Why I blog, and why I hold out hope for the future

Alan Nelson of The Command Post posted Full Text Of My Speech To AP Managing Editors, a wonderfully insightful piece that really says why media girl came into existence. In his speech, he says, in part:

Because information is increasingly transparent, and because many blog readers are mavens passionate about the content, any given blog post doesn’t have just one fact-checker … it has thousands … or in our case, tens of thousands.

Rathergate is a perfect example of this. To recount the history, shortly after 60 minutes ran its story about the Guard memos, and reader of the Free Republic weblog posted a comment doubting their authenticity. Other mavens then started to post about that question on their blogs, and some of the more active bloggers started contacting typographers, others were recreating the memos using Microsoft Word … and all the time they were linking to each other, developing information in real time … remember the law of the fast.

Before long, one blogger even traced the fax number on the memos to the Texas Kinko’s from whence it came … and learned from the manager that Bill Burkett … the ultimate source … had an account.

The Rather story illustrates all of these laws … the information flowed and CBS couldn’t control it … it happened very quickly, faster than CBS could keep up … and connected mavens drove the process as it developed, and ultimately into the mainstream.

But most of all, it illustrates the Law of the Many … that when a marketplace of tens of thousands of people considers a piece of information, the truth inevitably will surface with greater speed and efficiency than when only a few people consider that information … just as surely as an internet-driven a global market for diamond rings or interest rates drives price down and quality up.

It makes me feel good. Yet I still feel some inkling of misgivings about the future. Nearly a year ago, Bill Moyers expressed great hope and praise for the internet. But he also warned about corporate efforts to buy out and control access to the net:

We have to fight to keep the gates to the Internet open to all. The web has enabled many new voices in our democracy – and globally – to be heard: advocacy groups, artists, individuals, non-profit organizations. Just about anyone can speak online, and often with an impact greater than in the days when orators had to climb on soap box in a park. The media industry lobbyists point to the Internet and say it’s why concerns about media concentration are ill founded in an environment where anyone can speak and where there are literally hundreds of competing channels. What those lobbyists for big media don’t tell you is that the traffic patterns of the online world are beginning to resemble those of television and radio. In one study, for example, AOL Time Warner (as it was then known) accounted for nearly a third of all user time spent online. And two others companies – Yahoo and Microsoft – bring that figure to fully 50%. As for the growing number of channels available on today’s cable systems, most are owned by a small handful of companies. Of the ninety-one major networks that appear on most cable systems, 79 are part of such multiple network groups such as Time Warner, Viacom, Liberty Media, NBC, and Disney. In order to program a channel on cable today, you must either be owned by or affiliated with one of the giants. If we’re not vigilant the wide-open spaces of the Internet could be transformed into a system in which a handful of companies use their control over high-speed access to ensure they remain at the top of the digital heap in the broadband era at the expense of the democratic potential of this amazing technology. So we must fight to make sure the Internet remains open to all as the present-day analogue of that many-tongued world of small newspapers so admired by de Tocqueville. [emphasis added]

The pressures between the government and the citizens that purportedly own it are increasing. And we're right here in the thick of it, in the net, in the world of ideas, information and interaction.

Red Socks Win ALCS

Will Boston's win help give the Kerry campaign momentum?

Of course not!

But you can bet dollars to donuts that more than one media hack will ask this question on television. My money is on Chris Matthews ... although he'll ask it with a wink in his eye. (Of course someone his panel of the moment will respond with sober speculation.)


Heaven help us if the Astros win against the Cardinals, the baseball/political puns will obscure the issue landscape.

Winds of Change

I just stumbled across this site, and found some very interesting and in-depth discussion about the presidential race and how people are taking it. In The No Vote, Cicero says:

It does make me wonder how this will turn out---not the election so much, but the political aftermath regardless of who wins. Because no matter who becomes the president, the divide within America will deepen. Bridges will fall. Turmoil will increase. And our enemies will take full advantage of it.

I wonder if a Kerry win really would lead to a more divided country. Make no mistake, I don't look to him as a savior. But I also don't see him resorting to the sort of divisive rhetoric the Bush Administration and the religious right have employed almost as a rule. Pragmatism does have its uses, and all but the most zealous fundamentalists see the uses of pragmatism, don't they?

I wonder if we're approaching burnout on all this hate invective coming from the right. It can't last. And people can't keep putting up with it. Does John Q. Conservative really give a hoot whether Walter and Bill can get married in Massachusetts?

Right now the "debate" has degenerated into lies and name-calling, and the mainstream media are complicit in this, refusing to stray from horserace coverage to cover any real issues. And you can be pretty sure they never will pull back the screen and reveal the truth behind the Wizard's impressive show.

Where's Toto when you need him?

George Bush comes out worst in Economist poll of academic economists

It's pretty telling when economists, hardly known for liberalism, prefer a John Kerry administration. According to an Economist poll:

More than 70% of the 56 professors who responded to our survey rate Mr Bush's first-term economic policies as bad or very bad. Fewer than 20% give positive marks to Mr Bush's second-term economic agenda, and almost six out of ten disapproved. Mr Kerry hardly got rave reviews either, but his economic plan still fared better than the president's did. In all, four out of ten professors rated Mr Kerry's economic plan as good or very good, but 27% gave it negative scores.

