Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Glenn Greenwald: Peggy Noonan and the Rotting Pundit Class

Ia!! Greenwald fhtagn!!

Unclaimed Territory - by Glenn Greenwald: Peggy Noonan and the rotting pundit class: One of the more corrupt pundit phenomena is the way in which the most loyal and worshipful Bush followers, who spent the last five years praising the President and doing everything possible to enable his most radical policies, are now suddenly pretending to be so deeply dissatisfied with his rule. Now that the Bush movement is collapsing, they all want to pretend that they knew all along that things weren't going well and that the President was deeply flawed. Suddenly, they're not a part of any of it and bear no responsibility for it because, all along, they felt the President wasn't doing the right thing and, besides, he was never really loyal to their political beliefs.

Here is Peggy Noonan.... [T]his is what she says:

Republican political veterans go easy on ideology, but they're tough on incompetence. They see Mr. Bush through the eyes of experience and maturity. They hate a lack of care. They see Mr. Bush as careless, and on more than Iraq--careless with old alliances, disrespectful of the opinion of mankind. "He never listens," an elected official who is a Bush supporter said with a shrug some months ago.

Along the way the president's men and women confused the necessary and legitimate disciplining of a coalition with weird and excessive attempts to silence Republican critics. They have lived in a closed system. They now want to open it but don't know how. Listening is a habit; theirs has long been to suppress...

But in 2004, when arguing for President Bush's re-election, this is what Peggy Noonan said... about George Bush (a passage... [that] may very well be the most horrifying and cringe-inducing piece of punditry ever):

I was asked this week why the president seems so attractive to the heartland, to what used to be called Middle America. A big question. I found my mind going to this word: normal.

Mr. Bush is the triumph of the seemingly average American man. He's normal. He thinks in a sort of common-sense way. He speaks the language of business and sports and politics. You know him. He's not exotic. But if there's a fire on the block, he'll run out and help. He'll help direct the rig to the right house and count the kids coming out and say, "Where's Sally?"

He's responsible. He's not an intellectual. Intellectuals start all the trouble in the world. And then when the fire comes they say, "I warned Joe about that furnace." And, "Does Joe have children?" And "I saw a fire once. It spreads like syrup. No, it spreads like explosive syrup. No, it's formidable and yet fleeting." When the fire comes they talk.

Bush ain't that guy. Republicans love the guy who ain't that guy. Americans love the guy who ain't that guy.

Someone said to me: But how can you call him normal when he came from such privilege? Indeed he did. But there's nothing lemonade-on-the-porch-overlooking-the-links-at-the-country-club about Mr. Bush....

George W. Bush didn't grow up at Greenwich Country Day with a car and a driver dropping him off, as his father had. Until he went off to boarding school, he thought he was like everyone else. That's a gift, to think you're just like everyone else in America. It can be the making of you...

So, in just over two years in Noonan's world, George Bush went from being the responsible, concerned, trustworthy, humble neighbor--Everyman who realized that he was just another regular guy like the rest of us, to an arrogant, hubristic know-it-all tyrant who listens to nobody, stomps out dissent, and is completely irresponsible with his duties.

And she now depicts Bush in this way while pretending that she never stumbled all over herself with oozing praise that was the very antithesis of what she is now describing.

The most corrupt and worthless pundits are those who never do anything other than spout the most conventional and recent partisan wisdom -- even if it directly contradicts what they had repeatedly said in the past.... There is nothing wrong with acknowledging one's errors and changing one's mind.... But that isn't what is happening with the Peggy Noonans of the world (including the serious, moderate Beltway pundits who spent the last five years lecturing all of us on the importance of Supporting the President).... [T]hey are pretending to be... wise, objective, insightful analysts who all along have long seen the flaws in the President that have caused his presidency to collapse.... They are just self-serving, deceitful rats jumping a sinking ship that they long helped to keep afloat. Worse, they are doing so while pretending that they were never really on board (Noonan: "it's clear now to everyone in the Republican Party that Mr. Bush has changed the modern governing definition of 'conservative.' He did this without asking. He did it even without explaining")...

William Arkin Is Shrill!

William Arkin on the stupidity that is Bush defense budget planning:

A Tale of Two Budgets - Early Warning: William M. Arkin on National and Homeland Security: A Tale of Two Budgets: I rarely have written about the defense budget, seeing it almost as a political side show to policy, with twists and turns requiring constant attention and special expertise to decipher.

