Friday, November 26, 2004

Remember this?

In the week leading up to the election, questions regarding the 380 tons of missing explosives from the Al Qaqaa facility was gigantic news. Now, not so much. I guess that since the story no longer has the potential to unseat President Bush, the press believes no one cares. And for all I know, that may be true. But, if it is true, it is only because of the manner in which the media reported the story.

You see, if this story is about the timing of the revelation, or about John Kerry's use of the story on the stump, or about the administration's reaction(s), or about the penetration of the story into the minds of the voting public -- then of course it no longer matters.

But, if this story is about yet another example of ongoing incompetence of this administration's Iraq campaign, then it still means something. As you may recall, the battle for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people rages on. And you would think that the press would realize this.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Apocryphal Tales 101

If anyone at your Thanksgiving table mentions that the Declaration of Independence has been banned at a Cupertino elementary school, you may reassure them that this is not the case. However, you may point out that the timing of this particular false news story (over a holiday weekend) means that the lie will fester uncontradicted for several days. Soon, it will become entrenched as another example of liberal overreaching in the conservative narrative.

And this is how it happens. Conservatives have a narrative buoyed by hundreds of dubious tales such as this one, and because these falsehoods confirm existing bias they persist even when contradicted by overwhelming evidence. This process of accepting or rejecting new information based upon its compliance with existing viewpoints is a natural and unavoidable property of human consciousness. The phenomenon is shared by all humans, regardless of political affiliation. However, political conservatives knowingly exploit this weakness, as is demonstrated by this event. The plan is: get the story out unchallenged, let it sink in, and then drop it. Then, wait a few months and "remind" everyone about that time liberals were banning the Declaration of Independence. On the off chance that the veracity of their claim is challenged, simply change the subject and wait for another opportunity to retell the tale when the current challenger is absent.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Abusing the Method

Why is it that any time a scientific study is quoted by a movement conservative like David Limbaugh, you just know that the study is garbage? In this instance, Mr. Limbaugh is trotting out the tired old claim that a "statistical correlation" exists between abortion and breast cancer. This is old news, or rather, the refutation of this claim is old news. But a moment when science seems to be on his side is simply too precious to abandon. Better take advantage while he can.

The annoying part, of course, is that in reality he has no respect for the scientific process. It is merely a tool to be used when it helps his cause and abandoned and/or disparaged when it stands in his way. In this instance, he chooses to report the original study without mentioning that subsequent studies and peer review have completely contradicted the original claim. Mr. Limbaugh is a fair weather friend to the scientific method. Be sure to remember that any time he or any of his ilk use science to buttress their case.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Christmas comes early for Bernie

So, Dan Rather is leaving us. I can't say that I'm sorry. Seems that Mr. Rather embodied every negative stereotype of the "liberal elite." He was arrogant and projected a transparent homespun demeanor that seemed to get worse with every passing year. He will be remembered, I feel, more for his missteps than for his successes.

Bernie Goldberg & Co. will be out dancing on his grave, claiming victory in Rather's exit. Maybe it is a victory. The timing of his exit, before the release of independent investigation of the 60 Minutes National Guard story, is certainly fortuitous to conservative analysis. But, a larger truth was lost amongst the sound and fury and the success of this gambit will only serve to reinforce future obfuscation. It's a damn shame.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

A Single Step

Let's see what this turns into.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Blog Starts with the Next Post

The following post is the first "real" post of this blog. All preceding posts are of the "maintenance" variety. Their timestamps exist in order to determine their positioning on the blog, and does not reflect the actual time when they were posted.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

What to Do If You like What You See

So -- you like what you seeā€¦

Well, first, let me say that I'm very flattered. I, like most bloggers, put a lot of work into what you see here and your approbation is part of what makes it worthwhile. For that, I thank you.

And if you were willing to lend a hand in this endeavor, I thank you all the more.

The problem that I, and all new bloggers, face is that of traffic. People begin this process for a host of different reasons. But, they all stop for the same reason -- low readership. At a certain point it becomes impossible to maintain the energy and discipline required when the room is empty.

Therefore, the first thing that you can do is to continue to visit. Of course, it's my job to make sure that it's worth your while, and that is something that I will do for as long as this project lasts.

