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Monday, March 31, 2003  
Must all that rises converge?

An American recently decided the times gave him permission to commit crimes. Reportedly inflamed since 9/11 and further influenced by the impending, than actual invasion of Iraq, Larme Price of NYC decided to go hunting. The quarry? People who look like those being killed by American troops in Iraq. But, since race is largely a social construct, 'looks like' can be a very ambiguous matter. It appears only one of the victims of of his rampage was of Middle Eastern descent.

The suspect, Larme Price, 30, confessed on Saturday to the four slayings, which terrorized residents and small-business owners and had been described as the work of a serial killer, the police said. Mr. Price said he was motivated by a desire to kill people of Middle Eastern descent after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, [Police Commissioner Raymond W.] Kelly said at a news conference at police headquarters.

Price is also being charged in two attempts that did not result in deaths.

The miasmas that often accompany such acts are present in this one, too.

Asked about Mr. Price's statement that he wanted to kill people of Middle Eastern descent, Mr. Kelly said, "I believe it fits the definition of a bias crime."

But Mr. Price's mother, Leatha Price, said yesterday that her son's anger at Middle Easterners was a matter of mental illness, not ethnic hatred.

There may have been a confluence between a mentally ill man and a society he perceived as giving him permission to be violent in regard to certain targets.

"I would get a bad vibe, and then a bad situation would happen," suspect Larme Price, 30, told police. "I got bad vibes from Arabs. When they spoke Arabic, they were talking about me," he said.

His confessed homicides may be the result of psychosis. I am not disputing that. However, circumstances can determine how psychotics act out their illnesses. The current environment of contempt for people from the Middle East may have granted Price the permission to act and determined who Price chose as targets.

There is something bloggers can do to lessen the probability of impaired people acting out in this tragic way. Many of our counterparts on the Right have contributed to creating an atmosphere in which some human lives are considered of less value than others. Some obviously revel in their hatred. Others rush to the defense of the worst of the lot.

Blogger Andrew Hagen began criticizing one of the most guilty parties months ago:

Let's focus on what Charles Johnson said. It's apparently okay for Charles to say without evidence, without reason that Islam is a monolith that hates the West, but it's not okay to say that based on his monolithic, stereotyped characterization of Islam, that Charles is a hater of Islam. Got that?

Islam is not a person, it's a thing—both a religion and a civilization. A thing can't hate.

I don't believe it is possible for liberal, moderate and progressive bloggers to repeat the second paragraph too often. We should repeat that statement again, again and again. It is the least we can do to prevent the Larme Prices of America, people whose own judgment is unreliable, from getting the idea that murdering some people is acceptable in these times. Hatred has risen. We must do what we can to stop it from converging.

Note: This column was also published at the watch.

3:15 PM

Sunday, March 30, 2003  
Off and on the Web


My nose and eyes still feel awful, so I am going to break down and buy some cold medicine today. I had been getting by with Motrin, but ran out of it yesterday. So, I'll schlep over to Fred Meyer and score real drugs later, along with a bag of groceries and supplies. I have a bad habit of dropping into Zupan's and Trader Joe's, but their selections are just too limited. To get any effective shopping done, Freddy's is key.

My friends on the East Coast say "Right" when I assert we didn't really have a winter in the Pacific Northwest this year. It has been spring since February. I'm going to take pictures of the trees and flowers in bloom this week and create a web page featuring them. Maybe that will convince doubting Thomases and Thomasinas still high-stepping through dirty snow.

I broke out of my self-imposed uncommunicativeness with the opposite gender long enough to introduce a couple fellows to Oregon weblogs Friday. Lucky for me, one of them already knew what a blog is. Trying to explain to people who are barely Internet literate is quite a challenge. I fear I come off sounding like a member of a cult or something. (Now, if I would just return guys' calls. . . .)


CalPundit Kevin Drum has pulled part of the rug out from under me by linking to one of my entries about the 'centrality' question. I thought he wouldn't lest he inadvertently help me in some way. Meanwhile, Barry of Alas, a Blog, has similar feelings about Kevin, but believes that is because of a disconnect between moderate liberals and those farther to the Left. Maybe I am misinterpreting the nature of Kevin's unease with me. (By the way, Barry is on a roll today, writing his fingers off, so do give him a read.)

