Freedom of the Press

Another day, another shining instance of the Chinese government’s take on the freedom of the press.

In what appears to be a coordinated assault, the e-mail accounts of more than a dozen rights activists, academics and journalists who cover China have been compromised by unknown intruders. A Chinese human rights organization also said that hackers disabled its Web site for a fifth straight day.

The infiltrations, which involved Yahoo e-mail accounts, appeared to be aimed at people who write about China and Taiwan, rendering their accounts inaccessible, according to those who were affected. In the case of this reporter, hackers altered e-mail settings so that all correspondence was surreptitiously forwarded to another e-mail address.

Kathleen McLaughlin, an American freelance journalist in Beijing who sits on the board of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China, said the group has confirmed that 10 journalists, including herself, had their accounts compromised.

Like the others, said she received a message from Yahoo on Thursday indicating that her account had been disabled because, according to an automated message, “we have detected an issue with your account.”

It’s additionally a puzzle that anyone inside China, Hong Kong or Taiwan would use Yahoo or MSN for their email services. Yahoo has shown a repeated predilection to share user data with the Chinese government. Their comfort in helping totalitarian states crack down on the press and people who share different ideas from the Chinese government should trouble anyone who, like me, thinks American companies should not be allowed to aid in repression by foreign regimes.

Leo Hindery on Dissent

Leo Hindery has a great piece on Huffington Post about the need for the administration to shift its focus and stop triangulating against the left to set itself out as moderate and reasonable.

It’s pretty obvious that there are people in the administration telling the president every day that he’s exactly ‘where he needs to be’ in the tug-of-war between Progressives on the left and the Tea Party-goers on the right. But there’s a big difference between moving away from the ‘crazies’ and ignoring your true political base, which I would argue for President Obama is mostly the American workers who gave him victories in those states that John Kerry unfortunately was not able to win in 2004.

Those of us at that dinner desperately want President Obama to succeed, but even more desperately we want to see the entirety of his/our government focused on a full and fair economic recovery that quickly creates and then retains millions of new good-quality jobs. The House Members among us at dinner were compelled in Obama’s first year to accept compromises on the stimulus package and on the bank bailouts, and we all grew to accept (if not really like) the administration’s ‘promise’ that after health care reform, everything would be about jobs, jobs, jobs.

Beyond winning politically, as I said yesterday, there has to be an intentional effort to make the public understand the value and importance of government as a positive factor in Americans’ lives.

What’s Next?

As regular readers know, I haven’t spent a lot of time over the first 15 months of the Obama administration feeling great about how things are going. But the passage of healthcare, while not the bill that I would have written in the slightest, does allow for an opening for the administration to do more elsewhere. It’s undoubtedly a political victory that came at a high price; but that cost must be leveraged into momentum to accomplish more things. This one law, historic though it may be, will not completely inoculate Democrats from electoral perils in November.

In The West Wing President Jed Bartlett frequently ended discussions by asking his staff, “What’s next?” The statement was definitive, making clear that the fictional President was ready to address something new. I’ll certainly grant that there is a lot of possibilities for what is next for President Obama. Even last week, he was able to bring together a major nuclear arms deal with Russia. But there needs to be a clear statement about where this administration is heading over the next eight months.

Moreover, the healthcare victory should embolden Democrats to push their agenda farther and faster. Maybe that means working on high level regulation of the financial industry, while simultaneously pushing through smaller infrastructure and jobs bills to help the Main Street economy recover. There’s need for comprehensive immigration reform, with or without Republican support. There could be a major reevaluation of Pentagon spending on Cold War era weapons systems that have no value in the fight against small groups of terrorists and irregular insurgents.

In short, now is the time for President Obama to push for a Democratic agenda, big and small, high profile and low. We can’t afford to spend another 15 months on the next issue, whatever it is. Obama and the Democratic majority has to produce results and show the public that they are the best choice to govern America now and in the future. And while they’re doing this, every argument must tie back to the importance of government as a social support network for all Americans, the value of us coming together to care for and protect each other. The Teabaggers will only keep trying to tear apart not just this administration, but the idea of government. It’s up to the President and Democratic leaders to fight back against this anti-democratic (small d) rhetoric.  Failure to do so, coupled with a failure to achieve more legislation that helps working American, will lead to electoral defeat.

We’re not at the point yet where the results of November’s election are clear. But President Obama setting out his priorities and pushing hard and fast for them will be one of the best lines of defense for the Democratic majority. Now is not the time for timidity. We need the President to tell the country what’s next.

Freedom of the Press

Chinese government style:

Editor’s note: Google announced this week that it would move its Chinese search engine to Hong Kong and stop censoring search results to suit China’s leaders. In China, the government has sought to control how Chinese media portray Google’s decision. Below we reprint the government’s instructions to domestic news Web sites. The instructions were obtained and translated by China Digital Times, a bilingual aggregator of news and analysis run by the Berkeley China Internet Project.

