September 03, 2011

Smog: The straw to break #enviro backs?

President Obama's backtrack, flip-flop, or whatever you want to call it on now deciding not to push for tougher smog enforcement standards, following in the footsteps another another "green jobs company" shutting down in large part because this neoliberal president, in touting green jobs and refuses to do anything about China subsidizing such jobs itself, even as his own administration touts Chinese job creation could be the straw that breaks the back of at least some environmental groups and environmentally minded individuals.

Perhaps. Perhaps not. When at least some environmental groups act surprised about all this, as well as still holding out hope that Obama will override his own Department of State and Secretary of Energy and deny Keystone XL, you have to wonder just how much some of these folks suffer from "battered Obamiac syndrome."

But why would these people be surprised? Even before he was elected president, Obama's "green" credentials were fairly thin. As a senator, Obama had no problem with favoring anti-environmental ethanol, taking nuclear power industry campaign contributions, and telling fluffery about  "clean coal." He wasn't as bad as some Republicans, but he was no environmental saint.

And, that record didn't improve even at the start of his presidency. When he appointed Kenny Boy Salazar as Secretary of the Interior, over a number of what were perceived as better candidates, especially given Salazar's relationship to oil and gas interests, that should have been a signal right there. But, between the soft bigotry of low post-BushCo expectations, combined with "Gang Green" environmentalists often thinking in terms of "access" first, Obama got a pass.

And, may still get a pass, as the "surprised" environmentalists still hold out hope where it's inexplicable to do so.

Well, "Gang Green" environmentalist groups. As the story notes, folks like the Center for Biological Diversity are ready to move on, in at least some way and sense.
“I think that two-plus years into Obama’s presidency is more than enough time for him to have established a clear weak record,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity.

Can't say it any better than that, other than noting he never had a strong record to start with.

The Washington Post weighs in, noting that his action to allegedly placate business interests, even while indicating (for now) he's not going to loosen every regulation, is confounding.

UPDATE: Sorry, Obama, but your "jobs-killing" excuse for this retreat? Businesses say regulatory issues aren't a concern.

#RickPerry'sTexasMiracle - #Romney to fight back

In a mix of "chess match" plus actual strategy discussion news analysis, the New York Times reports Mitt Romney is ready to take on Rick Perry on three issues: immigration, jobs creation and time in government.

The former makes sense. With the possible exceptions of Jon Huntsman and the one true libertarian in the race (sit DOWN, you Paultards), Gary Johnson, Perry's an outlier on this issue.

That also said, any Texas progressive with brains knows Rick Perry's OK with illegal immigration because his No. 1 campaign donor, Bob Perry, likes the cheap labor to build those cheap suburban homes.

The second one? Given income inequality, plus the barely-legal kickbacks of sorts of Perry's enterprise fund, the Mittster isn't going to be the only GOPer asking questions. The story said that Bachmann is doing a study course on Perry's record. (Is the briefing paper monosyllabic?)

That said, the third one is interesting, and one I hadn't thought of yet. Especially with tea party types being so down on government in general, attacking Perry for, in essence, being a "government lifer" could gain some traction. Romney's been out of government for a while; Bachmann's not been in, on a full-time basis, for very long. Huntsman's out. Newt's out. And Perry spent pretty much a decade in the Lege before running for ag commissioner, so the "lifer" argument has merit.

Next? Wednesday's debate. Tis true that Perry ducked debates in the 2010 general election (and 2006), but couldn't in the primary. The person there for a Bachmann to study is neither Kay Bailey Cheerleader nor Perry, but Debra Medina. If Bachmann wants to do some appealing to tea party true believers, the script is already in place; it just needs some expansion and polishing up.

Also? One thing not yet on the GOP opposition radar, but that they could easily find if they went back to 2006 is the Trans Texas Corridor. That's a big "big government" issue to hang on Perry.

September 02, 2011

Then there were three: #Google, #Apple, #Amazon infowars

Yes, infowars. The latest news on Amazon's planned new tablet, including proprietary apps and a "forked" version of Google's Android OS show that information control wars between the Big Three are only going to heat up.

Jaron Lanier recently talked extensively about Apple and Google's stake in this.  The "this"?

It's the "hollowing out" of the cost of information delivery devices, often along with initial loss-leader prices on at least a sampling of information with proprietary control.

Then, J.A. Konrath and Blake Crouch argue that Amazon (and, to a lesser degree, other e-publishers) may be going down the same path of hollowing out and information control.

This is another installment of my "dark side of the Internet" series, for that reason.

Let's not forget that Stewart Brand's famous, or infamous, "Information wants to be free" quote was only one half of the issue:
On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.
What Lanier is saying is that the Apples and Googles of the world have the critical mass to make information free, or nearly so for now. And, I read Konrath and Crouch saying the same about Amazon. Then, later, like WallyWorld, in a more and more semi-monopolized Internet, where they have more control of the "right place," it will get expensive.

(Update: At the same time, Lanier is himself some sort of tech-neolib, who is dumb enough, naive enough, or on the take enough to assume that Big Data will give you or I micropayments for using its services.)

So, let's take a look at each of the Big Three, their current "stake" and what may be ahead.

Apple? The"proprietary control" issue has it at No. 1. Apple's apps can't be tweaked without jailbreaking, it makes all its own products/hardware, and it's very vertically integrated. Plus, it has a whole suite of its own software, such as iPhoto, iLife, etc., beyond its mobile apps.

Plus No. 2? A fanatically loyal customer base, along with an almost mythical image as being an "anti-corporation," i.e., not IBM. (Even more than "not Microsoft" in some ways) Can Tim Cook maintain it, especially in four or five years, after Jobs, assuming further health decline, steps down as chairman of the board?

Weaknesses? It has little information to manage/control in the traditional sense. It's well set for the management of information with all of its self-centeredness, but it has no pile of information yet.


Google? The personalization of its logo on its home page for many holidays, tied with the personalization of Internet searches that Google offers us, brands Google as being an anti-corporation, i.e., not Microsoft, but in a different way than Apple. Through "personalized" web searches, it also fosters that image.

At the same time, such search personalization, a "real names" policy on Google Plus and cloud computing, show Google's profit motive is at least as transparent as that of Bill Gates for anybody who looks at all.

Specific to this issue, Google has the strength of Internet search leadership and the willingness to spend on anything that will increase such leadership. Buying YouTube, developing Google-Plus after previous social media flops, and continued investing on cloud computing all illustrate that.

Weakness? As Amazon's "forking" of Android shows, it's not made its information flow very proprietary yet. Cloud computing may change that, although with the amount of rented server space Amazon offers, that may not be an unchallenged strength for Google in the future.

Weakness No. 2? Government regulators in both the U.S. and Europe worry that Google IS the new Microsoft.

