Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Saturday, December 3, 2016 12:19 am

The media and Trump

Sixth in a series (first installment, second installment, third installment, fourth installment, fifth installment)

So what is to be done about the president-elect and the executive branch he is forming? I’ll get to that in the next installment, but I first want to make a point that I believe is crucial: Whatever we try to do, we will get no help from most news media. They are hobbled by the interests of ownership and, worse, their own blinkers as they confront what faces us.

The concentrated corporate control of most of the largest news media outlets has been covered in great detail elsewhere, and I won’t rehash that fact except to say that it is the rare outlet where the financial interests of the owner or chief executive does not, from time to time, interfere with news judgement in a way that disadvantages the less powerful. Does that happen every day, at every outlet? With the possible exception of a few outlets like Fox News, and with the obvious exception of propaganda mills like Breitbart, I’d say no, but it happens often enough even at outlets, like The New York Times, that are perceived as left-leaning. (In point of fact, true leftists in other countries — we have few here in the U.S. — would consider the Times center-right, but that’s a subject for another day.)

Moreover, I’ve argued off and on for 20 years or more that news media need to be more forthright about defining their interests in more detail than vague platitudes such as “all the news that’s fit to print” or “provide a free people the information they need to govern themselves.” For example, I think that, if pressed, most mainstream news outlets would concede that they have an interest in requiring government at all levels to do its business in the open, and the more advanced among them would frame this discussion not just as an interest of the news outlet but also as an interest of the public.

But I have thought for some time — and the ascension of Trump, I think, demands — that news outlets also must explicitly state additional values, in particular equal justice under the law and the Constitution, and should make clear that upholding those values means opposing all who would oppose them. If someone wants to make an argument for changing the Constitution for this reason or that, that’s a perfectly legitimate political argument to make, and news outlets should cover it like any other. But if someone wants to ignore the Constitution, U.S. statutes, and Supreme Court precedents, news outlets should, at the least, take the position in editorials and news reports alike that the individual supports positions that would be at odds with the oath of office and therefore is unfit for office.

That’s a radical position for most U.S. journalists for a couple of reasons.

For one thing, for most of the past century, U.S. journalism has embraced what journalism scholar Jay Rosen and others have called “the view from nowhere” — in perhaps too short, objectivity carried to the point that it omits even the most relevant context.

For another, journalists have a mostly-well-justified fear of becoming “part of the story.” Avoiding that is a good way to try to achieve fairness and accuracy, but sometimes it is not sufficient to deliver to the reader/viewer a fully accurate story. For example, extraordinary efforts by bureaucrats to hinder journalists’ access to records essential to documenting a story should indeed become part of the story, even if that means including steps journalists had to take to obtain those records, such as suing.

And for another, news journalism has almost by definition sought to avoid advocacy. But in America, I would argue, in some cases, advocacy journalism is essential to preventing the destruction of what makes America America and/or what makes journalism journalism. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson (formerly the chief U.S. prosecutor at the Nuremberg war-crimes trials after World War II) famously observed that the Constitution is not a suicide pact. Well, neither is journalism, in that it should not just report on but also should actively oppose that which would make journalism difficult or impossible, not only for the sake of the outlet but also for the sake of the citizens that outlet purports to serve.

But American journalism has not just the right but also an affirmative moral duty to oppose that which would destroy our constitutional form of government and/or the journalism that provides the information that citizens of our democratic republic need to govern themselves. And not only must American journalism take this position, it must hold it without compromise.

Unfortunately, doing so directly endangers the financial interests of most owners of journalism outlets. So we’re back to Square 1, even if individual journalists try here and there to do the right thing.

And most journalists won’t.

There have been signs of this from the very beginning of Trump’s campaign. Cable news, in particularly, gave Trump large chunks of free air time to spew his views to American viewers, without editing, curation or context, even though their executives knew that doing so gave Trump a huge advantage over the rest of the large and ungainly Republican field.  And they did it for one reason: ratings. As Les Moonves, CEO of CBS, stated, “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.”

