaps the solution would be to show everything as the product of individual decision, independent of any collective identity. if so, this would be admirable in some ways, as a value to be asserted, but would this really be the case throughout history? to assert that individual difference, decision and moral responsibility trumped cultural and collective roles?
the anti-semites open up a pandora's box of political correctness that should never be loosed. let history be history, and interpretation be interpretation. no collective is more special in this regard than any other, any more, so to wish it for one's own group will mean to wish it for all, with any legitimacy, and then what do you have left in terms of history and legitimate expression?
by the way, expression does not have to be legitimate. in America, the only check on it is as a "clear and present danger" to rights and to America. this does not fit the bill, and thus the ADL works against American values. this is their right, but must be seen in the proper light, and not given more credence or legitimacy, and certainly no legal status, than it deserves.
so Gibson can't show a movie that depicts some Jews as negative, but Israel can detain non-citizens without cause merely for attending the same mosque as "suspected" militants?
rollo may - oppressed peoples and projection. we are losing the battle to redirect the projection of the oppressed Iraqi people. more and more, it is becoming us as the source of projection of evil, and of their misery, and not Saddam, who is the rightful target.
in regards to LA Times editorial today by Caleb Carr...
we didn't just lie about the war to the American people, we lied to our allies and the world. in addition, if lies were indeed made, they were about the very rationale and justification for going to war in the first place. there is no compelling (or consistent) strategic reason that any but a small minority would buy into that we needed to democratize Iraq.
also, occupation fatigue may be easy to emerge in Iraq because we weren't suppose to occupy Iraq. they were supposed to want us, and to celebrate us. this is different than afghanistan.
one cannot make generalizations across the board. the strategy to go to war in Iraq, if not based on the deception, is based on a radical blueprint by which the vast majority of Americans, both regular citizens and strategists, would have not have signed on for, or agreed to pay for.
Also, I'll be adding some new friends to the blogroll this evening. The blogosystem is growing.
Friday, June 20, 2003
May American and the world do the right thing, and not only gain your release from imprisonment, but demand that you and your people are given your rightful power. Our prayers are with you, and may the candles of freedom in all hearts and lands burn in your memory today. Peace.
The Stream of Commute stuff comes through largely unedited. So expect typo's, and grammatical discomfort. These are notes made on the fly, with some embellishment at that time, and in fewer cases expanded embellishment when I toss them down here. Regardless, it means I don't have much time, and so I'm dropping it down with the quickness, with an eye to return and expand the themes into posts in the next day or few. If this section starts to get lame, or is, please drop me a comment and let me know...
Working like a champ right now, but in the meantime, some thoughts jotted down while on the morning commute...
no direct wmd threat, or why not the urgency to find weapons? if these weapons really exist, why aren't we more concerned about where they are?
Rollo May's quote about total certainty, admission of doubt, and President Lincoln. For how can President Bush be so sure if the intelligence itself makes (doubt acknowledged) interpretative assertions? "what" is he so sure about? shouldn't some element of doubt have been acknowledged all along, rather than snuck in at this late stage of the game, after one's bets have not come in, one's chickens not come home to roost? isn't Wolfowitz himself running around calling intelligence an "art", rather than "science"?
(The psychologist Rollo May writes of the danger of fanaticism, in its total assuredness and lack of acknowledgement of any doubts, and how this makes him feel uneasy, unlike Abe Lincoln's style, which acknowledged doubts, but remained committed to the course regardless - he then notes that those who are too sure should almost readily be suspected from the outset, as with Shakespeare, "Methinks the lady doth protest too much". More on this later.)
European Constitution seems to be a great step forward. I'd love to know how they're handling the freedom of information. Also, it seems that Turkey has stepped up and passed serious democratic reforms in regards primarily to their Kurdish minority. This is good news both in relation to the war, where at one point it seemed the Kurds could be screwed again, and to the power and influence of European Union, as it is their doing that has caused Turkey to mind their p's and q's in order to get into the EU. Though we couldn't get Turkey to help in the war (and shouldn't have since their people were so uniformly against it), the EU has been able to get Turkey, through lure of membership and community, to play their way. This is power people. I'd say the old Europe is doing just fine.
And the biggest irony is that Europe did it by the means and wherewithal of inclusion and respect for democracy, while we failed to persuade or coerce Turkey in direct defiance of the democratic wishes of their people.
EPA editing, science, risk and reward, threat assessment, cynically manipulating science to overstate risk and threat in some areas and understate or question it in others. This is typical stuff by the Right. You must without a shadow of a doubt know the truth through science in order to further any environmental regulation, even though the tremendous threats and risks are acknowledged (but downplayed), but when it comes to declaring war and dealing with the resulting new fog of threats and risks, it's okay to overplay the known and current threats and risks, regardless of the veracity of the information or proof to justify it. Hyprocrisy! (And art trumps science?)
