What’s Going On, Anyway?

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Starting Saturday everything started going wrong. I won’t tell you about the drive from Manhattan to JFK, or American not giving me the upgrades that we already had. Or the incredible meal — it’s like they hire caterers who make fun of vegetarians who order special meals. But you expect to have trouble driving from Manhattan to JFK, and always, always with airlines. It’s not that…

Sunday I spilled coffee on my laptop, again. (I know, what a dick. Believe me — I’m hearing it.) And then I get a wasp sting sitting on my own couch in my own living room.

This morning I had a nice post for the weblog ready, and the Mac crashed. About a half hour wasted. I’ll try to recreate it. It was about the weather.

But here’s the best one. In the mail was a notice that my car insurance is cancelled. I call the agent this morning and find out it is because my driver’s license is suspended! To find out WHY my license is suspended requires a trip to the DMV. So I got that about 11, and got to talk to someone at about 2:30. Yes, waiting at the DMV from 11 until 2:30 to ask one question. THAT is what “cutting spending” means.

My license was suspected because I did not appear in court in July for a number of violations received in Bakersfield in March. Except I was not IN Bakersfield in March! The DMV printout had the phone number of the traffic court in Bakersfield. Call them. And by the way, if it really isn’t you it will still cost you $55 to get your license back. Don’t drive home.

So I call Bakersfield. naturally the phone system is designed to prevent you from talking to a human being, but there was a phone number given for something else, and i called that, explained and got through to someone who could look into this. It seems a David Thomas Johnson, with the same birthday as me, was ticketed for not having a driver’s license and a number of other things. So they contacted DMV, and DMV’s computer decided that David Courtney Johnson was close enough. If I send a letter to the judge with copies of my driver’s license and the DMV printout and a letter explaining, then in about 3-5 weeks they’ll get this off my DMV record.

Except the insurance agent tells me my insurance will be terminated by then. So more calls and finally they’ll try to get it straightened out with DMV in a few days…

That took ALL DAY.

Looking forward to tomorrrow.

The Mac version of Blogger doesn’t have a spelling checker. How’d I do?

Lakoff

Atrios is recommending everyone read Lakoff. Atrios has a lot of readers. My mission on the Internet may be turning a corner, entering a new phase. More on that later.

Meanwhile still no luck with the mouse button problem. It’s still stuck in the “pressed” position, and without being able to use a mouse I can’t boot my laptop past the “User/Password” screen. So maybe it’s a repair shop tomorrow… It is difficult to use Blogger with a Mac. On top of that, this morning I had a great post ready and the Mac crashed.

New phenomenon: blog spam

One of my blogs just got hit by this yesterday, and I’ve seen discussions on how to deal with this, technically, in various developer lists. Do a search for “blog spam” on Google, and you’ll find plenty of discussion about it.

Here’s one particularly extensive thread:

http://www.unix-girl.com/blog/archives/001122.html



There’s already a blacklist tool: MT-Blacklist



http://www.jayallen.org/journey/2003/10/mtblacklist_stop_spam_now

Everything old is new again?

Just what we needed. Another wholesale attack on an Internet service – it seems like the entire structure of IP based communication is now under attack… my email inbox is flooded, my IM clients have lost much of their functionality (over the past few months 95% of the “people” who’ve added me to their lists, via ICQ, have been spammers), my email lists all need to have new members moderated to prevent spam, and now I’m going to have to fight off attempts by these bastards to flood my weblogs. Great.

Heritage Foundation spamming bloggers?

According to Off the Kuff, in How clueless can you get?, the Heritage Foundation has be cause spamming bloggers… here’s a sample:

Charles,

You’ve been discovered! Tim Rutten’s Media column in today’s edition of

The Los Angeles Times is the latest example of the traditional media’s

newfound appreciation of the growing influence of bloggers on America’s

public policy debates.

Our job at The Heritage Foundation is to provide useful resources -

objective data and conservative analysis and commentary – to journalists,

analysts and commentators of all stripes. But we aren’t quite sure how

to do this with the blogger community.

So this email is an invitation for you to participate in an experiment.

For the next month, we will periodically email to you short notices

about significant Heritage studies, publications and events. At the end of

the month, let us know if these notices were helpful. If not, tell us

at any time, and you won’t get any more. If you find you only want those

notices regarding specific issue areas – foreign policy, welfare

reform, etc. – we’ll limit our future emails to you thusly. If you want to

continue receiving all of the notices, let us know that, too.

Regardless of your perspective on the issues of the day, we are

confident you will find Heritage materials useful in your effort to provide

the kind of incisive, immediate and thoughtful commentary and analysis

made possible by blogging.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Sincerely,

Laura Bodwell Mark Tapscott

Marketing Manager Director, Media Services

The Heritage Foundation The Heritage Foundation

… note the title: “Marketing Manager Director, Media Services”

While “spamming” (and I think this falls into a gray area – if you own a blog, and post your email address for contacts, it isn’t unreasonable for someone to contact you, even using a form letter… although their “opt-out” strategy is majorly uncool) is highly un-hip, this is a pretty smart tactic on their part… a totally new way for them to “seed” a message, in a co-ordinated fashion, into the public dialogue. The Center for American Progress should take note.

John Podesta answers readers questions on Center for American Progress in NYT

Oliver Willis pointed to this article in the NYT, highlighting Podesta’s favorable comments about blogs, excerpted below:

Q. 3. As a lifelong progressive, I have been rather depressed at the ideas and strategy of the Democratic Party. Last year an incredible culture of liberal blogs developed, exploding with amazing ideas and people. Is Mr. Podesta going to tap into the blog revolution for new ideas, information and people for his think tank? — Gary Greenblatt

A. Absolutely. Two of our fellows, Eric Alterman and Ruy Teixeira, have their own blogs. We are actively monitoring a number of other blogs [maybe this one? -Thomas]. Our website is still in development but we are looking at using the blog format for some of our own content and creating a clearinghouse of progressive blogs.

