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Political Books






Religious Books -- Not Fundamentalist!

The Fundamentalist Xtians should not be allowed to hijack the language of Christianity. They are at least as much heretics to Christianity as the Arians and Gnostics of early Christian days.




Biblical inerrancy is not possible.


The books both above and below show the limitations of language and the impossibility of Biblical Inerrancy.

How can language be misused? Using General Semantics, this book was Written to explain Nazi propaganda and still used as a textbook


Books - Popular Math, Post Enlightenment & Science

This book explains why the above books on Christian Fundamentalism are politically important in America today.


Modern Society measures risk & predicts possible futures. The book below is a higly readable history of insurance, statistics and modern financial instruments.

Compare this to religion, in which it is presumed that the perfect society was known in the past and all that is necessary to do is to return to that perfect society.


Fascinating, highly readable and fun book on modern mathematics and its limitations. If you are interested in ideas, this is your book!

This is a collection of Hofstader's Scientific American articles. Again, a very fascinationg and highly readable book, requiring no mathematical background. (Buy it used - it is one of the books that will keep disappearing.)

Older, very fascinating book on mathematical ideas. Did you know there are three kinds of infinity?


Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Jon Stewart explains the Jane Harman wiretapping story
OK. We've Got Rep. Jane Harman who wanted to be the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, an alleged Israeli spy who wanted two accused AIPAC members accused of spying on America gotten off the hook and ... Oh heck. Just watch the Jon Stewart video. It's too complicated for me to write about.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Your Government Not at Work - Jane Harman Scandal
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisFirst 100 Days


Add to all that, there is a question regarding why this whole story is being pushed out right now. Josh Marshall suggests "keep an eye on the developing reporting and commentary pointing to a lot of this being tied to former DCI Porter Goss's personal axe to grind with Harman."

This is just another day at the office for the Courtiers in Versailles Washington D.C. Villagers. Maybe if, like in the days of the Bourbon monarch's court, the Courtiers Villagers are sufficiently tied up in meaningless intrigues then they won't bother the rest of us much or successfully organize a coup.


Addendum 9:06 pm
Zachary Roth at TPM Muckraker adds to the evidence that the attacks on Jane Harman are coming from people aligned with Porter Goss, the former CIA director.

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posted by Richard @ 11:58 AM   0 comments
The Swine Flu in Mexico and in the U.S.
There are a lot of questions about Swine Flu, but a really big one is "Why is the death rate from the flu so high in Mexico and not anywhere else? The Wall Street Journal offers an interesting analysis. Here's a fast summary of the factors the Journal reports:
  • The virus is the same in both Mexico and in the U.S., so the difference is NOT the virus itself.
  • The virus started in Mexico, so that country is further into the development of the spread of the flu.
  • Mexico city sits at a high altitude and has smoggy air. The early development and spread of the flu was masked by normal frequent winter colds with fever and throat infections that occur there.
  • A lot of flu victims thought they had a normal winter cold, so they delayed a day or so going to the doctor. Then the doctors, with no warning that a flu was going around, often misdiagnosed the illness. The delays allowed it to develop into pneumonia.
  • Since the medical profession in Mexico did not have advance warning that there was a flu going around, it was not diagnosed early. The U.S. has the advantage that our medical professions have had an earlier warning of the flu, so it will likely be diagnosed earlier. The higher mortality rate in Mexico may be largely because neither the medical profession nor the patients were aware of the level of the threat
  • The problem may also be cultural. Many Mexican, especially the poor, depend on public hospitals, so they wait for a few days after getting ill to see of it really is severe enough to require going to a doctor. In the meantime they medicate themselves. This is easier since antibiotics are available without a prescription. This allowed the flu to develop and spread more widely before being recognized.
  • Then there is the fact that going to one of Mexico's public hospitals takes hours or even days to get to see a doctor. The public health care simply isn't funded as well as it would be in a more developed country.
  • Once inside a hospital, the hospital workers complain that they don't have the safety equipment necessary to deal with highly infectious patients.
It's an interesting analysis of the problem. Overall the set of problems that have led to the size of the flu problem in Mexico is a combination of the fact that Mexico is the first nation to be struck by it, the public health care system in Mexico is poorly funded so it did not quickly recognized the problem (the public health Intelligence system is clearly not as developed as in a developed nation with decently funded universal health care) nor did it have all the resources needed to contain it, and the general public simply does not have a close attachment to the medical system except in clear cases of more extreme illnesses for both cultural and financial reasons.

