Saturday, August 20, 2005

More misc collected items from the Culture War front... plus an old anthem...

In the months since John Kerry's defeat last November, asking "What's wrong with liberals?" has become something of an obsession for pundits across America. Did they lose because they were crushed by the right-wing attack machine, because of those ever-nebulous moral values, because they were soft on national security, or because they hadn't bashed corporations enough? Some of these? All of these?

 In Return of the "L" Word: A Liberal Vision for the New Century, Douglas Massey takes a long, hard look at these questions and comes up with some surprising answers. His book reminds us of just how much liberalism has accomplished over the 20th century, of why it eventually declined, and what liberals need to do to usher in a new realignment in politics, one that wrestles the country back from the now-dominant right.

Part of the answer, Massey contends, is to create a new market-based vision for liberalism, one that avoids the pitfalls of both conservative free-market dogma and the leftist ideologies of old.


"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." -Margaret Mead


Fred Mitouer offers a powerful quote from James Dale Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg in The Sovereign Individual (1997) that seems to be talking about the “confidence” aspect of modernism.

"In short, the future is likely to confound the expectations of those who have absorbed the civic myths of 20th century industrial society. Among them are the illusions of social democracy that once thrilled and motivated the most gifted minds. They presuppose that societies evolve in whatever way governments wished them to - preferably in response to opinion polls of scrupulously counted votes. This was never as true as it seemed 50 years ago.

Now it is an anachronism, as much an artifact of industrialism as a rusting smokestack. The civic myths reflect not only a mindset that sees society's problems as susceptible to engineering solutions; they also reflect a false confidence that resources and individuals will remain as vulnerable to political compulsion to the future as they have been in the 20th century. We doubt it. Market forces, not political majorities, will compel societies to reconfigure themselves in ways that public opinion will neither comprehend nor welcome. "


And now, moving toward the esoteric:

RELIGION AND SECRECY IN THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION: The Gentleman, the Prince, and the Simulacrum, BY Hugh Urban Ohio State University ()

“In this article... I will suggest that we look at the Bush administration through the lenses of three controversial theorists who have had much to say about secrecy in both its religious and political dimensions: the German-born political philosopher, Leo Strauss, the Florentine philosopher, Niccolò Machiavelli, and the French postmodern theorist, Jean Baudrillard. I have chosen these three, seemingly disparate, theorists because they correspond to and help make sense of three of the most important forces at work in the Bush administration, namely: 

1) the Neoconservative movement, which is heavily indebted to Strauss' thought and has a powerful presence in the Bush administration through figures like Paul Wolfowitz (a student of Strauss) and the Project for a New American Century;
2) the manipulations of Bush's pious public i

mage by advisors like Karl Rove (a reader of Machiavelli) and Vice-President Dick Cheney (often compared to Machiavelli), who have used the President's connections with the Christian Right for political advantage; [16] and 

3) an astonishingly uncritical mainstream media, whose celebration of Bush's image as a virtuous man of faith and general silence about his less admirable activities is truly "hyperreal," in Baudrillard's sense of the term.”


Finally, here’s a choice rant I spotted:

I'd love for some rich liberal to make a huge spashy advertised dare to red-staters. "You claim your approach is better at raising moral offspring than our humanist ways. Then test it! First, let's agree on criteria. And to prove that we really aren't morally all that much different from you, , let's agree in advance that the following things generally range from undesirable, to bad, to downright evil:

teen pregnancy
dropping out of high school
children born outside a stable marriage
venereal disease
addiction to drugs or alcohol
adults imposing sex upon children under sixteen
domestic violence

Of course we could argue endlessly over which of these is worse that others, either truly evil or tolerable-if regrettable. But let’s agree that each and every of these things are clear markers of something gone wrong. You claim that you have a better handle on how people ought to live. Then stand up and prove it by showing that you are doing better than us, in all these measurable ways.

