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Wednesday, 29 June, 2005

The FEC held hearings this week, 28 and 29 June, on their NPRM (notice on proposed rulemaking) affecting the civlian web world. I heard this on the radio NPR : Campaign Finance Rules and the Internet and figured it was a good time to bring myself back up to speed on this. Another article that treated this in the last wee FEC treads into sticky web of political blogs - Yahoo! News. There are a handfull of differing opinions The FEC's position is represented in their official notice [Notice 2005-10]. Here the summary is useful, but for further details I found the recap of the NPRM in the May FEC Record easier to follow. Both documents are pdfs and can be found on this page Federal Election Commission Rulemakings . I'll quote the summary here just to facilitate my post.

SUMMARY: The Federal Election Commission requests comments on proposed changes to its rules that would include paid advertisements on the Internet in the definition of "public communication." These changes to the Commission[base ']s rules would implement the recent decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in Shays v. Federal Election Commission, which held that the current definition of "public communication" impermissibly excludes all Internet communications. Comment is also sought on the related definition of "generic campaign activity" and on proposed changes to the disclaimer regulations. Additionally, comment is sought on proposed new exceptions to the definitions of "contribution" and "expenditure" for certain Internet activities and communications that would qualify as individual volunteer activity or that would qualify for the "press exemption." These proposals are intended to ensure that political committees properly finance and disclose their Internet communications, without impeding individual citizens from using the Internet to speak freely regarding candidates and elections. The Commission has made no final decision on the issues raised in this rulemaking.

From the web logging environment two groups have emerged with broadly similar perspectives though varying in some significant details. The Online coalition Our Comments to the FEC whose position is - no regulation realized through total exemption, it is the libertarian perspective. I note that the Online Coalition is a endeavor of the Web log Red and has Michelle Malkin as one of its earliest and most enthusiatic supporters.

the Decemberist, who I added to my roll last week, likes this view and endorses it. It gives deceptive initial appearence of offering the least resistence to full and unrestrained public dialogue. In the post where he deals with this he reviews the farce that is Commisioner Smith's hand ringing regarding the big ol bad gov'mint inter-ferin' with the net: Permalink : The Strange Logic of Bradley A. Smith. He is/was the leading voice for what the Commission will decide to do - he is the government. Wherever the locus of power flows to here; he will have sent it. Power in any society, is where its real government is. You cannot make a large complex societies government smaller.

The other point of view belongs to George Washington University's IPDI : Institute For Politics Democracy & The Internet. Their pdf is found here: IPDI's comments to the FEC. I find myself leaning far more closely to their concerns. The primary question is [s]hould bloggers be given the media exemption? The IPDI see's two consequences:

One is that a newly-expanded media exemption encompassing millions of bloggers will create a new loophole that will eviscerate the contribution and expenditure limits of the campaign finance law... The other consequence is that the privileged status the press currently enjoys will diminish. When that happens, an erosion of its most important privilege,its ability through shield laws to protect the anonymity of its sources, will surely follow.

The IPDI seeing that the last election showed tenitive but at the same time exponential use of the internet in campaigning, doubts that the reletively controlled and visible activity of this election will be the future norm. They believe that pressures from this will lead to the dissolution of the Campaign Finance Laws and possibly the principles of press exemption, and press protection of sources (frankly the latter seems gone already). They offer a somewhat nuanced path out of this thicket. Admitting that journalistic enterprises existing currently within in the media exemption can act in any fashion of coordinated partisan behavior they desire, anf that a private citizen with a web site can become in either formally or informally an arm of a campaign. They would give the media the media exemption only to a small subset of bloggers - the one that most resemble professional jorno's. I suppose there would some hoop they would have to jump through to gain this - they don't state this with any clarity; they seem to want the FEC to come up with a formula. The rest (of us) wouldn't get it. While these web loggers wouldn't necessarily have to take on disclosing responsibilities, any campaign that paid them directly or indirectly would disclose them. Much behavior that occurred or was contemplated in the last election - would be public ie regulated communication. Further the IPDI comments deal with what is my primary concern in all this. Reaching back to their briefing by a panel of campaign finance lawyers last month "Will the Revolution be Regulated"

[|the three readily agreed that the threshold for pursuing a complaint is so low that the FEC would open an enforcement action, thus subjecting the respondents potentially to civil fines and certainly to the payment of legal fees. In an increasingly partisan political atmosphere, the fear of an opponent filing a politically-inspired complaint is not unrealistic, nor is the fear of incurring substantial legal fees to defend against a protracted FEC investigation.|]

This they feel can be dealt with by raising the threshold amounts of expenditures in political activities fairly high so that average web loggers wouldn't likely cross them.

