Thursday, January 31, 2008

The First Anniversary of Blogroll Amnesty Day

Jon Swift sent me an e-mail - February third is the first anniversary of blogroll amnesty day.

I'm glad to say he doesn't just consider it an occassion for whining and complaining, but he wants to kick off an annual celebration of the power of smaller blogs. His e-mail doesn't mention liberal or progressive blogs specifically, which might seem odd at first. No large conservative blogs were involved in blogroll amnesty day as such. It was a few big 'liberal' bloggers who declared they wanted their blogroll to consist of bloggers they actually read - and who don't seem to be looking for interesting new blogs to read now that they are established. Not only is this their priviledge, it may be a good thing for the left side of the blogosphere in the long run. Atrios and Markos couldn't read each good small Progressive blog for long enough to pick out the superb ones even if they wanted to. The job has to be crowdsourced, largely to the people who are hoping to be among the discovered.

Of course the same applies to the right - but not all conservative bloggers realize it. Yes, Reynolds reads the blogs on his blogroll, and if one of them links to someone he might pick it up and give a new blog an Instalanch. In the main, hoping for something like that is rather like hoping to win the lottery instead of engaging in financial planning. Who knows what will catch his eye? Even if he agrees with you about most things a loves the way you express it, he probably won't realize it until he's seen several links to you on blogs he respects. You may not get an Instalanch until you're well known anyhow.

In the next week or so I'm going to expand my blogroll again. When I post about something I'll use google and technorati to see what's worth linking to. Mostly though, there are three linking blogs so good I refer people to them instead.

The Sideshow is a great place for an overview of the left side of the blogosphere. Avedon Carol must get a lot of e-mail, but if you link to her and wait patiently she will eventually notice and look you over. Give her a hat tip and blog about the most interesting things you find there. Participate in the discussion in her comments section. After awhile you could send her a link to one of your best posts, and there are no guarantees but I imagine she'll at least take a look.

If we're concerned about blogroll amnesty day you probably know Skippy already. Not only does he link to anyone who links to him, he also offers 'Say Hello' front page coverage! I don't know if he ever takes links from e-mail, but he looks over the blogs that post about his articles and participate in the discussions in his comment section.

Monkeyfister wins the award for most awards awarded to small progressive blogs. Join the community, get to know Monkeyfister and the blogs that already link there, and you'll be in time for next year. Oh yea, follow the link next to the Incivility Certification, there's some good thinking there even if you don't accept it all.

Hullabaloo doesn't link quite as much to small bloggers as the other blogs, but the links that do occur are part of thoughtful and interesting posts. Crooks and Liars has a Friday roundup which is relaively small, but being linked there is the equivilant of a highbrow Instalanch.

I don't think I can compete as a linking blog in general, so here's what I'd like to do. If anyone's managed to get in a witty debate with a conservative blog I'd like to hear about it and link to it. We'll make people forget there ever was a Reynolds - Greenwald feud! I started by reading this, though I guess you don't have to be a potty mouth if you don't want to.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I had a remarkable dialog

Say hello to Jason Williscroft of the Dead Hand Journal! I had a remarkable discussion with him on the comment section of his blog. I think his final comment pretty much gives you the flavor of it. As usual, the link text is also quoted text, linking back to his blog.

I'm going to assume that you mean "amusing" in that particular GOTCHA fashion we reserve for people who comment about books they haven't read, right?

Sure, why not. Of course, as long as we're being very clear about our premises, here's another one: your amusement must also be predicated on the oh-so-common liberal assumption that no thing could possibly be related to anything else... at least not if it sheds a negative light on a nutty liberal idea.

Thus, we must extol the virtues of urban planning while carefully avoiding the demonstrable fact that the problems it purports to solve were all caused by... urban planning! We must take great care to limit our CO2 emissions, despite the fact that it's been conclusively demonstrated that global warming causes a rise in CO2 levels, not the other way around.

And, of course, we couldn't possibly operate under the assumption that the ideas in Albright's most recent tome are the same ones she has consistently espoused throughout her entire, lackluster career. That WOULD be amusing, wouldn't it?

