Sunday, November 30, 2003

Consumer Culture

I cannot find words adequate for this story. To add insult, Wal-Mart's concern for her was couched in their desire that she "come back as a shopper." Ugh....

Friday, November 28, 2003

A Karl Rove Production

Starring our President George W. Bush, the latest production features a clandestine fly-in by the president to the bowels of Baghdad. Braving the chaos and violence of Baghdad, from car bombs to rocket attackes, the valiant Bush defies the evil Iraqi terrorists and serves turkey to the American troops. Don't miss this sequel to the awe-inspiring aircraft carrier landing! Coming soon to a theater near you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Bush Legislative Strategy

From American Prospect's Matthew Yglesias (as reported by Howard Kurtz):

"The architects of Bushism . . . don't really believe that the government can or should solve problems. But they don't want too come out and say that, or they'll lose elections. So instead they see that the public wants a prescription drug bill and decide they'd better write something called "the prescription drug bill." Then they call up their friends on K Street and ask what the prescription drug bill should say, write the thing, and launch a PR campaign designed to convince people that their bill does whatever it is people wanted the law to do. Sometimes, as with the energy bill, they just take a lobbyist-written piece of legislation and start casting about (terrorism! blackouts!) for some kind of problem it can pose as a solution to."

Thanksgiving's Shadow Side

I have to say, when I saw this headline, I immediately thought of the poor toilets on Turkey Day. Enjoy.

Clean Up Your Own Mess

The International Red Cross has announced that it will discontinue its food aid to the occupied Palestinian territories. The program was an emergency one begun in mid-2002 after violence escalated between the Palestinians and Israelis. I think this is a good decision on their part. I hope other agencies will follow, at the same time putting pressure on Israel to maintain stability and health in Palestine, as should be its obligation. My only concern is that Israel, content with its wall, will refuse to step in, and other agencies or countries (like the US) will fail to notice it or care. Should that be the case, the Palestinians will suffer unduly.

More on the Memo

Stephen Hayes, the author of the Weekly Standard article, has this commentary in the L.A. Times.

And in their effort to be fair and balanced, the L.A. Times posted this counterpoint commentary by Christopher Scheer, author of The Five Biggest Lies Bush Told Us About Iraq.

And William Safire published this article in The Day (A Connecticut Newspaper, I think).

Holy Spam, Batman!

Well this just takes all. Here and I thought the energy and medicare bills were both tilted a bit heavily in favor of commercial interest. But how about this, an anti-spam bill that leaves spammers celebrating! Not only is this bill completely broken and ineffective, but it will also preempt the non-broken anti-spam laws that have been passed in 35 states. Of course this thing passed the House in a landslide and its counterpart flew through the Senate on a 97-nil vote. And how could such a lousy piece of legislation be so popular with congress-people? It has a snappy name, the CAN-SPAM bill, and all congress-people know that a catchy name is the hallmark of quality legislation. Unfortunately they all seem to have misinterpreted the intended meaning of the word "CAN" in that name... Sometimes politics in this country are about enough to make me ill.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

God Bless America... Or Else!

Apparently substantial portions of the bill previously known as Patriot II have been inserted into an intelligence funding bill which was passed by both houses of Congress last week. If their goal was to get under the public radar, this bill is apparently the stealth bomber of oppressive legislation. After all the uproar about the Patriot II back when it was first circulated, I can't find a single major media source that is covering this. Wired has it, slashdot grabbed it from there, Asia Times has it, even the AP has a story on it, but it doesn't look like anyone much picked it up, and those that did didn't pay any attention. By tying this crap onto an "intelligence" bill they apparently get a pass by the press to keep everything hush-hush. In any case the feds now have more freedom to collect records on us all while forbidding anyone from whom they acquire those records from letting us know about it. And also the requirements for numerous reports to Congress have been eliminated. More power, less oversight, yeehaw! That sounds like a recipe for a lot of wacky and wild fun times. It's a good thing we know that the FBI always shows such good judgment.

Monday, November 24, 2003

The Ghost of Philip K. Dick Conquers Hollywood

Wired is running a story, covered by slashdot, on the phenomenon of sci-fi author Philip K. Dick's novels and short stories being made into major Hollywood productions. I thought it was a good read, but of course Blade Runner is still my all-time favorite movie. It's really too sad that the David Cronenberg/William Hurt version of Total Recall never got made. That could have been very cool. The article includes the following snipped from a Dick essay:

"We live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups. I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudorealities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives. I distrust their power. It is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing."

The Dollar Drama

Also on CSM today, the latest installment of the ever-gripping dollar drama. In today's episode a number of experts propose that now may be an "optimal time to achieve the inevitable dollar correction". If so, hopefully he means sometime before next fall. :)

Watching Over Us

CSM's daily update today rounds up a lot of good coverage of all the creepy tricks the feds are up to. I don't understand how we can still give power to government agencies, without narrowly defining it, under the assumption that they will never use it in any way other than it was intended by Congress. Haven't we had ample proof by now that this doesn't work? Have we not figured out yet that if there is room for power to be abused it is simply a matter of when, not whether, that abuse will occur? Is that not the entire reason why our founders insisted that we have a government of laws not of men? I guess naming a bill some bit of jingoistic nationalist pap exempts it from any rational scrutiny.

re: Washington Post on Leaks

The column missed what I'd regard as the more obvious explanation:

4. Access. This administration has been famously aggressive and combative in limiting press access. Now they decide to leak, but only leak to a conservative news outlet who, as far as I can tell, has refused to share the actual memo with anyone. The major mainstream news sources have to be pissed. Particularly as the material seems to be of questionable value and appears to be a cynical political ploy rather than a disclosure of critical new material. I imagine they see the scenario as a) this administration has treated us like shit from day 1, b) they leaked this material to some pissant conservative advocacy magazine who won't share it, c) the memo appears to contain no new information and is only leaked to pump the old info back into the forefront of public attention (ie propaganda). Result: they bury the story and send a note to the White House saying next time you want us to propagandize for you, cut us in on the scoop, you wankers.

Washington Post on Leaks

The Post in this article (posted today) wonders why mainstream media has not carried the Memo story and concludes it must be one of three possibilities:
1) Mainstream reporters are sulking about having been beat.
2) The stories aren't all that great.
3) The establishment press reacts differently when conservatives break stories, assume it's part of the vast right-wing conspiracy and try to knock down the allegations.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Our free trade hypocrisy

With all the promotion of free trade by the Bush administration, I am continually amazed by how protectionist it is. The EU, supported by the recent WTO ruling against American steel tariffs, is threatening sanctions of its own on politically sensitive American products unless those tariffs are repealed. The Bush administration is taking time to think things over, as if the WTO ruling were ambiguous. Ironically, the steel tariffs, while perhaps saving a few steel worker jobs, have hurt American consumers of steel with higher prices.