The budget, moreover, seems secondary to war itself, the domain solely of battling bureaucrats who have little impact on -- and hardly care about -- what happens in the real world.

Somehow, while we weren't looking, the annual defense budget bloated to a half a trillion.

Congress just administers the madness, adding line items in a behind the scenes ritual: pork mongers and Cunningham's on the take, Democrats trying to prove their martial spirit by arguing for even more, junior secretaries of both parties offering brilliant amendments to show that they care about the troops more still.

Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has hit upon a perfect device for both public control and executive autonomy. He has turned crisis into a permanent state of excess. "Emergency" funding has now become the regular state of affairs. We have, in fact, two defense budgets, a regular budget that receives some scrutiny and is somewhat limited, and an emergency supplemental that grows ever larger without much outside oversight.

The budget situation doesn't threaten to bankrupt America. And people seem only too happy to pay to keep the military over there, cowed in an endless post-September 11, 2001, offering.... Since September 11, the defense department and the national security bureaucracy has been submitting two budgets to Congress: a normal authorization and appropriations request and a supplemental or "additional" request for "emergency" funding of the war on terrorism, Iraq and Afghanistan.... For five years now, the Pentagon has been declaring a budget emergency, operating with an annual supplemental... in a Pentagon version of pork barrel spending, it also hides favorite and controversial research, development and procurement programs from regular scrutiny.... The supplemental budget and a set of supplemental budget amendments are submitted to Congress without the detailed written justifications that accompany the regular budget.

It is the absence of a paper trail, a kind of bureaucratic offering to the Congressional purse holders, which has resulted in a growing sense of disquiet on Capitol Hill.... In June, the Senate approved by 98-0 an amendment by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to require the president to request funding for Iraq in its regular, annual budget submission. The Senate-passed fiscal year 2007 budget resolution put a cap of $90 billion on total emergency funding.

Last week, according to reporting in Inside the Pentagon and by Reuters, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England directed the military services to base their requests for funding of the "longer war against terror" on supplemental budgets. England told the services that such requests should not be limited to Iraq, Afghanistan or other direct operations, but should include as well general modernization programs. England's avoidance of the regular budget is because regular annual defense spending (to the tune of $500 billion) is both under the control of Office of Management and Budget caps and Congressional oversight...

Monday, October 30, 2006

George F. Will Is Late to the Party, But He Is Finally Here

George F. Will is shrill:

Will: Cheney Still Doesn't Get It on Iraq - Newsweek George F. Will - MSNBC.com: A surreal and ultimately disgusting facet of the Iraq fiasco is the lag between when a fact becomes obvious and when the fiasco's architects acknowledge that fact.

Iraq's civil war has been raging for more than a year; so has the Washington debate about whether it is what it is.

In a recent interview with Vice President Cheney, Time magazine asked, "If you had to take back any one thing you'd said about Iraq, what would it be?" Selecting from what one hopes is a very long list, Cheney replied: "I thought that the elections that we went through in '05 would have had a bigger impact on the level of violence than they have ... I thought we were over the hump in terms of violence. I think that was premature."

He thinks so? Clearly, and weirdly, he implies that the elections had some positive impact on the level of violence. Worse, in the full transcript of the interview posted online he said the big impact he expected from the elections "hasn't happened yet." "Yet"? Doggedness can be admirable, but this is clinical.

Anyway, what Cheney actually said 17 months ago was that the insurgency was in its "last throes." That was much stronger than saying we were "over the hump" regarding violence. Beware of people who misquote themselves while purporting to display candor.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Ron Brynaert Is Shrill

He writes:

Why Are We Back In Iraq?: Bush Knowz History: President George Bush had this to say on Conservative Print Media Journalists Day:

That's what makes this more difficult -- I don't know what Harry Truman was feeling like, or Franklin Roosevelt. But I do know -- I'm sure there were moments of high frustration for them %u2013 but I do know that at Midway, they were eventually able to say two carriers were sunk and one was damaged. We don't get to say that.

Roosevelt didn't get to say that either, Mr. President, because we sank four Japanese carriers in the battle of Midway.

I learned that in grade school...

And, of course, none of the conservative media journalists learned any WWII history either.

John Cole is Our New Grand Heresiarch!!

Ia!! Ia!! Ia John Cole!! Ia!!


Friday, October 27, 2006

Dan Shaviro Is Our Cantor This Eve

Dan Shaviro is on key:

Start Making Sense: Same old bloody rubbish: He's up to an old trick today, denying that he ever said he wanted to "stay the course" in Iraq. Unfortunately, as Dan Froomkin points out in his Washington Post blog (which is hands-down superior to any print column that the Post regularly publishes), he actually did say "stay the course" repeatedly.