Republican efforts to "eat in" to Democrat leaders. LIke Clinton, and now Davis, interfering in very important matters of state, in which serious negotiations are taking place in various things, which at best require power and perceived power, and if you are knocking them down, you knock us all down, and hurt governance, negotiations and diplomacy. like now, with Gray Davis, trying to cut deals about the energy crisis, and how we got screwed, instead the Republicans are undercutting him, and giving hope to who we are negotiating with in terms of there being new leadership who may seek to gain instant political capital by cutting a deal, no matter how good the deal ends up being. this is done solely through the expenditure of money. there would be no recall without issa spending all of his money on it. there is no outcry for this, and certainly no wrongdoing as in the case of Clinton, minor as his lies may have been.
Bottom-line: what are the Republicans doing to fight for California's interests when we got screwed by the energy industry after Bush came into power? Nothing. They are merely capitalizing on the political capital they can get from it, by spinning it negatively in regards to Gray Davis, and then spending a bunch of money for a frivolous recall noone cares about so they can sneak into power that way. It's tawdry. Shameful actually. Fight for California, not against it!
Geez, and little do they realize it will be Jerry Brown or some other very progressive candidate who will win the recall election. People will be pissed, and the vast majority of them are not Republican, and will not appreciate punks trying to do a takeover of the state by gross expenditure of money and cynical debasement of our mechanisms of government.
Thursday, June 19, 2003
I call on President Bush, Colin Powell, John Ashcroft, and everyone who cares about freedom and democracy in this country, to laugh Ann Coulter, and her attempted revival and rehabilitation of Joe McCarthy's America and reputation, off the stage. Shout her down! A traitor in the midst! Treachery indeed...
Because he's a rabid, closed-minded, dogmatic, and jingoist patriot? Following that thought, a patriot under what conception of America? To be a patriot, you must support freedom over fear, shouldn't you?
Who is this woman? Is she serious? The latest developments are truly staggering, and disturbing. The venom needs to be lessened, and the hate speech and villification eased. My God, what is happening to us that this vengeful pundit, with a clear and poisonous agenda, is on the best-seller list?
The first stage in the struggle for media and American minds was won today. More later, but the Senate Commerce Committee has come through, and now it moves to the full Congress. More battles are yet to be won. We will not relinquish the American airwaves. Forget about it.
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
This week we may see the first truly Internet and blogosphere inspired national political effect, or difference. Not that this would be the sole influence, but certainly one of the prevailing ones. Through MoveOn, letters, blogs and others means, Americans have registered overwhelming nays in regards to FCC media ownership regulation changes. Though this didn't stop the FCC, it didn't go unnoticed. I believe Congress will reverse the decision, if only to take back the reins of control into their hands. Vigorous and public debate needs to go into media ownership regulations. It's time for Congress to take responsibility for what it is meant to do. Shape national policy, and protect our values.
I'll be writing more later, as I am in high gear on a work project at the moment, but Lisa over at Ruminate This is as always leading the charge against the emerging threat of media monopolies and the stifling of alternative and dissenting viewpoints. Leah over at Eschaton has stepped up large on this one too. Don't miss them.
Update: Oh, and remember, I said may above. We need to keep the pressure on. Write letters, call Congressmen, post to your blog, tell all your friends, and howl to the moon about this for the next two days. They will listen, of this I'm confident. If not, they will go. The information is alive and spreading, it's only a matter of time before governance and public debate catch up and on. Let's do this!
Make America the plentiful, in free flow of information, secure in our decision wisdom, by candid and uninhibited evaluation of the available knowledge.
Friday, June 13, 2003
The truth is coming to the surface. Intelligence failures and miscommunication are not a partisan issue. Or about winning the upcoming election. They are about our security and integrity as a nation. If we are still having communication and competence problems with intelligence, and between agencies and branches of government, then we are still in danger. Grave danger. Because that means we could get hit again, and again. And that since we don't know where the WMD's are, if they indeed still exist, and cargo containers are going unchecked, we could get hit tomorrow.
So if you accept the Bush Administration defense, that the intelligence anomalies in our case were a result of bumbling and miscommunication, we must accept that we are in grave danger, and nothing seemingly has been done to fix anything since 9/11, since our failures in regards to 9/11 are from the same causes. This is bad. Not to mention that the "defense" itself, if portrayed as such before the war, while we were justifying it, would not have been warmly received, and in fact would have been roundly panned.
