Photos from the RNC

In case you haven't been checking in with my Slower.net widget (bottom-right corner of the screen), you should be aware that Elliot's been posting some amazing photographs from the Republican Convention in New York City over at Slower.net. His work raises many important questions, including, "What is it with Republicans and hats?" Surely the following photos demonstrate the decisive issues facing our country: Ugly red hat, Why wear one hat when you can wear two, Cowboy up #1, Cowboy up #2, My giant American red hat, My American red hat #2. Maybe the whole red/blue America is really just a question of headwear.

The return of the manifesto

A new site's recently launched called ChangeThis which hopes to, "challenge the way ideas are created and spread." They propose to do this by creating and disseminating manifestos on various topics of interest and importance.

We're betting that a significant portion of the population wants to hear thoughtful, rational, constructive arguments about important issues. We're certain that the best of these manifestos will spread, hand to hand, person to person, until these manifestos have reached a critical mass and actually changed the tone and substance of our debate.

I've been a fan of manifestos for a long time, and Kill Your Children (about the dangers of sugar) was very interesting. But I can't help but wonder why all the manifestos they offer are Adobe PDF files. They certainly look beautiful — nice colors and font treatments — but they're kind of a pain because you have to download them and launch another program to view them.

It seems to me that if the goal is to spread the manifestos, they should be presented in the easiest-to-spread manner possible, like plain text or HTML. Great manifestos of the past (Communist, Cluetrain) were about substance. They didn't look great, but they spread like crazy. That's not to say a nice looking manifesto won't also spread, of course, but I believe they won't spread as effectively because of the additional hurdles to read and distribute them. All told, I still look forward to seeing how it progresses and what topics they chose to address. It's an optimistic endeavor, and I love optimistic endeavors! [via evhead]

Personal Democracy conference

On Monday, May 24th in New York City there will be a
Personal Democracy Forum to, "bring together political figures, grassroots leaders, journalists and technology professionals to discuss the questions that lie at the intersection of technology and politics — to take a realistic look at where we are now and where we are headed." Alas, democracy as we know is not free. The one-day forum costs between $50 (student) – $195 (general admission) to attend. Ouch, that's a lot! I wish more things in the US were like the way they are in Europe, where unemployed people can get in for free, or at least have some discount. That said, it looks to be an interesting line-up of speakers.

The Economist says Fire Rummy

There's no shortage of news articles about abuses of prisoners in Iraq. And now several publications, including the New York Times and The Economist are calling for the resignation of US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The Economist's op-ed, Resign, Rumsfeld has a clear premise, "Responsibility for errors and indiscipline needs to be taken at the top."

The scandal is widening, with more allegations coming to light. Moreover, the abuse of these prisoners is not the only damaging error that has been made and it forms part of a culture of extra-legal behaviour that has been set at the highest level. Responsibility for what has occurred needs to be taken-and to be seen to be taken-at the highest level too. It is plain what that means. The secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld, should resign. And if he won't resign, Mr Bush should fire him.

Sounds about right to me.

Big on Jesus, small on everything else

Oh, God – "The Jesus Factor" asks what's behind the president's religious beliefs is a brief Slate review of a new Frontline documentary (premiering tonight) that examines President Bush's religious views. It sounds pretty interesting, if only to get a sense of where he's coming from. But I was surprised to read a pretty astounding figure buried in the article.

[O]f the $100 million so far dispensed to faith-based charities by the Bush administration, not one dollar has gone to a Jewish or Muslim organization.

What?! I've always been irritated by the use of federal money for faith-based charities, but to find that it's only going to Christian charities is even more egregious. Argh!

Using language to dominate politics

There's a really fascinating interview with UC Berkeley professor George Lakoff discussing how conservatives use language to dominate politics. Reading this makes me realize that Democrats are going to need to do a lot more than just hold Meetups and have blogs to win anytime soon. Also Lakoff has the best quote I've read in a long time about why we pay taxes and why we should pay taxes.

Taxes are what you pay to be an American, to live in a civilized society that is democratic and offers opportunity, and where there's an infrastructure that has been paid for by previous taxpayers. This is a huge infrastructure. The highway system, the Internet, the TV system, the public education system, the power grid, the system for training scientists — vast amounts of infrastructure that we all use, which has to be maintained and paid for. Taxes are your dues — you pay your dues to be an American. In addition, the wealthiest Americans use that infrastructure more than anyone else, and they use parts of it that other people don't. The federal justice system, for example, is nine-tenths devoted to corporate law. The Securities and Exchange Commission and all the apparatus of the Commerce Department are mainly used by the wealthy. And we're all paying for it.

I guess if Republicans continue to relieve us of taxes, they'll eventually relieve us of the infrastructure our taxes fund. [via jason]

Ashcroft at Federal Hall today

From MoveOn.org, there's a demonstration today. I can't seem to find a link to it on their site, so here's the detail from the email they sent. See you there?

WHAT: Demonstration to demand the protection of our basic civil
liberties, and counter Attorney General John Ashcroft, speaking in the
latest installment of his stealth Patriot Act road show.

WHEN: Tuesday, September 9 at 12 noon

WHERE: Federal Hall, 26 Wall Street at Broad Street (next to NYSE)
2/3 or 4/5 to Wall Street or J/Z to Broad Street
Map: http://www.moveon.org/r?469

WHO: New York ACLU (www.nyclu.org), New York City Bill of Rights
Defense Campaign (www.nycbordc.org), United for Peace and Justice
(www.unitedforpeace.org), and 60 other civil liberties organizations.

What the hell is going on?

So here's what I don't understand…say you're the President of the United States. And you give a very important speech, such as the State of the Union. And it happens that something you say turns out to be untrue. Wouldn't you be upset? Wouldn't you want to reassure the American people that what happened was an egregious error? Wouldn't you publicly say something along the lines of, "A speech to the American public carries the heaviest burden of proof. Though CIA Director George Tenet has apologized for the factual error in my speech, I would like an investigation into how such a mistake could have happened. Processes will be reviewed, the American people must never be deceived, and as your president I assure you this will never happen again." Etc. Unless of course, you meant to put that lie in there in the first place…

Similarly, there's an astounding quote from President Bush in an article from yesterday's Washington Post, President Defends Allegation On Iraq. In addition to claiming that the intelligence he receives is "darn good," Bush also claims Hussein wouldn't let inspectors in!

Defending the broader decision to go to war with Iraq, the president said the decision was made after he gave Saddam Hussein "a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in."

The president's assertion that the war began because Iraq did not admit inspectors appeared to contradict the events leading up to war this spring: Hussein had, in fact, admitted the inspectors and Bush had opposed extending their work because he did not believe them effective.

I feel like I'm living in a crazy world where people are just re-writing history as they go. Read the entire Post article for a good look at the Administration's changing story about the whole affair. [via Tom Tomorrow]