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August 26, 2006

Blog Character Assassination

Posted by tunesmith at 04:02 AM


Bloggers try to invite in portions of their personal lives to make their voices more authentic and more credible. They deliberately soften the line between what is and isn't too personal to share publicly. There's an element of trust there between blogger and reader; between bloggers and other bloggers. There is trust that the elements of one's personal life that aren't shared through the blog won't be researched and made public by others. Part of that idealism and trust comes from being a young community - that shared sense of common cause, of looking out for each other.

What can cause this to break down? Spiteful personal relationships. Political interests. Community breakdowns (the blogging community isn't so young anymore... being connected as a "fellow blogger" isn't such a powerful idea anymore...).

I'm amazed it hasn't happened more often. Welcome to 2008. It's all too easy to practice the "politics of personal destruction" (sharing embarrassing personal details) on bloggers, since they don't have the protection of celebrity or power. All you need is a few opening salvos. Then you'll experience some true blogwars, that will potentially have a chilling effect on the voice of blogging itself.

August 23, 2006

Multi-Disciplinary Education

Posted by tunesmith at 10:58 PM

Looks like I got quoted in the Daily Journal of Commerce - my basic point was that having a multi-disciplinary understanding helps one to create better solutions, since there are more points of connection to draw upon. It's a fact that is relevant to all spheres, from politics to software engineering (my firm). The interview was part of an article by Peter Wright, an expert on education and technology that directs new media for University of Phoenix.

February 21, 2006

Cheney's Power

Posted by tunesmith at 05:02 PM

In a newsweek article mostly about the recent shooting, this odd element was shoehorned into the last quarter of the article:

Others close to Cheney had suggested that he was profoundly affected by 9/11. It is hard for anyone who was not in Cheney's shoes that day, and in the weeks and months that followed, to appreciate the stress and uncertainty of that time. Around 9:35 on the morning of 9/11, Cheney was lifted off his feet by the Secret Service and hustled into the White House bunker. Cheney testified to the 9/11 Commission that he spoke with President Bush before giving an order to shoot down a hijacked civilian airliner that appeared headed toward Washington. (The plane was United Flight 93, which crashed in a Pennsylvania field after a brave revolt by the passengers.) But a source close to the commission, who declined to be identified revealing sensitive information, says that none of the staffers who worked on this aspect of the investigation believed Cheney's version of events.

A draft of the report conveyed their skepticism. But when top White House officials, including chief of staff Andy Card and the then White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, reviewed the draft, they became extremely agitated. After a prolonged battle, the report was toned down. The factual narrative, closely read, offers no evidence that Cheney sought initial authorization from the president. The point is not a small one. Legally, Cheney was required to get permission from his commander in chief, who was traveling (but reachable) at the time. If the public ever found out that Cheney gave the order on his own, it would have strongly fed the view that he was the real power behind the throne.

That struck me as odd... yes, the content, but also the placement.

September 08, 2005

Katrina Torrent

Posted by tunesmith at 08:42 PM

It's a bit eerie that "torrent" fits so well with Katrina, but anyway... there is a torrent making the rounds that puts together about twenty-five video clips of the media behaving like they've found their spine again. The more people that try to download it, the easier the download. Try it out...

Katrina Torrent.

August 05, 2005

Wilson, Plame and Superman

Posted by tunesmith at 02:44 PM

This whole Plame thing is maddening, because everyone is confused by Superman.

In Metropolis, people know Clark Kent. People know Superman. The people that know Superman know that he is a superhero. And so ergo, if they knew that Clark Kent was Superman, they'd know that Clark Kent is a superhero.

So here's the problem. People are comparing the Superman thing to Wilson/Plame. The GOP is confusing things by trying to pretend that:

  • Valerie Wilson: Clark Kent
  • Valerie Plame: Superman
  • Spy: Superhero

When the truth is that the secret part was not from Wilson-to-Plame. Plame was never some big secret. It was her frigging maiden name, for Christ's sake. It was listed in Who's Who. That was no secret. The secret part was from Plame-to-Spy. The GOP tries to prove that Wilson-to-Plame was no big secret, and so therefore treason didn't happen. They skip the whole part about, you know, outing Plame as a spy.

All this crap about how Rove was ok because he never mentioned her by name is like saying that you didn't out L. Libby as one of the leakers, because you didn't refer to him as "Scooter".

July 12, 2005

Rove Has To Go Etc

Posted by tunesmith at 11:52 AM

I find all the calls to fire Rove tiresome because of the gamesmanship behind it. Everyone knows Rove won't go, including the people calling for him to go. They're just doing it for the imagined political leverage. The right wing is probably just rolling their eyes at it.

For true leverage, you have to set up a true double bind, so they're damned if they do and damned if they don't. Scotty McClellan is definitely in that position and the questions the press are asking him are great. But Rove isn't really in that position, all he has to do is wait it out. Bush isn't really in that position either right now.

