Well, I've heard from Barbara (she is one on the right; I am the one on the left; with a grey beard)
"WE came to Jaipur today. It was along day on the bus, but I think we were all glad to leave the hustle and bustle of Delhi. Also the pollution. The air quality was ghastly. The noise and the people, people, people, the traffic...oh my god, the traffic! All a bit overwhelming. Tomorrow we ride elephants to approach the Red Fort. Should be pretty good stuff.
I'll be thinking of you all at Christmas and will tryto email again before then, but I'm not sure I"ll get an opportunity. I am well....and India is everything I expected and more. It's a world of contrasts. It's amazing. I"m taking plenty of pictures and will have lots of stories to share."
On the home front, I've decided to enter the Houston Ultra 24 hour race. I still need to send in my application, but I booked my flight yesterday. It should be interesting.
I am running, walking and hiking; my last two walks included bits with Olivia (my 11 year old daughter) and with Ms. Vickie (my yoga goddess). And speaking of goddesses, I almost swooned as I thought I saw my beloved Harriet Miers looking at me from under a log! False alarm...
Now for some good old politics. Three topics today:1) Liberal bloggers trashing the mainstream media; is it a good idea?
2) Dick Cheney; does he know that he is evil? and
3) Ann Coulter: " think the government should be spying on all Arabs, engaging in torture as a televised spectator sport, dropping daisy cutters wantonly throughout the Middle East and sending liberals to Guantanamo. " (comic relief; no she really wrote that; it isn't parody).
First, I read an interesting article in The New Republic today. The gist of the article is that liberal bloggers are hurting themselves by trashing the mainstream media. The idea is something like this: conservatives started trashing the mainstream media because it bent over backwards to be objective. That effort to be objective lent itself to the mainstream media trying to show "both sides" (or "all sides") even in the cases where there wasn't truth to be had on "both sides" (e. g., the creationism/Intelligent Design flap, the times when the Republicans just made up facts, the times when Republicans used debunked "facts" to justify the Iraq war (such as the aluminum tubes claim), etc.). Liberals got disgusted with this and started in on the trashing of the mainstream media. But that might backfire as
- No one is going to trust bloggers for the news as we are biased by definition.
- The conservatives, who have coroprate America behind them, have us woefully outspent and out resourced; hence this "battle" is one we are doomed to lose.
TRB FROM WASHINGTON
by Franklin Foer
Post date: 12.19.05 Issue date: 12.26.05
Two months ago, I began reading the newspaper with a new set of eyes. That's when The New Republic launched The Plank, a crackling blog to which I regularly contribute. Before my new career, I had largely consumed the Times, the Post, and the Journal in search of information. Now I read them in search of items. This eternal quest for Plank grist has changed my relationship to these papers. They used to be my Starbucks buddies, but now I treat them more as adversaries, to be debunked and ridiculed.
Newspapers deserve an army of enemies that nag them to be less lazy, less timid, and less nice. But they don't deserve the savage treatment that they routinely receive in the blogosphere. The problem isn't just that they have been flogged by bloggers desperate for material. It's that the blogosphere nurses an ideological disdain for "Mainstream Media"--or MSM, as it has derisively (and somewhat adolescently) come to be known. Perusing the Huffington Post, a hub of liberal blogging, you'll find the MSM lambasted for its "usual sub-par, unsatisfactory, wholly misinformed, shitty job"; the MSM is, after all, filled with "lazy stenographer[s] ... posing as journalist[s who] will gladly cut and paste this Republican propaganda." Or, to put it even more bluntly, the "Beltway media really makes no effort to do anything other than parrot totally out-of-touch conventional wisdom--no matter how inane, stupid and ridiculous it is."
You would expect this kind of populism from the right, which long ago pioneered the trashing of the MSM, or, as Spiro Agnew famously called its practitioners, "nattering nabobs of negativism." The right has used media-bashing as political gimmickry--"Annoy the media, vote for Bush" was a 1992 slogan--and to produce mega-selling books like Bernard Goldberg's manifesto, Bias. When they take these shots, they don't just intend to rally their rank and file. They want to weaken the press so it will stop obstructing their agenda, a motive that liberal bloggers seem to have forgotten. By repeating conservative criticisms about the allegedly elitist, sycophantic, biased MSM, liberal bloggers have played straight into conservative hands. These bloggers have begun unwittingly doing conservatives' dirty work.
What they're attacking is the MSM's Progressive-era ethos of public-minded disinterestedness. By embracing the idea of objectivity, newspapers took a radical turn from the raw partisanship that guided them in the nineteenth century. "Without fear or favor" was Times owner Adolph Ochs's famous phrase. That "objective" style worked well for many years, because, in the postwar period, political elites shared broad assumptions about policy with one another--and the media. But the Bush administration has violently rejected that consensus. And, instead of playing by the old rules that governed the relationship between reporters and the White House, it has exploited them. For starters, there was the 2000 campaign, in which the press presented Bush as essentially the heir to Clintonian centrism, even though most of his policy prescriptions should have led reporters to a very different conclusion. The Bushies pulled off this legerdemain--and repeated the trick many times--by taking advantage of the news media's disinterested style, which obliges it to give a hearing to both sides of a debate, even if one side has uttered a total falsehood. My colleague Jonathan Chait has argued, "[The press is] evenhanded to a fault, presenting every side of an argument as equally valid, even if one side uses demonstrably false information and the other doesn't. Bush has exploited this tendency ruthlessly, most memorably in 2000, when he described his tax cut as consuming a mere quarter of the projected budget surplus."
