Chicago: Memories of Uptown




Huffington Post Scandal: Another Comment

Dr. Peter Rost

The Huffington Post Censure Scandal

As those of you who have been following my recent postings here about how Huffington Post, the highly influential and allegedly progressive political website banned one of its writers after he discovered an anonymous heckler on his blog was actually the Post’s technology manager.

In his Huffington Post article, Peter Rost exposed the identity of the heckler, which prompted HuffPost to temporarily block his access, soon followed by notifying him that he had been permanently banned from writing articles for the Post. Dr. Rost had been writing at the Huffington Post for about three months and written over 60 articles. When this incident began to become known on the web, the blogging world was outraged by the censorship imposed by Arianna Huffington’s politically powerful website. There was, so to speak, a collective uprising in defense of Rost and condemning Huffington.

On Rost’s personal website, his readership suddenly exploded from a relatively limited number, to over 103,008 page loads and 88,043 unique visitors in the three days subsequent to his being ostrasized by The Huffington Post. I was, therefore, extremely pleased to learn that on June 26th, Dr. Rost highlighted my last posting here about the Huffington scandal on his own now increasingly widely-read website:

“The Huffington Post: Final Diagnosis–Officially Insane”

I’ve found a new favorite blog: Et Cetera.

And the way this blog uses images is hilarious.

Such as the image for this post:

The Huffington Post: Final Diagnosis–Officially Insane

Read it and laugh!

On Leo Strauss



Yesterday, Andrew Sullivan published an article in The Daily Dish about Leo Strauss, the eminent German political philosopher who immigrated to the United States during the time of Hitler’s rise to power. After his arrival in New York City, Strauss taught with other academic immigrants at the University in Exile (The New School for Social Research), and then spent most of his remaining years teaching in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago. During those years, other noted immigrant scholars at the University included Hans J. Morgenthau and, later, Hannah Arendt. Sullivan’s article about Strauss began by observing:

“What a relief to read something sane [a recent New York Times book review] about the great philosopher, Leo Strauss. I was taught by a “Straussian,” have known many and read more, and I could never understand the idea how the great man could be reduced to some kind of secret guru to “neoconservatism”. There’s a section in my forthcoming book that makes this point about the inherent skepticism, mischief and seriousness of Strauss as a thinker – qualities that make him particularly ill-suited for being a secret mastermind to anything, let alone a total transformation of American conservatism into something like its opposite. So it’s good to see a review about a book that seems to be based on the actual reality of his fascinating, dense, precise, often funny, and always curious study of the greatest texts in our civilization.”

Today, Sullivan posted a number of short commentaries sent in by his readers, which both agreed with and expanded upon his position that over time the writings of Strauss have been profoundly misunderstood and that those distortions have been used to bolster today’s nationalistic form of neoconservatism. I felt extremely complemented that Sullivan chose to reprint part of an article that I published many months ago, addressing the very same issue:

I’m not the only one to be struck by the difference between what Leo Strauss actually wrote and what some have inferred from it – both on the paranoid left and the triumphalist right. Here’s a post written almost a year ago on the same theme:

“The power of Leo Strauss’s students, and those who have in turn studied under them, upon the growth and direction of the Republican Party in Washington is a well-documented fact. His followers have been credited with providing American neoconservatism with its distinctive qualities: its emphasis upon crisis, its aversion to liberal tolerance, its rejection of pluralism, its insistence upon nationalistic superiority, its religiosity, and more.

However, far less is known about the degree to which these Straussian power brokers have misunderstood his teachings and distorted his legacy. Strauss actually had little to do with promoting a particular political party, nor any model of political ‘crusade.’

For Strauss, being conservative implied, more crucially, that optimal political actions depend upon proceeding with a kind of thoughtfulness characterized by careful introspection and depth, as well as being deliberative, cautious, attentive to detail and non-impulsive. He was not known to teach adherence to one American political party or another. Strauss was more interested in examining the great political writings of the past and teaching his students a ‘new’ way to read important texts. He was well known for repeatedly appearing in front of his classes and venturing to minister to his own as well as to his students’ ignorance by simply asking, ‘What does this mean?’