I would have to study urban planning before commenting on it. Until then, I won't insist he extol it. Why would I? Nah, on second thought it might be fun to watch. Extol you must, as you say.

Did you say it's been conclusively proven a rise in CO2 levels did not cause global warming? I'd like to know where. I saw some research indicating temperatures had often risen in past eras before CO2 started to rise. It didn't purport to prove CO2 didn't and wouldn't cause global warming, but only that global warming from other sources often started the initial CO2 increase. You must have seen some different research than I.

Well, it's reasonably likely that Madeline Albright espouses the same ideas she has expoused previously, though it doesn't always happen. Myself I prefer to read books before commenting on them. At any rate I will try to read most of your blog posts before commenting on them. In case it turns out the ideas are pretty much the same as you've been espousing through your blogging career, I hope you'll at least bring out some of the wit you used against Mr. Torgerson on occasion, so there need be none of the accusations of lackluster you level against the hapless Albright.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Avoiding a hard choice

If victory in Iraq is really possible, it is highly desirable. McCain is the only cheerleader of the Iraqi war I might consider voting for. He may have supported Bush against the anti-war people, but he's also pointed out that Bush wasn't doing enough. He's really about victory, not just sticking it to liberals.

This doesn't prove that victory is possible. The Iraqi's have passed a law allegedly meant to pacift the Sunnis - which was strongly opposed by the Sunnis. We have no leverage over the Shia government. We can't tell them we'll leave if they refuse to cooperate, because the only leaders who don't say we should leave as fast as possible say any talk of leaving (or that there are serious problems) is capitulation to the terrorists - and to Democrats. The Shias fear the Anbar Awakening militias will ultimately turn against the central government and or the Shia. If they are wrong their distrust will eventually provoke the Sunnis. If they are right that is even worse news.

Iraq may no longer be our Vietnam. It may be our India - what India was to the British empire. One generation does fairly well, then the next generation forgets the past, then there is violence again.

In a way it is a relief to hear Republicans talking like this, as does Andy of Political Friends:

McCain is a big believer in the man-made global warming myth. McCain is a cosponsor of the Lieberman-McCain Climate Stewardship Act. This would impose many of the Kyoto type regulations on the United States without the U.S. ever signing on to to Kyoto. You may believe that climate change is happening, but the impact of a law like this on U.S. companies could be devastating. Democrats typically favor this type of global legislation, not Republicans.

McCain not only supports a higher tax burden on American citizens, he also believes in the same class warfare the Democrats resort to when they discuss taxes. McCain originally voted against the Bush tax cuts. On the campaign trail, he is saying he did this because the tax cuts weren't coupled with spending cuts. I can understand this point of view. However, originally he didn't vote for the tax cuts because they helped out "rich Americans" at the expense of the "working class". Which party does that sound like?

I don't know if it's good or bad, but this will spare me a difficult choice in November. McCain is the only candidate who has knowledge, who comes from military training and a military family, who can do more than more of the same, or hoping he chooses good advisors. It may be good - I would be tempted to believe we could win in Iraq, and if this was ever possible it may no longer be. India cost the British Empire more per capita than Vietnam cost us.

I don't believe any Republican besides McCain is likely to be elected. My main fear is that the Democrats will fail to acknowedge was is already happening because they fear to be blamed for it.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Fried squirrel

I've seen an awful lot of jokes about fried squirrel lately. Maybe some people have been wondering how Huckabee could be crazy enough to mention that on television. For many of us, it's easy to forget that trapping or shooting a squirrel can be the difference between having meat and not having meat for some of the rural poor. Nobody who was even in that situation, or knew anyone in that situation, will be impressed by the sneers.

Police at the door

A 31-year-old Spanish woman was bathing her children in her Madrid home when police showed up on her doorstep.

'You had an abortion in February 2007,' the officers said, handing her an invitation to be questioned as a witness at a police station investigating alleged irregularities at the Clinic Isadora, which terminated her pregnancy.


Groups described as neo-Nazi or ultra-conservative have attacked Madrid clinics, smashing windows, spraying walls and threatening employees or clients.

