Idiot Nation, Idiot Press

The Daily Kos goes after Politico for the way that it han­dled Palin’s claim over the health care plan:

Seriously? Seriously?

Yes, seri­ously. It falls to Politico to take a story about a national fig­ure mak­ing up whole­sale a crooked and ridicu­lous story about how Democratic “Death Panels” are com­ing after her dis­abled child if we dare reform health­care, and turn it into an absolutely straight news story.Well done, Politico. Absolutely mas­ter­ful. I couldnt come up with a more embar­rass­ing exam­ple of the national polit­i­cal media as lazy, stu­pid, worse-than-useless prop if I tried.

As the Daily Kos points out it should not be too much to ask for an insti­tu­tion like Politico to point out how bla­tantly igno­rant and idi­otic Palin’s state­ment is. Instead of doing so though they sim­ply quote her and lend a ounce of cred­i­bil­ity to her claim.

Sullivan: “The Revolution Will Be Twittered”

One of the smartest things I’ve read today about the grow­ing dis­tur­bance in Iran comes from Andrew Sullivan who writes:

That a new infor­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy could be impro­vised for this pur­pose so swiftly is a sign of the times. It reveals in Iran what the Obama cam­paign revealed in the United States. You can­not stop peo­ple any longer. You can­not con­trol them any longer. They can bypass your estab­lished media; they can broad­cast to one another; they can orga­nize as never before.

Not only can peo­ple now bypass the estab­lished media and broad­cast to one another I think that they have proven that they will and that when they do so they will do it with force.

Furthermore, I think that events like this go to show that the fas­ci­na­tion with Twitter is more than just about Twitter, it’s more impor­tantly about the medium of com­mu­ni­ca­tion that it pro­vides for. Perhaps Twitter pro­vides the best cur­rent expe­ri­ence for this, but I think that the demand for such a form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion will only grow as more peo­ple real­ize the power of orga­niz­ing themselves.

Dowd, gender, and a horrible Guardian article

With the recent news that Maureen Dowd of the New York Times pla­gia­rized Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo there have under­stand­ably been a slew of arti­cle about the topic. Unfortunately, a colum­nist at the usu­ally stel­lar Guardian writes this:

Dowd, with her valley-girl accent, was always going to stand out from that pool, and the fact that she is one of the few women swim­ming in it is her least attention-grabbing qual­ity. [empha­sis added]

What may I ask is the point of that empha­sized por­tion? Does Dowd’s gen­der and sta­tus as one of the few truly high pro­file national colum­nists really have any­thing to do with the fact that she 1) appar­ently pla­gia­rized a well-known blog­ger and 2) made a pretty flimsy excuse as to how it happened?

No, it doesn’t and because of the irrel­e­vancy of Dowd’s gen­der a seri­ous colum­nists at a major media out­let should not try and draw a con­nec­tion where none exists. This seems to be a shame­less way to attempt to stoke even more con­tro­versy into an already con­tro­ver­sial subject.

The real­ity is that this issue has not risen to con­tro­ver­sial pop­u­lar­ity because of some twisted national gen­der bias. Dowd is not under the micro­scope because she is a woman. Instead, this is an issue because it shows that some national colum­nists (irre­spec­tive of gen­der) believe that they can get away with any­thing, includ­ing treat­ing blog­gers and those out­side the halls of mid­town Manhattan like crap.

Shame on you Guardian for bring­ing gen­der con­tro­versy into a issue that is devoid of gen­der! Sorry, end rant.

Finally, honest journalism

I’m sure that Jon Stewart’s inter­view with Jim Cramer has been writ­ten about else­where, but I wanted to share my own thoughts on the mat­ter. If you haven’t seen the video, then you really need to so it’s embed­ded below:

http://www.hulu.com/embed/_3TIApx3ymwKbAfZnz-MKA

First and fore­most, all the credit in the world ought to go to Jim Cramer for actu­ally hav­ing the courage to walk into the firestorm that he knew would be wait­ing on The Daily Show. Secondly, Jon Stewart is sim­ply great. With the elec­tion of Obama I remem­ber there being some con­cern about whether Stewart would be able to main­tain his high rat­ing and pop­u­lar­ity. After all, if he can’t make fun of Bush then how much mate­r­ial does he really have? Well, per­haps the elec­tion of Obama has cre­ated a bit of a shift in the Daily Show’s content.