As if that weren't enough, the administration has announced that it will impose quotas on the imports of certain Chinese textiles and clothing. This is technically legal under the WTO agreement with China (I can't find the specific text, but I believe that the US can impose product specific quotas on hyper-increasing imports for 12 years - aren't we sneaky?) . Strangely, these quotas are likely to do little for the virtually nonexistent textile manufacturing industry in the US. Will someone tell me what this administration means by free trade?

Re: Did you get that memo?

With all my efforts to chronicle the news (or paucity thereof in the mainstream press) regarding the memo, I have yet to offer much in the way of my take on the whole matter. It appears to me that this was deliberately released by the administration--or at least some segment of it--that was concerned a number of Bush supporters were losing faith in the Iraq effort. I am deeply concerned that this has estabished a trend of releasing highly sensitive information that benefits the administration and harms its opponents. And I am surprised that the immediate rebuke by the Department of Defense has not received attention from the mainstream media, and I am surprised that only a few journalists have risen to the task of addressing the substantive points raised in the Weekly Standard piece.

I would wager that few other media sources have actually obtained a copy of the memo (this seems to be the case with the Newsweek journalists who tried to address the points that were raised in the "Case Closed" story but had no knowledge of the remaining points of the memo). This story is essential to understand what the state of the evidence was at the time Bush asserted to the American public and the rest of the world that Saddam must be overthrown. And the public (particularly those whose eyes and ears are affixed to the Murdoch sources) must be accurately informed. The coverage by the websites that openly speak with the conservative voice have provided only half-truths (at best) regarding this memo and the surrounding circumstances and someone must deliver the rest. I doubt our pint-sized blog can serve this role--if only there were others with a louder voice who could take up this issue.

Did you get that memo?

Upon finally checking in to BWJ (yes, I've been delinquent lately), I was surprised to notice all this talk/news about Feith's memo. Interestingly, the Wall Street Journal (which I read almost daily) hasn't even mentioned this story to my knowledge. Indeed, a search of the site brought up nothing regarding this story. Apparently this story, as many of the commentators note, wasn't relevant or important enough to merit time or space in some of the major press. I noticed that Fox News failed to mention that the Wall Street Journal didn't carry this story as well. Looks like a Murdoch special to me.

Addendum: Should anyone wish to revisit the Bush administration's case for war more thoroughly, I recommend FP's informative and interactive Between the Lines analysis of Bush's 10-7-02 speech making the case for war. They are apparently updating it as more information/evidence becomes available.

Fox News: War Support Slightly Up

You're all going to love this. In this article, Fox News claims:

Short-Term Memo-ry?

Over the weekend, the Weekly Standard published a "top secret U.S. government" memo detailing more than a decade of intelligence indicating an operating relationship between Al Qaeda and Iraq. The Pentagon has since confirmed the memo's authenticity, but it has been almost entirely overlooked by major media.

USA Today has completely ignored it. The New York Times has yet to mention it on its news pages, though a column today mentions it. And The Washington Post got around to mentioning it on Sunday, dismissingly in the sixth paragraph of a much broader story.


Now let's look at a few of those statements a little closer:
The Pentagon has since confirmed the memo's authenticity, but it has been almost entirely overlooked by major media.

Here's what the DOD statement on Nov 15 said, in part:
News reports that the Defense Department recently confirmed new information with respect to contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq in a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee are inaccurate.
* * *
The items listed in the classified annex were either raw reports or products of the CIA, the National Security Agency or, in one case, the Defense Intelligence Agency. The provision of the classified annex to the Intelligence Committee was cleared by other agencies and done with the permission of the intelligence community. The selection of the documents was made by DoD to respond to the committee’s question. The classified annex was not an analysis of the substantive issue of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda, and it drew no conclusions.

Individuals who leak or purport to leak classified information are doing serious harm to national security; such activity is deplorable and may be illegal.


And what about the Washington Post? I found articles mentioning the memo here, here, here and here--and this op-ed here.

Weekly Standard's Latest

Here is the Weekly Standard reply to Newsweek's article responding to the Weekly Standard article on the Feith Memo.

Apparently, the Weekly Standard had not included a complete description of all the "data points" in the memo, for when the Newsweek reporters observed that "The Pentagon memo pointedly omits any reference to the interrogations of a host of other high-level al Qaeda and Iraqi detainees--including such notables as Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Abu Zubaida, and Hijazi himself," Stephen Hayes replied with "bullet-point 39," summarizing an interview with none other than Hijazi himself. Hayes continued, "either Isikoff and Hosenball have not seen the memo or they misreport its contents."

Hayes concludes:

It is, of course, possible that the information in the Feith memo is "cherry-picked" intelligence. It's also possible that some of the bullet points listed won't check out on further analysis. But Feith isn't alone in his conclusion that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden had a relationship. CIA Director George Tenet said more than a year ago that his agency had "solid reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda going back a decade," that the CIA had "credible information" about discussions between Iraq and al Qaeda on "safe haven and reciprocal nonaggression" and "solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of al Qaeda members, including some that have been in Baghdad," and "credible reporting" that "Iraq has provided training to al Qaeda members in the areas of poisons and gases and making conventional bombs."

How Not To Stage an Occupation

CSM has an interesting article where they discuss Iraq with former Soviet personnel involved with their invasion of Afghanistan. Some of it is obvious, other parts very insightful.

NYTimes weighs in on Memo

See here. The article doesn't really add much but an anonymous Pentagon official who was quoted as follows:

"If you don't understand how intelligence works, you could look at this memo and say, `Aha, there was an operational connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda,' " a Pentagon official said Wednesday. "But intelligence is about sorting what is credible from what isn't, and I think the best judgment about Iraq and Al Qaeda is that the jury is still out."

The article also observes that the memo and the Weekly Standard have revitalized the claim about Atta in the Czech Republic that has already been widely discredited. But see this Slate article from yesterday the 19th that attempts to bolster the Atta in Czech claim.

