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May 24, 2005
He’s waving out the window, the infirmary’s in flames. And Electrolite continues—as part of the newly-merged all-Nielsen-Hayden superblog, now cleverly known as Making Light. (That’s “Making Light, Incorporating Electrolite” to you, bub.)

Browser users have already detected the switchover, because the old Electrolite URL is now redirected to Making Light. However, RSS subscribers who don’t already read Making Light should change their feeds. They can choose between RSS 1.0 (partial) and Atom (full). Update your links! Don’t take any wooden nickels! See you on the Other Side.

[07:56 PM]

May 10, 2005
Guess what Arianna? The Council on Foreign Relations doesn’t even have a recording studio. The overhyped Huffington Post justifies its existence.

[10:26 PM]

Tales calculated to drive you… Is the Los Angeles police department really in the business of closing down exhibits of parodies of corporate logos? And, if so, is this story really being completely ignored by the LA news media?

One would certainly like to discover that the story isn’t true, or that there was some reason for April 23’s raid on the Transport Gallery other than (as police are alleged to have said) the “agressive and offensive” nature of the show’s content. Because if not, one can only wonder how these particular cops would have dealt with the threat to society posed by an average issue of Mad Magazine.

[11:46 AM]

May 09, 2005
Tell us about the ethics again. The outstanding moral record of the ever-so-concerned-about-bloggers New York Times. (Via Wolcott.)

[11:03 AM]

May 08, 2005
Secret histories. (1) Guest-posting at Atrios’s place, Avedon Carol reminisces about bugging the proprietor to start a weblog. “It’s easy,” she evidently said, “just go to Blogspot and start one. You’ll be great at it.” As a result, Avedon says, she feels like the “godmother” of Eschaton.

All very well, but I remember encouraging Avedon Carol to start a weblog, figuring that this was the natural medium for someone who spent long car drives rehearsing what she’d say if she was suddenly on national TV. Does that make me Atrios’s blog-grandfather? To say nothing of distant ancestor to Digby, Corrente, First Draft, etc.

(2) Kevin Drum has come in for some stick hereabouts, with some aspersions cast on his lefty credibility. I just want to point out this post, and observe that I know a lot of vehemently anti-War, anti-Bush American liberals who don’t see as clearly into the core issues as this:

[F]or any of my liberal readers who harbor suspicion of labor unions as an “old” liberal cause—just another one of those special interest groups that Democrats are always pandering to—ask yourself this: why are conservatives so hellbent on breaking them? Why did Ronald Reagan fire those air traffic controllers in 1981? Why did George Bush make union busting a key issue in the 2002 midterm election? Why the relentless opposition to using card checks to organize workers in new industries? Why the continuing demonization of unions from a party that’s otherwise so conscientious about building its appeal to the working and middle classes?

It’s because unions are the only truly effective check on the sine qua non of modern conservatism: corporate power. For all their faults—and they have plenty, just as corporations do—unions are the only organizations that have the power to bargain effectively for the interests of the middle class. Union power in the private sector began to wane in the 1970s, and it’s not a coincidence that this was exactly the same time that middle class wages began to stagnate, CEO pay began to skyrocket, and income inequality began increasing inexorably.

Many liberals seem to believe that these grim trends can be fought with tax and regulatory policy, but those are blunt instruments with plenty of drawbacks and unforeseen consequences. Collective bargaining, which is essentially a market-based approach in which the government’s job is simply to make sure that unions have enough authority to ensure serious bargaining and then get out of the way, is far more reliable, effective, and flexible. It actually works, which is why conservatives have always hated unions so bitterly.

Despite this, there are plenty of cocktail-party “new” Democrats who blithely think of unions as just another dinosaur special interest unsuited to politics in the 21st century. They should think again. Republicans understand the stakes a lot better—and so should we.

More after the work week gets started. Watch the skies.

[11:45 PM]

May 02, 2005
And while we’re in the business of being pissed off, how about those fun folks at Disney/ABC? Who, last year, wouldn’t run ads from the mainstream Protestant denomination the United Church of Christ, because their ads referred to the church’s welcoming attitude toward homosexuals. And who, this year, are happy to run ads from James Dobson’s far-right extremist “Focus on the Family” group promoting their “Focus on Your Child” program built around Dobson’s bestseller Dare to Discipline.

Digby has samples of Dobson’s product. As he remarks, Dobson

thinks of children as animals and he believes that animals and children should be beaten. He believes that nine month old babies should be switched on the bare legs. He believes they should be pinched hard, on the neck, so it will hurt. He believes in things that could get parents arrested in many states in the union.

