Sympathy for the General

My NPR favorite Anne Garrels is back in Iraq and this time, has chosen to seek out the most unfortunate Iraqis to interview; those most unfairly impacted by the war. Those who, through no fault of their own, now find themselves shut out of the post-war process.
Yes, I’m talking about The-High-Point-Was-Realizing- The-U.S.-Was-Screwing-Up Garrels, and it is that victimhood that defines them. Certainly not any of their, you know, actions

Kerry and Color

Kerry is continuing to draw fire for the somewhat, er, pale complexion of his “inner circle”. The latest is a takedown from Colbert King at the Washington Post, who points out that the Kerry campaign is quite literally taking a divide-and-conquer approach to American ethnic groups, but still can’t seem to bring itself to let anybody into the management team with a skin color darker than well-tanned:
Let’s be fair, you might argue. Doesn’t Kerry have a right to surround himself with close friends and top assistants who click with him? Of course. But is it too much to expect that the Democratic Party’s top liberal, the candidate who cries that he has “fought for civil rights and equal opportunity for every American my whole life,” who brags about his efforts to “enhance diversity,” and whose message is inclusiveness, would in fact have a presidential campaign inner circle that is reflective of the diversity of his party and the country? And if elected, will Kerry govern that way?

Can Catholic Cardinals Cancel Kerry Communion?

Isn’t the Catholic Church doing Kerry a huge favor by starting to make noises that Catholic politicians who, like Kerry, support abortion rights are not fit to receive Communion?
Finally, an issue that even Kerry is unlikely to waffle on and can demonstrate Strong Moral Character in his steadfast — but respectful! — disagreement with his Church. He’s the new Andrew Sullivan, only liberal, and straight!
Let’s be serious; would anybody even remember Kerry actually is Catholic if the Church hadn’t reminded us? This is just the thing to convince the large swath of Church-going America that Kerry views his faith as something more than a line item on his resum

More on Citizen’s Media

More from Jeff:
As various of us try to enable and encourage weblogs and citizens media — and I’m one of those — I also try to stay mindful that we can’t ‘mold it into our image of what we think it should be. It will be what it wants to be — that’s the whole point. Now if we can help it along that path (with technology or financial support or education or attention) great. But the beauty of citizens’ media is that it is what it wants to be, not what somebody else wants it to be.
And the “what it will be” is plural, not singular, which is the most important response to those who have met the idea of the Citizen’s Media Association with scorn.
Unlike traditional media like television where essentially, all TV programming has evolved into a single standard model, weblogs and other ‘net media don’t have to — and shouldn’t. The ideas being put forth for the CMA are part of one vision of what this medium can be — but there can, and should, be a wide spectrum of different approaches to weblogs going forward.
Like the idea of having a trade association to help you? Go the CMA route. Prefer to be an anonymous blogger just chipping in your $0.02 however you feel like it with no one else to tell you what to do? Do that. The different visions don’t really have to compete; they complement…

Proposal: Citizen’s Media Association

Jeff Jarvis is leading the charge to develop a “trade association” for bloggers and other citizen’s media types, tentatively called (what else), the Citizen’s Media Association. In Jeff’s proposal, the Association would:
> Gather and disseminate statistics on the size and success of citizens’ media in terms of both audience and revenue: total audience; total traffic; audience demographics; author demographics; audience behavior online; audience buying behavior; categorization of interest areas; census of languages and national origins of sites; total projected ad revenue; total projected commerce revenue; collection of success stories.
> Set standards for the means of gathering audience, traffic, and demographic data and for advertising units and measurements.
> Protect citizens media practitioners by seeking libel and liability insurance and by seeking, through courts and lobbying, to assure that the rights of a free press extend to citizens who create media online.
> Promote the medium with advertisers, marketers, media, and newsmakers.