Media outlets also have proven themselves unable to resist outside forces, from Trump himself to the Russians. Worse, they’re making unforced errors. The broadcast networks, for example, devoted far less time in 2016 to coverage of issues than they did in the seven previous presidential campaigns dating back to 1988 — and devoted more than three times that amount of coverage to Hillary Clinton’s emails, a “scandal” that, despite numerous Justice Department and congressional investigations, never amounted to so much as a credible allegation of wrongdoing, let alone an indictment or conviction.

Print and online media did no better, UNC sociologist Zeynep Tufekci found: Her survey of pre-election coverage by The New York Times, The Washington Post and Politico found that they devoted five times as many stories to Clinton’s emails, 1,372, as to Trump’s conflicts of interest, 279 — again, despite numerous Justice Department and congressional investigations, never amounted to so much as a credible allegation of wrongdoing, let alone an indictment or conviction.

Since the election, there has been no sign that things are getting any better. New York University professor Jay Rosen highlights one example of news media’s inability to grapple with Trump’s numerous, outrageous lies: The media provide what he calls “accusation-driven” journalism rather than what is needed: evidence-based journalism.

And the news media, with little education, perspective or background and no fucking sense of history, is utterly ignorant of Hannah Arendt’s trenchant observation about the Nazis’ lies and the German newspapers’ failed 1930s efforts to fact-check: The Nazis don’t lie to tell you what they think is true. They lie to explain what would have to be true to justify what they’re doing. For example, Trump didn’t claim on Twitter that millions of people had fraudulently voted for Hillary Clinton because it was true. He claimed it to lay the groundwork for even worse restrictions on minority voting once he takes office. It was his Reichstag fire.

Some journalists are ready to admit defeat. Others are at least suggesting ways in which journalists might combat Trump effectively; Ned Resnikoff at Thing Progress has done better at this than most. (I personally think that every time journalists at a Trump rally are derided by the president-elect, they ought to respond with birds and wanking gestures, just as a start.)  But none of them, with the honorable exception of Jamelle Bouie at Slate, seem willing or even able to grasp the reality that Arendt laid out a half-century ago.

Which leads us to a poignant question raised just this morning by the editorial-page editor of my local paper, a paper where I once worked for 22 years. Allen Johnson asked on his blog: Are we out to get Donald Trump?

My response was pretty simple:

First, he didn’t win the election “fair and square.” A large, multi-state effort coordinated by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach illegally purged large numbers of voters — primarily voters from demographics statistically likely to vote Democratic — from rolls in several swing states, as documented by journalist Greg Palast on his website and in his new book. Forget allegations of Russian interference and voting-machine tampering; we know for a fact that this happened and that its effect was more than large enough to have swung the Electoral College vote. See Palast’s website and book “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy” for more information.

Second, Trump is doing and and has announced plans to do things that are not just mean-spirited, destructive and dangerous, but also unconstitutional. Opposing such an individual is the highest form of patriotism.

But for reasons outlined above, the media almost certainly aren’t going to be any help.

So where does that leave us, as a nation and as individuals? I’ll discuss that in my next post an upcoming post — sorry, but the next post got so big it needed splitting into pieces.

 

 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 8:13 pm

If only the public flaying were not metaphorical

So recently, Politico, not known for either journalistic ethics or simple human decency, sat down to have a chat with Dick Cheney, his harridan erstwhile-lesbian-porn-writing wife Lynne, and his inept erstwhile political-candidate daughter Liz.

To talk about foreign policy.

With “noted mortgage fraud concern” Bank of America as sponsor.

I’m sorry to report that fricassee of feces was not on the menu, but the “chat” was utterly full of it. So, boy, howdy, was I happy to see Charlie Pierce at Esquire give the unindicted war criminal, his vile relatives, and Politico the hiding they so richly deserved. I’m delighted to say that no one was spared, not even the children.

