Posts from March 24, 2005

Off-air

Off-air

: Just got off MSNBC’s Connected.

We talked Schiavo links and I’m glad to see Ron and Monica talk about how the rhetoric — especially from Congress — is getting overheated. BlogsForTerri is calling for people to fly to Florida. I hope that is just for a vigil but I fear that the anger is getting red-hot. I also mentioned a petition on MoveOn telling Washington to butt out (funny, you’d think it’d be the Republicans saying Washington should butt out of state business). And I mentioned the split in the Republican party, blogged below, quoting Andrew Sullivan and Joe Gandelman.

: On a general blogging segment, I reported the news on GoogleNews, below, and mentioned the good news of blogs in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia.

And I got to mention the growth of vlogs, pegged to the release of OurMedia.org as a new home for citizens’ multimedia. And we played RocketBoom on the air. Now that’s cool: citizens’ TV on mainstream TV.

Ron said he’d be leaving early to see his vlogging coach.

Good Google news

Good Google news

: GoogleNews has dropped the nazi site. Says InternetNews:

“Google News does not allow hate content,” said Google spokesman Steve Langdon. “If we are made aware of articles that contain hate content, we will remove them.”

Langdon said news media must apply to be included in Google News and that they are evaluated by editors before inclusion. He wouldn’t provide a list of news media that Google News indexes, nor would he give details of the evaluation process or criteria for inclusion.

I still want them to be transparent on that list and on their criteria. And note that some editor did decide to include the nazi site in the feed.

But it’s gone now. Good for Google.

See also GoogleBlogoscoped.

: MORE: This is great… John at Private Radio put up a script that is scraping GoogleNews to discover its news sources. Great work! List is here.

Schiavo

Schiavo

: MSNBC just said that the Supreme Court refused to order reinserting the tube.

Blog confessions

Blog confessions

: Steve Rubel wants Oprah to have bloggers on the show. That’s a scary vision.

GOP meltdown?

GOP meltdown?

: There’s increasing buzz among — what should I call them? nonleftist? — commentators that the Republican party is splitting over the Schiavo case.

I’m not sure the — what should I call them? progressive? — other side should start singing “Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead” quite yet. Bush has Teflon. I don’t think Congress does, though.

Nonetheless, there are clear issues of inconsistency and ideology for the right: fights over whether religion trumps political philosophy.

And that should yield opportunities for Democrats — not by yelling at nya-nyaing at the the Republicans over this too-sensitive story but instead by finding new middleground that; I’m not seeing that yet but I hope I will. Or to put it another way: With this case and others, the Republicans do not stand on clear principle — or they can’t decide what principle to stand on. So the Democrats have the opportunity to stop being a party of complaint and start being a party of principle.

All that said, the opportunity to nya-nya is, of course, irresistable. As Kos says, inspired by a poll that shows 82 percent of Americans opposed Congressional interference in the Schiavo case:

This is turning into a disaster of epic proportions for the GOP. They thought they had the Dems wedged, and instead they have wedged themselves from the American public. Congress is being exposed as the cynical, power-mad, ethics-free zone that it has become under DeLay’s leadership.

On the melting GOP, Andrew Sullivan says:

We’re getting to the point when conservatism has become a political philosophy that believes that government – at the most distant level – has the right to intervene in almost anything to achieve the right solution. Today’s conservatism is becoming yesterday’s liberalism.

And he continues:

It’s been clear now for a while that the religious right controls the base of the Republican party, and that fiscal left-liberals control its spending policy. That’s how you develop a platform that supports massive increases in debt and amending the Constitution for religious right social policy objectives. But the Schiavo case is breaking new ground. For the religious right, states’ rights are only valid if they do not contradict religious teaching. So a state court’s ruling on, say, marriage rights or the right to die, or medical marijuana, must be over-ruled – either by the intervention of the federal Congress or by removing the authority of judges to rule in such cases, or by a Constitutional amendment….

Again, the demands of the religious right pre-empt constitutionalism, federalism, and even the integrity of the family. When conservatism means breaking up the civil bond between a man and his wife, you know it has ceased to be conservative. But we have known that for a long time now. Conservatism is a philosophy without a party in America any more. It has been hijacked by zealots and statists.