Yet his program is considered to be more wholesome and less controversial than a church that allows gays to be a member.

Max Blumenthal has the pertinent FCC addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers, and email addresses. Instead of being Afraid, Very Afraid, how about we use Max’s resources to express our opinion of Disney/ABC using its chartered chunk of the public weal to sell advertising to kinky right-wing discipline freaks while refusing to sell it to normal Americans who think it’s nice that gay people want to go to church.

[04:00 PM]

The business they’re in. Kevin Drum is uncharacteristically snarky to a commenter who said uncomplimentary things about his decision to feature Dan “I’ll be defending the Bush administration’s grand strategy” Drezner on the Washington Monthly’s Political Animal blog. But honestly, it’s hard to see why.

I personally read widely outside of blogs and periodicals whose “line” I agree with. I’m currently a subscriber to the print edition of the Financial Times, for instance. But a large part of the energy of the left side of blogdom is indeed tribal and intolerant of heterodoxy, and that’s a good thing. A lot of left-of-center Americans who don’t happen to have nice insider gigs working for liberal magazines have spent a bunch of years recently feeling pissed on from a great height, and the recent explosion of impassioned, aggressive, and proud progressive blogs has given them back the confidence they need to mix it up with their dittohead uncles and neighbors and co-workers. As many have observed, it isn’t what Rush Limbaugh thinks that matters; it’s the way that Rush Limbaugh emboldens millions of people to be louder and more forceful in their hard-assed rightwingery than they would otherwise feel confident in being. Likewise, Atrios and Kos and Digby and, yeah, Kevin Drum are reloaded daily by hundreds of thousands of people who go to them to be braced with sharp, smart progressive talking points, not for a nice broad-minded seminar with defenders of the bad guys.

It’s Kevin’s blog, and the Washington Monthly’s, and they can certainly do what they want with it. There is, in fact, room for courteous argument with political opponents. But bloggers like Kevin (and Matt, and Josh Marshall, and other insiders, whether geographically “inside the beltway” or not) should perhaps be a little less quick to roll their eyes when their hardcore readers are honked off over courtesy being extended to the opposition. The modern American right wing got where it is today by ruthlessly extending no such courtesies. (Find me the right-wing magazine or web site that gives a platform to lefties as frequently as Salon does the reverse.) Most to the point, Kevin and Matt and Josh and their ilk aren’t famous because their hundreds of thousands of readers want to read them sipping tea with Dan Drezner. They’re famous because their hundreds of thousands of readers come to them for red meat. American progressivism has needed that kind of thing for decades. Of course the readers get angry when they find polite dialogue with Bush-defending bloggers instead. Do what you want, but for cry eye, don’t bullshit yourself about the nature of the business you’re in, or of the product you’re doing a land-office business dispensing.

[03:04 PM]

While we’re being tyrannical, nanny-state liberals. I’m wondering if we can get bipartisan support for a federal law mandating that mass political email, whether solicited or not, must always contain a link to someplace where you can get taken off the list. We could call it Brad Woodhouse’s Law.

[02:30 PM]

A moratorium, please. This story of a determined anti-Bush activist whose neighbors sicced the Secret Service on her is all too typical of many such stories we’ve heard lately. It’s cause for alarm, not because it heralds the imminent wholesale shipping of liberals to the glue factory, but because it reflects an increasingly corroded civic culture in which “security” is a cloak for sordid score-settling.

What I want to quibble with is blogger Jillian’s tag line: “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” You know, if there’s one movie tag-line I’d like to excise from popular language, it’s that one. Please don’t “be afraid, be very afraid.”

Be alarmed. Be pissed off. Be prudent, even. (As Dave Johnson constantly reiterates, “watch your back.”) But “be afraid, be very afraid” is exactly what the bastards want you to do. Like bullies everywhere, their main tool isn’t the force they can command, it’s their ability to make your fear do their work for them. Stop doing their work for them.

“Be afraid, be very afraid” is the stock-in-trade of our current leadership. Compare their “war on terror” and their belligerent yet never-conclusive military stumblings to the outcome of the war led by the man who told us that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Eloquence isn’t optional. Words matter. Be not afraid.

[02:14 PM]

April 16, 2005
Topic sentences. Defense Tech wins the prize for best opening lines of a blog post:
Like me, you’ve probably stayed awake countless nights wondering, “Did the Brits ever make plans for a nuclear landmine, powered by chickens?”

Well, dear reader, I’m here to tell you that the answer is yes.

Read the whole thing. (As if you could stop now.)

[06:33 PM]