Log me in with those who feel that the wild wild west view of the internet is unsustainable because the transaction costs of obtaining good information would overtake the average users means. Additionally the net could whipsaw that anarchy into society at large - at least temporarily - then the revanchist retrenchment that follows would leave it of little use to anyone.

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Newseum begins its return

 Many Thanks to Metafilter for this post A flash-y way to examine front pages | MetaFilter. It is a stout and lovely thing they speak of.
 What it is, is a Flash app, Today's Front Pages - Map View, that allows you to to roll over a map of regions of the world woth little dots representing major Newspapers pause over a dot and a thumbnail image of that days front page in color appears to the right, click on the dot and a full page pdf appears of the page you can read. Click on this and you are whiked away to that newspapers web site. One can review the held lines of major dailies across the world with a flick of the wrist. I like. I like a lot.
 I don't know how I missed this. When the Newseum  - The Interactive Museum of News was still in Rossyln (it shut down for several years to move to a new location in Downtown DC)  I once went with my niece and nephew, Nicole and Lucas, and Al, their father. They were still fairly young then and a lot of it didn't mean much to them. I remember that one exhibit provided a script and sample then allowed you to record your own voice over to a news piece (I remember it to be Carlton Fisk's homerun). It was difficult to tear her away from it in the end. A moment when she caught a glimpse of a wider world beyond the passivity of childhood.

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Saturday, 25 June, 2005
the Rover

The Politicos seem to have gotten into, if not the apparatus of web logging, at least into the rhetorical swing of things: overheated rhetoric flung about indiscriminately In Capital's Rhetoric Wars, 'Sorry' Is a Temporary Pause . I understand that it all just good light hearted entertainment done in the name of fun Downplaying Durbin, Jumping on Rove. Possibly; though, there may be some who believe what these folk are saying, possibly some of these folk do believe what they are saying.

Rep. John Hostettler (R-Ind) for instance. '"Like a moth to a flame, Democrats can't help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians," Hostettler said.' Hostettler accuses Dems of waging 'War on Christianity. I find it especially touching the way that quote carries with it the easy and glib assumption that democrats are not Christians. I should ask what it is that leaves Mr. Hostettler believing that he himself might be Christian? He seems to have let a sense of righteousness stand in for any being upright. Leaving him with only with a certain intoxication of vertigo. "Like moths to a flame..? Well,

"As Kingfishers catch fire dragonflies draw flame;... I say more: the just man justices, keeps grace that keeps all his goings graces..."(G.M.Hopkins)
This man Hostettler leans too hard on the crutch of his assumed faith.

As for Karl Rove, who while feeding the crocodiles of his own lumpen street let it be known that he imagines that 'liberals want "therapy and understanding" for the 11 Sept. attacks' Rove Criticizes Liberals on 9/11 - New York Times . This is how he believes he can distinguish the Bush administration's utterly incompetent non-engagment with that enemy, in order to chase down their own personal business with Iraq. He seems to be the new administration point man on this and similar matters: Rove Taking a More Public Role . Here one is tempted to see a subtext that as some generals are valuing the lives of their solders over Dick Cheney's reputation and so disclaim that the insurgency is in its last throes, that some other speak for a while.

One of the offices in the Pentagon annhilated in the blistering inferno of airliner driven into ground, was a unit I was attached to for a few years, CNO-IP (OP 009U). This is where I had transferred after Rvah-7 decommissioned. This had been quite a few years earlier, but it is where I sat, in a uniform I had taken an oath to wear, among compatriots in their uniforms, doing our jobs. Let me pause for a moment to catch my breath so I can try to take this debate to a higher level and here say exactly what need to be said. Karl Rove can Kiss my Ass. He is beneath contempt.

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Thursday, 23 June, 2005
the decemberist

The other day while testing out the search engine interface, Grokker ( Grokker - A New Way to Look at Search), I came across a web log called run by a guy named Mark Schmitt The Decembrist. Interesting guy interesting web log. He used to be policy aide to Sen. Bradley. Works for some place called the New American Foundation. He notes that he has no information on the band the Decemberists. S'all good. I already got their link. Does he really think they're precious, or is he just taking received opinion on that? I expect if they knew each other they would get along. This web log is out of my league - reminds me more of my brother-in-law, Al, who was once an aid to Sen. Metzenbaum, and clerked for Ruth Ginzberg when she was an appellate judge. Al should blog.  I was able to type those words, yet I can not picture it.