Word of clarification: by repeatedly I mean again and again and again and again.

Now it turns out that Bush, and by strange coincidence his aides, are out there denying in almost identical words that he ever said any such thing.

This brings back the nostalgia for me a bit, because I remember the Social Security debate. Recall that his plan, such as it was (since he disclosed it but declined to endorse it), for many years bore the label "privatization." I argued in my 2000 book, Making Sense of Social Security Reform, that this label was in fact a misnomer for a proposal to lend people the money to make debt-financed purchases of government-selected stock and bond funds. But they called it privatization anyway, I think sincerely even if inaccurately, because this term had a positive valence in the conservative think tank circles where it spent a couple of decades gestating.

Once Bush was actually proposing it, this handlers started to focus-group the name "privatization," and found that it was a flop with the general public. So, as I discuss in what I considered one of the more amusing sections of my forthcoming book, the name marched ever onward from privatization to private accounts to personal accounts to personalization (this last one being too strained and ludicrous to catch on).

The amazing thing about this march of the fiscal language terms was how shamelessly and egregiously they would accuse anyone of bias who used a term that they had used last week but were no longer using this week.

We have always been at war with Eastasia, not Eurasia, or is it the other way around.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Tim F. Joins Us!

Tim F. is shrill. Welcome, Tim!

Balloon Juice: More Torture By: Tim F. October 25, 2006 at 10:26 pm: [via this diary.] Very shortly the German periodical Stern will have more on those European secret prisons which don’t exist. In a nutshell, German security personnel visited the American facilities as early as 2001 and were shocked at the abuses that they witnessed there. Several immediately reported their experiences to superiors and prosecutors in Germany.

Until now the German government has denied any knowledge of secret prisons so this counts as one hell of a gotcha piece in Stern’s home market, as well as a timely reminder over here of what it means when a country with America’s resources decides to institutionalize abuse.

The Independent:

One German agent was said to have compared the actions of the US interrogators to Serbian war criminals during the break up of Yugoslavia. “The Serbs ended up before the international court in The Hague for this kind of thing,” he was quoted as saying.

Deutsche Welle:

During a visit to the US military base in Tuzla, in northeastern Bosnia, two officers from Germany’s federal police (BKA) and a translator for the German foreign intelligence service (BND) discovered that suspects held there were beaten savagely, the magazine said in an early extract from its edition that is set to come out on Thursday….German investigators recorded what they saw in an intelligence document, which the magazine used as the basis for its report. It said a 70-year-old terror suspect needed 20 stitches to his scalp after he was repeatedly hit over the head with a rifle butt while being held at “Eagle Base,” as the US camp is called.

The soldier who had beaten him was “visibly proud” of his conduct, the magazine quoted the report as saying.

The usual gaggle will insist that because the 70-year-old man was a terror suspect he must have been guilty of something. After all, America never abuses the innocent…and god forbid that we force innocent men to confess to crimes they had nothing to do with…even though that is precisely the purpose of the “techniques” that Bush, Cheney et al. are so adamant about using. Ask a different set of questions and the same 70 year old man would gladly admit to killing JFK and misplacing Stalin’s glasses.

We have a grand, useless infrastructure that produces bad information, strangles good information (who would voluntarily come forward to interrogators who torture?) and gums up the legal system with genuinely bad people who can never be prosecuted due to abuses on our part. And right on schedule, the the worst countries on Earth react - see, America does it! The only positive thing that I can draw from this sad period of American history, now we know who are the closet sadists and the authoritarian followers waiting for the right regime under whose thumb to subsume their will. Smile for the camera, guys.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Jeff Jarvis Joins the Shrill!

Welcome, Jeff!

Jeff Jarvis: After losing another friend to the war back home, my friend and colleague Zeyad, the Iraqi blogger now in New York at CUNY, writes with devastating directness on his blog: "I now officially regret supporting this war back in 2003. The guilt is too much for me to handle."

I do not pretend for a second that anyone should care what I think or write about Iraq. But I when I wrote about politics and news more than media, I wrote about the Iraq war in terms not unlike Zeyad's in 2003. Lately, I have been dancing around the necessity of writing my own, less eloquent post on the Iraq war and me. I should. So here it is.

