Saturday, April 12, 2008

GT vs. DH: Jetboat Racing on the Willamette

Crallspace points out that there's a slight discrepancy in two stories covering the recent cancellation of jetboat races on the Willamette.

The races were cancelled, as far as I know, due to complaints and public outcry regarding the noise and pollution.

How the DH story explains the cancellation and opposition:

Gary Weaver of Crabtree, who serves on the association board and had lobbied to have the races based in Albany, said the event was called off because it had not yet heard from the State Marine Board and was running out of time.


The planned event got opposition from Willamette Riverkeeper, a Portland-based conservation group which suggested Detroit Lake as a better venue, the Corvallis Gazette-Times reported.

How the GT handles the same:

“(The Marine Board) just had too many letters of complaint,” said Tim Harding, SOPBA vice president. “The end result was to take it to a community that wanted us.”


Ashley Massey, spokeswoman for the Marine Board, said the agency had received more than 1,000 e-mails and letters about the race. She said the letters had not yet been tallied to determined how many were against the event and how many were in support.


Conservation organization Willamette Riverkeeper encouraged its 1,500 members to urge the Marine Board to deny the application. The group officially opposed the race and argued that a better location would be Detroit Lake or some other body of water where motorboating is more common.

Do you see the discrepancy? The DH story completely omits any context as to why there was opposition or who the opposition was (it was more complex than Willamette Riverkeeper), instead relying on pro-jetboat sources.

It reads like a retyped press release.

This is not meant to be an attack on the reporter who wrote the DH story. There are plenty of possible reasons the story was garbage that have nothing to do with the reporter.

However, the fact remains that the DH story was bad journalism. It lacked important information and context regarding the event.

I wonder if we'll see a follow-up or correction. Something tells me the DH editor won't see the need.

"There is no justice in this world." - Huey Freeman, The Boondocks

From the New York Times:

In a major shift of policy, the Justice Department, once known for taking down giant corporations, including the accounting firm Arthur Andersen, has put off prosecuting more than 50 companies suspected of wrongdoing over the last three years.

Instead, many companies, from boutique outfits to immense corporations like American Express, have avoided the cost and stigma of defending themselves against criminal charges with a so-called deferred prosecution agreement, which allows the government to collect fines and appoint an outside monitor to impose internal reforms without going through a trial. In many cases, the name of the monitor and the details of the agreement are kept secret.

In other words, the government is enacting a whole new set of practices designed solely to protect corporations from having to follow the law.

I'd be more optimistic if I thought Clinton OR Obama would put a swift end to this practice.

As is, it's another piece of evidence of how thoroughly belief that private property is sacred has permeated mainstream American culture - and rather completely corrupted the Justice Department.

It's disgusting.

From the 'WTF?' files - or, What It Means To Be A Real American

I've been paying a lot of attention to politics and the media my entire adult life, and I still can't believe this actually happened.

SHUSTER: Well, here's the other thing that we saw on the tape, Chris, is that, when Obama went in, he was offered coffee, and he said, "I'll have orange juice."


SHUSTER: He did.

And it's just one of those sort of weird things. You know, when the owner of the diner says, "Here, have some coffee," you say, "Yes, thank you," and, "Oh, can I also please have some orange juice, in addition to this?" You don't just say, "No, I'll take orange juice," and then turn away and start shaking hands. That's what happens [unintelligible] --

MATTHEWS: You don't ask for a substitute on the menu.

Chris Matthews is insane.

Perhaps in the future, he will be considered the greatest satirist of all time. People will look back and wonder how he got away with having what was so obviously a brilliant comedy show on a 'news' network (and how he managed to never break character, not even once).

In the meantime....

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


I had one long day today, but something pretty fun happened at the end of it: I got to have drinks and talk with Mark Rudd, formerly of Students for a Democratic Society.

Plenty of my friends were there, and the conversation was great. I've not the time or energy to rehash things now, but there is thing that is really stuck in my mind that I want to try and get out before I go to bed.

Let me also add that the writing of this post was prompted by this Atrios post.

The larger conversation we were having was around the idea of organizing - what is organizing? How do we define the term? What historical models can we draw on? And - and this came up repeatedly - what's the deal with the kids today? Why are/aren't they organizing? (And I say kids because I am indeed talking about people who are still in high school.)

At one point, the conversation wandered over to electoral politics: What's the deal with that Obama guy? What is he doing to create such a groundswell, especially among youth?

Earlier, Rudd had raised the idea that for many youth, something happened in 2005-2006 that really pierced the usual haze; he suggested it was the combination of Katrina and the mainstreaming of the realization that Iraq was lost. I think he's right.