Grokker. Don't know what to say about it. It really taxed the Java engine on my big high-end Dell at work - no telling what it would do to my G3 iBook. I guess I ought to find out. I like to test search engines by inputting "System Musollini". (originally a book published in 1924 by Ludwig Barnhard. You can never tell what you'll find; a certified internet carnival story. I'm never disappointed.

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Wednesday, 22 June, 2005
Call for Democracy

Tuesday there was a massive whole page ad in the Post. I'm used to seeing the logo for Martin Marietta or Lockeed on these. They always seem to have the cash on hand. This one on the other hand had a simple drawing of a torch and outline of Vietnam. "An open letter to George W. Bush..." it began. The group is A Call for Democracy - Loi Keu Goi Dan Chu. They are a dot org from Santa Barbara. They took this ad out in this paper and presumably others [apparently it ran to 3 pages in the Washington Times] because they fear a love fest (Bush Vows Increased Ties With Vietnamese) will break out between the US and the current government of Vietnam now that Prime Minister Phan Khai has come here; hung out with Bill Gates, bought planes from Boeing and met with the President. Vietnam, they caution, is still a one party state which brooks no dissent or criticism. Which, also, never made life easy for the country's remaining Catholics.

I should ask Tran what she thinks of all this, I thought. So I pulled that page out and folded it up to read it in detail later. Before I had a chance to ask her, she brought this up with me on her own. What did I think of his being here? I don't have anything against normalization of diplomatic ties, and trade, and believe that constructive engagement is the only true and practical international relation. As long as you have the fortitude and ability to take the long view. Khai Phan, Tran pointed out - and here I was struck by the rather intense way she seemed to bite the words of his name in half and hurl them into the air - Mr. Phan she declared has stated that American politicians will apologize for the war and he will graciously accept it. "He shouldn't hold his breath waiting for that," I replied, "He won't get it." He wouldn't even get that from me.

Tran seems to be be involved in a local affiliate of this Call for Democracy organization. She mentioning that people in the VA/DC/MD Vietnamese community were planning a protest against his visit on Thursday, She was considering going, but probably only if her father [didn't] need her [I knew I was misunderstanding something on the first draft of this - her father didn't go, but if he had she would have gone with him]. Apparently some people had worked for a number of months or perhaps years to prevent this visit from taking place and are not happy about it. She could not understand why President Bush would meet with this delegation . This Boston Globe article indicates the protests will be in every city Prime Minister Phan visits. Bush hosts, praises Vietnamese leader - The Boston Globe - - Asia - News . I suppose the U S Government needs to encourage at least the level of trade and globalization to allow markets to develop and the right attitude concerning intellectual property rights to foster. I also pointed out that they are meeting with national security officials to make arrangements for intelligence and military cooperation. Today's Department of Defense e-ring managers enforce a strict "don't ask don't tell" policy concerning human rights.

Engagement is a tricky thing, It has in the past led some governments to conclude that the US was happy with the way they carried out their affairs. The way we appear to compartmentalize our national security apparatus, political system and institutions of free market globalism, such as the world bank. This leads some to perceive we view these as separate buffet-items at the big table. As a practical matter I doubt I could easily pull them apart. I expect few could; except throught the prism of a particular divergence. The more Tran described all this and we talked about it, the more engaged she got. She's normally such a calm and collected person, here she seemed quite impassioned as she went over it all. "No one who has spent two weeks in Vietnam would account the least respect to the communist government." I have to admit, I like it when she gets like this.

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Tuesday, 21 June, 2005
A little bit more on Downing Street.

 Over the week end when I got around to reading down to the end of the articles I linked up in that last post and read through the ones it slipped my mind to link. I ended up with a few more things I wanted to point out. Primarily the existence of two moderately enetertaining Web sites out there dedicated to the DSM (Downing Street Memo's) the Downing Street Memo and a website called After Downing

The whole affair of Rep.Conyers holding a psuedo-hearing in a basement room, last Thursday because the republican leadership will have no disscussion of this whatsoever. That was a perfect Washington moment. For the off-Washington moment (like off-Broadway) I have a metafilter thread from last week that seems to indicate that at least initially the trans-threshhold denizens of the right were prepared to attack the memos with their familar the type-face jihad There be a way out of this yet! | MetaFilter . Hey if it worked once...

