Archive for the ‘Who Said it Best Today’ Category.

Who Said it Best Today: Jay Rosen

I have tried to make the point that the press has been abysmal at covering Donald Trump, the issue, or America and the world in general.  It has become solely political news informed by the “get”, the insider interview.  This type of journalism has failed us before in the runup to the Iraq War when the “insider” interview was propaganda aimed at justifying the war, not finding facts.  Apparently the news media learned nothing from this disaster and in partisan times turned to he said/she said interviews where they really weren’t responsible for the facts anymore, just mediating the argument.  So loudest voice became what was true.

Now we have Donald Trump whose grip on the truth is limited at best either as a tactic or as a result of ignorance.  We have his spokesperson, Kellyanne Conway who answers a question with a stream of words that mean little and buried within are lies and misdirection, confusing the total issue, and saying nothing.  The really sad part is that our media seems to admire her for her ability to lie with a straight face in such a nice way, when they should be picking her apart.  But the point here is that we are now entering a new era where propaganda and confusion are exactly what we are going to get from the White House and the question is how do we handle it?

Well, President Obama has not made this simple as James Risen wrote this morning in the NYT:

Over the past eight years, the administration has prosecuted nine cases involving whistle-blowers and leakers, compared with only three by all previous administrations combined. It has repeatedly used the Espionage Act, a relic of World War I-era red-baiting, not to prosecute spies but to go after government officials who talked to journalists.

Under Mr. Obama, the Justice Department and the F.B.I. have spied on reporters by monitoring their phone records, labeled one journalist an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal case for simply doing reporting and issued subpoenas to other reporters to try to force them to reveal their sources and testify in criminal cases.

So how to cover President Trump comes from a blog written by Jay Rosen, Pressthink, a project of the Arthur L. Cater Journalism Institute at New York University.  Professor Rosen is a professor of journalism and what follows are his words about exact what we are facing from his blog, Winter is coming:  Prospects for the American Press under Trump:

For a free press as a check on power this is the darkest time in American history since World War I, when there was massive censorship and suppression of dissent. I say this because so many things are happening at once to disarm and disable serious journalism, or to push it out of the frame. Most of these are well known, but it helps to put them all together. Here is my list:

1. An economic crisis in (most) news companies, leaving the occupation of journalism in a weakened state, especially at the state and local level, where newsrooms have been decimated by the declineof the newspaper business. The digital money is going to Google and Facebook, but they do not have newsrooms.

2. A low-trust environment for most institutions and their leaders, the same ones who are regularly featured in the news.

3. A broken and outdated model in political journalism, which tries to connect to the public through “inside” or access reporting about a class whose legitimacy is itself eroding. And since almost everyone got the result wrong in 2016, responsibility for this massive error is evenly distributed across the press, which means that no one is responsible for fixing what is broken.

4. An organized movement on the political right to discredit mainstream journalism, which stretches from Steve Bannon in the White House to Trump’s army of online trolls, with Breitbart, Drudge Report, talk radio and Fox opinion hosts mediating between the two, while the “alt reality” fringe feels newly emboldened. Its latest tactic is to shout down as “fake news” any work of reporting that conflicts with its worldview, leaving the term useless as a fraud alert. “Over the years, we’ve effectively brainwashed the core of our audience to distrust anything that they disagree with,” said John Ziegler, a conservative radio host, to a New York Times reporter. “Because the gatekeepers have lost all credibility in the minds of consumers, I don’t see how you reverse it.” In fact, no one knows how to fix this.

5. The rapid escalation of this drive-to-discredit as Trump gained traction with the electorate. Since 1970 it has grown from questioning the motives of people covering a Republican president in the speeches of Spiro Agnew, to countering liberal spin with the personalities at Fox News, to mistrusting all of the mainstream (or “drive-by”) media with Rush Limbaugh, and now to a place beyond that. Sean Hannity — who is probably closer to Trump than any other media figure — recently said on air: “Until members of the media come clean about colluding with the Clinton campaign and admit that they knowingly broke every ethical standard they are supposed to uphold, they should not have the privilege, they should not have the responsibility of covering the president on behalf of you, the American people.” In other words, the mainstream press should not be allowed to cover Trump. A few years ago that was a bridge too far. Now it’s a plausible test of poisoned waters.