Dr. Strauss’s openness to the virtue of prudence was accompanied quite naturally by a sense of wariness: keenly cautious, attentive and watchfully prudent. A testimonial to this sense of wariness was the copy of Durer’s famous watercolor, ‘A Young Hare,’ that he had on his office wall. He particularly liked the picture, he said, ‘because the hare sleeps with its eyes open.’

It has been said that great minds are often, if not always, as great in their simplicities as in their complexities. Strauss greatly admired Winston Churchill’s historical work, ‘The Life and Times of the Duke of Marlborough.’ In line with this, Strauss revealed his capacity for simple directness perhaps more clearly than anywhere else in his eulogy of Churchill: ‘The tyrant stood at the pinnacle of his power. The contrast between the indomitable and magnanimous statesman and the insane tyrant – this spectacle in its clear simplicity was one of the greatest lessons which men can learn, at any time.”

Sullivan followed my comments with the observation that, “One way in which conservatism can be guided back toward sanity is perhaps by revisiting the great conservative minds of recent times. Oakeshott and Strauss are the two central figures in this endeavor – which is why they both feature in “The Conservative Soul.”

Mainstream Media Online: Where’s the Money?


Richard Silkos at the New York Times, among a number of other technology and financial correspondents, is wondering how much money mainstream newspapers are actually making from their online presence. Among newspaper companies, The Washington Post and The New York Times stand out for their Internet presence. However, given how much the Internet has already transformed the media and society, it is surprising how little money the mainstream media companies seem to be making from it now.

Financial reports of online income have been hard to come by. In more recent developments, though, a few mainstream media companies are starting to give some financial estimates of how well they are doing online. The Tribune Company, which owns dozens of newspapers and television stations, says that its digital media revenue will be about $225 million this year. This amounts to about 6 percent of its publishing revenue, a percentage that it says it expects to double by 2010. Disney announced at a recent investors’ conference that the company was generating roughly $500 million in online advertising sales across all of its properties, which include

The less optimistic view taken by some of the traditional media companies is that not all of their online efforts will translate directly into more revenue or substantially greater profits. For the time being, however, the issue of which media companies have figured out the more successful Internet financial strategies appears to remain an open question.

NSA Domestic Spying: Additional Reports on NSA Surveillance of Citizens

New Document Supports Charges of NSA Internet Spying

In an article by Kim Zetter in Salon on June 23rd, 2006, it was reported that a federal court in California released a previously sealed 40-page document on Thursday, June 22nd, related to the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s lawsuit against AT&T. The document that the court disclosed was a statement by J. Scott Marcus, a former Senior Advisor for Internet technology to the Federal Communications Commission, which adds strong support to the allegations that the AT&T has constructed secret rooms, which allow the National Security Agency to conduct widespread surveillance of Internet traffic. An adapted abstract from Kim Zetter’s article indicates that:

The document also paints a detailed scenario of how the NSA may be conducting the top-secret operation, which closely matches information given to Salon by a former AT&T employee who worked at the company’s network operations center in Bridgeton, Missouri….

EFF asked Marcus to examine records from a former AT&T technician in California named Mark Klein that describe how AT&T reconfigured its network in San Francisco and installed special computer systems in a secret room, allegedly to divert and collect Internet traffic to help the NSA conduct warrantless surveillance. According to Marcus, the Klein documents refer to a “private … backbone network, which appears to partition from AT&T’s main Internet backbone.” This coincides with the timing of the Bridgeton Network Operation Center, which was put in place about eight months before the San Francisco room was configured and was the place from which the work order for the secret room in San Francisco originated.