Very Critical Coverage of Memo

Asia Times has this story (entitled, "The Truth Leaks Out") with intriguing analysis. Two paragraphs stand out:

This week's blockbuster leak of a secret memorandum from a senior Pentagon official to the US Senate Intelligence Committee has spurred speculation that neo- conservative hawks in the Bush administration are on the defensive and growing more desperate.
* * *

''This is made to dazzle the eyes of the not terribly educated,'' Greg Thielmann, a veteran of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) who retired in 2002, told Inter Press Service. ''It begs the question, 'Is this the best they can do?' If you're going to expose this stuff, you'd better have something more than this,'' he said, adding, ''My inclination is to interpret this as probably a very good example of cherry-picking and the selective use of intelligence that was so obvious in the lead-up to the war.''

Dean's Doubters

The problem here with the electability issue is that I am hard-pressed to see how anyone taking an outsider's view of things can think that any of the other candidates can beat Dean on this. In these claims from Democratic party insiders, who as the CSM story says "kept him at arm's length, hoping that one of their own, such as Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, would catch fire", it seems they refuse to recognize that their approval is not the key determination of electability. In the polls you refer to generally they poll only Democrats on the primary, but the full public on the general election. Gephardt, Kerry, and Lieberman serve in the federal government and Clark is a TV personality. Outside of the party, Dean is not well known. But governors tend to have an advantage in presidential politics, and who the hell had ever heard of Bill Clinton before 1992? I don't put too much stock in those poll numbers. As the Democrats are the ones actually following the primary race and learning about the candidates at this point, it's the question of who is exciting them that seems more relevant. The argument that Democrats like Dean because he's a liberal extremist has to deal with the fact that his record is actually pretty moderate, a fact that has been completely ignored by proponents of this view.

With regards to their typical views of what constitutes electability, who could be more electable that Al Gore? An upbeat and friendly moderate southerner with loads of experience and inside party connections who presided over one of the most prosperous and peaceful periods in the nation's history. And he lost to a coke-head alcoholic draft-dodging born-again business failure whose sole distinction is that he's the deadbeat son of a mediocre one-term president. If their measures of electability were accurate Gore should have slaughtered Bush with hardly an effort. Moreover the press loves Dean, just as they loved McCain. The doom and gloom is emenating from party insiders, not the press. The criticism of the press, as noted in the Howard Kurtz column I linked to earlier, is that they're already heralding him as the winner.

I even see Dean in good shape where the regional politics are concerned. The South is a puzzle the Democrats haven't worked out yet. If Gore couldn't deliver any of the south, I don't see Clark or Edwards doing much better. And Lieberman and Kerry are no better off than Dean. Dean's proven record of fiscal conservatism and his straight shooter attitude match up better with midwestern values than any of the competition. Gephardt may also have done well in the midwest, but with the defection of unions to Dean, I think he's nearly a non-factor at this point. None of the candidates have any great claim on the West.

No, I don't think there is a legitimate point to be made that Dean trails in any serious measure of electability. Arguments to that effect strike me as being in a state of denial. The game has changed, they just refuse to admit it. The comparisons to Goldwater and McGovern miss out on the critical role that the internet has played in this campaign and the manner in which it is redefining the way politics operates in this country. Prior to this election party insiders truly did have immense power, the power that comes from controlling the party purse strings and the party machinery. Dean has gone over their heads directly to the party activists. Even as the party apparatchiks worked to push Kerry and Edwards, Dean has raised more money, mostly in small contributions, and has created his own grass roots machinery, in many way superior to theirs. He has successfully made the jump from yuppy activists to picking up Jesse Jackson and major labor unions. The game has changed. Dean's campaign and the likes of moveon.org are doing what many internet entrepreneurs have done before them: cut out the middle men. And like all the other middle men, the party establishment reaction fluxuates between rage and denial. That Dean has accomplished all that he has in spite of them speaks volumes. What could he do with them? Hopefully we'll find out.

The Almighty Memo

First off, Barry, I agree the Reason Mag article is quite good. Aside from that I have a couple of reactions to the story. First, is that these guys are awfully clever, and damned good at what they do. I think it would be safe to say that this leak is a direct response to the pressure that forced Bush and company to state publicly that there was no known connection between Iraq and 9/11. These admissions had caused the widespread public belief to the contrary to waiver, but now Feith has muddied the water again. This crap doesn't have to hold up to intense scrutiny, nor do I think it was ever intended to. It's just there to confuse an issue which, if clarified, could do them a lot of damage. They knew that the conservative press and grassroots offshoots would take it as gospel and would give it enough exposure to serve their purposes. Whether or not anyone else bought it was of no great importance. It was very slick, and I think it worked.

My other interest in the story is the coverage itself. It's interesting to see some stories like this that spread like wildfire across blogs and partisan news sources and then are slowly, almost reluctantly, handled by the mainstream press. You can almost see the paradigm shift before your eyes. I think it's a good one. It's the democratizing effect that we always hoped the internet could have on the media. If they don't cover it, we'll damned well cover it ourselves. And Barry will call them up and let 'em know about it. :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Michael Jackson

Somebody shoot me, please. I'm already sick of this goddamn story...

Reason Magazine on the Memo

Sorry if y'all are bored with this issue, but I am intrigued as to how this is all playing out in the media (particularly after our conference. Here is Reason Magazine's take. It is probably the most unbiased reporting I have seen thus far.

Progressive Analysis of Al Qaeda-Iraq links

The Center for American Progress (an admittedly left-leaning group) ran this story on November 13.

Newsweek examines some of Memo's claims

Check out this article on MSNBC (and presumably, soon to be found in Newsweek) entitled, "Case Decidedly Not Closed."

Dean

E.J. Dionne had an interesting column about the dilemma Dean presents: The upshot is that Dionne draws comparisons between Dean and Barry Goldwater; on the plus side, Goldwater set in motion a conservative movement which is now dominant 30 years later. On the minus side, he lost miserably to Johnson in 1964 and his party got spanked in Congressional elections that year. I think that Barry's series of posts on the administration and their allies in the right wing press's machinations regarding the war in Iraq are a great demonstration of why the country cannot afford another four years of Bush. I think that this is why there is so much hand-wringing on the part of Democrats--not some selfish desire on the part of the "establishment" to keep down an "outsider."

Speaking as someone who considers themselves an establishment Democrat, whatever that means, I would be happy running anyone from Bernie Sanders to Ralph Nader to Howard Dean to Martin Sheen to John Breaux as long as they beat Bush. I'm not convinced that Dean cannot; I'm not even convinced that he has less of a chance than any of the other contenders. However, there are three factors that concern me:

1. Dean has no geographic advantages whatsoever. He comes from a small Democratic base state in liberal New England. Fine, his nomination may increase Democratic chances of picking up neighboring New Hampshire and hanging onto Maine, but the South is as difficult for Dean, if not more, than for "generic Democratic candidate," and he has the same road in the all-important Midwest. This is not to say he can't win in each of the 19 battleground states: New Hampshire, Maine, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Florida, Arkansas, Louisiana, West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. He just does not start out with any advantages with the exception of the two small states I mentioned.