6. After the debacle of 2016, trust in the news media as an institution feels lower than ever in living memory, while popular anger reaches an all-time high. The resentment is coming from the left, the right and what remains of the center. Pew Research Center: “Only about two-in-ten Americans (22%) trust the information they get from local news organizations a lot, whether online or offline, and 18% say the same of national organizations.” Gallup in September of this year: “Republicans who say they have trust in the media has plummeted to 14% from 32% a year ago. This is easily the lowest confidence among Republicans in 20 years.”

7. A homogeneity and coastal concentration in American newsrooms that can be described in many ways — lack of diversity is the most common, with disagreements on what kind of diversity is most desired— leaving the press ill-prepared to take creative action across a cultural divide. The situation was summed up in the most quotable line written by a journalist about Trump’s candidacy: “The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.” (Salena Zito in The Atlantic.)

8. A figure in power who got there in part by whipping up hatred against the press, and who shows no signs of ending that abusive practice… coupled with a disturbing pattern in which Trump broadcasts through his Twitter feed outrageously false statements, the press reacts by trying to “check” them, and the resulting furor works to his advantage by casting journalists in the role of petty but hateful antagonist, with Trump as the man who takes the heat and “tells it like it is.”

9. The emergence of an authoritarian political style in which trashing the norms of American democracy (as when he cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election, or suggested prosecution of his opponent) works to Trump’s advantage with a huge portion of his supporters, while failing to alarm the rest. This is especially troublesome because norms of democracy are what give the press its place in public life and representative government; if these can be broken without penalty that means the press can be shoved aside and not much will happen.

10. The increasingly dim prospect that there will be a fact-based debate to which journalists can usefully contribute when the leader of the free world feels free to broadcast transparently false or ignorant claims… coupled with the full flowering of the “we make our own reality” attitude (circa 2004) into a kind of performance art that simultaneously kicks up hatred of anyone trying to be evidence-based and liberates the speech of powerful actors from even the most minimal factual constraints.

11. An advanced stage of culture war, political polarization and asymmetrical mistrust of the press in which, instead of leading to greater public awareness and a gradual movement toward reform, sensational revelations, hard-hitting investigations and exposés of corruption are consumed as fuel in an accelerating political divide. In other words, Watergate-style journalism increasingly enflames and polarizes, rather than informing and alerting the public. The more damning and irrefutable the findings are, the more likely is this furious reaction, especially when Trump launches attacks on the journalists and news organizations doing the digging.

12. The success of “verification in reverse,” a method on the march, in which a knowing political actor takes facts that have been nailed down, and introduces doubt about them, which then releases energy (controversy, resistance, ready-to-hate news coverage) which in turn helps power a movement among those who wanted the established facts repealed, as it were. This is how Trump launched his political career. He became a birther. Wherever it succeeds, verification-in-reverse is a triumph over the craft of journalism, which has to be pro-verification or it may as well exit the stage.

13. Amusing ourselves to death, as Neil Postman’s 1985 book put it, in which the logic of entertainment overtakes adjacent but nominally distinct spheres that are supposed to be governed by their own logic, as when newsworthiness and the requirements of political debate are subordinated to entertainment values by media companies obeying commercial imperatives, while claiming a public service mantle. For journalists, this is the import of Jeff Zucker’s reign at CNN, and one of the lessons of Trump’s career as a “reality TV” star.

