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:


There's already a blacklist tool: MT-Blacklist


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:


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.


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.

Spin, spin, spin!

Recent poll results in Iraq were cited by Dick Cheney in that infamous Meet the Press interview of a little while ago. He claimed that the Iraqis were overall feeling very favourable towards the occupation. Now the pollster himself has spoken up to say that it was a load of spun crap, and the attitude is much worse.

For example, while Cheney noted that when asked what kind of government they would like, Iraqis chose “the US... hands down,” in fact, the results of the poll are actually quite different. Twenty-three percent of Iraqis say that they would like to model their new government after the US; 17.5 percent would like their model to be Saudi Arabia; 12 percent say Syria, 7 percent say Egypt and 37 percent say “none of the above.” That’s hardly “winning hands down.”

When given the choice as to whether they “would like to see the American and British forces leave Iraq in six months, one year, or two years,” 31.5 percent of Iraqis say these forces should leave in six months; 34 percent say a year, and only 25 percent say two or more years.

So while technically Cheney might say that “over 60 percent (actually it’s 59 percent) ... want the US to stay at least another year,” an equally correct observation would be that 65.5 percent want the US and Britain to leave in one year or less.

Other numbers found in the poll go further to dampen the vice president’s and the AEI’s rosy interpretations. For example, when asked if “democracy can work well in Iraq,” 51 percent said “no; it is a Western way of doing things and will not work here.”

And attitudes toward the US were not positive. When asked whether over the next five years, they felt that the “US would help or hurt Iraq,” 50 percent said that the US would hurt Iraq, while only 35.5 percent felt the US would help the country. On the other hand, 61 percent of Iraqis felt that Saudi Arabia would help Iraq in the next five years, as opposed to only 7.5 percent, who felt Saudi Arabia would hurt their country. Some 50.5 percent felt that the United Nations would help Iraq, while 18.5 percent felt it would hurt. Iran’s rating was very close to the US’, with 53.5 percent of Iraqis saying Iran would hurt them in the next five years, while only 21.5 percent felt that Iran might help them.

The administration's misuse of the numbers is really only to be expected, but it's nice to see my skepticism about this poll was rewarded.

China and India talking...

I got this chat transcript off one of the innumerable lists I'm on. I thought it was worth redistributing, as an example of an exchange between citizens of two emerging world powers, representative of conversations that happen every day all over the world, and yet seem to be completely off the radar of American media.

Items that struck me (aside from the dialogue being held in English): the Indian's skepticism about whether or not the U.S. ever actually landed on the moon, the Chinese woman's comments about good jobs in the U.S., the differing perspectives on Iraq, and the environmental consciousness.

Thomas Leavitt

Maia: so, bollywood?

blackcranein: no

Maia: is that famous in india

Maia: ?

blackcranein: thats a capitalist industry runs with black money

blackcranein: i would rather do underground

Maia: what kind of films do you make?

blackcranein: docus

blackcranein: i am working on a film on Bombay

Maia: wow, i love documentaries so much

blackcranein: i move around with the camera and shoot every day

blackcranein: i will then make a film on the city and how it is opressive

Maia: cool,

Maia: mostly i watch national geographic

blackcranein: thats very problematic

blackcranein: its from the first world perspective

blackcranein: they show wildlife as some sex and thriller

blackcranein: interested in mating and violence of animals

Maia: but its what truly happened in the nature

blackcranein: i dont think so

Maia: its natural

blackcranein: they want to say survival of the fittest is natural and it should happen with humans also

Maia: yes, evolution

blackcranein: some people say darwinism is dangerous

blackcranein: in the name of evolution first world says that they are smarter and will rule the wortld

Maia: no not like that, evolution is a science

Maia: you are overreacted

blackcranein: animals do not accumulate, they hunt whatever they need for today and that is also natural

blackcranein: but humans accumulate and thats the problem with the world, the greed of humans

blackcranein: they should focus on the environment friendly ness of animals

Maia: that mostly happened in the 3rd world countries, i think

blackcranein: it happens all over the world

Maia: you cant say america is like this, they are doing good jobs

blackcranein: are u sure u are communist, they are killing innocents in iraq and afganistan

Maia: communist is in the sense of a nation's political strategy, and how we should progress, to change social structures, to be stronger

