Saturday, June 30, 2007

Media Matters Is Shrill!

Media Matters on the clown show that is Fred Hiatt's Washington Post editorial board:

Media Matters - Will Wash. Post reconsider its Supreme Court endorsement criteria after Roberts, Alito?: In September 2005 and January 2006, The Washington Post editorial board endorsed the nominations of John G. Roberts Jr. and Samuel A. Alito to the Supreme Court, asserting in both instances that Democrats should defer to President Bush's choices.... On September 18, 2005, the Post endorsed Roberts, praising him as "overwhelmingly well-qualified, possess[ing of] an unusually keen legal mind and practic[ing] a collegiality of the type an effective chief justice must have."... The Post's January 15, 2006, endorsement of Alito made similar arguments.... A president's "well-qualified" judicial nominees are "due deference," and "Judge Alito is superbly qualified. His record on the bench is that of a thoughtful conservative, not a raging ideologue. He pays careful attention to the record and doesn't reach for the political outcomes he desires."...

However... this term... the Post has repeatedly excoriated opinions written or supported by Roberts or Alito.... A June 29 editorial blasted the court's decision in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1.... In a June 26 editorial on... Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life.... A June 17 editorial on the case of Keith Bowles.... In an April 19 editorial on the Court's decision in Gonzales v. Carhart...

It's not as if the impact of adding Roberts and Alito to the Supreme Court was unpredictable or unpredicted, was it? Will the means and you will the end.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

NBC Needs to Fire David Gregory

Every time you see somebody working for NBC, ask them why David Gregory still works there:


NBC's David Gregory... just said to Elizabeth Edwards "if you strip away some of the inflammatory rhetoric against your husband and other Democrats, the point she's trying to make about your husband, Senator Edwards, running for the White House is in effect that he's disingenuous..."

Okay, so much wrong with the way Gregory defends Coulter. Her hateful, inflammatory rhetoric can't be stripped away -- and let's be honest, that's why NBC and ABC put her on their t.v. shows. In typical fashion, he also tries to paint everyone with the same kind of hate speech. So, instead of putting Coulter on, NBC now has one of their top reporters defending her approach. Because, you know, if you strip away the fact that Coulter advocated the assassination of a leading presidential candidate, and mocked his dead son, there's really such an important message buried inside.

Huh? Says so much.

Elizabeth Edwards handled it well, pretty much laughing at him -- and made the key point -- this is not about stripping away hateful rhetoric. The hate speech is the issue.

The traditional media has created Ann Coulter. They feed the beast. They enable her and her hate speech. And, we're just all really stupid because we think the hate rhetoric matters.

Shrilldom from Paris to Baghdad

Res Ipsa Loquitur Is Shrill!

Res Ipsa Loquitur on Dinesh D'Souza:

Rising Hegemon: D'Souza's Law of Immigration: That TNR article about the National Review cruise is pretty good, but everyone's leaving out the comment by racist prude Dinesh D'Souza:

Several days later, the nautical counter-revolution has docked in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where passengers will clamber overboard into a nation they want to wall off behind a 1,000-mile fence. One expresses horror at my intention to find a local street kid to show me around, exclaiming, "Do you want to die?" D'Souza summarizes the prevailing sentiment by unveiling what he modestly calls "D'Souza's law of immigration": An immigrant's quality is "proportional to the distance traveled to get to the United States." In other words: Asians trump Latinos.

And Tasmanians trump Dinesh, who was born in Bombay. I'm not posting this for any reason other than I think it deserves wider dissemination. D'Souza and his putrefying crew have peaked and its fun to read an account of them jerking each other (and the dupes who actually paid good money to float along with them) off as they look over their shoulders to see which fellow racist thugs are gunning for them in the circular firing squad that is the current conservative "movement," like some Dockers-wearing, Amstel-light-drinking, Ray Romano-emulating version of "The Sopranos."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Jonah Goldberg's New Subtitle: The Totalitarian Temptation From Hegel to Whole Foods

Ogged is shrill!

Unfogged: Absolute Pineapple: The fact that Jonah Goldberg has a voice in our national discourse is just more evidence of its debasement, but even so, I assumed that the change in the title of his forthcoming book, from the already hilarious Liberal Fascism: The Totalitarian Temptation From Mussolini to Hillary Clinton to the simply absurd Liberal Fascism: The Totalitarian Temptation From Hegel to Whole Foods was a joke by the liberal blogs. It's not.

