American Samizdat Guernica
Saturday, October 26, 2002
The Disappearing Middle
The explosion of executive pay represents a social change rather than the purely economic forces of supply and demand. We should think of it not as a market trend like the rising value of waterfront property, but as something more like the sexual revolution of the 1960's -- a relaxation of old strictures, a new permissiveness, but in this case the permissiveness is financial rather than sexual. Sure enough, John Kenneth Galbraith described the honest executive of 1967 as being one who ''eschews the lovely, available and even naked woman by whom he is intimately surrounded.'' By the end of the 1990's, the executive motto might as well have been ''If it feels good, do it.''
Some -- by no means all -- economists trying to understand growing inequality have begun to take seriously a hypothesis that would have been considered
irredeemably fuzzy-minded not long ago. This view stresses the role of social norms in setting limits to inequality. According to this view, the New Deal had a more profound impact on American society than even its most ardent admirers have suggested: it imposed norms of relative equality in pay that persisted for more than 30 years, creating the broadly middle-class society we came to take for granted. But those norms began to unravel in the 1970's and have done so at an accelerating pace. (via Robot Wisdom)
Reporters Without Borders is publishing the first worldwide press freedom index, and it makes fascinating reading. At the top of the list Finland, Iceland, Norway, and the Netherlands, not much of a surprise. The surprises, the United States at 17th ranks below Costa Rica. Israel is at 92nd while Lebanon by contrast is at 56th and even the Palestinain National Authority ranks slightly higher at 82nd of course anything above 20 is nothing to shout about. Iraq at 130th and Syria at 126th are where one would expect to find them. The report also provides interesting commentary on the rankings.

via shou ?
Friday, October 25, 2002
Matthew Engel is a writer for the Guardian
Enough with the Hitler Analogies

Round here, we are not very keen on the notion of banning words of any kind. The time has come to make an exception. The following words should be banned henceforth from political discourse: "Hitler" and "Nazi."

This would not apply to discussion of German history in the years up to 1945. That is not the problem. The problem is the incessant appearance of the words as a resort to winning arguments about modern politics. Their use (along with that of "fascist") has always been a ploy of the intellectually dishonest. At rock-bottom they are tools for inductive reasoning: "I like dogs." "Hitler liked dogs. You're a Nazi, then!" Since the Iraq dispute began, mild overuse has turned to plague, and both sides have been as bad as each other.

Let's be clear about this. Saddam Hussein is not Hitler, as hysterical Americans keep claiming. The charges of external violence are 12 years old. There is no coherent evidence that he had any plans (at least before the US began goading him) for more adventures, merely that he is obsessed with stockpiling weaponry, a charge that applies equally to the Pentagon. Far from seeking global or regional domination, he only dominates portions of Iraq.


via Fallacy Files Weblog for further information on weak analogies and guilt by association
The Iraqi baby incubator story returns ...
Hill and Knowlton did not fabricate the story about Iraqi soldiers tossing infants from their Kuwait City incubators, according to an Oct. 23 letter published in The Business Times (Singapore) by Vivian Lines, H&K's Asia/Pacific COO.
H&K's mission, according to Lines, was to "acquaint Americans with Kuwait, its people and the facts of the Iraqi invasion," The letter claims H&K "played no role in helping determine the question of whether the U.S. should intervene militarily."
Ted Nugent may run in 2006
Outspoken rocker and outdoor enthusiast Ted Nugent said Wednesday he will run for Michigan governor in 2006 if Democrat Jennifer Granholm is elected next month.
Nugent, who was in Naples to speak to middle and high school students about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, said he's unsure if he'd run as an independent or a Republican -- but he wants to challenge Granholm, if she's in the governor's office.
Thursday, October 24, 2002
Gubernatorial race hits new lows
WTMJ-TV reported Tuesday that Doyle campaign workers set up the party and offered free soda, coffee and pastries to residents of a low-income hotel in Kenosha. After the bingo, the residents were told they could vote by absentee ballot in another room.
Kenosha County District Attorney Robert Jambois said he planned to drive to WTMJ in Milwaukee later Wednesday to view footage the station shot at the hotel, which showed residents winning cans of soda and quarters during the games.
State law prohibits giving people anything worth more than $1 to try to get them to vote or keep them from voting. WTMJ reported that many residents won 75 cents in quarters and a can of soda, along with the pastry. (via Roy at the AlicuBlog)
Wednesday, October 23, 2002
And now, this breaking news report on something

ANCHOR: We understand now that the police chief is having his briefing. Let's go there live.

CHIEF: I am here to say, I have nothing to say.

REPORTERS: Tell us all the secret things that you don't want to tell us.

CHIEF: That would jeopardize the case.

REPORTERS: Here, let us ask a bunch of speculative questions that still mean, tell us anyway.

CHIEF: No. Next briefing in 15 minutes.