I notice that the Wall Street Journal's article does NOT address the fact that the death rate among working age individuals age 16 to 45 is especially high. This is worrisome, since these individuals are expected to be the most healthy, and this is a pattern followed by the extremely deadly 1918 Hong Kong flu.

It's my speculation that here in the U.s. we have the advantage of the a early warning that came out of Mexico about the existence of the flu, the further advantage that our public health Intelligence system is much better funded and quite a bit larger with respect to our population, and the U.S. has stronger medical regulations so that patients are more certain where and how they can get medical help when they feel they need it.

We will probably see the flu strike largely in the uninsured American population first, incubate there because patients don't have the funds or the time to seek medical help, then it will spread to the more affluent population. Texas, with it's border on that of Mexico and with its 25% of the population without health care will be hit worse by the flu than other states with better medical systems. But just as the flu spreads from Mexico into the American border states and finds unprotected populations there, it will then spread within the U.S. to the more medically advanced states. That's the development pattern I will expect.

If that sounds like I am making an argument for universal U.S. healthcare, you read it correctly. But I don't think it is so much me making that argument as it is the Swine Flu.


Some additional information about the Swine Flu.
  • MSNBC reports that there are presently 91 cases of swine flu reported in 10 states. One toddler has died from the flu. The CDC is considering raising the pandemic alert to phase 5. The pandemic alert is a measure of how rapidly an infectious disease is spreading. The highest level is phase 6.

  • MSN Health reports that the possibility that Swine flu is incubated in factory farms is being taken seriously by the experts and is being investigated.

  • MSN Health also has an article posted that debunks some common rumors floating around about the Swine Flu. It's worth reading.

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posted by Richard @ 11:04 AM   0 comments
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Welcome to the conservative Republican fantasy world
Steve Benen caught a beautiful example of conservative Republican fantasy.
This afternoon, Sanchez was interviewing Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), arguably the chamber's most conservative member, about the shrinking Republican Party, and whether the GOP's hard-right agenda is driving away mainstream voters. "Quite the opposite," DeMint said. "We're seeing across the country right now that the biggest tent of all is the tent of freedom."

"What the hell does that mean?" Sanchez asked. "The 'biggest tent' is 'freedom'? Freedom? You've got to do better than that!"

In response, DeMint argued that Americans are actually embracing the Republican message: "Americans who are normally not even political are coming out to 'Tea Parties' and protesting." This, DeMint suggested, is proof of the Republican message connecting with the electorate.

He wasn't kidding. The future of the GOP is Tea Baggers and the tent of freedom. It sounds like the message you might read in a greeting card written by Joe the Plumber.
Right. DeMint and his similar extreme conservatives are the same people who really don't realize that Steven Colbert is laughing at them.

About 300,000 people who came out to locations literally next door to their homes nation-wide. BIG turnout! Right. And "Freedom" is a word that has whatever meaning the speaker wants it to mean, often not the same meaning twice from the same person.

The public has spotted the scam the conservatives have been pulling, and only the most extreme hard cases even bother to come to their events now. Conservatism as we have known it since Reagan is toast, and the most extreme conservatives are blinding themselves, much like tobacco executives blind themselves to the dangers of smoking because their income depends on it and because those who do smoke are deeply addicted to the weed. Conservative leaders are similarly addicted to the perks of their leadership positions and most of them have no place to go if they lose that.

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posted by Richard @ 7:19 PM   0 comments
We are watching the end of the conservative movement.
The media is being polite. They are describing the collapse of the conservative control of the Republican Party as the "evolving of the Republican Party." What we are watching is really the death throes of conservative control of the Republicans, at least nationally. The fact that Specter has been forced to switch to the Democratic Party is just one more dead canary in the conservative coal mine.

The mechanism is, I suspect, that the conservatives have used the issue of "Who is more conservative?" as an election tool for years, much as they used the cry "Who lost China?" for years during the Cold War. They've used the cry "Who is more conservative?" since Reagan, in fact. The result is that they have elected the strongest right-wing extremists possible because they think that is the route to electoral success. It certainly mobilizes the base, especially after they allied with the evangelical religious conservatives of the Christian Coalition.

