The Party IS The State Now

This story, Social Security Enlisted to Push Its Own Revision, about the Republicans using the Social Security Administration to scare the pubic into supporting privatization is WAYYY beyond the Armstrong Williams scandal! That was the government using tax dollars to pay journalists to propagandize the public. This is using the government itself to propagandize the public to support the policies of one political party. The Congress will not investigate. The FBI will not. The Justice Department won't. The media will drop it in a day or two. This is bad. The Party has merged with the State.

More on the astonishing Harvard blogging conference

It turns out that Zephyr Teachout's high-minded accusations against Kos and Jerome Armstrong were in some way connected to the astonishing, nearly-blogger-free blogging conference at Harvard which I dissed last week. She was one of the very few bloggers invited, even though her blog is barely a week old.

So anyway, I left a message at their site which I thought I'd share (slightly edited):

Jesus. I dissed your astonishing conference already a week ago ("Screw Credibility” at “Seeing the Forest"), and it turns out that I didn’t diss it ENOUGH.

What a clown show.

I have an idea, though. Why don’t you get Bill O’Reilly, Bob Novak, Instapundit, and High Hewitt to weigh in on blogging ethics?

Oh, wait – it’s already been done. Well, how about William Safire, George Will, and Judith Miller? Or maybe Richard Mellon Scaife and the Rev. “Jesus’ Big Brother” Moon.

Because you know, our legit media have ethics the way stray dogs have fleas. You can’t even stand close to one of those guys without risking an infestation of ethics.

Fake Blogging-Ethics Crisis

The Wall Street Journal concocts a story, twisting the work of one of its reporters and garbling the statement of a Dean staffer. Then O'Reilly, Novak, Instapundit, and Hugh Hewitt pick up the story, speaking gravely about a crisis in blogging ethics and grossly misrepresenting the facts to millions of people. (The hapless, well-paid Paul Begala goes along for the ride.)

What should Democrats do in a case like this? There are various possible right answers to that question. (It is not an easy one, mostly because of our weak media presence). But the wrong thing to do is to start talking about blogger ethics.

This was a fake story. Rule One should be "Never take fake stories at face value".

Dean, Kos, Jerome Armstrong, bloggers in general, and the Democrats have all been hurt to some degree. The William Armstrong story about the Republican misappropriation of government funds for bribes has been mostly forgotten. And all because of a fake story.

Hasn't this happened before? Aren't people watching for this kind of thing by now? How many more times can Lucy play her trick on the Charlie Brown Democrats?


The Dean Blogging Controversy

I've been gone all day at MacWorld Expo. I'm back and I see that this Dean Blogging controversy has . broken . out . all over.

An observation. The "Republican Noise Machine" threw out some trash - this ridiculous story - to get us all talking about something other than who ELSE besides Armstrong Williams was on the take -- AND IT WORKED. DOH! So tomorrow let's all get back on the story about who else the Right is paying, and how much they are paying, and stick with it. It's a big story and it has "legs" with average people, and if we keep at it, it will lead somewhere.

I would like to hear what Dean has to say about it. (Simon Rosenberg blogged about it.) The story is more about Dean and his campaign than about bloggers doing anything wrong. Thinking they could buy bloggers for $3,000? AND NOT EVEN TELLING THE BLOGGERS THEY WERE TRYING TO BUY THEM OFF? Heh.

And if they were tryng to buy off two bloggers, why so cheap? -- on the Right someone as far from the mainstream as Armstrong Williams gets $240,000, and we KNOW that's only the tip of the iceberg even with Williams! That was probably just his payoff for the one year. That says a LOT right there, in my opinion. "Our side" is just too cheap to win anything.

Washngton State Election Story

Preemptive Karma has a post about the Washington gubernatorial situation, Truth and consequences.

Muslims protest Fox's "24"

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has objected to "24"'s? first two episodes Sunday and Monday, according to MediaLife. The show depicted an ordinary Muslim family as terrorists, with the mother killing the son?s non-Muslim girlfriend to shut her up. Fox thinks it can smooth things out by supplying public service announcements sponsored by the Council, but is leaving if and when the spots run up to the local TV stations themselves. Fox is not changing the storyline.

Berkeley prof denied tenure for honest biotec research

Counterpunch details how a Berkeley professor was denied tenure because his study of genetic contamination of Mexican crops angered Monsanto, a major research funder. He was also yelled at by a Mexican official

I think that Brett and I have a similiar understanding of Bush's purposes in Iraq: World War IV, national greatness, an American empire to put the British empire to shame.