I want you to meet Debra Dickerson of Black Cinderella. The first time I read her blog I was struck by encountering someone I have so much in common with. Like me, she comes from a working-class family of Southern parentage, had a career in another field before attending law school and is now is focusing on her writing. Some of you may be thinking, "So?" Well, middle-class white guys run into people who resemble them coming and going. The majority of managers and professionals still come from that demographic. People of color with graduate level educations still represent a paltry portion of the over-educated and/or professional. The only other writer with the same profile I can think of offhand is the very talented Gwendolyn M. Parker. Welcome Debra, a Harvard Law grad and a military veteran to the blogosphere.

Jeanne d'arc of Body & Soul has a very different take on Adrien Brody's dental examination of Halle Berry at the Oscars than I do. The reason may be she saw that part of the broadcast. I didn't.

When the kiss ended, I was doing something that probably very few men were doing -- looking at Halle Berry's face. I was very curious about what her reaction would be. To me she looked embarassed. But smiling. She looked confused at the stupid line about that being part of her "gift basket." During Brody's speech, the camera moved back to her a few times, and she still had that deer in the headlights look. I didn't hear most of Brody's speech, because I was too busy looking at Halle Berry and feeling embarassed for her.

Jeanne may be right. Sometimes, the old saw that 'a picture is worth. . .' is accurate. I also wonder what Berry was thinking in regard to the 'gift basket' remark. Her problems with a philandering husband are much publicized, so she could have considered that a slight. But, ultimately, only Berry knows how she really feels about the incident. That woman's autobiography is going to be a bestseller.

3:18 PM

Saturday, March 29, 2003  
The CalPundit clarifies. . . but doesn't convince

Kevin Drum has written* me to clarify his claim that the Democrats are not centrist enough. He says:

I know that PETA et al aren't officially associated with the Democratic party.  But the reality is that they *are* associated in many people's minds.  Not fair, but reality.  What's the harm in denouncing this kind of stuff occasionally, especially since it would probably do a world of good in the court of public opinion and very little actual damage to the cause?

As for Limsky: yes, most liberals loved the Brody/Berry moment.  Why am I complaining?  Because Limsky wrote an op-ed in the 3rd largest circulation newspaper in the country that makes it look like liberals didn't like it.  That's why.  He probably speaks for about 5% of liberals, but he's the one that people saw that day.

I'm not so sure most people associate PETA with the Democratic Party. I believe they see PETA as way out there, beyond party identification. Even the Greens probably would not claim PETA. (Remind me to ask Barry.) It is also possible most folks see Limsky as rather silly, like that professor who claims Star Trek is racist. Methinks people expect a certain amount of such overreaching from academics afraid that if they don't publish something, no matter how baseless, they will perish. Sure, moderate Democrats could denounce PETA and Limsky. But, doing so requires 'owning' them in the first place. Silence may be the best policy.

In my reply to Kevin, I used the Sister Souljah incident as an example in which I thought a Democratic leader should probably have ignored a fringe Left figure instead of attacking her. He disagrees:

Actually, Sister Souljah is exactly what I'm thinking of.  A lot of us thought it was pandering, and it probably was, but the fact is that it was extremely effective.  He might have lost some tiny fraction of the vote, but he gained lots and lots of moderate voters who were more comfortable with him after that.

I am uncomfortable with anything that looks like Democrats kicking people who are already down. The segment of African-Americans Sister Souljah represents are definitely in that demographic. I sure hope that being nearly as hostile to minorities as the Republicans are does not become the way to center the Democratic Party. The attack on Sister Souljah hardly amounts to that, but it could have introduced a slippery slope. Kevin's remarks have me wondering if he wants to see more attacks on presidential candidate Al Sharpton. I, a liberal who considers Sharpton largely irrelevant, believe that would be an awful idea, no matter how much it would appeal to conservative Democrats.

I am still unconvinced Democrats are guilty of the not centrist enough charge.

*Again, Kevin and I have exchanged several rounds of emails on the centrality question. For some reason, he refuses to link to my entries, either here or on the watch, though that would be easier. That, his refusal to ever acknowledge any idea of mine has merit and some remarks he has made in comments at other blogs make me wary of Kevin, not the differences in our political perspectives. Too often, he reminds me of white liberals I've known who are not comfortable with people of color who have minds of their own. They wish we would just go away.