Suddenly (from their point of view) the public has realized the disastrous consequences of letting the conservatives run government and turned their back on conservatives. All except the strongest conservatives, in fact, have backed away. So have many of the evangelical conservatives. But as the moderates flake off from the Republican brand, the remaining conservatives still think this is just a bad patch and that conservatism is still the route to electoral success. Since things are going bad for them with the public, they are retreating to their strongest point - be more conservative. So the most extreme conservatives are being concentrated in the party and they are becoming more desperate, much as soldiers fighting a losing battle will.

The result is that extremists are running the party now, not the politicians. Limbaugh never compromises, and always goes for the most extreme position. So do the other talk show hosts, as do the extreme writers like Coulter. The good politicians are recognizing that won't work, but the base won't keep them in office if they don't adhere to the most extreme conservatism.

What we are watching is the death throes of the conservative movement, and they won't go quietly. They can't. Conservatism is inherently an extremist quasi-religion.

I'm at last enjoying the show. I suspect I am feeling a lot the way my parents did in 1944 when both the Germans and the Japanese were in retreat on all fronts. Neither fascist nation gave up, either. Both, if anything, became more extreme. The Kamikaze pilots are only one example of the extreme measures they took. So was the German enlisting of teenagers from the Hitler youth to defend Berlin and the German homeland behind the Rhine. So was the desperate German offensive of the Battle of the Bulge.

I do expect conservative extremism to get even worse in the near future, though. That will last until the talk show conservatives are dethroned as the effective leaders of the conservative movement.

At least, that's my current best guess.


Addendum 6:30 pm
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell thinks that Arlen Specter's switch to the Democratic Party is a threat to the country.

I guess that as an extremist conservative McConnell can't distinguish between a threat to the Republican conservatives and a threat to America.

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posted by Richard @ 4:17 PM   0 comments
Monday, April 27, 2009
Roubini on the prognosis for the economy
Dr. Nouriel Roubini, the guy who predicted that the economic bubble was going to burst over two years ago, has more to say about how long the technical Recession is going to last.
Weymouth: What do you believe is happening to the economy today?
Roubini: The rate of economic contraction you have seen in the last two quarters—6 percent annualized—is going to slow down. The optimists are already talking about the "green shoots" of spring, about economic activity becoming positive. [They say] we will have positive growth in the third quarter, and in the fourth quarter we will grow 2 percent over the previous quarter. They expect that next year, growth will go back to above 2 percent.

Compared with this optimistic consensus, I believe that the rate of economic contraction is going to slow from minus 6 percent in the last two quarters to minus 2 percent by the fourth quarter. Next year, I believe that the growth rate is going to be 0.5 percent for the U.S. average. Even if we are technically out of a recession, we are going to feel like we are in a recession. The bottom of the economy is not going to be in three months, but rather toward the beginning or middle of next year.
That was my gut feel on the subject as I perused the statistics. But I also feel that the more the talking heads provide happy talk predictions, the more contrarian it seems I should be. They are snake oil salemen and they have been repeatedly wrong. Worse, they just want to start getting people to buy whichever product they are touting this week.

I'm gonna trust Roubini.

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posted by Richard @ 2:25 PM   0 comments
Is Bush a criminal?
McCain, speaking to Bob Scheiffer on Face the Nation yesterday said that Bush is a criminal on the same level as the disgraced Richard Nixon.

Is McCain right?

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posted by Richard @ 9:03 AM   0 comments
Conservatives are inherently short-sighted and cheap.
Remember when, back in February, three Republican "centrists" pulled the $870 million from the Economic Stimulus bill because "It didn't belong there?"

Typical conservative thinking. It wasn't happening right then and the rather ignorant trio didn't understand it, so don't prepare for it. It looks a bit different now, doesn't it?

One thing government does that private enterprise cannot afford to do is to essentially stockpile individuals with in-depth training and expertise in anticipation of a foreseen but not yet current need. That is the exact reason why back in the 15th century is became clear to governments that a trained, long-term professional army would almost always defeat mercenaries who were called up only during an emergency. How long does it take to train a special forces soldier, for instance?