Q. 4. What is your organization going to do to help Democrats better market our messages? — James Briggs

A. American Progress is a nonpartisan organization – we’re interested in helping anyone with progressive ideas, not just Democrats. That said, we are conducting outreach to media to promote progressive thinkers on cable, radio and print. We are providing rapid response to conservative proposals and rhetoric. We are promoting progressive authors. Our website, www.americanprogress.org, will serve as a resource for academics, politicians, the media and the public.

Pardon me for expressing some level of cynicism about the their willingness to help progressives outside the Democratic Party, given that Eric Alterman is known for his flaming assaults on the Green Party and Ruy Teixeira has chimed in as a member of the chorus blaming Nader for Al Gore’s defeat… maybe I should recommend that Tom Hutchings, Green Party candidate for the 33rd Assembly District in California, contact them? That might be a good test of how “non-partisan” they actually are. :)

Stalking horse Hillary?

I had the opportunity last night to attend the Jefferson-Jacson DNC fundraiser in Manchester, NH. It was a pretty good event- outside, before the event, well over a hundred of us gathered, cheering on our candidate of choice and filling the air with our placards and dueling chants. There was even a bit of surprise when I arrived with a portable projector and showed part of Dean’s Boston rally on the side of a building across the street from the convention, facing the Kerry, Clark and Lieberman supporters with a twenty-foot image of the good doctor. Heh. Pity traffic kept me from arriving earlier….

Terry McAuliff gave a good speech, the most notable part being the instant, unanimous cheer when he asked that we all support whoever wins the nomination. I found the lack of hesitation on this point encouraging indeed.

But the most interesting part came late in the event when I noticed a man with a large poster calling for a write-in campaign for- no, I’m not kidding- Hillary Clinton. I asked him why, and he proceeded to tear into the pack of candidates like….straight off of the RNC spin/smear sheet. The level of hostility displayed towards every one of the Dems in the race was as shocking as his conviction that NONE of them stood any chance- whatsoever- of beating Bush. Only Hillary, he said, stood any chance of motivating Democrats to vote. Only Hillary could garner the resources to oppose Bush. Only Hillary. Nothing good was true about anyone else, nothing bad or challenging to H’s chances of success could even be discussed. Not the way to win converts!

At this point, I had to ask him if he was a Democrat. And, while he did indicate in the affirmative, I wasn’t convinced. A quick check in google revealed that the gentleman in question was none other than Bob Kunst. You may remember him from the battles with Anita Bryant and Jerry Falwell, as president of the Oral Majority. Or, as the independent candidate for Governor of Florida in 2002. To his credit, he has been active in calling attention to the theft of the election in Florida.

It turns out that most of the reasoning, as far as I can tell, comes from the fact that some polls indicate only 50% of the population can name a Democratic candidate, while Hillary polled at 46 to W’s 50% elect numbers. This is a matter of name recognition, not ability to conduct a winning campaign.

I know this is still the primaries, and pretty much anything goes. But, please, knock the shit off once we have a nominee. We do not need another splitting of the vote in 04.

State your case, but do not add to the ranks of useful Idiots. Division after the primaries is the last thing we need, or will tolerate.

Media Literacy: Who is the "American Council for Capital Formation"?

So, I’m reading this article on Sen. Boxer’s efforts to push through a huge tax break for corporate America, Boxer Promotes One-Time Corporate Tax Break to Boost Spending, and I see that she’s waving around a study by economist Allan Sinai that claims it will produce a zillion dollars in new capital spending and hundreds of thousands of new jobs, etc.

At the end of the article, I see this: “Sinai is a well-known macroeconomist at Decision Economics Inc. The study was funded by the American Council for Capital Formation, a nonprofit advocacy group.”

A “non-profit advocacy group”? Yeah right.

So, what did my buddy Dave tell me:

a) go search on MediaTransparency.org for ACCF – ping: money from the Olin Foundation, and a mention in this article: The Corporate Think Tank Complex; apparently, this is one of ExxonMobil”s favorite charities.

b) search in Google, both “the web”, and in Google News… hmm, the Las Vegas Review Journal covers the same topic, but despite a rather sympathetic treatment to the topic (in the Business section, by a Washington Bureau reporter), described these guys as a “pro-industry group”. What possessed the Chronicle to do differently?

c) sometimes it helps to check out namebase.org: they don’t have much on Allen Sinai, but they have a fair bit on Gerald L. Parsky, ACCF board member, and member of the Governator’s transition team (he’s also a UC Regent, appointed by Wilson)… and you can see why he’s on the ACCF board: “From 1977 to 1992, he was affiliated with the law firm of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, specializing in international corporate and tax law.”

Google search for Allen Sinai produces quite a few hits… including all sorts of speaker’s bureau entries, one of which states his fee is between $10,000 and $20,000 per speech. Obviously, this is a very media-saavy individual with a high profile. Seems that he can be counted on to produce consistent conclusions, too: here’s his testimony before Congress on the benefits of repealing the estate tax.

Google produced this item from Capital Research Center… a lot of donations from corporate America and the oil industry… and guess what’s on the ACCF home page? A rant about excessive subsidies to “renewable energy” research.

Anyway, all this begs the question: what is one of the most progessive Senators in the Congress doing waving around a study funded by these folks?

P.S. Can you guess how this little gem came to my attention? Well, the answer is two words, starting with G and P.