As Stewart says in the inter­view, he shouldn’t have to be the one respon­si­ble for ask­ing these kinds of ques­tions and pub­li­ciz­ing these facts. Despite the fact that it’s depress­ing that it is a com­edy show that is tak­ing this hard stance on ques­tions of jour­nal­ism, it is refresh­ing to see some­one actu­ally sit some­one down and truly ques­tion them. Furthermore, it appears that peo­ple will actu­ally lis­ten to this kind of inter­view too. The audi­ence was enter­tained in the way that Stewart tore Cramer apart and also seemed to be actu­ally inter­ested in the infor­ma­tion both men were talk­ing about.

It’s time for reporters, media, and the gen­eral pop­u­lous to stop mak­ing the excuse that peo­ple don’t want to lis­ten to or read hard jour­nal­ism. It’s clear that they do, it just has to be done in the right way. Perhaps if more media insti­tu­tions actu­ally cre­ated con­tent like this then they wouldn’t have as many prob­lems attract­ing an audience.

U.S. and North Korea

One of the things that frus­trates me most about the United States and it’s for­eign pol­icy (under Clinton, Bush, and now Obama) is the ridicu­lous hypocrisy that’s per­va­sive. This comes from an arti­cle on the BBC:

Referring to spec­u­la­tion Pyongyang was prepar­ing to test-fire a long-range mis­sile, Mrs Clinton said the US viewed any such tests as provocative.

We don’t com­ment on intel­li­gence mat­ters but it is clear that under the United Nations that under the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718, North Korea is required to sus­pend all activ­i­ties related to its bal­lis­tic programme.

I’m tired of us and other Western pow­ers get­ting away with mis­sile tests and nuclear stock­piles and yet some­how expect­ing other coun­tries to do what we say and not what we do. This was the kind of diplo­matic hypocrisy that I was hop­ing Obama would end.

Link via BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Clinton urges N Korean dia­logue.

Removing the filibuster

In an arti­cle the The Atlantic Matthew Yglesias writes that:

Democrats no doubt see that more clearly today. Since 2006, when they won majori­ties in both the House and the Senate, their approval rat­ings have plum­meted, in large part because mod­er­ates and lib­er­als have noticed their inabil­ity to get much of any­thing done. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tried to blame “the obstruc­tion­ism of the Republicans,” but real­is­ti­cally, one can hardly blame Senate Republicans for obstruct­ing leg­is­la­tion they oppose. The fault lies not with the obstruc­tion­ists, but with the pro­ce­dural rule that facil­i­tates obstruc­tion. In short, with the filibuster—a dubi­ous tra­di­tion that encour­ages sen­a­tors to act as spoil­ers rather than leg­is­la­tors, and that has locked the polit­i­cal sys­tem into semi­per­ma­nent paral­y­sis by ensur­ing that impor­tant deci­sions are end­lessly deferred. It should be done away with.

In short, I agree with him here. Congressional lead­ers accom­plish far too lit­tle dur­ing their years in office and I think that remov­ing any incen­tive for them to delay leg­is­la­tion and become even more unpro­duc­tive ought to be removed. In addi­tion, we as a pop­u­lous need to be more demand­ing of our con­gress­men (and women) and hold them account­able for not accom­plish­ing anything.

Read the orig­i­nal Yglesias arti­cle (which is very good, and short for an Atlantic piece) here.

Foucault and Punishment

In “Discipline and Punish” he writes:

It was as if the pun­ish­ment was thought to equal, if not exceed, in sav­agery the crime itself, to accus­tom the spec­ta­tors to a feroc­ity from which one wished to divert them, to show them the fre­quency of crime, to make the exe­cu­tioner resem­ble a crim­i­nal, judges mur­der­ers, to reverse roles at the last moment, to make the tor­tured crim­i­nal an object of pity or admiration.

Just found that inter­est­ing in light of all of these dis­cus­sion con­cern­ing the clos­ing of Guantanamo Bay and the United States’ role in extra­di­tion and torture.