Xe (renamed from Blackwater) doesn't do it. They wait until the government has selected and trained the soldiers, then they go hire them when they have a contract and let them go after.

The CDC is another government function that is set up in anticipation of a major life-threatening set of threats that we hope is not current, but have to be ready for when it does occur. That's a major reason why modern industrial nations suffer less from pandemics than do third-world and developing nations.

And yes, it can be overdone. You can't be ready for every eventuality. So there is a balance, but the trio were too conservative with money and foresight. Disease and epidemic is almost as easy to predict as someones death (a certainty.) It pays to be ready.

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posted by Richard @ 8:41 AM   0 comments
Another scam by the bankers/money lenders
Gee. The bankers don't want to give up charging 391% interest annually from desperate poor people who get hooked on payday loans. What a surprise!

Shawn Zeller at CQ Politics writes about the status of legislation to regulate the PayDay Loan Industry.

Payday loans are just a scam to fleece low-income workers when they get into financial difficulties, and for a large number of those workers, the loans become a major part of their financial difficulties. The lenders, of course, push the loans hardest at the most desperate and least savvy. That's where the profit is.

It's like the story of Budweiser Beer. The story some two decades ago was that 5% of their customers represented 50% of their business and their profits. That left Budweiser with the interesting strategic problem that they generated massive amounts of profit that they did not know how to invest. They were pikers compared to PayDay lenders.

We used to court-martial soldiers who practiced payday lending in the military. The government has limited the interest that can now be charged of soldiers to 36% per year. The rest of America needs the same consumer protections.

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posted by Richard @ 7:27 AM   1 comments
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Here's some interesting articles about the economy and the banking system
The first one is by an automotive columnist in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram named Ed Wallace. He provides some of the clearest descriptions of the banking system I have read, and what he writes is confirmed by the other, more technical things I have been reading. This one is entitled False Prophets vs. Real Profits: What Wall Street Is Not on Main Street. It gives an interesting picture of (in part) how we got to the current economic mess. Ed has clearly ranged a bit far from reviewing the new cars that are coming out. And he gets it right.

A sample from his article:
Nobody is saying or even acknowledging it, but there’s only one set of economic numbers that will prove that this downturn has reached its bottom, that the long climb back to financial health has started in earnest. Those numbers will not be found in the nightly news concerning where the Dow Jones or the S&P 500 ended the day. Nor will we find them in the closing price of West Texas Intermediate Crude, accompanied by commentary explaining why oil should be that high – or that a high price is the looked-for indication that things will pick up in the last half of the year.

No, what those three indicators actually show is that far too much cash in our financial system is still chasing paper profits. Money is sitting on the sidelines waiting to be plowed back into the markets, where other investors and groups then pour their money back in and the rising tide of equities and commodities makes even more money – for a relatively small group of Americans.
The second is a description of how the current Secretary of Treasury, Timothy Geithner, thinks. He is probably the most critical man in the economy today, and he is willing to try extreme measures. This current situation is way out there in unknown land, so he is exactly what Obama and the nation needs. It's entitled Member and Overseer of the Finance Club .

Here is a sample from the article:
In a pair of recent interviews and an exchange of e-mail messages, Mr. Geithner defended his record, saying that from very early on, he was “a consistently dark voice about the potential risks ahead, and a principal source of initiatives designed to make the system stronger” before the markets started to collapse.

Mr. Geithner said his actions in the bailout were motivated solely by a desire to help businesses and consumers. But in a financial crisis, he added, “the government has to take risk, and we are going to be doing things which ultimately — in order to get the credit flowing again — are going to benefit the institutions that are at the core of the problem.”
Then we get the story of what is happening politically in Iceland because the banks collapsed there. Not really very different from what happened here, but on a much smaller scale.
REYKJAVIK, Iceland — It is a tale of light and dark — of a small but rugged country far from anywhere that has suffered as severely as any in the developed world at the hands of buccaneering free-marketeers, but which is now slowly digging itself out from the financial wreckage.

An important milestone was reached on Saturday, when the country’s voters went to the polls to elect a new government, three months after riotous street protests over the country’s banking collapse forced the country’s conservative-led administration from office.