When I say so, however, I am called a tinfoil-hat paranoid, since I oppose this grand plan. At this point in history, the way to support Bush's project is to deny that it exists.

Much of Bush's support is from people who believe in him personally without really knowing or caring about any of the details of what he's doing. Conservatives normally oppsoe this kind of cult of personality, except apparently when the object of worship makes a token claim to be a conservative. In that case, they engage in submissive-wetting behavior (as do many Democrats, of course).

In a democracy there is a tremendous cost when a leader's most important initiative is fraudulently justified and sold as a pig in a poke. Democracy-promotion is now our fourth or fifth justification for the war, after WMD, al-Qaeda ties, humanitarian intervention, and the flypaper theory. I have no idea what the next justification will be.

Brett will now to explain to you how Kennedy, Roosevelt, wilson, Lincoln, and Martin Van Buren were Just As Bad As Bush. It's funny how the worst behavior of Democrats has become the Republican goal.

It's also funny how Lincoln always shows up on lists of this kind, as if he were a Democrat. In point of fact, a considerable proportion of (Southern) Republicans absolutely hate Lincoln. It took a tremendous battle to get a Lincoln statue erected on public land in Richmond, Virginia -- I don't think that that hast even been tried yet in Alabama. (Maybe the Alabama democrats should take a shot at it).


Social Security

Brad DeLong, in Violating the Constitution, points out that Section Four of the Fourteenth Amendement of the Constitution of the United States begins,
Section. 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.
Shall not be questioned. Remember that the next time you hear a right-winger talking about the bonds that make up the Social Security Trust Fund being somehow different from other government bonds.

"Declaration Banned" Story -- Parents Still Dealing With It

Do you remember the story about the right-wing lie that the Declaration of Independence was banned at a school? (See also eRiposte.) Well, it served the purposes of the Right very well -- according to Google there are about 8200 websites that talk about it.

But the local parents are still dealing with the fallout from this right-wing hit-and-run attack. See the site of We the Parents.
Our grassroots organization has come about as a way of responding truthfully to the negative media campaign crafted by a group of lawyers who have filed a lawsuit, which we feel is frivolous, against our school, our principal, Patricia Vidmar, and the Cupertino Union School District board of Education.

Our mission is to clarify the misconceptions created about our school so that we can rescue our reputation as one of the best schools in the area, State, and our Great Nation
These are just regular people in a local school district that one day found itself used as a pawn in the Right's game. It's intersting to see how they are responding. Go to the "Parents Pages" and read some of the essays and letters.

Registered Democrat? Companies Don't Want Your Business

Corporate retribution for being a Democrat is moving beyond hiring and firing. See NH Woman Loses Insurance Coverage for Her Politics at Common Dreams.

Update - Nor do doctors. (Thanks to Take Back the Media)


It Has Come To This

Go read Bush's 'Death Squads' at Consortiumnews.com.

Also, this whole thing stinks enough to drive Billmon to surface and post The Salvadoran Option.

Both thanks to Cakewalking on Graves ~ Death Squad 'W' and the Shining City on the Hill by the farmer at corrente.

Social Security

I have a new post at American Street, The Alternate Plan Trap. Excerpt:
I think one trap to watch out for is that they have created an unconscious “frame” in people’s minds in which Social Security is the symbol of the Democratic Party. So when anyone talks about Social Security, they’re really talking about the Democrats. So repeating that Social Security is outdated, bankrupt, etc. is really a tactic for framing the Party itself. By the same token, saying Social Security needs changing is saying that the Democratic Party is not serving the public.

So what is really going on here is every time they SAY that Social Security is broken what they are really communicating - and reinforcing in the public mind - is that the Democratic Party is old-fashioned, broken, not worthy of trust and support. This means that if the Democrats respond by offering an alternative “fix” what they are really doing is agreeing that Social Security - and therefore in the public mind the Democratic Party - is “broken.”

Good Book - Confesseions of an Economic Hit Man

I have started reading the book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, by John Perkins. I can already tell this is going to be a great read, and an important book. It's about how we get third-world countries to borrow money to build dams or other projects that make a few people rich but hurt most of the population, and then the country owes so much money that they have to knuckle under to the multinational corpocracy. I'll write more about it as I get through the book.

Also, I used to link to books at Amazon, and I'd get a quarter or something if you click through and buy it. I don't do that anymore because BuyBlue.org tells me that Amazon is a company that funds the Republicans. So click on the Donate button in the right column and throw me a couple of hundred dollars instead. Also, I used to have an Amazon Donate button in the right column, and that's gone, too.