It's a joke, but not by the liberal blogs.

Belle Waring on the Media Spin on Fred Thompson

Belle Waring is shrill!

Crooked Timber » » On The Upside, He Looks Less Like Skeletor Than Giuliani Does: Why are people trying to convince me that Fred Thompson is sexy? A lock for the Republican nomination, OK—I feel that since all the other candidates have some truly fatal flaw, and since ol’Fred has been conveniently out of office during the late unpleasantness of the Bush II era he’ll get the nomination by default. I even think he could make a decent candidate in the general election, but sexy ladies man who’s going to Smoove B my vote by freaking me gently all election cycle long? I think not....

First of all, are women voters, taken as a whole, really so much like retarded kittens in our motivations? And secondly, doesn’t Fred Thompson pretty much look like a basset hound who’s just taken a really satisfying s--- in your hall closet? Finally, even if we restrict our field of play to Republicans who have played prosecutors in the later seasons of Law and Order, I would much, much rather have sex with Angie Harmon, even though I’m not gay. Think about it. So, no sale. Via RedState

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Tiny Revolution Is Shrill!

It's Rod Dreher, crunchycon:

A Tiny Revolution: Cosmic Stupidity: IOZ says:

Rod Dreher [of National Review], the Crunchy Con Man, reads All Quiet on the Western Front and discovers that skepticism toward warmaking and a doubtful mind toward those who agitate for combat doesn't spring universally from absolutist pacifism. That a grown man with a family and career has just chanced upon this realization is indicative of something, but I'm not sure how to say it with derision appropriate to its cosmic stupidity.

And yet it's not so uncommon to hear adults, educated beyond most of their peers, relatively aware of Western history, reasonably well-read, and not prone in their daily lives to bouts of simplemindedness, express the utmost shock at the mendacity underlying the war in Iraq. Somehow, though almost every great work by current or former soldiers exposes the horror, cruelty, absurdity, and barbarism of war--the way it cripples the body and maims the soul if you survive--they have to be reminded again and again that warfare isn't a method of national therapy.

Here's some of what Rod Dreher wrote: "Many was the time I had to put the novel down while reading it, and silently repent of the way I had so thoughtlessly anticipated the pleasures of stomping the Iraqi military during the march-up to the war there. War we will always have with us, and there will be times when war is the only choice we have. But it must always be the last resort, and must never, ever be undertaken with anything but utmost gravity. It is a detestable thing."

Dreher is forty years old.

Elites in every country are generally very stupid—-not because there's something wrong with them genetically, but because power makes people stupid. And the more power people have, they stupider they become. America's elites have been very powerful for a very long time.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Glenn Greenwald Preacheth Today's Lesson

Here he is, shrill as heck:

Glenn Greenwald - Salon: Everyone we fight in Iraq is now "al-Qaida":

Josh Marshall publishes an e-mail from a reader who identifies what is one of the most astonishing instances of mindless, pro-government "reporting" yet:It's a curious thing that, over the past 10 - 12 days, the news from Iraq refers to the combatants there as "al-Qaida" fighters. When did that happen?

Until a few days ago, the combatants in Iraq were "insurgents" or they were referred to as "Sunni" or "Shia'a" fighters in the Iraq Civil War. Suddenly, without evidence, without proof, without any semblance of fact, the US military command is referring to these combatants as "al-Qaida".

Welcome to the latest in Iraq propaganda. That the Bush administration, and specifically its military commanders, decided to begin using the term "Al Qaeda" to designate "anyone and everyeone we fight against or kill in Iraq" is obvious. All of a sudden, every time one of the top military commanders describes our latest operations or quantifies how many we killed, the enemy is referred to, almost exclusively now, as "Al Qaeda."

But what is even more notable is that the establishment press has followed right along, just as enthusiastically. I don't think the New York Times has published a story about Iraq in the last two weeks without stating that we are killing "Al Qaeda fighters," capturing "Al Qaeda leaders," and every new operation is against "Al Qaeda."

The Times -- typically in the form of the gullible and always-government-trusting "reporting" of Michael Gordon, though not only -- makes this claim over and over, as prominently as possible, often without the slightest questioning, qualification, or doubt. If your only news about Iraq came from The New York Times, you would think that the war in Iraq is now indistinguishable from the initial stage of the war in Afghanistan -- that we are there fighting against the people who hijacked those planes and flew them into our buildings: "Al Qaeda."