Once you've decided that this place is worth your time, you can help me promote it in a number of different ways. Primarily, this involves telling people that the blog exists. This is a simple as sharing the URL. Also, you can e-mail posts that you like to other interested parties. In fact, at the bottom of each post, you will see an icon of an envelope. Clicking on that will allow you to e-mail directly from the site. If you plan on introducing the site to a blog neophyte, consider e-mailing this post to them, as it will give them a brief overview of what's going on here.

If you are yourself a blogger, then you know what I want: linkage, linkage, linkage. If you link to something here and you are not registered with Technorati (why aren't you?), be sure to let me know via e-mail. And don't be shy about using the Trackback feature. If you don't have Trackback on your site, consider adding it (I'm using Haloscan) -- you won't be sorry. Finally, I would be honored to find a place on your blogroll, which you can do it manually or, if you're using BlogRolling, by hitting the Blogroll Me! link on the left sidebar.

That's it. If you find a little time to increase my blog's exposure, you are literally extending its life. And, believe me, that is no small gift.

Click here to return to the front page.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The Why of the Blogroll

As someone who has been hooked on blogs since the fall of 2003, I am often asked two questions:

1. Why do I read blogs?

2. Which blogs do I read?

In practice, I find that these questions are best answered by addressing the following:

Why do I read the blogs I read?

Therefore, I've attempted answer this question here. Below, you'll find links to a brief description of each of my favorite blogs. They're all special creations, each serving a unique role in my intellectual universe. Many I admire and emulate. Some entertain and amuse. Others I detest with a passion matched only by the heat of a thousand suns. Regardless, they each in their own way explain why I believe the so-called "blogophere" is an important step forward in the evolution of human communication. I encourage you to not only read my descriptions, but to ultimately click through to the blogs themselves to see what I'm talking about. If you enjoy them only half as much as I do, I guarantee that you'll be glad that you did.

And without further ado:

The Why of the Blogroll: Eschaton
The Why of the Blogroll: Intel Dump -- coming soon
The Why of the Blogroll: Legal Fiction
The Why of the Blogroll: Mark A. Kleiman -- coming soon
The Why of the Blogroll: Political Animal
The Why of the Blogroll: Talking Points Memo
The Why of the Blogroll: Tapped -- coming soon

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Why of the Blogroll: Legal Fiction

If you spend any time here you'll quickly realize that I have a serious man/blog-crush on Publius of Legal Fiction. Unlike many of the other members of the blogroll, Publius uses the form to go beyond simple news aggregation. For him, current events serve as a launching pad for in-depth and insightful analysis and commentary. He posts with less frequency than some (usually no more than once a day). However, what he lacks in quantity he more than makes up for by producing thoughtful and lengthy entries that never fail to redefine issues in novel ways.

His legal background makes him an invaluable resource when attempting to unravel the legalese of a judicial ruling. But his expertise is not limited to the world of law, extending deep into the world of foreign-policy and the culture of the American South. He's also not above discussing theoretical mathematics or Intelligent Design. In short, you never really know what will turn up there.

Finally, many bloggers seem to irrationally detest conservative principles. Publius, on the other hand, approaches the opposition with an exceptional level of balance. To him, conservatism is a rational and logically consistent political philosophy that has its honest adherents. He makes his opposition to conservatism known, but he accords it an exceptional amount of respect when it is due. And when dishonest conservatives start making noise, all bets are off.

Ultimately, you won't find a more enlightening voice anywhere in the blogosphere.

Click here to visit Legal Fiction.

Click here to return to The Why of the Blogroll.

The Why of the Blogroll: Talking Points Memo

Josh Marshall is that which most bloggers wish they could be: a successful print journalist. As you would expect, his work reflects his professional pedigree. His blog is the product of a considerable amount of original reporting, much more so than his peers. He was also the first blog that I saw do "road-blogging" -- from the New Hampshire Democratic primaries. He frequently updates his page, alternating between brief commentary and extended reportage/analysis. Stories literally evolve over a series of posts, developing over the course of a day or over several days.

