What is the Libby Trial All About?

As the Libby Trial enters the next phase, I’ve found it interesting to ask the question, what is the trial all about. My most literal friends who are following the trial closely respond with comments about perjury and obstruction of justice in Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation into who leaked the identity of Valerie Plame. Some of my more stalwart liberal friends talk about it in terms of Bush’s rush to war and the dangers of the twenty-first century military (and media) industrial complex.

Digging deeper, the trial reflects a couple interesting trends in our country. One is, “who controls the flow of information?” This is not just an issue of who was controlling the flow of information from the administration to the mainstream media, but how the mainstream media controls information when it decides whether or not to run with certain stories, what reporters are willing to tell to investigators and what role investigators need to play in gathering information about what is really going on with our government. It includes the relationship between blogs and the mainstream media in who gets which stories out, and even the relationship between the conservatives and the liberals in all aspects of the media.

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Random Stuff

Well, it has been a busy week and there are a lot of things that I would have liked to write about that I just didn’t get a chance. I may write about some of them in more details soon.

change.org is now open. They describe themselves as a “social network for hundreds of social causes and over 1 million nonprofit organizations.” Yup, yet another online social network (YAOSN). It does have a clearer goal than many of the online social networks which seem to exist solely for the purpose of being YAOSN. I’m an early adopter there, and I hope you stop by.

Toyota Debuts New Cars Simultaneously in Chicago, Second Life. Today, I went on to Second Life with my daughter and we bought a new Toyota. It is bright pink, to match my daughter’s preferences. I’m still not good at driving it, but I’m getting there. I also haven’t gotten a John Edwards bumper sticker for it yet.

Speaking of John Edwards and Second Life, I got an email that the campaign has set up an official group in Second Life. I’ve joined what I’m told is the official group, but I don’t have any more information on it yet.

Yesterday, I wrote about the elusive micropayment. Today, I paid for my new Toyota in Linden dollars. Yesterday, I got a MasterCard Debit card from Obopay, so now people can send money with their cellphone to me that I can access immediately with a Debit Card. They seem to be targeting teenagers, talking about allowances and the ability to get parents to send cash quickly in a crunch. I haven’t sent money with my cellphone yet, and I worry that I’ll never remember the proper command to send money.

I received a galley of Jeffery Feldman’s upcoming book, Framing the Debate: Famous Presidential Speeches and How Progressives Can Use Them to Change the Conversation (And Win Elections). On first glance, this looks like a must have book, although I sure hope I don’t get the title in a game of charades. I will write more about this soon.

My mind has been spinning about this book together with Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces. At some point, I expect to have a long rambling post about the return of the hero and how it applies to personal and political life, at least when my mind stops spinning long enough.

It has been such a busy week, that there are probably a bunch of other things I wanted to blog about and have, at least for now, completely forgotten about.

When life gives you lemons

When life gives you lemons, make lemon sherbet. This video starts with about 30 seconds of just the cranking, partly inspired by the NPR soundscapes. Spend some time just listening to the cranking of the sherbet.

As Miranda explains, we got the ice from the waterfall behind our house, a small effort to use nature around us, instead of relying on fossil fuel produced electricity to do the cranking and freezing.

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Pursuing the elusive micropayment

In 1989, Brewster Kahle introduced his Wide Area Information Server Concepts. In many ways the web is now being used in ways that Brewster was suggesting for WAIS. Included in his suggestions were issues of how people would get paid for the content they put online.

Today, people are still working on different ways to get paid online. You can download music online complete with digital rights management for a buck from various sites, if you sign up ahead of time. You can subscribe to various newspapers online. Yet the problem of micropayments still hasn’t really be solved.

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I am Amanda Marcotte, Part 2

This morning, The New York Times (NewsTrust review) ran a good story about Sen. Edwards and the blogs. After my post yesterday, ”I am Amanda Marcotte” as well as the Facebook group I set up, and after Sen. Edwards statement, I’ve received a lot of personal comments and questions.

I’ve been blogging for years and on the Internet much longer. An enterprising investigator can find stupid things I wrote online twenty-five years ago. I’ve been hired by campaigns to blog for them. I’ve been told what I can and can’t write about. I’ve had things that I’ve written, both before and during campaigns criticized, and I’ve had people try to prevent me from getting jobs or get me fired because of things that I’ve written. It is for that reason, that I believe who writes anything online, whether they be liberal or conservative needs to stand with Amanda and Melissa.

People have asked me what is so offensive about what they have written. I must admit, I don’t particularly find calling conservative Christians “Christofascists” particularly offensive. I’ve probably done worse and will probably do worse in the future, perhaps even by the time I finish this blog entry. However, even for me, I found Amanda’s hypothetical question about the Blessed Virgin Mary and Plan B over the top. Those who are curious can read it here. It is liberal shock blogging. It is brilliant and offensive. I would have been both proud and embarrassed to have written something like that. As one person on the Facebook group wrote, “I wish I was as badass as Amanda Marcotte.”

When I initially read Sen. Edwards statement, I felt it was a little lame. He shouldn’t have criticized his bloggers the way he did, and he should have come out swinging harder at the Neo-Pharisees a little harder. (Okay, there is my offensive swing at the extreme right wing Christians. Maybe I won’t get a job with the Edwards campaign after all.) I felt that Sen. Edwards should have responded much more quickly. After all, the Internet is nearly real time.

Yet as I read what Amanda had written, thought about my own reaction, the reaction my parents would have had to such language, let alone the demonstrations that “The Last Temptation of Christ” brought out, I find I agree with Sen. Edwards. While his response may have been politically expedient, I also believe it is truly authentic and I respect him for it.

As to taking on the Neo-Pharisees, yes, I would have loved to see John drive them from the temple. Yet as others have noted, this is a task best suited to surrogates. I am very excited to see BlogPac take up the cause. I hope everyone participates in standing up to the Neo-Pharisees and to making sure that the media looks at their statements with critical eyes.

With regards to the timing, I think Sen. Edwards ended up getting it about right. In my past, I’ve had too many discussions with campaign managers and political consultants and not enough with the candidates themselves about what this topsy-turvy world of the Internet really means. I must applaud Sen. Edwards for his discussions with Amanda and Melissa. I hope other candidates follow his example, both in dealing with critics and in dealing with staff.

Some friends have suggested that this would be a small event that would soon be forgotten. I wasn’t sure if my reaction was so strong because I’ve been in Amanda and Melissa’s shoes or if it was really this important because it is part of the significant change in the role of the Internet in campaigns. I hope it is the later.

(Cross-posted at MyDD)

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