What is so amazing about this new rhetorical development -- not only from our military, but also from our "journalists" -- is that, for years, it was too shameless and false even for the Bush administration to use. Even at the height of their propaganda offensives about the war, the furthest Bush officials were willing to go was to use the generic term "terrorists" for everyone we are fighting in Iraq, as in: "we cannot surrender to the terrorists by withdrawing" and "we must stay on the offensive against terrorists."

But after his 2004 re-election was secure, even the President acknowledged that "Al Qaeda" was the smallest component of the "enemies" we are fighting in Iraq....

Each of these articles typically (though not always) initially refers to "Al Qaeda in Iraq" or "Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia," as though they are nothing more than the Iraqi branch office of the group that launched the 9/11 attacks. The articles then proceed to refer to the group only as "Qaeda," and repeatedly quote U.S. military officials quantifying the amount of "Qaeda fighters" we killed. Hence, what we are doing in Iraq is going after and killing members of the group which flew the planes into our buildings. Who could possibly be against that?

Are there some foreign fighters in Iraq who have taken up arms against the U.S. occupation who are fairly called "Al Qaeda"? Probably. But by all accounts -- including the President's -- they are a tiny part of the groups with guns who are waging war in Iraq. The vast, vast majority of them are Iraqis motivated by a desire to acquire more political power in their own country at the expense of other Iraqi factions and/or to fight against a foreign occupation of their country. To refer to them as "Al Qaeda" so casually and with so little basis (other than the fact that U.S. military officials now do so) is misleading and propagandistic in the extreme....

What is always most striking about this is how uncritically our press passes on government claims.

George F. Will: Most Mendacious Man Alive

Media Matters is shrill.

George Wallace, 1962:

I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say, segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!

From George Wallace's platform, 1968:

[T]he Federal Government has adopted so-called "Civil Rights Acts," particularly the one adopted in 1964, which have set race against race and class against class, all of which we condemn. It shall be our purpose to take such steps and pursue such courses as may be necessary and required to restore to the states the powers and authority which rightfully belong to the state and local governments, so that each state shall govern and control its internal affairs without interference or domination of the Federal Government...

From George F. Will, 2007:

The most consequential American third-party candidate was Ralph Nader in 2000.... But even successful independent or third-party candidates have one thing in common: They lose. A candidate can succeed in giving an aggrieved minority a voice -- e.g., George Wallace, speaking for people furious about the '60s tumults.

John Yoo Was Shrill, Once and Briefly

Duncan Black on Dick Cheney:

Eschaton: Dick the Dementor: The dude managed to demonstrate that maybe even Torture Yoo had a vestigial conscience.

The vice president's lawyer advocated what was considered the memo's most radical claim: that the president may authorize any interrogation method, even if it crosses the line of torture. U.S. and treaty laws forbidding any person to "commit torture," that passage stated, "do not apply" to the commander in chief, because Congress "may no more regulate the President's ability to detain and interrogate enemy combatants than it may regulate his ability to direct troop movements on the battlefield."That same day, Aug. 1, 2002, Yoo signed off on a second secret opinion, the contents of which have never been made public. According to a source with direct knowledge, that opinion approved as lawful a long list of specific interrogation techniques proposed by the CIA -- including waterboarding, a form of near-drowning that the U.S. government classified as a war crime in 1947. The opinion drew the line against one request: threatening to bury a prisoner alive.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Archives of the Shrill: Bob Somerby Driven Insane by the Feckless Journamalism of Jim Rutenberg

The Daily Howler howls:

Daily Howler: The press dodges valid critiques, we told Jim [Rutenberg]. And we gave him a striking example: As usual, the Washington press corps was walking tall—standing up to an “army of partisans” who had been trying “to totally politicize journalism and totally politicize press criticism.” On the web, rude press critics were trying “to bully [reporters] into caving to a particular point of view.” But the nation’s scribes were bravely resisting. “They insist the efforts [of their critics] have not swayed them in any significant way,” Jim Rutenberg wrote in the New York Times. Later, Rutenberg described their heroism again. “Most political reporters interviewed for this article insisted that outside forces did not sway them from being fair,” the Times correspondent said.

Yes, Rutenberg’s colleagues were bravely resisting “crude personal insults” from bullying critics. Repeatedly, Rutenberg posed them as defenders of the faith—defenders of fairness itself! But we emitted low chuckles at a question the corps wasn’t asked to address. Had web-based critics of the mainstream press corps ever offered any valid critiques? Rutenberg didn’t seem to have asked. And his colleagues didn’t seem to have answered.