One way to put Bush in that position is to call loudly and repeatedly for a prime-time live presidential press conference and then make him choose to fall in with Rove or hang him out to dry.

June 12, 2005

Axelrod II

Posted by tunesmith at 10:57 PM

This is the second time I've seen "Democratic Strategist" David Axelrod have a bonehead quote attributed to him. Regarding the Downing Street Memo and the lack of play it's received in the media:

Party strategist David Axelrod explained the Democratic wariness: "We already fought that battle [over Bush's veracity] and we lost. He got elected again. So even though the memo is important, there's a sense that people don't want to revisit the lead-up to war. Although I'm not sure I agree with that, when you look at the number of Americans dead today."

Hey dumbass - the reason that people don't want to revisit the issue is that there aren't enough Democratic leaders treating it with the importance that would convince people that it's worth revisiting the issue. You're part of the problem.

June 07, 2005

Edwards Tiff Continued

Posted by tunesmith at 01:44 PM

Kos jumps in to the Dean/Edwards thing. Still seems like there are a lot of political beginners over there that are blaming Edwards for what seems to be an arbitrary spike in media activity.

June 06, 2005

Dean and Edwards

Posted by tunesmith at 05:18 PM

For those that are all in a tizzy about Edwards supposedly "rebuking" Dean's statement about many Republican (lawmakers) not working an honest day in their lives, it would be instructive to read this blog entry by John Edwards.

Meanwhile, here is a real example of who to be pissed off at, from this article:

"He was gratuitously insulting 50 million Americans who call themselves Republicans, some of whom we hope will vote Democrat," says Democratic consultant David Axelrod.

GOP talking point... who is this nimrod?

Update: Well crap! Nimrod helped run Edwards' campaign. That doesn't help either. He also ran other campaigns though so he's probably being independent.

March 26, 2005

David Brooks On Morality And Relativism

Posted by tunesmith at 08:34 PM

David Brooks makes stuff up in his latest column.

First, he's saying that on the conservative side, the Schiavo argument is about life needing protection no matter what, and that people in vegetative states need to be kept alive because of the sanctity of life.

I don't see how that squares with all the arguments the Schindler supporters are making that she's not really in a vegetative state. If it were as Brooks says, why would they bother?

Second, he says that on the liberal side, the argument is about avoiding the moral subject of "sanctity of life" and talking about process instead.

It's not true. I've seen focus on process when the subject has been about kicking it back to court, which is also about process. It's unnecessary to kick it back to court when the grounds of the new lawsuits have already been settled in previous courts. But, there's also a sanctity of grieving, and of privacy, and of closure. There's the difficult choice of refusing medical treatment, and the reality that it is morally defensible. Those are all moral points the left is making. And even many of the Schindler supporters don't contest that last point. They're not all saying it's immoral to unhook someone from life support. They're saying she can get better.

I understand a lot of the general split between left and right. The right places more emphasis on values, even if they can't make their actions measure up. The left places more value on integrity; aligning one's actions and values. The right too easily screams "relativism!" when a liberal challenges their values in an attempt to evolve. The left too easily screams "hypocrisy!" when a conservative stumbles.

But this case isn't about morality versus relativism. You've got people trying to bring glasses of water to a woman that is physically unable to swallow. Doctors proclaiming diagnoses of consciousness when they have never met her in person. Accusations of "judicial terrorism" when the judicial history has been so consistent. There's an element of incompetence here. When one so doggedly insists on a path that is not even possible, you can admire them for their persistence, but it doesn't mean they set a good example to follow. That's the difference between what is happening here, and true "values". They could argue an immorality of disconnecting any PVS patient, but they aren't. They could argue an immorality of disconnecting a particular PVS patient that has clear indication of a misdiagnosis, but they don't even have that.

Moderates and compromisers can try to find balance points all they want, but the point here is the elephant they are refusing to see: denial. The driving force here is that this became a cause. Causes self-justify. It spread, even to people who were hazy about the backstory. The defense of the cause became the cause, more than representing Terry. And in the process, the people adopting the cause became divorced from reality.

Reality returns, sooner or later. Reality must be accepted, whether you are liberal or conservative. A conviction not based in reality, no matter how passionately expressed, is not a "value" or a "moral". It's a denial and a delusion. Arguing reality in response is not relativism or "process". It's sanity.

Update: MajikThise points out more inconsistencies.

March 22, 2005

Contacting the Media

Posted by tunesmith at 02:26 AM

Congress.org seems to have a tool that makes it very easy to contact your local media organizations. I asked about this about a week ago and I just stumbled across it tonight. Here's the page for Oregon.

March 18, 2005

Bankruptcy: Warren vs. Zywicki

Posted by tunesmith at 01:02 AM

Trey Jackson has the video of Elizabeth Warren debating Todd Zywicki.

Good stuff. Warren gets the nod on this one. Zywicki implied that since bankruptcies increased while the economy improved, it by definition meant the increase was because of fraud. This is one of the central dishonest arguments for the bill.

