No Associated Press content was harmed in the writing of this post
The idea of a “blog swarm”, where lots of diarists point to a news story and give momentum to it for coverage by large outlets (and maybe even incorporation into some larger narrative) has a somewhat disreputable whiff to it. The subtext seems to be that partisans either receive their talking points or latch on to some obviously useful item, and use it to give a good yank in the ongoing tug of war for coverage by mainstream/traditional media. Whatever you think of such a thing I think a variation on it is unquestionably useful. Sometimes an article or investigation will uncover something truly noteworthy and it will sink without a trace. Bloggers drawing attention to it over a period of time can keep it bubbling to the surface for ongoing consideration (which is precisely the intent of my “Unpacking Jane” segments on Sundays). This week I saw a reference to Mark Bowen’s article on John Conroy’s long dedication to exposing torture and abuse by police in Chicago. I forget where I saw the initial link to it (update - saw a similar piece about Conroy by Phoebe Connelly) , but later in the week Charles points to it, then Avedon points to Charles, then I look at her and I get it put back in my head in time for this post. It’s the kind of activity that can keep a story from going down the memory hole, that keeps it popping to the surface. Maybe if that keeps happening long enough it will eventually break out to a wide audience, but even if that doesn’t happen it can remind the news junkies and blog trollers enough times to get it to stick in the memory. That too is valuable.
I’ve given up on trying to keep track of all the vote-related activity going on now. There are literally too many to itemize. I don’t recall it being this crazy in the past; maybe I wasn’t paying close attention. If it really is more widespread this time I think it might be a combination of uneasiness with some of the reports about irregularities in 2004, the subsequent revelations about the DOJ attempts to influence elections and the large amount of new voter activity. In any event please see the terribly underrated Brad Blog, TPMMuckraker, Marcy’s Place, and Threat Level for starters.
Christy Hardin Smith wrote a post this week about the Obama campaign’s request for the Attorney General to look into possible coordination between the McCain campaign and the DOJ. It’s a fairly short post but packs a wallop because it’s positively littered with relevant links to support her points. Wholly admirable.
I’ve started to wonder if the administration has an Anaconda Plan for eroding our civil liberties. Starting outside the country with noncitizens to get Americans used to the idea of things like suspension of habeas corpus, they now start edging in from the borders and using the military domestically and get us accustomed to infringements in the names of territorial integrity and national emergency. Feeling suffocated yet?
UNPACKING JANE: In describing the Bybee torture memo Mayer quotes (pp.152-3) Harold Koh, dean of the Yale Law School, as calling it “perhaps the most clearly erroneous legal opinion I have ever read”. She also notes that Ruth Wedgwood - Ruth Wedgwood - “called it a relic of the Dark Ages, like ‘the 14th century, when an outlaw was treated like a beast.’”