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Journal

Inside look at Powell Junior

The Accidental Arbiter is a CSM article about FCC Chairman Michael Powell. Powell is the son of Colin Powell.

CSM gives an excellent look at the junior Powell, and some of the controversial decisions he’s made.

I rather like these off-kilter looks at some of the people in the current administration. I’m going to keep posting these as they come across my radar.

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Journal

GWB

Close-Up: The Mind of George W. Bush is an article in last month’s Atlantic Monthly about how the President makes decisions. It seems like a very thorough, well-researched look at the president, his background, and the skills he’s brought to the presidency.

It also dovetails very nicely with Plan of Attack (Bob Woodward’s new book – which I’m just at the beginning of).

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Journal

Bush to appoint healthcare IT czar

Computer World Article

Information sharing is great and all, but I’m waiting for spam that says “click here” and have it be a medical records release.

It simply doesn’t seem like enough thought has been put into this, and after the mess HIPAA made of things, I can’t see them being any better about this. It’ll either be too easy to get information from the database (especially for insurance companies – wait ’til their lobby gets involved), or harder than it was previously.

Thankfully, they’re not calling for a centralized database of medical records (running SQLServer! yeah!).

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Journal

Salon Opinion Pieces and Aggravating “Journalism”

Salon recently published an opinion piece on recent happenings in the Pentagon Office of Special Plans (OSP). The author is a newly retired USAF lieutenant colonel, who worked in the OSP from May 2002 to February 2003

Salon is making the article free to viewers, because they “thought this story was just too important.” Indeed, the article is particularly damning of the administration, and well-known officials in the OSP.

Unfortunately, the article is published on Salon – and not as a news story, but as an opinion piece. I’d guess this is because no editor worth his salt (or, for that matter, integrity) would be willing to publish the article as genuine news. This is not to say that the story is not accurate, it may very well be. Unfortunately, it is the point of view of one person who is clearly biased, and published on a site with a similar bias (the article starts with an “editor’s note” that welcomes MoveOn.org members).

There was an article in The New Yorker recently that mentioned that one of the problems with journalism today is that journalists are less likely to seek out independent confirmation of their sources, and would likely publish a story based on a single source of information (The allegation is actually from Andrew Card, Bush’s chief of staff – in an article entitled “Fortress Bush,” from 19 January 2004).

If anything fits the title of ill-researched, this Salon article does – nothing the author says is verified via a third party. I find that a little annoying. Granted, the article is an opinion piece (and is labelled as such), but it’s not presented as one.

This isn’t the only article that smacks of this however. Media coverage of Haiti was similarly bad. News coverage continually repeated the same thing over and over again: “Aristide was a democratically elected leader who the administration allowed to be ousted” (with the clear subtext that Aristide was therefore popular). Not being familiar with Haiti’s history, I had to do a fair bit of hunting around to find more information than that: For instance, Aristide was a catholic priest. He was forced to resign, in part, because he was an outspoken advocate of class warfare in Haiti. He has also been accused of corruption (either allowing it, or outright supporting it).

This is not to say that Aristide was a complete bastard – an interview on NPR noted that he was apparently extremely popular with the poor. My complaint is that none of these nuances are being presented in the media. We’re given a one dimensional view of an issue (sometimes, if it’s a hot topic, 2) and left to digest that. This is insulting – either the reader doesn’t have the mental acuity to process multiple streams of information, or the journalists are too lazy to seek them out. Neither is good.

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Journal

Dave Winey

Courtesy of del.icio.us, Dave Winer whines about the open source software developed by Dean and Clark campaigns to run their online campaigns.

Winer’s key quote: “How sad to see two leading Democrats fall for, even feed the lie that they can create user-oriented software for free.” I don’t know, but I think that (for one), deanspace seems to be an example of that. Come to think of it, my own blog runs on blosxom – which I find easier to use and maintain than my last (nonfree) blogging software (by which I mean, there’s no money made directly from blosxom, while MT requires purchase of a commercial license for nonpersonal use).

Apparently, the campaigns should use american-made commercial software, because it’s good for american companies. But, why not use american-made free software? And, if Manila is so amazing, why is it worried about something free?