Maia: we china is also learning from america

blackcranein: u mean imperialist in national strategy and communist in the domestic sense

Maia: we hope to make good relationship with every country

blackcranein: why not with iraq and help them

blackcranein: and cuba

Maia: its none of china's business

Maia: if we do so

Maia: it would just cause troubles

blackcranein: i think u need to read lenin

blackcranein: the workers of the world unite

blackcranein: workers of the world are one against all interantionals capital

Maia: rightnow what we need is to pursue economic development, but not conflicts.

blackcranein: one which sees nature as resourse and exploits it

Maia: tahts the most important thing china needs

blackcranein: we need happiness and not goods

blackcranein: are u interested in reading some interesting stuff of what i am saying

Maia: i dont read those stuff, currently what we learn

blackcranein: go to www.swaraj.org/shikshantar and read their vision of the world

Maia: is DengXiaoping's theory

blackcranein: our education is fucked up

blackcranein: read mao

Maia: maoism is old for china

blackcranein: and sometimes communists have also taken environement badly

Maia: what we are learning is a better way that suitable to china

blackcranein: so lets invent new forms of humanism

blackcranein: what about all the nuclear disasters and flood in china causes by playing with environment

Maia: but the main spirit also came from maoism

Maia: we have noticed that

blackcranein: we have to evolve

Maia: although its late

blackcranein: the world has caused major disaster to the world in last 100 years

blackcranein: polluted the soil our rivers

blackcranein: and go on till we realsie that we cannot eat money

blackcranein: we need to reverse it

blackcranein: nature is a loan from future generations and we have to preserve for them

Maia: you know a lot

Maia: i should learn from you, lol

blackcranein: we all know a lot , just have to see around us

blackcranein: but read the site i just mentioned, i just met those people and they are really sensible

Maia: ok, i will, thanks for the link

blackcranein: i feel my school was the worse thing for me

blackcranein: it taught me a lot of nonsense

Maia: same here in china, what they taught are just vacant theoretic things

Maia: but not realistic

Maia: not applicable

blackcranein: it was the worst form of child labour in a way

blackcranein: i read maths by figures, my mother knew it by making dresss for me from a straight cloth and according to my size

blackcranein: school taught me that my native language is inferior and english is good

Maia: bullshit

Maia: every culture is good

Maia: india has very old culture

blackcranein: it is doing this all over the world

Maia: we should reserve it

blackcranein: western education is fuck all

blackcranein: it teaches us that our tradition is bad

blackcranein: now they have started looking at chinese medicne and fengshui

Maia: fengshui?? geeez

Maia: its all bullshit

blackcranein: why

blackcranein: is it bad

Maia: its cult

blackcranein: i dont think so

blackcranein: they make it a cult when the can sell it

blackcranein: but i think their must be some truth

Maia: nobody believes it rightnow

blackcranein: in west they are going mad after it

Maia: i dont know bout that, maybe they are crazy? lol

blackcranein: u know their is a theory that americans didnt go to moon and it was a drama, we believe them but dont trust our traditions

Maia: i dont belive those theories

blackcranein: i bleieve them

blackcranein: why didnt they go again

Maia: why SHOULD they go again

Maia: since its already successful

blackcranein: no why did they go to antarctic again and again

blackcranein: thats one reason why i think they are liars

Maia: because they need to do so, and go to the moon second time is not needful

blackcranein: coz they cant

blackcranein: they would have buy now taken the minerals or whatever or sold the moon

Maia: no need to waste money on unnecessary things

Maia: thousands of ppl involved in the apollo, do you think its funny to make such a lie?

Maia: cheating the whole world?