14. A shift in the power-to-inform toward a single platform and attention-economy colossus: Facebook, a creature of the tech industry that feels no native commitment to journalism… that wants to avoid responsibility for editing because editing does not scale… that easily surfaces demand for false stories about real events… and that is slowly taking charge of the day-to-day relationship with users of the news system, especially on mobile devices, which is where the growth is.

15. A proven model — proven, that is, by billionaire Peter Thiel — for bankrupting news companies and driving them out of business by using the court system and jury trials, which can leverage public disgust for The Media  (see no. 6 above) into jury awards that defendants cannot possibly pay. As yet there is no known counter to this strategy. The fact that it worked once has an intimidating effect.

16. A crisis of representation around covering Trump in which it is not clear that anyone can reliably tell us what his positions are, or explain his reasons for holding them, because he feels free to contradict advisers, spokespeople, surrogates, and previous statements he made. As Esquire’s Charles Pierce put it to me: “Nobody speaks for the prez-elect, not even himself.” I list this because the press is not good at abandoning rituals and routines when they cease to make sense. Every interview with Kellyanne Conway or Reince Priebus is premised on a claim to represent the man in power. This claim may be false. But journalists need people to interview! So they will continue to do it, even though they may be misinforming the public. They may even realize this and be unable to shift course. What I’m trying to point out is that existing methods for “holding power to account” rest on assumptions about how it will behave. A man in power untroubled by contradictions and comfortable in the confusion he creates cannot be held accountable by normal means.

17. Weak leadership and a thin institutional structure in the American press, which is not accustomed to organizing itself to fight back or act assertively in any coordinated way, as with the White House Correspondents Association, currently failing even to get a meetingwith the Trump transition team, but still planning to yuck it up with him at the WHCA dinner in the spring of 2017. In many ways the press resembles a “herd of independent minds,” with no one responsible for the beast as a whole, and no easy way to fix broken practices, or re-direct effort. Collaboration is on the rise in journalism, and that’s a good a thing. But while it’s easy to act against the press, it’s almost impossible for the press as a whole to deliberate and act in reply. And even if it could miraculously discover the will to do so, this would probably give new ammunition to political enemies of the press. Remaining a “herd of independent minds,” politically weak, is thus the safest course. Which is not to say it will work.

So that is what I mean by “winter is coming.” All those things 1-17 are happening at once, and strengthening one another. The combined effect is chilling.

The common elements: Low trust all around, an emboldened and nationalist right wing that treats the press as natural enemy, the bill coming due for decades of coasting on a model in political reporting that worked well for “junkies” but failed to engage the rest of us, the strange and disorientating fact that reality itself seems to have become a weaker force in politics, the appeal of the “strong man” and his propaganda within an atmosphere of radical doubt, the difficulty of applying standard methods of journalism to a figure in power who is not trying to represent reality but to substitute himself for it as a show of strength, the unsuitability of prior routine as professionals in journalism try to confront these confusing conditions, a damaged economic base, weak institutional structure and newsroom mono-culture that hinders any creative response, and a dawning recognition that freedom of the press is a fragile state, not a constitutional certainty.

Are there any bright signs? Yes, a few.

18. When you ask about specific news brands (as against The Media) the trust picture looks better.

19. I quote New York Times columnist Jim Rutenberg: “In the weeks since the election, magazines like The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Vanity Fair; newspapers including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post; and nonprofits like NPR and ProPublica have been reporting big boosts in subscription rates or donations.” The Guardian and Mother Jones are benefitting, too.

20. According to news industry analyst Ken Doctor, the Washington Post will add more than 60 journalists in the coming year. The Post is making money again. And its leadership believes that “investigative and deeper enterprise stories are good for the brand and the business”— not an expense that has to be subsidized by lighter fare, but a means to sustainability in themselves. That’s significant.

21. As the scope of the emergency dawns, it is possible that journalists in the U.S. will be inspired to do a better job and change what needs changing. Talent (and tips) could flood in as a slumbering public for serious news awakens.

