Posts from May 24, 2004

Personal Democracy, cont.

Personal Democracy, cont.

: I didn’t blog our panel at the Personal Democracy Forum this morning; trying to is the height of obnoxiousness. Instead, I found myself taking notes on paper, as if I were blogging. Just can’t stop.

The panel turned into pounding Rep. Andrew Weiner on blogging. He doesn’t think he needs to blog — but then, he doesn’t fully understand what blogging is (even though he reads them when links are sent to him). Like media people, he still thinks blogs are like forums with unbridled comments and nastiness (he said everytime he appears on FoxNews, he gets 100 anti-Semitic messages and he fears that). But he needs to understand that having a blog is all about transparency and communiation and conversation.

What I saw clearly is that if we want our politicians to blog, we need to help them. We need to hold a session for them to educate them and their staffs on blogging and citizens’ media and the benefits of them. We need to create tools and tutorials that match their needs.

“If I could, I would substitute a blog for that gymnasium in Forest Hills in a minute and live there.” Then let’s create it for them.

Odds & odds

Odds & odds

: A few more odd moments from the day so far…

: I sat next to Tina Louise at The Week’s lunch. Nothing more to say about that. I just think it’s about the coolest name-dropping I’ve ever done here.

: Spent some time catching up with John Gibson, a friend from our mutual long-long-ago in San Francisco and a very nice guy. He explained what happened in Britain (see the previous post): He called the BBC a bunch of liars on the air in Britain and there were complaints against him for violating a law — a law — that he says forbids newscasters from giving opinions in the UK. God bless our First Amendment. Thank God for the Revolution.

: Michael Fuchs, ex head of HBO, said afterwards that he put George Carlin’s special, complete with dirty words, on cable twenty-odd years ago and he can’t believe we’re still huffing and puffing about it this many years later.

: Michele Malkin, the columnist, said as she left that she likes this blog. What a strange if wonderful world this is. That should be the other way around: kooky Internet guy goes up to big-time print person. Times are a’changin.

The Week on indecency

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The Week on indecency

: I’m at The Week event on indecency and media and I’ll blog first, clean up later…

: Bill Maher says Americans “really like bad words, they like to see some skin, they like titillation.”

: Maher on Janet Jackson: The country is freaking out after “that one blurry black tit.” At the same time, they have accepted 2,500 vacation trips from those they should regulate and that’s what’s obscene.

: Michele Malkin says she’s more concerned about political correctness: Her editors X out “illegal alien.”

: Arianna turns it into Iraq: “Obscenity is invading a country….” Yeah, yeah, yeah. Maher later accuses her of entering into her stump speech.

: Maher says that “if a lot of people like pornography, that is community.” Thus that is the communiy standard. Harry Evans asks him: “Do you have any standards at all?”

: John Gibson says he’s a friend of pornographer Mitchell (an old San Francisco connection) and it’s fine if people have it — but broadcast is different.

: Evans, the moderator, brought a whistle to blog off the dirty words.

: Arianna starts to make fun of Gibson for joining FoxNews and changing. Gibson: “I remember a different Arianna, too.”

: Harry asks are sexual words damaging and dangerous? Gibson says people shouldn’t have to hear it in their living rooms. Maher says, “You say it as if we’re in an Orwellian world where they’re watching it on TV and they can’t get away from it. They’re watching it on purpose.”

: Maher: “I have never in my life listened to a shock jock. The only time I have heard Howard Stern was when I was on his show and that was too much.”

: Arianna says we’re paying too much attention to indecency and too little to 9/11.

: Harry asks whether Maher is opposed to Stern being dropped. “Yes, and I hate him,” is his answer.

: Maher: “Can we put away these silly old chestnuts. The other one is that the public owns the airwaves. Rupert Murdoch owns the airwaves.”

: Harry turns to political correctness and censorship. Malkin says she is “concerned about the use of civility as a club to censor speech on campus.” Example: The affirmative action bake sales on campuses that have been shut down. “That is what I am more worried about.” Newspapers will take out “illegal alien” because it is “insensitive.”

: Maher: “The biggest threat of censorship is on college campuses. They are out of control…. The kids today. Somebody needs to slap them. They do not understand what free speech is. And it’s coming from the left….” He tells a story of speaking at Smith and a student who walked out of watching the final episode of Ellen because it was boring was threatened with being thrown off of campus for a “hate crime.”

: Arianna says she things The Swan is the absolute bottom but she would not want it banned because then someone would try not to show her the pictures from Abu Ghraib.