Update - Choose The Blue says Amazon's donations are about 50/50. So I have to think this over.

Not One Damn Dime Day

An e-mail I received:

Inauguration Day, Thursday, January 20th, 2005 is "Not One Damn Dime Day" in America.

On "Not One Damn Dime Day" those who oppose what is happening in our name in Iraq can speak up with a 24-hour national boycott of all forms of consumer spending.

During "Not One Damn Dime Day" please don't spend money. Not one damn dime for gasoline. Not one damn dime for necessities or for impulse purchases. Nor toll/cab/bus or train ride money exchanges. Not one damn dime for anything for 24 hours.

On "Not One Damn Dime Day" please boycott Wal-mart, K-Mart and Target. Please don't go to the mall or the local convenience store. Please don't buy any fast food (or any groceries at all for that matter).

For 24 hours, please do what you can to shut the retail economy down. The object is simple. Remind the people in power that the war in Iraq is immoral and illegal; that they are responsible for starting it and that it is their responsibility to stop it.

"Not One Damn Dime Day" is to remind them, too, that they work for the people of the United States of America, not for the international corporations and K Street lobbyists who represent the corporations and funnel cash into American politics.

"Not One Damn Dime Day" is about supporting the troops. The politicians put the troops in harm's way. Now over 1,300 brave young Americans and (some estimate) 100,000 Iraqis have died. The politicians owe our troops a plan -- a way to come home.

There's no rally to attend. No marching to do. No left or right wing agenda to rant about. On "Not One Damn Dime Day" you take action by doing nothing. You open your mouth by keeping your wallet closed.

For 24 hours, nothing gets spent, not one damn dime, to remind our religious leaders and our politicians of their moral responsibility to end the war in Iraq and give America back to the people.

I'm all for the sentiment, and I think attacking the funders of the right economically is a great idea that we should develop. (Don't forget to visit BuyBlue.org!)

I'm not sure anyone will notice one day of non-spending, and we'll all make up for it the next day so it cancels itself out. I think it is better to target specific companies and never spend any money with them, and publicize the reasons, and make the practice widespread. The old "boycott grapes" and "dolphin-safe tuna" campaigns worked. I think the blue half of the country should make it clear that we do not tolerate corporate funding of fascism.

Update BuyBlue's list is down. Use Choose The Blue.

One thing for sure -- avoid doing business with these companies.

The Real Question

You'll probably read a lot today about President Bush's interview with the Washington Times. President outlines role of his faith:
"'I think people attack me because they are fearful that I will then say that you're not equally as patriotic if you're not a religious person,' Mr. Bush said. 'I've never said that. I've never acted like that. I think that's just the way it is.

'On the other hand, I think more and more people understand the importance of faith in their life,' he said. 'America is a remarkable place when it comes to religion and faith. We had people come to our rallies who were there specifically to say, 'I'm here to pray for you, let you know I'm praying for you.' And I was very grateful about that.' "
The REAL question here should be why is the President giving an interview to the Moonies? What is his relationship with the Moonies? Why is he validating their propaganda operation - the paper costs the Moonies $100 million a year - by giving them exclusive interviews?

The Right uses attacks on credibility to win their arguments. Instead of arguing the facts in Fahrenheit-9/11, for example, they attack Michael Moore, and try to use humiliation and shame as a weapon. As a result, many "centrist" Democrats run from any association with Moore and from the points he makes. Yet right-wingers feel free to say and do the most outrageous things. One of the most outrageous is their relationship with the Moonies.


Joe Trippi Endorses Rosenberg, Not Dean, For DNC

On the day Howard Dean announces his candidacy for Chair of the DNC, Joe Trippi Endorses Simon Rosenberg.

We Need A Blog Drumbeat

Chris, at MyDD, in Armstrong Williams is a Crack in the Matrix:
"The only way that Armstrong Williams can be considered an isolated incident is that he is the rare crack in the matrix of the Republican Noise Machine that actually is now visible to the public.

[. . .] The FOIA requests underway on this matter are an excellent piece of work, but they are not enough. This is perhaps the best chance we have ever had to hold the Republican Noise Machine up to public scrutiny and do real damage to the "liberal media" narrative. We must take immediate action on this story.