2. Dean has fairly consistently fared worse than Gephardt, Clark, Kerry, and Lieberman against Bush in the same national polls that put Dean at the top of the Democratic pack. The conclusion: the perception is that Dean is more liberal than the average Democratic candidate. Thus, his dash to the center for the general election may have more ground to cover.

3. All the gloom and doom prognostications may become self-fulfilling prophecy. Kind of like the Gore-the-liar phenomenon: the media doesn't like Gore and doesn't think he's quite honest, so everything he has ever done or said gets the utmost scrutiny, and lo and behold there are some trivial misstatements or exaggerations, so the media reports them to death and the people decide he's dishonest. Dean has that potential with the liberal-who-can't-win-outside-the-coasts label.

I hope he does win--that the model is Reagan rather than Goldwater or McGovern. But I can't fault political insiders for seeing danger signs or ascribe ulterior motives to them.

Rumsfeld on Memo

This is from Sunday:

Q: Quoting a DoD memo which says that they are detailing contacts between al-Qaeda and the regime of Saddam Hussein?

Rumsfeld: Haven’t seen the article.

Q: Can you comment on your view of Iraq Saddam contacts with al-Qaeda?

Rumsfeld: Nothing to add. My understanding from Larry (Larry Di Rita, acting assistant Secretary of Defense for public affairs) is that the article is just the article that it may have a reference – be a reference to some testimony that DoD representatives had before Congressional Committees many, many weeks and months ago. And that some questions were asked and they require that their responses be submitted for the record and that those responses may have just gone in recently but there is nothing new there.

Q: Secretary on the council, while you say there’s no direct link?

Rumsfeld: I haven’t seen the article so I shouldn’t say there’s nothing new. I don’t know of anything.

White House Statement on the Weekly Standard Memo

Scott McClellan had this to say on Monday:

Q There's an article in the Weekly Standard outlining something like a 13-year relationship between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, based on intelligence reports, and how they were trying to coordinate or work together on terrorist activities. Your reaction to the article, and also, do you think that the administration sees this as more justification --

MR. McCLELLAN: I haven't had an opportunity to read the actual article. I've seen the reports. But the ties between, or the relationship between Saddam Hussein's regime and al Qaeda were well-documented. They were documented by Secretary Powell before the United Nations, back in February, I believe. And we have previously talked about those ties that are there.

Q More justification for the war, then?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?

Q Do you see that as more justification for the war?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we outlined -- the justification for the war was clear in all the Security Council resolutions that were passed. Resolution 1411 called for serious consequences if Saddam Hussein continued to defy the international community. He did, and the President acted to make the world a safer and better place by removing his regime.

Weekly Standard Responds to DOD Statement

Read it for yourself. Ok, one teaser (the article purportedly quoting James Woosley):

"Anybody who says there is no working relationship between Al Qaeda and Iraqi intelligence going back to the early '90s--they can only say that if they're illiterate. This is a slam dunk."

Slate Article on Feith Memo

This article calls for more media attention to the Weekly Standard's "Scoop," and calls the DOD's statement "a bit of a red herring," as it sees it because the Case Closed article "works assiduously (until its final paragraph, at least) not to oversell the memo."

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Update: News Coverage on the Memo

The New York Post ran this article on the 15th, which starts:
Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein gave terror lord Osama bin Laden's thugs financial and logistical support, offering al Qaeda money, training and haven for more than a decade, it was reported yesterday.
Yesterday, the New York Post ran this op-ed, "Bush Was Right."

The Fox News Network has this story, entitled "Intelligence Report Links Saddam, Osama." Yesterday, the Network ran this article recognizing that the Senate Intelligence Committee is seeking investigation over the leak, and reported of the Pentagon statement:

A Pentagon statement Saturday has said the memo did not include any new information about Al Qaeda's contacts with Iran. It said the memo provided details of intelligence reports Feith referred when testifying before the committee on July 10. It said the leak of classified material "is deplorable and may be illegal.

Notice they did not report that the memo stated the findings of the memo were "inaccurate." Today, there is no related news on the website (that I could find, anyway).

The GOP's website ("GOPUSA") has this story, which starts:
It's been terribly discouraging to hear the liberal pundits and Democratic politicos continue to spout the lie that there has never been a substantive link between Saddam Hussein and the al-Qaeda terror organization. What gobbledygook!

TownHall.com ran this article, which observed:
The unavoidable conclusion: Saddam Hussein’s regime had been guilty as charged – tied for over a decade to Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network (among other terrorist groups) for the purpose of waging attacks on their mutual foe, the United States.

Antiwar.com has this story, entitled "Big Story: Neocons Leak Neocon Memo, Then Report On It."

The Hill has this story, entitled "The dubious link between Iraq and al Qaeda."
CNN has this story which proclaims, "Officials confirm probe of Pentagon memo leak"

The Washington Post on Sunday ran this article, entitled "CIA Finds No Evidence Hussein Sought to Arm Terrorists." Today, the Post ran this article headed, "CIA Seeks Probe of Iraq-al Qaeda Memo Leak." Senator Rockefeller, to whom the memo was purportedly addressed, had this op-ed calling for an objective evaluation of the evidence and Bush's claims for war.

And lastly, I again encourage anyone who is truly evaluating these claims about Iraq and the "War on Terror" to visit this website by the Carnegie Center Endowment for International Peace, where they have compiled the Administration's statements and the reports and analysis behind those statements.

Update: Report Debunked by Department of Defense

The Department of Defense released this statement calling the newly released information "inaccurate," based on raw reports that "drew no conclusions" and issued this sharp condemnation:

Individuals who leak or purport to leak classified information are doing serious harm to national security; such activity is deplorable and may be illegal.

New leaked report on link between Al Qaeda and Iraq

My father today informed me that the Weekly Standard has recently posted an article to be featured in this week's issue entitled, "Case Closed," detailing a memo sent by Douglas J. Feith to the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding the connection between Al Qaeda/Osama Bin Laden and Iraq. Interesting.

The article proclaims, that the memo is "detailed, conclusive and corroborated by multiple sources."