With about a third of the final vote counted late Saturday, it seemed that the country’s leftist caretaking government would be formally voted into power, with the Social Democrats projected to gain 22 seats and their partners, the Left-Greens, appearing to gain 13 seats in the 63-seat Parliament. The conservative Independent Party, ousted after a wave of demonstrations in January, was projected to gain just 14 seats with less than 23 percent of the vote, down considerably from its total in 2007. Final results are to be announced on Sunday.

The conservatives were one of the first governments anywhere to lose office because of the global financial crisis, and it seemed clear Saturday that voters in this country of 320,000 were imposing a further reckoning.

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posted by Richard @ 10:38 PM   0 comments
Obama's rapid actions and his multiple balancing acts
Obama has had a breathtaking first 100 days as President. Is he trying to start tackling all the major problems that the Bush administration ignored for 8 years? Could be. The worst Recession (very probably the direct result of Bush administration policies and lack of government action) since the Great Depression has clearly made such a breathtaking pace necessary.

But don't listen to me. Robert Reich has an excellent post in which he describes many of the Obama initiatives and lays out some of the most risky balancing acts that Obama is having to take.

It's a very good compendium of where the Obama administration is right now. Go read it.

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posted by Richard @ 4:19 PM   0 comments
Why are the Republican leaders so irrational?
What we are watching is a battle between conservative True Believers and social scientists. The True Believers trust great leaders who decide things in secret, then impose their decisions. The believers in the social sciences like us believe that the modern social sciences working openly and publicly, coupled with good historical research of the economy and with government experiments in social engineering is a better way to operate.

Why is government the center of the battle?

I contend that the U.S. Constitution is a blueprint for government by social scientists. One indicator that I am right is the way that the Bush administration has violated the Constitution and side-tracked the Rule of Law that works to enact the provisions of the Constitution.

So we all are asking why the Republican leadership is so clearly irrational and so obviously ignore clear indisputable facts. Let me offer a reason, one I consider likely.

Who are these irrational conservative leaders?

The Republican leaders are deeply committed conservatives. They believe in their very bones that the worldview pushed in conservative propaganda is TRUE.

I think they see the current economic downturn as normal and inevitable. It is a real bad patch for the holders of the conservative worldview because their worldview includes faith that there simply is nothing that can be done to prevent such downturns, and that in fact efforts to stop the economic downturn or even to alleviate its effects will be counterproductive.

Why do the conservatives think they should enforce their views on the rest of us?

The current conservative leaders see themselves as leaders who are right. They know they understand what is really happening better than the rest of us do. It's just that they are unpopular and being relegated to the wilderness. Since they are True Believers and know they are right, they are certain that if they stick to their faith, events will in the end justify them and they will return with more power than ever before. Because they are RIGHT and they know it.

What leads them to believe that this is an effective way of acting?

Traditionally, many Christian Saints achieved their sainthood for such clear unwavering strength of character to hold onto their faith.

It looks to me as though the current Republican leaders consist of both religious and secular strong believers with this view. They live in mostly self-isolated groups of their own kind and reinforce each other. Socially I would guess that the conservative movement resembles movements like that of the Catholic Franciscans or the Jesuits. [Both of those were externally financed, as are the modern conservatives.] [Historical analogies are always very imperfect, but they provide an explanatory narrative not otherwise easily obtained. Use with great care.]

So what's next? How do we react to the conservatives?

I don't think that we can expect rationality and fact-based thinking from the conservative leadership. They are the product of the conservative "mob" and they have to cater to that mob to continue in their leadership positions. That's as true of Limbaugh as it is of Sen. Jim Inhofe (R - OK) or Rep. John Boehner (R - OH).

Those conservative leaders see their role as leaders who hold the banner of their faith high as they trudge through the wilderness. They expect that the (uncontrollable) events will turn around and justify them. Then they will return to national leadership with greatly enhanced reputations for having suffered to expose The Truth. The secular conservative leaders look back to their myth of the way Winston Churchill was rehabilitated by the crisis of WW II. Their supporters want them to do exactly that.

So we have to convince the so-called Independents that they are simply wrong. Then we have to battle back against the True Believers who are trying to impress their views on all the rest of us. We aren't going to reach or convert the True Believers.