22. Facing the same kind of hostility in multiple countries where similarconditions are found, journalists may discover a new level of international cooperation that helps them cope with the threat to their occupation. There’s already a global movement for fact-checking in journalism. Maybe another one will emerge around the realization that fact-checking is not enough.

23. In the U.S., the Constitution remains firmly in place, hard to alter. First Amendment protections are real and among the strongest in the world. There are no signs that prior restraint or overt government censorship are on the horizon— though self-censorship is another matter.

What not to do…

24. Don’t recruit Trump loyalists into the news and opinion space (Jeffrey Lord of CNN is the model) as a gaudy show of balance. This will not save you. Conservative, red state, working class and rural American voices may deserve special recruitment, but if they have integrity these people are just as likely to be critical of Trump. 

25. Don’t settle for accusation-driven over evidence-based reporting, just to avoid drawing flak from Trump’s press-hating supporters or demonstrate how even-handed you are.

26. Don’t make it all about access to the President and his aides, or preserving the routines of White House reporting, as the press corps is currently doing— mostly out of habit. A Trump presidency is likely to be constructed on a propaganda model in which fomenting confusion is not a drag on the Administration’s agenda but a sign that it’s working. Access to such a machinery could wind up enlisting the press in a misinformation campaign.

I’ll leave it to you to read the rest of his recommendations in Part II.  We are now living in an era where communications from the White House, instead of clarifying issues,  is intended to confuse or misinform.  So now is the time for our press to either stand up or fold completely.  We live in scary times.  Happy New Year

Some Wise Words from Robert Reich

I have been opining that the Democratic Party doesn’t get it.  Their strengths are their weaknesses.  Good ideas and policies go nowhere and people are rejecting politics as they practice it.  Applying establishment politics to this race is a fatal flaw, both for pundits and candidates.  This is not a me pleading you to vote for Bernie, that game is over.  This is one more in a long list of wake up calls for Democrats and Hillary.  I made this point in my last blog, How to Include Bernie, and by extension the future voters for Democrats.  Robert Reich sums it up this way:

Trump’s rise suggests a new kind of politics. You might call it anti-politics.

The old politics pitted right against left, with presidential aspirants moving toward the center once they cinched the nomination.

Anti-politics pits Washington insiders, corporate executives, bankers, and media moguls against a growing number of people who think the game is rigged against them. There’s no center, only hostility and suspicion.

…By the same token, in this era of anti-politics, any candidate who appears to be the political establishment is at a strong disadvantage. This may be Hillary Clinton’s biggest handicap.

The old politics featured carefully crafted speeches and policy proposals calculated to appeal to particular constituencies. In this sense, Mrs. Clinton’s proposals and speeches are almost flawless.  

But in the new era of anti-politics Americans are skeptical of well-crafted speeches and detailed policy proposals. They prefer authenticity. They want their candidates unscripted and unfiltered.

Here is another from the Huffington Post:

It starts by acknowledging that Sanders has helpfully revealed a lot about the concerns of the younger revelers in the Democratic ranks. As a candidate who’s often depicted as being too rooted in the 1990s, Clinton has a lot to gain from the insights of this new generation of voters whom Sanders has encouraged to become involved in politics.

Here is hoping she starts to understand this.  We probably have two more weeks of “Is Bernie trashing and burning the Democratic Party” stories because they are sexy.  But then things are going to get down to business of destroying Donald Trump, Republicans, and hopefully moderates like Debbie Wasserman Schultz in the Democratic Party.  Progressives either need to take control or kiss the Party goodbye.

Oh, and one footnote.  You can read this as an angry irrational reaction of voters who are fed up with dysfunctional government and things will settle down once their temper tantrum is over.  Or you can read it like I do, a recognition that the system really is broken and traditional ways of thinking and governing are no longer working.  Electing a new President no matter how enlightened will not change anything.  The governing class live in an echo chamber constructed of the money in politics.  This is not just a phase or an angry tantrum, it is a recognition that we cannot go on like this.