NoOneWasSpared

Just a few gems:

[Politico’s] puerilty has finally crossed over into indecency. Its triviality has finally crossed over into obscenity. The comical political starfcking that is its primary raison d’erp has finally crossed over into $10 meth-whoring on the Singapore docks.

… and …

It’s not just that TBOTP[“Tiger Beat on the Potomac” — Pierce’s epithet for Politico] invited the Manson Family of American geopolitics to come together for an exercise in ensemble prevarication. It’s not just that the account of said exercise is written in the kind of cacophonous cutesy-poo necessary to drown out the screams of the innocent dead, and to distract the assembled crowd from the blood that has dripped from the wallet of the celebrity war-criminal leading the public display. And it’s not as though this was a mere interview—a “get” that could help you “win the morning (!).” In that, it might have been marginally excusable. No, this was one of [Politico editor] Mike Allen’s little grift-o-rama special events—a “Playbook lunch,” sponsored by that noted mortgage fraud concern Bank Of America. There’s an upcoming TBOTP “event” in L.A. that is sponsored by J.P. Morgan. I know what Mike Allen is, but I am so goddamn tired of haggling about the price.

… and …

That’s the freaking problem? That Dad and Mom and Exemptionette got together, but The Gay One didn’t show up. The problem was not that your publication decided to publicize itself, and suck up some of that sweet sponsorship cash from Wall Street, by putting a coward and a torturer on display with the more unpleasant members of his family? The problem was not that the alleged journalists running your place decided to give a platform to a man whose only public appearances in the near future should be unsponsored events at the Hague?

It goes on like that, a righteous rant to rank with the best of Thompson and Taibbi. I didn’t even quote the best parts.

I have not had a lot of energy or attention for blogging of late. (I’m actually finally reading “The Count of Monte Cristo,” and I also just discovered “Breaking Bad.” Sue me.) But I’m glad that Pierce is on the job. And some of the commenters give as good as Pierce does; I particularly liked the notion that Cheney will outlive even Keith Richards for all the wrong reasons.

Anyway, go read and get mad all over again — at the war criminal, his family, and the whores who give him a platform. They’re all deserving targets of wrath. For as Liz Cheney says herownself, “You can’t be responsible about the future if you don’t understand what happened in the past.”

 

Friday, February 7, 2014 8:24 pm

How to monetize journalism

Filed under: Journalism — Lex @ 8:24 pm
Tags: , ,

Athenae, even while wrestling with a newborn, nailed this in one take:

Seems to be a matter of whoring yourself out to any passing truck driver who throws on a Goodwill sport coat for the night, coupled with showing absolutely no remorse for being a solipsistic [expletive] who can’t make the connection between policy failures and LOTS OF DEAD PEOPLE.

Sounds about right. Quality journalism, journalism that helps people make sense of their world and their agency within it and that holds the powerful accountable, has almost never been profitable. It almost always has been subsidized by something else: advertisements, sports, recipes, the comics, donations, or all of the above. And anyone who claims otherwise, as Jim VandeHei of Politico seemed to be doing here, has probably already found himself a passing truck driver in a Goodwill sport coat.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 10:00 pm

Driftglass summarizes “Hubris” for you because I had to study

This is just a taste. And I am grateful to him for the service (which was live-tweeted, thus the weird diction/syntax in places; also, I did a quick search-and-replace on some of the more vapors-inducing participial adjectives):

