Monday, June 25, 2007

real journalism alert


David Shuster has been filling in for Tucker Carlson and today he put the screws to Ron Christie, former aide and apologist for Vice President Dick Cheney. Watching this clip I got the feeling that I was watching a real journalist at work as Shuster not only asks Christie hard questions, but follows up and calls him on his talking points and misinformation. Christie insinuates that Cheney’s role as President of the Senate somehow outweighs the job of VP and that the only reason Cheney is refusing to comply with the law is to insure the solvency of the Office of the Vice President as if it were somehow in danger. The topic turns to Scooter Libby and Shuster wasn’t having any of Christie’s spin:

Shuster: You’re a great guest, you’re a great guy, but on the politics and the law in the Scooter Libby case, you’re wrong.

David Shuster has done some great work on “Countdown” with Keith Olbermann and it’s obvious he’s been taking notes. MSNBC would do well to consider moving Tucker out of the way to make room for a real journalist to take over this time slot.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Nature evolving.

Nature evolving.

more than 70 percent of Internet users streamed video online in March this year

via Slashdot

Internet Video: A Stream Becomes a Virtual Deluge - New York Times

The computer appears to be well on its way toward total entertainment domination in the home. As evidence, look at new data from comScore Inc.: more than 70 percent of Internet users streamed video online in March this year. Television, movies, music and more — it’s all there in that box, awaiting full integration.

Zippier technology is driving more people to stream video online. A few years ago, if you wanted to see a video, the screen would taunt you with the words “buffering ... buffering ... buffering ...” until you lost interest or forgot what you wanted to look at. Now, you are more likely to achieve instant gratification.

And you don’t need a heavy-duty attention span, either. The average length of a streamed video was 2.6 minutes, according to comScore.

Another factor in the streaming explosion is the rise of user-generated content, as popularized by YouTube. That explains why the highest percentage of Internet users stream video on sites run by Google, which presciently agreed to buy YouTube last October. PHYLLIS KORKKI

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Think Progress » ‘Write Congress to right justice.’

Think Progress » ‘Write Congress to right justice.’

‘Write Congress to right justice.’

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) today “announced the launch of a new web page, to respond to the growing number of current and former Justice Department career lawyers and other employees raising concerns about politicization in the Department.” The page “provides a secure method for DOJ employees to communicate what they know to Committee investigators.” See the page HERE. 6:09 pm

Lessig on Corruption

Dan Gillmor (We the Media), Center for Citizen Media blog

Lawrence Lessig: I have decided to shift my academic work, and soon, my activism, away from the issues that have consumed me for the last 10 years, towards a new set of issues: Namely, these. “Corruption” as I’ve defined it elsewhere will be the focus of my work. For at least the next 10 years, it is the problem I will try to help solve.

I do this with no illusions. I am 99.9% confident that the problem I turn to will continue exist when this 10 year term is over. But the certainty of failure is sometimes a reason to try. That’s true in this case.

Nor do I believe I have any magic bullet. Indeed, I am beginner. A significant chunk of the next ten years will be spent reading and studying the work of others. My hope is to build upon their work; I don’t pretend to come with a revolution pre-baked.

Instead, what I come with is a desire to devote as much energy to these issues of “corruption” as I’ve devoted to the issues of network and IP sanity. This is a shift not to an easier project, but a different project. It is a decision to give up my work in a place some consider me an expert to begin work in a place where I am nothing more than a beginner.

A fair amount of the work I’ve done in the past few years has been influenced by Lessig, a man whom I admire and who has become a friend. His contributions in the copyright arena have been essential.

Yes, the problem of corruption will still be around in another decade. But here’s a bet that Lessig will have an impact for the better in that arena, too.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A high school with more clicks than cliques - Los Angeles Times

A high school with more clicks than cliques - Los Angeles Times:

"Ray Ravaglia, a co-founder of Online High, calls traditional pedagogy the 'Panama Canal theory of education,' which holds that all students must rise with their class until it reaches the top of the lock, at which point they float forward in unison. There, those on top stay high and dry — and bored. Those at the bottom drown, educationally speaking."

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Daily Kos, Devilstower

If any politician was to say this, how would the Wingnutosphere react?

The endgame in Iraq is now clear. We ought to start coming to grips with the meaning of losing in Iraq.


Were our founding fathers here, they would surely look on Iraq with horror and judge that the nation they created had fundamentally lost its way. If the war in Iraq leads the United States to return to its traditional, restrained grand strategy, then perhaps the whole experience will not have been in vain.


The American people seem to understand, however -- and historians will certainly agree -- that the war itself was a catastrophic mistake. It was a faulty grand strategy, not poor implementation.