Below? Amazon, the "new kid on the block," and further thoughts.


Team Obama suing #banksters on #CDO and #CDS - more on why this is likely 'show'

I said yesterday that, after Dear Leader's minions, including and starting with Little Timmy Geithner, along New York Fed members and others, have spent months attacking N.Y. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, color me skeptical at least, and cynical at most, that any talk  of a federal lawsuit against banksters for their alphabet soup diarrhea of CDOs, CDSs, etc., is anything more than a hill of diarrhea-inducing beans.

 The suit's been filed. So, let's update this from yesterday Adding to my skepticism? It names no dollar amount for damages sought. (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reportedly lost $196 billoin on the alphabet soup crap.) So, let's look more at the reality of why this is probably a dog-and-pony show.

Here's how this will likely play out.
1. Team Obama goes through motions of filing suit.
2. Goddam Sachs, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley et al plead remorse. (Like AT&T pleading to "tweak" the T-Mobile takeover.)
3. Said banksters eventually agree to a settlement. (This is part of "doing God's work," of course. Loyd Blankfein will combine this with the "remorse" part for Goddam Sachs.)
4. Money for said settlement will pennies on the dollar, payable over a decade or more. Updated with the new link, 10 percent of this is about $20 billion. And, not coincidentally, that's what Team Obama suggested in initial settlement talks. Even prorated by company size among the 17 defendants, that's, say, $3 billion for Bank of America. BofA had that much profit in one quarter in 2010. Even if I temper my cynicism somewhat, and call it 20 percent on the settlement, payable over three years, that's $6 bil for BofA over three years, or $500M a year. It will be able to digest that, write it down on earnings statements, and possible even find a way to a tax deduction or two.
5. Said money is then used by Team Obama to create a successor to HARP and HAMP called HEMP: "Home Equity Maintenance Program." God, I love being snarky.
6. Said program is started, oh, say, July 2012? Just in time for the Democratic National Convention and some appropriate re-election PR?
6A. Said program, said start of payments, said percentage markdown of payments, etc., all get connected in some way to Democratic campaign contributions.
7. Team Obama tells Schneiderman: "We really, really tried. This is the best we can do. Now, for the last time, stop bothering the banksters."

Obama's #green #jobs #fail

Boy, it's a bad day for Dear Leader when he's exposed as being even more anti-environmental by being OK with some smog, by the neoliberal portion of his claims to environmentalism being a big fail as another "green jobs company" shuts down in large part because this neoliberal president, in touting green jobs and refuses to do anything about China subsidizing such jobs itself, even as his own administration touts Chinese job creation:
Last week, for instance, the White House's U.S. trade representative, Ron Kirk, said we shouldn't be concerned with jobs that are about "making things that, frankly, we don't want to make in America -- you know, cheaper products, low-skill jobs."
Just a few short grafs show how much of a disconnect there is between Obama the myth and Obama the reality.

Here's more on the stupidity of subsidizing solar development projects while China subsidizes the hardware they need.

Meanwhile, environmental groups act surprised about all this. Why? As a senator, Obama had no problem with favoring anti-environmental ethanol, taking nuclear power industry campaign contributions, and telling fluffery about  "clean coal."

Well, "Gang Green" environmentalist groups. As the story notes, folks like CBD are ready to move on, in at least some way and sense.
“I think that two-plus years into Obama’s presidency is more than enough time for him to have established a clear weak record,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity.
Can't say it any better than that, other than noting he never had a strong record to start with. When he appointed Kenny Boy Salazar as Secretary of the Interior, that should have been a signal right there. But, between the soft bigotry of low post-BushCo expectations, combined with "Gang Green" environmentalists often thinking in terms of "access" first, Obama got a pass.

There's not much that could be uglier than this, a failure on environmental issues in general connected with a failure on green jobs ...

Other than his August #fail on jobs in general. The mix of weak, clueless, timid and kowtowing to Wall Street is simply unacceptable. And, as long as the Senate has 41 Democrats with any more backbone than Dear Leader, how can most of the GOP presidential offerings really be that bad? (That's for people who don't like me saying "vote Green" and claim it's a wasted vote.)



UPDATE 1: Meanwhile, here's the details on the amount of growth of those Chinese solar plants, and details on their subsidization by Beijing. And, it's not cheap labor that's the driver on the expansion: it's government subsidies and tax breaks. That's clearly illegal, but yet, we haven't protested yet. (I don't know about the European Union, which has followed an American-type path of subsidizing solar panel use more than its manufacture.)

So, we can't totally blame Obama for the plant closures. That said, we CAN blame him for not seeing this coming down the road, for touting "green jobs" when he knew it wasn't true, and for pounding federal financial aid down a rathole when these companies were up against China.

The story notes that the administration did challenge similar Chinese practice on wind turbines, but by that time, the years of waiting (thanks BushCo, there) had let China build up its turbine industry to where it didn't matter. Democratic neoliberalism following in the footsteps of GOP hollowing-out. What a bad combination.

UPDATE 2: Sorry, Obama, but your "jobs-killing" excuse for this retreat? Businesses say regulatory issues aren't a concern.

 On re-election odds? I put Obama's chances against anybody not named Paul, Palin or Bachmann at less than 50 percent. And, sorry, Texans who know all about Rick Perry; I agree with polls, and see them holding true in the future.

September 01, 2011

Team Obama suing banksters - real or a head fake?

Well, after Dear Leader's minions, including and starting with Little Timmy Geithner, along New York Fed members and others, have spent months attacking N.Y. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, color me skeptical at least, and cynical at most, that any talk of a federal lawsuit against banksters for their alphabet soup diarrhea of CDOs, CDSs, etc., is anything more than a hill of diarrhea-inducing beans.

UPDATE: The suit's been filed. Adding to my skepticism? It names no dollar amount for damages sought. (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reportedly lost $196 billoin on the alphabet soup crap.)

Look, here's how this will likely play out.
1. Team Obama goes through motions of filing suit.
2. Goddam Sachs, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley et al plead remorse.
3. Said banksters eventually agree to a settlement. (This is part of "doing God's work," of course.)
4. Money for said settlement is pennies on the dollar, payable over a decade or more. Updated with the new link, 10 percent of this is about $20 billion. And, not coincidentally, that's what Team Obama suggested in initial settlement talks. Even prorated by company size among the 17 defendants, that's, say, $3 billion for Bank of America. BofA had that much profit in one quarter in 2010.
5. Said money is used by Team Obama to create a successor to HARP and HAMP called HEMP: "Home Equity Maintenance Program." God, I love being snarky.
6. Said program is started, oh, say, July 2012? Just in time for the Democratic National Convention and some appropriate re-election PR?
7. Team Obama tells Schneiderman: "We really, really tried. This is the best we can do. Now, for the last time, stop bothering the banksters."