7:48 PM

Missing his mark, again

Earlier in the week, I wrote this response to CalPundit Kevin Drum's claim that Democrats are no longer the 'center' party. Today, he returns to the topic. Kevin lists examples of what he considers extremism that undermines Democrats:

Congressmen who travel to Baghdad to criticize American foreign policy on nationwide TV, gay rights parades that seem deliberately designed to repulse as many ordinary people as possible, college professors who publicly hope for lots of American deaths in Iraq, and tooth-and-nail opposition to bans on partial birth abortion, a procedure that's rare, loathed by a large majority of Americans, and generally forbidden even in the socialist hell that is Europe.

His at-length criticism is of Drew Limsky, a professor of English at Pace University and Hunter College, who was upset by Adrien Brody's lip lock with Oscar presenter Halle Berry at the Academy Awards. Kevin perceives Limsky's caviling as an example of feminist extremism. I think he is misses part of the point. Limsky seems more concerned about a white man taking liberties with a woman of color without her explicit permission, a mixed issue of racism and women's rights. I believe Limsky is overstating his case. Only if it is certain Brody would not have kissed a white actress he liked under the same circumstances is there any evidence of disparate treatment. My guess is Brodie wanted to kiss Berry and just took advantage of the opportunity with no kind of insult intended. Women of color attract men, too, you know? Both Kevin and Limsky are wrong in their interpretations, though for different reasons. Kevin seems to believe one individual's complaint shows liberals are anti-kissing on the grounds it debases women. Horsefeathers!

It is also of interest that Kevin knows his interpetation is in error. He says of the kiss, "Everyone loved it — it showed genuine warmth and spontaneity. . ." Well, hello? That everyone includes most liberals, so why is Kevin complaining?

In regard to the other items on Kevin's list, I agree with him about some of the exhibitionism at gay rights parades and anti-war protesters who are more interested in making a spectacle of themselves than unequivocally stating opposition to the invasion of Iraq. Some academics of the Left who oppose the war are perhaps being a bit strident because of the strong emotions involved. However, there was a logic in McDermott and company's visit to Iraq. By going there, they reminded people of the common humanity of the Iraqis, something that could not have been done from Olympia, Washington, or Washington, D.C. Liberals are not embracing partial-birth abortions, we are merely saying that in some extreme circumstances, they should be legal. I fail to see how a policy that results in dead pregnant women is less repulsive than one that results in aborted late term fetuses. And, as Atrios points out, it is ludicrous to have uninvolved parties, i.e., politicians, making a decision that should belong to the pregnant woman and her spouse or lover.

Kevin's other examples suffer from the same extremism on his part. One would have to think the Black Panthers representative of the civil rights movement, that the average steak-eating Democrat gives a hoot about PETA and that vomit-ins are the favored performance art of liberals to agree with him. People who believe things like that are not remotely interested in becoming Democrats.

Ironically, Johann of Coherence Theory of Truth, a good Utah blog I recently discovered, believes Kevin is starting to see how extremist the GOP is. Perhaps we are just observing a setback before Kevin embraces us in all our varied glory.

In my opinion, Kevin scores a couple points when it comes to examples of extremism that impact the fortunes of the Democratic Party, making it more difficult for us to attract the uncommitted. However, his new arguments for the position that Democrats are no longer the center party are mainly unconvincing. Back to the drawing board, Professor. Being a generous sort of person, I'll help you with a modified page brief. The issue is: Do the Democrats take extreme positions or court extremists more than the Republicans? I believe the only rational conclusion one can reach is obvious.

10:40 AM

Friday, March 28, 2003  
Should POWs light up?

So many people can shed more light on the Geneva Conventions than I that I'm not even going to try, except for discussing a little known provision I don't know whether to be amused or bemused by.

The Geneva Conventions are four related 1949 treaties signed by about 190 nations, including the United States, Iraq and Afghanistan. The third convention, on prisoners of war, is being closely scrutinized this week as images of American prisoners being questioned are broadcast around the world. It sets out detailed rules, prohibiting torture, approving "sports and games" and requiring that tobacco be permitted and sold at local market prices.

