Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Miscellanea from the Primaries and other places: separating facts from emotion

Although I don't have a horse in this race (I'm still pretty ambivalent about the democratic candidates), the reactions to the New Hampshire primary results are fascinating. Sheila Lennon starts her entry,
Woman wins presidential primary

I just wanted to see that headline in my lifetime.

Doc Searls reacts, too, and says
I’ve never been a Hillary fan, mostly because it seemed that nothing she said wasn’t calculated. But when she choked up a couple days ago, for the first time I heard her get real. And likable. Last night after her victory in New Hampshire, she said “I found my voice”. There was nothing fake about it.
But, in most commentary, the discussion is more opinionated, especially on whether Sen. Clinton's 'emotional moment' was calculated, hurt her, or proved a point. Maureen Dowd: Can Hillary Cry Her Way Back to the White House?
... there was a whiff of Nixonian self-pity about her choking up. What was moving her so deeply was her recognition that the country was failing to grasp how much it needs her. In a weirdly narcissistic way, she was crying for us. But it was grimly typical of her that what finally made her break down was the prospect of losing.
In reaction, from Shakesville: Shut Up, Maureen Dowd , calling it
mind-blowingly appalling even for the World's Most Obnoxious Feminist Concern Troll [TM]

On another candidate, how did New Republic's expose of Ron Paul's old newsletter ramblings affect his primary results, if at all? See Angry White Man, 'The Bigoted Past of Ron Paul'. It's good to see some real research applied to the story:
Most voters had never heard of Paul before he launched his quixotic bid for the Republican nomination. But the Texan has been active in politics for decades. And, long before he was the darling of antiwar activists on the left and right, Paul was in the newsletter business.
...Finding the pre-1999 newsletters was no easy task, but I was able to track many of them down at the libraries of the University of Kansas and the Wisconsin Historical Society. Of course, with few bylines, it is difficult to know whether any particular article was written by Paul himself.
...the newsletters I saw all had one thing in common: They were published under a banner containing Paul's name, and the articles...seem designed to create the impression that they were written by him--and reflected his views. What they reveal are decades worth of obsession with conspiracies, sympathy for the right-wing militia movement, and deeply held bigotry against blacks, Jews, and gays. In short, they suggest that Ron Paul is not the plain-speaking antiwar activist his supporters believe they are backing--but rather a member in good standing of some of the oldest and ugliest traditions in American politics.

At Tom Dispatch, finally, a look at the story behind Charlie Wilson's War and what the movie leaves out. See Chalmers Johnson, An Imperialist Comedy, with references to research in the area by Chalmers Johnson and Steve Coll. After reading George Crile's book when it came out, I was looking forward to this film, but having seen the trailers and the 'making of' show, am already disappointed. To me the story of Wilson's quest (and pretty clear in the book) was how he created and armed what eventually led to the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Johnson:
One important part of that recognition, studiously avoided by the CIA and most subsequent American writers on the subject, is that Wilson's activities in Afghanistan led directly to a chain of blowback that culminated in the attacks of September 11, 2001 and led to the United States' current status as the most hated nation on Earth.
...the film's happy ending came about because Tom Hanks, a co-producer as well as the leading actor, "just can't deal with this 9/11 thing."

On PBS' Now, transcript of an interview with Forbes' Director of Knowledge Management Anne Mintz, The Misinformation Superhighway, focusing on how to determine good political information from bad, including links to responsible sites that analyze rumors and 'facts'.

(On a recent topic, the discussion still continues over 'The Wire's treatment of the Baltimore Sun in the latest episodes, here at Hitsville, and at Ubiquitous Marketing, where creator David Simon chimes in. Simon has commented on so many blog reviews of his show that Romenesko points them out.)



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