But first . . . a quick word about the decline in public policy:

Fallen star blames self, GOP tactics:
Jail term served in N.H. phone plot
By Michael Kranish
Boston Globe
June 10, 2006

For nearly a decade, Allen Raymond stood at the top ranks of Republican Party power. He served as chief of staff to a cochairman of the Republican National Committee, supervised Republican contests in mid-Atlantic states for the RNC, and was a top official in publisher Steve Forbes’s presidential campaign. He went on to earn $350,000 a year running a Republican policy group as well as a GOP phone-bank business.

But most recently, Raymond has been in prison. And for that, he blames himself, but also says he was part of a Republican political culture that emphasizes hardball tactics and polarizing voters . . .

Raymond stressed that he was making no excuses for his role in the New Hampshire case; he pleaded guilty and told the judge he had done a ‘bad thing.’ But he said he got caught up in an ultra-aggressive atmosphere in which he initially thought the decision to jam the phones ‘pushed the envelope’ but was legal. He also said he had been reluctant to turn down a prominent official of the RNC, fearing that would cost him future opportunities from an organization that was becoming increasingly ruthless.

‘Republicans have treated campaigns and politics as a business, and now are treating public policy as a business, looking for the types of returns that you get in business, passing legislation that has huge ramifications for business,’ he said. ‘It is very much being monetized, and the federal government is being monetized under Republican majorities.’ . . .

And an even more important story:


From Friday’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

By Kenneth F. Bunting
Associate Publisher

The blogosphere has been abuzz. But in the days since Rolling Stone magazine published a long piece that accused Republicans of widespread and intentional cheating that affected the outcome of the last presidential election, the silence in America’s establishment media has been deafening.

In terms of bad news judgment, this could turn out to be the 2006 equivalent of the infamous “Downing Street memo,” the London Times story that was initially greeted by the U.S. media with a collective yawn.

It is news. It certainly deserves mention, at the very least in stories about the story, reaction to it or even ones debunking it. Any of those choices would be better judgment than simply ignoring it.

Those of us in what bloggers and Internet journalists derisively call “mainstream media” should have learned that lesson last year, when Internet-fueled curiosity about the “Downing Street memo” made us pay attention to a story we were too quick to dismiss as old news.

It’s too early to tell whether it will become big news in the same delayed manner the British intelligence memo did. But the titans of the news industry still have things to learn about how news becomes news in the present-day media landscape. Editors will always have responsibility for filtering, and helping readers understand the importance and credibility of news reports.

But nowadays, the American discourse is rightfully in hands other than ours.

☞ We learned endlessly about the $30,000 Whitewater investment the Clintons made that we spent $50 million of taxpayer money to investigate. (Michael Chertoff, who was the Republican legal counsel for the Senate Whitewater investigation, went on to become our Secretary of Homeland Security – can you think of better credentials for the job?)

We learned endlessly about Travelgate and the $225 presidential haircut on the tarmac of Los Angeles International Airport. (It may or may not have delayed air traffic by 20 minutes.)

Is there a citizen out there who does not know about the $100,000 Hillary made trading commodities? (According to an extensive investigation by Pulitzer prize-winning author James B. Stewart in Blood Sport, she did nothing wrong.)

But when it comes to things like ‘fixing the facts around the policy’ to launch a disastrously ill-planned war . . . or, perhaps, subverting our democracy by stealing a presidential election . . . what does the average American who watches the news and reads the paper know?

Heck, 70% of Bush voters this last time around believed Iraq attacked us on September 11.

And most Americans have been led to believe ‘the jury is out’ on global warming, even though the scientific community is as sure of it as it was of the connection between smoking and cancer (on which ‘the jury was thought to be out’ for decades, thanks to misinformation, when it really was not). (For God’s sake, see the movie.)

It was Thomas Jefferson who wrote that ‘whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government’ . . . going on to say, ‘whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.’

But how do we ‘attract their notice?’ What if they’re misinformed by the government and the rightwing press – and not informed by the mainstream press?


Okay – tomorrow: monkey mail, sand storms, chickens, eggs, forests, and other loose ends from last week


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