ANCHOR: We'll be right back. (via)
Undercover cops who infiltrated protest movements talk
Sources within the revolutionary left who'd traditionally passed on the odd titbit in return for a few pounds and a pint simply weren't enough. As a result, an elite unit was set up within special branch whose existence has been kept a closely guarded secret until now. It was known as the "special demonstration squad" - or less prosaically as the "hairies" because of the way its officers dressed, looked and lived. "It was a shadowy section of the branch where people disappeared into a black hole for several years," says Richard, a veteran hairy.
all sniper all the time

our hearts, of course, go out to the many families of the victims of the dc sniper. and, we can't imagine what it would be like to be living in that area, knowing that any time you go out for a quick errand or to gas up your car, you may never come home (for a better idea of what that would be like, visit the blogs of tim dunlop or max sawicky, both dc residents).

any murder is a terrible, horrible thing. any crime spree which takes human lives is a senseless, pointless horror. but, having said that, we'd like to say something that some would consider tasteless sacrilege:

shut up with 24 hour sniper coverage already. but we doubt that will happen. and why?

"on tuesday, fox news channel averaged 1.12 million viewers, cnn had 1.06 million and cnn headline news had 294,000," says usa today. "for each network, it was the most-watched single day of the year, according to nielsen media research. that was the day after the sniper claimed its latest victim, 47-year-old fbi analyst linda franklin, outside a home depot in falls church, va. the story dominated the news networks."

ratings. big, cheap, fast, ratings. no wonder they're playing it all the time. saddam who? what election? recession? never heard of it! this story has legs!!

we heard a cnn reporter yesterday say that the nation is obsessed with the sniper story. au contraire, mon ami, it is you, the cable news networks, who are obsessed with this story. and why not? like the gary condit story, it's right there in your own backyard. you networks don't even have to uplink to a satellite, just drive across town (and hope the sniper isn't waiting for you at the press conference).

and that brings us to our second point. it's a news story that directly affects the people who run the news media. they pump gas into their cars. they go to home depot. they eat at the ponderosa. we bet wolf blitzer is a closet arts and crafter, and makes weekend runs to michael's. this sniper guy is killing people in their own neighborhoods. they are aghast and amazed, and incensed that the police haven't done a better job. why, both hannity and colmes might be next on the hit list! no wonder all the news networks have non-stop monday morning quarterbacking second-guessing the police.

and, like every other political story, it's so cheap to produce. just round up two or three ex-cops or private investigators (for gods sake, we saw mark fuhrman on tv this weekend!) and maybe throw in a gun-control freak to appear "fair and balanced," and you have a whole segment. and hey, maybe get a constitutional lawyer to talk, anne coulter's not busy.

and the websites for the news networks are no better. here's a real piece found on son of sam tells sniper to stop. we're not making this up. and here's an interactive map of the shootings from cnn, or you can go to cbs, where you can "hunt for clues" or "avoid becoming a target." god, it's become a video game on the net!!

(we like this tip: "shop or buy gas in dark, out of the way places." oh, that's good! we bet all the muggers who read will be especially grateful for that bit of advice being given to everyone!)

and not to make light of this terrible tragedy, but, with chief moose and spotsylvania county, we wonder if sometimes if we haven't fallen into an old rocky and bullwinkle cartoon.

our point is, if this crime spree was happening anywhere else but right in the hometown of the cable news media, it wouldn't be getting the 24 hour coverage. this detroit news piece from 2001 speaks of 1,100 unsolved murders in that city in the past five years. why isn't connie chung in motown every night, decrying that police force?

because, like with any other story, political or not, the electronic media make the mistake in thinking that if it's important to them, it's important to everyone. they only repeat the stuff they hear in their own hall ways. that's why, up to this sniper story, all we heard was "count down to iraq" and "showdown: iraq." because the planned iraq invasion was topic of choice all through washington.

actual reporting, as we have lamented in this space before, has long gone up to the clouds with huntley to watch brinkley down below hawk for archer daniels midland. if its cheap, fast, sexy and important to their bosses, the electronic news media will spout it 24/7. if it takes real reporting, real investigating, actual talking to actual americans, and especially if it costs money, you can forget it.

your choice tonight: black or white. sorry, gray is not on the menu

first, the good news: media horse on line is back from its vacation on the ranch in crawford, texas (oops! sorry! the horse is on vacation so much we get it mixed up with someone else!)

now, the bad news: democratic underground, another fine publication that we highly recommend, has begun a new policy on their message boards:

"for the next three weeks: it is forbidden to use the du message board in an effort to make our members withhold their precious votes from the democratic party, which is the only organization capable of stopping the republican onslaught. it is forbidden to use the du message board to organize protests or other actions against members of the democratic party."

we are sorry to hear about this, only because, it doesn't seem all that...well, democratic.

granted, flamers, trollers and freepers are as annoying as all get out (and if you don't like it, you can all get out!) and sure, democratic underground has never claimed to be anything other than highly partisan in favor of the democratic party, and that's ok with us. but with this new policy, we ask if they might want to change the name of their blog from "democratic underground" to "democratic party underground." truth in advertising and all, you know.

