Monday, July 5, 2010
It's no surprise that a protracted and fruitless military conflict has produced backbiting at the highest levels. That's the expected result of a flawed policy. But it is -- or should be -- curious that Michael Hastings's piece appeared in a rock magazine whose cover photograph features a G-strung Lady Gaga with automatic rifles jutting out of her brassiere.
Anyone in the Pentagon press corps could have written Hastings' story. So why did it appear in Rolling Stone?
First, let's give Rolling Stone its due; it's not an ordinary music magazine. Before launching it in 1967, Jann Wenner and Ralph Gleason worked at Ramparts magazine, the legendary San Francisco muckraker that ran high-impact investigative stories on Vietnam and the CIA. Despite its healthy circulation, Ramparts lost money and closed its doors for good in 1975. Then as now, no "business model" (i.e., reliable advertising base) existed for political magazines, left or right.
Wenner focused instead on music and the counterculture, but he also hired Hunter S. Thompson as his national affairs correspondent. One result was Thompson's Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72, praised as the least factual and most accurate account of that year's presidential race.
In 2009, Rolling Stone revived the Gonzo tradition by running Matt Taibbi's critical profile of Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street firm with close ties to the Treasury Department. This was another example of an RS irregular scooping beat writers on a huge story. Taibbi's piece drew heat, but most of his critics begrudgingly conceded that his main point was correct.
Hastings has likewise taken criticism from the Pentagon press corps. Lara Logan, CBS's chief foreign affairs correspondent, appeared on CNN's Reliable Sources this weekend to cast aspersions on his methods, to defend the Pentagon beat writers, and to lament the article's effect on General McChrystal's career. "Michael Hastings has never served his country the way McChrystal has," she claimed (as if critical reporting isn't exactly the service journalists are supposed to provide). Responding to Hastings' point that beat writers wrote glowingly about McChrystal to ensure future access to him, Logan labeled that view "insulting and arrogant."
By John Byrne
"Our law enforcement agencies have found bodies in the desert, either buried or just lying out there, that have been beheaded," she says
Arizona's Republican governor is trumpeting her anti-immigration credentials as part of her re-election campaign --and her latest remarks about decapitation are sure to cause a firestorm.
Gov. Jan Brewer recently signed a new law that allows Arizona police officers to demand immigrants to produce documentation proving their legality.
In an interview with Fox News, Brewer said, "We cannot afford all this illegal immigration and everything that comes with it, everything from the crime and to the drugs and the kidnappings and the extortion and the beheadings."
"Our law enforcement agencies have found bodies in the desert, either buried or just lying out there, that have been beheaded," she added.
The Arizona Guardian followed up on Brewer's remarks, finding them completely false.
What it means: The Peace Movement's Progress.
How it worked: Democrats Forced to Cheat to Fund War.
What it looked like: Live Blog of the Vote.
How they voted on the Rule that allowed the war escalation funding to move forward.
How they voted on disaster relief, teacher funding.
How they voted on ending war funding.
How they voted on limiting war funding to withdrawal.
How they voted on an amendment to require the president to present Congress with a National Intelligence Estimate on Afghanistan and a withdrawal plan and completion date, and to require that Congress vote by July 201 1 "if it wants to allow the obligation and expenditure of funds for Afghanistan in a manner that is not consistent with the president's announced policy of December 2009 to begin to drawdown troops by July 2011."
Peace of the Action
Washington, D.C., July 4-17
Brown Bag Lunch Vigils
Everywhere, third Wednesday of every month
National Conference to Bring the Troops Home Now
Albany, July 23-25
PDA Grassroots Leadership Conference
Cleveland, July 23-25
"We opened the window behind me and threw eight hundred billion dollars out of it."
That was how an aide to a local congressman described to me the economic-stimulus act when it passed in the winter of 2009.
The aide didn't mean it would all be a waste. Or would fail to boost a cratering economy.
He meant that what was unusual about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, other than its staggering cost, was that it was a smorgasbord. A huge experiment in infusing borrowed cash into a gazillion pre-existing channels, from government social programs to grants for road construction to walking-around money in worker paychecks.
It was an emergency. Seattle Congressman Jim McDermott described it as "Congress flying blind."
So here we are a year and a half later. It seems obvious the experiment helped stop a free fall. You can see that in areas where the stimulus has ended. The housing market, for instance, propped up for months by stimulus tax credits, has dropped sharply since that program expired.
But you don't have to be an economist to see that Congress swung and missed on the issue of jobs.
All that spending hasn't gotten many back to work. Take the freshest data for Seattle and King County. In the first three months of 2010, the act is credited with paying for 2,712 jobs here. That's in a county with a labor force of 1.1 million and 90,000 more currently jobless.
A few thousand jobs in three months is better than nothing. But it's also not much. It shifts King County's unemployment rate by only two-tenths of a percentage point.
It's the July 4 weekend, so naturally our thoughts turn to independence, and bloody, lovely revolution. Unfortunately, overturning your colonial rulers is hard work. So we've collected tips from the ten greatest science fiction revolutionaries, to help you prevail.
Luke Skywalker (Star Wars)
The lesson: Invalidate the governing ideology.