  • Remember David Brooks’ column calling people who opposed Wolfowitz antisemitic? No? That’s the firetrucking problem.
  • Remember David Brooks’ columns mocking Liberals who opposed Iraq war as deluded Bush-deranged posers? No? That’s the firetrucking problem
  • Remember David Brooks calling people cynical assholes who objected to Dubya’s flightsuit tango? No? That’s the firetrucking problem.
  • Remember when the collaborators at the NYT gave a firetrucking weekly column to Bloody Bill Kristol? No? That’s the firetrucking problem.
  • Remember when David Brooks leveraged his Liberal bashing tripe into a column-for-life at the NYT? No? That’s the firetrucking problem.
  • Remember Steve Gilliard? No? That’s the firetrucking problem.
  • Remember when the wingnutosphere went nuts trying to discredit every alarming report out of Iraq? No? That’s the firetrucking problem.
  • Remember when palette-trucks of shrink- wrapped taxpayer cash just firetrucking vanished into Iraq? No? That’s the firetrucking problem.
  • Remember when everything that is now settled history was America-hating surrender-monkey treason? No? That’s the firetrucking problem.
  • Remember when a gay hooker Conservative “reporter” w/ a fake name sat 100 ft away from Dubya for 2 yrs? No? That’s the firetrucking problem
  • Remember when Halliburton made $$ selling American soldiers in Iraq toilet water? No? That’s the firetrucking problem.
  • Remember when the GOP made “[Forget] Reality” into American national policy? No? That’s the firetrucking problem.
  • Remember when Phil Donahue got fired for telling the truth and Conservatives got promoted for lying? No? That’s the firetrucking problem.
  • Remember how the Cheney clans got really, really rich sending kids off to die for their lies? No? That’s the firetrucking problem.
  • Remember when 60 million Americans re-elected these deficit-creating war criminals? No? That’s the firetrucking problem.
  • Remember the incompetent children of GOP campaign contributors were put in charge of governing Iraq? No? That’s the firetrucking problem.
  • Remember when Fox News told soldiers rolling into battle to look into the camera and say “Fox Rocks!” No? That’s the firetrucking problem.

You know, I stack this list up against the whining from Politico reporters that I mentioned below, and I think perhaps I should call Mike Allen or Jim Vandehei at Politico and tell them, “There are better ways you could be spending your time, and some pseudonymous blogger in flyover country has just handed you a double fistful of them for free, so pack a lunch and get busy.

That, also, is the polite version. Too. Here’s kind of what I really feel like saying.

God, I hate DC media

With the fiery passion of a thousand white-hot suns. Why? Many reasons, ranging from the fact that, with very few exceptions, they suck at their jobs to the fact that, although they’ve got the life of Riley as journalism goes, they whine about everything all the damn time.

Look, I spent 25 years in journalism. And, yes, when journalists get together, they talk about the job and tell stories about the job and whine and bitch about the job. But you know what the smart ones don’t do? Talk, tell stories, whine or bitch about the job in front of non-journalists. Why? First, the non-journalists don’t care. Second, it’s the ultimate first-world problem. Third, people like me get on your ass about it, and, being no masochist, I don’t want people like me on my ass.

My crazy-busy work and school schedules notwithstanding, I was thinking about going on a tear about this whiny Politico article about how tough it is to cover this president because he doesn’t go out of his way to make things easy for you. Cry me a freakin’ river. If I ran a DC news operation, I would staff the White House with a goddamn intern because the real news, the stuff real people actually care about, the stuff that requires real journalism, is almost never in the White House pressroom.

I’d send the real reporters — the ones who know how to get documents and which documents are worth getting, the ones who know how to download, analyze and interpret data, the ones who know how to persuade government employees to put their jobs on the line by talking about the venality, incompetence and even corruption of their superiors, in every Executive Branch office except the White House. And I would tell them two things:

1) Don’t come back with anything but journalism. No polls, no gossip, no speculation, and for God’s sweet sake, no “exclusive interviews.” Just facts, context, analysis, explained in a way that any ordinary person can understand and many ordinary people, for good or ill, will get excited about.

2) If you want to whine about your job, come in, shut my office door and have a seat. But you don’t get to use our newsprint/bytes/whatever to to do it. You whine to me. For as long as you want. And then you get up and leave the office and you don’t whine, you go commit some more goddamn journalism.