Yep! Rutenberg’s colleagues got a chance to complain—but they hadn’t been asked if critiques had been valid. And yes, when mainstream scribes “insist” that efforts of their critics “have not swayed them in any significant way,” we just shake our heads and chuckle. After all, that’s exactly the point that we have long made as we’ve continued our incomparable critique of this group of committed self-dealers!

Have web press critics made valid critiques? Should reporters have been swayed by these critics? Since Rutenberg quoted us in passing, let’s review what he quotes us saying—and let’s consider an example we gave him as we explained what we meant.

Midway through his report, Rutenberg says that many web critics engage in “crude personal insults”—insults described by Howard Fineman as “hurtful.” As he concludes this part of his report, Rutenberg even quotes us, saying this:

RUTENBERG (10/28/04): Bob Somerby, a comedian who runs a Web site called The Daily Howler that often accuses the news media of being shallow, lazy, bullied by Republicans and unfairly critical of Democrats, said a more genteel approach would not be effective. (He has referred to this reporter on his Web site as “dumb” and in “over his head” for being blind or turning a blind eye to Republican spin.)

“I've come to feel the only way you can really deal with the press corps is to beat up on them,” Mr. Somerby said. Most political reporters interviewed for this article insisted that outside forces did not sway them from being fair, though a couple admitted they could not rule out having pulled punches in small and even subconscious ways.

We’ll discuss our past comments on Rutenberg below. But what did we mean when we told the scribe that we had “come to feel the only way you can really deal with the press corps is to beat up on them?” Easy! We told him we’d come to feel that way because we had learned, through the years, that the mainstream press corps simply refuses to respond to valid critiques. The mainstream press corps, we told Jim, will only respond to power. (We’ve expressed this view in these pages before.) And sure enough-—what did Rutenberg’s colleagues tell him in their interviews? According to Rutenberg, they “insisted” that the efforts of their critics “have not swayed them in any significant way.” But that’s exactly why we told Jim that it’s pointless to reason with his colleagues-—that “the only real way you can deal with the press corps is to beat up on them” in some sort of way.

Yes, you might even say that we called the Root’s shot! His colleagues refuse to respond to valid critiques, we told him-—the very point they indirectly made as they “insisted” that their critics won’t sway them. And we even gave an incomparable example. Why have we come to feel, over the years, that it’s pointless to “correct” the press corps? The example we offered over the phone involved that old Love Story nonsense.

Does the press corps respond to valid critiques? Starting in March 1999, Rutenberg’s colleagues began to bash Candidate Gore over a meaningless comment from November 1997. And just that quickly, we began to lay out the actual facts about this pointless remark. We won’t revisit that issue here; we’ll link below to a fuller discussion. But as we pointed out to Rutenberg, only two reporters were present in 1997 to see and hear what Gore really said. One of them was Time’s Karen Tumulty, who made an admirable statement in the fall of 2000-—a statement about how absurd the press corps’ conduct had been in this matter! Tumulty had been there to see and hear Gore. And here’s the review she offered of her colleagues, the ones who insist that they won’t be swayed by the words of their bullying critics:

TUMULTY (9/7/00): I am the reporter to whom Al Gore claimed that Love Story was based on him and Tipper...I was sort of appalled to see the way it played in the media. I mean, it was an offhand comment made during a two-and-a-half hour conversation that was mostly about other things and it was a comment that was, you know, true in most respects. I mean, he was a model, Erich Segal said, for the preppy character in Love Story, and it had been reported in Tennessee newspapers that it was modeled on both of them. But all of that got lost in, again, this kind of snowball—I think that there was probably something there worth gigging him about, but the degree to which it became a symbol of the man’s integrity I thought was very unfair. And I say that as the person to whom he made the comment and who wrote it.

So there was Tumulty, the reporter of record, saying that she was “sort of appalled” at the “very unfair” way Gore’s comment had been played in the media. But then, we had been making these points for eighteen months at the time Tumulty made these remarks, and our valid critiques had produced no discernible change in the way the corps was flogging this nonsense. (And yes, major scribes had been reading THE HOWLER, and yes, these scribes were well aware of the points we had endlessly made.) But our point to Rutenberg went beyond that. To her great credit, Tumulty had first told us in the spring of 1999 that Gore’s Love Story comment had been quite fleeting, and she always stressed that she was willing to be quoted about the matter, on the record. But when, we asked Rutenberg, had Time, her employer, ever called this to the public’s attention?