Of course, the best case scenario for the nation, and the worse case for the Right, is that our communication channels have been fixed, we are safer after 9/11, that intelligence is being properly shared and handled, and that the war hawks merely spun the intelligence they needed and ignored the rest. This goes back to a partisan issue, though a highly immoral one, and also with dastardly global effects, but one that does not seem to put us back between the cross hairs.
Either way, the Bush Administration is in trouble. Their best bet is to own up now, so we can figure this out and perhaps they can salvage their name. We know which way that will have to go. A combination of the two scenarios, in which they take a hit, but not a fatal one.
Otherwise, if this continues to drag out, and denials keep going out, the worse case scenario is that the truth finally comes out, the leaks finally spring the dam, and despite vigorous and spirited diversion, coverup and denials, we are faced with a national and constitutional crisis. If indeed this does happen, then unprecedented action will have to be taken. The level of criminality will be obscene, with all of the deaths and loss of integrity and safety that have resulted, and not only be fodder for removal from office, but possibly even handing over to international courts of law for prosecution and overall reconciliation.
This is a horrific possibility, and I hope the brighter lights in the Bush Administration see this coming. It would be a shame to see Powell's career, for instance, go down or take a colossal hit because of this. President Bush himself may not yet be fully aware of the depth of deception his advisers have led him through. Something tells me that some in the Administration must be beginning to see the handwriting on the wall, and will refuse to go down with the ship at some point. They will be the new Deepthroats.
Thursday, June 12, 2003
We desperately need full investigations of both 9/11 and the War in Iraq intelligence and justification.
It seems the underlying faults are the same in both actions. Lack of communication (does secrecy have anything to do with it?), bumbling, willful disregard, political and self-interest opportuning, various levels of incompetence, and just plain arrogance gone wild.
We are in danger. We must not look away. We must demand the information, so that rational and responsible people may make sound decisions.
It's past the point of brushing it aside. It's on now. Our integrity and safety depend on it. Quick action, thorough review, proper accounting, just dispensation, sound policy.
Things don't seem to be getting better, right? The Homeland Security Department seems decent at color-coded fear messages and chasing Democratic state legislators around in Texas, but are we getting any better at assuring clear and unbroken communication channels? This is high stakes people. Are we really willing to just look away?
Update: The gist of this is that we have enemies who are trying to get through and attack us. Yet we still refuse to fully investigate 9/11 failures, and now we get fresh evidence that the usual suspects that contributed to our 9/11 failures, lack of communication and incompetence being the two main ones, are still in effect and full force. Nothing seemingly has changed. We're still messing up the intelligence lines and distribution. This means we are in danger. Plain and simple. It's time for a full and exhaustive review.
1. how, in such important matters, could one overlook or be sloppy with such important information, as niger falsity?
2. claimed "british intelligence" tells us...set up or cop out?
3. if there is plenty of other evidence, what and where is it? it would seem only absence of evidence of compliance is what we have. this is crux, why did saddam not have evidence of destruction?
4. where are the women for a free iraq?
the real issue is that, having known all of this beforehand, would it have been a huge scandal that we were so cavalier with intelligence, so sloppy, and so eager to unverified information? it would have been, then, but now, in comparison, it's actually used as a "defense", as if to say it's not as bad as that, and everyone agrees and in the light of comparison never notices the barrenness of the defense itself.
evidence of destruction (EOD)
this cavalierness, and sloppiness, of intelligence and interagency and government communication, isn't this largely the reason we got hit with 9/11 in the first place? and now we're justifying wars, apparently to combat the new era of terror fighting, with the very same methods and tactics, and results, that caused all of this in the first place? are we our own worst enemy?
a genealogy of justifying war in Iraq. go all the way back, and then track the progression, movements, and outright shifts in direction.
has there ever been a more ironic state of the union address? chock full of the same stuff that caused its content in the first place? as the address is meant to assure us of how we are going to defeat the terror threat, behind the scenes little does anyone know that the very same sloppiness, incompetence, and lack of communication that largely allowed 9/11 to happen was also allowing flawed evidence into the state of the union?
this would seem to underscore even more that we full and complete investigations of the how's and why's of not only how we botched this intelligence, and on what the competence of our intelligence is, both in content for justifying war and overall effectiveness, but also 9/11 itself, since it would seem that the cause of both of these is sloppiness, incompetence and lack of communication.
I'm cramped for time, so this is what I'm throwing out here right now. Later, I'll form it into a regular post, and you'll get to see (oh joy!) how the process works, when I'm working from notes. For the most part, it's all stream-of-consciousness, I don't have the time or wherewithal to really deeply think about this stuff, unless there's someone out there who's opening up a think tank. Otherwise, I'm a common worker, and spin this stuff either completely on the fly or from notes when I'm on my daily travels and duties. Cheers!