: Gibson raises the Nick Berg video — showing Abu Ghraib but not Berg. Maher: “I’ve never been so proud as an American … that our torture is better than their torture.”

: Gibson: “As Tom Brokaw said about 9/11, we didn’t exploit the day. We sanitized it.”

: Gibson: “I don’t know if I”m supposed to tell this. I almost got kicked off the air in Great Britain.” He said it’s illegal to express an opinion on broadcast. Not sure what he means….

: Malkin: “Those Abu Ghraib pictures were journalistic pornography.” She says that if you ask a journalist to report on the details of partial-birth abortion “they all of a sudden get too delicate.”

: Karen Finley does a moment of performance art from the lead table. She acts as if “orange alert” is an orgasm. Hadda be here….

: Maher on Abu Ghraib photos: “Those pictures are very gay. When you’re staring at a gigantic table of man-ass, that is over the rainbow Will & Grace… I don’t think Donald Rumsfeld should step down, he should come out.”

: Maher says there shouldn’t be such a thing as a “hate crime. That’s a thought crime.” Crimes, he says, don’t come out of love.

: Sue Elicot (sp?) of Air Amerca (the one with the British accent) says the station is pushing the envelope? How? “Anti-political correctness.” Really?

: Ashleigh Banfield says that she did complain about Michael Savage, who called her a slut and news whore. The complaint went nowhere.

: Michael Fuchs, ex head of HBO, scolds them: “None of you has mentioned the First Amendment.” I applaud.

: Karen says, “We have to live with offensive speech.” Amen.

: Maher says MTV is worse. It teaches children to be narcissitic and shallow.

: I stood up to complain about the chill government creates. You’ve heard it before. I’ll spare you.

: Arianna: “Can we please be outraged by something real rather than Janet Jackson’s friggin’ boob.” She says “boob” with a cute accent.

: Monica Crowley complains about the lack of uniform standards. She used to be for the rules until she got her own radio show. “Everything is so subjective.” She stopped herself from saying “bitch” yesterday.

Maher: “What she’s saying is that the definition of a liberal is a conservative who’s just been censored, if I may paraphrase that.”

: Maher brags: “I went on the Tonight Show in 1993 and said the words ‘sucks.’ No one had ever said the word sucks before… They went apeshit backstage. Three days later, Johnny said ‘sucks.”

The Daily Stern

The Daily Stern

: EVIL DISNEY: For a cynical, greedy, and evil corporation, Disney now outdoes itself for cynical, greedy, and evil behavior, throwing out the First Amendment for the sake of its cable strategy:

The Walt Disney Co. has quietly been lobbying Congress to apply broadcast indecency rules to cable programming, according to informed sources.

Were Congress to agree with Disney, basic and expanded-basic cable networks could be fined thousands of dollars by the Federal Communications Commission for airing four-letter words and steamy love scenes prior to 10 p.m….

According to informed sources, Disney is backing cable indecency legislation while fighting proposals that would require cable operators to sell cable networks a la carte.

Many broadcasters think it

The Iraq strategy

The Iraq strategy

: Fred Wilson sends us to Wesley Clark’s piece in Washington Monthly on a different course for Middle East policy.

Whether or not you agreed with the president’s decision to invade Iraq–and I did not–there’s no doubt that America has a right and a duty to take whatever actions are necessary, including military action, to protect ourselves from the clear security threats emanating from this deeply troubled part of the world. Authoritarian rule in these countries has clearly created fertile ground for terrorists, and so establishing democratic governance in the region must be seen as one of our most vital security goals. There is good reason, however, to question whether the president’s strategy is advancing or hindering that goal….

This dream of engineering events in the Middle East to follow those of the Soviet Union has led to an almost unprecedented geostrategic blunder. One crucial reason things went wrong, I believe, is that the neoconservatives misunderstood how and why the Soviet Union fell and what the West did to contribute to that fall. They radically overestimated the role of military assertiveness while underestimating the value of other, subtler measures. They then applied those theories to the Middle East, a region with very different political and cultural conditions. The truth is this: It took four decades of patient engagement to bring down the Iron Curtain, and 10 years of deft diplomacy to turn chaotic, post-Soviet states into stable, pro-Western democracies. To achieve the same in the Middle East will require similar engagement, patience, and luck.

Clark’s parallel to the Soviet Union is flawed, like Bush’s, for though we thought the Soviets were enemies plotting against us day and night they did not attack us on our soil. The Soviet Union bred spies, not suicide bombers. That is an urgent difference. So I don’t agree with all of Clark’s recommendations, but it’s a good piece to read as homework for tonight’s Bush speech on Iraq policy. Compare and contrast.