Putting that together with the Obama phenomenon, I suggested that it's possible the left (broadly and vaguely construed, as always) missed an incredible opportunity by not organizing around that sea change in perspective, by not anticipating and being ready for it, and - frankly - by letting it get sucked into electoral politics and Obama (who, for all his virtues, is not talking about capitalism or imperialism in near the same way he's addressing race and even gender).

The point is - and this is a damn exciting thought for me - that something is going on. Something is piercing the atomized, consumerist haze we normally walk around, at least for a few more people than normal. The potential for change hasn't been this great since, well, before I was an adult - and that means it's time to revive once-common and now-heretic ideas like free education and radical limits on corporate power.

I know this thought is barely coherent and completely undeveloped, but I wanted to get it down and out there before I crash.

Also, Mark had a great question: What is organizing?

Leave your answers in the comments.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Yes, that's FUCK, in BIG FAT LETTERS.

What else do you say to this?

The exact circumstances surrounding the dealings between Haynes and Yoo that led to the development of this memorandum are unclear. However, it is clear that Haynes had previously authorized the use of the torture techniques, and had secured an order from Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld authorizing them.

Following the implementation of these techniques, more than 108 detainees died in detention. In a large number of these cases, the deaths have been ruled a homicide and connected to torture.

I know: It was done in our name and we didn't stop it.

Building and Composition

The National's "Fake Empire," off Boxer.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Death of a Newspaper

Eric Alterman has a great essay in The New Yorker. I've been meaning to blog about it for a week or more, but.... I just haven't. Instead, I'm going to link and excerpt:

In a recent episode of “The Simpsons,” a cartoon version of Dan Rather introduced a debate panel featuring “Ron Lehar, a print journalist from the Washington Post.” This inspired Bart’s nemesis Nelson to shout, “Haw haw! Your medium is dying!”

“Nelson!” Principal Skinner admonished the boy.

“But it is!” was the young man’s reply.

Nelson is right. Newspapers are dying; the evidence of diminishment in economic vitality, editorial quality, depth, personnel, and the over-all number of papers is everywhere. What this portends for the future is complicated. Three years ago, Rupert Murdoch warned newspaper editors, “Many of us have been remarkably, unaccountably complacent . . . quietly hoping that this thing called the digital revolution would just limp along.” Today, almost all serious newspapers are scrambling to adapt themselves to the technological and community-building opportunities offered by digital news delivery...


Finally, we need to consider what will become of those people, both at home and abroad, who depend on such journalistic enterprises to keep them safe from various forms of torture, oppression, and injustice. “People do awful things to each other,” the veteran war photographer George Guthrie says in “Night and Day,” Tom Stoppard’s 1978 play about foreign correspondents. “But it’s worse in places where everybody is kept in the dark.” Ever since James Franklin’s New England Courant started coming off the presses, the daily newspaper, more than any other medium, has provided the information that the nation needed if it was to be kept out of “the dark.” Just how an Internet-based news culture can spread the kind of “light” that is necessary to prevent terrible things, without the armies of reporters and photographers that newspapers have traditionally employed, is a question that even the most ardent democrat in John Dewey’s tradition may not wish to see answered.

[teh stupid] Speaking of abstinence-only education...


At least one in four teenage girls nationwide has a sexually transmitted disease, or more than 3 million teens, according to the first study of its kind in this age group.

CBS again:

On The Early Show Friday, [Kate] Walsh told co-anchor Julie Chen, "Abstinence-only is not working. It's a $1.5 billion program over the last ten years that has, quite frankly, failed. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reported that one-in-four teenage girls (in the US) between the ages of 14 and 19 are infected with STIs (sexually transmitted infections), and that, to me, is appalling and shameful. And in the age of information, these women are just not getting adequate information."

Walsh says there's urgent need for a change in the way sex ed funds are appropriated: "In addition to abstinence, which is fine, there just needs to be a comprehensive sex education program, and we can't be relying on, you know, private foundations or parents or, you know, teens' peers to be educating each other. We really do need government help on this.

"It's a shame to me that we spend money on educating our kids on history, math, science, English literature, and we can't educate them sexually. And it's proof in these statistics. It's just shameful to me that, in our country, that these young women are being infected because they honestly just don't have the information.

"Abstinence is one aspect of sex education," Walsh continued, "but it is not the complete aspect. And to expect, I think, everybody to remain abstinent, it's like asking them not to grow. It's like we don't ask people to not try out for sports. We don't ask people to stop learning. It's just a natural human process, and we need to be educating people. If abstinence-only did work, we wouldn't be seeing these kinds of statistics. We wouldn't be seeing these young women suffering like this."

Go Kate Walsh!

.... and, no, I am not in favor of abstinence-only education. I think it's a moral crime to deny individuals knowledge that could literally save their life and then pretend that you've taken the moral high ground.

Remember: Good intentions don't prevent pregnancy.

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