Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Adam Mordecai on Iraq and VP Speculation

Adam Mordecai on Iraq and VP Speculation

Adam Mordecai has some really good commentary at his Change For America blog today.

The first is "Why Rumsfeld Must Go (Reason 4593 )" which is related to the Army's recent calling forth of 5600 soldiers in the Individual Ready Reserve. Adam considers the topic of unilateralism in Iraq and discusses why he believes (as I believe) it never has and is never going to work.

In another post, Adam tosses around and rips apart the Drudge headline-du-jour (a la CAPS) about 'Hillary-as-VP' speculation.

I was amused the title of Adam's post about the failure of the fine folks of Missouri to wholeheartedly support Dick Gephardt as VP candidate ("Mommy Doesn't Love Me").

"OUTFOXED"-New Documentary Takes on FOX Distortions

OUTFOXED: New Documentary Takes On FOX Distortions

I've been waiting for a documentary like this to be made...and here it is!

Sign up to host or attend a house party on July 18th to see this new documentary.

For years, Fox News has been distorting the facts, covering for President Bush, and bashing groups like MoveOn. Now "Uncovered" director Robert Greenwald -- working with a group of Fox-monitoring MoveOn members -- has put together a documentary film that exposes Fox for what it is: partisan spin, not news.

We're using this movie to launch an organizing campaign with Common Cause and other great groups to "out" Fox News -- making sure everyone in the country knows the network is stumping for the Republican agenda.

Be among the first to see this new movie, help others see it, and take on Fox by hosting an Outfoxed house party on Sunday evening, July 18th. Sign up at:

On Sunday, July 18th, we'll get together to see the compelling evidence of Fox's partisanship presented in the Outfoxed film. Then we'll all join an interactive coast-to-coast conference call with Al Franken and director Robert Greenwald, to plan out how we'll take on Fox and take back our media.

No excuse for deer-in-headlights Bush 9/11

No excuse for deer-in-the-headlights Bush on 9/11

Fahrenheit 9/11 shows us what all the misleading advertising in the world couldn't cover up: When faced with a real emergency, George W. Bush, with nobody to tell him what to say or how to act, simply froze. For almost seven minutes on September 11, America was paying a $400,000 yearly salary to an ice sculpture. I dare any pundit, any handler, anybody who supports this loser to explain this away.

The Angry Liberal has written an outstanding piece comparing and contrasting Bush's seven stunned minutes of dazed inaction and confused indecisiveness on the morning of 9/11 with "the Stillson moment" from the movie (and book) The Dead Zone.

Social Science, the Media, and 9/11

Social Science, Reuters, and 9/11

The identification of persistent patterns in the semantic structures of different sources, which are typically beyond the scope of individual observation, opens the way for a new understanding of the manner in which we are affected by institutions that surround us in our daily lives.

This particular study was conducted by a panel of social scientists utilizing CRA (a bundle of techniques which transforms the structure of natural occurring text into a semantic). The patterns used stemmed from actual Reuters news tickers from the period between 9/11 and November 15, 2001. I found it to be fascinating.

The study claims:

Many factors affect how news is produced and which of these reach a final audience; governments have to present themselves in favorable ways to maintain trust and confidence in their effectiveness. This is especially true in times of crisis (such as 9/11). Timing and coordinated presentation are one of the ways to achieve this, and non-disclosure and classification of certain information are another. News companies are intermediaries that collect and disseminate information to clients and customers. These organizations are by no means completely objective and do not just simply provide the facts. Maintaining successful customer relationships also means the need for news organizations to adapt to customer preferences; certain news stories might be less desirable than others while yet other slants may be more preferred or easier to communicate. Mass communication cannot be expected to be independent of what people like to hear and what editors (or owners) want to present.

Especially in times of significant events like September 11, news reports can be expected to reflect a complicated mixture of many influences. Until now empirical social science has had difficulty coping with the complexities of mass communication. The sheer amount of information transmitted in today?s system of mass communications has until very recently been completely out of reach of the analytical abilities of most social scientists. Modern computers, powerful analytical tools, advances in network analysis and recent developments in visualization techniques together with advances in applications of natural language computing technology, like CRA, promise to change all this.

I found it interesting that, given the foreign policy implications of 9/11, the data suggested that Colin Powell has played less of a role then might be expected given his formal status as the President's chief foreign policy advisor and that Rumsfeld played more of a role than might be expected given his formal status as Secretary of Defense, at least as depicted in Reuters news tickers over the period analyzed. What that means in terms of the workings of the White House inner circle is still open to interpretation. However, this does stand in stark contrast to earlier administrations and U.S. military interventions where, for example, Secretary of State Albright in the former Clinton Administration spearheaded the war in Kosovo.

Given the fact that Colin Powell does not plan to return as Bush's Secretary of State (should Bush be re-elected), I believe this scientific information may lead us to a further understanding of some of his reasons and help us to interpret the White House role.

Why I think Dems Will Win in November

Why I think Dems Will Win in November

I read this on today's ABC News Political Note and I wanted to repeat it because I think it's an all-important weight to be considered (to the Democrat's benefit) in predicting November's presidential election outcome:

Nearly every political reporter in America is having the same experience — they keep finding Republicans who say they will never vote again for President Bush (over the war and the deficit, usually) but they have a heck of a time finding anyone who voted for Gore in 2000 who are now certain that they will vote for Bush (and Gore apparently won the popular vote).

Is it a gift if it creates more terror? Are we safer?

Is it a gift if it creates terror? Are we safer?

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time — but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics."

Paul Krugman, in his latest N.Y. Times column, explains how auditing of the Coaltition Provision Authority's use of Iraqi oil revenues never quite got up to speed before the CPA dissolved. When you combine that with the obvious fact that the U.S. made Iraq a "playground for right-wing economic theorists, an employment agency for friends and family, and a source of lucrative contracts for corporate donors", you can't wonder why good will was never forged with the already-distrusting Iraqi people.

NeoCon Michael Ledeen has publically and proudly said "the level of casualties [in Iraq] is secondary" because "we are a warlike people" and "we love war."

Who are we...or the Iraqi doubt him?

Are we Americans safer for giving the gift of right-wing politics via cronyism and blood to Iraq?