Dean Creates Panic Among Democratic Insiders

CSM has a sweet article about the panic and fear of Democratic insiders at the prospect of a Dean nomination. Each one has a different doom and gloom projection to make. But the way I see it they all read the same way: "We might lose our grip on the party." Dean has put the fear of god into these ass-clowns and I couldn't be happier for it.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Dissent

I'm not sure which is more impressive, four former heads of Israeli security blasting Sharon's security policies, or Senator Fritz Hollings' verbal assault on the Iraq war. While I'm not fan of Hollings, whose record on copyright issues is awful (on /. they refer to him as the Senator from Disney), that's a hell of a speech. Wouldn't it be remarkable for something like that to be carried on broadcast news? From a quick google, I can find no website larger or more mainstream than tompaine.com (which is neither large nor mainstream) which carries this speech. So Americans may never hear or read a powerful and critically important message from one of their highest elected officials. While we may not get this information, I promise that our friends in Iraq will.

Re: The Will of the People

Since I don't feel that I was entirely convincing in the previous post I'd like to elaborate on my point regarding personal weaknesses entering through back door, and add one other consideration.

In advocating that the role of a representative is to advocate the hypothetical position of the perfectly informed average-man, it is supposed that the representative should know what that is. The representative, while in a position to be considerably more informed than the average person, is still limited by imperfect knowledge. The sum of their knowledge is everything they have learned, experienced, and concluded over the course of their lifetime. So if the representative were to make their best effort to imagine an "average person" with perfect knowledge they would be obligated to project onto that person all of the knowledge that they, the representative, have acquired. While I believe that each individual person bears some unique psychological traits, I also believe that the information they've gained through their education and experiences is critical to their positions and decisions. It is not that hard to imagine that a representative would calculate that given all of their personal knowledge and experiences an "average person" would think more or less as they themselves do. And so you end up right back where you started. In this sense pretending to advocate in terms of the "average person" rather than your own personal position seems a bit dishonest.

I suppose that it could be proposed that the representative restrict the knowledge that they project onto the "average person" to only those few details directly pertinent to the issue at hand. This seems equally dishonest. If the representative had done extensive research into economic systems, and through this research had determined that supply-side economics is a bunch of crap, should they not project this onto the "average person"? Is that not an element of perfect knowledge? How is this to be managed? I think different representatives would draw this line differently; they would choose different points along a continuum, and in every case personal values, biases, and follies would enter the picture. As far as I can tell, foisting this duty onto our representatives sets an impossible standard for them, and leaves them with no good options. It does not shield us from whatever flaws the representative carries, and simply adds an additional layer of bullshit between the representative and their constituents.

My additional consideration goes toward the ideal of the Jeffersonian meritocracy. Jefferson felt that each person had different strengths and weaknesses and that through a free, equitable, and competitive system, each should rise to the level of their ability in the field of their strength. Does it not make sense that some people would be better equipped than others in leadership and public speaking? In determination of public policy? In grinding the gears of the political system to achieve effective results? In guarding the public from their transient impulses? Do you see no differences in these regards between George W Bush and John McCain? Between Russ Feingold and Michael Moore? Are we not better served by mining the populace to find those most qualified and naturally talented in the duties of a representative to serve in that role rather than the "average man"? If you are willing to trust the public to decide on policy matters, do you not trust the public to decide on these distinctions? The system as it stands surely has flaws in deciding these matters, but are we not better served attempting to correct those flaws than overthrowing it for one that still contains the same flaws and, in my view, adds deeper and more intractible flaws? I believe it should not be considered elitist or evil to think that elected public servants may be more capable than the average citizen, but rather that this should be recognized as one of the goals and strengths of a representative system.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Re: Apocalypse Now

You think funny baby names is bad, what about a crazed people bent on destroying all things McDonald?. Al-Qaida's claim of 100,000 dead is especially troubling since 100,000 plan to protest Bush's speech in London a week from now, and escpecially because Al-Qaida purportedly bought uranium in the Congo. How's that for an apocalypse?

Re: The Will of the People

I am torn on this issue more than any other. To me this debate encapsulates a host of issues related to paternalism versus populism. I do not know how to appropriately address the balance between the will of the people and the--well, will of the people. I trust the ideals of populism but I also recognize its natural deficits.

At the end of the day, the Jeffersonian idea that the power should rest with the people sits most comfortably with me. At the same time, I openly recognize that people don't always make the best choices given the information they have. For some reason, though, it seems more palatable to me that the people should err than the government in its attempt to correct for the errs of its constituents. At least the error does not run twice as deep, and it can not be so plainly coopted for nefarious goals. I can forgive an err of the public, but I can not so easily forgive the same of the republic.

Apocalypse Now

Yes, it appears the end of the world is at hand. On the other hand, I'm wondering how Blatz would go over... Ryan, you can use that if you want.

Re: The Will of the People

If everyone has the same information, why should the representatives substitute their own interpretations, biases, and follies for those of their constituents? Unless one is to argue that the ability to get elected to Congress magically bestows upon the representatives an intelligence and foresight which their constituents lack, the representative should simply follow the will of the people in a world with perfect information.

It could also be supposed that the constituents selected their representative at least in part because of her intelligence, judgment, background, and experiences, with the expectation that the representative would employ all of these tools in furtherance of serving her constituents. Further, it might be interpreted that the consistently greater interest that the public shows in the character and background of candidates rather than their policies is an indication that the public expects these things to be relevant to the duties of public service at least as much as implementing policies consistent with the constituency is.

And in any case (rehashing the old discussion), no representative has perfect knowledge of what the constituency would choose if they had perfect information, and in making that determination all of the representative's interpretations, biases, and follies enter through the back door anyway. People have the right of it now, taking it as part and parcel of the candidate and dealing with it up front through the electoral process.

Shooting In the Dark

The latest word from Iraq is that we're going on the offensive to destroy the resistance. We seem to have some remarkably thick skulls in Washington. We apparently haven't come up with a single new strategy for dealing with guerrilla attacks since Vietnam. We thought in that case that if we applied enough excessive force the enemy would have to cave eventually. However, we couldn't effectively separate the enemy from the populace, and the amount of 'collateral damage' we inflicted on them turned the war decisively in favor of the enemy. Our experience in Somalia was not terribly different either. We responded to a few guerrilla attacks with invasive offensive operations, but had a hard time targeting the right people, killed a bunch of the wrong people by mistake, and were then sent out the back door with a boot print on our ass. Now it looks like we intend to step in it again. Clearly, if we had good intelligence we would have nailed the bad guys before this. So if we're going on the attack it can easily be deduced that we are going to be striking out based on bad intelligence and we will most certainly make mistakes and kill innocents, possibly as many as we kill bad guys.