It's a trick question, of course. If the speaker had a "D" after his or her name, the screams would rise into a range beyond the hearing of bats. If it was a Republican, the crickets would chirp on undisturbed.

But in this case, the speaker is Christopher Fettweis, a professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College. Unlike so many, Fettweis is not blind to how the US is throwing away lives in a pointless effort to save face.

Once support for a war is lost, it is gone for good; there is no example of a modern democracy having changed its mind once it turned against a war. So we ought to start coming to grips with the meaning of losing in Iraq.

The big concern now is how Iraq will affect the nation in years to come. What kind of problems does the professor predict as we struggle to admit the monstrous error in Iraq? You need only to look at today's events for perfect examples.

The consequences are likely to be profound, throwing American politics into a downward spiral of bitter recriminations the likes of which it has not seen in a generation.

Follow the link and read it all. Iraq was a war that didn't have to be. Now its going to take a massive effort to avoid another war at home.

Recursive on xxii of Taleb's The Black Swan

Recursive...means that the world in which we live has an increasing number of feedback loops, causing events to be the cause of more events (say, people buy a book because other people bought it), thus generating snowballs and arbitrary and unpredictable planet-wide winner-take-all events.

We live in an environment where information flows too rapidly, accelerating such epidemics. Likewise, events can happen because they are not supposed to happen. (Our intuitions are made for an environment with simper causes and effects and slowly moving information.) This type of randomness did not prevail during the Pleistocene, as socioeconomic life was far simpler then.

Think Progress » FLASHBACK: One Year Ago, Bush Said He Would ‘Rely Upon Gen. Casey’s’ Advice On Troop Levels

Think Progress » FLASHBACK: One Year Ago, Bush Said He Would ‘Rely Upon Gen. Casey’s’ Advice On Troop Levels

One year ago, President Bush was unsure of the next move to make in the Iraq war. In a Rose Garden briefing, Bush expressed that he was very open to outside advice but that his final decision would ultimately rest on the advice given to him by then-Multinational Force commander Gen. George Casey:

BUSH: Well, I think — I’ve gotten a lot of advice from people. You know, one of the interesting debates from the outside community is troop levels. I’ve got people who say, you need to increase the number of forces — now. I’ve gotten people that said, well, the role of the United States ought to be more indirect than it has been, in other words, in a supporting role. To those folks, I say, look, I’m going to rely upon General Casey.

But Casey was always an outspoken opponent of the escalation. As early as December 2005, Casey publicly warned against an increased U.S. presence in Iraq:

As I’ve said before this is not a conventional war, and in this type of war that we’re fighting, more is not necessarily better. In fact, in Iraq, less coalition at this point in time, is better. Less is better because it doesn’t feed the notion of occupation, it doesn’t work the culture of dependency.

Again, in January 2007, Casey insisted that an escalation of troops was not necessary and could be “counterproductive.” But Bush quickly canned Casey, claiming that Casey “had become more fixated on withdrawal than victory.” In fact, Casey’s sentiments were echoed by all members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and bipartisan members of Congress, all recognizing the futility of increasing troop levels.

Instead of listening to his own military commanders, Bush smeared Casey and appointed the loyal General David Petraeus, who “cannot be trusted to give an unbiased assessment on Iraq,” to promote the escalation strategy. The Bush administration and Petraeus are now actively working to extend the U.S. stay in Iraq.

Think Progress » Justice Dept. IG Investigating Possible Gonzales Obstruction Of Justice Incident

Think Progress » Justice Dept. IG Investigating Possible Gonzales Obstruction Of Justice Incident

The Senate Judiciary Committee revealed today that the Justice Department’s Inspector General Glenn Fine is investigating whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales may have acted unethically or illegally by attempting to “coach” Monica Goodling’s testimony.

In May, Goodling testified before Congress that, prior to resigning from the DoJ, she had an “uncomfortable” conversation with Gonzales, in which he “laid out” his version of the attorney firings and asked if she “had any reaction to his iteration.” Goodling said she did not think it was “appropriate for us to talk about that at that point.”

ThinkProgress raised the question of whether Gonzales’ actions could have constituted obstruction of justice. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) raised a similar concern.

On June 5, Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) sent a letter to Fine, asking, “Does the expansion of your inquiry include this matter?” referring to the Goodling allegations. Today, Fine responded:

In your letter, you referred to Monica Goodling’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on May 23, 2007, in which she stated that she had a meeting with the Attorney General in which the process leading to the removal of certain U.S. Attorneys was discussed. You asked whether our investigation includes this matter.

This is to confirm that the scope of our investigation does include this matter.

Read the full letter here.

