Later On

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

Archive for November 1st, 2013

Very interesting: A clear explanation of the GOP strategy on government

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The ideas in this James Fallows column seem a solid explanation for what we see happening: deliberate destruction of the US government. Actions that seemed incomprehensible now make a lot of sense from this new (to me) viewpoint.

And do read the entire column from which he quotes.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 November 2013 at 2:22 pm

Posted in Congress, GOP, Government

Benghazi: There’s life in the old dog yet… wait. No. Sorry. (Details below)

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Actually, details are nicely laid out by Kevin Drum.

Congress may not be able to pass (or repeal) any bills, but they sure as hell can flog a dead horse.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 November 2013 at 1:37 pm

Terrific presentation of good information: A Guardian special on the Snowden files

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We’re starting to see very slick articles in news sites such as the NY Times and now The Guardian. Take a look at this.

UPDATE: It’s interesting how defenders of NSA simply ignore facts. They are all about fighting terrorism, when so far as we know NSA has not actually contributed that much to the fight against terrorism, and it’s extremely unclear that fighting terrorism is the NSA mission. Tapping the phones of leaders of countries who are (or have been) our allies—Mexico, Germany, Brazil, Spain, and so on—doesn’t really seem to be about fighting terrorism at all. Breaking into the Brazilian oil company seems more about industrial espionage than about terrorism. I don’t think NSA is being straight with us—well, obviously: look at James Clapper. Nor is Obama.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 November 2013 at 12:41 pm

Fascinating discussion between Bill Keller and Glenn Greenwald

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Keller is pretty much the anti-Greenwald: Keller is very much a team player and company man, and when the Bush Administration asked Keller to conceal the massive illegal wiretapping underway, Keller was happy to comply and keep the story under wraps (for over a year) until Bush was safely re-elected. Keller pushed for the Iraq War by muting (or ignoring) dissenting voices/facts in NY Times reports. (Keller was editor of the NY Times at the time.) And, as Greenwald points out, Keller had the Times refer to waterboarding, when done by the US, as an “enhanced interrogation technique”, though when other countries did waterboarding, then it was “torture.”

Still, they have some common ground, and Keller seems genuinely curious about the direction journalism will take. The discussion, in the NY Times, is well worth reading. It begins:

Much of the speculation about the future of news focuses on the business model: How will we generate the revenues to pay the people who gather and disseminate the news? But the disruptive power of the Internet raises other profound questions about what journalism is becoming, about its essential character and values. This week’s column is a conversation — a (mostly) civil argument — between two very different views of how journalism fulfills its mission.

Glenn Greenwald broke what is probably the year’s biggest news story, Edward Snowden’s revelations of the vast surveillance apparatus constructed by the National Security Agency. He has also been an outspoken critic of the kind of journalism practiced at places like The New York Times, and an advocate of a more activist, more partisan kind of journalism. Earlier this month he announced he was joining a new journalistic venture, backed by eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar, who has promised to invest $250 million and to “throw out all the old rules.” I invited Greenwald to join me in an online exchange about what, exactly, that means.

Dear Glenn,

We come at journalism from different traditions. I’ve spent a life working at newspapers that put a premium on aggressive but impartial reporting, that expect reporters and editors to keep their opinions to themselves unless they relocate (as I have done) to the pages clearly identified as the home of opinion. You come from a more activist tradition — first as a lawyer, then as a blogger and columnist, and soon as part of a new, independent journalistic venture financed by the eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Your writing proceeds from a clearly stated point of view.

In a post on Reuters this summer, media critic Jack Shafer celebrated the tradition of partisan journalism — “From Tom Paine to Glenn Greenwald” — and contrasted it with what he called “the corporatist ideal.” He didn’t explain the phrase, but I don’t think he meant it in a nice way. Henry Farrell, who blogs for The Washington Post, wrote more recently that publications like The New York Times and The Guardian “have political relationships with governments, which make them nervous about publishing (and hence validating) certain kinds of information,” and he suggested that your new project with Omidyar would represent a welcome escape from such relationships.

I find much to admire in America’s history of crusading journalists, from the pamphleteers to the muckrakers to the New Journalism of the ’60s to the best of today’s activist bloggers. At their best, their fortitude and passion have stimulated genuine reforms (often, as in the Progressive Era, thanks to the journalists’ “political relationships with governments”). I hope the coverage you led of the National Security Agency’s hyperactive surveillance will lead to some overdue accountability.

