Wednesday, August 22, 2007

You Know What They Say

Yes, time for a few more quotations, culled, as usual, from the delightful A Word a Day:

All religions are the same: religion is basically guilt, with different holidays. -Cathy Ladman, comedian, writer, actress (1955- )

Wit is educated insolence. -Aristotle, philosopher (384-322 BCE)

I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him. -Booker T. Washington (1856-1915)

Conceal a flaw, and the world will imagine the worst. -Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis)

Appeal, v.t. In law, to put the dice into the box for another throw. -Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1906)

Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? -T. S. Eliot (1888-1965)

Along this tree / From root to crown / Ideas flow up / And vetoes down. -A senior executive, quoted by Peter Drucker

Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone? -Thomas Wolfe, novelist (1900-1938)

Books are the compasses and telescopes and sextants and charts which other men have prepared to help us navigate the dangerous seas of human life. -Jesse Lee Bennett

The man who thinks he can do without the world is indeed mistaken; but the man who thinks the world cannot do without him is mistaken even worse. -Francois, duc de La Rochefoucauld, writer (1613-1680)

We love flattery, even though we are not deceived by it, because it shows that we are of importance enough to be courted. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

It is difficult to begin without borrowing, but perhaps it is the most generous course thus to permit your fellow-men to have an interest in your enterprise. -Henry David Thoreau, naturalist and author (1817-1862)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Pettiness on Pennsylvania Avenue

One of the most reliable of The Far-Flung Correspondents, Jerry, sends this clip from an Atlantic Monthly article, "The Rove Presidency" by Joshua Green. Having not read the entire article, I'm not sure why Green says this story "captures the exquisite pettiness of most members of Congress and the arrogance that made Bush and Rove so inept at handling them"; this snippet, at least, seems rather to capture the pettiness and arrogance of the current tenant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C. 20500.

    The Rove Presidency
    Joshua Green

    Atlantic Monthly

    September 2--7

    Dick Armey, the House Republican majority leader when Bush took office (and no more a shrinking violet than DeLay), told me a story that captures the exquisite pettiness of most members of Congress and the arrogance that made Bush and Rove so inept at handling them. “For all the years he was president,” Armey told me, “Bill Clinton and I had a little thing we’d do where every time I went to the White House, I would take the little name tag they give you and pass it to the president, who, without saying a word, would sign and date it. Bill Clinton and I didn’t like each other. He said I was his least-favorite member of Congress. But he knew that when I left his office, the first school kid I came across would be given that card, and some kid who had come to Washington with his mama would go home with the president’s autograph. I think Clinton thought it was a nice thing to do for some kid, and he was happy to do it.” Armey said that when he went to his first meeting in the White House with President Bush, he explained the tradition with Clinton and asked the president if he would care to continue it. “Bush refused to sign the card. Rove, who was sitting across the table, said, ‘It would probably wind up on eBay,’” Armey continued. “Do I give a damn? No. But can you imagine refusing a simple request like that with an insult? It’s stupid. From the point of view of your own self-interest, it’s stupid. I was from Texas, and I was the majority leader. If my expectations of civility and collegiality were disappointed, what do you think it was like for the rest of the congressmen they dealt with? The Bush White House was tone-deaf to the normal courtesies of the office.”

And on everything else, just plain deaf.

Although Clearly Fox Noise Is the Worst!

Putting the "faux" in Faux News, right-wingnut and all around creepy guy Bill O'Reilly has taken to simply making up "facts" to support whatever wackydoodle position he decides to adopt. Or, I dunno, maybe he's always done so. This from Wednesday's Media Matters for America:

O'Reilly claimed poll shows most Americans "won't vote" for candidate endorsed by "a gay rights group"

During the August 13 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, discussing the recent Democratic presidential candidates' appearance on the gay and lesbian-oriented cable channel Logo, host Bill O'Reilly claimed that "a new poll" -- which he said was issued by "Pew Research or something like that" -- "says that most Americans won't vote for you if you get an endorsement by a gay rights group." In response, Fox News correspondent Kirsten Powers asserted, "I have to say I find that very difficult to believe. Maybe if they're asked that question in a poll, but most Americans don't have any idea who's endorsing candidates." O'Reilly responded: "OK, but say a gay -- the question posed, 'If a gay rights organization endorses you, would that make you more or less likely to vote?' [sic] And most Americans said less likely."

A Media Matters for America search turned up no Pew Research Center poll on the topic nor any poll asking a nationwide sample whether respondents would be more or less likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by a gay rights organization. However, as the News Hounds blog noted in response to O'Reilly's claim, an August 6-8 Quinnipiac Poll of voters in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania found that a majority of voters in each state responded that support for a presidential candidate by "gay rights groups" "doesn't ... make a difference" in their level of support for the candidate.

Read it all here. And reflect, as do I, on all those people out there who have convinced themselves that Fox Noise is indeed "fair and balanced," and be afraid.

And Not Just Fox Noise, Either!

And speaking of Wikipedia (see previous post), here's another reason to approach same with the salt-shaker handy: A report in Saturday's New York Times, "Seeing Corporate Fingerprints in Wikipedia Edits" by Katie Hafner, tells of how Big Business has gotten in on "editing" Wikipedia entries to make them more "friendly" to, well Big Business. In part:

Last year a Wikipedia visitor edited the entry for the SeaWorld theme parks to change all mentions of “orcas” to “killer whales,” insisting that this was a more accurate name for the species.

There was another, unexplained edit: a paragraph about criticism of SeaWorld’s “lack of respect toward its orcas” disappeared. Both changes, it turns out, originated at a computer at Anheuser-Busch, SeaWorld’s owner.

Dozens of similar examples of insider editing came to light last week through WikiScanner, a new Web site that traces the source of millions of changes to Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia that anyone can edit.

The site,, created by a computer science graduate student, cross-references an edited entry on Wikipedia with the owner of the computer network where the change originated, using the Internet protocol address of the editor’s network. The address information was already available on Wikipedia, but the new site makes it much easier to connect those numbers with the names of network owners.

Since Wired News first wrote about WikiScanner last week, Internet users have spotted plenty of interesting changes to Wikipedia by people at nonprofit groups and government entities like the Central Intelligence Agency. Many of the most obviously self-interested edits have come from corporate networks.

Last year, someone at PepsiCo deleted several paragraphs of the Pepsi entry that focused on its detrimental health effects. In 2005, someone using a computer at Diebold deleted paragraphs that criticized the company’s electronic voting machines. That same year, someone inside Wal-Mart Stores changed an entry about employee compensation.

Read it all here. And always be sure to doublecheck your Wikipedia lookups!

Fox Noise Does It Again!

Astonishingly, I still hear Ordinary Citizens opine that they like Faux News because it's "more balanced" than other sources. I assume, in this context, "balanced" means "tells me what I want to hear" and "hates the same people I hate." Anyhow, I would like to think that this, from Friday's edition of The Carpetbagger's Report, would change their minds. But I know better.

    Fox News got caught this week fiddling with Wikipedia pages, editing content that didn’t fit with the partisan network’s political agenda. Not surprisingly, Fox News then ran a segment last night blasting Wikipedia’s reliability because some people manipulate the online encyclopedia due to “self-serving agendas.” The irony was rich.