Meanwhile, the mainstream media is piling on Schneiderman, at least the WaPost. Naked Capitalism wonders if its ownership of Kaplan, and Schneiderman's investigation of for-profit colleges, just might have something to do with that.

Texas - how hot is it?

How hot has it been in Texas? Go to this chart and look at all the "first" rankings Texas cities have for most consecutive and most total 100-degree days this year.

And, that heat explains this drought:


The latest AP story on Texas' drought is out, and, as the graphic shows, it's even uglier than ever.

That graphic isn't ugly enough? Try this one, which shows how the current drought compares to past ones:




That said, rain over the last 12 months is its lowest ever. But, this is still, at this point, "just" a one-year drought, as the story just linked notes. But, hopes for potential Hurricane Lee aside, La Nina is expected back later this year and into next. And, that spells more trouble. Without serious rain soon, fall planting of Texas and Oklahoma winter wheat will simply have to be put on hold, intensifying the agricultural fallout. (Besides that, that storm is just an "invest," not even a tropical storm yet, and the heat dome looks like it will block it from every entering Texas.)

And, this just in. Both Texas and Oklahoma have set all-time records for hottest June-August periods. And, Texas has set both 10- and 12-month records for driest periods ever.

Wikileaks, Assange, irony alert and hypocrisy alert

I am laughing my head off at Julian Assange and various Wikileaks mouthpieces for him blaming everybody but themselves in general and Assange in particular for the release of all of Wikileaks' accumulated, unredacted cables.

Blaming the Guardian? If a password was supposed to be temporary, it's Wikileaks' fault for mismanaging it. If it wasn't temporary, then why did you pass it out? And, why didn't you have somebody, whether volunteer or paid, assigned to track files and documents?

Blaming former Wikileaker Daniel Domscheitt-Berg, who recently came out with "Exposing WikiLeaks," which I five-starred on Amazon? Absurd. There, he documents exactly this type of sloppiness (and blaming) from Assange before. This shouldn't be surprising.

So, there's the irony.

The hypocrisy is as clear as the noses on our faces, and that's Assange and his stooges and mouthpieces are hypocrites for trying to claim or hint at some sort of "ownership" of the cables after all of Assange's touting of promoting freedom via the Internet.

No, Julian, you can't have it both ways. If you do "own" them, then admit that this is a control issue for you, and you're not quite so totally about the brave new free Internet world after all. If you are about that brave new world, then stop throwing hissy fits about who else has copies of unredacted cables.

Beyond that, Assange and stooges apparently incompetent hypocrites to boot.  That said, aside from guilt-innocence questions in a legal sense, such incompetence can't but reflect badly in any potential rape trial in Sweden. (And, getting TO legal questions of innocence, the sloppiness with control of cables may well have a parallel with "sloppiness" in sexual consent.)

No wonder Domscheit-Berg is not the only former Wikileaker with a critical tell-something book.

I think, like Obamiacs, or worshipers of Steve Jobs, we have Assangiacs, as far as how far some people will go to follow Assange in blaming everybody but him for this screw-up.

Update: Sadly, Glenn Greenwald appears to be singing, at least in part, from the Assange hymnal.  A short response:
1. Glenn, any pettiness/personal vendetta between Assange and Domscheit-Berg seems to have started with Assange;
2. If you don't see Wikileaks' release of the "30 significant releases" as a PR sheet, Gleen, you're either accidentally or willingly naive, and I'm beginning to lean toward the "willingly."
3. Anything that Leigh did "wrong" ultimately is Assange's fault for giving him a non-temporary password, unless it can be proven that Leigh knew it was non-temporary.

As a result, the excellent Spiegel article Glenn links has the bottom line:
For Wikileaks, OpenLeaks, Julian Assange, Daniel Domscheit-Berg and many others, it is nothing short of a catastrophe.
A chain of careless mistakes, coincidences, indiscretions and confusion now means that no potential whistleblower would feel comfortable turning to a leaking platform right now. They appear to be out of control.
Given that much of this was preventable by Julian Assange being ... well, being other than he's shown himself to be, while I salute his effort in starting WikiLeaks, I have no problem assigning majority blame for what's gone wrong to him.

Rick Perry phone home, or are you a false prophet on rain?

The latest AP story on Texas' drought is out, and, as the graphic shows, it's even uglier than ever.

That graphic isn't ugly enough? Try this one, which shows how the current drought compares to past ones:




That said, rain over the last 12 months is its lowest ever. But, this is still, at this point, "just" a one-year drought, as the story just linked notes. But, hopes for potential Hurricane Lee aside, La Nina is expected back later this year and into next. And, that spells more trouble. Without serious rain soon, fall planting of Texas and Oklahoma winter wheat will simply have to be put on hold, intensifying the agricultural fallout. (Besides that, that storm is just an "invest," not even a tropical storm yet, and the heat dome looks like it will block it from every entering Texas.)

And, this just in. Both Texas and Oklahoma have set all-time records for hottest June-August periods. And, Texas has set both 10- and 12-month records for driest periods ever.

So, after more than four months of failure, self-proclaimed "prophet" Rick Perry needs to pray harder. As I've said before, he could slash himself, like the prophets of Baal. Or, Texans could stone him to death as a false prophet. God may not be mocked, if such a being existed, but Rick Perry will be mocked every bit he deserves.

#Big12 #fail: BYWho?

OK, we know Texas A&M wants out of the Big 12, most likely for the SEC.


So, rather than be an increasingly irrelevant nine-team league made of Texas, OU and nobody else in football, those two plus OkState in baseball, and the two above plus Kansas of course in hoops, they need one more team, at least.

And, BYU? BYWho is not the answer, no matter the Big 12's push, for multiple reasons.

1. Jimmer Fredette aside, it's not a big hoops team.
2. It's not a baseball team at all.
3. There's no historic connection with the Big 12.
4. It's not that big of a media market.

That's why all of Yahoo columnist Dan Wetzel's arguments for the SEC to make TCU its 14th team apply in spades to the Big Whatever.
1. It would be a pre-emptive strike to keep the SEC from pitching tent in the Big 12 backyard.
2. It is indeed a big media market.
3. All sorts of historic connections.

Plus, BYWho, like UT, has a fat independent football broadcasting contract. Think it's going to want to "share" any more than the Longhorns have?

Speaking of, UT's athletic director, DeLoss Dodds, claims A&M had a chance to get in on the ground floor of  its TV contract. Will this statement start a pissing match?

Green Party news

As promised, good political news, moving beyond bashing President Obama and other neolib Democrats.

The Green Party just got done with its 2011 annual meeting and convention.

Among candidates this year is Cheri Honkala, running for sheriff in Philadelphia on a no-evictions platoform, and Mark Miller, running for a Massachusetts state house open seat taht he almost won in 2010.