Steve at No More Mr. Nice Blog brings it home:

As anyone who pays the slightest attention to pop music (and, these days, books) has figured out, you can self-publish if you want, using this new thing called the Internet. And especially if you’re already famous, you can put your own stuff out on your own site and it can get a hell of a lot of attention, if perhaps not quite the same level of attention you get if the transmission is through a media giant.

So the White House doesn’t always need courtier journalists to release its soft stories — it can post them the way Radiohead posted the album In Rainbows and the public can grab the content directly.

This leaves the press the job of having to figure out what it can offer that’s different from self-published White House content. And that, I believe, would be, y’know, um, journalism. Ever heard of it? Dig around and come up with a story that’s not spoon-fed to you by official sources? That sort of thing?

Instead, we get this:

The frustrated Obama press corps neared rebellion this past holiday weekend when reporters and photographers were not even allowed onto the Floridian National GolfClub, where Obama was golfing. That breached the tradition of the pool “holding” in the clubhouse and often covering — and even questioning — the president on the first and last holes.

Guys? Seventy journalists were killed last year worldwide, and 232 are currently imprisoned. So cry me a river.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 9:09 pm

Your liberal media …

… is, as Jason Linkins observes, utterly unable to call a spade a spade.

Journalists, even the ones working in Podunkia for $15,000 a year, are held to this standard: If you knew it was wrong and published it anyway, or you published it with reckless disregard for whether it was wrong, you’re screwed. (Unless, of course, you work for The New York Times, in which case they’ll give you a regular op-ed gig alongside Tom Friedman, David Brooks and Ross Douthat.) I see no reason why a politician, particularly one running for president, should be held to a lower standard.

Mitt Romney lied — and, knowing that the media will not call him out for his lying, he seems to believe that he can successfully campaign against Obama by lying while the media say, “Oh, what an interesting campaign strategy,” instead of, oh, I don’t know, maybe, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”

Politico notwithstanding, calling a politician’s lie a lie is not expressing “opinion.” It’s reporting. And, dear God, do we need more of it.

UPDATE: Fox’s Megyn Kelly dismissed pepper spray as “a vegetable, essentially.” No, Megyn, the vegetable would be you. (link NSFW)

Saturday, May 8, 2010 12:11 am

Priorities

Filed under: Aiee! Teh stoopid! It burns!,Journalism — Lex @ 12:11 am
Tags: ,

First, I want to say that I’m really, really happy that my friend and former colleague Ben Feller won an award at the White House Correspondents Association’s annual dinner. He’s a good guy.

I just wish the circumstances under which he won weren’t so damn toxic to American public life.

Unemployment is stuck at 10 percent, the military is throwing journalists out of trials for reporting facts already deeply imbedded in the public record, the worst environmental disaster in a generation is unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico, the surge in Afghanistan is not working and our veterans are committing suicide at alarming rates.

And Politico, considered the Hot New Thing in online journalism, runs 84 stories about the White House correspondents’ dinner.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010 11:29 pm

Memo to Politico

Filed under: Journalism — Lex @ 11:29 pm
Tags:

I spent a quarter-century fighting government for information at all levels — local, state, federal. And I do, in fact, sympathize with reporters’ concerns about the lack of info coming out of the Obama White House, particularly when that administration is run by a guy who campaigned on transparency and yet is surpassing his predecessor in some forms of secretiveness.

But I also have to say I’d sympathize more if you guys didn’t suck so hard.

The only MSM outlet in Washington I halfway trust is McClatchy. The rest of you are gossipy, whiny, poll-obsessed, policy-ignoring, obsolete-narrative-adhering, self-regarding, mutually-fellating, Establishment-reinforcing, middle-class-ignoring, crime-overlooking  ignorami.

UPDATE: DougJ at Balloon Juice: “I sympathize with reporters on this, but it’s simple: the George W. Bush administration made you their bitch. Now you’re every administration’s bitch.”