[pdf of complete poll data]

The article goes on:

The broad condemnation of tax cuts seems to be linked to the professors' worries about America's fiscal health and the looming retirement of the baby-boom generation. Although Americans overall seem relatively unconcerned about the budget deficit, a large majority of the economists rate it as a serious problem for the economy, with almost one in five describing it as a crisis. And they back Mr Kerry by a large margin (79% to 18%) to do more to promote fiscal discipline than Mr Bush.

Okay, confession time: I quite possibly would be a Republican if it weren't for the religious right and social conservatives. I believe in a tight, well-run government. I believe that government should not interfere in the daily lives of its citizens. I believe that the right to privacy is very important. I believe in fiscal responsibility.

But now it seems the Republicans have dumped even that. Now they are fiscally reckless, and save their biggest rhetoric for socially conservative issues, government enforcement of religion, and a wildly militant foreign policy.

AlterNet: The Secret in the CIA's Back Pocket

Nobody takes responsibility in an election year. From Robert Scheer's AlterNet article today: The Secret in the CIA's Back Pocket:

The Bush administration is suppressing a CIA report on 9/11 until after the election, and this one names names. Although the report by the inspector general's office of the CIA was completed in June, it has not been made available to the Congressional intelligence committees that mandated the study almost two years ago.

'It is infuriating that a report which shows that high-level people were not doing their jobs in a satisfactory manner before 9/11 is being suppressed,' an intelligence official who has read the report told me, adding that 'the report is potentially very embarrassing for the administration, because it makes it look like they weren't interested in terrorism before 9/11, or in holding people in the government responsible afterward.'


'What all the other reports on 9/11 did not do is point the finger at individuals, and give the how and what of their responsibility. This report does that,' said the intelligence official. 'The report found very senior-level officials responsible.'

This is incredibly aggravating.


Scheer raises a lot of important issues in his weekly LA Times column. Check out www.robertscheer.com for more info, past articles, etc. Glad to see you picked up on the astounding story. Hopefully others will as well!

Democracy Now! | God & The Presidency: An In-Depth Examination Of Faith In The Bush White House

Democracy Now has picked up today on a story covered quite well in a PBS Frontline Special, "The Jesus Factor [watch the whole documentary online] just a few months ago.

In a program entitled God & The Presidency: An In-Depth Examination Of Faith In The Bush White House [transcripts, mp3s & video], Journalist Ron Suskind, author of The Price of Lyalty and a very provocative article in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine, talks with Amy Goodman about President Bush's born-again evangelism.

Does he really thing God wants him to be president? Does he really believe we're entering the End Times? After seeing the President twitching, blinking shouting and smirking in the debates, I've become more concerned about his emotional stability. The way he flew off the handle in debate 2, shouting down the moderator and whining angrily in the same note, gave me real concern. This is the guy with the "football" (the nuclear weapons launch control). If he truly thinks that he is the righteous Hand of God on this Earth, and if he has such a violent, unpredictable temper, is the President even Presidential?

"I would like to see the demographic and political breakdown of Kerry and Bush supporters, respectively."

This is the question everyone is asking, including molly h. in The Regular's "Submit a Question" section. I can't prove this, but I suspect the answer is, "Nobody really knows." Certainly nobody knows in the mainstream media, or if they do they're not telling. Looking at the big stories of the past few months, what networks reported and the quite astonishing images we saw from the streets, presented by the ever-stronger Democracy Now, were presentations of two different realities.

Now let's not overreach. The huge crowds of 500,000 protesters, massive arrests, aggressive police tactics, possible corporate collaboration against the protesters, FBI intimidation tactics, horrifying jail conditions for arrested protesters, felony charges for protesters hanging a banner, prostitutes for delegates and other things that happened in New York in just a couple weeks are not major concerns for your average American.

But how much are we seeing of the average American? These are examples from just one independent news organization on a major event in one city. Aren't these stories news? Why was all this activity glossed over by the mainstream media?

What kind of credibility does the mainstream media have these days? Can we expect the media to tell us what any real demographic breakdown might be in this election? Can we even expect them to be in touch with reality?

Jon Stewart on Crossfire Follow-Up | The Regular

I thought Tucker Carlson was digging his own hole last Friday, going after Jon as if he were some party hack. In-your-face confrontation, shouting down your guest is not debate. It's not journalism. It just plays into the same old "he said, she said" nonsense that teaches us nothing.

(I showed my mother the stream of Friday's show, and she kept saying about Tucker: "He's so stupid!" My mother's one sharp gal.)

But I guess Tucker's own handwringing follow-up on Monday worked, because now we have iFilm calling Stewart's monologue on Monday "spin," and intelligent people suddenly scratching their chins, thinking that Jon Stewart should make his Comedy Central show -- ("The show is fake!") -- more hard-hitting news-wise.

I don't know. If you ask me, the silly pseudo-news he presents has more Truth than the manufactured product coming out of CNN. (Tonight's bit about the President's speech was hysterical. Let's not discuss the vindaloo, though.)

I just wish more people in media could, or would be willing to, say that the emperor has no clothes. When it comes to politics, we're getting sold a bill of goods. And our news sources are in on the deal.

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