Archive for July, 2008

Because forming my own opinions is hard
July 31, 2008

On Tuesday I’m going into the city to speak at this New Voices panel in front of a group of Scholastic employees and executives about Generation Z and the future of publishing. Generation Z, for those who don’t know, is the generation born roughly between the mid-nineties and right now. It’s going to be an interesting crowd to watch, I’m told, because they’re going to be the first true children of the Internet age – technologically literate, socially conscious, and globally connected. They’re also the final generation before we officially run out of letters, and their children will probably have either serial numbers or Greek letters. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Here’s the dilemma I’m facing right now: I’m on the panel in my capacity as a political writer, both of fiction and non-fiction, to talk about the future of publishing to cater to the aforementioned socially conscious, globally connected kids. And, in that capacity, I feel like just a little bit of a fraud. Who am I to prognosticate about anything? I’m not really an expert in anything particular, least of all publishing. I know what I, personally, would like to read more of – and like any writer, that’s what I try to write – but any resemblance or relation my work may have to some sort of larger publishing zeitgeist is completely coincidental. Mostly I’m just writing for myself.

But then I remembered I have a blog. It’s not a blog that a lot of people read, but some of those readers are people who are smart about writing and smart about publishing. And while I more or less have an idea of some of the things I’d like to say, I’d love to hear input from you guys. If you were a child of the digital age, what would you want to read?

McCain gives up the Stevens money
July 31, 2008

Lamar Alexander and Cornyn too.

It looks like the Republican Party is going to pretty much wash their hands of Stevens, which is the right thing to do. It’s a pretty striking contrast to how they’ve dealt with some of their other indicted leaders, coughTomDelaycough.

Great moments in condescending jackassery
July 31, 2008

In today’s Washington Post, David Montgomery devotes a chunk of the Arts and Living section to reminding us that Barack Obama is not, in fact, a unicorn. OMG, rly?!!

Bush: Something or other about Iraq
July 31, 2008

From the AP:

President Bush hailed a

Oops! Gotta pay if I want to show you any more. But the basic gist is that Bush gave a progress report on Iraq in which he said that we’re winning and so now we can have troop reductions and shorter tours of duty for the troops that are still there.

The funny thing is, with all the credibility Bush has right now, his progress report may as well have said that Iraq was overrun by frakkin’ Cylons. There’s really no need to take what he says at face value – all this talk about “winning” in Iraq and troop reductions is an attempt to take the war off the electoral table. And that’s fine with me. Whatever he needs to tell himself to start sending troops home.

McCain and the Orthogonians, Redux
July 30, 2008

See, this is a perfect example of what I was saying about how McCain doesn’t know how to run a proper Orthogonian campaign. What Nixon was so clever at doing was so clever at doing was exploiting people’s resentments and tweaking people more powerful than him so they would turn around and strike back. Then, once they started playing just as dirty as him, he could play the victim.

Unfortunately for McCain, Obama just isn’t playing ball.

There’s absolutely no question here who’s smearing whom. And it’s not a proper Orthogonian campaign if the guy running it is the one who comes out looking like the bully.

The Northern Lights are in my mind
July 30, 2008

Looks like Al Franken is the first Democratic challenger to use Ted Stevens against a recipient of his dirty money. Via OpenSecrets, here’s a list of candidates that the Northern Lights PAC donated money to. So far, looks like McConnell, Smith, Collins, Dole, Johanns and Sununu have all dumped their contributions.

Two notable names on the list who, to my knowledge, haven’t gotten rid of the money: John McCain and Don Young. Don Young, of course, has his own extensive corruption issues, and was both the only House member to receive Stevens’ money and one of the lucky $10,000 jackpot winners, which is the maximum amount the PAC gave to anyone.

As for McCain, supposedly Stevens’ indictment is supposed to draw attention to how squeaky clean he is – but he’s got $5,000 from the PAC sitting in his warchest, and a presidential campaign staffed by corporate lobbyists. Maybe Obama (or Obama surrogates, anyway) should consider following Franken’s lead here.

Connecting the Dots
July 30, 2008

Looks like the Senate’s investigation into the politicization of the Justice Department might go in an interesting direction.

WASHINGTON — On May 17, 2005, the White House’s political affairs office sent an e-mail message to agencies throughout the executive branch directing them to find jobs for 108 people on a list of “priority candidates” who had “loyally served the president.”

“We simply want to place as many of our Bush loyalists as possible,” the White House emphasized in a follow-up message, according to a little-noticed passage of an internal Justice Department report released Monday about politicization in the department’s hiring of civil-service prosecutors and immigration officials. [Emphasis mine.]

The implication being, of course, that numerous other agencies have been politicized in the same way as the Justice Department. Which we already know (just look at the EPA, for chrissake). But what this article shows is that these weren’t just a bunch of isolated incidents – Monica Goodling making a few political hires here, Cheney squashing a report about climate change there – but instead part of a single, coordinated effort that goes back to the White House. Basically, we’re talking about a return to the spoils system here.

Lucky for us, our ever vigilant White House press corps will probably be all over this.

Rove Held in Contempt
July 30, 2008

Hmm. Maybe corruption will be an issue again after all. Keep your fingers crossed for that, and for a neat visual of Rove being physically manhandled into a jail cell in the Capitol basement.

Full Steam Ahead
July 29, 2008

From Politico:

Stevens has a reputation as a fighter, so he may very well launch a counterattack on the Justice case against him. His campaign has said it’s “full steam ahead” for the fall election, adding that Stevens’ office has been “flooded” with calls and e-mails from supporters urging him to press on.

“The message from them is clear: Alaska needs Ted Stevens in the U.S. Senate.”

Yay!

The great thing about guys like Ted Stevens is that the same amorality and narcissism that gets them into dirty politics in the first place means that they won’t think twice about screwing their former allies if they think it will save them some humiliation.

Senator Ted Stevens Indicted
July 29, 2008

According to Dr. Jeffrey Utz, the average adult male is composed of about 60% water. With Ted Stevens, however, it’s only about 25% water and 35% corruption. For you math whizzes out there, that’s 5% corruption per indictment he received today.

This has been a very long time coming – and it couldn’t have come at a better time. If Stevens decides to tough the election out – and I hope he does, more for sheer entertainment value than any tactical concerns – then, as election oracle Eric Kleefeld points out, Democrat Mark Begich probably has this one in the bag.

But you know what else would be nice? If this put corruption back on the table as an issue. I’m not just talking about the kind of corruption that gets you indicted – I’m talking about institutional, officially sanctioned corruption, too. We were just starting to have a conversation about that in 2006, but the resulting bill was only a slight improvement.

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