Friday, January 15, 2010 7:15 pm

Odds and ends for 1/15

Why Haiti is so poor: Because it’s an abused nation, David Brooks, you staggeringly stupid person.

The Fort Hood Shootings: DOD’s official report, out today. Haven’t had time to read it.

But Fox News is cracking down on inaccuracy! Really!: The author of a study that Fox claims proves we’re entering a “mini ice age” says, “I don’t know what to do. They just make these things up.”

Relatedly, global-warming denialism is becoming (surprise!) big business.

The Politico has a scoop! “GOP leaders have privately settled on a strategy to win back the House by putting the vast majority of their money and energy into attacking Democrats — and turning this election into a national referendum on the party in power.” Because Wow! They’ve never done that before! [headdesk]

“I want uninterrupted expertise.” Who cares what the public thinks?

For God’s sake, no one tell David Broder: The public thinks bipartisanship is less important than principles. Richard Burr gets this. Does Kay Hagan?

The National Center for Counterterrorism? Has serious problems.

Don’t ask. Don’t tell. Plan: The Pentagon is preparing for the likelihood that DADT will be repealed. Good. Whether they like it or not, Obama certainly campaigned on repeal, so they at least ought to be prepared.

If Joe Lieberman doesn’t like being called “untrustworthy,” maybe he should stop acting, you know, untrustworthy. Because otherwise, a blog not predisposed to liking Joe very much might throw an impromptu contest to see who can come up with the best synonym for “untrustworthy” (oh, so NSFW), and that would be simply awful.

“The costs of imprecision” are staggering and growing.

One of history’s biggest arguments, settled. (I win.) (h/t: Fred)

ZOMG! Real-life “Calvin & Hobbes” snowmen!

Reason No. 4,298 why I love FailBlog (h/t Jill, who had to be a student in sex-ed classes taught by her mom at both school AND church, which must be, like, a preadolescent’s worst nightmare):

Thursday, December 3, 2009 9:11 pm

In which Senate Republicans get schooled

Having been criticized for being douches, the 30 Senate Republicans who voted against Al Franken’s let’s-not-screw-rape-victims-any-more-than-they’ve-already-been-screwed amendment now are claiming, somewhat less than convincingly, that Franken’s the one who’s a douche:

The Republicans are steamed at Franken because partisans on the left are using a measure he sponsored to paint them as rapist sympathizers — and because Franken isn’t doing much to stop them.

“Trying to tap into the natural sympathy that we have for this victim of this rape — and use that as a justification to frankly misrepresent and embarrass his colleagues, I don’t think it’s a very constructive thing,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said in an interview.

“I think it’s going to make a lot of senators leery and start looking at things he’s doing earlier on, because I don’t think it got appropriate attention ahead of time.”

In a chamber where relationship-building is seen as critical, some GOP senators question whether Franken’s handling of the amendment could damage his ability to work across the aisle. Soon after Tennessee GOP Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander co-wrote an op-ed in a local newspaper defending their votes against the Franken measure, the Minnesota Democrat confronted each senator separately to dispute their column — and grew particularly angry in a tense exchange with Corker.

People familiar with the Corker exchange say it was heated and ended abruptly — a sharp departure from the norm on the usually clubby Senate floor.

Goodness. So much pearl-clutching. Where to start?

Memo to Politico: It ain’t just “partisans on the left.” It’s everyone who gives a damn about rape victims.

Question for John Cornyn: What did Franken misrepresent? Did he say you voted against the amendment when you actually voted for it? No? Then he didn’t misrepresent a thing. And if it embarrasses you, well, dude, if you don’t want douchey publicity, then stop being a douche.

Another question for John Cornyn: What possible basis is there for believing that you might have been willing to work with Franken on any measure of public benefit, ever, even before this episode happened?