Jeff’s seeking comment and discussion, so drop by his place and share your thoughts.
I think this is a good and necessary idea; part of the natural evolution of weblogs. But one question comes to my mind: how, exactly, do we define “citizen’s media” to distinguish it from the rest of the media?
This is a real issue, given that the ultimate goal of some Association members is to make money blogging. If they prove successful, do they stop being “citizen’s media” at some point because they are making a lot of money?
I have to chew on this myself a bit; I don’t have even a suggested answer at this point. But defining clear requirements for membership seems a necessary first step for developing the Association…

Undead Reality Show Zombie

So the Apprentice is done, and Bill is The Donald’s guy.
Expecting some great philosophical discussion of the significance of The Apprentice in our culture or the impact of reality television on civilization? Nah. It entertained me, and that was enough.
But I did have one closing thought. As expected, last Thursday Trump finally said the words “You’re hired”. But the interesting thing is that he did not say the words “You’re fired” to Kwame Jackson, the runner-up.
So, I claim that by the Strict Laws of The Apprentice Universe, Kwame is now existing in some odd state of limbo. Not fired — but not hired! It’s like he’s some kind of undead reality show zombie, doomed to walk the earth eternally unresolved.
‘Course, being an undead reality show zombie seems to be a pretty good gig for Kwame, so hats off to him…

NYT: First With the Scoop, if Not the Truth

From the New York Times’ feature on Wonkette:
In a relatively short time, she has drawn her share of detractors… Jack Shafer of Slate called Ms. Cox a “heaving puke” in a column that also lambasted Gawker.com, the New York-based gossip blog created in 2002 by Nick Denton, the publisher behind Wonkette.
Well, yes, he did headline the article “The Heaving Pukes Who Write Gawker and Wonkette.”
But he subheaded it “Nothing like an abusive headline to grab your interest, eh?”, and “lambasted” Wonkette and Nick Denton with such statements as:
“Several times a day

Business o’ Blogs

Listening to Jeff Jarvis drive the “Blogging As Business” session at Bloggercon today on how to make money from blogs.
Best quote thus far (roughly transcribed) from Jeff, as he hurries to run through all the topics: “We’ve got about twenty minutes left and we [may have to] skip ‘ethics’… ”
Quips aside, it’s good stuff, and I look forward to reviewing the archived RealAudio/conference materials at a more leisurely pace post-facto…

Sex and the Sistani

Last week a few bloggers (see Wonkette; Marc Cooper; Kaus) noted with a snicker that Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Husaini Sistani in Iraq has a website which, among other things, dispenses rather specific advice on which sex acts are permissable under the Ayatollah’s view of Islam.
Two noted examples of the Ayatollah’s Dr. Ruth-like pronouncements were the following Q and A’s:
ON ANAL INTERCOURSE:
Question: My question is, what does the holy book Quran and prophet Mohammad (pbuh) say about anal sex even if the wife agrees to experience this with her husband?
Answer: As deduced from narration anal sex is permissible; but it is strongly undesirable. Permission is bound to wife

Kerry’s Super Plan

Everybody’s been commenting on Kerry’s editiorial in the Washington Post laying out his plan for Iraq more clearly, so since I bashed him for it the other day, I figure I owe him another pass.
I’m lazy and tired, though, so I’ll just reproduce some of my favorite passages here for your edification. I might have mistranscribed a word here or there, though, so fair warning…
A Strategy for Iraq
By John F. Kerry
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
To be successful in Iraq, and in any war for that matter, our use of force must be tied to a political objective more complete than the ouster of a regime. To date, that has not happened in Iraq. It is time it did.

Continue reading “Kerry’s Super Plan”

The Success of 9/11

At the 9/11 hearings yesterday, Commissioner Fred Fielding opened his questioning of former FBI Director Louis Freeh with the following statement:
FIELDING: I am sure it’s no surprise to you or anybody here that there’s a lot of interest in today’s hearings and there’s a lot of interest simply because on September 11th we were totally beaten. We were beaten and all our systems failed.
Our systems to stop hijackings failed. Our intelligence, domestic and foreign apparatus failed. We had 19 people who were able to — some of whom were known by the CIA to be terrorists — entered our country, got visas, were living under their own names in this country, took flight lessons. They beat the security screening with knives to get into the aircraft and turn four aircraft into missiles.
And they had to have — it was interesting — they had to have 100 percent success in order to do this and they did.

What troubles me about Fielding’s statement is that all of our system’s did not fail. One of them succeeded — the ability of the citizens of this country to identify a threat and take action as individuals to elminate it. The ability that was demonstrated so dramatically — and successfully — by the passengers on Flight 93, the only hijacked plane where the terrorists failed in their mission to crash into a valuable target.
As I wrote one year after the 9/11 attacks, I don’t believe that America began responding effectively to Al Qaeda when we invaded Afghanistan. I believe we began responding effectively the moment that the passengers of Flight 93, fed information via cellphone calls from the ground, recognized what the terrorists on their flight planned to do — and acted to stop it.
After all the hearings that the commission has had on the failures of our government to prevent 9/11, or even to respond effectively while it was happening, shouldn’t there be at least one hearing to discuss what went right on that day? Where is the session devoted to studying the actions of the passengers of Flight 93, and their success at foiling the terrorists they confronted? Is there nothing at all to be learned from their actions, and their sacrifice — or is the comissison just more interested in finding fault than in actually recognizing success?
Or is it a more basic blindness — is the 9/11 commission, and our government in general, incapable of recognizing a defense against terrorism that merely consists of individual Americans willing to fight when it becomes necessary? That a defense that doesn’t require a huge appropriation bill and a massive administrative army simply doesn’t fit with the Washington mindset?
Update: Jay has related thoughts.

