Saturday, August 27, 2005

Iraq the Vote

Seems the Iraqis are going to get some kind of constitution one way or another. As much as Iraq needs stability that might come from a constitution, the Bush administration needs it way more. If the current governing body doesn’t come up with a constitution then it has to disband, and it’s deja vu all over again. The new constitution needs to be wrapped up there before the mid-term election here. If the constitution don’t fit, you’ll have to commit.

So, come October (I thought it was in December, previously.), there is going to be a vote in Iraq. And say, while we got a ballot out and we’re talking about a free election and democracy, why not put a vote of confidence in America on the ballot. Let’s get the Iraqi view of America in their country and when they think we should leave.

Example ballot: When should America leave your country?

__ After a stable government and constitution are in place with a well trained and equipped army and police force and all the necessary infrastructure for a normal life are up and running, and not a day sooner.

__ Five Years

__ One Year


Democracy and a free vote are why we went into Iraq in the in the first place, right? Well, maybe not exactly the first place, but that’s why we’re there now, right? And were talking about what to do now, right? So, lets be proactive, rock the vote, customer focused, “How we doing so far?”, feedback, do-good feeler that the world has come to expect of us.

Sure, Europeans will laugh at us and make really funny snide remarks, but all the oppressed people in the world will wonder at our audacity. We’ll be popular again. We can get dates.

Besides, this might be the last free election in the Middle East for some time to come. The way the Sunnis are talking today, there may not even be another vote, but let us hope so. George Bush’s winning a second term was a vote of confidence in his foreign policy. Why not a vote of confidence from the Iraqi people on the ballot?

Maybe not the question I’ve proposed, but I’m certainly open to suggestions. I was against the war from the beginning, but once we’ve done it, we’ve bought Powell’s Pottery Barn analogy, we’re responsible for everything that happens afterwards. We've got to see things are set right before we leave.

Lately however, a little voice down inside of me is whispering that it doesn’t matter whether we leave in a year or six months. In our foreign policy naïveté, we may have changed the balance of power among Middle East countries and peoples. The fruits of that are yet to be harvested. Should we ask for a vote about that?

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Big Chill

I was over at Jay Rosen’s PressTink for a discussion of things taught in journalism that are no longer believed. I left a comment, but I have fleshed it out a bit more for this post.

Blogs are the best thing to happen to journalism since the First Amendment.

Seems that nothing, not the move from yellow journalism to objectivity in the first half of the previous century, not the take over of MSM by journalist taught in school instead of learned on the job, not the impact of radio and then television news reporting, nothing has affected journalism as much as blogs. And this is only the beginning.

I dreaded the influence of “All the President’s Men” had on young people who thought journalism would be a “cool” course of study. They could dream of becoming Robert Redford or Dustin Hoffman. I feared the journalism market would become crowded by the time I got back to my studies after my hiatus brought on by low grades -- in other subjects -- and the draft.

However, after getting my degree, I did not become a reporter. The profession seemed to be more people oriented than I cared to practice. I liked the research part of it more so than the interviewing and questioning of either friendlies or unfriendies. I don’t do journalism unless you believe that journalism is the study of writing for your audience, in which case, I do by writing technical reports and evaluations for bureaucrats. However, purest would say that is not journalism.

And then along came blogs. Look at me Mom, I’m a columnist! I’ve got a byline.

In any case, the chill in enthusiasm for journalism in young people may be the shift away from the idealism brought on by Woodward’s book and the movie. (Who wouldn’t want to have a shadowy Hal Holdbrook as a source? Sorry Mr. Felt, you’re no Hal Holdbrook.) That and the right wing campaign to paint anything in the MSM that doesn’t agree with them as liberal bias may have had an impact in young people’s mines. You know, if you are far enough to the right, the center looks liberal to you; objectivity is seen as bias; the truth as a smear.

One day, people are going to wake up and realize they are being lied to by right wing extremist and for selfish reasons -- not all the people but enough of the people.

Jay, as your post argues, there is much that is wrong with journalism. However, it is nothing so noble as partisan politics. The competition for the news consumer and personal ambition can and has lead to many failures in professionalism which, as part of the terrain, are aired in public for all to see. This washing and exposure of dirty laundry may give journalism the appearance of the same taint as business had in the 1960’s when the capitalist dream appeared more like some gross exploitation instead of recognizing the latest disclosures as the shake out of bad journalism.

To me, the worse offence is the use of unnamed sources. I was taught that no bit of information should be used that is not attributed to some source. In Washington, this is especially ignored -- which is in violation of a journalistic rule since the most important newsbyte in a story like this is why the bit of information was leaked. I can understand why it’s published. A juicy bit of un-attributed news that would move the story onto the front page, above the fold, or lead off the broadcast is hard to resist. Reporters will always maximize their position; it is the duty of editors to see that first draft of history is accurate and in context as much as possible.

And who comes to the rescue to see that what is taught in schools, bragged about at seminars and ensconced in pundits is actually fulfilled: blogs. Blogs may be the savior of journalism more than any letters to the editor, ombudsmen or previous forms of feedback such as tar and feathers could ever hope to be.

By the way, have you thought about other disciplines and the dislocation between what is taught and what is practice? The medical field? Law enforcement? Political Science? Are journalists better or worse than these in practicing what they were preached? Context anyone?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Good evening Mr. and Mrs America and all ships at sea

Sorry I havn’t been holding up the duties of even a weekend blogger. Events have kept me off line. During the week, I usually comment on other usually A list blogs. But I do try to post at least once a week here. Sort of clear my thoughts or regurgitate what I’ve digested over the week.

I will not be posting any more blogs on TPMCafe. I don’t get read much here; I get read even less there – at least in the blogs. The comments do OK.

I sometime put a link back to specific post on my blog and then look at the site meter to see if any get a hit. When I posted this with link back to my site , I got no hits. None.

When I left a site in one of my comments on the Curse of the Second Term, I got 22 hits. It would seem you get a better response to comments by the A list bloggers than to posting at the TPMCafe myself. Also, since I’ve been spending an excessive amount of time there than elsewhere, I getting less traffic. So, need to move around even more.

I could blog from work but I fear that I would suffer the fate of others who have been caught doing the same. They could probably do the same for my commenting, but I’ll take that chance. I comment under my Scout29c handle. Here’s the latest from Yahoo and in Google.

I hope to blog more after I retire. I’ve come to love the blogoshpere. I’m getting to pratice the journalist I was taught. Blogs are the best thing to happen to journalism since the First Amendment. Hopefully, more about that later. See you the funnies.