Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for May 23rd, 2007

Keith Olbermann on the Democrats backing down

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From ThinkProgress:

Keith Olbermann plans Special Comment on the Iraq war compromise. A preview:

The Democratic leadership has, in sum, claimed a compromise with the Administration, in which the only things truly compromised are the trust of the voters, the ethics of the Democrats, and the lives of our brave, and doomed, friends, and family, in Iraq.

You, the men and women elected with the simplest of directions – Stop The War – have traded your strength, your bargaining position, and the uniform support of those who elected you… for a handful of magic beans.

Written by Leisureguy

23 May 2007 at 4:18 pm

Study: 38 Percent Of People Not Actually Entitled To Their Opinion

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Interesting: more than a third of the population—almost 40%—turn out not to be entitled to their own opinion:

CHICAGO—In a surprising refutation of the conventional wisdom on opinion entitlement, a study conducted by the University of Chicago’s School for Behavioral Science concluded that more than one-third of the U.S. population is neither entitled nor qualified to have opinions.

“On topics from evolution to the environment to gay marriage to immigration reform, we found that many of the opinions expressed were so off-base and ill-informed that they actually hurt society by being voiced,” said chief researcher Professor Mark Fultz, who based the findings on hundreds of telephone, office, and dinner-party conversations compiled over a three-year period. “While people have long asserted that it takes all kinds, our research shows that American society currently has a drastic oversupply of the kinds who don’t have any good or worthwhile thoughts whatsoever. We could actually do just fine without them.”

In 2002, Fultz’s team shook the academic world by conclusively proving the existence of both bad ideas during brainstorming and dumb questions during question-and-answer sessions.

Written by Leisureguy

23 May 2007 at 10:19 am

Posted in Science fiction

But there is still beauty

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Venus near the moon. Breathtaking.

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23 May 2007 at 7:58 am

Posted in Science

Corrupted Consumer Product Safety

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This is so bad:

Manufacturing Consent on Product Safety Nominee
Source: New York Times, May 15, 2007

A controversial nominee to head the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) just got more controversial. Michael E. Baroody, currently a senior lobbyist at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), “will receive a $150,000 departing payment” from NAM “when he takes his new government job, which involves enforcing consumer laws against members of the association.” Baroody informed CPSC of the “extraordinary payment” (as it’s called under federal ethics rules), and will “remove himself from agency matters involving the association for two years.” However, Baroody says he can immediately consider “matters involving individual companies that are members” of NAM — “many of whom are defendants in agency proceedings over defective products or have other business before the commission” — and matters involving smaller trade groups aligned with NAM. At NAM, Baroody lobbied to limit asbestos makers’ liability and advocated against state safety standards for cigarettes. Consumer groups, firefighters, lawyers and doctors oppose Baroody’s nomination, as do several Democrats. The American Academy of Pediatrics warned that Baroody has “led efforts to weaken the C.P.S.C. and opposed numerous initiatives to protect children and the public from unsafe products.”

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UPDATE: Well, that didn’t take long. I blog it, and he withdraws:

President Bush’s pick to head the onsumer Product Safety Commission withdrew his nomination Wednesday amid strong opposition from some Senate Democrats because of his career as a manufacturers’ lobbyist.

The White House said it was reluctantly accepting the decision by Michael Baroody after “some members in the Senate rushed to judgment.”

Baroody is a lobbyist for the National Association of Manufacturers, and his critics on Capitol Hill said he would not provide the leadership the agency needed in order to protect consumers.

Democrats also had raised questions about a $150,000 payment that Baroody would have received from the manufacturers’ lobbying group when he left.

More at the link.

Written by Leisureguy

23 May 2007 at 7:56 am

Battered whistleblower protection

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Congress needs to take action to extend whistleblower protection and increase penalties on those who retaliate against whistleblowers. I’m think a minimum 3-year jail term would be about right, with no early parole.

With Shrinking Protections, Who Will Speak for the Trees?
Source: McClatchy / Sacramento Bee, May 19, 2007

A recent U.S. Labor Department ruling against a whistleblower states that the department, which “has jurisdiction over environmental whistle-blower cases,” only recognizes whistleblower protections in the “clean air and solid waste-disposal acts, not laws governing clean water, drinking water, toxic substances and hazardous waste.” A department spokesperson said the wording does not reflect “any change in policy or practice.” Environmental advocates and watchdog groups aren’t so sure. The Government Accountability Project‘s legal director called the ruling “the latest attack in a systematic war to gut the environmental whistle-blowers’ statutes.” The 1989 Whistleblower Protection Act covers all federal employees, but only covers disclosures related to “an imminent danger.” In 2005, the Justice Department declared the Clean Water Act’s whistleblower protections invalid. The Environmental Protection Agency has said “it doesn’t recognize the protections in any of the six major environmental laws.”