But his journalistic background doesn't prevent him from taking advantage of the medium. His writing is passionate, sarcastic, and, where appropriate, merciless. He runs reader contests, instigates and organizes small-scale congressional watchdog movements, and publicly duels the evil minions from the dark side. He doesn't shy away from complex discussions or inside the Beltway politics, so he's more of an investment than your typical news aggregator. But you'll never regret the time spent there.

Click here to visit Talking Points Memo.

Click here to return to The Why of the Blogroll.

The Why of the Blogroll: Political Animal

Kevin Drum began his blogging career as an independent under the Calpundit banner. As the name implies, he would occasionally deviate from national issues to discuss those relevant to California. Eventually, through his insightful writing and vast knowledge resources, he attracted a large enough audience to be noticed by The Washington Monthly. He was brought on as their resident Political Animal, and he has resided there ever since.

Kevin's politics, while indubitably liberal, tend toward the center. This moderation allows him to present a clear view of current events. He breaks complicated stories, such as Social Security reform and Bush's National Guard service, into clear and concise essays summarizing the relevant issues. He's been known to allow facts to lead him off the liberal reservation. He even gives props to mainstream journalism.

But it's not all politics with Kevin. Sometimes it's an episode of 24. Sometimes it's an episode of Survivor. If it's Christmas time he presents book suggestions. During Wimbledon he's got a post on tennis rackets. And I don't know if he started it, but I never saw any version of Friday Pet Blogging before I saw Kevin do it.

In sum, he's a great writer who should be part of any healthy blog diet.

Click here to visit Political Animal.

Click here to return to The Why of the Blogroll.

Update: Kevin has now confirmed his pioneering role in the establishment of Friday Pet Blogging. Be sure to update your records.

The Why of the Blogroll: Eschaton

In the fall of 2003, as the ramp up to the 2004 presidential elections was getting underway, I awoke from my political slumber and began pumping the Internet for information. After spending an afternoon plugging political keywords into Google, I noticed that one domain was popping up in my results list time and time again. Eventually, curiosity got the better of me and I was compelled to investigate this mystery web site.

That was my first trip to a blog and how I discovered Eschaton.

Atrios (the pseudonym under which Eschaton is published) has since the inception of his blog become one of the premier voices for progressivism on the Internet. His style is defined by his brevity, his razor wit, his passion, and his infatiguability (often posting as much as 20 times a day). No issue of significance escapes his notice, nor can its implications be completely understood until he has had his say. In a sense, he is an invaluable news aggregator for the liberal news consumer. He is unapologetically partisan, frequently sponsoring fundraising efforts for the candidates he favors. Yet, he remains honest and fair, never sacrificing principles for victory.

In short, no liberal's journey into the "blogophere" could be complete without a healthy stay at Eschaton.

Click here to visit Eschaton.

Click here to return to The Why of the Blogroll.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Welcome to My Blog!

Dear friends and family,

I'm glad that you found a moment to visit this little project of mine. It is my hope that you will find something interesting and thought-provoking here.

If you are new to blogs please allow me to show you around. The term "blog" is an abbreviation of weblog, and it is exactly that -- a diary (or log) published on the World Wide Web. Literally millions of people across the globe publish their thoughts in this medium and their rationales for doing so are just as numerous. For me, this is an opportunity to crystallize certain ideas that I have been developing relating to culture and politics. While many of these ideas fit comfortably into the liberal/progressive narrative, they do have a somewhat unusual perspective that hopefully extends the boundaries of discussion. That's the goal, anyway.

At the bottom of each entry you'll find a link that will allow you to leave your comments. One of the most important aspects of blogging is the interplay between author and audience, so if you feel moved to add to the discussion, please do so.

At the top of the left column you will find links to what I consider to be my best entries thus far. Perusing them will give you a feel for what I'm attempting to accomplish here.

Below that, you will find a list of links to other blogs that have influenced me. If you'd like to know what I like about them, click here. These writers define the genre of political blogging and I highly recommend them to you.

If you would like to simply read the most recent posts, click here and you will be taken to the front page. The newest entries will always appear there.

That's really all there is. Poke around and enjoy yourself. If you like what you see then by all means share this blog with others. The more the merrier.

Best wishes to all,

-- TTN
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