Wow!

The son of U.S. Senator and life long Dixiecrat and segregationist Strom Thurman, Republican State Senator Paul Thurmond spoke in his legislature with the following:

“I am aware of my heritage, I am not proud of this heritage. These practices were inhumane and wrong, wrong, wrong.  For the life of me, I will never understand how anyone could fight a civil war based in part on the desire to continue the practice of slavery.

Think about it for just a second. Our ancestors were literally fighting to continue to keep human beings as slaves, and continue the unimaginable acts that occur when someone is held against their will. I am not proud of that heritage.

I am proud to take a stand and no longer be silent. We must take down the Confederate flag and we must take it down now. But if we stop there, we have cheated ourselves out of an opportunity to start a different conversation about healing in our state.  I am ready.”

Maybe, just maybe, the South will rise again.  A new and improved one.  This man has my undying respect.

Making my Point on Ebola Training

I have argued that hospitals in general can not be expected to be trained and effective for treating ebola and we have to establish regional centers, focusing only on the intake process for hospitals in general (Mr. President, I am Not Impressed). I have also argued that the Republicans will politicize this to say government doesn’t work and it is Obama’s fault when they have aided and abetted this problem by gutting government (Hubris).

Dr. Paul E. Jarris, the executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, made my point when he said (NYT):

… the C.D.C. as well as state and local agencies had been sending out materials on Ebola for months, but that it was up to each of the 5,000 hospitals to prepare and drill. Next week, the C.D.C. is scheduled to hold a large Ebola training session at the Javits Center in New York for thousands of health workers.

“The tools were there but the challenge is getting the horse to drink,” Dr. Jarris said, adding that the task was complicated by federal budget cuts. Funds for hospital preparedness are down by 40 percent since 2010, he said.

Many health workers said that Ebola was on the radar, but that real preparation would take more than a single training exercise or an emailed brochure. Hospitals with specialty units, such as Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, where the second infected nurse was transferred Wednesday, regularly hold drills to keep up the skills that make treatment consistently safe.

“There’s a big difference between knowing what to do and being really good at executing it,” said Dr. Brad Spellberg, chief medical officer of Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center. “How many times do you need to drill before there are no operational errors? That’s the next level of expertise.”

Don’t be fooled by Republicans who helped create the environment for this failure, and let’s get a real plan in place where those healthcare workers who are put at risked are properly trained and supported. That can’t be everywhere.

The President Needs to Get a Pair

The follow is from Michael Tomasky in the Daily Beast. He just nailed it:

Let’s get Rick Perry’s jackass-ery out of the way quickly: Refusing to shake hands in public with the president of the United States is just an idiot thing to do. Perry is trying to claim the faux moral high ground here by arguing that he held out for a more substantive meeting and got it, but come on. It’s not as if that meeting wouldn’t have happened if the governor had shown up on the runway. What exactly does Obama get out of a public handshake with a hard-right, not that bright, confusingly optometrized Texas Republican?

This might be a paragraph you can wave in my face on January 21, 2017, and God knows I’ve written a number of them, but: Rick Perry ain’t never gonna be president. We’ve been watching him on the national stage for a while now. Forget the third thing he forgot. The problem is that his instincts are wrong, his timing is bad, his hand is heavy. Accusing the White House of orchestrating a “coordinated effort” to help the movement of tens of thousands of children? That’s just Tea Party nonsense. He’s a guitarist who never knows what notes not to play. Now, guitarists like that have fans, sometimes millions of them. But they don’t ascend the plinth of greatness. He just has “governor but nothing more” written on his face.

Now let’s turn to the guy who did ascend the plinth, at least in terms of becoming president. What is he doing on this issue of the immigrant children? They were asking on Hardball Tuesday night whether this might be Obama’s Katrina. We’ve had a string of little crises that were all supposed to be Obama’s Katrina, and they’ve mostly been jokes. Slate’s Dave Weigel counted up nine of ’em. It’s been silly. But somehow, this one didn’t ring so false to me when Matthews et al were discussing it Tuesday night.