In a statement released earlier today, Leahy voiced concerns that Fine’s investigation may be getting “too close for comfort” for the White House, and that the administration may try to shut it down:

The last time an internal investigation at the Department of Justice got too close for comfort the White House shut it down. I hope this investigation will not suffer the same fate as the OPR inquiry into the warrantlesss wiretapping program. This internal investigation is an important step in getting to the truth behind this matter, and they should be allowed to do their jobs without interference from this Administration.

UPDATE: Steve Benen notes, “Back on April 19, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified, under oath, that he had not spoken with ‘witnesses’ in the U.S. Attorney scandal about the events surrounding the purge because it would have been inappropriate. He told the Senate Judiciary Committee, ‘I haven’t talked to witnesses because of the fact that I haven’t wanted to interfere with this investigation and department investigations.’”

Think Progress » Leahy: Missing White House Emails Found, But Still Witheld From Congress

Think Progress » Leahy: Missing White House Emails Found, But Still Witheld From Congress

In April, the White House claimed that “it had mishandled Republican Party-sponsored e-mail accounts used by nearly two dozen presidential aides, resulting in the loss of an undetermined number of e-mails concerning official White House business.” They also acknowledged that some of the “missing” emails may be related to the U.S. attorney scandal.

In an impassioned speech, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said at the time that the White House was lying and the emails could be recovered:

“They say they have not been preserved. I don’t believe that!” Leahy shouted from the Senate floor. “You can’t erase e-mails, not today. They’ve gone through too many servers. Those e-mails are there, they just don’t want to produce them. We’ll subpoena them if necessary.”

“Like the famous 18-minute gap in the Nixon White House tapes, it appears likely that key documentation has been erased or misplaced. This sounds like the Administration’s version of ‘the dog ate my homework.’”

Today, during a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, Leahy revealed that the White House does indeed have the emails, but has yet to turn them over to Congress:

The White House stonewalling the congressional investigative committees continues this pattern of confrontation over cooperation. We all remember when they first announced to us that significant e- mails that we wanted had been destroyed. They’d been lost. I stated on the floor of the Senate that it’s relatively easy to find those lost e-mails. This brought another blast from the White House, saying that I obviously had no understanding of how the Internet works and of course that couldn’t be done.

To their credit, the White House has now told me they — well, yes indeed, I was right; they were wrong. The e-mails are found. They were there in a backup system, although they have yet to give them.

Now that their claim of “lost” emails has been proven false, the White House must turn them over to Congress. Claims of executive privilege are not sufficient to deny these emails to congressional investigators as the use of “Republican Party-sponsored” email addresses significantly undermines any claims to such privilege.

Digg It!

Update: Here’s video of Leahy on the Senate floor yesterday, saying how the White House’s disappearing, reappearing emails underscore the need for subpoenas:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

TPMmuckraker June 12, 2007 11:39 AM

TPMmuckraker June 12, 2007 11:39 AM: "In a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) last night, Bradley Schlozman wrote to 'clarify' his testimony before the committee last night.

Grilled by a number of senators over his decision as U.S. attorney for Kansas City to bring four voter fraud indictments just days before last year's election, Schlozman repeatedly testifed that he'd brought the indictments 'at the direction' (he used the phrase ten times) of the director of the Election Crimes Branch in the Public Integrity Section. That raised more than a few eyebrows on the panel since that director, Craig Donsanto, is the man who wrote the DoJ manual discouraging such investigations close to an election.

Schlozman's story had the effect of distancing himself from the controversial decision and pinning it on a Department veteran.

Now Schlozman is changing his story:

As required by Section 9-85.210 of the U.S. Attorney's Manual, at my direction, the Assistant United States Attorney assigned to the case consulted with the Election Crimes Branch prior to the filing of the indictments. I want to be clear that, while I relied on the consultation with, and suggestions of, the Election Crimes Branch in bringing the indictments when I did, I take full responsibility for the decision to move forward with the prosecutions related to ACORN while I was the interim U.S."

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Smart Mobs: YouTube as alternative media channel for Venezuela’s counter-revolution

Smart Mobs: YouTube as alternative media channel for Venezuela’s counter-revolution:

"After President Chavez performed one more attack on the press by cutting off Radio Caracas Television’s emitting channel, the former employees didn’t despair. Four days ago, they started their own channel on YouTube, El Observador, following an alternative path towards the freedom of speech and keeping alive the voice of the Venezuela’s opposition.

Though YouTube is still no match for over-the-air broadcast, it is likely to offer growing support for local televisions without media channel possibilities of reaching out large populations. El Observador was already watched over 244.000 times and has the greatest number of subscribers this week.

YouTube, known for its support for democracy and as a way to avoid censorship, making small or repressed voices heard, is starting to encounter problems with governments willing to control what they citizens see and hear. More in Ars Technica article."