: It’s a dark day for the First Amendment. The House is expected to pass its indecent indecency bill raising the fine for any of us — any of us — who violate the very unclear rules of the FCC to $500,000.
The chickens in Congress — birds of both parties — will pass it because they’re afraid of voting for smut but not afraid of voting against the Constitution. The chickens in the broadcast industry have done nothing to fight this (if they had any guts, they’d go silent for some period of time in protest, as Howard Stern suggests); the unions are squacking at last.
Meanwhile, the allegedly religious right is pushing for more: They want the Justice Department to go after cable.
Aid and comfort
: A blogger finds an al Jazeera cartoon (animated here) apparently inspired by Eason Jordan’s Davos comments.
: I should have added the words — “which an emailer believes was apparently inspired by…” Commenters are quite right to catch me on that. When I got email on this, I found the blog but no link to Al Jazeera and was, at first, qualifying the statement that this was on their site because I couldn’t find it (I keep forgetting to go to the .net vs. the .com). Once found, in its full context, I should have added that qualification. I thank the commenters for the editing.
The agony of the Upper West Side Eeyore
: Kurt Andersen writes a smart — and, for a New Yorker, quite brave — column arguing that liberal New Yorkers should face the possibility that the war in Iraq was good:
But now our heroic and tragic liberal-intellectual capaciousness is facing its sharpest test since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Back then, most of us were forced, against our wills, to give Ronald Reagan a large share of credit for winning the Cold War. Now the people of this Bush-hating city are being forced to grant the merest possibility that Bush, despite his annoying manner and his administration
Michael Wolff, prisoner of paper
: Michael Wolff, who makes his living trying to find new ways to make people think he’s an ass, now goes after the blogs in a speech:
I want to stop rambling and finish up by telling you why I don’t want to write a blog. Because I don’t. At some point in the ’50s Truman Capote was asked about Jack Kerouac, and he said, “That’s not writing, that’s typing,” which is to some degree how I feel about blogs. I even hate saying the word blog. I hate being forced to say the word blog.
When I look at that particular blog piece of software I react viscerally. I said, “Oh, I don’t want this. I don’t want to be part of this.” There’s that scene in “Doctor Zhivago” where the professionals and the intelligentsia are reduced to having to walk with the hoi polloi, and that’s what I feel when I’m forced into this blog stuff.
So I want to take what I think of as a noble and principled stand in saying that I’m not going to be part of this blog stuff. And I’m going to insist upon this until I am washed away….
Well, they do have impact. Part of it is actually involved with a kind of further devaluation of information because what it sets up is this constant second guessing of information. Which is not necessarily bad but it does lower the value of all information. You undermine that authority of information. But having been around this business now for some time I’ve learned that nothing lasts too long. By all rights, 18 months from now we should be looking back at this and all kind of embarrassed to say the word blog — I hope.
So much for Wolffman.com.
Brave bloggers from Nepal
: Here’s a new blog from Nepal with this chilling intro:
King Gyandendra of Nepal has issued a ban on independent news broadcasts and has threatened to punish newspapers for reports that run counter to the official monarchist line. Given that any person in Nepal publishing reports critical of “the spirit of the royal proclamation” is subject to punishment and/or imprisonment, contributors to this blog will publish their reports from Nepal anonymously.