For twenty straight months, the brave fearless press corps battered Gore about this utterly ridiculous story. During that entire period, Tumulty-—one of only two reporters who had actually heard Gore’s remarks-—thought the coverage was something like “very unfair.” And this means that Time had a big, top-notch story--a story the magazine chose not to publish! Eventually, in September 2000, Tumulty gave a public assessment of her colleagues’ “very unfair” conduct. But she did so in a forum at American University; Time magazine had never seen fit to publish her story in some sort of “I was there” format.

When we spoke with Rutenberg, we offered this an example of the press corps’ refusal to play the game fair. Should anyone really be surprised when Rutenberg quotes his fearless colleagues “insisting” that they won’t be swayed by web critics? Even when the critic is someone like Tumulty—an experienced, high-ranking, insider scribe—even then, criticism of the great, brilliant press is disappeared. But then, it’s just as we have told you, for years: The press corps tells you the stories it likes. Let’s just say it: Unfortunately, Rutenberg’s colleagues are a gang of hacks, as they proved in the Love Story matter, and as they seem to have proved once again this week with their new, laughable comments.

So yes, we told Jim that we’ve come to see the obvious; we’ve come to see that it’s basically pointless to reason with the celebrity press corps. Sadly, this “press corps” responds to one thing—power—and any effective critique of this gang has to be driven by politics. Sad but true—if you want to affect the press corps’ work, you can’t expect to do so with reasoned critique. Unfortunately, you have to make the corps hear footsteps. Unfortunately, you have to make them fear that they’ll be loudly yelled at when they compare Democrat hopefuls to hamsters (or to weasels; or to “small caged animals”). You have to make them fear they’ll be yelled at when they invent silly tales sand repeat them for two solid years. You have to make them fear they’ll be yelled at when they publish idiot pieces saying that Kerry has a character problem because he wind-surfs and plays show tunes on the guitar. No, we didn’t start this site planning to yell. But over the years, the press corps has made it abundantly clear that other approaches are pointless...

Friday, June 22, 2007

Sidney Blumenthal Is Shrill!

Sidney Blumenthal:

Imperial presidency declared null and void: One of the key framers of the war paradigm (in which the president in his wartime capacity as commander in chief makes and enforces laws as he sees fit, overriding the constitutional system of checks and balances), who a year ago was arguing vehemently for pushing its boundaries, confesses that he has abandoned his belief in the whole doctrine, though he refuses to say so publicly.

If he were to speak up, given his seminal role in formulating the policy and stature among the Federalist Society cadres that run it, his rejection would have a shattering impact, far more than political philosopher Francis Fukuyama's denunciation of the neoconservatism he formerly embraced. But this figure remains careful to disclose his disillusionment with his own handiwork only in off-the-record conversations.

Yet another Bush legal official, even now at the commanding heights of power, admits that the administration's policies are largely discredited. In its defense, he says without a hint of irony or sarcasm, "Not everything we've done has been illegal." He adds, "Not everything has been *ultra vires*" -- a legal term referring to actions beyond the law...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Matthew Yglesias Says He Is Not as Shrill as Andrew Sullivan!

Actually, what he says is: "Woo!"

Matthew Yglesias: Andrew joins the unhinged left:

If the Times interview is what Petraeus is telling Bush and Cheney, then they have only begun to ramp up this war in Iraq. My bet is they will try to extend the war into Iran if they can, and are obviously looking for a trigger to do so. But until then, they have no intention of changing a thing, except perhaps putting even more troops on the line. From everything we know about Bush, he will continue on, even if a majority of both Houses oppose war-funding. He doesn't need his party any more. Only a veto-proof margin will suffice, and if that happens, expect a massive Rudy-driven, Romney-approved "stab-in-the-back" campaign, accusing all critics of being supporters of Iran or al Qaeda. Or Bush will force the Congress to cut off all funds, and then declare the troops abandoned and betrayed by the "enemy within".

Woo! Okay, for my part, I'd actually reel that back somewhat. This pretty clearly reflects the thinking of some people inside the administration ("Cheney" is a good shorthand, though I obviously have no idea what's going on inside various people's heads); for some, a wider war's been in the cards from the get-go, and the Podhoretz's of the world wouldn't be warmongering unless they were getting some kind of signal that such mongering might succeed.