there is a difference between partisan and fascist. not letting somebody else say something that you don't agree with just doesn't seem very fair to us. especially if somebody wants to discuss the options of third parties in america (a verboten subject now on the du message boards). which actually brings us to the main point we are trying, albeit in a clumsy fashion, to make.

the democratic underground states the reason for its new policy is that the democratic party is "only organization capable of stopping the republican onslaught." we wonder aloud, which democrats are they talking about?

john breax, max clelland, zell miller, max baucus and ben nelson? how about tim johnson and jean carnahan? these folks all voted for mr. bush's trillion dollar tax cut. are those the democrats that will "stop" the republican onslaught?

how about hillary clinton, henry waxman, tom daschle, dick gephardt, joe lieberman, john kerry, john edwards, howard berman, jane harman, adam schiff, brad sherman, dianne feinstein, to name but a few of the 29 senators and 82 representatives
who voted for mr. bush's war resolution to attack iraq? this is the way to "stop" the republican onslaught?

our point is, if the democrats had shown one-tenth of the spine of jim jeffords in the past year and 3/4, we wouldn't be so botherd by the du's new message board policy. if it looked like the democrats actually even wanted to stop the republican onslaught, we wouldn't make such a fuss. but as it is, the democratic party, and by extension, the cheerleading the democratic underground, is not looking so much like the republicans' enemy, but rather their enabler.
thanks to the fine mind over at
Charlie Kokonino's place,
for the heads up re NYT magazine
link to Paul Krugman's For Richer
Tuesday, October 22, 2002
To say the evidence of an al Qaeda Iraq link was weak would be overstating the case and yet it has become weaker still. A little honesty about our reasons for a regime change, a changing regime, whatever the hell the current definition of is is, will I suspect not be forthcoming.

The Czech president, Vaclav Havel, has quietly told the White House he has concluded that there is no evidence to confirm earlier reports that Mohamed Atta, the leader in the Sept. 11 attacks, met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague just months before the attacks on New York and Washington, according to Czech officials.

Mr. Havel discreetly called Washington to tell senior Bush administration officials that an initial report from the Czech domestic intelligence agency that Mr. Atta had met with an Iraqi intelligence officer, Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, in Prague in April 2001 could not be substantiated.

Israel to Seek $10bn in Aid
The aid does not include the billions America plans to spend to eliminate Israel's enemies in the Middle East.
such colossal bullshit...
i mean really,
why do so many fools believe ANYTHING
this damned nincompoop says.
more of el residente's schtick;
i am so sick of his barrage of idiotic falsehoods...
Monday, October 21, 2002
George Bush, no stranger to sleazy business practices and shady deals, shows just how serious he is about reforming the scandal-marred (all "company-specific," of course!) corporate world. Read:
SEC budget too high, White House asserts
Bush team now urges Congress to allocate less money to corporate policing
By Stephen Labaton (The New York Times)
Monday, October 21, 2002

WASHINGTON: Less than three months ago, President George W. Bush, with great fanfare, signed sweeping corporate anti-fraud legislation that called for a big increase in the budget of the Securities and Exchange Commission to police Corporate America and clean up Wall Street.

Now the White House is backing away from that budget provision and urging Congress to provide the agency with 27 percent less money than the new law authorized.

Sunday, October 20, 2002
How odd

This last victim of the DC sniper, the one shot Saturday at the Ponderosa, has still not been publicly identified. In fact, authorities won't even saying where he is from. All the news reports identify him solely as a "37 year old man".

Other sniper victims have had their names released. But not this time. Anyone have ideas why?
Was the Afghanistan Campaign a Waste?? Al-Qaida 'has regrouped' according to the CIA, and are as strong now as they were before 9/11.
Analysis of the Patriot Act by the EFF

The Electronic Freedom Foundation summarizes the noxious Patriot Act. Some highlights.

1. Expanded Surveillance With Reduced Checks and Balances.
A. Be careful what you put in that Google search.
B. Nationwide roving wiretaps.
C. ISPs hand over more user information.
D. New definitions of terrorism expand scope of surveillance.

2. Overbreadth with a lack of focus on terrorism. Several provisions of the USAPA have no apparent connection to preventing terrorism. These include:
A. Government spying on suspected computer trespassers with no need for court order.
B. Adding samples to DNA database for those convicted of "any crime of violence."
C. Wiretaps now allowed for suspected violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
D. Dramatic increases to the scope and penalties of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

3. Allows Americans to be More Easily Spied Upon by US Foreign Intelligence Agencies.
A. General Expansion of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Authority.
B. Increased information sharing between domestic law enforcement and intelligence.
C. FISA detour around federal domestic surveillance limitations

Oh, Computer crimes under Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) are now defined as "Terrorist Offenses".

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