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Written by Leisureguy

23 May 2007 at 7:55 am

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Another good article:

Food and Water Watch Covers Offshore Fish Farming Legislation on Congresspedia
by Conor Kenny

As part of our ongoing series of partnerships with research and advocacy organizations, Food and Water Watch has established an informative page on offshore fish farming legislation on Congresspedia. Here’s FWW’s Andrianna Natsoulas (who edits SourceWatch and Congresspedia under the name Anatsoulas) to explain why they think this is an important issue:

Why do we care about open ocean aquaculture? We care because it can hurt our health and our oceans. How? Think about this: what happens if tens of thousands of animals are crammed into industrial size cages offshore, wild fish are ground up and tossed in for feed, and all the fish waste (and the occasional escaped fish) is washed out to sea or pollutes the sea floor.

Read the rest of this item

Written by Leisureguy

23 May 2007 at 7:47 am

Mass media: vehicles of propaganda

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Very interesting conference, it sounds like:

In their groundbreaking 1988 book, Manufacturing Consent, professors Ed Herman and Noam Chomsky not only explained, but documented with extensive case studies, how mass media and public opinion are shaped in a democracy. Twenty years later, can their “propaganda model” still be used to explain modern media distortions? That was one of the main questions discussed last week at a conference in Windsor, Ontario, titled “20 Years of Propaganda?” Organized by Dr. Paul Boin, the conference drew hundreds of scholars and activists including myself, and more than 1,000 people attended a closing speech by Chomsky on May 17.

The “propaganda model” that Herman and Chomsky put forward in Manufacturing Consent has made the book notable (some would say notorious) as the most influential book by serious academics to challenge the common dogma of media objectivity in the United States. When it first appeared, it was almost unheard-of to suggest that U.S. media such as the New York Times, Time and Newsweek magazines and CBS News were propaganda vehicles.

Today things are somewhat different. Across the political spectrum, there is a widespread belief that disinformation, deception and propaganda pervade the media. On the internet, the initials MSM have become a standard term of disparagement for untrustworthy “mainstream media.” The right has in fact far surpassed the left at denouncing the myth of media objectivity and has developed an entire industry of think tanks, media watchdogs and pundits such as Michelle Malkin or Anne Coulter who devote themselves to discovering and denouncing purported instances of media bias — while enjoying privileged media access themselves.

Based on my own experiences — as a Central American solidarity and antiwar activist during the 1980s, as the co-author of two books about Iraq titled Weapons of Mass Deception and The Best War Ever, and as someone who studies the public relations industry and propaganda in general at the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) — I see no shortage of evidence showing that propaganda is very much alive and well as a force shaping public opinion and public policy.

Propaganda Model Holds True for Iraq

When considering media coverage of the current war in Iraq, much of Herman and Chomsky’s propaganda model is directly relevant. For example, they identify the differential treatment given to “worthy” vs. “unworthy” victims of violence as a signature characteristic of propaganda. “A propaganda system,” they wrote, “will consistently portray people abused in enemy states as worthy victims, whereas those treated with equal or greater severity by its own government or clients will be unworthy. The evidence of worth may be read from the extent and character of attention and indignation.”

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

23 May 2007 at 7:45 am

Posted in Media

Why are these men laughing?

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B and G

You can watch Monica Goodling’s testimony. Early in the morning for popcorn, but still.

Written by Leisureguy

23 May 2007 at 7:20 am

Cost of the War

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The National Priorities Project has created an excellent real-time counter for the cost of the Iraq War—it shows the dollars flying (we’re getting near half a trillion dollars), and you can even see what it’s costing an individual state, or even a county. Monterey County, for example, has paid (so far) $654,344,416 (with the last digits turning over rapidly like the odometer in a scarily fast car).

Moreover, you can compare what we’re spending on the Iraq War to what we’re spending on:


Definitely worth a look.

Written by Leisureguy

23 May 2007 at 6:31 am

Lavender and Lime

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Taylor of Old Bond Street Lavender triple-milled shaving soap, making a good lather—though it seemed not quite so good as that from the Geo. F. Trumper soap yesterday—again with the Rooney Style 2 Finest. The very Gillette Aristocrat that you see on the cover of my book, and the very Feather blade. Three passes. Exceptionally smooth.

Alum bar and then, after rinse and dry, Geo. F. Trumper West Indian Extract of Limes aftershave—an intense fragrance of fresh lime. Amazing. Got it from Em’s Place.

Written by Leisureguy

23 May 2007 at 6:20 am

Posted in Shaving

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