That said, if Bush himself were determined to expand the war to Iran, you have to imagine it would have happened already. The administration's actions vis-a-vis Iran over the past 18 months have been rather contradictory. Had this president a long record of foreign policy success and diplomatic masterstrokes, one might assume he was cooking up something inspired and brilliant. Given the actual record, one has no such confidence.

Jonathan Schwarz: Incredibly Enough, There's Something Even Worse

Jonathan Schwarz is shrill:

A Tiny Revolution: Incredibly Enough, There's Something Even Worse: On Tuesday Frontline ran a new documentary on Iraq called Endgame. In it they interviewed Frederick Kagan, the think tank guy who came up with the idea of the "surge." As explained below, Kagan earnestly tells us Iraq has been a catastrophe in part because "opposition to the war has not been constructive." Yes: as I've always suspected, this is our fault.

Yet as hilarious and horrifying as that is, another part of the Kagan interview is more hilarious and horrifying still. When watching this, see if you can help cringing in shame on Kagan's behalf, and cringing in terror for the rest of us—living as we do in a world run by eight year-old boys:

NARRATOR: Well known military scholars were brought to Camp David from Washington think tanks.

KAGAN: It was a very cool experience. They flew me up on a Chinook, which is in itself a cool experience, to fly along the Potomac like that. Honestly I went there just eager to have the opportunity to lay a plan before the president to say let us, you know, seize hold of this opportunity.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Scientific Fraud Shrillness

Scientific American’s Christopher Mims is shrill, and, as with Paul McLeary in the next post, a little snarky too:

Evolution: Unbelievably amazing or amazingly unbelievable?: Sciam Observations: I think evolution is probably the most astonishing idea, force, phenomenon, what have you, in all of science. You might even say I'm an evolution superfan--when other kids were getting Nintendos for Christmas, my parents were handing out chapters from the canon of Stephen Jay Gould.

That's why I was more than a little surprised to discover that there is an organization whose entire membership finds evolution even more incredible than I do!

What's more, the members of this group are so intent on sharing their astonishment that they have built an entire museum in homage to their inability to wrap their minds around the stone-cold amazing chain of events that began with self-replicating molecules and continues with the unfathomable diversity of life on Earth we see today.

The folks in question have given themselves the name Answers in Genesis, and their Mecca is the brand spanking new Creation Museum in Ohio Kentucky. (Unofficial motto: "Were you aware that humans rode dinosaurs like they were ponies? Well they did.") …

[H]aving examined the facts, or at least a subset of them, the makers of this institution have concluded that when it comes to the likelihood that the four billion year long pageantry of life played out as scientists claim it has, their verdict is "No. Effing. Way." …
If you are the least bit horrified by the prospect of a slick, visually appealing, and internally coherent (in contrast to, you know, coherent) "science" museum that is targeted at kids; a place that, across the many years it will be with us, will be an instrument of systematic intellectual and scientific fraud in the lives of millions of people, I really, really think you might want to check this out:

Two intrepid young skeptics' efforts to document the new Creation Museum in all its jaw-droppingly absurdist/Dadaist/ultimately wholly and therefore frighteningly earnest glory.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Paul McLeary Is Shrill!

Paul McLeary is snarky too:

CJR: Journalism 101: Attention journalists! The flat thing on the desk in front of you is a keyboard. When you wish to write a story, press the little buttons with letters on them, and continue to do so until you're all out of things to say. That's the impression I got last night when reading an internal Associated Press newsletter posted on Romenesko, in which former AP reporter Ron Fournier reminded the wire's scribes how to do their jobs. Admittedly, I've never taken a journalism class in my life, but it read like the kind of thing you might learn in an Introduction to Journalism class at one of our nation's more prestigious community colleges.

All joking aside, I have to say that while the memo relays some advice that shouldn't have to be given to a professional journalist, many of Fournier's tips sound like things CJR has griped about as being absent from too much contemporary journalism: things like following up on important stories once the initial splash fades; taking time to rebut, contextualize (or simply decline to publish) obvious falsehoods and spin; using the lame "critics say" construction without ever defining just who these critics are; and refusing to give all sides an equal say when one of those sides is obviously full of it.

In other words, as Fournier notes, reporters should "commit yourself and your leaders to the truth."