Question for Senate Republicans: What does it say about you that Franken might have foreseen that this measure would have the outcome that it did?

Another question for Senate Republicans: After Dick Cheney told somebody on the floor of the Senate to commit an anatomically improbable act upon himself, why should I care what Republicans think about Senate decorum?

Question for senators in general: Why is “relationship-building” seen as anywhere near as important as not being a douche?

Bonus fun: These douches fell into a trap set by the guy they all thought would be an absolutely inept senator.

Bonus comment from commenter The Grand Panjandrum at Balloon Juice: “Life’s a bitch, and then you become one. How does it feel to be Al Franken’s bitch, Johnny?”

Question for Politico editors: How do you let this piece go online without at least making the reporter try to get some of the Republican senators on the record as to why they opposed the measure? And why did you not link to the op-ed you mention (it’s right here)?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009 9:50 pm

Odds and ends for 12/1

Green shoot (me): Delinquent balances underlying commercial mortgage-backed securities totaled $32.55 billion in October, up more than 500% from October 2008. They’re expected to top $65 billion by June, which would be a record 8.3% of the total.

Michele Bachmann, idiot: “Just over a year ago, 100 percent of the private economy was private.” Uh-huh. And just over a year ago, 100 percent of water was wet.

Jon Kyl, moron: The Arizona senator, who has repeatedly said President Obama needs to heed the request of Gen. Stanley McChrystal for more troops in Afghanistan, says any kind of deadline for getting them out — an “exit strategy” — would be “exactly the wrong way to go.” Perhaps he should have run that position past McChrystal, who said in October: “Gentlemen, I am coming into this job with 12 months to show demonstrable progress here — and 24 months to have a decisive impact. That’s how long we have to convince the Taliban, the Afghan people and the American people that we’re going to be successful. … That’s not a choice. That’s a reality.”

Alberto Gonzalez, imbecile: The former attorney general and unindicted co-conspirator, unable to find a job in any law firm, anywhere, or teaching law at any law school, anywhere, tells a political-science course at Texas Tech to “dream big” and hang in there until your crony network elevates you to power.

Mike Huckabee, deluded: Dude, God is telling you to pardon the wrong people. Plural.

Jason Linkins, not an idiot, moron or imbecile OR deluded: “I’d describe Politico‘s brand of journalism as banality, added to Scientology, multiplied by the spasmodic frenzy of a tween who hasn’t learned to displace their unfulfilled erotic needs onto emo vampires.”

Ben Nelson, just dumb, but United States Senator dumb, meaning he’s in a position to cause actual trouble: We need to pay for the Afghanistan escalation, but we don’t want to increase the deficit and we don’t want a war tax because we fought WWII without one, so let’s sell war bonds! (I am now cleaning my own gray matter off the walls of my study.)

Whom would Jesus card?: The Houston Salvation Army is among seven charities checking the immigration status of poor families before giving toys to the kids.

Things we don’t talk about when we talk about military missions and government spending.

Needed to create jobs: More direct infrastructure investment, fewer tax credits. This imbalance hobbled Stimulus I, which was no more than half as big as it needed to be to begin with.

The return of common sense: Fafblog on the war in Afghanistan: “Let us never forget just what’s at stake in the war in Afghanistan: nothing less than the success of the war in Afghanistan.” Pretty much.

Related: As the number of troops in Afghanistan grows, so will the number of contractors. Because that worked out so well last time. Comments Clavis at TPMMuckraker: “I think it would be cheaper if we simply paid the Afghanis to shoot themselves.”

Plus, he sounds exactly like Rush Limbaugh. Also.: MSNBC talk-show host Ed Schultz ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed. He had this to say about the Obama state-dinner party crashers (whom, I promise, I will mention no more): “What if one of them were a ninja? Obama could have been killed.” On hearing this, my thoughts ran roughly in this order: 1) Ninjas? Cool! 2) Yeah, and he could have been killed even though they weren’t ninjas. Idiot. 3) Pirates v. ninjas! 4) Obama v. Ninjas! 5) Obama v. Ninjas: The Video Game! (c) 2009 Lex Alexander. I win.