Maia: no need!!

blackcranein: thousand can go and kill innocents in iraq

Maia: after all, its racism caused all the trouble

Maia: and racism is human nature

Maia: have to admit it

blackcranein: u say this coz u are fed on national geographic

Maia: prob is we have to change it

Maia: to improve it

Maia: but not to hate

Maia: hatred just cause more troubles

Maia: and disasters

Maia: we need PEACE

Maia: dont be involved in the hatred circle

Maia: thats what we need

blackcranein: now u know why the channel is dangerous

blackcranein: the essentialism and darwinism

blackcranein: but u cant change it if u say it si human nature as we are humans and we will do natural things

blackcranein: i am not

Maia: human is not flawless, racism came up when you were born in a stronger nation

blackcranein: but plz for god sake dont say racism is natural

Maia: IT IS, you have to admit

Maia: im not saying everyone is a racist

Maia: but racism

blackcranein: if it is then as humans we have to do natural things only

Maia: is one of human nature

blackcranein: no its not

Maia: im not saying everyone is a racist

blackcranein: then capitalsim is also one and fascism is also one

blackcranein: then its not human not nature

Maia: yes of course

Maia: so that's why we have to change it, nothing is born perfect, including human

blackcranein: but dont call it natural

Maia: being evil is a human nature? of course it is

blackcranein: its not

Maia: it is

blackcranein: being good is natural and we have to bring it back

blackcranein: its not

blackcranein: its not

blackcranein: its not

Maia: ok


blackcranein: sorry

blackcranein: u have the right to ur opinion

blackcranein: but i think its not

Maia: well, dont have to argue, although argument is a nature too

Maia: lol

Maia: so improve it

Maia: change it

Maia: so, i want to be a progressivist and leftist

blackcranein: we have to resolve conflict

blackcranein: u are progressive and leftist

blackcranein: and nice person and a beautiful human being

Maia: see? that is do what i wanted to say

Maia: you put it well

blackcranein: we are all children of mother earth

Maia: true

Microsoft a cult?

... I have to agree with the poster. Seriously disturbing.

Ballmer obviously needs to work out more.

Thomas Leavitt

[email addresses deleted]

From: Dave Farber
Subject: Steve Ballmer
Date: Thu, 23 Oct 2003 06:42:37 -0500

Wonder if Dave Packard or Andy Grove ever did this? djf

Date: Thu, 23 Oct 2003 00:40:22 -0400
From: Alexandros Papadopoulos
Subject: Steve Ballmer
To: Dave Farber

Hi Dave!

Have you seen this clip of Ballmer?
http://andrew.cmu.edu/~apapadop/dancemonkeyboy.mpg (3MB)

I find it scary, all things considered.


Separation of what and what?

Jefferson County Treasurer Mark Paschall presumes to tell jurors how they should go about their deliberations. From a story at FOX (yes really) --

The 61-page booklets promote "jury nullification" -- a concept promoted by conservative groups that say juries have the right to not only decide guilt or innocence, but also whether laws are just and adhere to God's law.

"You are above the law!" the booklet says. "As a juror in a trial setting, when it comes to your individual vote of innocent or guilty, you truly are answerable only to God almighty."

Said Paschall: "I want people to understand the form of government that we have and the rights and freedoms that went before. If it raises eyebrows, I think it perhaps ends up waking people up."

Some questioned whether Paschall has a right to distribute the material at a government office, and County Attorney Bill Tuthill said he was looking into the issue.

Riiiiiight! And since when was it the county treasurer's job to instruct the jury anyway? There's only one person whose job it is to tell you what to do, and you call them Your Honour.


Cheese-eating surrender monkeys!!

A sample from writer Susan Sontag's Friedenspreis peace prize acceptance speech, reproduced in The Guardian:

What the Americans see is almost the reverse of the Europhile cliché: they see themselves defending civilisation. The barbarian hordes are no longer outside the gates. They are within, in every prosperous city, plotting havoc. The "chocolate-producing" countries (France, Germany, Belgium) will have to stand aside, while a country with "will" - and God on its side - pursues the battle against terrorism (now conflated with barbarism). According to secretary of state Colin Powell, it is ridiculous for old Europe (sometimes it seems only France is meant) to aspire to play a role in governing or administering the territories won by the coalition of the conqueror. It has neither the military resources nor the taste for violence nor the support of its cosseted, all-too-pacific populations. And the Americans have it right. Europeans are not in an evangelical - or a bellicose - mood.

Indeed, sometimes I have to pinch myself to be sure I am not dreaming: that what many people in my own country now hold against Germany, which wreaked such horrors on the world for nearly a century - the new "German problem", as it were - is that Germans are repelled by war; that much of German public opinion is now virtually ... pacifist.