[. . .] We do not have a large window on this story, and I have little doubt that many people with a great deal of influence over our national discourse would prefer to see it swept under the rug. However, if we can start the ball rolling on this story before the FOIA requests even come out, it could have a tremendous snowballing effect. We need to act now."
We need a blog drumbeat on this story until the "mainstream press" has to cover it. This is a BIG DEAL. This is our government paying right-wingers to repeat right-wing propaganda. It is a major crime. And it says a lot about what has been happening in this country! WHO ELSE IS BEING PAID? AND WHO IS PAYING?

Beyond direct government payments, who is being paid by the Right's heavily-funded network of "advocacy" organizations to propagandize us? Who is being paid by corporate trade associations to advocate "tort reform?" Who is being paid by oil companies and their fronts to say global warming is not a problem? The Armstrong Williams case opens up a crack in the door to this use of paid propaganda disguised as "news," designed to influence the public to support Republican policies and candidates!

And, this case demonstrates the reach of this practice -- I mean, Armstrong Williams? If they're paying HIM a quarter of a million dollars cash, just imagine who else is getting paid, and just imagine the amounts they are paid!

This is huge. This is the White House again caught red-handed engaging in criminal activities.

Bloggers, keep this story alive!

More on Roemer/Mercatus

TAPPED has more info about the Mercatus Center, a right-wing-financed "think tank" where DNC candidate Tim Roemer currently works. (I had a post on this the other day.)

Tapped asks:
"Democrats, such as Roemer, who shill for the Mercatus Center are giving bi-partisan cover to an institution that has a long track record of working against much of what the Democratic Party's leadership and interest groups have fought for over the past 35 years. I'd be curious to know what Mercatus paid Roemer to promote their Capitol Hill Campus outreach and education program."
I think we should all be asking Tim Roemer why he is running for Chair of the Democratic Party, while working for a right-wing-funded organization that exists for the purpose of persuading Members of Congress to support right-wing proposals!


Mac mini - $499.

Apple becomes reality-based.

Blog Ads

I just took a short cruise around the right-wing blogosphere. I noticed that lots of sites have several ads. I don't see this happening, at least not as many, at Progressive blogs with roughly the same level of readership. What's up? Why is the Right ALWAYS more willing to support their own financially?

Use Them As Food?

Slacktivist says Eating people is wrong
http://direland.typepad.com/direland/2005/01/the_democratic_.html bad advice

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2005/0501.sullivan.html consultants

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6803476/site/newsweek/ clinton-bush

http://www.christianitytoday.com/bc/2005/001/3.8.html evangelical


http://kenmacleod.blogspot.com/2005_01_01_kenmacleod_archive.html#110528827127572642 art

http://www.mltoday.com//Pages/BooksReviews/Review-Saunders.html Art

http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0103-26.htm wellstone


I Swear - Now Your Turn, Journalists

I swear that I have never taken money -- neither directly nor indirectly -- from any political campaign or government agency -- whether federal, state, or local -- in exchange for any service performed in my job as a journalist (or commentator, or blogger, or whatever you think I should be called).

(VIA Atrios)

The "Conventional Wisdom" Machine

I was having a conversation today about the gap between what blog readers know and the "conventional wisdom" that the "Washington Elite" -- opinion leaders, legislators, their staffs and the circles they associate with -- think they know. It brought to mind an old post (Sept 2002!), Getting Rolled. From that post:
How often have Congressional Democrats been rolled by the Republican machine, voted for something they shouldn't have, and then been blamed by the Republicans for the drastic consequences?

The events typically follow a pattern. The extremely powerful Republican media machine sets up an environment that convinces the Washington politicians that it will be very difficult politically to vote against them, and makes sure that the vote happens quickly - before opposing forces have time to realize what's going on and rally enough real people on the other side to demonstrate that there really is support for non-Republican positions.

How many times have we seen this process at work? It is the careful creation of a local environment calculated to maximize pressure on the legislators at the best possible moment. The phony Republican news events, the "independent" media playing along & following their script, the AM radio 24-hour-a-day Republican drumbeat pounding out the lies, the slurry of misleading or blatantly deceitful op-ed pieces filling the editorial pages, the dittohead letters to the editor (or "astroturf" - phony grassroots letters generated by a marketing firm), the pack of columnists writing according to instructions FAXed over from the Heritage Foundation (follow the NEA smear for an example) (second NEA smear link here), pretty soon all the news stories reflect the Republican line and repeat the Republican falsehoods.