The deal is, given modern political realities (ie. genocide is a definite no-no), guerrilla wars are phenomenally difficult to win. Your opponents can effectively conceal themselves at all times except when they attack, while you are separated and visible, and at all times vulnerable to attack. Your enemy gets to choose the time and location for every battle, which gives them a decisive tactical advantage. In the old days this would be countered by wholesale destruction. The superior army would rape, pillage, and slaughter their way through the enemy populace until they submitted or were destroyed. This is not generally considered acceptable these days. The only effective counter then, appears to be to build up enough public support that the locals isolate the militants from themselves and leave them exposed to you. However, this means that you cannot strike out blindly and must patiently accept casualties while continuing to be engaged and friendly with the local population in order to build goodwill. Given the realities of morale and the human limits of your troops on the ground who don't like to be engaged and friendly while they're being shot at and killed, this is not often possible. No matter your military superiority, it is not always possible to defeat a determined guerrilla campaign. I can't think of a single case where a modern military has done so.

So the first rule to winning a guerrilla war is not to get into one. It cannot be stressed often or strongly enough, that we could very likely have avoided this if we had built a broad UN-based coalition the same way Bush Sr had for the first Gulf War. If anything good comes out of this, hopefully it will be the realization that the politics of the situation are at least as important as the military aspects of it. Winning on the battlefield is of no benefit if you don't also win in the living room. This may be the biggest flaw in the neo-con political theory. The value of military might ain't what it used to be. This is the dirty secret hidden behind the Powell Doctrine and the Rumsfeld Doctrine, and all of the other post-Vietnam military theories. Any pissant little country can send us home with our tail between our legs if they're stubborn enough.

The bad guys are starting to think they can win, and it's not hard to see why. They're building up momentum and we're standing there like a deer in head-lights wishing we could figure a way out. Unless we can think of some creative solution, and quickly, it may not be long before Iraq passes the point of no return.

The Will of the People

I think that any duty the legislature has to serve as a buffer from the people's will must necessarily stem from the disparity in information available between the people and the representatives. If everyone has the same information, why should the representatives substitute their own interpretations, biases, and follies for those of their constituents? Unless one is to argue that the ability to get elected to Congress magically bestows upon the representatives an intelligence and foresight which their constituents lack, the representative should simply follow the will of the people in a world with perfect information. Therefore, I think a representative should vote the way his constituents would vote if they had perfect information.

Dean's Endorsements

I'm sure you guys have heard about this, Howard Dean has picked up endorsements from two of the largest labor unions. Not only is this a major boost for Dean, but with two of the five major unions backing Dean it's a real blow to Gephardt whose primary selling point has been his strong union support. With the endorsements coming at the same time that Kerry's campaign is showing signs of stress, Dean may be separating himself from the pack. It would be nice if this could be wrapped up before these guys batter each other into oblivion. Howard Kurtz discusses the state of the race. Also worthy of note, John Edwards follows Dean and Kucinich onto Lessig's blog (scroll down a little).

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

The Will of the People, Revisited

In our earlier discussion entitled "The Great Litmus Test," Joe brought in some quotes from the Federalist No. 10 (Madison) (link here to the archives--the entry was on Sunday, September 14, 2003) to demonstrate support for his suggestion that the legislature should serve as a buffer to the public. I have just stumbled across another excerpt from the same text that perhaps goes a step further in advancing Joe's cause--Hamilton's the Federalist No. 71. This portion is particularly timely with regard to the $87 billion that Congress ran straight through Congress without too much challenge. I found this in Alexis de Toqueville's Democracy on America, Vol. I Part I Chapter 8:

There are some who would be inclined to regard the servile pliancy of the executive to a prevailing current, either in the community or in the legislature, as its best recommendation. But such men entertain very crude notions, as well of the purposes for which government was instituted as of the true means by which the public happiness may be promoted.

The republican principle demands that the deliberate sense of the community should govern the conduct of those to whom they entrust the management of their affairs; but it does not require an unqualified complaisance to every sudden breeze of passion, or to every transient impulse which the people may receive from the arts of men, who flatter their prejudices to betray their interests.

It is a just observation that the people commonly intend the PUBLIC GOOD. This often applies to their very errors. But their good sense would despise the adulator who should pretend that they always reason right about the means of promoting it. They know from experience that they sometimes err; and the wonder is that they so seldom err as they do, beset as they continually are by the wiles of parasites and sycophants, by the snares of the ambitious, the avaricious, the desperate, by the artifices of men who possess their confidence more than they deserve it, and of those who seek to possess rather than to deserve it.

When occasions present themselves in which the interests of the people are at variance with their inclinations, it is the duty of the persons whom they have appointed to be the guardians of those interests to withstand the temporary delusion in order to give them time and opportunity for more cool and sedate reflection. Instances might be cited in which a conduct of this kind has saved the people from very fatal consequences of their own mistakes, and has procured lasting monuments of their gratitude to the men who had the courage and magnanimity enough to serve them at the peril of their displeasure.

New Gallup Poll on Iraq

According to this Washington Post article, only 1% of Iraqis believe the United States invaded Iraq to establish democracy (the number rises to 5% when asked if it was to help the Iraqi people) while 43% say it was primarily "to rob Iraq's oil."

Gallup reports that it surveyed 1,178 Baghdad residents. For more detailed information about their selection of the sample, look here. That's about all the information one can get without getting a $95 annual subscription. I recommend we get a subscription for BWJ and split the cost.

Thanks to Democracy Now! for the heads up on this story.

Re: About MoveOn

You are completely correct, Barry. The addition of Pariser was a big step for the Silicon Valley-based organization.

:)

Re: About MoveOn

Eli Pariser is more than just "staff." From the same link you pointed us to:

The MoveOn Peace campaign was founded independently as "9-11Peace.org" by Eli Pariser, a Maine native and recent graduate of Simon's Rock College of Bard. In the days following September 11th, 2001, he launched an online petition calling for a peaceful response to break the cycle of violence, which was quickly signed by more than one hundred thousand people in the U.S. and almost half a million worldwide. Eli joined forces with MoveOn soon afterward, and is now our International Campaigns Director.