Kerry: The Man With the Plan

Glenn wants to know what the Democrat’s plan is for Iraq, as opposed to their simple sniping from the sidelines.
Why, it’s right here, of course!
That’s the page on John Kerry’s web site that you get when you click on “Iraq Plan for Peace” on his home page. And it outlines “precisely” what Kerry believes we should do, as outlined in two speeches at the Brookings Institution (oooooh!) and the Council on Foreign Relations (aaaaah!).
I’ll save you the trouble of reading them (although read them you should). Kerry’s plan for saving Iraq is to get the U.N. to pass a resolution, of course! And place the entire operation “under a UN umbrella”.
Hey, makes sense to me. Should solve all of our problems, since after all, we know that the enemies we are fighting in Iraq have great respect for the United Nations.
In semi-seriousness: no, really, you should go read Kerry’s site and see what he has to say on Iraq. Which is to say, he has nothing to say, beyond “internationalize it”. If this is the best the Democrats can offer, I will take a highly flawed Bush policy over their complete absence of policy any day…

Kerry Makes Me Miserable

I haven’t heard anybody else do it yet, so I’ll call “bullshit” on Kerry’s new “misery index“.
Why? Well, first, because the description of the formula used is utterly incomprehsible, and he doesn’t provide any data to actually review to check his work. (Don’t give me hard numbers and a spreadsheet, ’cause I’ll kick your ass).
And second: why, praytell, not use the “misery index” that has been in use as a standard measure of such things for years? Because I’m sure it would show exactly the same negative trend for Republican administrations as Kerry’s newfangled one. Or, maybe not.
PS – Yes, I realize that me not hearing anyone else call Kerry on this is more a function of me not looking hard than of any particular lack of people doing so. Get over it.

Could we have a little subtlety, boys?

Has anybody ever asked why the two presidential candidates’ web sites are .coms, as opposed to .orgs?
Recognizing that politicians tend to make a buck at their trade, aren’t they supposed to at least pretend that they are not in it for profit? The .com kinda gives the game away, no?
PS – In related news, the Official Bush-Cheney ’04 Blog is dull as dirt.

Is anybody actually watching the road?

Observing the 9/11 hearings, I’m struck by exactly how awful it is to have the process of election taking place at the same time as the process of governance . I understand the Democrats need and desire to prove to the electorate that they represent a superior choice to govern the country; this is all fine and good. But it is hard to watch the pile-on regarding the Bush administration’s failures prior to 9/11 and in Iraq without cringing at the focus on assigning blame, rather than on helping to find constructive solutions to better defend our country. Sometimes, it seems that the effect — and perhaps the actual goal — of partisan sniping is not simply to ensure that the other guy doesn’t get re-elected, but rather, to ensure that he is incapable of getting anything done during his remaining time in office.
This is of course the same complaint the Democrats made during the Lewinsky scandal, and the point was equally valid then.
I don’t have a solution to this problem, other than half-heartedly urging everyone to “play nice”. It seems a natural byproduct of a two-party system with free elections and an open press.
But damn, some days I think that our system of governance, and more to the point, elections, is roughly equivalent to stuffing two NASCAR drivers in the front seat of a speeding stock car and telling them to arm wrestle to see who gets to drive the next lap…

Views of the Left

Is it me, or is the lefty side of the blogopshere getting even more partisan lately?
We’ve got Kos, a previously vaguely rational lefty, gleefully degenerating to ANSWER-like hysterics, and now Mickey (who steadfastly refuses to decide which team he’s playing for — not that there’s anything wrong with that) is beating up on Josh Marshall for bogus complaints about Mickey misquoting him.
Pre-election calcification of political battle lines? Dunno. All I can say is, Kevin, don’t flip out on us now — our supply of non-party-line lefty commentary is dipping towards dangerous levels…