More usefully: two articles that attempt to put this in some sort of perspectives and assess what it means. The New York Review of Books: The Secret Way to War , and What the 'Downing Street' memos show |

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Monday, 20 June, 2005
Shooting the Messenger

The attacks on Senator Richard Durbin qualify as a clear and defining a case of shoot-the-messenger as any dictionary compiler could hope to find. It is a dangerous, unpleasant and notably unwanted message he made; However, Durbin had a particular point to make and he made it carefully.

Durbin cited an FBI report describing Guantanamo Bay prisoners chained to the floor in the fetal position without food or water and sometimes in extreme temperatures. "If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control," he said, "you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings."Durbin Defends Guantanamo Comments

Others have chosen not to look or listen to this point, to the words he said in order to attack the straw man of their own choosing. The Soviet Gulag was more extensive and in its extensivity piled up more instances of cruelty by several orders of magnitude, that is its context. Nothing we have done compares to that. This point was made very eloquently in a opinion editorial in the Washington Post Saturday. No American 'Gulag'. That context in the Gulags was made up of individuals and individual stories of imprisonment. Durbins point; though, is that presented in clinical blind analysis, examined in macro, what might our policies and actions seem to be part of - and not just at Guantanamo bay but at Abu Ghraib, and the other internment camps.

The question Sen. Warner and all the others need to ask themselves rather than trumpet vacantly in calculated evasion, is that if here we say we are not doing anything untoward, in a war that has no projected end date, no state (or unclear points of repatriation) for those we have imprisoned. If we let all that has occurred form our acceptable baseline and let our facts accumulated along it. That line points down, for once you have made peace with accommodation that is the only direction it will ever point. The question is : what are we becoming?

Addendum: I see that Sen. Durbin has been forced to apologize for his remarks: Sen. Durbin Apologizes for Gitmo Remarks (AP). At least he directed his apology to American service men and women who may have felt the weight of his remarks fell unfairly on them. They do not appear to have been the central problem, and to the extent they have been involved the DoD has not hesitated to burn them itself. While I'm in addendum mode here - let me note that columinst Dan Fromkin of the Post would direct your attention to a piece by Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald where she writes that as part of of a new $500 million contract, Halliburton will build a new $30 million cell block at the Navy base in Gauntamano Bay Cuba.

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Friday, 17 June, 2005
Memorandum for

   Ever since Blair was in town and some reporter (Steve Holland) had the temerity to ask at Q&A photo op. about the Downing Street memo as it has come to be called. Some of the more adventurous editors greenlighted the subject to appear on their pages against this angle and the cat was out of the bag. Dana Milbank wrote about it for the Washington Post in just such circumspect cat paws terms Seldom-Discussed Elephant Moves Into Public's View. Salon Wash. Post reports on Blair memo and others noticed this and commented on that. I surprised as must have been the White House that this story continued to have legs. I'm sure they thought they had shut it down. I pulled the London Times article down late on Sunday 14 May after seeing references to it all over the amateur web, but nothing from the professional journalism world for a day and a half. My first reaction was 'isn't this old news, haven't I seen this on Metafilter half a dozen times over the past couple years."   

 I had absorbed the story of how our own intelligence apparatus had been intimidated and bypassed into not contradicting Administration policy made as it was on the basis of preconceptions, ideology, and credulous and amateur intelligence work. Breaking Iraq and removing Saddam from power was outside the normal realm of events the flux of facts and demos. It was something that people inside this administration were going to make happen. This is no real secret (their secret was and continues to be what they thought all this was going to accomplish). The Washington Post in the small way they have of sometimes opining on things made a similar point within Al Kamens column in Fridays paper.

 This just seemed a little starker, poignant beyond the cold facts, like reading an antique letter from a forgotten consul of a lesser king at one of histories corners rail against inevitability and fate. Despite the administration's uniform dismissal of it, I hadn't heard or read til they suggested it, that this memo wasn't authentic. Not even from Mr. Blair. Last night on Letterman President Clinton tried to appear to have never heard of it, he didn't appear to want to be dragged into a discussion of it either.

There is an argument that the left ought to stop crying winging on about WMD's and confront the real issues the war was fought (which, I suppose, they feel validate what they did). Insert your grade school stratego (tm) thinking here: oil, instability-producing-non-integrating-geo-economic-zones (formerly known as the third world), oil, militant islam-clash of civilizations, oil, aging populations, oil, globalization, and of course oil. The problem with that is: that isn't the policy debate they held. There were two reasons for that. They did not want a policy debate at all. They wanted an fear based emotional reaction. They doubted that the public would actually back their enterprise, based on their real reasons, so they did not talk up those issues then denied them and castigated even those who thought they supported the administration if they did so. They did not deal with the American people honestly. By illuminating the lack of post war planning, the disdain for it. The carnival show that was the CPA. These memo's Ministers were told of need for Gulf war "excuse" - Sunday Times - Times Online reveal the architects of this war to be the bellicose authoritarian fantacist amateurs that they are.

