OK, here's an example of what I don't like about political ads on my site.
The one running to the right today says, "Tired of conservative hate and lies?" That's one of the first things people see when they come to this page. That bothers me. Hate and lies are bad bad things, and sometimes some conservatives do hateful or dishonest things, but there's something about that phrase that makes it sound like hate and lies are defining tenets of conservatism. It's branding conservatives, and branding this page.
In the ad we learn that radio moron Michael Savage said something dumb about Ted Kennedy. Who cares what Michael Savage says? And now he's the voice of conservatism?
So that's an example of why political ads at this site make me uncomfortable. They talk about some of the stuff I talk about, but not in my voice, and not when I feel like talking about it, even when I do agree with them.
News & Record editor John Robinson on the tension between blogs and corporate media: "Newspaper editors fighting it don't seem to know that they've already lost the battle. The only way to win now is to figure out how to play."
I will be moderating the session on politics and weblogs at BloggerCon III, Stanford Law School, November 6. It will be more like the participant-driven, Jarvisesque local gig we did here in August than the formal panel on media I emceed at the first Harvard B-Con -- is it possible that was only a year ago?
Martin Kozloff emails to say his letter does not represent his true beliefs.
Strange, in that Kozloff left beneath the original letter a comment (September 27 at 10:45 PM) in response to all the huzzahs: "It's more than nice to know that my feelings are shared by so many other folks...thanks for making me feel less alone. And I am heartened to know that there are many other fellow hoplites in our country who are willing to defend our families, values, and freedoms."
I asked him via email about that comment. He replied: "I thanked a lot of people (who had written me off line) for supporting the fact that I wrote a letter whose intent was to get people to think."
But the comment doesn't say anything about offline support. It concludes: "I was writing to express the burning rage I feel every time another of our soldiers is killed and every time politicians, media heads, and academics discredit our nation and weaken our morale. I was writing what I believe will happen if our enemies attack us again."
Atrios has some more info on Kozloff's past postings, and blogger Christian Grantham says he spoke to the professor yesterday.
Kozloff emailed me to say: "The letter is a fiction. A rhetorical device. From a summary of what I take to changes in ordinary Americans as this war goes on. I am very saddened and afraid that we will replace democratic discussion with violent rhetoric. I had hoped the letter would get people on both sides to look at themseles. And I said as much inj the comment section when it was clear that it had evoked such heat. Unfortunately, they merely attacked me. I do NOT advocate any of the racist and violent statements in that letter. Again, that letter is NOT what I advocate."
I then emailed him this list of questions:
What do you advocate in terms of relations with Americans of Arab-Muslim extraction?
How do you feel about the comments you receive at Horsefeathers that are in complete accord with the views stated in the letter?
If you are just adopting a persona in the letter, how does it jibe with previous posts at that site, and in comments elsewhere?
At what point are readers expected to understand your game?
Do you in fact own an arsenal of any size that you purchased after 9/11?
His response: "I can't answer all your questions, Ed. I can merely say, I DON'T ADVOCATE ANYTHING IN THAT LETTER. It was written to get people to look at THEMSELVES after I saw Jack Hensley beheaded, and then read some blogs that appluaded it and others that wanted to nuke the mideast. In other words, we are so polarized that rational discussion is nigh impossible. And THAT's the way Greek and Roman democracy died
So, I MADE UP a letter as if it were written by an angry "ordinary American," to get people to see their own reactions to it--both the right wing that would applaud and the left wing that would attack me.
Horsefeathers is usually a calm place.
I had NO idea just how polarized things are. And now I am even more afraid for our country--no matter HOW the war ends.
Again, THAT LETTER WAS NOT ME."
The original post has now vanished from Horsefeathers. The author of that blog has not responded to my query about his view of Kozloff's alleged trick on his readers.
Republican congressman Howard Coble of Greensboro on Iraq: "post-invasion strategy was inadequate at best."
Good for Howard. I mean it's not exactly news, but you can't fix what you don't acknowledge.
He's quoted by N&R reporter Matt Williams at the paper's Inside Scoop weblog. "Saying he was trying to be as generous as possible to the Republican administration," writes Williams, "Coble said...'We're there now and don't appear to have a good strategy.'"
