S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A peek in the window

[1/28/09] Come with me and look over my shoulder as I work on Wednesday's post, with its theme of activism. Today it is about my own activism, about how I write my political blog every day. I begin with what it is all about, the news.

Here are some stories that caught my eye this morning. I tend to follow stories about people I "know," geographical regions in which I am interested, and breaking news about the issues I routinely follow. I found some really good stuff today. . .

  • "Power, politics, gossip on daily call" from's John Harris. To quote:

    So begins another morning in what may count as Washington’s longest-running conversation — a street-corner bull session between four old friends who suddenly find themselves standing once more at the busiest intersection of politics and media in Washington.

    Carville calls White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel calls ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent George Stephanopoulos. A bit later, CNN commentator Paul Begala, who is not quite the early bird that his friends are, will complete the circle with a rapid set of calls to all three. Different versions of this round-robin chatter have been taking place, with few interruptions, every workday for nearly a generation.

  • "Democrats: the mainstream media let Bush’s PR gang turn them into Republican propagandists – let’s make sure we don’t let them do it again," from The Democratic Strategist's James Vega. Talking about the mythological Bush ranch at Crawford, Texas, I quote Vega, who warns that it could happen again:

    . . . For eight years the American mainstream media dutifully went along with the fraud, writing fawning captions for picture after picture of Bush with the jeans and work gloves and the sunset in the distance. No one in the official press corps had the guts to put down their foot and say plainly:

    This is total bullshit. This so-called “ranch” is nothing but a stage-set designed for photo-ops. It’s no more authentic than the phony villages and collective farms to which the Soviets used to take western observers, to show them the happy, satisfied Soviet workers. We are being treated like sheep, morons and children and we’re all going along with it without a peep.

    Yes, yes. I know. I did get the memo. The Obama approach is look forward and not back. But that memo applies to how Democrats should treat ordinary folks and their elected representatives. There’s nothing in the memo about giving the mainstream media a free pass for acting like PR auxiliaries to Karl Rove.

    And it’s important because the Republican PR machine will be back before we even turn around. In 2010 there will be new “ranches” and fabricated biographies and Hollywood stage sets designed to portray Republicans as “real folks” and “sharing the values” of the “real America”.

  • "Spy Talk," by Jeff Stein at CQ Politics, posted a couple of interesting bits of news I did not know. The headlines read, "Pentagon Official Disputes Washington Post Report, Saying Gitmo Files 'Not in Disarray'." The story began:

    A story in Sunday's Washington Post depicting Guantanamo prisoner files in "disarray" is wrong, says the former Pentagon official in charge of terrorist detainee affairs.

    And we also learned that, "In First Foreign Foray, Obama Heading to Latin America." To quote:

    Obama plans to attend an April 17 Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, which may turn out to be his international debut as ambassador-in-chief of the United States.
    Stein posted several other good pieces: "US-Protected Iran Exile Group in Line for Huge Cash Windfall," is regarding the European Union's decision to take the group off its terrorist list. (1/28/09); "Negroponte Teams with Clinton's Former Chief of Staff" reports that this high profile Republican official will be joining Mack McClarty's consulting firm, that specializes in Latin American matters.(1/22/09); "Obama Faces Gaping Holes In Intelligence" (1/14/09). Stein opens with this salvo:

    Word hasn't leaked yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if President-elect Barack Obama has already figured out that when he wants quick answers to what's going on in the world, the last person to ask is the head of U.S. intelligence.

    The steady deterioration of personnel and standards of intelligence analysis, especially at the CIA, has been going on for decades, a number of former top intelligence officials I know say.

    The tip of the rot surfaces from time to time, such as with the 9/11 surprise and the gimcrackery reports on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

    The dogs howl and the caravan moves on. Nothing changes, many well placed former intelligence officials have been telling me. But the current, possibly fatal dangers we face demand the problems be fixed.

Activists must stay informed in order to be effective. Bloggers, as activists, often read their e-mails and surf the Internet to learn the latest before starting to write. At least I do. I start with my "public" e-mail boxes, at Yahoo! and G-Mail. Most days I begin by reading several e-mails with links to stuff in which my regular contributors know I am interested. I also receive a number of newsletters which I quickly scan:

  1. Congressional Quarterly - e-mail newsletters: 1) Politics, including Jeff Stein's "Spy Talk"; 2) Mid-day Update; and 3) Behind the Lines. Various newsletters, several times a day.

  2. The Democratic Strategist - A journal of public opinion and political strategy. Once a week or so.

  3. - Daily Digest, Politico Playbook, Breaking News, Congress Digest, and The Huddle. Not on the weekends.

  4. ProPublica - ProPublica is an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. Not on the weekends.

  5. ACLU - Fight for freedom at American Civil Liberties Union. At least weekly.

  6. Tom Head on Civil Liberties at - Your guide to civil liberties news and issues. Periodically.

Each day of the week generally focuses on a theme. Thursday - The Middle East and its wars, Friday - The Obama administration, Saturday - Other nations, Sunday - the Constitution/Rule of Law/ National Security, Monday - Republicans and other scandals, and Tuesday - Congress. My standard "boilerplate" for Wednesday's post consists of the quote below. I have included explanations in italics. Boilerplate: Blogger has a way to get a head start on a post by using a pre-written piece of copy for each post:

Some words that kick-start my thinking regarding posting: Activism, "Grassroots for Obama." Actions to take, blogosphere, organizations, environment.

I use this to credit my regular contributors, if I have included any of their links: Hat Tip Key: Regular contributors of links to leads are "betmo*" and Jon#.

My way of advertising other places where I post regularly: (Cross-posted at The Reaction.)
My “creativity and dreaming” post today is at Making Good Mondays.

A template for use in making Technorati tags; these tags help to get my posts into search engines: Technorati tags:

So there you have it, a day in the life of an activist/blogger.

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