Perhaps the rules of journalism should be modernized to short-circuit this tactic. Reporters should have greater latitude to point out distortions without worrying that they have violated the laws of objectivity. And there's already evidence that some newspapers have gotten wise to the administration's game, adopting a more adversarial stance. But, after examining the news media's failings, many liberal bloggers still conclude that the system is beyond repair. They have begun to dismiss the MSM as doomed avatars of the ancien rÃ©gime. Atrios, one of the most popular of the liberal bloggers, recently threw up his arms: "If idiots destroy institutions there's no reason to continue to respect them." (Their derisive attitude resembles nothing more than the New Left, which charged journalism with dulling the sense and sensibility of the masses, preventing them from seeing the horrors of the capitalist order.)
The mainstream blogosphere (MSB) is only too happy to bury the old media regime, because it has an implicit vision for a new order, one that would largely consist of ... bloggers. In other words, they envision a universe that resembles the nineteenth-century partisan newspapers or the Fleet Street model, where writers and thinkers break from the illusion of "objectivity" and print the "truth." (I acknowledge that the liberal blogosphere is hardly a monolith and that blogs don't always lend themselves to coherent thought, but common themes and arguments are clear enough.)
This model stinks for countless reasons. But its most fundamental flaw is that bloggers will always be dismissed by their opponents as biased. And, while conservatives would like to treat the Times and the Post this way, they can't. They know that if a story--for example, Abu Ghraib or the CIA secret prisons--appears in one of those papers, it most likely has a strong basis in fact. Despite black marks like WMD reportage--and a small but visible minority of bad-apple reporters--old media still have enough prestige and authority to play referee.
There's another reason that liberals shouldn't be so quick to help conservatives crush old media. Because of the right's alliance with business, it simply has more resources to shovel at its institutions--and it has been doing exactly that for the last 40 years. And, unlike liberals, conservatives have already proved themselves masters of partisan media, where they reduce their political program into highly saleable, entertaining populism. If the battle of ideas doesn't have credible, neutral arbiters like the so-called MSM--and liberals jump into an ideological shoving match with bigger, badder, conservative outlets--there's no question which side will prevail.
Franklin Foer is a senior editor at TNR.
One of my friends happened to mention Dick Cheney. So, by coincidence, there was a good article about him in the Huffington Post, via the Smirking Chimp:
'Does Dick Cheney know he's evil?
'Posted on Thursday, December 22 @ 10:24:28
Adam McKay, The Huffington Post
Dick Cheney was on a tear yesterday. He got the ball rolling by firing off the following quote defending the President's right to spy on Americans with no approval from any court. "I believe in a strong, robust executive authority and I think that the world we live in demands it," Cheney said. "I would argue that the actions that we've taken there are totally appropriate and consistent with the constitutional authority of the president."
Cheney then said he felt that after the Nixon administration executive power has been diminished and needs to be restored. Is it just me or is this a chilling quote? It seems like a line from the Emperor in the most recent Star Wars: "The Power of the Emperor must not be limited by the council or the Jedi in a time of war!"
Cheney then cast the deciding vote on budget cuts that seriously limit Medicaid and Student Loans for Americans. This after Congress just made permanent large tax breaks for the wealthiest one percent in our country.
Does Dick Cheney know he's evil? I mean it. Does he occasionally look up from his breakfast of one hard boiled egg and a plate of heart pills and say to himself, "Man, I'm an evil fuck"?
Bush and Cheney have presided over one of the worst runs in American history: starting a war based on lies that has cost tens of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions; total failure to deal with Katrina and then blaming others for that failure; basically legalizing torture; outing a CIA spy; tax breaks for millionaires; huge no bid contracts to Cheney's former company; a crazily-divided country that has lost the respect and trust of the world; insane trade deficits...etc, etc, etc, etc.
And now Cheney says they need even more power? Isn't this like the coach of the Toronto Raptors saying "Hey, we're 5 and 20. I think it's time I was also made Team President and GM. Plus I want to play point guard."?
I think these greedy apes should be doing back flips that they're not in jail.
And what is Cheney's reasoning for calling for more power? That there haven't been anymore terrorist attacks. Nothing's been blown up...lately. In case you forgot Dick, it was on your watch that the first big attack happened! And you had intelligence warning you of the attack. But I forgot, that was just, according to Rice, "An historical document." Kind of like if you yell to someone "Hey! Watch out! That car is going to hit you!" And they just stand there and get hit and then later claim that they thought you meant overall, for life, watch out for cars. In a general overall kind of way.
