Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for February 25th, 2007

And the Oscar Goes To…

Posted by MEC on February 25, 2007

“An Inconvenient Truth”.

Not bad for a PowerPoint presentation, eh?

Posted in Al Gore, climate change, Good Things | 1 Comment »

In Which The Wege Cuts Loose Upon Dane Smith And The StarTribune

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 25, 2007

Norwegianity’s boss Mark Gisleson is the Samuel L. Jackson of bloggers, and he shows it yet again today in yet another righteous posting, this time about the Strib’s reprinting as news the local GOP’s attack talking points on Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie’s efforts to get more people in the voting booth while cutting back on red tape and bureaucracy:

The Star Tribune apparently sees no difference between a Republican activist Secretary of State trying to prevent people from voting, and a Democratic activist elected Secretary of State trying to increase voter turnout.

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I don’t know if I had an opinion of Dane Smith before, but it’s hard not to think nasty thoughts about a “reporter” who quotes a Republican activist who ran an anonymous attack blog on the topic of appropriate behavior.

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Michael “Angry Franken” Brodkorb is a former state of Minnesota Republican party officer, who, while still working for the Republicans, started Minnesota Democrats Exposed, a shallow, vituperative attack blog focused exclusively on the left and all our works and all our ways. His disclosures have all been tardy, his admissions after the fact, corrections run rarely if at all, and his rhetoric is juvenilely inflated for the benefit of his not terribly savvy audience.

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For Swiftee-enabled visitors, Norwegianity differs from MDE in that I’ve never hidden my identity, I rip on Democrats as well as Republicans, and I never try to pass off “tips” as any kind of journalism. Not that I get any tips — the DFL and I aren’t on speaking terms.

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For the Star Tribune to mention Michael “Angry Franken” Brodkorb’s name WITHOUT the necessary context is tantamount to D.J. Tice saying the Strib is now an official house organ of the Republican party. Or maybe Dane Smith is partisan/clueless all on his own, and D.J. had the weekend off and had nothing to do with this.

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Either way, it’s a black eye for the Strib, but thank goodness the only person blogging about this so far is me, a pottymouth Kate Parry feels free to ignore because using bad language makes you a bad person.

Mark Ritchie and his plans for voting reform have been mentioned before in MR.  He’s a vast improvement over his predecessor, the nuttily partisan Mary Kiffmeyer

Gisleson makes an important point that the local wing of the Republican Noise Machine, which has spent most of my adulthood pretending that the StarTribune is some sort of hyper-liberal outfit simply because its editorial staff wasn’t hand-picked by Bull Connor, would like to obscure:  The Strib’s newsroom is run by D.J. “Doug” Tice, who is never going to be confused with Leon Trotsky anytime soon.  (Wesbrook Pegler’s more his speed.)

Posted in blogger ethics, blogs and blogging, D.J. Tice, distractions, eedjits, Flying Monkey Right, GOP/Media Complex, Republicans acting badly, StarTribune, The smear industry | 1 Comment »

The Russian Enigma

Posted by Charles II on February 25, 2007

Two very different articles about what is going on in Russia came out today. Michael Specter describes a gangster state, in which

Since 1999, when Vladimir Putin, a career KGB officer, was, in effect, anointed as president by Boris Yeltsin, 13 journalists have been murdered in Russia. … The attacks have not been limited to journalists. In September 2004 Viktor Yushchenko, a candidate for president of Ukraine, who helped lead the Orange Revolution and who was vigorously opposed by Putin, barely survived a poisoning. Doctors determined that he had been given the deadly chemical dioxin, which left his face disfigured and his health severely impaired. Since then two members of the duma, the Russian parliament, have been assassinated, and last September Andrei Kozlov, the deputy chief of Russia’s central bank, was shot outside a Moscow stadium following a company football match. Kozlov had initiated a highly visible effort to rid the country of banks that were little more than fronts for organised crime. And just a few weeks ago, in an execution that could have been planned by Al Capone, Movladi Baisarov, a former Chechen special forces officer who had come to be seen by the prime minister Ramzan Kadyrov as a rival, was gunned down on Leninsky Prospekt, one of Moscow’s busiest thoroughfares. … In July…the duma passed a law, introduced by the Kremlin, to permit the assassination of ‘enemies of the Russian regime’ abroad….On 14 April 2001 the state-controlled energy monolith, Gazprom, forcibly took over NTV … Networks soon became wholly owned by the state or by companies – like Gazprom, which owns three networks and also Izvestia – that function as corporate arms of the government….With 30 per cent of the world’s gas exports, Russia can impose its will for one simple reason. ‘The entire world is obsessed with energy security and resources,’ Fyodor Lukyanov, the editor of Russia in Global Affairs, told me. ‘You need it. We have it. It is up to us to decide how to deal with that. India and China are seeking new sources of energy to secure their very rapid growth. The US is lost in its war in Iraq, the European Union has no idea what it is any more. And then there is Russia: stable, wealthy, controlled very solidly….’