We, with all our urban problems, ghettos, and huge influx of immigrants, as well as our so-called loose urban moral values, ought to fare worse in all these categories than folk who are salt-of-the-earth, rural, bible-quoting red-staters, with the Ten Commandments posted in the courthouse and Intelligent Design taught in schools. Right?

Wrong. By every one of the measures listed above, blue-staters are doing not only better, but FAR better.

Just one recent example. The number of methamphetamine labs that law enforcement agencies seized in the urban states of Maryland, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire in 2004 was 5. The number seized in Missouri, Tennessee and Arkansas? 2,546.

Perhaps it’s time to stop dismissing each other and start listening for a change. We’ll start by recalling that religious folk once played a huge role in promoting liberal causes. Combatting poverty and segregation and unjust wars. If people of deep faith no longer feel a connection with progressive liberalism, maybe we played a part in breaking that old link. We blue-staters could learn a little humility, too. We don’t always know everything.

Red-staters, on the other hand, need to stop fearing tomorrow. Most children make good choices when you let them see and sample from the world. Isolating them and relentlessly preaching at them clearly does not work.

Oh, one more thing. We in blue states took all the damage from terrorism and pay most of the taxes in fighting it. Dismissing us as immoral “others” won’t help America to be strong. It’s the opposite of “united we stand.”

Still, if you insist on a “culture war” we can comply, as our forefathers did in fighting to end slavery. Dismiss the ‘decadent’ urban North and you may be in for more than you bargained for.”

Yeesh. This guy has been eating too much chile. Reminds me of the ongoing proposal to change the “red-blue” formalism to “blue-gray”! Now let’s join him in a round of The Battle Hymn of the Republic....

Mine eyes have seen the Glory of the coming of the Lord.
He has trampled all the vineyards where the grapes of wrath are stored...

There’s got to be a better way.


jomama said...

I have yet to disagree in substance
with anything Davidson and Rees-Moog
said in The Sovereign Individual.

Visionaries they are.

daveawayfromhome said...

The red state / blue state is just another us-or-them simplification used by people to avoidhaving to think in any kind of depth. If you look at this web page you can see that most of the country could better be described as purple. See:

Anonymous said...

The real split isn't by states. The sharpest differences are really between rural and urban. And suburban, too now, I suppose. Because they're very different kinds of places and work best with slightly different rules. To take one instance, talk about guns in rural areas, people think hunting rifles. And most people live far enough apart that there's space to go use them. In the city, people think handguns, and there's really nowhere to go shoot anyway. They're much more dangerous with so many people close together. Which is part of the problem with gun control debates. Both sides are talking about completely different things. And the same with a number of other issues. And then those differences get preyed on and inflated by people who want to keep people divided.

And I don't really see much of anything that I, crazed liberal that I am, can disagree with in the interview with Massey.

David Brin said...

Ugh, someday remind me to post my essay about gun control... not right away, please.

Tony Fisk said...

@Dave and @Nate.

Just after the Nov. election, DB pointed out a cartogram showing the 'real' voting distribution.

As Nate says, the divide is more urban/rural.

My take on it is here.

Purple, indeed!

Anonymous said...

I’d not seen the voting distribution cartogram before. Thanks, Tony Fisk, for posting a link. That’s the sort of basic analysis that I would like to see from the media. Discussions based on that kind of info wouldn’t fit as easily into segments between commercials, but it would help the public gain insight into what’s really going on.

Whiskey1, I agree with the direction of your post, but I’m uneasy with what I see as generalizations. Forgive me if I’ve misinterpreted and you summarized points to fit into a blog posting. I do thank you for avoiding much of the vitriol that pervades statements from folks who didn’t support President Bush. That kind of emotion distracts from questions like “What are the real issues facing us?” and “What do we do about them?”

But to build on your statements about Senator Kerry: just why did the Democrats choose him? It’s just naïve me talking, but I think a more moderate candidate like Rep. Richard Gephardt would have captured the moderate vote while still appealing to his base constituency. That’s kinda the point, isn’t it?