Were America and Europe never partners, never friends? Of course. But perhaps it is true that the periods of unity - of common feeling - have been exceptions, rather than the rule. One such time was from the second world war through the early cold war, when Europeans were profoundly grateful for America's intervention, succour and support. Americans are comfortable seeing themselves in the role of Europe's saviour. But then, America will expect the Europeans to be forever grateful, which is not what Europeans are feeling right now.

From "old" Europe's point of view, America seems bent on squandering the admiration - and gratitude - felt by most Europeans. The immense sympathy for the United States in the aftermath of the attack on September 11, 2001 was genuine. But what has followed is an increasing estrangement on both sides.

The citizens of the richest and most powerful nation in history have to know that America is loved, and envied ... and resented. More than a few who travel abroad know that Americans are regarded as crude, boorish, uncultivated by many Europeans, and don't hesitate to match these expectations with behaviour that suggests the ressentiment of ex-colonials. And some of the cultivated Europeans who seem most to enjoy visiting or living in the United States attribute to it, condescendingly, the liberating virtues of a colony where one throws off the restrictions and high-culture burdens of "back home".

Just a snippet of an excellent read: check out the rest.


Seymour Hersh's story in the current New Yorker comes close to the complete ugly picture of the Bush administration's stupid, mendacious and finally very destructive relationship with the US intelligence community. The tiles of this mosaic are gathered from many disparate sources and stories, not previously understood in their totality. It's good Hersh.

The ultimate source of the forged Niger documents may be the missing key -- the grassy knoll, the 18-minute gap -- to Bush's Iraq war deception. Maybe we'll find it. Probably we won't.



I'm travelling, so when I can get on I'm using a dial-up connection. Yesterday over 24 hours I received 310 spam messages - all having to be downloaded over a slow connection. This morning it was 86, but that's just since I checked before going to bed.

What keeps Generation X awake at night (hint: it isn't "the bomb" or Islamic terrorists)...

Two words:


But that GDP is growing at an annual rate of 8%.


Meanwhile, China is a country coming alive. Shoucheng Zhang, a physics professor at Stanford University who also teaches at Tsing-hua University in Beijing, can't help but notice it when he returns to his native land. "I love to see the young people changing the world, [c]hanging China," he says.


After growing just 4.3 percent last year, India's economy, the second fastest growing in the world, after China, is widely expected to grow close to 7 percent this year.

... and, actually another word: "compounding".

What is America compounding?

The national debt (and the amount of interest paid on it annually).

Deferred maintenance on national infrastructure.

The costs of healthcare and the percentage of GDP devoted to it.

The cost of being the world's sole military superpower and wannabe traffic cop.

We see the nation's blood and our children's inheritance being pissed away in Iraq, and we wonder what the future will hold... as the above examples make clear, even in a global econony, our well being, and the opportunities available to us and ours, is dependent on the wisdom and foresight of our leaders. ... although, in the case of India and China, in some ways, it seems as if they are succeeding despite their leaders, as much as because of them. Imagine where India and China would be right now, if they hadn't been hobbled by an authoritarian/collectivist government for the last fifty years.

Being born an American, from 1946, up until now, has been a unique advantage - I'd rather be an American than anyone else, despite all the faults of my country; the level of economic opportunity... but also personal freedom available here is like no where else - not Europe, not Japan, not India or China, not Hong Kong prior to the mainland takeover, or Singapore... I'm worried about whether that will be true, looking back from 2050, whether or not our country will be seen as a bankrupt land that squandered a golden opportunity.

Seeing reports like this leaves me deeply uneasy... developments like this are what George Bush and Congress should be paying attention to, not tinpot dictators like Saddamn Hussein, and the ravings of crazed Islamic fundamentalists like Osama Bin Laden. Screw the war on terror and mirror-shaded CIA spooks hanging out in third-world capitals... I want to see universities being built, scholarships being awarded, grants and prizes being handed out, infrastructure being upgraded, schools being reformed, the moon, Mars, and near earth orbit being colonized.

The U.S. has leaned on immigration to supply technology innovation for the last hundred years... what happens when our comparative advantage in that area dries up, and people quit coming here to stay? 75% of Chinese who came here for an education used to stay; now 75% of them leave. That means three times fewer scientists, three times fewer companies, three times fewer economic side benefits being thrown off...

