Archive for September 1st, 2009

Who Watches The Watchmen?

In the process of taking Joe Klein to the woodshed for being a tool and impugning his patriotism, Glenn Greenwald sums up in a few paragraphs what I’ve been trying to say for the past few years:

Establishment journalists have a very significant impact on the world.  They enthusiastically believe that to be true when it comes time to building their egos and establishing their own importance, but they instantly and emphatically deny it when it comes time to holding them accountable for what they do (don’t you have anything better to do than criticize the media?).  Their influence, thankfully, has eroded and continues to erode by the minute, but it’s still substantial.  That’s why entire industries exist, and vast resources are expended by the powerful and wealthy, to manage, manipulate and control what they say.

What they do and how they think matters.  They’re the filters through which the citizenry hears about and understands the actions of the government.  They can illuminate or deceive, disrupt or enable wrongdoing by the powerful, refute or amplify propaganda, expand or narrow the scope of accepted ideas.  They play a major role in whether we start wars, torture people, live under lawless leaders, maintain massive wealth disparities, allow a tiny group of corporations to own and control government. They constantly go on TV.  Their claims are aired to millions.  They’re given access to the most powerful people.  They’re the public face and voice of the largest and most powerful corporations in the world. They’re paid a lot of money.

It’s every bit as legitimate — and as vital — to hold them accountable as it is political officials themselves.  Far more than they are “outsiders,” they are now appendages of — spokespeople for — the political and financial establishment itself, as much as a Cabinet Secretary or White House Chief of Staff or an official in a large corporation.  I don’t see “political officials” and “establishment journalists” as two separate groups; I view them as merged, with the latter being important facilitators of (servants to) the former (which is why they’re able so easily to switch from one to the other).  That’s why I write as much as I do about media behavior.  What I learned from the very first political controversy on which I worked intensely as a blogger (the warrantless eavesdropping scandal) — when establishment pundits (including Klein) rushed forward virtually in unison to insist that Bush had done nothing wrong by breaking the law — media behavior can’t be extricated from any issue.  It shapes and determines all of them.

The media are supposed to be one of the critical mechanisms of accountability in this country, explaining and exposing the activities of corporations and government.  But they have become their willing agents instead (although they generally only protect the government so long as the government is acting to preserve corporate interests).  So now we are in the rather absurd position of requiring an accountability mechanism for our accountability mechanism.  Awesome.

(Parenthetical thought: In a sane and just world with a straight-shooting media, would George W. Bush be an even remotely electable presidential candidate?)

September 1st, 2009 at 10:00pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Corruption/Cronyism,Media

Netroots Nation Ferlo/Massa Photoblogging

PA State Senator Jim Ferlo and Representative Eric Massa (NY-29) at the Netroots Nation closing keynote. You wouldn’t think it to look at him, but Ferlo is a total DFH.
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Jim Ferlo.

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Jim Ferlo vs. The Giant Random Head.

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Ferlo and Massa!

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Massa and Ferlo!

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Massa by himself!

September 1st, 2009 at 06:15pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Netroots Nation,People,Photoblogging

At Long Last, Some Sense Of Decency

Wow, so there’s at least one conservative who finds the crazy right-wing teabagger fringe embarrassing:

This is just hideously embarrassing for the Right.

[T]he Web site says that the government is considering Nazi-like concentration camps for dissidents. Jerome Corsi, the author of “The Obama Nation,” an anti-Obama book, says that a proposal in Congress “appears designed to create the type of detention center that those concerned about use of the military in domestic affairs fear could be used as concentration camps for political dissidents, such as occurred in Nazi Germany.”

In the 1960’s, William F. Buckley denounced the John Birch Society leadership for being “so far removed from common sense” and later said “We cannot allow the emblem of irresponsibility to attach to the conservative banner.”

The Birthers are the Birchers of our time, and WorldNetDaily is their pamphlet.  The Right has mostly ignored these embarrassing people and organizations, but some people and organizations inexplicably choose to support WND through advertising and email list rental or other collaboration.  For instance, I have been told that F.I.R.E (The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) – an otherwise respectable group that does important work – uses the WND email list.  They should stop.

No respectable organization should support the kind of fringe idiocy that WND peddles.  Those who do are not respectable.

Good luck convincing the rest of the right, Mr. Henke – they all seem to find the teabaggers either awesome, useful, harmless, or too terrifying to oppose, it’s hard to tell which.  (“That was a real good thing you done, Teabaggers, real fine…”)

I just hope he’s right about how badly the nuts discredit the Republican Party – I’d love to see the GOP have to choose between pandering to the crazy base and winning elections.

September 1st, 2009 at 11:24am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Obama,Politics,Republicans

Netroots Nation CLosing Keynote Photoblogging

Three Amigos Edition, as Adam Bonin, Arshad Hasan, and Raven Brooks all came out on stage together.

First, Adam led the audience through a surprisingly charming rendition of Frere Jacques.

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Then Raven explained some stuff.

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And then Arshad rifled through his own wallet (not pictured).

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September 1st, 2009 at 07:13am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Netroots Nation,People,Photoblogging,Rabid Lambs

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