Maybe they thought the explicit warnings about the levees in New Orleans were "historical." Or maybe they thought they were quoting the Led Zeppelin song "The Levee's Gonna Break..." After all, Bush liked to party in New Orleans and I'm sure he sometimes got the Led out.
But as flagrant as the corrupt Bush administration is in their quest for power, money, and oh yeah, power, the American people still, for the most part, reside in a false reality of TV programming and sports and "Top Ten Gifts for 05!" And the Republicans treat all of this as though it's a big game of Red Rover, Red Rover. Honestly... Republicans... do you really, truly think these guys are doing a good job? Really? 'Cause you're killing us. And Dick Cheney is loving every second of it.
Copyright 2005 (c) HuffingtonPost.com, LLC
Source: The Huffington Posthttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/adam-mckay/cheney-gets-his-schwerve-_b_12706.html
Finally, thanks to Media Matters, we have some comic relief from Ann Coulter. Evidently, this woman still has her thong wedged up her butt!
By Ann Coulter
Dec 21, 2005
Apart from the day the New York Times goes out of business and the stellar work Paul Krugman's column does twice a week helping people house-train their puppies the newspaper has done the greatest thing it will ever do in its entire existence. (Calm down: No, the Times didn't hold an intervention for Frank Rich.)
Note: she is starting out by trashing the mainstream media.
Monday's Times carried a major expose on child molesters who use the Internet to lure their adolescent prey into performing sex acts for webcams. In the course of investigating the story, reporter Kurt Eichenwald broke open a massive network of pedophiles, rescued a young man who had been abused for years and led the Department of Justice to hundreds of child molesters.
I kept waiting for the catch, but apparently the Times does not yet believe pedophilia is covered by the "privacy right." They should stop covering politics and start covering more stories like this.
In order to report the story, the Times said it obtained:
copies of online conversations and e-mail messages between minors and the creepy adults; records of payments to the minors; membership lists for webcam sites; defunct sites stored in online archives; files retained on a victim's computer over several years; financial records, credit card processing data and other information; The Neverland Ranch's mailing list. (OK, I made that last one up.) Would that the Times allowed the Bush administration similar investigative powers for Islamofacists in America!
Hmmm, that thong must be really tight. She doesn't seem to understand the differences between what private citizens (who represent only themselves) could do and what the goverment (which reprsents all of us and can spend our tax dollars) does.
Which brings me to this week's scandal about No Such Agency spying on "Americans." I have difficulty ginning up much interest in this story inasmuch as I think the government should be spying on all Arabs, engaging in torture as a televised spectator sport, dropping daisy cutters wantonly throughout the Middle East and sending liberals to Guantanamo.
But if we must engage in a national debate on half-measures: After 9-11, any president who was not spying on people calling phone numbers associated with terrorists should be impeached for being an inept commander in chief.
With a huge gaping hole in lower Manhattan, I'm not sure why we have to keep reminding people, but we are at war. (Perhaps it's because of the media blackout on images of the 9-11 attack. We're not allowed to see those because seeing planes plowing into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon might make us feel angry and jingoistic.)
Among the things that war entails are: killing people (sometimes innocent), destroying buildings (sometimes innocent) and spying on people (sometimes innocent).
That is why war is a bad thing. But once a war starts, it is going to be finished one way or another, and I have a preference for it coming out one way rather than the other.
In previous wars, the country has done far worse than monitor telephone calls placed to jihad headquarters. FDR rounded up Japanese, many of them loyal American citizens, and threw them in internment camps. Most appallingly, at the same time, he let New York Times editors wander free.
Note the following about the Japanese internment:
The Supreme Court upheld the president's authority to intern the Japanese during wartime;
That case, Korematsu v. United States, is still good law;
Hmmm, by "good law" I hope she means "it is still on the books and can be used as precedent" rather than "it was a good idea."
There are no Japanese internment camps today. (Although the no-limit blackjack section at Caesar's Palace on a Saturday night comes pretty close.)It's one or the other: Either we take the politically correct, scattershot approach and violate everyone's civil liberties, or we focus on the group threatening us and ,in the worst-case scenario, run the risk of briefly violating the civil liberties of 1,000 people in a country of 300 million.
Of course, this is assuming I'm talking to people from the world of the normal. In the Democrats' world, there are two more options. Violate no one's civil liberties and get used to a lot more 9-11s, or the modified third option, preferred by Sen. John D. Rockefeller: Let the president do all the work and take all the heat for preventing another terrorist attack while you place a letter expressing your objections in a file cabinet as a small parchment tribute to your exquisite conscience.
What a jerk. I wonder if Townhall.com wants to be taken seriously, or if it wants to stay in the entertainment business by carring columns like these. Since you had to wade through the ranting of this "female dog" to get this far, you may as well be rewarded by getting to look at her (and, as even my daughter admits, she is attractive)