AZ Notes: Crashing the Gates, AP vs bloggers, American Theocracy

So I am chilling here in Tucson, and I got up hella early to work out with my hosts at the University club, so I am being productive for vacation. I'm going to wander around downtown in a bit. And I'm gonna put some pictures up later.

On the plane I read "Crashing the Gate" by Markos "DailyKos" Zuniga and Jerome Armstrong, both of them top liberal bloggers. They set out to look at where the Democratic Party needs to go, structurally, while looking at how Republicans keep stuff tamped down. It was worth reading to get a better understanding of the chokehold that DC consultants place on how local parties are run, and how the media buy commission game works. On the other hand, parts of it seemed to drag a bit. Especially since these guys have been writing paragraph-length posts for a few years, any book would be uneven.

It is laden with useful facts about how the Dems need to fix their field-level operations as well as generate some thick DC policy books - and a population of well-fed wonks to counterbalance Heritage/AEI/CATO - that can distill a sense of thought-out planning to a better-populated liberal talkers in the media. They note how Democrats can't match the Republicans' incubation structure of scholarship->College Republican>fat intern gig> corporation/ conservative grad program>think tank type pathway that churns out more and more little Ralph Reeds. This is where a lot of the Scaife-type money has been put since Goldwater and it's paid off, because it's a complete food chain that produces broad political power. So the Dems need one, "Crashing the Gate" is saying.

It was cool to look at how genuine Democrats can get going in states like Colorado and Montana (Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Sen. candidate Jon Tester figure big in the book) and win. I think that's really encouraging for more liberal people out in places that DC Democrats always write off as "permanently Red." There's a lot of criticism for how the Democratic Party seems to be piloted by the checkoff lists of its major constituent interest groups - excluding people who aren't cookie cutters. They note how the National Organization of Women's support of Sen. Lincoln Chaffee, because while they're feinting pro-choice, they're actually putting abortion MORE at risk, because Chaffee's just Another Republican that shifts power to the right.

There's a lot more to the book, so if you're an activist (of any party) it's useful for looking at the state of the campaign. It's a bit odd, but anyway...

American Theocracy:

When we look back on the three subsequent decades (70s, 80s, 90s), it is now possible to describe a much grander convergence of forces: (1) oil's ever tightening grip on Washington politics and psychologies; (2) the cumulative destabilization of the Middle East; (3) the rise of varying degrees of radical Christianity, Judaism, and Islam around the world; (4) the biblical and geopolitical focus on Israel; and (5) the reemergence during the 1990s of [the Great Game].

...A summary of "American Theocracy", a new book from Kevin Phillips, the guy who brought out 1969's eerily prescient The Emerging Republican Majority, which created the term Sun Belt as a key pole of Republican power for the future. Since 1969 Phillips has gone further to the left, and American Theocracy is his comeback swipe at the current state of affairs. The NY Times review was interesting. Check the Agonist feature on it. The guy in Slate is pissed about it.

Bloggers get fucked by Associated Press: Media wants to discredit blogs while plagarizing the reporting: Huge surprise. Recently, Larisa Alexandrovna of RawStory.com did an in-depth story on a bizarre bit of executive branch regulations set by Stephen Hadley, the President's current National Security Adviser. The story was cloned by the AP, but the AP refused to give credit to RawStory. Here is Alexandrovna's response. (posted of course on the Huffy)

Her story took a while to get confirmed, checked, compared with old documents, run by another writer and a researcher, talked to people in the intelligence community. In other words, Larisa did the works and triple-checked everything like a responsible reporter. She is coming up with some interesting goods these days, including the tidbit that Valerie Plame's Brewster Jennings CIA front organization was doing clandestine research on Iran's WMD activities... (more on that here)

Anyway, so in this case, the new Hadley regulations had some bizarre implications for gay people, so Larisa sent the docs and notes to some gay advocacy groups. Their reactions were included in the story, and the groups gave the story and background notes to an Associated Press writer, and asked them to cover it.

So the day after the story was released on RawStory, an Associated Press reporter basically copied most of the story and claimed that the information had been dug up by the advocacy groups - and the AP adamantly refused to credit RawStory, saying that they don't credit blogs. The AP editor was pretty damn rude about it... So that's kinda fucked up.

Josh Marshall at TPM has also recently found that the mainstream press is repeating TPMmuckraker.com stories without giving them credit. (this one on the corrupt Cunningham-linked MZM defense contractor doing god-knows-what is good, for example)

This underscores how in terms of "actual journalism", blogs are doing some heavy lifting that the mainstream just can't fucking handle because they just suck so much. Alexandrovna cites a few websites that have done a hell of a lot more than anyone else to deal with certain scandals that CBS and the Rest just won't put together these days.

These are all blogs cited by Alexandrovna that I have linked to before, when looking at these various scandals. The mainstream media can't deal with the truly weird stuff, so it falls to the Motley Crue to straighten it out. The Left Coaster has the Truly Complete Dissection of the Niger forgery case - and the fake WMD generally. If you want the nitty gritty of how the Republican bullshit machine has covered up a ton of scandals, this will walk you through it, page by page. EmptyWheel at thenexthurrah also has gotten deep into the Plame case - far beyond anything featured on TV. Of course there is the BradBlog, which has gotten way inside the shady operations of electronic voting machines and Diebold. During the creepy time on Nov-Jan 2004, when the mainstream media refused to speak of the anomalies in Ohio, BradBlog was without a doubt the place to be. Wot is it good 4 has certainly tacked down more aspects of the Sibel Edmonds/FBI/Turkish Spies/WTF?! scandal than anyone else.

Well i just wanted to put some red meat bits up there. When my computing situation is better I'll put up some photos.

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