About MoveOn

Just as an FYI to clear up a point of contention over the weekend: MoveOn.org was originally established by a group of Silicon valley activists. That may have something to do with why they went overboard with the Governator. They do have a couple of staff-people from Maine, and currently have people in NY and DC.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Update: Always at War With Eurasia

Time Magazine's director of public affairs emailed me to let me know that she has forwarded to Time's editor my suggestion that the table of contents online reflects this story . She is also sending websites posting information about this missing article the following email:

TIME has no rights to re-publish the book excerpt which first appeared in TIME's March 2, 1998 issue (and online that week). The book, "A World Transformed," by George H.W. Bush (Sr.) and Brent Scowcroft, was published by Alfred A. Knopf Inc., which holds the rights. The headline on the excerpt in TIME was "Why We Didn't Remove Saddam."

A notice was posted to the TIME.com website on Nov. 11, 2003, to clarify why this excerpt is not available through TIME Archives:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/1998/dom/980302/special_report.clintons_29.html
"The page you've requested is an excerpt from a book by Brent Scowcroft and George H. W. Bush titled A World Transformed, which appeared in the March 2, 1998, issue of TIME magazine under the title "Why We Didn't Remove Saddam". It has been removed from our site because the publisher did not grant us rights to sell the piece online through the TIME archive."

Re: Always at War With Eastasia

Indeed I did. Make room for BWJ in the press corps.

Re: Always at War With Eastasia

Great investigative journalism, Barry! That's almost worthy of a Chew-litzer prize! You may even rival Geraldo someday if you stick with it. Did you tell them you were a (Boys' Weekend) journalist?

Nader In A State of Confusion

I much agree with Dave's analysis of Nader's speech. He says, and I quote, "It was stolen from the Democrats. And they should concentrate on the thieves and the blunderers in Florida, not on the Green Party." That's an interesting statement. Did Ralph Nader actually believe that he was going to win the Presidential election? I don't think Ralph is an idiot, so I'll wager to say no. The two party system is a reality in this country. Nader knew that a) he would not win, and b) he would disproportionately draw voters from the Democrats. The only productive thing he could hope to get out of it was that it have some effect on the Democrats, and force them to pay attention to him. Nader's candidacy cost the Democrats the election and gave Nader a prime platform from which to try to advance the Green Party position, but instead he is deflecting attention from the Green Party. If this wasn't what he was after, why did he bother to run? And moreover, why did he refuse to drop out at the end once his point was made? As has been discussed in depth, I have no problem with people registering protest votes, but at least let's be honest about it.

Re: Always at War With Eastasia

I became immediately concerned about this so I called Time magazine's archives department, who said that it is generally their policy to delete articles over five years. I also spoke with someone in Time's PR department, who said she did not want to provide her name, that stated the publisher of the book from which the article was excerpted (Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., according to the article) only extended Time a limited right to publish the article online and that time expired. She stated that Time has received a high volume of calls regarding this topic and they are considering publishing a comment in an upcoming issue.

The link where the story used to be listed provides an explanation similar to the one I received on the phone. I asked why the article was not specifically listed in the table of contents for that issue and she said she would get back to me on that one.

Always At War With Eastasia

In an event frighteningly relevant to our recent conference, slashdot pointed out a story on The Memory Hole (very interesting web site, BTW) documenting Time Magazine's effort to make one of their columns dissappear. Coincidentally the column is by George Bush Sr. and Brent Scowcroft explaining in detail why they did not attempt to invade Iraq, their reasoning still being quite relevant and valid in present contexts. I can understand why the administration might want this to go away, although how you get from that desire to AOL/TW actually erasing the article would be an interesting thing to know..

Nader redux

As to the merits of the Nader speech, we have the classic multiple proximate cause situation. He is right that had the Republicans not stolen the Florida election aided and abetted by the conservative majority on the Supreme Court, the complicit and lazy corporate media, and the defeatists in the Gore camp, Gore would still be President. However, it is equally true that had Nader stayed out Gore would have won and Katherine Harris would still be an obscure corrupt state official. I think his attempts to avoid responsibility are akin to the very whining of which he accuses others. He should stand up and say that this was his intent all along; as I remember it, the Green party strategy was to spoil the election for Gore so that liberals could wrest the Democratic party back from Gore and the centrists. That has happened. Nader should be doing a victory lap. Instead, he finally realizes the horror of the Bush presidency and attempts to weasel out of his role in bringing it about.

Nader article

I also direct Barry's attention to paragraphs two and three of the Nader story which speak to an oft debated point...

Monday, November 10, 2003

Transcript of Franken suit

Here is the transcript of the hearing Franken talked about--it is a good read (and Franken was accurate in his description of the events, as best I can tell).

Stay the Course

Fareed Zakaria, whose book The Future of Freedom has been mentioned previously on TBWJ, wrote this column criticizing the increasingly popular idea of Iraqification. I am quite in agreement with Zakaria. Nothing in Iraq is as easy as many in our government (on both sides of the aisle) seem to make it out to be. Look at the effort and resources we've put into eliminating crime and fixing our economy here in the US, and how far that's gotten us. Now we think we can throw a few billion dollars at Iraq and it will all magically be fixed? Iraq does not have the civil infrastructure to be a functioning independent state. Efforts to make it one before preparations are ready will negate any good that has come out of this invasion, and may very well leave them worse off than they were before we came. We went in there when everyone told us not to, now we have an obligation to the Iraqis to make sure things come out right.

Ritter: Iraq Planned For This

It was interesting to see Scott Ritter appear as a CSM opinion columnist today. He wrote a feature on the nature and preparations of the Iraqi resistance campaign based on his observations as a weapons inspector. It is the first I've seen or heard of him since the right wing launched a massive and vicious smear campaign against him before the war. Funny what being right when everyone else (even most of the anti-war crowd) thought you were wrong can do for a person's image.

"Nader Blasts Democrats as 'Whiners'"

See this article on Yahoo--with the tagline from Madison, WI (and a plug to the National Conference on Media Reform).

It's too bad we missed that speech. With the crowd in attendance, I'm sure there was an interesting reaction from the audience.

Guantanamo Case

The Supreme Court today granted cert on the question whether federal courts can hear petitions from detainees in Guantanamo. The Second and DC Circuits have held that there is no jurisdiction over these cases, and the Ninth Circuit has not yet decided the case in front of it.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

To Everything, Spin, Spin, Spin

Faced with growing criticism about Iraq, the administration has decided to do what they do best: news management. CSM has a roundup of coverage on this. It's not hard to see it if you're looking for it, and they know that, but they also know that the vast majority of people will never look...