Elziabeth May, the first Canadian Green to win a seat in parliament, was also at the convention.

Looking ahead to 2012 races? A reminder: Greens have statewide party-line ballot access in the four largest states of California, Texas, New York and Florida. Don't listen to Democratic fear mongering!

The best of August here

By viewership, top blog post was my  extended takedown of New Media fluffers.

Second was a rebuke of conservative Christians claiming red algae in a San Angelo, Texas lake was  semi-Orwellianism by Gnu Atheist P.Z. Myers.”


Fourth was my take on what slowing economies in BRIC countries  may mean for a double-dip recession.


Then we get to Rick Perry land, with my post about  the “Texas miracle” and the reality of schools at the start of a new school year getting the next most reads.

Both this, of course, the “RickPerry’sTexasMiracle,” and the New Media post are parts of ongoing series. Stay tuned.

I must say I like Blogger’s new dashboard in its ease in helping do this.

Blogging vs. journalism - time and money needed

I list both time and money, because serious news coverage, like investigative journalism, requires inputs of both that most bloggers just don't have. It also requires things like libel insurance, which old media provides for all staffers but which is probably prohibitive for any nonprofessional blogger, folks like TPM who are hybrid blogs/online newspapers.

Most New Media fluffers have one of two problems here. They either ignore the time and money inputs necessary, or they fuse professional hybrid bloggers/news outlets with John/Jane Citizen Blogger ... either accidentally or willfully. (Folks Josh Marshall and other TPM staff are paid professionals. I'm not sure about FDL. And, this isn't their "avocation," it's their jobs. Therefore, if you know better, it's intellectually dishonest to lump them with John/Jane Blogger.)

So TPM and,say FiredogLake as examples of investigative "blogging" actually aren't.

Let's look at the reality of investigative journalism and time and money costs.

Let's look at what traditional media can still do. And still does, like a 9/11 10th anniversary report on 9/11-related charities and scams.

This is just the shorter version of a great story on 9/11 charities. A LONG story.

How long? 17,000 words. Point? It takes money to do that type of reporting, a lot of money. And a lot of time. And, a lot of editorial teamwork. About none of which new media fluffers "get," I do really think at times.

The teamwork part? Especially if a newspaper’s staff rather than the AP’s, it takes writers with plenty of time to devote, as well as the flexibility to step from regular assignments to an ongoing “enterprise” assignment like this. Beyond that, the collaboration of different reporters and editors on enterprise journalism brings different talents and insights to the table, something, again, a lone blogger just can’t offer.

Or look at Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson and his expose on alleged cheating in University of Miami athetics.

He took 10 months on that. If he’s making just under $100K a year, that’s $80,000 of his salary. Even allowing one-quarter of his time for other reporting, that’s $60,000. Add $10,000 for supplemental editorial health, just like the AP uses multiple reporters on blockbusters. Add in $10,000 for expenses. Add in $10,000 for time and money of editors above his head. Add in $10,000 for legal consultations and miscellaneous.

That’s $100,000 of reporting. And 10 months’ time of reporting.

Jaron Lanier, in an old Edge essay, adds some significant background here.
Compounding the problem is that new business models for people who think and write have not appeared as quickly as we all hoped. Newspapers, for instance, are on the whole facing a grim decline as the Internet takes over the feeding of the curious eyes that hover over morning coffee and, even worse, classified ads. In the new environment, Google News is for the moment better funded and enjoys a more secure future than most of the rather small number of fine reporters around the world who ultimately create most of its content. The aggregator is richer than the aggregated.
Individual newspapers largely caused many of their old wounds. The Associated Press long ago decided to be selfish with its self-interests, for the short term, and aligned itself with cheap feed costs to those aggregators. (Irony and stupidity mix: Former AP chairman of the board Dean Singleton oversaw this even while running his own newspaper chain into bankruptcy. That said, I promise I will have a blog post on old media's shortcomings and self-inflicted wounds coming soon.)

Back to Lanier's quote. Problem? Google doesn't have a single reporter

Let's not forget that Stewart Brand's famous, or infamous, "Information wants to be free" quote was only one half of the issue, something New Media fluffers especially ignore:
On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.
What Lanier is saying is that the Apples and Googles of the world have the critical mass to make information free, or nearly so for now. Then, later, like WallyWorld, in a more and more semi-monopolized Internet, where they have more control of the "right place," it will get expensive.

My personal experience blogging relates to that.

Anybody who has Google Ads knows that they're paying out less and less all the time. Meanwhile, I am also a client of a company that connects with newspapers to pay for click-throughs. As old media continues to suffer, rates have gone down there, too.

But, Google's not suffering. Rather, because of the increasing fractionation of the Net, it's spreading ads over more places. But, because many of those ads get fewer eyeballs, they pay less and less.

But, on Google's end, that's fine. As long as it is increasing its share of Internet ads, nothing else matters.

End result? John/Jane Blogger makes less and less. If you're lucky enough to be the paid professional editor, or rather, marketer, of a stable of bloggers, whether the serfs at Demand Media, or the somewhat better than serfs at Scientific American whom Bora Zivkovic markets (I say markets, because I don't think he does much real editing; his own blogging shows he's not necessarily familiar with the concept of copy editing), you make money. If you're the blogger, not so much.

If you're on your own, even if you're good and insightful, definitely not so much.

Update, Feb. 22, 2013: Massimo Pigliucci weighs in well on this issue. 

(Update, Dec. 27, 2015: At the same time, Lanier is himself some sort of tech-neolib, who is dumb enough, naive enough, or on the take enough to assume that Big Data will give you or I micropayments for using its services.)

August 31, 2011

The dark side of the Internet: #Apple, #Google, and 'hollowing out'


Hat tip to Salon for pointing out this excellent Edge interview with Jaron Lanier. Especially given that the journalist is Douglas Rushkoff, who has written about the hollowing out of the middle class and whom Wiki notes was an early leader in the open source movement, and you're guaranteed, good insightful "Internet sociology."

Here's a sampling of Lanier's take on Apple and Google:
... "The Apple idea is that instead of the personal computer model where people own their own information, and everybody can be a creator as well as a consumer, we're moving towards this iPad, iPhone model where it's not as adequate for media creation as the real media creation tools, and even though you can become a seller over the network, you have to pass through Apple's gate to accept what you do, and your chances of doing well are very small, and it's not a person to person thing, it's a business through a hub, through Apple to others, and it doesn't create a middle class, it creates a new kind of upper class. ... Google has done something that might even be more destructive of the middle class, which is they've said, "Well, since Moore's law makes computation really cheap, let's just give away the computation, but keep the data." And that's a disaster.