Spanish abortion clinics staged an unprecedented strike last week in protest against the attacks and what they regard as an unjustified increase in administrative inspections.

The strike was from Jan 8 to Jan 12. You would think this would have had anti-abortion activists cheering, but the clinics didn't see it that way. It certainly didn't deter this.

Is this in our future? It's hard to track down much about what happened. There are Spanish newspapers published in English, but they don't have much about this. This article was supplied to Big News Network by the Indo-Asian News Service. Somehow they feel more like talking about it in English than the Spanish do.

Wikipedia lists a few countries where abortion is outlawed under all circumstances. They don't all have freedom of the press, so who knows what goes on there. It seems the most dangerous places are not always those with the strictest laws, but those where they have the most popular support.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The secret to keeping Pakistani nukes safe

I've seen a lot in the mainstream press about Pakistan, the dangers of extremism and political repression. If I just read the usual suspects I never would have found out about the flour shortages, and the role they may play in destabalizing Pakistan.

High-level meeting on flour crisis, from Dawn.

From Worldnews, Flour crisis persists despite govt's tall claims

Another article from Dawn, Protest held against flour crisis

There are a couple of articles about wheat shortages too.

Could keeping Pakistan stable be as simple as sending them food?

Sunday, January 13, 2008


I'm not endangering National Security here - wikileaks is already well known and has been mentioned in major media.

According to the about page, Wikileaks is developing an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis. Our primary interest is in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to people of all regions who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations.

Further down they say:

Who is behind Wikileaks?
Wikileaks was founded by Chinese dissidents, journalists, mathematicians and startup company technologists, from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa.

Our public Advisory Board, which is still in formation, includes courageous journalists, representatives from refugee communities, ethics and anti-corruption campaigners, including a former national head of Transparency International, human rights campaigners, lawyers and cryptographers.

There are currently over 1,200 registered volunteers, but we need more people involved at an organizational level.

and further down still:

Why are the Wikileaks founders anonymous?
Most people who are involved with Wikileaks are not anonymous, however, the founders (and obviously our sources) remain anonymous. Our reasons are:

Some of us are refugees from repressive countries with families still in those countries.
Some of us are journalists who may be banned from entering these countries for work if our affiliation was known.
Additionally, given that some must be anonymous for reasons outside of their control, an imbalance of representation and exposure is threatened unless all founders remain anonymous. Furthermore, the effort to encourage anonymous sources to release material to the public is enhanced by an ability to empathise via solidarity in anonymity. Anonymity also demonstrates motivation by goals higher than reputation seeking.

You do find some names, including some authentic Chinese dissidents, if you dig around. Yet the lions share of the leaks seem to be from the United States government. Not quite what you'd anticipate from the reasons given. That doesn't prove anything, and even if it did it wouldn't show who. Maybe someone than me can investigate more systematically.

I have a hunch though. Who has been very clever at using computers against the United States? Who has been working hard to control the internet?

So maybe China. The site says they do ban Wikileaks inside China, and I believe it, but that doesn't mean they don't use or even sponsor it.

So I searched for Wikileaks about China. In comparison to the scads of stuff from the United States, there were only a handful. Fair enough, it's harder and more dangerous to leak stuff from there - although you would think those Chinese dissidents would give this section a leg up. With the (possible) exception of a document I found in Chinese, everything seems to have been leaked to other places before appearing on Wikileaks. Original documents from our military have appeared there. Hmmmm.

This could possibly be bad. I wish I could say the end result would be a more honest USA having an advantage over a repressive China, but selective leaking manipulated by China, perhaps even extortion of the American government, could be harmful indeed to my country.

Is this worth having our government forget about net neutrality, legislate as best it can to reduce the violence to our legal system (the constitution is not a suicide pact) and close this down at all costs? Nothing I've seen so far would justify the costs of that.

So the CIA has to start thinking what Chinese documents can and should be leaked. I think a greater portion of their intelligence is focused on us than visa versa, but if this is assymetrical warfare, I hope we're already preparing for it.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Oh no!