I'm not criticizing Fournier here--what he says makes sense. The problem is that he felt compelled to write this primer in the first place. That some of this stuff might make light bulbs go off over some reporters' heads is the kind of thing that should keep assignment editors--hell, the American people--awake at night. In a perfect world, of course, things like "Tak[ing] action when you hear a public official 'spin' away from the facts or lie. Don't just roll your eyes and mark it off to politics as usual," should be second nature to anyone who cashes a check written by a news organization. Apparently it isn't.

Sticking to the "spin" theme (we've written dozens of posts about it, and not enough can be said of the importance of weaning journalists off the habit of simply writing down what they're told), Fournier adds that journalists shouldn't "give equal weight to spin. Just because a public official says it doesn't mean you need to put it in your story or give his claim equal billing to what you know to be true. We have an obligation to write factual and fair stories, but we are not obliged to print attacks, spin or distortion under the cover of 'fair comment.'"

Got it? There will be a test next week.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Joshua Micah Marshall: Dan Bartlett Is Shrill!

George W. Bush's old friend Dan Bartlett sounds positively shrill:

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: June 10, 2007 - June 16, 2007 Archives: White House Counselor Dan Bartlett, who recently announced his departure, reflected on his tenure and his boss on CNN the other day. (via Tim Grieve) Bartlett’s perspective was so odd, I initially thought he was kidding.

"[T]he good thing about this president -- and I think this is the reason why he was re-elected, is that, when he's finished here, and at the same time I'm finished here in a couple of weeks, I can look in the mirror and say, I think we did what was best. I think we looked at all the issues. We tried our best to do the right thing for the country.

"And I think the president will have the same mindset when he returns to Texas at the end of his presidency. And at the end of the day, that's all you can expect.

"You may not always agree with him. But I think he's demonstrated that he's doing something -- the things that he is doing, however bold or aggressive or wrong-headed that some people think they are, he's doing what he thinks is best for this country." (emphasis added)

I can just imagine the 2009 headlines: "George W. Bush: He failed, but it wasn't on purpose."

Friday, June 15, 2007

Andrew Sullivan Is Shrill

It's Mickey Kaus this time:

The Daily Dish: Mickey comes out for torturing terror suspects, as part of a third category of detainees who are neither civil not military. He uses the hoary notion that if you concede the ticking time-bomb exception, everything is on the table, including torture in non-ticking-bomb scenarios. Why am I not surprised? Bob worries that establishing a new international norm that allows torture will help North Korea and Iran. You think? America's endorsement of torture under Bush has been the biggest set-back for global human rights in my lifetime.

But what I do not understand is how this debate can happen at all. The law is clear; and the Geneva Conventions are clear; and the U.N. treaty on torture is clear. These abstract debates are not available to us until we repeal such laws and renege on such treaties. If the GOP wants to propose this, fine. But the current debate is surreal. Mickey, by the way, still believes that the worst that happened at Abu Ghraib was leashes and panties on the head. This means he has the same grasp of the basic facts as Rush Limbaugh. The only possible reason for not knowing the truth, at this point, is a desire not to know.

Mark Kleiman on the GOP Base

Evidence that the Republican base is finally beginning to get it:

The Reality-Based Community: Well, yes: Peggy Noonan: "This White House thinks its base is stupid and that its heart is in the wrong place." Mickey Kaus, channeling Noonan: "... the White House really does think its own GOP base is composed of yahoos who can be fooled ... " But of course. And the White House is right to think so.

After all, if you weren't stupid, if your heart wasn't in the wrong place, if you weren't a yahoo, if you couldn't be fooled, then why on earth would you be an enthusiastic Republican today? Rove & Co. ran two campaigns in a row that bet heavily, and successfully, on the gullibility of around half the voters. As as Mark Twain's "Louis XVIII" remarks in Huckleberry Finn, "Hain't we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain't that a big enough majority in any town?"

The good news is that the gullibility, even of chronic gulls, is not unlimited. George W. Bush may become the only man in history to go broke (politically speaking) by underestimating the intelligence of the American people.

Overwhelming Surprise Victory in "Stupidest Man Alive" Contest!

Peter Robinson: poor, poor sap:

The Corner on National Review Online: Andy McCarthy, Mark Levin, Byron York--Somebody!--Help Me Out Here   [Peter Robinson] [T]here’s a big part of this I still don’t get: Judge Walton called the evidence against Libby “overwhelming.” This just doesn’t fit. Not with the courtoom reporting in the [Washington] Times and here on NRO, where Byron York kept us all up to date. Any fair-minded person, I figured, would have to grant that, even if on balance it weighed against Libby, the evidence wasn’t “overwhelming” but mighty darned confusing—-Libby’s memory against that of Tim Russert and others, as traced through pages and pages of testimony, about who said what during telephone calls that took place months and months ago. “Overwhelming?” Either Judge Walton is a thorough stinker of a jurist or yours truly is missing something...

