What War Is

What should you expect when you start a war? A “cakewalk” was how one leading Republican described it, back when they were trying to get it started, trying to sell it like soap – or, more accurately, like a video game experience. PLEASE read the linked piece, in which he talks about “fear-mongering” military analysts, to see how we got into the mess we are in.
The mess we are in: U.S. troops kill pregnant woman in Iraq

U.S. forces killed two Iraqi women — one of them about to give birth — when the troops shot at a car that failed to stop at an observation post in a city north of Baghdad, Iraqi officials and relatives said Wednesday.
Nabiha Nisaif Jassim, 35, was being raced to the maternity hospital in Samarra by her brother when the shooting occurred Tuesday.
Jassim, the mother of two children, and her 57-year-old cousin, Saliha Mohammed Hassan, were killed by the U.S. forces, according to police Capt. Laith Mohammed and witnesses.

THIS is what war is. THIS is what the Republicans have brought us.

Voting Machines – Missing the Point

The Washington Post writes a long article and misses the point. Debating the Bugs of High-Tech Voting,

The newer technology, such as touch-screen and optical scan systems, held the promise of making voting more secure, transparent and accessible. But as the new technology was implemented, voting rights activists raised questions about whether vendors had paid enough attention to security. Activists pushed for the use of technology that still provided a paper record.
Many of the criticisms of voting technology were originally dismissed as exaggerations promulgated by partisans displeased with election results. But the criticisms have been viewed with increasing gravity as prominent computer scientists have rallied behind them. Although it has not been shown that an election was compromised by a security flaw, several elections since 2000, including in this year’s primaries, have experienced problems with the technology that have delayed results.

The paper records are the point. Security of the machines does not matter, the code in the computers does not matter, nothing matters if the machines print a paper ballot that the voter looks at and puts into a ballot box for election officials to count. That is PROOF of how the voter voted. If you have the paper to count, there is no point in trying to rig the machines because you’ll get caught. You can still have instant election results that come from the machine. People will trust it if you can go to the paper and count it. If you can count it you can prove it. If you can’t count it, you can’t prove it.

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Other People Noticed

May 17 I left a comment to the May 13 post titled, Net Neutrality and the Blogad, saying,

Readers – I can’t verify whether these anti-regulation posts are from the same person or not. If not, it might show the kind of money being put into this campaign to simulate “grassroots.”

It looks like I wasn’t the only one with questions.
MyDD :: Fishy Commenters and Net Neutrality links to this post, Do Broadband Providers Employ Blog Comment Shills? which notices the same thing.

Over the past four or five months, I’ve noticed that a group of commenters to blog posts related to network neutrality tend to say the same things over and over again. What’s interesting is that there’s a core group of the same commenters that show up time and again saying the same things (although not always phrased the same way) repeatedly.

At MyDD, Matt writes,

There’s nothing wrong with commercial speech, and it’s even questionable that financial disclosures are terribly important. But hanging around in comment threads pretending to be a gang of ordinary citizens commenting on an issue while actually operating as a paid lobbying or marketing operation is probably over some unstated ethical line.

What do YOU think?

Repeat – Starving Hysterical Naked

A repeat from December 1, 2004: Starving Hysterical Naked

Angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,
who passed through universities with radiant eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war,
who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull,
who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall…

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A War for Unstated Reasons

On the comments to this thread someone asked those of us who had opposed the Iraq War from the beginning exactly why we had done so. Below is part of my answer. (The other part was just that I had expected the war to turn out about the way it actally did turn out):