I think that you might be giving the “smart and attractive” Democrats too much credit. I can’t tell you how badly their activism played here in the Midwest. The U.S. has real issues facing us. Hearing the Dixie Chicks or Barbara Streisand berate anyone who disagreed with them as they sit in relative luxury sounded elitist and aristocratic. I think we come back to Mr. Brin’s essay about self-righteousness/chemical dependency – I really can’t think of another reason these rich and famous people wouldn’t at least pretend to treat fellow citizens (read, potential voting allies) with respect. I can only imagine how the election would have played out if those “attractive” people had appealed to the better emotions in the electorate.

NoOne said...

According to Nate

The real split isn't by states. The sharpest differences are really between rural and urban. And suburban, too now, I suppose.

Don't forget the exurbs! I live in a college town which fits the exurb model. Originally very liberal but slowly and surely, thanks to an influx of ex-urbanites who seem to immediately gravitate toward the charismatic churches, the town is showing a red Doppler shift. Read more about exurbs here.

Anonymous said...

It could be that the red states are so rigid *because* they have these problems, and believe their ancient values are the only way to solve them. Having dealt with some people for whom "the Old Time Religion" in all its stiffnecked irrationality would be a step up from where they're at, I can understand, even if I disagree with 90% of what they're saying.
Or to quote their Sacred Book, "it's not the healthy who need a physician, but the sick." That their medicine is toxic to those of us on any higher level - well, I have a cancer patient in my family and understand THAT paradox all too well!

Pat Mathews

Rob Perkins said...

The red-state blue-state stuff is, I agree, an oversimplification. The rant about various domestic violence and broken family issues is also telling, but I'll point out that it, too, IMO, is a strawman.

In any case, I live in a "red" county, in a "blue" state, which is shot through with meth labs and domestic violence and all the sins of Hugh Urban's list, I can't take his comparison with any seriousness. Maybe that was David's point.

I don't mind a resurgence of classic liberalism, but I don't think that's what the Dem's are championing, today. We need liberals, IMO, who embrace the fact-on-the-ground of deeply committed religious people, who are not afraid of science and technology, and of modernism in general, and who embrace all the gifts of a rich spiritual life and a tolerant modernist point of view.

But one of the things that troubles me about David's modernism is the apparant (apparant!) straw man created out of how he characterizes the neocons, as if (it appears to me) there is no good idea in them.

I could use a course correction on that, if I'm off base. Or if I've mixed too many metaphors! ;-p

I'm also troubled by a dichotomy which appears to shove so many religious Christians into a place where all they do is wait for Armaggedon and the Rapture. I'm surrounded by Christians who believe both of those things, and not a few other apparantly self-contradictory things, but who also embrace the practices and principles of optimistic modernism.

It makes me wonder if the dichotomy is useful at all.

And, ohyeah, the last image on that cartogram of the Bush/Kerry contest makes the borders of the U.S. look like China. Which means nothing except that I have an imagination. :-)

Anonymous said...

The solution to the problems we face isn't driven by ideology or personality but technology. We need to stop fixating on individuals or even policy positions as an answer to what ails us. The problem is structural - democracy as envisioned by the Founding Fathers doesn't scale to a society as large & complex as ours has become. We need new, technologically mediated institutions based on emerging concepts of social networks, emergent semantics, collective intelligence & self-organized systems. It's only after we've designed, built & implemented these new types of systems that we can start posing the really hard questions that lay ahead of us to them.

For some background material on what I'm talking about, try reading Extreme Democracy & the Rand report Tribes, Institutions, Markets, Networks: A Framework About Societal Evolution.


David Brin said...

Cindy Sheehan won't get out of the news. Despite the fact that she is a TERRIBLE poster girl for liberalism, anti-war people keep coalescing around her.

Except of course, that Sheehan might as well be another brilliant Rove creation. She perfectly fits the image of liberal war opponents that red-staters WANT to perceive. This draws attention away from portions of the anti-war message that might actually influence wavering conservatives, like:

- is the war being executed competently?