My husband and I are both registered Democrats. With the Primary here in New York in the horizon, we are still undecided. Well at least for me, because the husband is vocal in telling me that he may not cast his vote, as his heart doesn’t beat for any of the Democratic candidates. His heart is beating for someone else although, the man hasn’t declared his bid for the White House yet.

Bloomberg is a good mayor, but he'll only be a spoiler for the Democrats.

In New York we don't usually worry about this

When we hear about snow in New York, we're usually worried about driving to work, or kids going to school. In the Colorado river basin its different.

Major storms erased fear of another dry winter across much of the state, as snowpack readings increased from near record lows in early December to near record highs by the end of the month.

"Going into the end of November, it was very touch and go - drought conditions were redeveloping over the eastern plains, and snowfall in the mountains was much less than average," Nolan Doesken, state climatologist and senior research associate at Colorado State University, said.

"Weather patterns changed abruptly. We went from being dangerously dry and warm to being back on track for an average winter."


With as much as 80 percent of Colorado surface water originating from melting snowpack, it's critical the state receive adequate winter snowfall, officials said.

This is good news, but I doubt all those state officials who were carefully negotiating shares of river water a few months ago will stop worrying.

It seems that after a few years of Global Warming coming faster than forcast, we may have a few years of slower than forcast warming, sure to be misinterpreted - even before they happen:

Global Warming: I wrote last year that I thought global warming had hit its high point. I don't mean the temperatures, I mean the fanatical discussion surrounding it. While there are still many many faithful believers, I think many people have had their eyes opened during the last year. I see more and more articles by Fox News, CNN, and the mainstream media discussing the other side of the argument. I think in the years to come, 2008 may be looked at as the time global warming stopped being considered a serious subject.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Huckenstein Who?

Skippy has put into words what many people seem to feel, both more clearly and less pretentiously than any blogger I've seen yet.

quite true. rove was happy to let the fundies of this country think they had an inside track to the oval office as long as the votes were coming his way. but now that a populist evangalist is looking good to a large block of the gop base, the repubbb establishment is shaking in their boots. the last thing they need is a standard bearer that cares (or at least seems to) about the middle class.

the repubbbs have spent the last two decades doing everything they can to gut the protections for most americans and feeding the wallets of the uber-rich. you can bet that the homophobia of the fundies was simply a mask that the party of larry craig and mark foley wore to grab as much campaign contributions from the church of the holier than thou as possible.

I'm leaving the typos as they are, since only Skippy would dare leave them in.

So on the one hand many liberals agree that the Republicans have suckered the Evangelicals. We are pleased they have discovered this - because we don't like the Republicans.

Conservatives often speak sarcastically of liberal tolerence. Somehow it's a relief when some of them discover that NorthEastern conservatives sitting in the big tent disparaging multiculturalism and tolerance include Christianity (except at weddings and funerals) as one of the cultures they don't want to tolerate too much of.

And yet, I know a fair number of Christians. Almost all of them are smarter than me in some ways, and many of them are smarter than me in more ways than I am smarter than them. If the conservative pretense of being more respectful for different beliefs than we is more threadbare than ever, perhaps this would be a good time to examine our own reactions.

While reversing out position on certain issues would make no more sense than deciding Prohibition was workable after all, if we had only tried harder, perhaps we should think about the idea of liberal intolerence. It's not surprising that liberals are not so different than conservatives. We are born into the same era, and mirror each other more than we would like to admit.

One starting place would be our reaction to people mocking Islam - and people mocking Christianity. I'm not saying we shouldn't care about starting riots, or that we should change out ideas about free speech, but the two standards need to be considered together. This is one of the things which has often been mentioned by the religious right, and if we don't want the Evangelicals to feel the covert disrespect of the New York - Washington conservatives is better than the overt disrespect of liberals, we should be glad instead of sorry than there are things we can and should in all fairness improve.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Pieces of the puzzle

Glenn Greenwald has put the pieces together.