Then there is a second article, this by Toronto Sun columnist Eric Margolis

Vladimir Putin’s harsh criticism of U.S. military and foreign policy on February 10 should have set off alarm bells in the West, but apparently did not.  In a startlingly blunt speech at a Munich security conference, Russia’s president accused Washington of seeking world domination, undermining the UN and other international institutions, monopolizing world energy resources, destabilizing the Mideast by its bungled occupation of Iraq, and unleashing a new nuclear arms race by planning to deploy anti-missile systems in Eastern Europe. Russia has long fumed over NATO’s advance to its western borders, and Washington’s attempts to replace Moscow’s influence in Ukraine, the Caucasus, and Central Asia…Putin’s speech also suggested Russia will take a more active role in the Mideast. This could be a positive development given the striking inability of the Bush/Cheney Administration to separate itself from the interests of Israel’s right wing parties and return to its traditional role of at least semi-honest broker. Some Europeans also quietly welcomed Putin’s declamation.

These represent two views: one of Russia as a nascent gangster state, the other of an authoritarian Russia as a rational response to US as gangster state. A gangster state, by itself, would pose little challenge, since the populace tends not to support the regime. But if the rise of totalitarianism in Russia is a response, at least in part, to American hegemony, at least as incompetently practiced by George W. Bush, that could be more durable than Putin’s leadership, and far more dangerous. Does Putin see the defeat of the American army in Iraq as an opportunity to expand Russian influence into the Middle East and Europe?

Houston, we have a problem.

Posted in Oil, Russia | Comments Off on The Russian Enigma

Will Generals Resign If Iran Is Attacked?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 25, 2007

As anyone who has a brain not stuffed with BushCo and PNAC propaganda knows, a US attack on Iran would be immoral, illegal and disastrous for virtually everyone but Osama bin Laden and his friends, who would welcome the fresh stream of outraged recruits this would send to him.

In fact, the scuttlebutt is that if Bush does order an attack on Iran, it will cause a fair number of the generals in the Pentagon to resign

Here’s Brent Budowsky on this prospect:

Stories are now circulating suggesting that a number of U.S. Generals intend on resigning in protest if the United States launches an attack against Iran (“US generals ‘will quit’ if Bush orders Iran attack”, The Times, U.K., February 25, 2007).

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Many of us have argued for military, intelligence and diplomatic reasons that an attack against Iran would have catastrophic consequences throughout the Middle East and for our troops in Iraq.

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It is time for the Foreign Relations, Armed Services and Intelligence Committees to follow up on news stories that cannot yet be verified. Is it true that senior American military leaders have indicated they will indeed resign if there is an attack against Iran?

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First the proper Congressional committees and ultimately the American people have a right to know, whether or not our military leaders are alarmed enough by the prospect of another war, to consider resigning.

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The stakes are high, the dangers are real, and time may be short. Congress must assert its role under the Constitution, immediately.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Can the News Media Distinguish Between ‘News’ and ‘Not News’?

Posted by MEC on February 25, 2007

BREAKING NEWS! Romney family tree has polygamy branch

And this is “news” exactly why?

I suspect that if I had an opportunity to ask somebody at the Associated Press, and they deigned to notice my question, they’d explain that it’s news because it’s about somebody who’s in the news, and because it will catch the audience’s attention.

Sorry, not good enough. Getting a reaction of “Ooh! Shiny thing!” doesn’t make something newsworthy.

This is a corollary to Taibbi’s Law. If it’s not relevant, it’s not news.

Sometimes a politician’s family history is newsworthy. For example, it was real news when the Guardian reported that George W. Bush’s grandfather, Prescott Bush, was a director of Union Banking Corporation until the firm had its assets seized for doing business with Nazi Germany.* Prescott Bush’s dealings with Nazi Germany are relevant because his political influence and the family fortune are the foundation of his son’s and grandson’s political careers; and Prescott himself was, by all accounts, a significant presence in his descendants’ lives; and his son and grandson have never repudiated his involvement with our country’s enemy. This details of the Bush family history is still influencing events today.

Mitt Romney’s relationship to his scandalous ancestor is entirely different. His great-grandfather Miles Park Romney, his last polygamist ancestor, died decades before Mitt was born. He has condemned polygamy and the Mormons’ polygamous past.

This Associated Press story is as relevant to Mitt Romney’s political career as the reports that George W. Bush is descended from William the Conqueror — maybe less so, because Romney’s behavior has less in common with this ancestor’s.

Those reports about Bush’s genealogy were presented as a odd little sidebar to the campaign, amusing but unimportant. The Associated Press report cited above is presented as news — as if this detail of the Romney family’s past should influence our opinion of Mitt Romney as a presidential candidate.

There are lots of reasons to decide not to support Mitt Romney’s candidacy, but what his great-grandfather did long before he was born, that is not a factor in his descendants’ actions and achievements, is not one of them.

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(* And that’s another corollary to Taibbi’s Law: Just because the vast majority of the news media ignore something doesn’t mean it isn’t news.)

Posted in beat the press, distractions, media, mediawhores, Mitt Romney, Republicans, Taibbi's Law, The smear industry | Comments Off on Can the News Media Distinguish Between ‘News’ and ‘Not News’?

The Ballad of Sarasota

Posted by Charles II on February 25, 2007

By Lori Rosolowsky, here.

(Thanks to Joan Brunwasser of OpEd News).

Posted in election theft, Florida (where magical things happen), Just for fun | Comments Off on The Ballad of Sarasota

 
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