- what has it done to US military readiness (e.g for a surprise emergency)?

- what has it done to our alliances and leadership?

- is polarization the same thing as "united we stand"?

- What do the states do - robbed of their trained guard units - if they have emergencies?

- why should we listen to bozos who had saddam in their hands in 91, only to betray the Iraqi people and
leave him in power for 12 more years?

These are questions that zing the brains of smart redstaters. Sheehan only reinforces their sense that
Rove may be right. That it's a choice between a tough texan and making the new Capital San Francisco.


PS... Anybody see any oil coming out of Iraq? So much for the "we went there for the oil" theory! What HAS
happened is that SAUDI oil became much more valuable/expensive.

daveawayfromhome said...

My biggest problem with John Kerry, aside from just not liking him much, was that I felt that his nomination was more a result of political machinations rather than a choice of Democratic voters. It was mid-March, and already he was being declared the winner, with unions and Hollywood stars stepping up behind him. Even though the Conventions are little more these days than a big show, it was still a little disconcerting to see the primary essentially declared over before the snow had even finished melting. I despise BushCo, but I couldnt gather much enthusiasm for Kerry, either. Middle-of-the-road people who didnt despise Bush may have found it easier to vote for him if they felt the same way about Kerry that I did.


Tony Fisk said...

Quoth David:
Yeesh. This guy has been eating too much chile.

Like some others 'round here ;-) Actually, he does try to be balanced in places. But I agree, his tone is unnecessarily inflammatory, especially to his 'target' audience

Mine eyes have seen the Glory of the coming of the Lord....
There’s got to be a better way.

There is (to define this guy's rant, at least). I'd look to the Beatles:
Try to see it my way,
Only time will tell if I am right or I am wrong.
While you see it your way
There’s a chance that we may fall apart before too long.
We can work it out,
We can work it out.

Red/Blue, Blue/Gray.
... Fuel/Air.
Idle speculation: Kerry seemed to quit the field pretty abruptly after the election, despite widespread claims of voting fraud. Maybe an old vet' smelt the napalm, and didn't want to strike sparks? (That's a *very* idle speculation BTW: I'm too remote to comment in-depth on US politics or, indeed, on how bitter this cultural divide has become at a personal level)

Except of course, that Sheehan might as well be another brilliant Rove creation.

Ah, yes! How is old 'TB'? He seems to have dropped out of the news recently. What could have taken his place in media attention?

@Dave: your comments echo the general feeling at the Australian election: I don't think Howard was all that popular, but the opposition leader of the time was an untried quantity with a loutish reputation (who has since departed). Stick with the devil you know.

Continuing the parallels: the libs now have control of both houses (celebrated by a friendly finger from one triumphant senator to green's senator Bob Brown: that out-take sure has got around!)

It could have been worse. The 'Family First' party (three guesses as to policies) *nearly* got control of the balance of power, but missed out. This time.

And, there is irony: the only effective policy opposition that Howard currently faces is from his own backbench: a fellow called Petro Georgiou!

Interesting times!

mapletree7 said...

Great Massey interview. Mirrors thoughts I've been having about how the stock markets work. Does our current system of public ownership really result in the greatest good for the most individuals? But what to replace it with?

Tony Fisk said...

I know I risk starting to sound like a 'spag blogger' for Worldchanging, but this article referring to the large scale production of nanotube ribbons is worth a look (and might cast a bit of cheer on an otherwise gloomy tone developing here)

On purpleness, and its fair representation in a government: DB has mentioned a 'modest proposal' for achieving this, but has either forgotten, is refining, or just hasn't gotten 'round to describing it yet.

Anyway, here's my two cents worth. I've been mulling this one over for a bit and, to be honest, I can't see how 51% of the vote can't be prevented from ruling the roost at any given time.

Then I got to thinking what the most honesty inducing factor in a mid-term government with 51% of the vote might be. One item that popped up was by-elections.