Glenn Reynolds quotes blogger Mark Daniels:

In taking jurisdiction over Terri Schiavo’s case from the state courts, where conservative Republicans would have previously said it belonged, and handing it to federal judges, the Republican Party arrogated to the federal government breathtaking new powers that would have made Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan wince.
On his MSNBC.com, Glenn looks at this from various angles, and says this is causing a split between Republicans and libertarians in the party.
Congress’s involvement in this case seems quite “unconservative” to me, at least if one believes in rules of general application….

Quite possibly. National security is the glue that has held Bush’s coalition together. The war isn’t over, and we haven’t won yet, but it’s going well — Austin Bay notes that it’s a war that we are winning — and this is allowing the divisions to show. All of the people I’ve quoted are on the right, and they’re all unhappy. One may argue that libertarians and small-government conservatives aren’t a big part of Bush’s coalition, but his victory wasn’t so huge that the Republicans can surrender very many votes and still expect to win. So this is a real threat.

And Joe Gandelman — who has a great roundup of posts on this here; he is the best rounder-upper around — sums it up this way:

The genie is now out of the bottle: this wing of the GOP is at variance with process conservatives and many libertarians รณ and is defining the party as the party of theocracy.

In other words, if God is on your side, the voters might not be….

: LATER: Of course, this is hardly the only issue to split parties. Hardly. Iraq was hardly unanimous in either party. And I like this description of the political splits in indecency from this week’s Time cover story:

Granted, conservatives and liberals tend to be offended by different things. Conservatives tend to see a culture glorifying promiscuity and drug use. Liberals get more concerned about violence and degradation of women. The right sees the machinations of amoral Hollywood. The left sees soulless megabusinesses dropping their standards to court the coveted 18- to 34-year-old male demographic.

Here, too, there is a religous angle, by the way.

Google nazis

Google nazis

: I honestly do not understand those who don’t understand the problem with GoogleNews including a nazi site in GoogleNews. Michael Zimmer writes:

The whole point of GoogleNews is that you have a wide variety of sources. You can read, filter, process, absorb what you want, and ignore the rest. A plurality of voices, perspectives and, yes, even biases is a positive feature of web-based news aggregation. Readers might actually learn something about the world (and themselves!) by reading about how people they don’t agree with (including anarchists, socialists, leftys, communists, etc) see an issue.

Here’s the comment I left there (pardon the caps for emphasis; it’s easier than bold in a comments box):

I honestly don’t understand how you don’t understand this: An EDITOR (or someone fufilling that function) at GoogleNews makes a SELECTION of sites to include in a NEWS service (read: JOURNALISM) and selects a NAZI site that actively goes on about hating people who are not white and Christian. This is not Google itself, which should vacuum up everything. This is a NEWS site. Is there no definition of news at all? Or more to the point, is there no definition of decency? Would you include Ku Klux Klan news? Would you include North American Man Boy Love Association news? These are choices and there are responsible and irresponsible choices.

So we start getting to the definition of news: not in a sense of certification (official news) but in a sense of value (worth knowing).

Is it worth knowing what nazis think is news? No, it is not. In no universe.

On the other hand, is it worth knowing what al Qaeda thinks is news? They, too, are hateful, murdering nut jobs. Well, I could see a debate there because there is value in knowing what this enemy says.

But there are questions about the line you draw — and GoogleNews cannot avoid that because it is making selections — and also about presentation: When you present hate sites as news you redefine news.

I stand by my contention that including a nazi site is irresponsible.

Meanwhile, BlogHerald thinks this is about blogger jealousy: They included nazis but they didn’t include blogs. No, if they never included a single blog, they certainly should not include nazis.

Neverdock thinks it’s still about GoogleNews liberal bias. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I’d think that somebody who thinks he’s funny at GoogleNews is saying to those who complain there aren’t enough conservative sites in the service: ‘OK, here is a right-wing site: a nazi site.’ But I’m not a conspiracy theorist. And I think that the right/left bias is a different and still-fascinating issue because it assumes you can catalogue right v. left and I say that’s a helluva lot more difficult than it sounds.

Oh, and if Agence France Presse wanted to pull its content out of GoogleNews wouldn’t a better, more Euro-PC rationale have been that they didn’t want to be associated with nazis?

: LATER: Michael Zimmer says in the comments that we should be clear that earlier in his post he said this: “I’m not here to defend or support the actual content of these various news sites….” Yes, to be clear, I’m not saying that Michael is defending nazi sites: He’s questioning my questioning of their inclusion and I’m questioning him back … and no, I’m not trying to be cute in the way I said that; believe it or not, I’m trying to be clear.