At the end of Return Of The Jedi, Luke doesn't just defeat Darth Vader in combat he also proves that the Empire's main ideology is wrong. The Dark Side of the Force is not stronger than the Light Side. This is as powerful a blow against the Empire as launching a million X-wing fighters, because it undermines the Emperor's whole reason for being in charge. Instead of Vader converting Luke to the Dark Side, Luke brings Vader back to the light.
The Doctor (Doctor Who)
The lesson: Declare victory early.
The Doctor has overthrown more oppressive planetary governments than almost anyone. For a while there, he was toppling two or three a year.
His greatest revolutions, arguably, happen in "The Happiness Patrol," "The Sunmakers," and "The Long Game." And in all three cases, he's very interested in controlling the state's propaganda apparatus. This is especially true in "The Sunmakers," where he takes over the government's broadcasting center and announces that the revolution has been a success before it's even started. Why wait until you've actually won to declare victory? Life is short, even for a Time Lord. (Go to about 3:40 in the video below.)
Flynn and Tron (Tron)
The lesson: Force your enemies to put all their strength into their offensive
When Tron and Flynn lead the attack against the Master Control Program, they're outgunned, even though Flynn has amazing user powers. But when Tron attacks the Master Control Program's main enforcer, the program Sark, the MCP starts to panic. And the MCP makes a crucial mistake, putting all of its functions into Sark. This causes Sark to become giant and super-powerful, but it also creates a giant target and leaves the MCP itself unprotected. Boo yah!
Paul Muad'Dib (Dune)
The lesson: Control access to a key resource
In the first Dune book, Paul proves he's the Kwisatz Haderach, and then launches an assault on the Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV with the help of his Fremen allies. They win partly by riding on the enormous sandworms that are native to the planet Arrakis, aka Dune. But also, when Paul wins an audience with Shaddam, he threatens to destroy the spice, melange, that allows navigators to see and travel between worlds, unless Shaddam steps down as Emperor in favor of Paul. Faced with the loss of the all-important spice, the Spacer's Guild urges Shaddam to fold.
Captain Kirk (Star Trek)
I don't think Captain Kirk ever overthrew a repressive regime without first causing its computer systems to explode. It's just the way you do things, in James Tiberius' playbook: Step one, detonate the mainframe, and the system will collapse like a house of cards. Step two usually involves giving an impassioned speech with your shirt ripped in strategic places. But really, Kirk knows that most evil regimes are either run by a computer, or utterly dependent on a computer for their surveillance and social control infrastructure. And most computers can be talked into self-destructing. Oh, and if someone accuses you of being Archons, just run with it especially if it freaks them out.
Dwiff sez, "Three copyright scholars - including David Nimmer [ed: legendary copyright expert] - discuss copyright termination and the pivotal role played in case law by Superman, Captain America, Fantastic Four, Lassie and Winnie-the-Pooh. Starts slow, but well worth the listen."
Copyright law has long recognized in authors an unwaivable right to terminate certain contracts and licensing agreements. A handful of high-profile cases have already called substantial attention to this termination provision, with disputes touching such iconic characters as Superman, Captain America, the Fantastic Four, Lassie, and Winnie the Pooh. In this edition of the IP Colloquium, copyright guru David Nimmer joins UC Berkeley Professor Peter Menell and UCLA Professor Doug Lichtman in an informal conversation about the termination right, its controversies, and the implications for modern copyright practice.Intellectual Property Colloquium - Copyright Termination
Bloomberg has a somewhat confusing article about the newest complaint about wind power, but the gist of it is that wind power is an issue for the industry because it brings their revenues down:
operators in Europe may have become their own worst enemy, reducing the total price paid for electricity in Germany, Europe's biggest power market, by as much as 5 billion euros some yearsImplicit in the article, and the headline (which focuses on lower revenues for RWE, a big German utility) is the worry that wind power will bring down the stock market value of the big utilities – which is what the readers of Bloomberg et al. care about.
But despite the generally negative tone of the article, it's actually a useful one, because it brings out in the open a key bit of information: wind power actually brings electricity prices down!
windmills (…) operators in Europe may have become their own worst enemy, reducing the total price paid for electricity in Germany, Europe's biggest power market, by as much as 5 billion euros some years
The wind-energy boom in Europe and parts of Texas has begun to reduce bills for consumers.
Spanish power prices fell an annual 26 percent in the first quarter because of the surge in supplies from wind and hydroelectric production.This tidbit of information, which will hopefully begin to contradict the usual lies about the need for hefty subsidies for the wind sector, has been publicised by EWEA, the European Wind Energy Association in a report on the merit order effect (PDF). This is the name for what happens when you inject a lot of capital-intensive, low-marginal-cost supply into a marginalist price-setting market mechanism with low short term demand elasticity – or, in simpler words: when you have more wind, there is less need to pay to burn more gas to provide the requisite additional power at a given moment.
Bush had no further intercourse with Spirits. He sidetracked a massive portion of defense spending into the creation of bigger and better fireworks displayed across America on the 4th of July, letting the people see their taxes go up in smoke right in front of their eyes instead of in a foreign land. It was always said of him that he knew how to keep Independence Day well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One! Now get out of my way!