For one thing, there is the specific parallel of the flyover: Obama was going to Texas for a fundraiser but wasn’t planning on going to the border? I usually try to ask myself what I’d be saying if a Republican did X, and if a Republican did that, I’d be teeing off. It’s not defensible.

Second, Obama is at a really vulnerable point in his presidency, I think, not dissimilar to the point George W. Bush was at in August 2005, when Katrina hit. Then, Bush’s approval rating was generally in the mid-40s, as Obama’s is now. Hanging on, but vulnerable to one straw that could break the camel’s back. Obama is in that place now. And this is pretty far afield, but keep an eye on Aleppo in Syria. Aleppo has been a stronghold of the more legitimate opposition to Bashar al-Assad. It might be about to fall to Assad’s forces. This, two weeks after Obama announced a big aid package for the moderate rebels. Syria is Obama’s biggest foreign policy failure—he should have delivered that $500 million to those forces long ago, but he delayed. When Assad’s recapture of Aleppo is consummated, Obama is going to look played again.

Would it be too much for Obama to go to one of these horrid shelters and read these children a story? Kick a soccer ball with them? Would that really kill him in the polls?
That delaying is a pattern. I don’t understand it. I covered New York mayors. When a crisis hits, you go. If it’s 3 in the fucking morning and way out in some part of Staten Island you’ve never even heard of, you go. Obama should have been in Texas or California or Arizona last week.

But saying what? That’s the problem. If we lived in a better country, we’d take these kids in. It’s obscene that we don’t. Used by jackals, no life to go back to at all. Yes, I guess we can’t encourage 200,000 or 300,000 to come. But we could at least be housing them in circumstances better than 20 of them sharing one toilet. It’s disgusting and makes me ashamed, and it should you.

But Obama is the last person in America who can say that. He’d be pilloried. Maybe impeached (reason, what, five, to the right?). And that tells us what’s really tragic about this crisis. We have a political system that not only can’t solve this particular crisis, it is virtually guaranteed never to solve it. That’s almost all the Republicans’ fault. Anything that embarrasses Obama they’re going to play up, of course, but it’s also the raging xenophobia of their base.

Still, this is the kind of situation where the people who voted for Obama want him to do…something. They understand the political constraints. They know he can’t do a lot. But a Pope Francis-esque gesture of some kind: As the pope washed the feet of women, would it be too much for Obama to go to one of these horrid shelters and read these children a story? Kick a soccer ball with them? Would that really kill him in the polls? Most liberals aren’t unrealistic, contrary to what you normally read. But they want to see little manifestations of courage from the man they voted for. This is a prime moment for exactly that.

I think the White House in these circumstances underestimates the American people. The American people, thank God, aren’t right-wing bigots and blowhards. They’re actually pretty decent. You just have to find that yin of decency and locate the gestures and words that smother the yang of fear. It can be done. The media poke fun at “hope,” but what hope meant was that many Americans just wanted Obama to be able to do that—to say to the world, “We are this generous people, not that fearful people.” It didn’t, and still doesn’t, seem too much to ask.

Who Said It Best Today: Paul Krugman Via Mike Konczal

As we watch the gyrations with fixing the Obamacare Website, Mike Konczal does a great analysis of what the issues are and why this is so complicated based upon a neoliberal approach defined as: “…a plan for reworking the entire logic of government to simply act as an enabler to market activities, with perhaps some coordinated charity to individuals most in need.

His argument makes clear that the whole system might be more simple and efficient had we just gone with a New Deal approach* and let government insure the whole system:  “This approach creates a universal floor so that individuals don’t experience basic welfare goods as commodities to buy and sell themselves.”