After an unfair and tawdry diatribe by Richard Cohen against Dennis Kucinich's stand (and arguments) against the war, I fired off this missive to both the editor and omsbudsman at the Washington Post. For good measure, I copied it to a number of prominent bloggers, intellectuals and other media outlets. There's nothing new, but I'm going to make a point of repeating information once in awhile, so we don't get lost in the haze of time and amnesia. 500,000 people on the streets were up in arms about our justification for war in Iraq, along with a number of other individuals who did not fall for the slants, fabrications and fear-mongering.
If the media had reported honestly on the evidence and information underlying our war justification when it was timely, imagine the increased levels of outrage and backlash.
A large majority of the American people thought the evidence was good. If they thought it was bad, or from sloppy work, would they have felt the same about rushing to war and breaking with some of our longtime allies? Now, after the war, the Administration's defense against purposeful deception in the war argument is that the work was sloppy, and agencies incommunicado. Sounds to me like the same excuses I've heard for why 9/11 happened, and proceeded worse than seemingly possible, when we started asking about that...
March 12, 2003
RE: Richard Cohen's denunciation of Kucinich's war arguments and the lack of invitation for Kucinich to respond...
"Civilization is threatened not only by terrorists but also by the means we use to fight them." Richard Cohen, March 6, 2003
Knowledge is threatened not only by ideologists but also by the haste in which we believe them.
We are told the case for war is top secret, and that we are to accept that the information justifying war really exists. To have faith amidst uncertainty. The only problem is a powerful case has already been made for explaining our course of action, freeing our minds of the demands of faith and towards the exercise of reason.
This case is what's known as The Project For A New Century (sic), which very clearly supports military action in the Middle East, has aggressively done so for a number of years, and is grounded upon reasons very clearly different from those being forwarded by the current administration, the key planners of which for all intents and purposes are the same people.
Call me naive...I'll call you a fool.
Our dilemma is quite profound. No longer is the question "who do you believe", but an altogether more bewildering, since we already know the who we're dealing with, "what version of your truth do we believe"? The one that makes political sense, or the one that very clearly warns of its political dangers?
America is a free country, with discourse and argumentation being its lifeblood. Let's not throw this away defending an ideology and not an argument for war. An argument must be made with information, and the more accurate and less (widely known to be) fabricated the better. The current mix of secrecy, innuendo, fear-mongering, fabrication, forgery, plagiarism, reason recycling, and little substance interpreted with great hyperbole is less than convincing to any free thinking and non-jingoist individual.
Let's lay it on the line. The projection of American power in the world is, by definition, the projection of the "people" of America. We have a stake, a voice, a responsibility, and the vulnerability that accompanies them. The editorial page is one of the places for this gauntlet to be thrown down. Don't hijack the debate, bring disrepute to your name, and sell out the "people" in favor of "focus groups". Air the arguments, referee the dueling interpretations, and lay bare the ground upon which we stand as a freely willing moral people defending life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Am I being unreasonable? Naive? To believe that communication, information, debate, and shared understanding are essential in decision making and accountable collective moral action? No way. Accountability, and a clear sense of direction, are paramount. We don't have that today, and we need to declare it. In this regard, the UN is not serving as an "irrelevant debating society", but a very relevant one, being the testing ground internationally for asserting values, making a case for action in their regard, and defending the case against rival cases.
The Washington Post editorial page should do the same, or face the fate of becoming "irrelevant".
More on the substance of Cohen's diatribe coming up, but a prominent part of it is Richard Perle calling Dennis Kucinich a liar.
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
Duty calls me away, so in the meantime I'm reprinting these comments from an Eschaton post.
Fred Hyatt should be immediately fired. He seems to be a clear threat to freedom and democracy, and to the ideals and dream of America.
From his place as editor of the Washington Post, he needs to be more careful about making so many errors in trying to justify the deaths of thousands of Iraqi civilians, when other methods and tactics to destroy suspected WMD are available.
Also, the bottom line is that Al Qaeda attacked us with our own airplanes. If they had WMD, they would have used it. We are still making the mistake of associating Al Qaeda with the anthrax attacks, which are becoming more suspicious by the day, and are suspected to be unleashed by a domestic perpetrator.
There is no reason to change everything about our life because airline security was lax, along with severe mismanagement of our mechanisms to respond to anomalous events. There's no way the Pentagon should have been attacked at all considering the timeline, and many other doubts remain.
Yet he tells us to trust in a more restrictive, oppressive, and big government, which will undoubtedly be even more incompetent and paralyzed at the occurrence of anomalous events than it already is.