If I interpret the last clause correctly, miserable prisoners of war, being held in jail cells at best while bombs from their own side fall outside and hatred from the enemy bombards them inside must be allowed to smoke. I guess the provision is some kind of consolation prize. Or perhaps it is a vestige from the old days when soldiers were macho men who smoked, drank and loved the smell of napalm in the morning.

I can't help but wonder how the half-century old provision fits in with the lives of contemporary soldiers, most of whom are in support positions, some of whom are women and a majority of whom are not smokers because of the reduction of smoking in American society.

In 2000, the military reported that 34 percent of the nation's 1.4 million service members smoked — down from previous decades, but not enough to satisfy the Defense Department, which was spending $930 million per year on healthcare for smoking-related illnesses and lost productivity.

I believe it is safe to assume the proportion of smokers has dropped more since.

The Geneva Conventions requirement in regard to smoking raises several different kinds of questions. Psychological: Given a choice of diversions, would the captured troops prefer something other than a Marlboro? Will some of them begin smoking while POWs just because cigarettes, in keeping with the Geneva Conventions, are made available? Legal: Should an unhealthy form of diversion be made available? If they begin smoking while in the armed forces and prisoners of war, will the government be responsible for their smoking-related illnesses down the road, when they are civilians? Social: Will this requirement provide an opportunity for American tobacco companies to raise their profiles and goodwill toward them by shipping free cigarettes to Iraq for prisoners of war? (And, no, I don't believe the tobacco industry is above such self-serving behavior.) Will that, in turn, encourage civilians to smoke?

The American military has considered abolishing smoking altogether, but gradually. Experts are concerned about both the short-term and long-term effects of smoking on soldiers.

Besides being tied to causing long-term diseases, such as emphysema and lung cancer, smoking degrades soldier readiness, said Brig. Gen. Patrick D. Sculley, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

. . .The Army is now very concerned about smoking's short-term effects on soldiers, Sculley said, noting: "Smoking is a readiness issue."

"We think of endurance as being less among smokers. Smokers don't heal as well [compared to non-smokers] if they're injured. Smokers have decreased night vision. Soldiers who smoke also are more susceptible to cold injury," he added.

The military began its smoking cessation efforts at home -- on its bases.

A more than eight-year Department of Defense effort to outlaw cigarette smoking in public buildings reached a final phase on Dec. 7 [2002] as a three-year grace period ended for recreational facilities, including base bars, bowling alleys, and golf course clubhouses, to go smoke-free.

However, housing, including barracks, is excluded from the ban. That would include temporary housing in the field. So, arguably, the prisoners of war will just be doing in their cells what they could have done in their tents. But, most of them would not have smoked in their tents and may be tempted to do so as captives.

I know this is a lot of thought to give to a 'minor' provision of the Geneva Conventions, but I find the 'smoking break from war' rule intriguing.

Note: I have republished this item at the watch.

7:20 PM

Sugar and spice and someone nice

I have a cold. I also have an angel. And a stalker. Let's take them in order.

The cold is courtesy of four little girls. They sat next to me while I was blogging via WiFi from a Northwest Portland Starbucks Monday. I know kids have bugs. But, I didn't respond by moving, perhaps because only the east side of that Starbucks location has T-Mobile access my TiBook picks up. The sugar and spice crew ranged from maybe four to about 12. The youngest had a ponytail and the oldest braces and a perm. Their parents, being experienced with children, moved several feet away from the girls' table. By doing so, they avoided squeals, spilled fruit smoothies and germs. A day or so after sitting next to the little girls, I developed a stuffy head and burning eyes. The next morning I woke up with a sore throat and congestion. At this point, my nose feels as if it is taking up half my face. I get very sleepy, but it is hard to breathe and sleep at the same time. I've chosen breathing. This is the first time in years I skipped getting a flu shot. Figures.

My angel is George Kelly of All About George. He is the reason BlogSpot ads are no longer impugning the aesthetics of my blogs. This fellow blogger was kind enough to pay the ransom for both Silver Rights and Mac-a-ro-nies. If you come across George in Bloggersville, give him a great big old virtual kiss on the cheek.