... If we enter into the kind of world that Google likes, the world that Google wants, it's a world where information is copied so much on the Internet that nobody knows where it came from anymore, so there can't be any rights of authorship. However, you need a big search engine to even figure out what it is or find it. They want a lot of chaos that they can have an ability to undo. ... when you have copying on a network, you throw out information because you lose the provenance, and then you need a search engine to figure it out again. That's part of why Google can exist. Ah, the perversity of it all just gets to me.
So, contra New Media fluffers, you have two big "gatekeepers" in the Internet world, both trying to get bigger, and one naively beloved by librulz to boot. Perhaps that's part of why the Internet really hasn't lead to a New Economic World Order.

It's all about branding. More on that further below. Immediately below, Lanier's first discussion of "hollowing out":
Everyone's into Internet things, and yet we have this huge global economic trouble. If you had talked to anyone involved in it 20 years ago, everyone would have said that the ability for people to inexpensively have access to a tremendous global computation and networking facility ought to create wealth. This ought to create wellbeing; this ought to create this incredible expansion in just people living decently, and in personal liberty. And indeed, some of that's happened. Yet if you look at the big picture, it obviously isn't happening enough, if it's happening at all.
The only way he sees of working around that is actually monetizing more of what you and I do. In other words, the Net is going to try to force more hypercapitalism on us.

There's an hour-long video with the story, which Edge won't let me embed. That said, there's more text of the interview, and analysis, below the fold. Then, go to the website and watch the video.

Obama vs. Perry ... TV prelude next week?

So, President Obama's plan to address Congress on jobs next Wednesday would compete head-on with Texas Gov. Rick Perry and others in a GOP presidential debate, already set for MSNBC.

That said, MSNBC has already signed up to televise the debate, while three of the four broadcast networks launch season premieres. Per the story, CBS plans to air a new episode of Big Brother, NBC has a new Minute to Win It, and Fox has its new series Buried Treasure.

Next Thursday? Nope, unless Obama starts early. That's the becoming-traditional early kickoff of Sunday Night Football and the NFL season.

Meanwhile, Speaker John Boehner has refused the Wednesday time.

Beyond that, I'm with Faux News' analysis, of all things. (OF course, it was outsiders with the insight.) By wanting to address a joint session of Congress, like a miniature State of the Union, Obama ups the pressure on himself to say something substantive. And, he won't. There will be nothing but incrementalism. And, by putting incrementalism under the spotlight, Obama will undercut himself.

Anyway, stay tuned ... pun intended.

Update: Obama blinked. Why he's so insistent on speaking before Congress, I don't know. If any of you readers think he'll actually have anything earthshaking-enough to make a miniature State of the Union style address either necessary or worthwhile, I have a bridge in Brooklyn and oceanfront in Arizona to sell you.

August 30, 2011

#RickPerry'sTexasMiracle, personal - from rags to corruption

Rick Perry's a millionaire. That's not a crime, nor surprising.

How he got to be a millionaire, if not a crime, is at the least, ethically shady at times, hypocritical at other times.

First, like Michele Bachmann, he's been living high off the USDA hog:
Like many Texas farmers, Perry benefitted from federal agriculture subsidies. Between 1987 and 1998, Perry received over $80,000 from such programs.
Second, he has a history of dipping his hand heavily in the government till in other ways:
In 1989, Perry's reimbursements made up over half of the private aircraft mileage reimbursed in the Texas House.
He was running for state ag commissioner against Jim Hightower in 1990. It seems likely that much of his officially billed travel was actually pre-campaign travel. (Note; At my first newspaper, I reported on a story that involved both men and the TDA. For more about that, go here. Everything at that link and more is true. Beyond a $25K donation, there were also rumors that Perry encouraged VPG, also known as Voluntary Purchasing Groups, to do everything they could to stall Texas Department of Ag inspectors until after the election. Google "Rick Perry" + either "VPG" or "Voluntary Purchasing Groups." You'll see more. Lots more.)

After that came "lucky" real estate deals and investments. But, as a full-time state official rather than a part-time legislator ... he was either "luckier," or had people who "liked" him more. Based on the reporting history that I mentioned above, which involved a polluting agrichemical business, I don't doubt it was the latter. Given the amount of business in the state the ag commissioner oversees, it would be easy for him to collect plenty of $25K campaign contributions like the one from VPG mentioned in the link immediately above, then "recycle" any unspent campaign funds in some way, shape or form.

For those unfamiliar with VPG, its other site, in Commerce, would eventually be declared an EPA Superfund site. So, yeah, when Tricky Ricky wants dirty money, he'll take really dirty money. And, he has for 20 years. So, his current standoffs with the EPA? Nothing close to new.

Add in that Texas has no limits on campaign contributions, as some of Perry's biggest current donors show, and you can see how easy it could be to become a shakedown artist, a distributor of favors, or both.

Meanwhile, you alleged lower-class goldbrickers? You have company. Tricky Ricky has yet to pay his 2010 income taxes.

Obama = Bush on environment

Hey, I would agree. And, I've said it in some way, shape or form before.

But, that's not me saying it this time. It's a national voice, Mark Bittman of the NY Times.
I wasn’t surprised when the administration of George W. Bush sacrificed the environment for corporate profits. But when the same thing happens under a Democratic administration, it’s depressing. With little or no public input, policies that benefit corporations regardless of the consequences continue to be enacted.
And, Bittman has multiple examples going back long before last week's State Department sign-off on the Keystone XL pipeline.

They include:
1. Deregulating Monsanto's GMO alfalfa;
2. Defying a court order on planting GMO sugar beets;
3. Putting "import GMOs" pressure on the European Union.

And now Keystone, over which Bittman says he's "insulted."

Insulted enough to vote Green? What about you? Coffee's brewing.

'I have seen the future and it doesn't work'

Truly liberal friends and followers of this blog will recognize the header of this post as a riff on the most famous utterance of muckraking journalist and later general radical Lincoln Steffens: "I have seen the future and it works."

Steffens, for those who don't know, was a mentor of sorts to John Reed, and was uttering the phrase, which he never disavowed, after a trip to Russia/the pending USSR shortly after the November Revolution. And, despite others on the left in America seeing through Stalin years before Steffens died, he held on to his true belief?

Why? That's part of what's discussed in "I Have Seen the Future," a great new bio of Steffens by Peter Hartshorn.

Steffens had seen through greed, graft and corruption at the local, state and federal levels by, as we would say today, both halves of the bipartisan duopoly. He had seen, at the same time, that the best grafters, at the city level at least, sometimes were important indeed for how a city was run.

And, he had seen Yanqui imperialism "hit the fan" during the Mexican Revolution, in which he was not only a reporter, but an unofficial mediator of sorts between U.S. President Wilson and Mexican President Carranza.