But, do we see our leaders worrying about this? No - it's the war in Iraq, it's terrorism, it's Internet pornography, it's taxes... it is anything but what really matters for the future of this nation.



Despicable treatment of American military personnel...

Seems to me that we oughta treat folks injured in the line of duty better than this.

"This ballot sponsored by Coca-Cola." (not a joke)

The Charlotte Observer has an article on the South Carolina Democratic Party's latest initiative: corporate sponsored election materials! Apparently their ED got the idea from Iowa Democrats (who're proposing to sell advertising space on a media backdrop to help pay for their caucuses) and decided to take it a step further; they're having trouble raising the funds necessary to put on a primary election (their state, unlike others, makes the party pay for the cost of holding the elction), and this is their solution. Given that it only costs $500,000, you'd think they could dun the various candidates for the nomination for the funds necessary to put it on (or the DNC), in order to avoid embarassment of this type...

I especially love the last paragraph:

[State Democratic Party Executive Director] Erwin brushed off the criticism, saying it would be worse if the primary were canceled. "It somewhat changes the nature of politics, but boy, isn't it consistent with the way things are changing?" he said.

No kidding.

BTW, this arrived in my inbox via a Green Party mailing list... thanks the the help building the party in South Carolina, Erwin. :)
What first came to mind when offered this big, shiny blog Dave built, was, what could I add? In the archives and posts are a great wealth of information. This is the place I've always sent friends who are new to the web.

Then, the question hits me: what are we doing with all these billions of bites of blogged bounty? We can find more information faster than ever before. What are we to do with it? How do we deprogram the propogandised hordes?

First, I'm trying to understood who 'we' are. Roughly half of American households have internet access, and you can bet your booties that it's income skewed. What percentage of that frequents Weblogs? We need to widen the circle somehow...Enter Dean. More on that later...

What we're up against

We stand little chance of changing the tide unless we understand the nature of the monster that ate our government. The unholy alliance between the neocons, radical religious right, and big corporate money is a mighty foe indeed. How we focus our efforts will make all the difference in winning this fight.

This article, 'Noble Lies and Perpetual War' gets at the real underpinnings of the current governing philosophy of the neocons-in-charge. It's an important read, because it highlights the futility of expecting any respect, or fairness, from our self-styled new ruling class. They have no shame and no guilt because they are convinced that the ends justify the means. Here for the visual.
Strauss does this by putting forward the argument that there is a natural ruling class, and a natural dominated class.
Leo also 'legitimizes' the sort of bull that got us into Iraq:

A natural order of inequality

Danny Postel: You've argued that there is an important connection between the teachings of Leo Strauss and the Bush administration's selling of the Iraq war. What is that connection?

Shadia Drury: Leo Strauss was a great believer in the efficacy and usefulness of lies in politics. Public support for the Iraq war rested on lies about Iraq posing an imminent threat to the United States - the business about weapons of mass destruction and a fictitious alliance between al-Qaida and the Iraqi regime. Now that the lies have been exposed, Paul Wolfowitz and others in the war party are denying that these were the real reasons for the war.

So what were the real reasons? Reorganising the balance of power in the Middle East in favour of Israel? Expanding American hegemony in the Arab world? Possibly. But these reasons would not have been sufficient in themselves to mobilise American support for the war. And the Straussian cabal in the administration realised that.

Danny Postel: The neo-conservative vision is commonly taken to be about spreading democracy and liberal values globally. And when Strauss is mentioned in the press, he is typically described as a great defender of liberal democracy against totalitarian tyranny. You've written, however, that Strauss had a 'profound antipathy to both liberalism and democracy.'?

Shadia Drury: The idea that Strauss was a great defender of liberal democracy is laughable. I suppose that Strauss's disciples consider it a noble lie. Yet many in the media have been gullible enough to believe it.

How could an admirer of Plato and Nietzsche be a liberal democrat? The ancient philosophers whom Strauss most cherished believed that the unwashed masses were not fit for either truth or liberty, and that giving them these sublime treasures would be like throwing pearls before swine. In contrast to modern political thinkers, the ancients denied that there is any natural right to liberty. Human beings are born neither free nor equal. The natural human condition, they held, is not one of freedom, but of subordination – and in Strauss's estimation they were right in thinking so.