The True Believers are waiting for Obama to fail. They are convinced that Obama's failure is inevitable because he is attempting the impossible. They know that government cannot successfully prevent, ward off or shorten a Recession or Depression, and when the current one returns, so will they.

We better have an Army of Economists and researchers figuring out what really is happening. Knowledge, not Great Leaders, is the key to dealing with this. [Of course, Obama will be considered a Great Leader if he can orchestrate the knowledge and appropriate reactions to the current economic crisis.] History of the Great Depression is important. But so is modern economic model-making. Both must be accompanies with real, wide-open scientific discussion which is not hobbled by conservatives who refuse to listen to opposition.

Social Science better come through with some answers that work, or the True Believers will be back to enforce their ideologies on the rest of us.

Why are the conservative Republican leaders acting so irrationally?

They can't act any other way and have their conservative political base keep them in their leadership roles. If they act rationally and try to actually govern instead of trying to use government to impose Conservatism on America, then their base will replace them. And some of them have drunk the Kool Aid and actually believe this stuff. But it comes down to the fact that they simply are not being permitted to act rationally.

They are in the same position as the Republican Party was in the 1930's. And for the same reasons. That's why.

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posted by Richard @ 10:36 AM   0 comments
Saturday, April 25, 2009
The Republicans are to pay a big price for refusing to support Obama's stimulus program.
Obama came into office with the expressed intent to work with the Republicans to get important legislation passed. The first real test of Republican cooperation in return to Obama's outreach was the stimulus package. So Obama and the Democrats crafted a bill that included much that was intended to get Republican Senators to vote for it.

As Steve Benen points out, Obama has not forgotten being stiffed by the Republicans after he and the Democratic Congressional leadership watered the stimulus bill down badly so that Republican Senators could vote for it and explain their vote to their constituencies at home. Instead of working with Obama, they then followed Limbaugh and provided zero Senate Republican votes for the stimulus bill.

They are going to pay for that. That's what the reconciliation plan is all about. The Republicans can still work with Obama and get some of what they want in Health care, and pass a universal healthcare bill within the next six months. If they don't cooperate, then the Democrats go the reconciliation route and pass an all-Democrat plan.

My bet is that the Republicans are so crazed that they will follow Rush Limbaugh instead of work for the good of the American people and work with Obama.

There is a reason why the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) chair Senator John Cornyn has said he did not think that the Republicans were going to keep a 40 Senator minority in 2010. Their radical conservative base won't let them compromise conservative principles even if that is politically suicidal. The marginal Senators who are up for reelection have a choice, much as does Senator Arlen Spector. They can run to win the general election but lose the primary and never get there, or they can cater to their conservative base, get the nomination, and be defeated by the Democrats supported by the Independent voters.

In my example, Senator Spector's other choice is to turn Democrat and see if he can win the nomination there. If he could win that, he can probably win reelection in the general election, but the Republicans still lose the Senate seat.

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posted by Richard @ 5:52 PM   0 comments
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Why are all the newspapers collapsing?
David Love has some ideas what's wrong. Here are some of my favorites:
I would suggest some additional reasons that some newspapers have failed. Too often, they simply have not served their readers, and the product, like a GM car, has lost its appeal. Many news companies— not just papers, but TV as well—are owned by corporate conglomerates and entertainment companies. This reality is reflected in the softball, celebrity gossip orientation of many so-called news outlets. Governed by the bottom line and cost-cutting measures, these papers have eliminated their City Hall beat reporters, and other reporters who are in tune with the pulse of a given city. In the absence of seasoned journalists who can actually report on anything, because those people were already laid off, these newspapers become a collection of news wires and press releases, in a pamphlet. And who is paying for that when you can read it online?

The damage has been done in terms of the giant pass that the news media have taken on the important issues of the day. During the Iraq War, the mainstream media took the opportunity to act as nationalistic cheerleaders, the propaganda arm of the Bush White House— beating the drums of war and almost celebrating the thousands upon thousands of deaths that would inevitably occur.

As cheerleaders for corporate America, the mainstream press fell asleep on the Wall Street crisis. Over-caffeinated blowhard snake-oil salesmen posing as business journalists were in abundance during the heyday of the financial sector. But where were the probing exposés on the problems of deregulation, and the thoughtful analyses on the consequences of gluttony on Wall Street?