"But he said there's plenty of blame to go around, including the Congress, intelligence agencies and the Clinton administration. Coble said he still backs the decision to go to war."
Coble's opponent in the upcoming election, Democrat Will Jordan, on the war.
Monkeytime rips Erskine Bowles for his stance on gays and Hispanic immigration. "So, ok, Erskine, you got me. I'm gonna grab my crotch, flip off the ballot and vote for you, like I vote for all the other lesser-evil Democrats your party shoves my way. (Don't laugh at the crotch grab, folks; it does wonders for preventing vomiting in the voting booth.)"
Your tax dollars at work: Martin Kozloff is a professor at UNC-Wilmington. He penned this thoughtful note about "arab-muslim culture" and sent it to a blog. The part describing what he and his fellow tough guys could do here in the US is especially nice -- burning mosques, attacking "arab-muslim" organizations, "muzzling" professors, and deporting "arab-muslims" to the desert.
"Ordinary Americans are arming themselves for war with you. I and many of my friends have closets full of handguns, rifles, shotguns and thousands of cartridges.
If we had enough ammunition and time, we would kill every last one of you...
One day soon, our planes and missiles will begin turning your mosques, your madrasses, your hotels, your government offices, your hideouts, and your neighborhoods into rubble.
And then our soldiers will enter your cities and begin the work of killing you, roaches, as you crawl from the debris...
And if you come to this country and harm a child, shoot a mother, hijack a bus, or bomb a mall...
We will burn your mosques.
We will invade the offices of pro-arab-muslim organizations, destroy them, and drag their officers outside.
We will tell the chancellors of universities either to muzzle or remove anti American professors, whose hatred for their own country we have tolerated only because we place a higher value on freedom of speech. But we will no longer tolerate treason. We will muzzle and remove them.
We will transport arab-muslims to our deserts, where they can pray to scorpions under the blazing sun."
"Can Islam change? Beslan and 9/11 are leading millions of Muslims to search their souls. Even clerics now question the harshest traditional laws and look for a more humane interpretation of their faith." (via Monkeytime, who also takes on the issue of Alan Keyes' gay daughter, which I would find more interesting if Keyes had not already marginalized himself and was pulling more than 20% in the polls.)
"Will Jordan believes Social Security should never be allowed to be privatized. It's also essential that the prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients be overhauled to provide a true benefit."
"I am adamantly opposed to any efforts by the right wing to limit the jurisdiction of our federal courts. Efforts such as those promoted by my Republican opponent would eviscerate the protection of the checks and balances put in place by Hamilton, Madison and the other Founding Fathers and delegate an over abundance of power to Congress."
Jordan tells me he would like to write with some regularity, in his own voice, at his webpage. Bring it on.
E&P: "Eight months after launching his own Weblog, Doug Clifton of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland has called it quits. The veteran editor admitted that the online effort took more time than he expected and drew less interest than heÃd hoped." Link via a sympathetic John Robinson. Let's hope JR sticks with it.
"John Kerry's campaign is a distraction from the fight against al-Qaida," says Christopher Hitchens, "unless he conclusively repudiates the obvious defeatists in his own party."
The war sometimes unhinges Hitchens. He's confusing Democratic party politics with the dinner-party politics he cites in the article.
Hitchens feels that "We can't remain silent about the way policy has been messed up and compromised and even lied about," but then he clams up on the subject.
He attacks the "subliminal need for bad news" among Democrats who "calculate that only a disaster of some kind can save your candidate," as if bad news and rumors of disaster were possibilities, not realities. "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi...is trying to take a much more important country into the orbit of medieval fanaticism and misery," he warns, forgetting just who put the country in play via those "messed up and compromised and even lied about" policies.
"What will it take to convince these people that this is not a year, or a time, to be dicking around?," Hitchens asks. A good question, especially as applied to "these people" who have "messed up and compromised and even lied about" this war.
Henry Copeland and his pioneering, Chapel Hill-based company, BlogAds, didn't get due props in the NYT mag blogging article. "As portrayed in the mag, money seems to flow magically into blogger pockets...It's some kind of virgin birth, no mechanism described or even imagined."
That's OK. They've got the print, but he's got the numbers.