All chief editors and managers:

Google has officially announced its withdrawal from the China market. This is a high-impact incident. It has triggered netizens’ discussions which are not limited to a commercial level. Therefore please pay strict attention to the following content requirements during this period:

A. News section:

1. Only use Central Government main media (website) content; do not use content from other sources.

2. Reposting must not change title.

3. News recommendations should refer to Central government main media websites.

4. Do not produce relevant topic pages; do not set discussion sessions; do not conduct related investigative reporting.

5. Online programs with experts and scholars on this matter must apply for permission ahead of time. This type of self-initiated program production is strictly forbidden.

6. Carefully manage the commentary posts under news items.

B. Forums, blogs and other interactive media sections:

1. It is not permitted to hold discussions or investigations on the Google topic.

2. Interactive sections do not recommend this topic, do not place this topic and related comments at the top.

3. All websites please clean up text, images and sound and videos which attack the Party, State, government agencies, Internet policies with the excuse of this event.

4. All websites please clean up text, images and sound and videos which support Google, dedicate flowers to Google, ask Google to stay, cheer for Google and others have a different tune from government policy.

5. On topics related to Google, carefully manage the information in exchanges, comments and other interactive sessions.

6. Chief managers in different regions please assign specific manpower to monitor Google-related information; if there is information about mass incidents, please report it in a timely manner.

We ask the Monitoring and Control Group to immediately follow up monitoring and control actions along the above directions; once any problems are discovered, please communicate with respected sessions in a timely manner.

Addition[al] guidelines:

— Do not participate in and report Google’s information/press releases.

— Do not report about Google exerting pressure on our country via people or events.

— Related reports need to put [our story/perspective/information] in the center, do not provide materials for Google to attack relevant policies of our country.

— Use talking points about Google withdrawing from China published by relevant departments.

[Emphasis added]

At the end of the day, it is clear that Google was not able to change China. For four years, instead, China changed Google. Now that Google has partly left China, the Chinese government will continue to behave as they always have. The press is not free. Speech is not free. These are important things to keep in mind whenever discussing how the US or other Western governments and businesses should relate to the Chinese government.

Finally, Is Shut Down

This should have been done four years ago, but it’s still great to see Google finally get to the right place and shut down The search engine was built to spec for the Chinese government, enabling their to be both censorship of search results and rigged returns for results that favored the Chinese government party line.

So earlier today we stopped censoring our search services—Google Search, Google News, and Google Images—on Users visiting are now being redirected to, where we are offering uncensored search in simplified Chinese, specifically designed for users in mainland China and delivered via our servers in Hong Kong. Users in Hong Kong will continue to receive their existing uncensored, traditional Chinese service, also from Due to the increased load on our Hong Kong servers and the complicated nature of these changes, users may see some slowdown in service or find some products temporarily inaccessible as we switch everything over.

Figuring out how to make good on our promise to stop censoring search on has been hard. We want as many people in the world as possible to have access to our services, including users in mainland China, yet the Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement.

The Modern Republican Party

Former Bush speechwriter David Frum:

No illusions please: This bill will not be repealed. Even if Republicans scored a 1994 style landslide in November, how many votes could we muster to re-open the “doughnut hole” and charge seniors more for prescription drugs? How many votes to re-allow insurers to rescind policies when they discover a pre-existing condition? How many votes to banish 25 year olds from their parents’ insurance coverage? And even if the votes were there – would President Obama sign such a repeal?

We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat.

Enter newly hatched CNN contributor, Erick “Son of Erick” Erickson:

The Republican leadership remains accommodationist and fearful of being labeled the ‘party of no.’

Let me be blunt: any Republican who says we will repeal and replace will themselves be replaced. We want repeal period.

This is not to say we will not offer up our own ideas, of which there are many. This is to say that right now there is no consensus on what to replace this monstrosity with, so instead of nuancing just promise to repeal it. We don’t need cute and clever politicians right now, we need a commitment to repeal Obamacare.

It looks like Erickson and his piece of the Republican Party want to double-down on the radicalism. Good luck with that!

If I had to guess, though, Frum is going to continue to be marginalized by increasingly establishment voices like Erickson. I don’t think the GOP will be able to tear themselves away from the Party of No and in fact will only increase their blind oppositionism to any and all things proposed by President Obama and the Democratic Party.

What Progressives Won

This post by Chris Bowers is really worth a read, especially as the wheels of “Rahm was right to shit on progressives” get going in the Beltway. The main point by Bowers:

It is factually untrue that progressives won no concessions in this bill. People are free to debate over whether the concessions are enough either to support the bill or to demonstrate increased influence, but it is simply untrue that they won nothing in return for their support.