 I would like to go back what was being written, in the press, in the think tanks, in academia. In light of how things have turned out and in what we know now and tease out what valid facts and opinions were known and promulgated. Which of the worlds reporting bodies was closest to the truth. Perhaps through their eyes we might see a world clearer.

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Tuesday, 14 June, 2005
So what

One thing about writing a web log with few readers is that I'll often get to the end of a post aware of the incompleteness or weakness of various points. "So what", I'll think, "who's going to call me on it."

So what. This is Cheney's reply; in the Post: Guantanamo Bay to Stay Open, Cheney Says, and in The Globe and Mail: Guantanamo critics haven't hurt U.S. image, Cheney says, to our little peccadillos and the unease they engender.

"the track record there is on the whole pretty good. Now, does this hurt us from the standpoint of international opinion?" he asked. "I frankly don't think so. And my own personal view of it is that those who are most urgently advocating that we shut down Guantanamo probably don't agree with our policies anyway."

Sec. Rumsfeld has been delivering a similar speech. The subtext is found in the last line of Cheney's quote. The message is for the Presedent, who may be dangerously looking at the bigger picture - - if you're not with us, you're with Al Queda, they're saying. Krauthammer, in his column from two Fridays ago made similar points. They weren't passing out bibles at the Hanoi Hilton. If you disagree with our view you are the enemy as well. Notwithstanding the unassailable nature of his position Krauthammer would prefer it if we dropped the subject, now.

So we do what we believe we must, to preserve our way of life. Our way sanctifies us. What difference does it make between terrorists, suspected terrorists and when, if, or how we determine which. Why should I expect anyone in this administration to care what French proto-progressives from one hundred years ago think. These are people who consider John Dewey among their greatest enemies HUMAN EVENTS ONLINE :: Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries (seen on EotS_WotM). Understanding why we ought not debase our enemies - make them weaker lesser men, more desperate, more craven, more fearful than they were - is to ask what is it that puts us among the justified, the civilized, those who have the right to survive? It doesn't matter if your better if you're still bad and it's only a matter of degree. The distinction doesn't lie there.

Prickly City in Tuesday's (I gotta stop looking at this strip whatever the first panel may indicate, the final panal is just going to be pat empty right-wing rationalizations) strip Stantis compares Mark Felt with Linda Tripp. By implication Richard Nixon with Bill Clinton. The problem with that is that Mark Felt did what he felt he had to do. Neccessary, requiring a deeply personal sense of honor, offering no rewards. Not a confirming tribal one. A decision he made in confidence with his own conscience, then kept this confidence. Never trumpeting it or attempting to profit from it until his family stepped in and made that decision for him. Tripp made her decision in concert with operatives from the opposing political party and never stopped trying to profit from it. Richard Nixon was a foul mouthed paranoid, who stewed in the sewage of his fears, his personal enemies list, yoking the IRS and FBI to persecute them. He had his off-the-books plumbers unit carry out such activities as burglarizing the offices of the Democratatic National committee. Beyond this he enthusiastically participated in a criminal conspiracy to cover all this up. Bill Clinton couldn't keep his pants up. His offense was his weasly dodge of what he was set up to try to dodge under oath. For Richard Nixon calumny was just another day at the office.

The comparison is in their dreams. Elements of the right tout themselves as the party of morality, but they have no better acquantince with it than anyone else. They hold no demonstrated greater ability or proclivity to turn aside the consolations of power, the takings of triumph. Ethics is a matter of actions, opinions and the distinctions one makes, all interacting with each other. Their inability to comprehend or even see some distinctions belies their claim on any automatic morality. Too often as soon as they run the gamut of their own prejudices and animal needs, they declare this the absolute definition of morality and truth. They then abandon for life any further introspection or understanding.

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Monday, 13 June, 2005
Fort Reno event

 I heard a Dj on WMUC say there was a show this thursday at Fort Reno Park. Sure enough I hit up the web site Fort Reno 2005 which usually lies dormant most of the year and there is a show, and they hint darkly at a summer schedule to be posted later. The Fort Reno shows are great largely unheralded DC tradition featuring indie rock and allied bands playing in the big patch of grass in the neigborhood of Wilson high school and Deal Jr. high.

