URLs du Jour

2021-02-24

If I were a parent of government-schooled kids, I'd probably be disgusted. Instead I'm amused and admiring Michael Ramirez's art: Sacrificing kids.

[Sacrificing Kids]

Let's try to outsource our outrage today:

  • For one, Glenn Greenwald supplies plenty of it. House Democrats, Targeting Right-Wing Cable Outlets, Are Assaulting Core Press Freedoms.

    Not even two months into their reign as the majority party that controls the White House and both houses of Congress, key Democrats have made clear that one of their top priorities is censorship of divergent voices. On Saturday, I detailed how their escalating official campaign to coerce and threaten social media companies into more aggressively censoring views that they dislike — including by summoning social media CEOs to appear before them for the third time in less than five months — is implicating, if not already violating, core First Amendment rights of free speech.

    Now they are going further — much further. The same Democratic House Committee that is demanding greater online censorship from social media companies now has its sights set on the removal of conservative cable outlets, including Fox News, from the airwaves.

    Glenn goes on to excerpt the Eshoo/McNerney letter to cable providers, handily highlighting the naughty bits. (I mean the Constitutionally naughty bits.) His conclusion is pretty brutal:

    But corporate media outlets and Democrats (excuse the redundancy) who spent the last four years posturing as virulent defenders of press freedoms never meant it. Like so much of what they claimed to believe, it was fraudulent. The proof is that they are now mute, if not supportive, as Democrats use their status as majority party to launch an assault against press freedoms far more egregious than anything Trump got close to doing.

    Indeed. And there's also…


  • Matt Taibbi's headline: Even By Democratic Party Standards, Censoring Fox News Is An Insanely Stupid Idea.

    Two and a half years ago, when Alex Jones of Infowars was kicked off a series of tech platforms in a clearly coordinated decision, I knew this was not going to be an isolated thing.

    Given that people like Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy were saying the ouster of Jones was just a “good first step,” it seemed obvious the tactic was not going to be confined to a few actors. But corporate media critics insisted the precedent would not be applied more broadly.

    “I don't think we are going to be seeing big tech take action against Fox News… any time soon,” commented CNN’s Oliver Darcy.

    Darcy was wrong. Just a few years later, calls to ban Fox are not only common, they’re intensifying, with media voices from Brian Stelter on CNN to MSNBC analyst Anand Giridharadas to former Media Matters critic Eric Boehlert to Washington Post columnists Max Boot and Margaret Sullivan all on board.

    So good for Greenwald and Taibbi. Most progressive outlets are stuck bemoaning that censorship isn't going far enough. For example, as Taibbi notes, Alex Jones got bumped off Facebook, yay! But a recent article at Buzzfeed's bemoans: How Facebook Went Easy On Alex Jones And Other Right-Wing Figures. How? Well, Zuck failed to also throw out Jones' "legions of followers" who remained free to "share his lies".

    Well, obviously that won't do.


  • At the WSJ (may be paywalled), James Freeman looks at The ‘Experts’ Cited by the New Censors. Specifically, Eshoo and McNerney, who (in case you hadn't noticed) are only looking asymmetrically:

    But it’s clear that they only want to discipline one side. The Democrats claim, “Experts have noted that the right-wing media ecosystem is “much more susceptible...to disinformation, lies, and half-truths.”

    The “experts” quoted are three Harvard academics, and the lead author is law professor Yochai Benkler. His take on “right-wing” media is perhaps not surprising given that according to the OpenSecrets website he donates exclusively to left-wing politicians, especially Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.).

    Oh, hey! I know those guys, I read their book back in 2019, Network Propaganda, and I wasn't that impressed.


  • At the Dispatch, Nancy Rommelmann writes about yet another source of disinformation. Words as Weapons: How Activist Journalists are Changing the New York Times. Long, it goes into detail on some collateral damage resulting from the NYT's firing of Donald McNeil for use of the n-word. Well worth reading, but this stuck out, where Ms. Rommelmann contrasts the NYT coverage of last summer's Portland Oregon protests, with her own experiences as a reporter for Reason:

    Nearly every piece in the Times about the protests denied that Antifa was causing the mayhem. But I knew they were. I saw them with my own eyes. Antifa members told me they were. Instead, Times coverage skated past Antifa’s culpability; sometimes, it blamed far-right groups for the violence. In the dozens of nights I was on the ground, this was not the case. Far-right groups made appearances, to be sure, but they were not the people setting fires and breaking windows, starting in May and continuing even now. And thus the question becomes: If I cannot trust the paper to accurately report what I know to be true, how do I trust it at all?

    Good question, Nancy.


  • You know what they used to say about immigrants: they do the job Americans won't do.

    I don't think Louise will actually have to immigrate to do this job, but still.


Last Modified 2021-02-24 4:00 PM EDT

Dune Messiah

[Amazon Link]

To be sung to the tune of "This Old Man":

Kwisatz Haderach
Give a worm a bone
Paul Muad'dib is going home

So anyway: two down on my Dune reading project. (Frank Herbert novels only.)

This installment is pretty grim. Paul defeated the evil Harkonnens in the first book, but now it's twelve years later. He's become the emperor of the known galaxy, but this has only caused him grief. Jihadists operating under his name have killed about sixty billion folks; he is not consoled by the (apparent) fact that his visions say that this is probably the best outcome that could have been expected.

Worse, he's opposed by a coalition of enemies: the spice-addicted Spacing Guild, the shape-shifting Tleilaxu, the Bene Gesserit (represented by the crone Gaius Helen Mohiam, who caused Paul a lot of grief in the first book), and Princess Irulan, Paul's loveless wife. The key is a ghola of the dead mentat Duncan Idaho, reanimated and reprogrammed for an evil purpose.

Paul's allies are only semi-reliable: consort Chani (who'd like to bear his child, but is being fed contraceptives secretly by Irulan) and sister Alia (who's even wackier than Paul).

So there's a lot going on, and (if anything) Herbert's portentious, gassy prose from the first book is even more pronounced here. Still, it's short.