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The Morning Grumpy – 1/13/2012

13 Jan

All the news and views fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

1. Is the War on Terror actually over?

The war on terror is largely over for four different reasons: the killing of Osama bin Laden, the apparent inefficacy of counterinsurgency, the stunning costs of the war on terror, and the Arab Spring.  While it may never be stated in plain English by anyone in Washington, these factors have largely persuaded the Washington policy community that it is time to end the war on terror and to find a new priority list for America’s foreign policy.

Interesting theory, but will our permanent state of war ever be ended?

2. Should The New York Times be the stenographers to the powerful or should they be journalists? I still can’t believe this wasn’t satire

I’m looking for reader input on whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge “facts” that are asserted by newsmakers they write about.

That could be the saddest opening paragraph in the history of the New York Times. Jim Romenesko reached the author for comment and he didn’t seem to grasp the controversy his column generated.

I have to say I did not expect that so many people would interpret me to have asked only: should The Times print the truth and fact-check? Of course, The Times should print the truth, when it can be found, and fact-check.

What I was trying to ask was whether reporters should always rebut dubious facts in the body of the stories they are writing.

We live in a world where facts are hard to come by, even though we have access to more information than ever. Due to newsroom budget cuts and staffs made up of junior reporters with neither experience nor sources, most news coverage (especially on a local level) is generated through press conferences and press releases. These are challenging times for journalists and the nation needs them now, more than ever. When the standard bearers at an institution like The New York Times are unsure of how to navigate this new world, it doesn’t inspire much hope that the local guys are going to figure it out.

3Good morning, Department of Homeland Security!

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s command center routinely monitors dozens of popular websites, including Facebook, Twitter, Hulu, WikiLeaks and news and gossip sites including the Huffington Post and Drudge Report, according to a government document.

A “privacy compliance review” issued by DHS last November says that since at least June 2010, its national operations center has been operating a “Social Networking/Media Capability” which involves regular monitoring of “publicly available online forums, blogs, public websites and message boards.”

While a DHS official involved in the monitoring program confirmed the authenticity of the list, officials authorized to speak for the Department did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

So, that’s just great. Thanks, Patriot Act! Here’s a link to the list of sites the DHS monitors every day to develop a “common operational picture” of America.

4. Yesterday, Alan linked to the trailer of this anti-Romney video being played on multiple TV channels in South Carolina, but here is the entire 28 minute video. It is a brutal dissembling of Romney’s private sector record and reveals him as a corporate raider and destroyer of the middle class. As Ed Kilgore of The Democratic Strategist put it,

You can make your own judgment, but this is one of the most devilishly effective attack communications I’ve personally ever seen–a heat-seeking missile aimed directly at the white working class id.

The above video, produced by Newt Gingrich’s SuperPAC is primarily funded by Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas casino mogul and Israeli publisher with significant ties to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The US presidential election campaign that kicked off January 3 with the Iowa caucuses was the subject of a curious article attacking President Barack Obama in the mass circulation Israeli daily newspaper, Israel Hayom.

“US President Barack Obama is ‘naïve’ and needs to face up to the threat presented by the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood across the Middle East, Israel’s National Security Council concluded during a strategic discussion several days ago,” Israel Hayom reported.

The Israeli National Security Council consists of Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu’s closest advisers. And Israel Hayom is not just another right-leaning Israeli tabloid. Referred to by Israelis as the “Bibiton,” or Bibi’s mouthpiece, the paper is an instrument that gives him extraordinary political leverage. The obviously planted article in Israel Hayom rang like a bell sounding the start of Netanyahu’s own campaign in helping the Republican Party oust Obama from the White House.

I’m so glad we loosened up the campaign finance laws so that foreign prime ministers and their apparatchiks can influence our elections through unlimited spending.

5. I’m thinking that either the #Occupy movement has fundamentally changed our national conversation or the hoi polloi are starting to realize how rigged the national political and economic game has been over the last thirty years.

The Occupy Wall Street movement no longer occupies Wall Street, but the issue of class conflict has captured a growing share of the national consciousness. A new Pew Research Center survey of 2,048 adults finds that about two-thirds of the public (66%) believes there are “very strong” or “strong” conflicts between the rich and the poor—an increase of 19 percentage points since 2009.

No matter how you slice it, this is a win for the good guys.

Fact Of the Day: The top 1% of mobile users consume half of the world’s bandwidth.

Quote Of The Day: “Most of the trouble in this world has been caused by folks who can’t mind their own business, because they have no business of their own to mind, any more than a smallpox virus has.” – William S. Burroughs

Bible Verse Of The Day: “No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord.” Deuteronomy 23:1 (Just in case you were wondering)

Song Of The Day: “The Devil In Me” – John Wesley Harding

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