It will be interesting...

if Dean's online vote doesn't come out the way he wants it to. He knows that he needs to forego the matching funds to take on Bush and that he doesn't really need them--his fundraising is phenomenal. I agree that the online vote is a nice PR gesture and provides him with some cover for the fact he initially said that he would take the matching funds. I'm glad, he's doing it; it's a savvy move by our likely nominee, but one not without some risk. I just hope the poll goes the way it's supposed to.

Dean's Big Decision

I got an email from the Dean campaign yesterday, stating that I, and the rest of the Dean supporters, will have an opportunity this Thursday, through an online vote, to decide whether or not Dean will accept federal matching funds. First, of all, the decision to hold the vote is a brilliant strategic move for the campaign. It builds on everything that has made his candidacy strong. It is probably a given that his supporters will vote for him to forego the funds, but simply allowing them to have that input is a big pat on the back and sign of recognition on Dean's part of all the work that his supporters have done for him. As he says in the email:

"This decision is no longer mine to make. This is a campaign of the people, by the people and for the people. Your successful effort of raising a historic amount of money through small contributions has made this choice possible. This is why I am putting this decision in your hands."

I am glad to see Dean and his staff continue to seek new ways in which to involve and excite their supporters. Additionally it gives Dean a convenient cover with which to back away from his previous statements that he would participate in the matching program.

From a strategic point of view, it is a significant decision. The matching funds would serve to extend his existing lead and getting a big chunk of cash dropped in his lap would greatly enhance his position for the primaries. However, assuming that he wins the primaries, the $45m spending cap that accompanies the matching funds would severely limit his ability to compete with Bush's media onslaught through next summer to the party nominations. Rejecting the match leaves him with less of a lead (or no lead if one of the other front runners accepts the match) for the primaries, but leaves him free to raise enough money to continue his campaign up through next fall.

I support what I presume will be the decision (to reject). I also hope that Kerry and the other top contenders do the same. I think it will be very important that the Democratic nominee not allow Bush to completely dominate the summer leading up to the election. With the record war-chest he's raising, Bush could blow them out of the water with a media blitz the same way he did John McCain in 2000. I think the amount of money Bush is raising, in conjunction with the $45m spending cap, is a death knell for the federal fund matching program.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

At Least We Agree on Something...

It turns out that conservative Republicans agree with me: the American public is ill-informed and lazy. Realizing this, they have put considerable pressure on CBS to cancel "The Reagans", fearing it was not an accurate representation of Ronald & company and that Americans would not be able to sort this out for themselves. Thank goodness they came to the rescue of us ignoramuses.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Media Reform Thoughts

I agree with Barry and Dave that a publicly funded media source is absolutely necessary in the current climate. It should be better funded (perhaps like the BBC as Dave suggests). As Robert McChesney points out and echoing Cass Sunstein in Republic.com, there seems to be a greater and greater tendency for the big media companies to simply deliver what the consumers want instead of challenging them with truthful, thorough, and wide reporting of news events. We have seen the trends with both the explosion of Fox News as well as the example in the Radio industry, where many consumers have been sucked in by Clear Channel cookie cutter programs. As Joe points out in "What's At Stake" (10-31-03), these trends do not bode well for our democracy. An ill-informed public is perhaps the worst things that could happen to our democracy/republic, and this issue needs to be addressed.

How to address it has been a difficult issue for me. One can certainly place more restrictions on commerical media ownership and practices. One can also enhance support for public, independent media. Yet the core problem seems to remain: the laziness of the American citizen. Why do so many individuals fail to seek out multiple news sources and different viewpoints? What has happened to the discussion of substantive issues that affect our democracy and nation such as media reform, campaign reform, international trade and foreign policy? Perhaps it is the citizen that needs to be held more accountable instead of blaming big media or the government, as is so easy to do. As is pointed out in "Nationalism In Schools" (11-4-03), education may the place to start, and never too early.

Go Bucky!

Being around Madison lately, I had to comment on this one. For the past several weeks, every time I walked past the Kohl center I saw students huddled in makeshift tents in the cold and rain. They were not allowed to have real tents due to university restrictions. It was a bizarre sight to see students have these outdoor living rooms set up with mattresses, tarps, you name it. That's dedication!

Hero for the Week: Eliot Spitzer

New York state attorney-general Eliot Spitzer is my hero for the week. Spitzer appears to be taking over the job of the SEC since they have clearly proven themselves incompetent in enforcing regulations on Wall Street. His testimony before the Senate on Monday managed to shock the SEC into action. This is not the first time that Spitzer has stepped into this void. Last year he forced the major Wall Street firms to a class action settlement. And he's been chipping away ever since. These are issues that need to be dealt with, and since the federal government apparently has no interest in it, it's a damned good thing Spitzer is there to take up the task.

Nationalism In Schools

Fantastic editorial on CSM today regarding the nationalist doctrine taught in our schools. Not much to add to this one, except a standing ovation.

The Voting Machine Story

I don't know if any of you guys have been following this, but there is an interesting story that has been emerging regarding Diebold's new voting machines. There has been a lot of coverage of it on slashdot, as it has been mostly hacker activism that has brought the issue to light. Slashdotters have been up in arms from day 1 about that fact that any voting precinct would use voting machines which a) are proprietary (ie do not run open source software), and b) have no paper audit-trail. Then reports started to come that these devices are terribly insecure. On top of that some clever folks swiped Diebold's internal memos and leaked them on the internet. They found a number of interesting messages displaying incompetence and subterfuge. Everyone's favorite seems to be:

“I need some answers! Our department is being audited by the County. I have been waiting for someone to give me an explanation as to why Precinct 216 gave Al Gore a minus 16022 when it was uploaded. Will someone please explain this so that I have the information to give the auditor instead of standing here "looking dumb".

Then, of course, you have the CEO of Diebold making a statement that he is "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year". And last but not least, author and electronic voting critic, Bev Harris, managed to gain remote access to one of Diebold's machines duing the California recall. Good grief. So lately Diebold has decided to start SLAPP'ing folks to get their memos off the internet. Today the EFF announced they will defend two students against Diebold's claims. I have a sneaking suspicion that this company is not long for the world (or at least for the voting machine business).

Go Bucky!

So it's not our usual Boys Weekend fare, but check out this ESPN story on Wisconsin basketball. We're in the big-time. Good thing too, since our football seems to be going downhill (although sunday night was sweet).

Hang 'Em High, FCC

It looks like the FCC has found a sucker to test the new DNC on. Figures that it would be a long-distance company. I hope they set a good example of them.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Part of the Problem

You'd think that such a report on members of the mass media giving misinformation would be featured prominently. Unfortunately, that relies on members of the mass media sharing the results...