Remember, from the pdf I mentioned before:

The bankruptcy filing rate is a symptom. It is not the disease. Some people do abuse the bankruptcy system, but the overwhelming majority of people in bankruptcy are in financial distress as a result of job loss, medical expense, divorce, or a combination of those causes. In our view, the fundamental change over the last ten years has been the way that credit is marketed to consumers. Credit card lenders have become more aggressive in marketing their products, and a large, very profitable, market has emerged in subprime lending. Increased risk is part of the business model. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that as credit is extended to riskier and riskier borrowers, a greater number default when faced with a financial reversal. Nonetheless, consumer lending remains highly profitable, even under current law.

But even more maddening is the assertion that the increased bankruptcy filing rate is a problem. Yes, of course it's a problem. But who is it afflicting? The profitable credit card companies with the financial models that already take the bankruptcy filing rate into account? Or the individuals and families that are experiencing such hardship that they are finding it more necessary to declare bankruptcy? Congress believes that it's the credit card companies that deserve the rescuing.

By the way, to dismiss with a canard - no one is arguing that poor people should not have access to credit. It's fine to use a credit card for emergency funds or short term expenses that will be paid off. But the credit card companies are marketing their product as extra disposable income. Their financial interests are to put people in long term debt at high interest rates. Their job is to create the demand. They are very, very good at it. Personal responsibility doesn't mean we're required to accept the presence of temptation.

March 17, 2005

Bankruptcy News Coverage

Posted by tunesmith at 11:21 PM

There was some news coverage opposing the bankruptcy bill on Thursday. The SF Examiner has this editoral by Darrell Salomon. The SF Chronicle ran Robert Scheer's Tutorial In Greed. The Chronicle had a front page story that is quite good, and another editorial by conservative columnist Debra Saunders.


I am ashamed to note that every Republican senator in Washington voted for this special-interest bonanza. These so-called conservatives should believe in the market and chastise irresponsible lenders.

In addition, 18 Democratic and one independent senator voted yes. "Many Democrats and Republicans saw this as what is seen in Washington as a free vote," Plunkett noted. That is, important interests wanted a "yes" vote, and there was little opposition. "There's no lobby for future debtors," Plunkett added.

As it turns out, the negative media attention has turned up the heat. Yet Plunkett sees a "very, very slim chance" of defeating the bill.

March 14, 2005

Dave Ramsey On Bankruptcy Bill

Posted by tunesmith at 11:31 AM

There's a phenomenal video making the rounds of Dave Ramsey slamming the bankruptcy bill. Check it out.

March 11, 2005

Wall Street Journal on Bankruptcy Bill

Posted by tunesmith at 06:04 PM

There's an article over at Daily Kos that talks about Wall Street Radio's recent feature on the bankruptcy bill. There are evidently concerns about it being quoted out of context, so I won't excerpt it, but go give it a skim if you're looking for more reinforcement.

March 10, 2005

MSNBC Connected on Politology

Posted by tunesmith at 02:30 PM

Thanks to Jeff Jarvis and MSNBC Connected for the mention (video) today.

We can talk about left versus right until we're red (or blue) in the face, but there are some matters that are about the politicians versus the public. The blogosphere is on the side of the public.

Contact your Senators offices right NOW (they are still debating) to register your disapproval to this bill. There are many Senators making a political judgment that a "YES" vote is a safe vote, and they need to be warned that they may be in for a rude surprise.

The bill's passage needs to at least be delayed so there is more room for public comment.

March 09, 2005

Garrett Article at Daily Kos

Posted by tunesmith at 03:37 PM

I wrote an expanded article on Laurie Garrett over at Daily Kos. Read and discuss.

March 08, 2005

Laurie Garrett quits

Posted by tunesmith at 11:36 PM

Daily Kos has an article about journalist Laurie Garrett quitting the profession after sharing some doom and gloom about journalism in general. There are a lot of fans of Laurie Garrett, it appears; she seems to be one of the "good guys".

And yet, you may recall that Laurie Garrett was the main character of a rather interesting dust-up a couple of years ago. Seems she had attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and sent her off-the-record thoughts to some friends. Those thoughts promptly got forwarded throughout the entire net.

Here is the article that describes the entire saga. But I was especially struck by this rant she sent along to the online crowd that became passionately involved with the matter:

Do you imagine for a moment that the participants in the WEF - whether they be the CEOs of Amoco an IBM of the leaders of Amnesty International and OXFAM - waste their time with Internet chat rooms and discussions such as this? Do you actually believe, as you type your random thoughts in such Internet settings, that you are participating in Civilization? In Democracy? In changing your world?

I remember this moment. For those participating, it was one of the watershed moments of the then-young blogosphere gaining access to "privileged information". It was huge, an emergent realization of what kind of power the new community could possibly have. And I imagine that for some, Laurie's vent was probably met with an internal, steely resolve to prove she didn't know what the hell she was talking about.

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