But the kind of journalism The Times and other mainstream news organizations practice — at their best — includes an awful lot to be proud of, too, revelations from Watergate to torture and secret prisons to the malfeasance of the financial industry, and including some pre-Snowden revelations about the N.S.A.’s abuse of its authority. Those are highlights that leap to mind, but you’ll find examples in just about every day’s report. Journalists in this tradition have plenty of opinions, but by setting them aside to follow the facts — as a judge in court is supposed to set aside prejudices to follow the law and the evidence — they can often produce results that are more substantial and more credible. The mainstream press has had its failures — episodes of credulousness, false equivalency, sensationalism and inattention — for which we have been deservedly flogged. I expect you’ll say, not flogged enough. So I pass you the lash.

Dear Bill,

There’s no question that journalists at establishment media venues, certainly including The New York Times, have produced some superb reporting over the last couple of decades. I don’t think anyone contends that what has become (rather recently) the standard model for a reporter — concealing one’s subjective perspectives or what appears to be “opinions” — precludes good journalism.

But this model has also produced lots of . . .

Continue reading.

UPDATE: Roger Cohen has an interesting NY Times column on the issue.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 November 2013 at 10:25 am

Posted in Media, NY Times

A Republican governor comments on the Republican war against the poor

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Paul Krugman writes in the NY Times today:

John Kasich, the Republican governor of Ohio, has done some surprising things lately. First, he did an end run around his state’s Legislature — controlled by his own party — to proceed with the federally funded expansion of Medicaid that is an important piece of Obamacare. Then, defending his action, he let loose on his political allies, declaring, “I’m concerned about the fact there seems to be a war on the poor. That, if you’re poor, somehow you’re shiftless and lazy.”

Obviously Mr. Kasich isn’t the first to make this observation. But the fact that it’s coming from a Republican in good standing (although maybe not anymore), indeed someone who used to be known as a conservative firebrand, is telling. Republican hostility toward the poor and unfortunate has now reached such a fever pitch that the party doesn’t really stand for anything else — and only willfully blind observers can fail to see that reality.

The big question is why. But, first, let’s talk a bit more about what’s eating the right.

I still sometimes see pundits claiming that the Tea Party movement is basically driven by concerns about budget deficits. That’s delusional. Read the founding rant by Rick Santelli of CNBC: There’s nary a mention of deficits. Instead, it’s a tirade against the possibility that the government might help “losers” avoid foreclosure. Or read transcripts from Rush Limbaugh or other right-wing talk radio hosts. There’s not much about fiscal responsibility, but there’s a lot about how the government is rewarding the lazy and undeserving.

Republicans in leadership positions try to modulate their language a bit, but it’s a matter more of tone than substance. They’re still clearly passionate about making sure that the poor and unlucky get as little help as possible, that — as Representative Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, put it — the safety net is becoming “a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency.” And Mr. Ryan’s budget proposals involve savage cuts in safety-net programs such as food stamps and Medicaid.

All of this hostility to the poor has culminated in the truly astonishing refusal of many states to participate in the Medicaid expansion. Bear in mind that the federal government would pay for this expansion, and that the money thus spent would benefit hospitals and the local economy as well as the direct recipients. But a majority of Republican-controlled state governments are, it turns out, willing to pay a large economic and fiscal price in order to ensure that aid doesn’t reach the poor.

The thing is, it wasn’t always this way. Go back for a moment to 1936, when . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 November 2013 at 10:18 am

Posted in Daily life, GOP

Barrister & Mann Hallows once more—and BBS to boot

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SOTD 1 Nov 20013

An extremely good shave once more—Astra Superior Platinum blade.

But to begin at the beginning: For a change of pace, I wet the Thâter’s knot well before the shower, and when I lathered, I did find that the brush was a bit softer. Not sure whether I like the effect or not: more experimentation required.

I got an excellent lather for the first two passes, but it faded in the third, for reasons that are unclear to me. This did not happen with the other brushes, so it may be that I simply failed to load the (somewhat softer (because of soaking)) brush adequately. But the lather was quite good for shaving.

The Gillette President, which has been replated in rhodium, is a very nice razor indeed, and the three passes were comfortable and trouble-free.

A good splash of Creed’s Green Irish Tweed and I’m off the ophthalmologist for a little laser surger to remove a scar on my right eye (now my good eye). It’s an office procedure and I don’t even need a driver, so no biggie.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 November 2013 at 8:01 am

Posted in Shaving

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