Even as we speak, what about coverage on the thwarted assassination plots against President Obama? Or a meaningful discussion on the malicious and deleterious effects of U.S. drug policy? How about a substantive debate in the mainstream news about the madness that represents America’s gun policy, and the lethal combination of gun proliferation, economic recession and untreated mental illness—of individuals and of the society— that plays itself out in communities throughout the country?

Well, many newspapers and other corporate news venues will not offer and have not offered such valuable content. Their game is trifling and sloppy. So if they die, it wouldn’t be too soon, as they provided us little benefit in the first place. That is why people increasingly turn to independent news sources
One that David mentions that I suspect may be a really critical component is the fact that the papers I know of did quit doing City Hall and around the town coverage and replaced it with stuff like E! TV coverage of entertainment. As David says "Governed by the bottom line and cost-cutting measures, these papers have eliminated their City Hall beat reporters, and other reporters who are in tune with the pulse of a given city."

I think this became a lot worse when the Reagan administration stopped enforcing anti-trust and explicitly permitted local city newspapers to buy out and shut down their competitors. The result was no competition. Newspapers no longer had to spend money providing news their readers really wanted about their towns and cities. Instead they became boosters for whichever developers had taken over city hall during the last election and the newspapers pushed the latest great economic development plan - usually tourism or bringing conventions to town.

The result is that we are rapidly losing the journalistic expertise those newspapers built up over the years, what few elements of it their corporate masters had left to them after the last rounds of cost-cutting.

It's a dammed shame. It really looks like Capitalists and their accountants cannot manage a successful newspaper.

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posted by Richard @ 11:58 PM   1 comments
It's time to proscute the war criminals who approved and conducted torture.
Glenn Greenwald has been through the torture memos which were released yesterday as a result of a freedom of information lawsuit in which the government lost. Glenn displays some of the most egregious parts of the memos, then states:
Needless to say, I vehemently disagree with anyone -- including Obama -- who believes that prosecutions are unwarranted. These memos describe grotesque war crimes -- legalized by classic banality-of-evil criminals and ordered by pure criminals -- that must be prosecuted if the rule of law is to have any meaning. But the decision of whether to prosecute is not Obama's to make; ultimately, it is Holder's and/or a Special Prosecutor's.
I agree. For the Rule of Law in a Constitutional America to be continued, the Americans who authorized and conducted these war crimes must be prosecuted for their crimes. Otherwise, the American Republic given to us by the Founding Fathers (who wrote the Constitution to be the basis of law by which is would be governed, depending on the courts to guarantee the enforcement of the law and the Constitution) is gone.

Bush didn't know what he was doing, but he turned the government over to Dick Cheney who does not want the America the founding Fathers gave us. Cheney directed that the torture be carried out. Bush also appointed his old family attorney, Albert Gonzales, as Attorney General to enforce the law. Three of the memos were written in the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel under Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez. The fourth was written in 2002 in the Office of Legal Counsel in the CIA under CIA Director George Tenet. The actual memos are posted on the ACLU site:
  • 18-page memo, dated August 1, 2002, from Jay Bybee, Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA.
  • A 46-page memo, dated May 10, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA.
  • A 20-page memo, dated May 10, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA.
  • A 40-page memo, dated May 30, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA.
The names I have highlighted above are criminals. They should be prosecuted.

By not prosecuting the attorneys who justified the clear War Crimes and not prosecuting the individuals who carried out the crimes justified by John Yoo and his fellow lawyers, the Bush administration will have destroyed the Constitutional Republic of America given to us and fought for by Veterans through two centuries. We have to act to save our national legacy.

The first step is to appoint the public prosecutor. The time for that step is now!



The ACLU has posted the torture memos on their website.


Adendum: April 16, 2009 11:15 PM Digby has a blog post on Hullabaloo That provides a great deal more information on the Bush Administration torture program. Among other things, it reminded me that the John Yoo authored and Jay Bybee signed the 2002 memo that unleashed the CIA torture program. She also goes into its use on Zubaydah as well as how effective it was.

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posted by Richard @ 8:07 PM   0 comments
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The single most important essay that I have published here is Rule of Law vs. Arbitrary Command.

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