What's hidden in his rhetoric is a very dark kernel. War against people who hate us, and we shouldn't be the slightest concerned why they do. The gross inequality, exploitation of resources where the people of the land show little benefit, and disregard for holy places and practices should not be reexamined; no, we should ignore that and change the very core of our society and belief system, give up freedom, liberty and democracy, and fight eternal holy war against an impoverished and desperate culture.
Are we to give up not only our own dreams of freedom and democracy, but everyone else's in the world, to achieve this global security state?
I'm confused. I don't think anyone was asking for this. Because a rogue band of terrorists took advantage of lax airline security and intelligence, and managed to hijack a few planes and crash them into prominent buildings?
We should change everything because of that? Commercial airplanes are now weapons of mass destruction, and undoubtedly must signal the end of classical democratic liberalism and the full emergence of the corporate security state?
This talk is pure madness. It really is. Hyatt should be fired. Immediately. This kind of alarmist talk is a bigger threat than anything that has come along yet. The elitists seem to be in a very fearful mood, and seem be going mad and paranoid from it.
Sound and reasonable dialogue, along with the ways and means of liberty and democracy, are more than able to deal with our latest crisis. Perhaps we need to start examining sharing our tradition with others, and treating them with equal respect as stated in the Declaration of Independence, rather than throwing away the tradition when the resistance from those left out gets too hot.
I will add two points from these stream-of-consciousness rant reactions posted on Eschaton earlier today. First, I may be being too harsh on Mr. Hiatt, in terms of getting fired, but I do find it atrocious that he takes such a counter American tone. If America is not the land of liberty, and the home of the brave, then I'd like to hear what it is about, and what it will then be called. This war was supposed to be fought for freedom, not as a realization of a new world order where frredom would be marginalized. So I'd like to hear Mr. Hiatt explain this more fully, just how this new reality has been communicated and accepted by the American people.
Second, by emphasizing dialogue, and the ways and means of liberty and democracy, I am not ruling out the use of coercion, violence, or war. Regrettable as these may be, there is a time and place for each, at least in our current state of humanity. To dive into these without exercising fully and honorably the other more enlightened and effective options, however, those that are more respectful of peoples' lives, well-being and rights, is tantamount to aggression, fueled by fear and ignorance, and devoid of any great vision or enduring good.
Until now, most Americans, including even President Bush's political opposition, have accepted his basic vision of a reordered post-9/11 world -- a world fundamentally changed in almost every aspect.
The critics have nibbled at the edges of the vision, for example by questioning the extent of the tilt toward government power and away from personal liberty. They have tried to use the vision to further preexisting goals, for example by proposing AIDS treatment for Africans or schooling for Third World children as the best means to "drain the swamp" of terrorism. And they have launched oblique attacks by targeting, often in stinging and personal terms, those perceived as its chief theorists, such as Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.
Alarmism is hitting new levels in American discourse. That, and a massive amount of denial and cognitive dissonance from the newspaper editors who foolishly believed everything the Bush Administration was feeding them. Noone is saying there were not reasonable and realistic reasons to fear WMD falling into the hands of terrorists, but an honest and critical review of the steps we have taken so far will show that we are currently only fighting phantoms. A rogue band of terrorists took advantage of poor airline security and managed to crash a few planes into prominent buildings. This has nothing to do with WMD. It should not fundamentally change our society. After that attack, a very suspicious anthrax attack followed, and even our own law enforcement suspects that it was carried out by domestic perpetrator(s). This involved WMD, but oddly enough is not the triggering event that everyone likes to talk about.
I will have more on this later, dissecting and skewering the entire piece by Hiatt. Something about his tone, and the dark kernel of his conclusions, greatly disturb me, as a freedom and democracy loving American. That his spiel is wholly unsupported by any evidence only makes it worse. I am preparing a thorough response, which will be up in a few hours. We are not surrendering our liberty because of a terrorist action. We just aren't. Forget about it Mr. Hiatt, or get off the editorial page. Mr. Hiatt should be held to account for this indignity, and made to explain and support with evidence his assertions, and not without challenge from his "oblique" critics. He is supporting the enemy, and the terrorist, by advocating such measures without due cause or supporting information. It's a shame, and beyond that it's a threat. We must put it down, and lift this nation from fear and loathing back into an appreciation of who we are and what we are about. The land of freedom. The home of the brave. That all men and women are created equal.
Many more posts today on some of our themes of the past few weeks. Work has really been keeping me unblogged, but since I'm what you may call a "boutique" blog, without much wide traffic, I figure I'm not letting anyone down. Also, I am planning on rolling out the new site soon, though that has been put back a week or so too.