I had separated intent of the war from its execution. In 2003, I believed the intent was proper. I followed a path... that this war was not and should not have been about WMDs but was instead about bringing freedom, democracy, and opportunity to a part of the world whose primary export is becoming anger. Not unlike Peter Beinart, I saw a liberal justification to the war: antitotalitarianism, freeing people from tyranny, supporting freedom and choice, as well as coming to rescue the people we had abandoned in the first Iraq war and its aftermath. I saw a humanitarian cause.

But the execution... was hopeless and shameful. And, of course, it has only gotten worse as it has gotten more stubborn. How do I think it should end? How should we fix this? I do not know and I am afraid I don't see anyone today who does.... That the White House is now apparently considering recruiting Syria, occupier of Lebanon, and Iran, who too recently was at war with Iraq, to get them out of the mess they made is either painfully ironic or just pathetic. But I won't presume to understand the politics of the region sufficiently to prescribe a path myself....

So which do I regret? The war or its execution? I fear it doesn't matter anymore. Wishing and what-iffing that things had been done differently does no good for the people who have lost their lives there.... I regret much, and especially regret what we have brought Iraq to and that we still do not know where to go...

Oliver Willis: Kryptonite-Class Shrillness!

Michael Barone has driven Oliver Willis shrill:

Michael Barone, Jerk: Oliver Willis: Like Kryptonite To Stupid: My favorite example of Michael Barone's right-wing hackery was when he reported from the floor of the 2004 DNC convention about John Kerry's speech. According to Barone, the audience was "silent" when John Kerry referenced military strength, explicitly saying from a purely fact based point of view that Democrats do in fact hate the military.

The fact was, there was wild applause not once but at least four times during Kerry's speech directly in reference to our military and its strength. See the video here, put together two years ago by a guy I'll call "Oliver Willis".

The even more amazing fact was that this had happened just minutes before Barone filed his supposedly non-partisan, "straight" report.

Guys like Barone and Reynolds stick in my craw, and they should always be called out and scorned.

John Cole Is Shrill!

He writes:

Balloon Juice: 1.) Despite being the fact the Republicans are the party of torture, fiscal irresponsibility, domestic surveillance, blown war management, drug warriors, and sex cops...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Kansas Republicans are Shrill. Shrill I tell you, Shrill.

Kansas Republicans' attitudes seem to have evolved somewhat since the last time we checked.

Moderates in Kansas Decide They're Not in GOP Anymore

In a state that voted nearly 2 to 1 for President Bush in 2004, nine former Republicans will be on the November ballot as Democrats. Among them is Mark Parkinson, a former chairman of the Kansas Republican Party, who changed parties to run for lieutenant governor with the popular Democratic governor, Kathleen Sebelius.

"I'd reached a breaking point," Parkinson said, preparing for a rally in Wichita alongside Sebelius. "I want to work on relevant issues and not on a lot of things that don't matter."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Michael Ware of CNN Is Shrill!

From Duncan Black:

Eschaton: Michael Ware just now on CNN:

Listen, Wolf. This is the way to put it in a nutshell. If the US continues its policy and operations as they are now the situation will worsen and the enemies of the US - principally al Qaeda and Iran - will continue to strengthen. There's a number of options that are presented to Washington at the moment. They either do this or they don't do this. They either need to get serious about the battle here on the ground - physically against al Qaeda and the insurgency - and commit the troops that the commanders need, or they need to look for alternative solutions. At the end of the day what they're facing is the potential of most of this country being subsumed by a Shia-led theocracy-style government with other parts of the government left as Western al Qaeda desert training camp facilities. To avoid that something radical has to be done. So Colin Powell is right. Staying the course will only strengthen America's enemies.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Wonkette Is Shrill

Wonkette compliments the Washington Post for its objective news journalism:

Thanks For Covering Hastert's Ass, WaPo! - Wonkette: Because they sure wouldn’t want to endanger Denny Hastert’s control of the House, the Washington Post has helpfully deleted the information about Hastert saying he was “taking care of” the Foley situation way back in the spring.

The original story went like this:

House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) told The Washington Post last night that he had learned this spring of some “contact” between Foley and a 16-year-old page. Boehner said he told House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), and that Hastert assured him “we’re taking care of it.” It was not immediately clear what actions Hastert took.

Now the Hastert quote is gone, and this sentence has been added: “Boehner later contacted The Post and said he could not remember whether he talked to Hastert.” Well played, Washington Post! Your gentleman editors shan’t be forgotten come Christmastime!