Sez Henry: "Bloggers selling blogads are on track to do 75 million impressions in September. (That's up from 5 million last December.) To put that number in perspective, that is 1/6 NYTimes.com's total monthly impressions and 1/3 of monthly traffic for WashingtonPost.com."
"(W)hen it comes to hammering away on a noisy subject that ultimately distracts from more important issues, the Blogosphere can make cable television look like a 1950s debating society. Judging by its dominance in the blog world...you'd think that Rathergate was bigger than Watergate, Iraq and Britney's putative wedding combined."
Newsweek's Steve Levy says blogs are at risk of becoming "a nation of ankle-biters."
Glenn Reynolds, a blogger Levy calls out by name (and quotes out of context), disagrees.
"(A)rt establishes the basic human truth which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment. The artist...becomes the last champion of the individual mind and sensibility against an intrusive society and an officious state."
Will South quoted from that passage by John F. Kennedy in his interesting talk yesterday afternoon to open the Matisse and American Drawing show at the Weatherspoon. Good stuff, including three pieces from the Baltimore Museum of Art and a few of the 'Spoon's own Matisse's. It's a beautiful small show.
I'll be giving a brief introduction to Michael Palin's BBC film, The Ladies Who Loved Matisse, at the Weatherspoon on October 7. This strangely-worded notice says I will "talk enthusiastically." Perhaps I will.
Interesting, to a few of us at least: the portrait of Etta Cone used by Will in his lecture -- the one shown here -- shows such a strong family resemblance to my grandfather (her nephew), especially around the mouth.
Conversation about the warping influence on blogs of money and power leads to comments about self-censorship...I have never felt any pressure to edit myself to please an advertiser, that hasn't been my concern about selling ads, I'm more worried about the way the blog might appear to readers, that it might look like a message board for others instead of a soapbox for me...Maybe if I was making thousands of dollars a month from this blog, I'd have a new set of issues.
Meanwhile, I edit myself for other reasons. I try to adhere to some rough community standard on language and subject matter -- my vocabulary undergoes desalinization before publication. I am mindful of my own privacy and that of those I love: My family gets limited play in the blogosphere, especially relative to their centrality in my life. Confidences are kept. Professional obligations are respected. The key is that I calibrate the info flow, nobody else is filtering me. That's what I like, and what I want to preserve.
He is running as a liberal, not a sort of moderate Republican as some NC Democrats do. Might as well, since he's trying to budge an immovable object (Howard Coble) and jumpstart a 6th district Democratic base that has been gerrymandered into irrelevance and otherwise demoralized. And he's basically introducing himself to the public in late September.
From the site:
"Will Jordan believes the war in Iraq was wrong from inception. America is not safer with this war."
"Will Jordan will fight to repeal the Bush tax cuts to reduce the tax burden now imposed on middle and working class families."
"Will Jordan supports creation of a Universal Health Care program for all Americans."
"Will Jordan supports a woman's right to choose."
Maybe now he can get some coverage in the media -- the guy has gotten next to no press since he traded email with EdCone.com in May. He has not used the web at all until now, which is a little late when running against a 20-year incumbent with $1 million to spend. But at least he's out there at last, and he's saying what he believes in no uncertain terms.
The Bowles-Burr debate will be webcast live at 7 tonight on WUNC.org. The Bowles blog says you can follow the debate live there, and you can always have a conversation in the comments; comments are open (with registration) at Blogs 4 Burr.
UPDATE: The debate will air on WFMY 2 here in GSO; the station will also offer live streaming from its website.
Proof that blogging and web-savvy alone do not make you a good candidate: Rachel Lea Hunter.
We elect our judges in North Carolina. One hopes we will not elect Hunter recent transplant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania who refers to herself as "Madame Justice," although she is in fact an employee of Pre-Paid Legal Services. She spends much of her blogging energy fighting with other Republicans, so at least that's entertaining.
Blue NC: "Surprisingly N.C. Democrats are trailing Republicans in the web race on the legislative level. Our goal at BlueNC is to show that the online community can have a dramatic impact at all levels of politics."
Is John Edwards too nice and too low-key? Not at all, according to this article from the Congressional Quarterly (via Blue NC).
"Give John Edwards a break...You just have to get out of the big city hotels to find Edwards. And when you do, his words are plenty tough...