In the meantime, we'll do some posts a bit later this afternoon. Also, look out for a live audiostream coming soon, sometime this month. I hear Krugman was talking accountability today, so I highly recommend going to check him out. Transparency and accountability are essential to democracy and to ensuring the integrity of our nations' actions. The freedom of information.
Last, the biggest reality check I've had in years came when not only Bush, but the vast majority of Americans, ignored a 1/2 million people on the streets of New York. This can't be a good thing. Fear and loathing are ascendant. The trauma of 9/11 seems resilient, and as a people we must do something about it. The "how" is the hard part. How do the traumatized and fearful lead themselves out of trauma and fear? Certainly not with the help of color-coded fear messages and enemy mongering, so the current leadership can be discounted. Who's left to help us out, other than ourselves? And we are the effected. So these are dramatic and important times in America, and we must be vigilant. If the current state of affairs becomes business-as-usual, we may be all doomed.
So we must do something about it. Change. We will, and we can help through the medium of the blogosphere. By spreading information, and seeding hope.
Saturday, June 07, 2003
As I was writing the previous post below on secrecy or lies having to go, ABC News seems to have changed its headline for the story from the original one, which was along the lines of "Retired Official Says U.S. Distorted Evidence For War", to "Questions Linger Over Iraq Weapons Claims". Now, this change has the strangest timing, because I've been spending the last half-hour trying to find this story, which was issued by AP early this morning, on CNN or Fox News. Poking through CNN is how I found the Dean article below.
Two observations stand out. First, why isn't CNN or Fox News covering this story straight off the AP news wire? Is the source not credible? Since the overwhelming volume of the news they report is from AP, I doubt it. Is this an example of the dangers of concentrated corporate media ownership? One can speculate. If you search this article on Google, you'll find a long line of media sources who have picked this story up off the wire. Is there something preventing CNN and Fox News from doing the same?
Second, the headline change to "Questions Linger Over Iraq Weapons Claims" is very fishy. I credit ABC News for reporting the story, but why change the headline hours later? The new headline is very ambiguous, at least in terms of pure English, by now making it unclear whose claims are being questioned. Iraq's, America's, Britain's, Congo's, Scott Peterson's? Whose claims are they? For many, this now may sound like just another boring story, and will blend into the background. Almost every other media outlet has gone with something very close, if not the same, as the headline from the original AP wire story, which is something like the aforementioned "Retired Official Says U.S. Distorted Evidence For War". Now, that is much more clear as to the content of the article, and who is doing what. Why did ABC News suddenly change theirs?
This is disturbing. Not all is bad though. At least we can be sure that a lot of the more independent media outlets are working, along with our main wire source, AP, and the driving force behind all of this, Newsweek, in a story on intelligence problems in the latest issue.
A recently retired State Department intelligence analyst directly involved in assessing the Iraqi threat, Greg Thielmann, flatly told NEWSWEEK that inside the government, “there is a lot of sorrow and anger at the way intelligence was misused. You get a strong impression that the administration didn’t think the public would be enthusiastic about the idea of war if you attached all those qualifiers.”
Update: It seems that ABC News has massaged the content and tone of the original AP article as well. Signifigantly. Yet they still cite the article as from the AP.
Update: This is not about ABC News. The network deserves much credit for running this story, in its many versions. After further review, it seems that AP keeps resending the story, which explains why ABC News has had 3 versions now, the 2nd and 3rd version differing only by headline. I would add that the headline for the 3rd version, "Bush, Blair Face Heat Over Weapons", is much better than the 2nd version headline. So good work there from the AP as well. Now, if someone would only explain why we have so many versions of this story, and why the content has radically changed from the first version. The links to each version follow:
1 - Ex-Official: Evidence Distorted for War
2 - Questions Linger Over Iraq Weapons Claims
3 - Bush, Blair Face Heat Over Iraq Weapons
President George W. Bush has got a very serious problem. Before asking Congress for a joint resolution authorizing the use of U.S. military forces in Iraq, he made a number of unequivocal statements about the reason the United States needed to pursue the most radical actions any nation can undertake -- acts of war against another nation.
Now it is clear that many of his statements appear to be false. In the past, Bush's White House has been very good at sweeping ugly issues like this under the carpet, and out of sight. But it is not clear that they will be able to make the question of what happened to Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) go away -- unless, perhaps, they start another war.
That seems unlikely. Until the questions surrounding the Iraqi war are answered, Congress and the public may strongly resist more of President Bush's warmaking.
Presidential statements, particularly on matters of national security, are held to an expectation of the highest standard of truthfulness. A president cannot stretch, twist or distort facts and get away with it. President Lyndon Johnson's distortions of the truth about Vietnam forced him to stand down from reelection. President Richard Nixon's false statements about Watergate forced his resignation.