There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio David and Tamron, than are dreamt of in your philosophy: Of course they let bin Laden get away at Tora Bora on purpose. No other explanation comports with both the facts we have and Occam’s Razor.

And, finally …

Tiger Woods is changing careers: The Borowitz Report has the inside scoop.

UPDATE: I’m feeling generous, so here’s a bonus:

Write your own punch line: The COO of McDonald’s is retiring … for health reasons.

Must. Have.: Vodka. In a pill. (h/t: Maru)

Monday, November 30, 2009 10:56 pm

Odds and ends for 11/30

Somebody make this guy a senator: Vermont’s Bernie Sanders on reappointing Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Fed: “No, I absolutely will not vote for Mr. Bernanke. He is part of the problem. (If) he’s the smartest guy in the world, why didn’t he do anything to prevent us from sinking into this disaster that Wall Street caused and which he was a part of?” Now all we need is 50 more just like him.

More Sanders, just because it’s so damn refreshing to hear someone standing up to banksters on behalf of taxpayers: “If the taxpayers of this country have spent $700 billion bailing out Wall Street because they are too big to fail, why is it that 3 out of the 4 largest financial institutions today are bigger than they were before the bailout, why is it ok that 4 large financial institutions write half the mortgages, two thirds of the credit cards, and control 40% of the deposits. The bottom line to me is that the middle class in this country is collapsing. We have seen this trend downward for many many years. We need a new direction. We need President Obama to take this country in a new way,new economic policies and you don’t appoint the same old guys if you’re going to do that.”

Relatedly: Fifteen questions the Senate Banking Committee should ask Bernanke but probably won’t.

Shorter McKinsey: The European commercial real estate market to the contrary, 2 + 2 != 5. Even shorter McKinsey: If you own a dime of European commercial real-estate financing, you’re so screwed.

Sex scandals can be/Grounds for excellent haiku/Enter this contest: Talking Points Memo is having a contest to see who can submit the best haiku about one (or more) of 2009’s political sex scandals. Send yours to talk@talkingpointsmemo.com.

AIG? Is not, after all this talk of bonuses for its employees, out of the woods, which means taxpayers aren’t, either. Sigh.

Sarah Palin’s “bus” tour? Also included some trips by chartered private jet. Which would be fine if she’d just, you know, either said that up front or not even made mode of travel an issue. But no.

Even Republicans think Newsweek’s Jon Meacham is an idiot: Meacham said Cheney should be the GOP presidential nominee in 2012. But a WashPost poll of Republicans finds that only one respondent out of about 800 — 0.125% — thinks Cheney best represents Republican principles. And when respondents were asked an open-ended question about who the nominee should be, no one suggested Cheney.

Memo to John Harris of Politico: Explain to me again why thinking rationally about how to solve the country’s problems is a bad thing. Because we tried that whole deciding-with-the-gut thing already and look where that got us.

Reason No. 5,677 why Obama ought to do the right thing on Afghanistan, rather than what Republicans say he should do, courtesy of Andrew Sullivan: “If he ramps up Afghanistan and delays Iraq withdrawal, he will lose his base. If he does the full metal neocon as he is being urged to, he should not be deluded in believing the GOP will in any way support him. They will oppose him every step of every initiative. They will call him incompetent if Afghanistan deteriorates, they will call him a terrorist-lover if he withdraws, they will call him a traitor if he does not do everything they want, and they will eventually turn on him and demand withdrawal, just as they did in the Balkans with Clinton.”

Because if we don’t know about it, then we don’t have to do anything about it: The Supreme Court, overruling an appeals court, lets the Obama administration keep secret some photos of torture. Dammit. We will regret this ruling, and probably sooner rather than later.

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