So, what if, rather than one grand bruhaha every 3-4 years, elections were staggered so that there was one state (or whatever best represents a parliamentary vote) per month?

I'll leave you folks to think through the ramifications of that, while I go stock up on the bandage supply.

Meantime, I'm interested in what extreme democracy, open vote etc. might achieve. Siebold & co. notwithstanding, I think online voting has possibilities.

David said...

You have an interesting blog - read the news from Australia at - I think you'll find it of interest.


Anonymous said...

The thing about Kerry is, I think he would have made a good President. I don't think he did a good job at all as a candidate, though. For just the most obvious example, he didn't do ANYTHING about the Swift Boat liars for weeks. He didn't attach them to Bush, even though they were working for Bush. He didn't release the military records that had the same people who were smearing him praising him. He never made a clear and simple case out of his Iraq position ("I believed it was necessary, but these bozos are too incompetent and/or corrupt to do it properly, look what's happened.") He never pushed anything like, oh, I dunno, voting reform.

Basically, he never went for the throat, or fought back nearly hard enough. Which let Bush tag the "Flip-flopper" and other smears on him, while posing as "tough". Yeah. Willing to be "tough" with other people's lives, and no ideas other than being "tough". He never tried to burst Bush's "nice regular folks, y'all" bubble with the truth.

And despite that, he still managed to get 49% of the vote.

And while it might not be a popular answer here, sometimes the way to fix things IS regulation, and enforcing the regulations. Most of the consolidation of the media has happened in the past twenty years, thanks to thing like the end of the Fairness Doctrine, the Telecommunications Act, deregulation, FCC leinency, etc. Blogs and other alternative news sources are good, but there's plenty of people who get just get their news from the TV news. Most of which, honestly, is just noise. You get a headline, then a blurb, then back to you at the station, Rob. Because there isn't really much competition when three companies own all the TV stations, radio stations, and newspapers. And then they cut out the local reporters and do the news from a central place miles away, serving six cities.

And no matter how snappy a message we come up with, it has to be able to get out to people, past the lazy guardians of the "mainstream" media if we want to get make any kind of dent.

Rob said...

Douglas Massey, or David Brin? You make the call:

MJ: Let's shift over to the political landscape. You see the conservative movement today as being spearheaded by what you call a variety of fundamentalisms. Can you explain what those are?

Yeah, I did a lot of reading trying to understand fundamentalism, and there was one interesting scholar I ran across—Martin Marty of the Divinity School at the University of Chicago—who spent more than a decade studying fundamentalisms around the world. Basically fundamentalism is not about religion, it's a political movement that often uses religion for political purposes. And fundamentalists are essentially all the same, whether you're talking Hindus or Buddhists or Muslims, Christians, Jews. They selectively draw from sacred texts to achieve political goals in the modern world. And they're essentially engaged in a war against modernism, against what has been accomplished through the modern liberal political economy—which includes the liberation of women, the end of the subordination of minorities, the end of privilege, all those things really disturb many fundamentalists. And they turn to religion as a way of marshalling their forces to attack all these things.

So it's not about religion at all.

Emphasis mine. From the article Dr. Brin linked to at the head of his post. Looks like I might have to get that book.

Rob said...

The fairness doctrine, for example, solidified the power of the two party system by enshrining "both sides" into law. Not "all sides" but rather, the two dominant sides. This led to the situation we have now.

No, the Fairness Doctrine said absolutely nothing about "both sides" (from the MBC article linked below, emphasis mine):

"This doctrine grew out of concern that because of the large number of applications for radio station being submitted and the limited number of frequencies available, broadcasters should make sure they did not use their stations simply as advocates with a singular perspective. Rather, they must allow all points of view. That requirement was to be enforced by FCC mandate."

And it was never a law: in 1987, after the FCC announced it was dropping the policy (due to a decision by the then Republican-run Commission), a law WAS passed but the legislation was vetoed by President Reagan.