So, he was prepared to accept an undemocratic, even antidemocratic strongman running a post-revolutionary country, for some time if needed. And, I can accept him hanging his hat on Lenin. But, even though Steffens died before Stalin's 1930 purges came to light, his witchhunt against Trotsky and other things were evidence in plenty against Uncle Joe.

So, why?

From the book, and my own insight, he really thought the sham that's called democracy in America was that fucked up. And, it's hard for me to disagree with him about his observations of a century ago, or our current status today, hence my post title.

As Steffens wrote, from the days of the Puritans and their selective freedom (and, not mentioned in the book nor focused on by Steffens, but Jamestown being founded by a corporation) America hasn't really been that democratic. The Constitutional Founding Fathers created a republic, not a democracy, to boot ... and in the light of things like Shays' Rebellion, did that deliberately.

We need to be more self-informed, if we're not, on America's early history, starting with the founding history of the various colonies, as Steffens surely was, besides the Pilgrims and Massachusetts Bay.
1. Virginia... founded by British businessmen in a joint-stock organization
2. Plymouth... Religious dissidents, seeking freedom for themselves, not necessarily others;
2A. Massachusetts Bay... Ditto in spades
3. Maryland... Land-grant favor to Britain's top Catholic noble as a personal favor
4. South Carolina... Royal colony
5. Connecticut... Royal colony
6. New Hampshire... Royal colony
7. Pennsylvania... Land grant as repayment of royal debt
8. New Jersey... Royal colony
9. New York... Royal colony after seizure from Dutch
10. North Carolina... Royal colony
11. Delaware... "breakaway" from Pennsylvania, royal colony
12. Georgia... penal colony, officially royal colony
13. Rhode Island... freethinkers' haven, and piracy haven

So, the pre-Revolutionary history of America wasn't necessarily that democratic. That's not to discuss at all the issue of slavery.

That said, Andrew Jackson's people's democracy hinted at something more, but not really. Jackson himself had moved, in a more mobile frontier southwest, into the upper classes. Lincoln's Homestead Act portended something ... but don't forget that he liked the Union Pacific so much in part because he owned land in downtown Omaha. The Gilded Age came after his assassination, but had he lived, he might have been part of it.

TR? Steffens himself doubted the depth of his commitment to reform. Rightly so. Wilson? Had he done more to keep us out of WWI (more on that in a moment) maybe the light of democracy would have shone more, but Steffens saw problems with Wilson before then ... and certainly in his dealings with Russia, had clear personal evidence that Wilson intended to passively accept European imperialism, even if he wouldn't do it himself.

By FDR's time, Steffens had despaired not just of FDR, but of Upton Sinclair and most socialists. He actually hoped Landon would win in 1936 in the hopes it might start a revolution.

Realistically? In TR and Wilson's time, "democracy" did about one-third better than in its long-term previous history. In FDR's time, with the idealism of dollar-a-year men, maybe half better. But, that had faded away before Ike warned about the military-industrial complex, and never to return.

Steffens, while focused mainly on graft and other domestic policy issues, saw in the Mexican Revolution confirmation of how the U.S. had no problem being an imperialist power, and again, how both parties participated. Again, little has changed.

While I'm a social democrat, not a true radical, unlike Steffens, nonetheless, it's clear to me, too that both sides of the duoploy are just as corrupt as they were a century ago. So, that's why I continue to urge voting Green for the foreseeable future.

Look at the widening rich-poor gap. Look at the widening opportunity gap. Look at how much of organized labor ion the U.S. has been so non-radical (even before the second red scare) that it's almost laughable if not tragic. Steffens saw would be third-party progressives like La Follette try to do something and get boxed in. And, we've had only one progressive third party "splash" since then, in 1948.

So, maybe Steffens was right in looking toward the east. That said, today's post-USSR Russia is more capitalist-infested than America. Ditto for China, as income inequality widens by the day, and the only way the "proletariat" improves its standing is through actual or threatened labor actions, with violence if necessary.

Maybe Steffens was right. We know he was right about the future not working here. We've had 90 years since his praise of Russia to see that.

New Media fluffing, myth-making and motivated reasoning

OK, I will call Bora Zivkovic, aka Coturnix, a New Media fluffer and other things.

A week after posting a flow chart on how to rationally argue with someone, he's again ignoring that, ready to accuse others who don't agree with him on the cornucopianism of New Media as constructing straw men, etc.

NO, really.

He's updated a 2009 blog post on New Media issues, and starts with throwing bombs:
I wrote and posted this originally on March 30th, 2009. It is intentionally strong and provocative. If you want to use me as a straw man (“techno-utopian”, “Web-optimist” – as if those are bad words) to destroy, go ahead, read this, skip the details and nuance, pick up your own take-home message, and go for it.
Bora has personally accused me of creating straw men, and in that accusation, even implied that I may do it somewhat habitually. That said, Bora, I am going to read through the post ... and show what's wrong with it.

First ... er ... it's out of date. BADLY out of date. AP reporters have their own Twitter accounts. So do local newspaper reporters.

And, it's not just out of date on that, it was at least misleading back in 2009. My group of suburban Dallas weekly newspapers had a joint Twitter account back then. And, we, as weeklies, posted breaking hard news to our website as it happened.

Second, Bora himself, after talking about "definitions," sometimes gives multiple definitions. Above all, he appears to conflate "online journalism" and "blogging."

OK, next ... "news analysis" is NOT the same as a "follow-up story." Bora appears to conflate the two.

Breaking news would be "Perry announces run for president."
Follow-up story would be "Mr. X is his campaign manager, Ms. Y is his communications spokeswoman," etc.
News analysis would be "What are Perry's strengths and weaknesses vs. Romney?"

See the difference? That's why a professional journalist is better at explaining what professional journalism is, not to mention matters financial as a constraint. (Later in the blog, Bora offers a more traditional definition of "news analysis," but, it's 1,000 words later. This also illustrates the valuable role of these people called "editors.")

As for claims that there's racial ethnic bias in not trusting Indian Tweeters? Boy, Bora, you've got a career in creating straw men, if you really believe that.

More seriously, part 1? AP, and New York Times, and other top agencies have these things called "news bureaus." I'm not sure about Mumbai, but I know all major print outlets at least have one in New Delhi, at least partially staffed by Indian reporters. The NYT has 26 foreign bureaus total, including one in New Delhi. So does the Washington Post, per Wiki. And, yes, there are Indians (I presume native) on staff at both.

More seriously part 2, while U.S. mainstream journalists may still be too naive at times, at top levels, like the best AP journalists, they know what Bora as a scientist knows, that eyewitness "memory" is unreliable. So, yes, a John/Jane Tweeter may be valuable for providing an impression of how breaking news is unfolding, they may not be that accurate. The more sudden the news, in fact, the more likely views of various eyewitnesses will diverge. So, a reporter has to work through all this.