 The show this Thursday is slated to feature The Rude Staircase, Sentai and Gist. These events if I recall, usually take place in the early evening before the sun goes down.

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Marble Solitaire vs. deep teal

Followed a, well I guess I was following a ping... at any rate it lead me to a subsection of a web log called _ The Tale of Dusty and Pistol Pete - Obsessions. One of these individuals seems to be a guinea pig, the other a person. No idea which is which.

What he had is a solution to the marble solitaire game I have. (he has a link back to my original post which was back in January). I didn't want to look at it. Picking up that game is one of my few consistent pleasures. Moreover; how far I get with it is usually a good indicator of how well my thoughts are organized at any particular moment. I never get very far. I like that I have a solution, that I can ignore, and that somebody else finds themselves interested by this little puzzle. Not only did he solve this puzzle. then he made it harder by adding and extra row to each limb. After that he wrote a program to solve it.

I can make a slinky walk down a flight of stairs.

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Sunday, 12 June, 2005
A good collar

I've read many newspaper stories on various aspects of the United States growing number of prisonors is its global war on terror, a great many araticles. Despite the attempts of one player or another to get on top of this issues and ride it someplace - it simply isn't that well behaved a beast.

The initial issues were the riots in parts of the middle east that triggered off Newsweek's (Michael Isikoff's) soon retracted story Gitmo: SouthCom Showdown - Newsweek Periscope. This reaction laid bare a building undercurrent of mistrust in the islamic world. Behind the Koran mistreatment story, there lay the rendition issues, the Abu Ghraib issues (strategies of humiliation, secret hidden prisoners Islam as interrogation tool: need for limits? | The 'Torture light' issues; the obscuring of the official judical nature of detainee's. That they are not POWs in our war on terror, but detainees signals a to many a troubling lack of distinction, between enemies and those who are more nearly just not friends. As though establishing this blank catagory for a indistinct ill conceived war capable of having no clear end, that made some difference against inalienable human rights .

At the heart of all this Gonzales and Rumsfeld's directives establishing this, and permitting acceptable levels of torture. In a recent Prickely City, a comic strip that runs in the Washington Post, the two main characters land what Scott Santos must have believed was a devastating moral blow against the administration's critics: degradation of the Koran at Guatanamo how much 'they' want it to be true. I don't need it to be true, But if I may ask: how is this different from not wanting to see, refusing to see, and rationalizing what, is seen, out of existence. The Administration and DOD's faux outrage is an overreach and it is not sustinable in the face of what is already known, what DoD reports will show soon, and what will be known in the course of time 1.

The current form this story has assumed lies with Amnesty International's American Gulag comment, similarly an overreach. They seemed to have figured this out too Amnesty USA backs off Gitmo as 'gulag' Chicago Sun-Times. The debate Gulag or 'not Gulag' misses point - we are already on that slippery slope - not about to step onto it. Cheney is offended, President Bush declares it absurd, and Rumsfeld rejects it out of hand. I've read "One Day in the Life of Ivan Desonovich", I've read it a couple of times. I wouldn't discount that just such a book isn't being written in some internment camp somewhere right now. The administrations puzzling blindness aside, this is increasing obvious to onlookers, especially outside the united states. The United States no longer seem to stand for what it once did. as the CS Monitor observed repeated pronouncements of our delivery of freedom mean little unless it seems accompanyied by a commitment to justice.

CS monitor sees this as a delibrately picked fight, something the administration believes they have a handle on, and can make work for them The image war over US detainees | It may be a well crafted public relations counter-offensive. It may also be a marker of how out of touch they are. I saw a recent book (I see a lot of books in my job) a monograph on french concepts of penal systems in the late 19th century. While affirming the states need and right for imprisonment, and recourse to capital punishment in some situations, it made the point that there is nothing that gives - can give - any state the right to debase an incarcerarted person. Nothing! Such a right does not exist in any concept of justice.

The Koran issue at Guantanamo Bay is a stalking horse (or a red herring) Guantanamo Bay is the best possible face the administration can put on their mass detainment of the islamic world. From that tiny corner of Cuba it slips beyond the realm any formal rules or public information, information they could allow to become public. Gitmo is the firmest ground the administration has, they'd just as soon keep attention focused here were they can fight a passable rear guard action against public opinion. Sen. Pelosi (D-Ca), Sen. Biden (D-De) , Former President Jimmy Carter, are all calling for U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay to be phased out. Even President Bush seems to be signaling that's not out of the realm of the possible Bush opens door to possible closing of Guantanamo . The laughed Jimmy Carter out of this town thirty years ago, They may have been partly right, they were certainly partly wrong. I haven't seen the administration come to town and conclusively demonstrate they knew more, about freedom or the human condition. When it comes to human rights Jimmy Carter speaks with more gravitas than George Bush. That will remain true no matter how many times his speech writers put the word freedom in his speeches.