Read this Museum of Broadcast Communications article and this NOW with Bill Moyers report.

Rob said...

@whiskey1 again:
Regulation of the media increases the number and power of information gatekeepers, which is bad for alternative messages. The only way to increase the power of alternative messages is to share and support them.

Regulation doesn't increase the number and power of information gatekeepers. To the extent that there ARE gatekeepers, regulation is the ONLY available means of making sure they adhere to rules and procedures in the course of their gatekeeping. And if the regulators are doing their jobs properly, those rules and procedures will HELP alternative messages succeed IN THE FACE OF attempts by the powerful established media to stamp them out. Problems occur when the regulators themselves are corrupted by outside influence, perhaps seduced by those same media giants they are supposed to be overseeing, and the regulations are "reformed" or "deregulated" in the name of "clearing up the red tape" or "getting government off our backs". That's when you see waves of consolidation, big voices getting bigger and small voices bought or legislated out.

I have yet to see any industry where "deregulation" or "reform" has led to unqualified positive results. There always seems to be some negative effect or consequence that partially or completely counterbalances the supposed good. Regulations are generally instituted for good reasons, not simply to punish or constrain commerce out of spite. We can debate the merits of this or that regulation, but blanket condemnations of the concept of regulation are in my view counterproductive.

David Brin said...

Rob, I don't agree about deregulations not being successful.

Fact is that markets need perpetual fine tuning and regulations from one era should ALWAYS be viewed with skepticism by later eras.

Sound libertarian? You bet! I am a libertarian! That is... a heretical and quasi-statist one. Human nature and human history shows that we should ALL lean a bit toward skepticism toward elites' temptation to regulate, micromanage and meddle in our lives and markets.

What I hate is some of the prevalent MYTHS about deregulation.

There have been eight or nine major deregulations since the seventies. Of these, nearly ALL were driven and motivated by the DEMOCRATS! Banking, trucking, telecommunications, airlines, Fedex/UPS... all of them with mixed but mostly positive results.

Especially FedEx... the archetype that proves libertarians should be incrementalist-reformers instead of purist-dogmatist radical hypocrites.

The GOP did drive SOME deregulation efforts. Savings & Loans. Oil/energy companies. The accounting industry.

And yup. Guess what happened with THOSE!

Fact. The GOP seldom even PROPOSES real deregulation. Because aristocrats like regulation. It can be fine tuned to guarantee profits. To pass costs on to the public. And to privatize all benefits.

Rob said...

Here's an excellent article by Alfred Kahn, last chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board in the Carter Administration and now Professor Emeritus of Political Economy at Cornell. He gives an overview of the deregulation of the airline industry, which he and virtually everyone agrees was necessary to allow more efficient provision of passenger air service in this country. But even he, one of the architects of a "successful" deregulation, points out that the story doesn't end there:

"In this as in all other unregulated industries, there is always the possibility of anti-competitive behavior. That is why we have antitrust laws. The reconcentration of the industry reflects, in part, the failure of the Department of Transportation to disallow even one merger of direct competitors. Also, some of the largest airlines have, at least in the past, used their computerized reservations systems to handicap their smaller competitors. Frequent-flyer programs, operating agreements and mergers with regional feeder airlines, and deeply discounted discriminatory fares have all put smaller competitors at a severe disadvantage and contributed to the demise of many of them."

Even after you deregulate, there are still some things that have to be monitored. Or to put it another way, regulated. It's just a different kind of regulation.

Of course this is out of context with the remainder of his article, which is solidly behind the theory that taken as a whole, deregulation of the airline industry was a good thing. And my point is not that deregulation is always a bad idea or that regulation will solve all of our ills. But I don't think we should go completely the other way and say some deregulation was good, so more deregulation is better and total deregulation is best. And there are some out there who seem to believe that.

I simply disagree with whiskey1's blanket statement that:

You cannot, by definition, regulate your way to a revolution. We will not win the culture war by attempting to use the tools of power against themselves.