I encountered my stalker almost as soon as I began reading, contributing to and commenting at weblogs. Perhaps he was lying in wait for women to dazzle with his stupidity. In the interim, he harassed several other liberal bloggers. Most reprehensibly, for a while he targeted DailyKos, a serious, hard-working blogger who doesn't have time for such nonsense. The stalker is apparently incensed that someone he considers his bete noir now has her own weblogs. If you encounter him sniffing along the Diva's trail, feel free to give R.J./Ricky/Lil' Dick West a good virtual bitch slap. He's earned it.

3:50 PM

Thursday, March 27, 2003  
We've been dissed!

Well, maybe not. Perhaps my babies, Mac-a-ro-nies and Silver Rights are ugly. And, Natasha and Mary's, the watch. Not to omit Barry's Alas, a Blog or Emma's Notes on the Atrocities. Maybe all Oregon bloggers have ugly offspring. It appears the Oregonian thinks so. Today, it ran an article on weblogs that focused totally on the national big guys, and mainly the conservative ones at that. Except for a footnote telling readers how to search for blogs in Oregon, we are treated as unmentionable.

There is the usual genuflection to the much overrated Glenn Reynolds:

InstaPundit.com: The MOAB, or mother of all blogs, Instapundit.com provides pundit Glenn Reynolds' conservative, pro-war take on Iraq. The blog also has links to dozens of other blogs. instapundit.com

Sgt. Stryker and Jeff Jarvis are also covered.

Our blog buddies the Agonist and DailyKos make the cut, but obviously not in the best of company.

Daily Kos: News and commentary about the war from a liberal point of view. The blog also has links to more than three dozen other blogs and has approval ratings for President Bush. www.dailykos.com

The Agonist: Straightforward, up-to-the-minute news summaries of the war, much of them gleaned from CNN. The blog also has links to several dozen blogs, sorted by political stance. www.agonist.org

My overall impression of the Oregonian's piece is an old journalists' phrase, "quick and dirty." That is odd since I've been informed this story has been planned for quite some time. Even if the features editor or the ME decided to shift the focus from Oregon blogs to national blogs, a more diverse group could easily have been assembled. How can Atrios and Josh Marshall be missing from a piece on important bloggers? As possibly the best of the collegiate bloggers, pinchable cheeked Matthew Yglesias deserves a mention. And, Reynolds is only one of several blogging law professors and definitely not the best of the lot. Jack Balkin and Kevin Drum do more thoughtful and thorough analyses of the issues daily.

Some obnoxious bloggers should have been included. As much as I dislike the Anti-idiotarian Rottweiler, Little Green Footballs and Cold Fury, one needs to know about such blogs to get a realistic picture of the blogosphere.

Don't women blog? You wouldn't think so from "Blah, blah, blogs."

Another misperception promoted by the piece is the connection between blogging and the war. Yes, the warblogger and peace blogger camps have become significant. But, blogs predated the war and will continue to play a role in the media after it is over. Anyone who has been observing blogs for even a few weeks should realize domestic news is usually as prominent in them as foreign affairs, probably more.

Also missing from Steve Woodward's laundry list as journalism is any examination of what weblogs are and how they fit into newsgathering. My pet theory is successful bloggers become agenda setters, helping determine what public officials and the intelligentsia deem important. However, there is not a peep about what purpose blogs serve, other than as "online diaries," which few public blogs are.

I don't believe Oregon blogs are so unsightly they need to be hidden from the readers of the state's major newspaper.

Yesterday, someone needed to write an informative article about blogs for the Oregonian. Today, someone still needs to write an informative article about blogs for the Oregonian.

Note: This item was originally published at the watch.

10:38 AM

Wednesday, March 26, 2003  
Whose center is central?

When I disagree with the CalPundit, Kevin Drum, it is usually for a singular reason: I believe his sense of the center is too far to the right. His interpretation of what is liberal and what is extremist seems to exclude much I consider liberal. Kevin says:

The Finns have a party called, appropriately, the Center Party, and I want one too.

Why? Because I think that fundamentalism is the real enemy of progress, and that includes both fundamentalist take-no-prisoners conservatives as well as fundamentalist America-is-a-sink-of-corruption lefties — both at home and abroad. I'm tired of Christian fundamentalists, who apparently think America should be ruled via some lunatic interpretation of the book of Leviticus, and I'm tired of Islamic fundamentalists, who think it's a sin for women to drive cars. Likewise, I'm tired of tax-cut fundamentalists who want to ruin the American economy via deficits as far the eye can see, and I'm tired of anti-globalization fundamentalists who think McDonald's is the root of all evil.