Next, Bora talks about how the Internet has "removed limits." Well, yes. But, he ignores that traditional newspapers, TV stations, etc. all have websites. He also ignores that, in today's world, longer-form journalism, to get people to read all the way through, must also be good journalism.

That said, Bora next discusses investigative journalism. Because he gives only selective coverage to this issue, and I need to discuss this in more depth, it's a good spot for a page break.


August 29, 2011

Will Cards trade Berkman to Rangers?

The Dallas Morning News reports that St. Louis Cardinals' OF/1B Lance Berkman is of definite interest to the Texas Rangers. Yahoo Sports says Berkman has apparently cleared waivers.

Now, he's only under contract in St. Louis for the rest of this year. BUT ... having traded Colby Rasmus to Toronto for a bag of peanuts, and, of course, not knowing whether or not they'll resign The Machine, Albert Pujols, next year, the Cards surely are asking for more than a bag of peanuts from the stRangers for Fat Elvis. Will Texas pay, or will it sweat out Nelson Cruz's three weeks on the DL?

A reasonable, but by no means cheap, request? I'll take Ian Kinsler straight up. He's got a year left, relatively cheap, after this year, and would solidify 2B both offensively and defensively. Or a dice-roller of Mitch Moreland plus Brandon Webb, if you want something creative.

And, speaking of re-signing Pujols, circle Sept. 25 on your calendars. Cards host the Cubs. Last home game of the year. Is it Phat Albert's last game with the Birds?

Update: Obviously, this didn't go through. Too bad. The Kinsler option, especially, could have been a good one. That said, will the Cards re-sign Berkman?

Blogging vs. journalism and the ‘citizen journalist’

Now that I’m in for a penny, I’m in for a pound on this issue, having done one overview post on the issue anyway.

Let me caveat this first. I'm not attacking all news bloggers, and certainly not all small-community, small-scale ones. I'm just pointing out some realities of claims that bloggers can replace traditional media, or set up a "new ecosystem" alongside of the mainstream media. (For an overview of how some of the top myths about both traditiona new media, as "sold" by new media fluffers, are wrong, go here. Bursting the bubble of the claim there's money to be made off social media in general, including new media in particular, go here. For refuting Jay Rosen's claim, regarding possible paywalls by online sites of traditional media, that they won't work, go here. [I'll confess that I long ago halfway believed Rosen and Clay Shirky on paywalls.])

I do charge that the idea of “citizen journalist,” or to spell it out more fully, “beknighted citizen journalist,” is a straw man. (And yes, I know how to spell the word; I’m deliberately rewriting it with the “k” to make a point about how New Media fluffers look at citizen journalists as knights unhorsing mainstream media. Of course, the reality is more that both the beknighted citizen journalists and their academic fluffers who have never worked at an actual newspaper a single day of their lives are actually tilting, if not at windmills, at least at straw men on the Extremadura landscape.)

John/Jane Blogger of news blogging, especially if at the local small-to-medium town level, is, if anything, at least from my anecdotal experience both at newspapers in those-sized areas and seeing bloggers at those-sized areas, more likely than “mainstream media” newspapers to have some of the reportage issues and problems, including ethical ones, that the likes of Bora, Jay Rosen, Clay Shirky and others hurl at the MSM.

First, if you’re a smaller-scale blogger, you may not know the ins and outs of libel law. Related to that, you may know and willfully not care. Some bloggers operate on the idea, I think, that “I not only don’t have deep pockets, I have zero pockets, so nobody will sue me.” And, trust me, I have seen bloggers write material that was at least on the borderline of libel. And, perhaps, do so deliberately, not out of ignorance.

Second, a news blogger may not always be careful at disaggregating straight news posts and opinion posts. Newspapers do that. It’s called the op-ed page. Now, before the cornucopian new media fluffers claim that plenty of news stories have a “slant,” see immediately above. Bloggers can and do do that too, on what they claim is straight news. Parallel to my first point, our beknighted citizen journalist may also not care about separating news from opinion, too.

Third, contra a newspaper reporter, even when allegedly writing straight news, a blogger often writes to a particular audience rather than the general public. Again, yes, in some cases, like financial reporting, and national security and foreign policy issues, the MSM does this as well, writing to insiders of the Acela Corridor. But, at the local level, this can become obvious, such as when a community is divided over the actions of a school board or a superintendent and, under the guise of reporting straight news, a blogger writes to one faction of that divide.

NOTE: NONE of the above is hypothetical. I have seen multiple instances of every one of these things, and from multiple bloggers.

Related to my third point is the fact that local politics, especially in those smaller communities, can often be personality-based at best, clannish and tribal at worst. I can tell you plenty. Texas, about 15 years ago, changed some education statutes to cut down on school boards micromanaging superintendents. Well, at a town of 4,000 in a county of less than 10,000, at one paper I edited, some people didn't like that. When the superintendent didn't hire an interim high school principal to be full time (this guy had retired several years ago), some former board members (silently abetted by a minority of the current board) took out quarter-page ads in our newspaper! And, yes, small town bloggers can play to that.

The role of editors, at newspapers of any size, are connected to this. At community newspapers, the training and ethics of a managing editor who also reports are key and invaluable. Looking for bias, pointing out bias, and writing it out of stories are important.

Finally, as a friend points out, bloggers are soloists. A modern newspaper of any size requires multiple news reporters, for several reasons. One, a reporter may need help on a story; it’s too big to tackle alone. Second, in smaller communities, at times, one editorial person may need to play good cop to a certain individual or institution while another plays bad cop. Again, from my experience at weekly newspapers where it’s a one-person editorial operation, that’s tough to do by yourself.

Coming later? More squarely addressing the money issue, and why beknighted citizen journalists, because of money and time constraints, plus the good cop/bad cop issue above, can’t generally do investigative journalism.

August 28, 2011

Douthat - at best, half right about the GOP and Xn right

Ross Douthat says that journalists should look at claims of Rick Perry's or Michele Bachmann's religious dominionism, or whatever, with the same eye as claims about Barack Obama allegedly palling around with socialists.

Well, wrong on half, and the half-right portion is itself only half right. Let me explain.

Douthat is right that, to some degree, some GOP wingers pander to the religious right. He cites Rick Perry and the cervical cancer vaccine pandering to Merck even in the face of outcry from Christian rightists and others. But, he ignores, even while citing the diversity of the Christian right, that its "success gospel" subset would be perfectly OK with pandering to big business. He also gives little more than lip service to the "What's the Matter with Kansas" issue of many winger GOP politicians pandering to the Christian right then not following through.

Where he's 100 percent wrong, the half where he's totally wrong, is making the analogy to the 2008 claims against Obama.

