Sunday, February 12, 2006

Sunday Reading

  • The New York Times lead editorial lets the Bush administration have it.

    We can’t think of a president who has gone to the American people more often than George W. Bush has to ask them to forget about things like democracy, judicial process and the balance of powers — and just trust him. We also can’t think of a president who has deserved that trust less.


    Like many other administrations before it, this one sometimes dissembles clumsily to avoid embarrassment. (We now know, for example, that the White House did not tell the truth about when it learned the levees in New Orleans had failed.) Spin-as-usual is one thing. Striking at the civil liberties, due process and balance of powers that are the heart of American democracy is another.

    This is the second time in a month that the Grey Lady has gone into full coloratura mode on the Bush administration. Better late than never, I suppose.

  • Jim Brady of the Washington Post has the vapors over the “blog rage” he got from the Deborah Howell kerfuffle, along with the background so if you didn’t know what it was about, you will.

    I am a twit without a functioning brain.

    I also do not have any [ censored ].

    Despite 10 years spent in online media, I really don’t understand the Internet.

    I am a dangerous ideologue, an enemy of democracy.

    At least, that’s what I’ve been told — in much stronger language — by dozens of people who have never met me.

    My career as a nitwitted, emasculated fascist began the afternoon of Jan. 19 when, as executive editor of the Post’s Web site,, I closed down the comments area of one of our many blogs, one called Created primarily to announce new features on the Web site, the blog had become ground zero for angry readers complaining about a column by Post ombudsman Deborah Howell on the newspaper’s coverage of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. If I had let them, they would have obliterated any semblance of civil, genuine discussion.


    So was I suppressing free speech? Protecting the Bush administration? That’s what you’d think, judging by the swift and acid reaction to my move. They couldn’t get to, but they sure let me have it elsewhere in the blogosphere. I was honored as “Wanker of the Day” on one left-wing blog. Another site dissected my biography in order to prove that I was part of The Post’s vast right-wing conspiracy.

    Out in the Web woodshed, a handful of bloggers called me gutless or a puppet; some of them compared me to assorted body parts and characterized me as the worst person to come along since, well, Deborah Howell. And any nasty posts I didn’t see myself, my friends gleefully provided to me via e-mail. A few friends said they came close to jumping online to defend me, but chose not to for fear they’d be next in line for a public flogging.


    The irony of the backlash to my decision to shut off this comment string last month was that we’ve taken numerous steps during the past year to open up the Post Web site to its readers. We have 80 to 90 hours of live discussion programming every week, almost half of which involve Post reporters and editors. We’ve launched more than 30 blogs, which allow for reader comments and which have built vibrant communities. On our article pages, we’ve added links to related blogs. Just last week, we began hyperlinking all bylines on the site to allow readers to more easily send e-mail to Post reporters and editors. We’ll continue to add features that allow us to interact with readers.

    But we won’t allow our comments area to become a place where people can use whatever vulgar language they want, personally attack Post staffers or bully other contributors to our pages or discussions. There are folks who call this position naive. That’s their right. There are those who will decide not to be part of the discussion we’re having on because they don’t like our rules. That’s their choice. We have chosen to build a certain type of community on our site, and based on the e-mail and letters I’ve received in the past three weeks, there are a lot of people who want to join it.

    But what do I know? I’m an idiot. Just ask the people who don’t know me.

    Well, as I told one of my frequent commenters who thinks this blog is the epitome of left-wing moonbat rage, you need to get out more. Mr. Brady, I assume, has never been treated to a visit by denizens of the Free Republic who throw caution, comity, and Spell Check to the winds when they detect any straying from the Kool-Aid batch. And if he’s going to let something like this upset him to the point that he has to write a two-page defense of his actions, he’d better brace himself. Free speech, like elections in Palestine, means you have to be ready for anything.

  • George F. Will puts lipstick on a pig.
  • Shades of the 1960’s, some high school students in Florida have started an underground paper to tweak the nose of their school system and some of their follies. In this day and age, though, it’s a blog called The Rag, a throwback to the good old days of student unrest.


    The publishers of The Rag have been threatened with disciplinary action and suspension, although I’m not sure on what grounds the school system has for making their case. Perhaps the ACLU would have something to say about it.

    It takes me back to the time when I was in high school and a few friends tried to start an underground paper at my school in 1969. It was called The Clenched Foot and they ran it off on a mimeograph. It was supposed to take satirical swipes at our school and teachers, but much to our chagrin, the administrators loved it. It folded after two issues. Better luck to these guys.