1. The intentions of the program in the end are not obsure enough. This article documents an outline of the overall thinking to the approach. -RedNova News - Science - Anthropology and Counterinsurgency: The Strange Story of Their Curious Relationship.
The Guardian has an exerpt - The unknown unknowns of the Abu Ghraib scandal Seymour: The 10 inquiries into prisoner abuse have let Bush and Co off the hook - from a forthcoming book by Seymour Hersh: Chain of Command which will try to definatively demonstrate that all these separate abuse incidents are really one policy.

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Wednesday, 8 June, 2005
Timorous me.

 I came across a Ted Leo and the Pharmacists Fan site[fan community rather] Timorous Me, which has a amateur quicktime video of the song Timorous Me (what were you expecting) shot last December in the basement of a Unitarian church in Philadelphia.

 The Rx are coming to Washington in a couple of weeks, 23 June at the 930 club. The temptation to go to this show is tremendous, I haven't gone to a show in years and years now. A related aside; I recall reading in an interview with David Gedge, of the band the Wedding Present, that they were asking for non-smoking shows on their current tour, and many clubs were accommodating this. That's a lovely idea.

 iTunes has a Ted Leo exclusive up; called the Sharkbite sessions. I especially liked the  version of Stiff Little Fingers' Suspect Device. First record I bought after I got to college was the live Stiff Little Fingers record. Which I appear to no longer have. I wonder where that got to?

 Radio was treating me nicely last Friday, not like WFMU's cruel Weather Underground (discussed previously).  I came back from work humming a Radio Birdman song ('Aloha Steve and Dano', their modified Hawaii 5-0 cover and tribute) When I settled in back at my desk the DJ played Radio Birdman. Not the same song - they played 'New Race' but hey how often do you hear Radio Birdman on the radio.

11:51:29 PM    comment [];trackback [];

Monday, 6 June, 2005
Playing for the Ponies

There were two things I was going to write about earlier, if I could think of more to say about them. In the end I couldn't, but I want to throw them out anyway. Two weeks ago at some point toward the end of the week I was watching some news show and there was a woman on - of a conservative persuasion registering her disapproval of the Senate compromise on judicial nominations. Mind now this is a compromise that is about to put Judge Janice Rogers Brown on the federal bench. They really don't come much more conservative. The left does not appear to be dancing jigs over this, Liberals Rethinking Senate Filibuster Deal. This woman was having none of it, her people can't compromise and won't allow republican legislators to compromise, because they don't have the right. These issues are Gods issues. Certain people need to be placed on the bench and start making certain decisions certain ways. End of discussion. This is brilliant in a low and not particularly illuminating sort of way. When finding yourself in discussion with others, declare your ideas sanctioned by God and your opinions, prejudices and position confirmed by heaven straight out of the barrel. Affirm that all adjustment will be done by others. I saw a new book come through cataloging the other day that made me think about this again, John Rawls' other book: Political Liberalism (Columbia Classics in Philosophy Series) (from publisher supplied information on this b+n page)

...Yet in modern democratic society a plurality of incompatible and irreconcilable doctrines - religious, philosophical, and moral - coexist within the framework of democratic institutions...Rawls therefore asks, how can a stable and just society of free and equal citizens live in concord when deeply divided by these reasonable, but incompatible, doctrines? His answer is based on a redefinition of a "well-ordered society." It is no longer a society united in its basic moral beliefs but in its political conception of justice...

What Rawls is saying is that a modern democracy - non homogenous, pluralistic will not be able to find its ruling consensus simply within the culture, to fall back on it, but must explicitly synthesis it. This accepted notion of fairness, theory of justice, will be a political creation. Its unity and progress as a civilized culture, will be a test of its political sophistication and acumen.

The other thing occurred the next day. I was watching the Preakness, half watching it and trying to read something. One of the announcers - I never looked up to see who she was - kept returning to her main theme, which was that unless Maryland voters "put politics aside" and allow the gaming industry to bring slot machines in all this beautiful horsing around will fall away and the second leg of the triple crown will pull up stakes and move to Pennsylvania. Of course the gaming industry don't want to bring slots just into the racetracks, they want to bring them in all over the state. And not really all over either, they will end up in particular neighborhoods, along with related and allied gaming industry product. They will be in mine, but I do not believe they will be in hers.