One difference among the cited extremists is fundamentalist Christians and tax cut advocates have significant power in America. Islamic fundamentalists and anti-globalists don't. When one supports, or at least doesn't oppose the former movements, one contributes to an unfair status quo.

One of the groups I have researched extensively, the states rightists of the neo-Confederate movement, is important for the same reason. Those extremists have succeeded in placing members and sympathizers at the highest levels of government where they can influence public policy and thereby millions of lives.

The three groups, fundamentalist Christians, advocates for lower taxes and states righters, including neo-Confederates, often have views that conflate. For that reason, their common advocates include people such as Sen. Trent Lott, Attorney General John Ashcroft and to an extent, the president himself. There isn't a group opposing female drivers or the shifting of apparel manufacturing to Third World countries in Asia that can make the same claim.

Another difference between extremists of the Left and those of the Right is those on the Right usually want to curtail rights that already exist, while those on the Left want to expand existing rights or create new ones. The former position is more dangerous to our society because it would erode most of the reforms that have made America more equitable, such as the right to abortion, protections against racial, ethnic and religious discrimination and worker safety rules.

Third, the protests against the war in Iraq referred to in the op-ed piece Kevin cites are not necessarily evidence of extremism. They could be a reflection of a better educated and more internationally conscious population than existed during the Vietnam War. Or, perhaps the fact this conflict does not meet the criteria of a just war has made protesting it something mainstream Americans view as acceptable. I would need to see more evidence of the protesters' political stances before agreeing with Kevin that they are extremists.

In summary, I don't believe Kevin has met the burden of proof when it comes to establishing that extremists of the Left are undermining centrality. Nor do I believe he questions the status quo enough to see that erosions in what little protection it offers the masses is more dangerous to our society than calls for worldwide revolution by the far Left. If the tripartite Right Wing coalition described above gets its way, millions of people will be virtually disenfranchised and condemned to poverty. There is a chance of that actually happening, but not of even a relatively moderate radical, such as Ralph Nader, being elected to national office. The threat is certainly from the Right, not the Left. So, it seems to me that perhaps Kevin should consider 'recentering' his positions to be more realistic.

As for my own beliefs, I already oppose much of the far Left agenda. I believe that anti-globalism was a lost cause before it started because of the power and reach of multinational corporations. Though I can't think of any military adventurism I've agreed with in my life time, I am not against war per se. The death penalty? I think it is often incompetently and unjustly applied, but may be acceptable if the circumstances are egregious enough. I have no desire to torture animals and happen to be a vegetarian, but do not oppose medical experimentation with animals or most people eating meat. Environmental terrorism is just as wrong as any other kind of terrorism in my opinion.

Fresh-faced pundit Matthew Yglesias offers Kevin a way out. . .maybe.

The correct response to this sort of feeling isn’t Kevin’s “a pox on both your houses” pleading for a centrist party, it’s just to vote for your favorite uninspiring Democratic presidential candidate. Posted by Matthew Yglesias at 03:37 PM| Comments (13) | TrackBack (1)

A couple commenters at Atrios' suggest supporting a conservative Democrat such as Joe Lieberman might be the answer to the dilemma of the Kevins of the party.

And, as I pointed out in an entry called "Diversity and the Democrats" at the watch, a certain amount of conflict is practically a given in the Democratic party.

But ultimately, to me, my views are in the center. However, I suspect Kevin would disagree because he knows I favor full employment and affirmative action. So, the questions become: Whose center should prevail? If we can't agree on what positions on the issues are central, can anyone's?

9:54 PM

Blogger blues and reds and purples

Almost as soon as I had blogs, I felt compelled to start messing with them. Reformatting the templates beckoned. Come here, dear, both Mac-a-ro-nies and Silver Rights whispered. Make us better looking. Their requests didn't strike me as baseless. I used one of the most popular templates for Silver Rights. After taking it live, I realized my blog resembled those of a couple friends, Roger Ailes and Natasha of the watch. Since we are likely to have some of the same readers, that could cause confusion or bore folks to death. So, I decided to differentiate the template.