It becomes a drumbeat of constant repetition of the same lines over and over and over until they become "conventional wisdom." "Everybody knows that" so-and-so is true so there's no point wasting your energy trying to say it ain't so. Polls then show that the public (deprived of any contrasting information) solidly favors the Republican position. Calls and letters flood in to Congressional offices (from Christian Coalition phone banks). Democrats start to worry about their chances of holding office if they oppose the Republicans on this one vote.

Then the vote comes up in the Congress, and enough Democrats - afraid that Rush Limbaugh will say something bad about them, and mired in a Washington "bubble" environment cut off from their constituents - vote with the Republicans to get the issue through and out of the way. Tax cuts, budget cuts, right-wing judges, "compromises" on health care or welfare or energy... and Bush slides it past the voters as a "bipartisan" win for the Republicans.

I call this process "The Forest." We have now seen it happen enough times that we can recognize what's happening and even predict the next move. What's unfortunate is how the Democrats in Washington fall into the same trap every time. Now it's happening on the ultimate issue - war and peace, life and death.
America's political elite live in an information bubble. It's like the Right has set up a "conventional wisdom machine" that is targeted at opinion leaders, legislators, their staffs and the circles they associate with. Heavily-funded right-wing organizations work to infiltrate their message into the information that these "leadership elite" receive. They achieve this in many ways. One way, of course, is that they have their very own bought-and-paid-for media outlets like Fox, the Washington Times, and most of AM radio. But they also have worked to get the more mainstream opinion leaders under their influence. Influential columnists and reporters receive large speaking fees from corporations and trade associations. They get free "retreats" where they learn about "market solutions." And everyone is certainly afraid of the shame and humiliation should they become the target of the character assassination machine. That acts as a powerful incentive to toe the line and reject "marginalized" information sources -- people like Scott Ritter and Michael Moore, constituents complaining about election fraud, and Progressive online news sources or blogs (those terrible things that leaked the exit polls) -- and stick to "credible" sources.

The Armstrong Williams scandal shows us the amounts of money involved in, and the "reach" of this effort. I mean, Armstrong Williams? If Armstrong Williams is getting $240,000 directly from the government, imagine what mainstream opinion leaders are getting from the big-money corporate trade associations, right-wing think tanks, etc. -- over (speaking fees, travel, gifts) and under (bribes, like Williams got) the table.

The amounts of money the Right is putting into their outside-the-election-process propaganda effort -- over $300 million a year just for the think tank/advocacy communication infrastructure -- ought to warn us that most of the traditional channels through which "the leadership elite" get their info are likely targets of this effort.

Marginalizing sources like blogs is one way to scare Washington types away from the info they contain. Reading blogs is a way to break through that bubble.

Update - See also The Conservative Marketing Machine, by Laurie Spivak

Vote For Gonzales == Vote For Torture

From Will the U.S. Senate Endorse Torture?
. . . In the past, Congress has meted out punishments to presidents or their prospective appointees for far lesser transgressions than culpability in torture. For example, President Bill Clinton was impeached—a rarity in American history—by Congress for having sex with an intern and lying about it. Although Clinton was guilty of bad behavior, this breach of ethics nowhere approached the severity of enabling the brutal treatment of prisoners in the government’s custody. Similarly, Congress denied Judge Robert Bork a seat on the Supreme Court, not because his sentencing of prisoners was too harsh, but because it merely viewed his policy views as out of the mainstream.

Although I dislike the term “un-American”—since throughout U.S. history it has often been applied to people who disagreed with whatever war was then the rage—I think the term can safely be applied to torture. Congress should deny high office to anyone who helps create a bureaucratic climate that implicitly endorses such reprehensible behavior. Gonzales has done exactly that.

Jail time for moms who miscarry

That is what HB1677, or the “Report of Fetal Death by mother, penalty” bill, introduced into the Virginia Legislature by Delegate John Cosgrove, would require. If you are a woman and you have a miscarriage--not an abortion--away from a medical center where such things are automatically reported, Cosgrove's bill would require you to report the miscarriage to the police department within 12 hours-- barely enough time to get over the physical pain and exhaustion, the tears with your partner over losing the child you have been prayng for, and the grieving call to your parents and in-laws. Miss that 12 hours by one minute, and you could find yourself facing a self-rightous prosecutor who wants you put you in line for a $2500 fine and a 12 month jail term with the well-know potential for jailhouse rape and beatings. The full story at Democracy for Virgina. An email campaign to Delegate Cosgrove, the author of this attempt to further control women's bodies can be found at mansworldnot.