Why? Obama wasn't even pandering to "socialist," to Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers or any others. Let alone actually trying to put in socialism in the White House.

The GOP's wingnuts are at least pandering to the Xn Right, on the other hand.

And, in the case of a Bachmann, if not a Perry, actually trying to implement Xn Right beliefs as part of public policy.

I'm inventing a new scale for judging the stupidity of mainstream media punditry. (With some "equivalency" exceptions, MSM news coverage is still generally OK.)

This scale will be 1-10 "doorknobs," based on Alcoholics Anonymous' claim that one's "higher power" can even be a doorknob.

There will be two ratings ... one a general one, the other scaled to the "base point" of a columnist I review regularly.

This column gets 7.5 doorknobs overall (higher is stupider) and 5 Douthat doorknobs (it's about the middle of his stupidity range).

#RickPerry'sTexasMiracle and $349M doses of hypocrisy

Rick Perry is billing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security $349 million for costs to incarcerate illegal aliens.

This is more of Perry's usual hypocrisy, though, and in two ways.

First, many of those illegal immigrants were, at one time in the past decade, building new homes in new metropolitan East Texas subdivisions for Perry's No. 1 campaign contributor, Bob Perry. If Tricky Ricky is really that worried about the Texas budget, why doesn't he ask "Cousin" Bob to make a contribution? Having been an editor in suburban DFW, I'll confess that some part of me, once or twice, wanted to walk into an in-progress development and say, "Cartos verdes, por favor," just to see the mad dash afterward.

But that's only one part of the hypocrisy.

Here's a longstanding Texas joke.

"How small is your town? Too small to have a Dairy Queen and too small to have a state prison."

Jokes aside, prisons, especially private prisons, have been a major growth opportunity in Texas. GEO Group, the former Wackenhut, and CCA are major players, as the link shows. That's even as some Texas private prisons sit empty.

Of course, draconian enforcement of drug laws, a willingness to make school infractions criminal offenses and more all add to the prison population.

So, more Perry hypocrisy here. Incarcerating illegal immigrants is money for Texas.

And now, just like wanting stimulus money while decrying it, Tricky Ricky wants federal cake while decrying it.

Xn conservative hypocrisy, women's political division

Why is Michele Bachmann in the House of Representatives? Why is she running for president?

Sarah Palin, similarly -- why did she run for governor of Alaska, then vice president? Why would she run for president?

I'm not talking in terms of motivation.

Michele Bachmann gets a smackdown from the hypothetically inerrant Word!
Rather, since multiple places in the Christian New Testament, either Paul or someone pretending to be Paul said, in various ways, he didn't permit women to have authority over men, aren't they being HUGE religious hypocrites?

The three main "proof texts" are 1 Timothy 2:12, written by a pseudo-Paul, Titus 2:5, by the same pseudo-Paul, and 1 Corinthians 14:34, possibly written by the real guy, though authorship is questioned by a fair amount of critical scholars.

Let's look at each one, in case you're not familiar. (All citations are New International Version; even though any good old-time fundamentalist knows the KJV was just as inspired as the original Greek and Hebrew, there's errors in the KJV, there is no "original" Greek and Hebrew left today and we can't always tell from textual criticism what the original was, and inspiration in that sense doesn't exist anyway.)

I Timothy 2:12:
I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.
I Corinthians 14:34:
Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says.
Titus 2:5, starting from v. 4 in parentheses:
(Older women must train younger women) to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
So, why do Palin and Bachmann want to violate the Word of God? (Capitalized for those types of folks.)

Well, first, many fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals will claim the first two passages (the second one explicitly saying so) apply only inside churches.

Tis true, that is.

BUT!

The Palins and Bachmanns of the world, and many of their backers, are on record as saying:
1. America is a Christian nation;
2. America needs to be more explicitly governed by Christian law.

Ergo, the easy deduction is that for these people, America is akin to a giant church. Therefore, the first two passages still apply.

And, with Titus, it's in spades. The passage presumes that older women have already learned, and practice, the art of being subject to their husbands, else how could they train younger ones? Therefore, women in general (who are presumed to be married if not widows) are supposed to be subject to their husbands.

Period.

No "in the churches" only. Everywhere.

That said, it's fun watching a conservative Xn, and even more, one of these "messianic fulfillment" types who think that knowing five words of Hebrew and writing Old Testament names in full Hebrew transliteration gives them some cachet (it doesn't) try to wriggle out of this.

The main "excuse"? Paul's claim elsewhere that there is no male or female, no Greek or Jew, etc.

Well, that's wrong, and it undercuts their beliefs about Paul, to boot.

First, in Galatians, Paul never says that different types of people have the same rights at this moment in life. Proof? He also says there's no slave or free, but then, in the book of Philemon, sends Onesimus back to his slaveowner master. Oops!

Besides that, if this WERE the correct interpretation of how to understand the Galatians passage, it would be proof that Paul didn't write I Timothy, II Timothy or Titus, and that the I Corinthians passage is an interpolation.

Beyond that, all of these admonitions apply in spades to women pastors of fundamentalist and conservative evangelical churches.

I just love the way Christians allegedly devoted to the true, inerrant word of God ...

Aren't!

Report: A&M is bailing on #Big12

Fox Sports says Texas A&M will officially announce within a week that it is leaving the Big 12 conference.

Timing and details will all be about whether the SEC is ready to expand to 14 teams, with Louisville being the other likely entrant, how soon A&M can leave the Big 12 and how much the Aggies will have to pay to do so.

Meanwhile, it's clear that University of Texas greed, by not only getting possessive about its TV network but linking it to ESPN, could wind up being a self-inflicted wound.

The Fox story notes UT turned down an opportunity last year to go to the Pac 10. It omits that UT decided not to move because the Pac 10 wanted revenue sharing off the network.

The deal now is, that if A&M moves east, the Longhorns' negotiating position becomes weakened. Pac 10 Commissioner Larry Scott, despite coming from a tennis background, has shown himself brilliant in expanding his conference by two teams, and by standing tough to the Horns earlier.

With A&M gone, now, more than ever, the Big Whatever is a two-team football conference.

Here's a mind-boggler. What if OU decides it doesn't want to be part of such a conference, and risk having to be led around by the nose by UT precisely because it's the only other football power, and decides to try to join A&M?

Well, Big Whatever Commissioner Dan Beebe would be shitting bricks at that point. And the conference would be dead for sure.

That said, if you're OU, you HAVE to put out a subtle feeler to that end, don't you?

Beyond that, the UT network becomes less valuable with a weaker conference. As I've said before, UT could wind up being forced to be an independent in football, like Notre Dame. But, because it's bound itself to ESPN, i.e., ABC Sports, NBC can't pick them up and run them as a feature game every week.

I'm loving it.