Edwards is going after the swing voters where they live. His recent Pennsylvania stops covered a suburban swath where nearly 20 percent of the stateÃs likely voters reside...he would have to set himself on fire to generate more heat in his campaign appearances."
A contrarian view, and counterintuitive given the CBS takedown and the fact that money buys things like food and bandwidth that bloggers need...but not a crazy idea.
I have been underwhelmed by some of the season's offerings by leading bloggers (e.g. Instapundit's near-obsessive focus on Kerry's Vietnam service, and the 11.9th hour defense of the CBS memos publicized by Atrios). Bloggers can sound a lot like cable TV shouters. Who needs more mouthpieces for the party establishments?
This isn't the revolution I signed up for.
I've worried about this at my own blog, albeit on a much smaller scale than those big dogs.
In the LA Times (registration required), blogger Billmon worries that blogs are being co-opted by commercial interests: "I say blogging is headed for a kind of commercialized senility...As blogs commercialize, they are tied ever closer to the mainstream media and its increasingly frivolous news agenda."
Kevin Drum comments: "I miss the old blogosphere too, and I hope Ã³ perhaps vainly Ã³ that when the election is over some of it returns."
I think the key to the lasting relevance of blogs lies in numbers: as the big ones get coopted, new voices will fill the space they vacate. Independent voices will be heard, because we will get bored with the new establishment.
...and Savoy Truffle has a report from just up the road in Madison, NC: "(S)everal houses...were paint balled last week apparently because they had Kerry/Edwards signs in their yards." Tommy Harrington, chairman of the local GOP, responded with an op-ed that called Democrats "treasonous."
Andrew Sullivan is feeling more cheerful about the situation in Afghanistan: "Almost all the reporters or human beings I read who have been there are beginning to say that Afghanistan is a big success story."
News & Record editor John Robinson promises that his paper will soon upgrade its deplorable online archiving system (in comments section of post): 'We're bringing in a whole new online publishing system before the end of the year that'll fix that."
Mike Munger elaborates on his theory of intraparty competition over the NC economy as an election issue. This time, it's Dems, Kerry vs. Easley. Previously, he noted the disconnect between Repubs Burr and Ballantine.
The Times mag also has an interesting article on astrobiology, which includes a useful definition of "life" from Jeffrey Bada, a geochemist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at U.C. San Diego:
"I would say that all you need to define life is imperfect replication. That's it. Life. And what that means is that the entity can make copies of itself but not exact copies. A perfectly replicating system isn't alive because it doesn't evolve. Quartz crystals make exact copies of themselves and have done from the beginning of the earth. They don't evolve, however, because they're locked into that particular form. But with imperfect replication you get mutants that develop some sort of selective advantage that will allow them to dominate the system. That whole system then evolves, and you get this cascade of evolution progressing to more complicated entities. But something preceded all that, something that could do this basic thing of replication and mutation, and that's what everyone is trying to figure out.''
A decent article on political blogging gets cover treatment in this morning's Times mag. A little too much ink spent on Wonkette, although writer Matthew Klam does call her out: "It was as if her sense of what was cool and what was stupid, so unerring on her blog, had abandoned her." Nice profiles of Kos and Josh Marshall, even if the latter is treated with a bit more big-media condescension than he deserves.
Related: Elizabeth Edwards on bloggers: "Even coverage by the NYT won't change 'em." She quotes Mr. Sun and cites this weblog.
"Etta and Claribel Cone assembled one of the world's great art collections, and then they gave it away for the world to enjoy."
I wrote about my great-grandfather's sisters in this morning's News
& Record. You can read the column after the jump.
The big Raleigh show built around their collection opens
in two weeks, and a companion show, Matisse and American Drawing, opens
this afternoon at the Weatherspoon.
Here's a favorite quote of mine that didn't make it into the column
only because I was on the road when I wrote it and didn't have the
source in front of me:
"There is nothing in the world for you and me to do but have a good
time in our own way and there is nothing in the world for us to be but
be happy. This is my will and testament." Claribel Cone, in a letter to
her sister, Etta, 1924.
Henri Matisse Etta Cone (V/VI) Baltimore Museum of Art
Henri Matisse Dr. Claribel Cone (IV/IV) Baltimore Museum of Art
Leviticus 23:26et seq: "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD...And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God.