Praising the wisdom of the ancients and condemning the folly of the moderns was the whole point of Strauss's most famous book, Natural Right and History. The cover of the book sports the American Declaration of Independence. But the book is a celebration of nature - not the natural rights of man (as the appearance of the book would lead one to believe) but the natural order of domination and subordination.(emphasis added)

Needless to say liberal thought is considered a weak inferior. Thus this administration's acting like it's entitled to do as it chooses, being superior and all...

A second fundamental belief of Strauss's ancients has to do with their insistence on the need for secrecy and the necessity of lies. In his book Persecution and the Art of Writing, Strauss outlines why secrecy is necessary. He argues that the wise must conceal their views for two reasons - to spare the people's feelings and to protect the elite from possible reprisals.

The people will not be happy to learn that there is only one natural right - the right of the superior to rule over the inferior, the master over the slave, the husband over the wife, and the wise few over the vulgar many. In On Tyranny, Strauss refers to this natural right as the "tyrannical teaching" of his beloved ancients. It is tyrannical in the classic sense of rule above rule or in the absence of law (p. 70).

Now, the ancients were determined to keep this tyrannical teaching secret because the people are not likely to tolerate the fact that they are intended for subordination; indeed, they may very well turn their resentment against the superior few. Lies are thus necessary to protect the superior few from the persecution of the vulgar many.

So, what kind of power are they accumulating over any potential opposition, threat or undesirables?

Information Clearing House has another article up describing US efforts to data mine every person traveling into or through the US, regardless of their home country's policy on privacy.

"In Europe, data protection laws allow information to be used only for the purpose for which it is collected. America has no such laws. The EU is arguing with America over how to restrict its access to the passenger records of European airlines, but from a position of extreme weakness. America says it will fine air- lines $6,000 per passenger if they fail to provide all the access demanded, and the EU's transport commissioner says he cannot afford to bring air traffic with America to a complete halt."

She goes on to describe the creeping erosion of our basic protections....and describes a situation that is chilling to say the least: detentions without benefit of council or even official charges being placed; development of no-fly lists with no way to determine how a person gets placed on, let alone removed from. Interrogations based on one's political opinion:

"Now ordinary people fall under suspicion for ordinary behaviour. In San Francisco, a retired phone company worker got into a fierce discussion at his gym about the failings of President Bush and the war on Iraq. He was woken several days later by federal agents calling at his apartment to interrogate him about his politics. Last February, a middle-aged defence lawyer in New Mexico was in an internet chatroom when he apparently suggested that "Bush is out of control". Within hours, he was surrounded by police, then handcuffed by Secret Service agents and questioned about whether he was a threat to the president. In North Carolina, a 19-year-old was visited by FBI agents who had been told she had "un-American material" in her apartment. It consisted of a poster opposing Bush's use of the death penalty. She was asked what she knew about the Taliban and questioned for 40 minutes. Her details have been placed on file."

But for an answer for where to look to widen our circle, she continues:

...Yet it isn't these measures that have aroused most public anxiety - it is the government's new power to track, secretly, what people read, research and borrow in public libraries. For the past two years, many libraries have had wall signs warning patrons that the library cannot guarantee their privacy, and may be required to hand information on them over to the FBI.

Much of the anger at this has come not from urban liberals, but from conservative rural communities. Robert Reich, who was labour secretary to President Clinton, told me that the library issue has united ordinary people, libertarians and civil liberties activists. "It's become symbolic of the entire effort to watch us," says Reich. "There's something very personal about library books, and it's too close to George Orwell and the behaviour of totalitarian governments. Americans guard their privacy with a tremendous sense of righteousness and indignation. We hate big government. This country was founded on a suspicion of it."

Maybe there's some use to be had of all the efforts conservatives have made demonizing our government....it would be sweet irony to turn the monster they created against them. Feed the snake it's own tail!

This is also a good indication of where we need to look to start building relationships and bring more support to the fight for sane government, although one wonders how the thought of FBI oversight affects surfing habits. But here is the fertile ground where we need to educate and recruit actively to take away more of those blood red states in 2004.
Time to take another look at Library Juice...