Jonah Goldberg and Glenn Reynolds warn of "social unraveling" if Obama loses

Glenn unravels the irony here layer by layer. Are they merely saying people will abandon the Democratic party? Sometimes it seems so, but Goldberg says

I think it's worth imagining a certain scenario. Imagine the Democrats do rally around Obama. Imagine the media invests as heavily in him as I think we all know they will if he's the nominee — and then imagine he loses. I seriously think certain segments of American political life will become completely unhinged. I can imagine the fear of this social unraveling actually aiding Obama enormously in 2008. Forget Hillary's inevitability. Obama has a rendezvous with destiny, or so we will be told. And if he's denied it, teeth shall be gnashed, clothes rent and prices paid.

He's supposing Obama is already the nominee, so he's not supposing the problem is African Americans abandoning the Democrats. If he's hinting at racial violence, Glenn Greenwald reminds us of real violence - in the recent past.

Instigated by an order from New York congressman John Sweeney to "shut it down," dozens of screaming GOP demonstrators pounded on doors and a picture window at elections headquarters. The canvassing board, which had already found a net Al Gore gain of 168 votes, reversed a decision it had made a couple of hours earlier to begin a tally of the undervote.

The mob gang-rushed a local Democrat carrying a blank sample ballot. They threatened that a thousand Cubans were on their way to the headquarters to stop the count. Several people were "trampled, punched or kicked," according to The New York Times. The canvassing board chair at first conceded that mob pressures played a role in the shutdown -- which cost Gore the 168 votes as well -- but later reversed his position. . . . .

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Seen on the Evangelical Outpost

Don't accuse me of quoting too much from the Evangelical Outpost - there is much more, all worth reading. Did I hallucinate this paragraph? Better check.

The Mainstream Media Ain't So Bad -- Many bloggers (including me) have a knee-jerk reaction to the mainstream media. We "just know" they have a liberal bias and that they can't be trusted to report accurately on Republicans and conservatives. If my experience is any indication, then most of what we know is "just wrong."

My job wasn't to spin the press but to present the facts for the Huckabee campaign's side of the story. I expected that I'd have the toughest time with the professional journalists but most of the reporters that I dealt with (especially Michael Luo of the New York Times and Jonathan Martin of Politico) were quite fair and always professional. Even when their coverage was cringe-inducing I rarely could fault them for being inaccurate or putting their own biases ahead of the facts.

Unfortunately, the same can not be said of the conservative media.

My rapid response list included a broad range of journalists, pundits, and bloggers and variety of outlets--everything from The New York Times to HotAir. Often they would ask me to clarify statements made by the Governor, defend claims made by the campaign, or offer evidence on a point of contention. Almost always the mainstream media from the "liberal" outlets were more fair and balanced than were the ones from the "conservative" side of the media.

Some conservative outlets, of course, were notably fair and accurate. Although he never pulled his punches, Jim Geraghty at NRO's The Campaign Spot always let me present a rebuttal to the claims of other campaigns. The same can be said for NRO's Byron York, one of the few conservative reporter/pundits that seemed more concerned about getting the facts straight than he was in shoring up the conventional wisdom of the GOP establishment.

But while there were a few other exceptions that I could praise (e.g., Terry Eastland from The Weekly Standard, Phillip Klein and Jennifer Rubin from The American Spectator, the guys at RedState), far too many of the conservative outlets refused to present any evidence that conflicted with their typical anti-Huckabee narrative.

I even sent out personal emails to a number of prominent pundits and bloggers who had criticized Huckabee for being insufficiently conservative. I told them that if they would send me a list of their grievances I'd provide a personal response from the campaign addressing their concern. My only condition was that they would post the exchange in its entirety. Not one of them took me up on my offer.

As a campaign staffer, I found such behavior frustrating. But as a consumer of conservative media I found it infuriating. There are a number of pundits, bloggers, reporters, and radio hosts that I will never trust again to be "fair and balanced."

(To clarify my last point, let me say that I had only one expectation from my fellow conservatives: that they apply the same standard to every candidate. I had no problem with a conservative pundit bashing Governor Huckabee for raising the sales tax by a penny in Arkansas…as long as they also bashed Governor Romney for raising "fees" in Massachusetts. I had no problem with their complaints that Governor Huckabee wanted to establish diplomatic relations with Iran…as long as they hammered Mayor Giuliani for the same sin. Very few even made an attempt to be consistent in their criticism. That was what I found so disappointing.)