As for the pretexts, I did not believe that Saddam was a threat to the US, I did not believe that he had anything to do with 9/11, I did not believe that he had or would soon get nuclear weapons, and I did not believe that chemical and biological weapons should count as WMD. As time went on, I also did not believe that Bush intended to bring democracy to the Middle East, or would be able to do so if he tried.
The specifics aren’t the most important point. There was a terrible breakdown of the political process and also of the media, and this breakdown was the result of deliberate sabotage. The decision to go to war was a dishonest stampede with many collaborators, among them Beinart. The public was basically excluded from whatever the actual process of decision-making was, and was never informed of the actual reasons for the war.
I suspect that some of the more militarist and imperialist warbloggers did, in fact, correctly understand Bush’s motives.
It’s an enormous problem when political decisions of major significance are made on the basis of secret motives. Even the supporters who think they understand what’s going on (nudge-nudge wink-wink) canfind themselves being cheated in the end. It amounts to unconstrained, unchecked personal rule of exactly the type that the English tradition and the American constitutional tradition have long tried to prevent. And one consequence is that ordinary Americans who oppose the big plan on the basis of the weakness of its official justifications cannot be argued with, but only can be vilified and accused of treason.

The Fool

Bush Likens Fighting Radicals to Cold War,

President Bush, likening the war against Islamic radicals to the Cold War threat of communism, told U.S. Military Academy graduates on Saturday that America’s safety depends on an aggressive push for democracy, especially in the Middle East.

So this week we’re at war against “Islamic radicals” instead of just al Queda, or “terrorists”?
And what’s this about “democracy?” We have created an Islamic State in Iraq, controlled by Iran, not “democracy.” This blog and many others understood and warned that this was the only possible outcome of overthrowing Saddam Hussein.

The defining issue of our time is the media.

Go read Jamison Foser’s “The defining issue of our time is the media”. Take a look, if you want, at the pieces by Eric Boehlert and Bob Somerby on recent media silliness.
What’s missing here (and also in Brad DeLong‘s frequent media criticisms) is the recognition that this is a management problem. When there’s a consistent pattern of bad behavior, you have to conclude that the bad behavior is deliberate.
Below is the meat of a letter I wrote to Somerby. I’ve written a similiar letter to Foser and have commented many times on this topic both here and on DeLong’s threads:

I’ve been arguing for some time now that the bylined reporters and commentators aren’t agents. They just watch patterns of hiring and promotion and do what seems to work best. They’re lackeys giving their bosses what they want.
Responsibility has to ascribed to faceless management and to the owners (Sulzberger and Graham, for example). For whatever reason, for the last ten years or more all of the media have swung consistently right.
My theory is that the reason is financial, and that the tax cuts and other goodies have caused financial management to interfere with operations. (Both Sulzberger and Graham are simultaneously business managers and operations managers of their respective publications).
This is bad news indeed. The media cannot be shamed into cleaning up their act, because bad reporting is a deliberate bottom-line policy, not an oversight or a mistake.
I have suggested that only new national media at every level (cable, TV, newspaper, radio) can improve the situation. Present players are incorrigible and inveterate. Air America was a good start, but not nearly enough. (I was horrified at the unenthusiastic reception AA got from many liberals and Democrats. Sometimes I thank that Democrats are too stupid to live).
New media are doable, but I’m the only one talking about it. The money is there (it’s not just Soros, there are others).
I’ve been saying this for over a year, but I’m a crank’s crank, and it’s had no resonance at all.
John Emerson

Update:
I suppose I should address the silly idea that what I have proposed here is a “conspiracy theory”. There’s nothing paranoid about saying that the management of a given business controls the business that it manages.

m4s0n501

Eulogy for Leonard Salle

Eulogy for Leonard Salle, delivered May 27:

“Progressive Infrastructure” – Leonard would have wanted me to start with that. That’s what he said – all the time.
I’m Dave Johnson, a Fellow at the Commonweal Institute. Kate asked me to talk about what the Commonweal Institute is, and the contribution Leonard made to the country’s political environment.
Before the Commonweal Institute there was a smaller think tank, grinding away, doing the intellectual work developing a vision for a new approach to progressive politics. That was what I call the Kate and Leonard Institute.
Kate and Leonard saw something that for some reason so many on the progressive side of politics didn’t see – that the conservatives were doing something right. Excuse the pun – Leonard would.
They saw that conservatives were marketing what President Bush would call “conservativitiyism,” and doing it very well. In fact, everywhere you go, you hear the basic marketing message repeated that conservatives are good, and liberals are bad.

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