Blogger does not approve. One can tell by how needlessly difficult it makes altering its templates. So much as nudge any of the several Blogger buttons and you can't save your changes. Locating the code for scripts, rules and fonts requires excellent eyesight. And, to be on the safe side one should confer with the prophesy fish before hitting save. There is no telling what you might get.

Mac-a-ro-nies briefly sported a page with plenty of space but the text running off the margins. Eventually, the title block of Silver Rights was attired in violet and purple, but not before the entire body of the blog was burgundy for a while.

There are still some changes I want to make. Permanent links would be cool. The default setting for Links on Mac-a-ro-nies' template is at the bottom of the page. I would like to move them up. And, there is lots of space left over. Why not add a picture of pasta or a Macaroni penguin? However, in the process, I might harm my blogs and have to start over from scratch. I am going to try to leave well enough alone -- really.

8:14 PM

Indifferent to IndyMedia

My newborn blog has already attracted critics. They hail from the environs of the advocacy and propaganda sites that form IndyMedia. The contretempts began with a comment I made at Atrios' house:

I don't like Indymedia and avoid it. They are not media, but propaganda producers. I no more trust what is reported there than I trust Moonie-owned UPI and the Washington Times. The mainstream media is imperfect, but propagandists of any political stripe are much worse.

Furthermore, as several people have pointed out, IndyMedia is very fringe. No intelligent person reading an IM story would mistake it for an even somewhat objective account. The advocacy and lack of professionalism is too obvious. Criticizing liberals for the sins of IndyMedia is just like criticizing us for being fellow travelers with ANSWER -- ludicrous. Mac Diva | Email | 03.25.03 - 2:58 pm | #

The remark had been occassioned by an item about middle-of-the-road blogger Mark Kleiman's criticism of Left activists who interrupted a fundraiser for John Edwards in N.C. Mark wanted to know why liberals weren't criticizing an attack by leftists on one of their own. Were we cutting the Left slack that we wouldn't cut the Right? Atrios responded, in part:

Mark Kleiman wonders why I'm not all over the people who disrupted a John Edwards fundraising event. Mostly it's because I didn't know anything about it as I don't spend much time hanging out at indymedia.

My comment above was made in regard to his reference to IndyMedia. An advocate for IndyMedia, one among several, said:

Mac Diva, you can not like Indymedia if you want to but that shouldn't mean that you misunderstand how it works. When you say "they are not media" who are the "they"? Anyone can post whatever they want on IMC. That kind of freedom has both an up and a downside but what you see there is not the result of a static "them" that excludes you.

A site or publication where one can post whatever one wants is not a newsgathering operation at all. The content is of little interest to me because it does not report facts and is not remotely objective. Call it advocacy. Call it public relations. Call it propaganda, but don't call it news. Is the mainstream media perfect? Far from it. And, as a veteran journalist I know that better than most people. However, I am looking for reportage better than what I can find in the mainstream media. What is available at IndyMedia is worse.

Another reason for my distance from Indymedians is I am a liberal, not a radical. As a full gauge liberal, I believe in reforming anything and everything that is wrong with our society. However, I don't believe the revolution will or will not be televised, because I don't believe there will be a revolution. The, I suspect, mainly youthful participants in and audience for IndyMedia, probably do believe that smashing a few store windows, blocking a few television cameras and disrupting a Democratic candidate's fundraiser will lead to the overthrow of the government. Silly rabbits. Don't they know tricks. . . .

The discussion of the altercation at the Edwards event has continued and spread to other blogs.

Based on what I've read, I don't agree with the disruption of Edwards' fundraiser. The disruptors seem very skeptical of electoral politics. That leads me to wonder if they are really Democratic voters or merely seeking the spotlight reflected by a mainstream candidate. However, I don't feel any particular need to chatise them. As I said in my comments at Atrios,' fringe Leftists do not represent the views of most liberals. We should not let ourselves be snookered into considering them our burden.

3:56 PM

The sound of a few hands clapping

The sound of a few hands clapping is more than I was hoping for when I took my blogs, Mac-a-ro-nies and Silver Rights, public. I had expected them to be read only by me and fellows seeking access to my hand, or perhaps some other body part. Languishing in obscurity seems to be the fate of new weblogs. However, thanks to my blogfather, Atrios, and Natasha, the proprietress of the watch, where I guest blog, news of the Diva having taken the plunge is spreading through the blogosphere.