He also points out “….that this failed rollout is a significant problem for conservatives. Because if all the problems are driven by means-testing, state-level decisions and privatization of social insurance, the fact that the core conservative plan for social insurance is focused like a laser beam on means-testing, block-granting and privatization is a rather large problem.”  Of course I would comment here that nobody said conservatives could make this logical connection because they can’t afford to.

Paul Krugman adds a little perspective to all this in that while a single payer systems solves most of the problems we are now seeing with this complicated market approach, we got what we could get:

So does this mean that liberals should have insisted on single-payer or nothing? No. Single-payer wasn’t going to happen — partly because of the insurance lobby’s power, partly because voters wouldn’t have gone for a system that took away their existing coverage and replaced it with the unknown. Yes, Obamacare is a somewhat awkward kludge, but if that’s what it took to cover the uninsured, so be it. And although the botched rollout is infuriating — count me among those who believe that liberals best serve their own cause by admitting that, not trying to cover for the botch — the odds remain high that this will work, and make America a much better place.

I think these two analysis gets through all the teeth gashing about the failed implementation of the Obamacare Website and points out our way forward that lowers the anger level and allows us to understand better what we are about and why it is complicated.  For conservatives where logic and reason only get you in trouble, don’t bother.

*Said another way, the whole idea is to make the system affordable and the insurance companies set up their rates based upon an assumption of the number of sign ups (risk pool). The whole thing depends on enough young healthy people to sign up and buy insurance to help offset the old sick ones. But in a single payer system, everyone is in, you don’t have the complications with means testing, and we simply pay for it through our taxes.

Who Said It Best: Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conneticut)

When asked what he thought about the Republicans starting their day this morning gathering together to sing Amazing Grace, Senator Murphy commented:

You could not make this up. This has gone from bizarre to ultra bizarre. You hear about singing Amazing Grace in the Republican Caucus and its sounds like the kind of thing you would do before you all sit around and drink the Koolaid

Sad, but true.

Who Said it Best Today: Timothy Egan

Mr. Eagan was commenting on the return of salmon to the Seattle waters which led to this quote and kind of sums up everything wrong with conservatives today (funny, conservative use to mean conserve):

This year, there are millions of them. Chinook, the mighty kings, are returning to the Columbia River in numbers not seen in decades. The run of pink salmon in Puget Sound and surrounding waters is pegged at six million or so. For this miracle of restoration, we owe decades of vigilance, patience and investment in tomorrow — precisely the things lacking in the other Washington.

That about captures it.

Who Said it Best: Paul Krugman

I have and will be buried in family and work issues, but here is a wisdom from Paul that about sums up where we are today:

But back to the frustrations of policy analysis. Obviously economists have to do what they can to get things right, and get the word out. But the past five years have been a disappointing revelation: knowledge, it seems, isn’t power, and actual power is all too eager to ignore actual knowledge in favor of stuff that sounds Serious and/or serves an agenda.

And it is not just economic policy, we are ignoring just about everything we have learned because we have let the most ignorant of the ignorant, lead the pack. They are called Republicans. When I get the time I will write in detail about the level of their belief in fantasy land.

Syria, Oh Syria

Words to ponder by Ramzi Mardini in the NYT, Bad Idea Mr. President:

“The Syrian revolution isn’t democratic or secular; the more than 90,000 fatalities are the result of a civil war, not a genocide — and human rights violations have been committed on both sides.

Moreover, the rebels don’t have the support or trust of a clear majority of the population, and the political opposition is neither credible nor representative. Ethnic cleansing against minorities is more likely to occur under a rebel-led government than under Mr. Assad; likewise, the possibility of chemical weapons’ falling into the hands of terrorist groups only grows as the regime weakens.

And finally, a rebel victory is more likely to destabilize Iraq and Lebanon, and the inevitable disorder of a post-Assad Syria constitutes a greater threat to Israel than the status quo.

Not since the 2003 invasion of Iraq has American foreign policy experienced a strategic void so pervasive.”

Personally I can see no good outcome.