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Friday, 3 June, 2005
Return of the moderates, revenge of the ...

 While the aftermath of the nomination compromise isn't as exiting as the U.S. Senate playing chicken with locomotives on a single track, there is still plenty going on.
Possibly, though, people think none of this is interesting Drama on the Hill: Americans shrug |  There is the 'Pact' itself of the gang of 14 as I like to call them and it's immediateate effect Breakthrough Pact Unlikely To End Battle. I've also heard "McCain Mutiny" used and like that as well. Since I purchased todays paper;  for my 37 cents I will let them bring the story essentials:

Last week's agreement was crafted by 14 senators from both head off a bitter showdown over Bush nominees who had been blocked from confirmation for months and even years. Under the deal, the Democrats agreed to allow three Bush appellate court nominees to receive floor votes, effectively ensuring their confirmation, while leaving four others unprotected....In exchange for the Republicans dropping the "nuclear option," a plan to reinterpret Senate rules to eliminate the minority's right to filibuster judicial nominees, the Democrats agreed not to filibuster future Bush nominees except in "extraordinary circumstances... means that no future nominees could be filibustered for being as conservative as the three covered by the deal. Bush Poised to Nominate Dozens For Judgeships, GOP Insiders Say.

This is from a story that indicates that the administration has 40 potential additional nominees vetted and ready for their names to be sent up the hill. This seems to indicate that the administration for whatever reason has signed on with those  wishing to challenge this pact. The last sentence I pulled out of the article could be key to holding it together, a baseline has been implicity drawn.

Compromises by definition don't leave people feeling fulfilled, still this is an example of norm entreprenureship at a high and useful level. It preserves the idea of compromise and the future of the moderate wing From Senate strife, a center takes hold | The section of both parties still willing to talk to each other and pretend to be the deliberative body they are paid to be. Possibly lessons on the ebb and cash flow of political currency. You can also look at how this is playing out, to think on the meaning of political extremism: gaming or revolution. Is this winner take all approach to politics seen recently, a by-product of America's tendency to fold everything into a metaphor of sports. And the attendant idea that if you haven't won; you've lost. That there is no realm where that type and degree of competitiveness doesn't make it all a better game.

The problem is that the metaphor doesn't hold, sporting events are encoded by strict rules designed to provide a particular outcome - entertainment for spectators. The rules arn't challenged because they have purpose. Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay and others like them - Others who follow their model on either side of the aisle are bad leaders. Outside of their effectiveness or ineffectiveness at the political game, or on where you sit and how you view each.  This because of their need to try to recast the system and permanently realign the nations politics. Which speaks of a discomfort with the broad human culture that will exist in a mass society, of a defense (reactionary) need to narrow it. It speaks to a rejection the open society (Karl Popper's notion that George Soros has glomed onto).

 In the long run this political behavoir, which calls into being mirrored reactions from the opposition, is unlikley to produce the effect those who play it think it will. It makes political targets of its practioners who then must increasingly face their work as make or break career ending battles. It is not even the path to the new ideal world of their imagining, it's the path to continual strife, gradual impoverishment, and conceivably, civil war.

The idea that Karl Rove has given George Bush - that elections can be won by with devotion and fidelity to a core element within their base, while correct in a narrow sense has two vital errors within it.  It has led these elements to imagine they are the mainstream of the party. They are not; they are just the simplest to rally. The easiest to speak to, by routine and commononly understood ways in mass popular culture, and they are statisticlly recognized as the most likely to show up at the polls on election day.

 The other thing it has done is to lead certain politicians to believe that if they can win by a battening down to the base without recourse to consensus politics - that they can govern that way too. As if only this segment of the country existed, that those who did not vote for them have disappeared or ceased to matter, and they did not have to work for them also.

The new gerrymandering and district balkanization is accelerating this polarization, moving the competition out of the hands of the people, allowing a nominally representational class that is more rigidly ideologed in its view than the general populace, at the moment, to come into power.There is some feeling that this movement needs to stop Ending the Gerrymander Wars - New York Times.  The effect of this leadership is to encourge hardened views in their followers. These errors are moral failings, they represent a broken faith with the people.

11:56:23 PM    comment [];trackback [];

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2005 Paul Bushmiller.
Last update: 7/01/05; 02:12:08.