Other bloggers I would like to single out for special thank-yous are Josh Marshall, who read my material, responded and sometimes used my suggestions despite his busy schedule, and Roger Ailes, who has allowed me adverse possession of his blog at times. ArchPundit, Barry of Alas, a Blog, CalPundit, Chris of Flyover Country, DailyKos, Dominion of A Skeptical Blog, Emma of The Oregon Blog, George of All About George, Jesse of Pandagon, Julian Sanchez of Notes from the Lounge, Laura of Interesting Monstah, Nathan Newman, Jim Capozolla of Rittenhouse Review, Julia of Sisyphus Shrugged, TalkLeft, Zizka, e.t.c., have also loaned me their ears and, in some cases, their space. Gracias.

10:57 AM

Tuesday, March 25, 2003  
A whole Lott of lyin' going on

John Lott, Jr., is lying again. Why am I not surprised? His latest prevarications are in a March 22 letter to the editors of the Washington Post. Lott, who works for the Right Wing American Enterprise Institute, has claimed in his widely cited book, "More Guns, Less Crime" that criminals can be driven away 98 percent of the time by would-be victims who brandish their guns.

Yes, I know there is a war going on and Lott pales into insignificance next to it, but, apparently, all he thinks about is himself. Ergo, his latest attention seeking maneuver in the midst of the invasion of Iraq. In the letter he repeats some old lies and adds some new ones. There is the usual claim that numerous academics have validated his claims when nothing of the sort has happened. The usual reliance on a couple of fellow radical gun lovers as 'objective' supporters of his biased work. And, the usual defense of having used an internet sock puppet to promote his book and himself. (New twist: Nasty internet commentators made him make up Mary Rosh. Of course, he doesn't offer any support for that claim, either.)

Lott also relies on the same old ruse to mislead people into thinking the issue is a computer crash instead of whether the alleged data ever existed in the first place.

The bottom line is that I lost data for most of my various research projects, as well as the files for my book "More Guns, Less Crime," in a computer crash in July 1997.

Academics have confirmed my hard-disk crash as well as discussions that I had back in 1996 and 1997 regarding the survey, and there is also verification by a participant in the survey.)

The only participant who supposedly remembers the missing survey is one David Gross, head of a Minnesota group that has used dubious means to try to impose its views about gun ownership on the citizenry there. Gross, who belatedly remembered his alleged participation in the unproven survey, happens to be a member of several pro-gun groups along with Lott. So, Lott just happened to randomly call a friend and fellow gun nut for his survey. Right.

Lott goes on to say,

As to the claim, raised in a Feb. 1 Style article, that I used a fictitious identity in making posts in Internet chat rooms, I did indeed do that. I originally used my own name but switched after receiving threatening and obnoxious telephone calls from other Internet posters.

I would love to see the records from the telephone company confirming those telephone calls occurred. But, knowing John Lott, I don't expect that I, or anyone else, ever will.

Meanwhile, Amazon has reportedly removed a review of the book by Mary Rosh, giving it five stars, from its site.

Lott's questionable honesty has not gone unnoticed at his place of employment.

Washington, DC - Handgun-Free America protested against American Enterprise Institute Scholar John Lott yesterday at the AEI's annual dinner at the Washington Hilton, and called on the AEI to investigate swirling allegations that John Lott may have falsified research for his book, "More Guns, Less Crime."

Furthermore, the most recent research refutes Lott's claim that gun ownership prevents crime.

An article published by the American Journal of Public Health last December showed that the six states with the highest rates of gun ownership--Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, West Virginia, and Wyoming--had homicide rates that were three times higher than the four states with the lowest rates of gun ownership--Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. The study's lead author, Matthew Miller of the Harvard School of Public Health, concluded that "guns, on balance, lethally imperil rather than protect Americans.

Lott's new book, "The Bias Against Guns," which rehashes much of what was said in the earlier work, was released by Regnery Publishing, a vanity press for the far Right, thereby avoiding the scandal surrounding "More Guns, Less Crime," this month. There has not yet been time enough for it to be scrutinized, though there is a suspicious looking five star review of the book at Amazon. Lott's ideological team mates remain steadfastly loyal, ignoring the fact that Lott's reputation as a serious scholar is hanging by a thread.

8:54 PM