Frankly, I hope the WMDs are found, for it will end the matter. Clearly, the story of the missing WMDs is far from over. And it is too early, of course, to draw conclusions. But it is not too early to explore the relevant issues.
Sobering words from John Dean over at CNN's FindLaw. What surprises me the most is that none of this was thought of as the distortions were taking place. I thought this war was fradulent all along, in terms of the actual reasons given, as well as the evidence backing it up, but once it was on I figured the administration had a way to cover its tracks. I thought it was a shame to this nation that our leadership had sunk to the level of citing evidence, at the highest levels of government, that in prominent cases was either plagiarized or forged, but I never suspected us to come to shame before the world, or screw up so badly in the Iraqi war aftermath.
What kind of leadership is this? I want to be proud of my leaders, of my country, what it stands for and what it does, but at least as far as our actions, and leaders, there is increasingly a feeling that we will not be able to escape responsibility, or shame, and that along with healing the wounds and trauma of 9/11, which we have not accomplished to any degree yet with our warmongering and color-coded fear reinforcement messages, we will also have to deal with this latest wound, which we have self-inflicted.
We really need to, as a nation, come to grips with being vulnerable again, for the first time on the homeland since Pearl Harbor, and do so in a way that is humane, civilized, and emotionally effective. To do this, we need strong and compassionate leaders who can "say no" to those who do not see, or feel, the larger issues, and who instead seek to further their own, sometimes long hibernating, agendas. We need to take the time to heal, and to reflect, so that we can determine the most soulful and sensible course of action. Reactive behavior is not called for, not in our best interests, and will not lead to peace or relief of grief and suffering. We need to act in our own best interests, with the light of all information shining on the decisions to bear, so that we can stand tall with our heads high behind our leadership and actions, no matter the end result.
Thursday, June 05, 2003
The fascist military thugs in Burma need to be shut down. I don't care if Cheney and Halliburton have a history over there, and it could be embarrassing. The situation over there has gone far enough, and one of the most vigorous defenders of freedom and democracy in the world is in danger, while a people who voted for a legitimate government overwhelmingly in a sanctioned election are denied their sovereignty, and chosen power.
I will have more on this later. The situation in Burma is untenable, and America cannot stand by idly, or the rest of the free world for that matter, while this outrage against our most cherished ideals, and these peoples' emerging dreams, continues.
More on Aung, Burma and Halliburton here.
Don't fall for it. From the Heritage Foundation to Michael Powell, the emphasis on explaining away fears of media monopoly, and constriction of viewpoints, is the number of media outlets. This is not what the debate is about. We are talking about media ownership, along with media diversity in terms of views and content. A few corporations owning everything will do what such entities always do - standardize. So no matter how many outlets you end up with, it will be a manifestation of media replication, not diversity. Cutting costs and corners, streamlining production, having your TV and newspaper outlets cover the same story with the same resources, is not an enhancement, it is a travesty, if not a potential wasteland.
Remember, the same individuals who defend the FCC's action claim there is no fear of media monopoly. Why? Because we have such a diverse, thriving, dynamic media already. Now, this is debatable in certain instances, but granting the argument one is left to ponder this...if media is doing so good, and there is so much diversity, which the current rules were meant to accomplish, what's wrong with the current rules, why do we need to change them? Aren't they working?
I just mention that to expose that flaw in the going argument. There is a fear of media replication rather than diversity, and these new FCC rules contribute to that. No matter how many outlets you have, that doesn't have anything to do with qualitative diversity of views and content you will end up with. Outlets are irrelevant. If we have three 24-hour outlets instead of one now for cable news, my response is "so what". Do they show qualitatively different information, in terms of the diversity we speak of? Or is this really more a matter of convenience?
An example. If I get news about the war in Iraq from thousands of outlets, including the 24-hour cable news channels, but they are all receiving the bulk of their information from a single source, the U.S. government, and putting a negative slant on any information deviating from the main source, like from Al-Jazeera, or La Monde, then what kind of defense of media diversity is this? None. It's convenience, provided by a lot of outlets, from replication of a concentrated source, and competition amongst them to put out the information first, to break the news, or Pentagon press release, whichever it might be.
This doesn't mean we get a balanced, diverse and complete set of viewpoints and respectable journalism. And remember, before any of this matters, the FCC needs to justify its action, in the public interest. It can't, and won't be able to, and the matter should be referred to Congress, for due and rigorous public consideration. Then, the games may begin.