As for the kind of data collected, Marcus infers from the Klein documents that the configuration in place in San Francisco would enable surveillance of “both overseas and purely domestic traffic.” But the Klein evidence suggests that only “off net” traffic was being collected in San Francisco at the time the documents were written. It would mean that any traffic that passed through AT&T’s network from another ISP or network would be intercepted. He suggests the possibility, however, that authorities could conceivably weed out domestic traffic to collect only international traffic exchanged between an AT&T customer and noncustomer, given that software programs exist that can help distinguish domestic Internet traffic from traffic that travels from outside the United States.

Extract adapted by the Author from:

Kim Zette

Salon, June 23, 2006

Harry Callahan: Uncompromising Minimalist Images

Harry Callahan (1912-1999), a stubbornly unclassifiable photographer who spent the best years of his long career in Chicago, has always been a bit of an enigma. Although he taught at Chicago’s Laszlo Moholy-Nagy’s Institute of Design, Callahan never allowed himself to become a strict adherent to its Bauhaus traditions. Instead, he chose to work instinctively, without an explicit artistic ideology.

At his best, Callahan was an exacting minimalist, who extracted the essences of images by removing nearly everything that distracted from their fundamental graphic worth. In the darkroom, a tangle of weeds in snow became an elegant scrawl of slender lines in a field of blank white. The bare torso of Callahan’s wife pictured in inky silhouette, looks as if it might have been painted with a single stroke of a calligrapher’s brush.

Callahan’s work is strictly formal and emotionally abstinent, never attempting to inflame or persuade. One can hardly find lonelier, more brooding pictures of Chicago than his stoic images of lakefront trees.

The Huffington Post: Final Diagnosis–Officially Insane

The Final Word: The Huffington Post Has Gone “Medically Nuts”

Arianna Huffington does so remind me of a slightly younger, but just as doddering, edition of Zsa Zsa Gabor. It is indeed a sad state of affairs when some readers mistake Huffungton’s goofy, doltish and dull-witted gossip for truly insightful social and political observations. So this will be the last of my postings about her. Greg Gutfield, from The Huffington Post itself, published this article today summarizing the recent total state of craziness surrounding The Post during the last two days:

Here at the Huffpo, all sense of normalcy has been thrown out the window. This place is nuts. Not just funny nuts but wacky nuts – what people in medical circles call “open robe” nuts…The left has gone nuts. Take the Huff Post, which recently blasts a man because the contents of his blog don’t fit within his area of expertise. He is a pharmaceutical consultant, so he shouldn’t be blogging about anything but drugs. Fine. I don’t blog unless I am on drugs.

But meanwhile, Hollywood bumblebee Jane Hamsher is blogging about the CIA. That was hysterical. And totally nuts. But it brings up an essential point: Where were the rules then? Are there any rules? Or: Are there blog rules for one group of people, and a different set of blog rules for another?

Like the rules you see for the rich and the poor. The rich get everything handed to them on a silver platter. Including silver platters. However, the poor don’t get silver platters at all. No. Their platters are probably made from some cheap alloy, maybe something that’s white and corrosion resistant. Aluminum.

At the Huffpo, it’s like that as well – but the class distinction isn’t between rich and poor, but famous/celebrity/lefty and the rest of us. So, now I am confused. Even more than normal! I mean, What exactly are we allowed to blog on? Arianna, all this craziness is super sexy, but I know for a fact that raw incoherence will simply ruin the relationship.

I have posted mostly surreal mindless crap, so does that mean I can be banned for writing something serious? I want to blog about Darfur, which I think is fur you get from Dar, but according to the new rules, I would risk expulsion if I raised my voice. I like to wear shorts on hot days – but I could be banned for saying that. Because, as you know, it doesn’t comport to my area of expertise.But I’ll say it now. “I like to wear shorts on hot days.”

That felt good.

Back to message:

You invited Peter Rost to blog, let an employee mock him, then ragged on Rost for defending himself! You banned and mocked him for blogging about personal issues, and then after demeaning him, you invite him back to the party!

That’s awesomely nuts! And I don’t even think “awesomely” is a word.
(it might be).

Greg Gutfeld’s own hysterically, awesomely hilarious blog is The Daily Gut.

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