I disagree that revolution is called for. Revolution from what, democracy? To what? Why should we not use regulations and legislation and all the other peaceful means at our disposal to fix our corrupt and debased institutions, rather than declaring a pox on all their houses? The problems we face are not insurmountable; mostly they stem from a general public that simply isn't aware of what is going on. Look at the Social Security "reform" debate; the longer the President went out on the road, the more he talked about it even to picked crowds, the more the polls showed Americans disapproving of his approach. If we take the time (and have the time!) to educate people, I think we'll find that in the end the Liberal/Progressive/Modernist approach (the rational approach) will win out over the Neo-Conservative/Fundamentalist/Romantic one. Even a day late and a dollar short, Americans are coming to the realization that Iraq isn't working out like we were being told it would; and they're starting to ask hard questions.

We don't need a revolution. We need a rediscovery. A Re-Enlightenment.

Anonymous said...


Regulation of the media increases the number and power of information gatekeepers, which is bad for alternative messages. The only way to increase the power of alternative messages is to share and support them.

I have to disagree. If the government says, say "You can only own 1 radio channel, TV station, and newspaper in this area," how does that increase the number of gatekeepers? It creates more, by not allowing situations like we have now, where even in major metropolitan areas, nearly all of the radio and TV channels and newspapers are owned by like 4 companies. And as those 4 companies are just a subset of the about 6 companies that own almost every major TV & radio network, newspaper, book and music publishers, movie companies, etc, etc, there's not real "competition" there.

Because that's how things keep working now. In most rural areas, the "local" reporting is done from counties away. And even in more urban areas, there's little connection with the media, because it's owned and operated as part of a giant company from far away. It's not like a little store with ties to the community and an interest in the future of the community, it's just numbers on a balance sheet.

Markets don't exist without regulations. Regulations lay the ground rules, and need tweaking from time to time, but without them, there's even more nothing to stop people from cheating than there is now.

Rob said...

Its been fun. See you after the semester is over. Must study.

Obviously, that should come first. Best of luck.

You guys didn't hear a word I said, did you?

I heard you, but I just don't agree with you.

I'm talking about CONTENT regulation, such as the fairness can't enforce content controls. It just doesn't work...Content Regulation will always favor the parties in power. Finance reform will always favor the parties in power.

Well, government in general will always favor the parties in power; that's how it works. And right now, the parties in power are legislating things like perpetual copyrights, first-to-file patents and digital rights management. They are making it illegal to do anything with "their" content that they don't want you to, generally involving crossing their palms with silver. Your argument is apparently that the game is rigged so it's pointless to play; in other words, the system is so corrupt that it is beyond repairing, and we need a (possibly bloody) revolution. My argument is that yes it is corrupt, but not beyond repairing if the people can be educated about it.

RSS feeds and news aggregators are free.

For now.

They are free of content regulation

For now.

they are free of market regulation

For now.

this is one of the few areas where the little guys can compete with the big guys

For now.

Remember Napster? Thanks to the perpetual copyright laws we allowed to be passed, the free sharing of music has been converted into something only done by pirates and thieves. The recent Grokster decision moves us down the road to making just writing software a violation of the law. The Federal Election Commission just held hearings on whether blogs that post political content should be regulated as campaign contributors. You're right, the parties in power, unchecked, will arrange things to suit themselves. That's why we must be vigilant and ready to educate the people, who still hold the ultimate power in this country, about what's going on.

Content control is not the reason third parties have never been able to climb out of the cellar in this country. Don't mistake the effect for the cause. Third parties remain pathetically small here because of our winner-take-all election systems which make votes for third parties essentially wasted votes. People don't want to waste their votes, so when the chips are down and big issues are at stake, people tend to concentrate their votes with the party most likely to affect the outcome in their favor. Also, I would suspect that a large percentage of Americans aren't even aware of the existence of third parties, or if they are, what those parties stand for.