Tuesday, June 03, 2003
Apparently it's okay for Toby Keith to show a doctored photo of Natalie Maines (of the Dixie Chicks) with Saddam Hussein, but it's not okay for Maines to express her displeasure about that with a coded wardrobe (FUTK).
It's always very comical to watch the hypocrites carefully word their charges against those they don't like, so that similar behavior by themselves is seen as distinct. Thus, Bill Clinton lied in a civil trial and should be impeached, but Ronald Reagan lying to the American people about cutting deals for hostages on national TV is somehow okay, and definitely not anything to get worked up about.
Which makes the qualification this time even more comical, as Natalie Maines is singled out for criticism because she wore her coded message on national TV, while presumably Toby Keith engages in his uncivil and McCarthyist behavior in a more selective setting, and so it's not a big deal.
We should all go on a mission to figure this out. Surely the Left will take some hits on this too, but I don't mind because I'm not clearly a denizen of either side. There's a bunch more to find on the Right though, so I encourage any lefties to get on it. Analyze the outrage that the Right has expressed over the years and decades, and see how they've carefully made the most subtle distinctions in order to criticize something they indeed themselves engage in, but not with the subtle factor that makes it, for them, truly outrageous.
Monday, June 02, 2003
"I continue to be disturbed by the statistic frequently cited in these hearings that five companies control 85 percent of our media sources," McCain said in a recent statement.
Critics of the more lax rules on media ownership say they also will meet this week to discuss what legislation they can get behind to try to block, or at least dilute, the new rules.
"We have a group as eclectic as any coalition anyone has ever seen," said Matt Keller, legislative director for Common Cause, a liberal public interest group, who counts groups from the National Rifle Association to the National Organization for Women as his allies on this topic. "The top half of the first inning has just ended. This is where the game starts."
John McCain is on deck, along with Congress. The FCC has played into the hands of the defenders of freedom and democracy, by forcing the issue against the tide of public opinion, and their sponsors in Congress. We, the American people, will prevail.
I am not surprised by today's FCC decision to relax media ownership restriction. It is not a defeat, as the battle has only just begun. By being aware of this issue, exchanging ideas and arguments, and spotlighting the actors and agents involved, and following the money, we have set a strong foundation for reasoned and vigorous public debate on appropriate media checks and balances.
Congress should step in and take control of this matter. They already seem to be leaning that way. Our legislators must do this, to safeguard the power of the legislative branch, and to stick up for freedom, democracy and the American people. The American people have not asked for this decision, and are largely unaware of it. This has been framed all along by those corporations and individuals who stand to benefit from this. Congress must step up now and assure its viability by assuring that decisions of such vast importance are made in the halls of democracy, and not behind the closed doors of regulatory agencies, by decision of appointed bureaucrats.
I believe that Congress will do this. When they do, we can have the kind of civilized, transparent, and engaged discourse, and vigorous debate, that this matter requires. That democracy requires. After such a debate, we can clear the air, determine who wins and who loses, and lessen the uncertainty involved in divining a sensible set of rules for media in America. The current rules are not sacrosanct, and will not survive intact. So be it. The rules passed today by the FCC will not survive either. So be it. We need to make sure we have the clearest and best justified rules possible. So be it.
Sunday, June 01, 2003
Opposition to the FCC's proposed changes to rules regarding media ownership has nothing to do with the government controlling content. It is about concerns that content will be restricted and monopolized by allowing fewer media owners.
Focus on the essential. Why are we changing the rules now? Who is publicly and actively championing this? Noone but those whose self-interest is furthered by the proposed changes.
There is no compelling reason to change the rules right now. We have great dynamism in media and the number of options to turn to, and this has evolved while the current rules are in place. So what is broken? Why is this rules change necessary? Right now, without full public debate?
It's not, and that's what missing in all of this. As everyone gets caught up in the philosophical debates, sight is lost of who is "framing" this issue, pushing it, and why. Until someone extends a good reason as to why we need to do this, and tomorrow, then we shouldn't do it. Period.
Again, this is radical behavior disguised as classic conservatism. It is false. There is no need for the FCC to take action. Drastic changes in policies and rules should be forwarded to Congress, for full and engaged public consideration.
Why? Taktile made a great comment (quoted below) over at Eschaton, where Atrios is pointing out the fallacies at the heart of media deregulation arguments.
The whole libertarian philosophy exists on the basis of pretending there's no such thing as market power (monopoly), negative externality (ie pollution), public goods (ie crime, safety) or asymmetric information (ie used car salesmen).
It's like how Marx responded to his critics, who told him that communism didn't account for human greed, by deciding that greed must have been created by capitalism and would vanish along with it.
It's the general human tendency that when your theory doesn't fit reality, you should change your perception of reality.
This general human tendency we call cognitive dissonance.