A letter to the editor, NY Times, Online Debate Forums,
As the administrator of the Web site Democratic Underground, I am perplexed as to why you would consider an obscure posting on a busy Internet discussion forum to be worthy of an article ("Myths Run Wild in Blog Tsunami Debate," news article, Jan. 3).

Your article did not make clear that the message in question was posted by a completely anonymous individual, whose identity and political agenda are impossible to determine. The article also did not mention that the posting appeared to be an innocent question from a person guilty of nothing more than ignorance. Indeed, the posting's title (which you did not mention) was "One more dumb question regarding the earthquake in Asia."

Our discussion forum is different from a traditional blog. We get approximately 25,000 messages posted each day, and we cannot possibly check them all for accuracy.

It is fairly common for right-wing Web sites to cherry-pick the most extreme or outlandish posts from our forum in order to paint all liberals as wacky or extreme. I was surprised to see The Times doing it, too.
But BLOGS don't have credibility. The NY Times and the Washington Post and Armstrong Williams have credibility.


I really should have trademarked the name.


What's So Funny?

As I walk through
This wicked world
Searchin’ for light in the darkness of insanity.

I ask myself
Is all hope lost?
Is there only pain and hatred and misery?

And each time I feel like this inside,
There’s one thing I wanna know:
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding?

And as I walked on
Through troubled times
My spirit gets so downhearted sometimes
So where are the strong
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?
Sweet harmony.

’Cause each time I feel it slippin’ away, just makes me wanna cry.
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding?

So where are the strong?
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?
Sweet harmony.

’Cause each time I feel it slippin’ away, just makes me wanna cry.
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding?

No poll

Screw Credibility

Recently Digby wrote about an astonishing Harvard conference on political blogging. Of the 43 participants, only about 3 or 4 were free-lance bloggers. Everyone else represented an institution, and while all but two had some internet presence, the majority were best known for their non-internet work.

Bloggers apparently don't have credibility. Judy Fucking Miller has credibility, and William Fucking Safire has credibility, but bloggers don’t. Matt Yglesias, Kevin Drum, and Josh Micah Marshall strive for credibility, but they weren't invited. They might as well all have been off in Vegas playing poker with the infamous Bartcop.

The major media has lost the ability to control the political dialogue. No one can say “That’s the way it is” any more. But media people are fighting hard to maintain their status, and that’s why the credibility issue is raised. (In Digby’s comments, the blogger Susan Madrak – once a professional journalist – talks about the fear and hostility she encounters when representing bloggers at journalistic events.)

People who promote Judith Miller, but fire Robert Parry, really need to shut up about credibility. “Credibility” is just the conventional wisdom -- if you disagree with it, you’re not credible. (Scott Ritter knew as much about the facts of Iraqi WMD as anyone did, and he was right when almost everyone else was wrong, but do you see him on TV any more, or read him in the NYT? No. Not credible.)

Two things are happening here. First, there is no middle any more. This is mostly because the hard right is trying to take over the country by any means necessary, and destroying moderates (including Republican moderates) is part of their game. They have many plants in the media itself -- especially at the relatively-anonymous high levels, including ownership – and rightwing activists outside the media have learned that if they complain all the time about everything, often they’ll get their way. (This accounts for a supposed paradox: why do both liberals and conservatives hate the media? It’s because the conservatives are faking it. They know as well as liberals do that Dan Rather wasn’t really a liberal, but they can win by lying and smearing, so they do it.)

The second thing is more positive. Faceless copyeditors and other behind-the-scenes pros try to control the spin of news by highlighting some stories, downplaying others, and hardening or softening the main point. Various tricks can be used to suppress a story: putting it on page 16 with a small, misleading headline and burying the point of the story in the 9th paragraph sum up the most common ones.

With the internet, this arbiter function is lost. Every man can be his own I.F. Stone now. Stone used to say that you could always find the truth in the newspapers, but it would often be in a short paragraph on page sixteen. Most of the damage that bloggers do to the established media doesn’t come from independent reporting, but from displacing the copy editors by highlighting stories the editors wanted to downplay.

I’ve talked about this before, and I’ll have lot more to say later. For right now, I’ll just say that the Democratic Party’s timidity about bloggers is a good example of the way that Democrats’ institutional, bureaucratic commitments cripple them, and that the quest for credibility is not worth bothering with, since Rove, Norquist, Bush, and Cheney are out to destroy us any way they can. There's no middle any more.

P. S. Note that I didn't even mention Armstrong Williams.