Posts from December 10, 2004

Oh, those nannies

Oh, those nannies

: Bernie Kerik withdraws from the run for head of homeland security because of a pesky nanny immigration problem. Her boss can’t get a cabinet job but at least she can still get a driver’s license.

The spread of democracy

The spread of democracy

: In the Wall Street Journal, Dan Henninger compares the growth of democracy in Ukraine and Iraq and also reports on meeting the blogging brothers behind Iraqthemodel.com.

They made a couple of other interesting points about Iraq’s political mood. One, Iraqis won’t vote for a government dominated by Islamist religionists. Why? The abhorred next-door example of Iran’s mullahs. This mirrors elections already held in Iraq. In a local election last year in Nazariya, with 47,000 votes cast amid imams urging support for Islamic parties, the biggest vote-getters were teachers, engineers and other professionals.

And current party coalitions notwithstanding, the man on the street is sounding cussedly independent. A farmer in Samarra told them: “I will vote for a good man, Shia or Sunni.” “We Iraqis don’t trust any government now,” says Mohammed, though Prime Minister Allawi’s public standing rose after he first cleaned up Shiite Najaf, then Sunni Fallujah….

Ukraine is not Iraq. Iraq is not Afghanistan. Or South Africa or Russia for that matter. The voyage to democratic maturity is never the same. Each passage across requires that a people show themselves willing to brave the tumult that precedes self-governance. Whether Ukrainians or Iraqis (or Iranians), all these peoples deserve public support from the nations and people who are already securely moored to the democratic dock.

I just left a local bar with Hoder’s bloggers’ dinner and Dan himself. More later.

Free speech ain’t free anymore

Free speech ain’t free anymore

: When Viacom spinelessly settled with the FCC, they agreed to suspend personalities if the FCC filed a complaint against them. I knew this would cause storms in the company.

This morning, Howard Stern says that when they told him he could be suspended or fired if the FCC merely complained (without the slightest due process), he demanded to know what the rules are. “What’s the wrong thing?” he asked. “You know what the wrong thing is,” the executives said. The FCC, of course, has unconstitutionally vague rules they inconsistently enforce and so no one knows what wrong is. Only some biddy working for King Prig knows, apparently (see the link to the story about Brent Bozell below).

Stern demanded that they who hit the dump button also get suspended or fired. They won’t do that.

They told Stern that he should do a show with no mention of sex.

So he said then you’re telling me I should play German chamber music.

Well, then, the execs said, then you would not be performing your show the way it should be performed.

Well, said Howard, I can’t perform the show the way it should be performed because you and the FCC won’t let me.

Welcome to Orwell’s world, folks. This is what happens when speech is chilled: Everybody is afraid to say anything so they say nothing.

Tom the general manager comes in and they talk about a particular segment. Tom says it’s OK. But Howard says, if the FCC complains, will you suspend or fire me? Well, yes. So Tom said it was OK but if the FCC says it’s not OK, Howard takes the fall. “You didn’t hit the button and so why am I being suspended or fired?” Howard asks. “Can’t answer that,” says the boss. Right. “It’s not fair. It’s not honest. It’s wrong,” Howard says.

Yes, Orwell’s in charge now.

Fuck the FCC.

How long will it be before I’m fined for saying that?

: CNN’s report here.

: Stern says he doesn’t want to leave Viacom early. Viacom says, publicly, they don’t want him to go early. But if he is at risk, he’ll play music. Then Viacom will say that’s not his show. Then negotiations will begin. And now Sirius now says they’d take Stern early. Here, Viacom says they are “feverishly” looking for a replacement.

File-sharing fight to the top

File-sharing fight to the top

: The Supreme Court just agreed to hear a case about whether file-sharing services (Grokster, Streamcast) can be held liable for no-no downloading.

Blogged out

Blogged out

: Yes, you wondered when that day would come and it has: I’m blogged out (but just for this afternoon). I was liveblogging the Harvard session but I saw it wasn’t yielding much new or interesting and so I’m stopping until tomorrow, when the sessions are supposed to be less about lectures from the front of the room and more about discussions around the room. My biggest lesson today is about the form of forums. A panel sitting there going down the line for sound downloads — the time-honored format for these things, of course — just isn’t interesting or effective unless you’re in a room where the people on the stage are all smarter than the people in the audience. That’s not the case here or in most industry forums I attend. The right way to do these things is the Bloggercon way and the art of that is harvesting the wisdom of the crowd.