Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?

Warning! Not a candidate diary. Crossposted at Ich Bin Ein OberlinerandDailykos/Orange Satan.

The New York Times's Saturday revelation (here) that The Pentagon was directing the messages of network and cable news's military analysts was a bombshell. It was evidence that our government, and, in particular, our military was deliberately and deviously propagandizing the nightly news.

As Glenn Greenwald pointed out here, no one in the news media cares. He writes:

And now we have what is by all metrics a huge new story regarding more fundamental media failures (at best), and they collectively invoke the Kremlin-like methods of Dick Cheney--they refuse to comment, refuse to reveal even the most basic facts about what they did, and do everything possible to hide behind the wall of secrecy they maintain. They don't even feel the slightest bit obligated to say whether they have any procedures to prevent manipulation of this sort in the future. And those classic information-suppressing tactics are all being invoked by news organizations--which claim to be devoted to disclosing, not concealing, scandals, corruption and facts about how our political institutions function. [Emphasis his]

I would call this chilling and shameless silence Orwellian, but why bother? Once there's a reality show on network TV that appropriates a concept for its name, that concept has lost it's power. Once we've already called Orwellian the indefinite and extra-judicial holding of U.S. citizens, the un-checked kidnapping or "extraordinary rendition" of U.S. citizens, the use of above-the-law mercenaries (euphemism: contracters) to torture others in our name, that word has lost it's power.

So, I ask the question Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who watches the watchmen?)

Writer Alan Moore asked that very question in his novel Watchmen. It was through the question, not answering it, that he created such a groundbreaking piece of fiction. Similarly, I will not answer my question (the answer, if you're wondering, is "we do"). Instead, I will try to explore the question.

There's more...

Blooming Silliness

When I first started reading political blogs, I checked two on a regular (okay, daily) basis: Dkos and MyDD. I enjoyed both but in different ways. I lurked for a while on both, and first started posting at Dkos. It wasn't until recently that I got the courage to start regularly posting here. Why? This place intimidated me. Chris Bowers gave a pretty good explanation of why (here):

Within the progressive blogosphere, our relative influence far exceeds our relative traffic levels... Rather than a community blog, MyDD tends to be a professional blog.

I was intimidated because the discourse on MyDD always felt more reasoned, more knowledgeable, more professional. This, I think, was a good thing; lurking at MyDD made me (at least feel) smarter.

Now, I know that, like flowers blooming in spring, silliness and stupidity will bloom during primary season. Certainly, blogtopia has been feeling much dumber and more divisive as of late. But, MyDD? Yes, I think it's safe to say that, even here, otherwise smart and level-headed progressives find themselves caught in the midst of silliness.

I'm going to try to deal with some of the sillier arguments floating around this primary season. I was an Edwards man through and through, so I don't really have a horse in this race. I do, however, lean Obama. But I doubt I'll make a lot of my fellow Obama supporters super happy; many of the arguments I'll dissect come from my own camp. And, obviously, much of what I say will probably piss off some of the more outspoken Clinton supporters, too. I hope--this is for the more partisan supporters on either side--that you do read this diary.

I hold no illusions about my writing; I don't think I'm going to change everyone's mind or make peace here at MyDD. Hell, I'm sure I'll say plenty of stupid things you all can pick apart in the comments, if you so desire. But, I hope that, at the least, some of you all read and comment and discuss what I bring up. I know that we can at least learn something of what "the other side" thinks, and maybe from there we can continue building that common framework from which real, mind-changing debate is possible.

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Fuzzy Math and the Will of the People

Diary's like this, which claim that delegate counts are not a valid determination of "who won," are just as ill-conceived as those that claim that superdelegates should "respect the will of the people" by following either the state delegate counts or the overall pledged delegate count.

Both views try to have their cake and eat it too. They both hold the false premise that the primary process is an accurate representation of the will of the people.

More on the flip.

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You Don't Want Double Talk; You want Bah Blah Blah

After much brouhaha and bickering over "NAFTAgate," the truth--or as much of it as we are going to get--is out. It turns out, Senator Obama was not Janus, the two-faced Roman god. I should say, at least in this case. The scope of this diary is fairly narrow; I will be dealing only with the claims of Obama's impropriety regarding NAFTA and the Canadian Embassy.

It was conventional wisdom, at least among the more outspoken supporters of Senator Clinton, that the CTV story showed Obama to be duplicitous, double-talking, even fraudulent. A quick look over the rec lists from last week shows that, right from the get go, people were quick to crucify Obama.

Now, not only do we have a copy of the actual memo showing the initial allegations were off base, but the Canadian embassy admitted that the language there might be too strong. There's an excellent diary showing just how wrong the initial claims were here. There was an utter lack of solid evidence either exonerating or condemning Obama when the story broke, but instead of suspending judgment, Obama was immediately branded a hypocrite. Whoops.

More on the flip...

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This Is Why I'm Happy

Dallas County broke the '06 total vote yesterday, with over 57,000 early votes (not counting the mail ballots).  We've looked at about 55,000 of those, and as best we can tell, virtually half have no '02, '04 or '06 primary history.  Less than 3,000 have previous R primary history over the same period.


Primary season... silliness abounds. Here, at Dkos, across The Tubes, people have been getting their undies in a bundle for good reasons and bad (often, really bad).

Hillary isn't human! Obama leads a cult! I'm gonna vote for McCain if _ doesn't win!

Ah, primary season...

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Insanity and Inanity

Cross-posted at dkos

If presented with two different explanations for the same set of facts, how does one tell the difference between them?

For example:

Fact: a substantial number of Independents and some Republicans voted for Obama
Explanation 1: It's a malicious conspiracy.
Explanation 2: He has some cross-party appeal.

Fact: Senator Clinton almost cried a couple of times on the campaign trail.
Explanation 1: She's faking it to gain sympathy.
Explanation 2: She's a human being who feels human emotions.

Fact: There are fossils of dinosaurs.
Explanation 1: They were put there by God to trick us.
Explanation 2: They are there because dinosaurs once walked the Earth.

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The Illogic of Obama-Bashing Mania

Crossposted at Dkos.

Once your eyes were thus opened you saw confirming instances everywhere: the world was full of verification of that theory. Whatever happened always confirmed it. Thus its truth appeared manifest; and unbelievers were clearly people who did not want to see the manifest truth; who refused to see it.

-Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery

There are two types of theories that provide explanations for Obama's successes. One claims that Obama has created a cult of personality. The other claims that Obama is just a good politician. Both theories rely on the same set of facts (excluding the Obama is a dirty politician and friends with terrorists meme, in part refuted here). The Cult Theory (CT) is not a good explanation. It is overly complex and riddled with ad hoc dodges. It contains one of the hallmarks of irrationality; there is no situation that it cannot explain, there is nothing that does not confirm it. It is unfalsifiable, and, therefore, a bad theory.

More on the flip...

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