Yes, Peter Robinson actually believes that what he reads in the _Washington Times_ and in _National Review_ corresponds to reality. Nobody told him.

Matthew Yglesias Is Shrill!

Who is America's worst pundit?

Matthew Yglesias: I like to think of Charles Krauthammer and Fred Barnes as locked in a perpetual struggle for the title of "America's worst pundit." Brian Beutler, however, views Bill Kriston as the country's "most dangerous" pundit on the grounds that he "has what seems like a mainline to the White House and yet, of all his colleagues, he is the most casually dishonest, the most outwardly war-hungry, and the most recklessly illogical." Beutler cites the following as an example: "Real progress has already been made in the war against Al Qaeda in Iraq, and the terrorists know it.That's why they're surging against our surge, and why they are attempting to convince us that we have lost when it is they who are losing."

Also: War is awesome. Indeed, Kristol is like a horrifying right-pundit Chimera fusing together the worst aspects of Krauthammer and Barnes, but adding in a strain of raw cleverness that elevates -- and yet denigrates -- the resulting punditry from banal categories like "worst" to more exalted realms of "dangerousness."

Creative Class Shrillness

Richard Florida reads about the Big Three automaker’s attempts to win concessions “from the United Auto Workers union in a bid to narrow what they say is a $30-an-hour labor-cost disadvantage against Asian rivals” and is driven to shrillness:

The Creativity Exchange: Blame the Workers: The Wall Street Journal (sub req) quotes a Big Three executive:

"We need to eliminate most, if not 80%" of the gap, says a senior automotive executive involved in labor planning. "It has to be gone by the end of the contract, or doing business in the United States is unsustainable." All three domestic auto makers "will move investment in plants and people outside the country" if they don't bring U.S. labor costs in line with those of Toyota and the other foreign auto makers, the executive said.

How do they get away with this BS. This guy shouldn't be managing a 7-11. The Big Three are not failing because of labor costs. They are failing because their product is crap. The problem is the worst management since the US steel industry - whiners, cry-babies and incompetents. They keep churning out stuff no one wants. The SUVs which were carrying them have now collapsed and they are being crushed with the move to more fuel efficient cars and hybrids. This is one of the greatest stories in gross mismanagement in world industrial history. It is hard to imagine how anyone could squander the kind of lead and assets they had, but they did. ... Those Camrys and Accords that are tearing up the US market? No, they're not made in Japan or some low labor cost country. They're made right smack here in the US, using American workers. And Japanese and German workers are not exactly cheap labor. It's not American workers that are the problem- it's management…


Thursday, June 14, 2007

James Fallows Is Shrill!

Michael Gerson did it:

James Fallows: It’s Michael Gerson, former speechwriter for our current president Bush, lamenting in the Washington Post the abandonment by both political parties of the “centrist” tradition of Bill Clinton and G.W. Bush. I like Michael Gerson personally. We worked together a decade ago at U.S. News — a very different world, for both of us. (To be clearer about it: I was the editor, and I was glad he came to work for us.) In the fraternity of presidential speechwriters, he currently holds the “silk purse / sow’s ear” trophy, since he is so often credited with making the otherwise, umm, unexpressive Bush sound eloquent in major speeches. I say this despite disagreeing with most speeches Gerson has been associated with (after the masterful Joint Session address soon after the 9/11 attacks) — most of all, Bush’s unbelievably reckless, sweeping, and unrealistic “we’ll democratize everybody, whether they like it or not” second inaugural address.

But Gerson’s article in the Post is preposterous. So now he honors Clinton as a noble centrist? Great. And where was the reference to that centrism and nobility when Bush ran, with help from Gerson, against Clinton’s record and his vice president in 2000? Similarly Gerson laments the way Bush’s own “centrist” vision is now being thoughtlessly abandoned by current Republicans. It’s significant that Gerson’s example for this definition of “Bushism” is the “compassionate conservative” who ran in 2000, since almost nothing Bush has said or done since that time can be considered centrist or bipartisan in any way. (I say “almost” rather than “absolutely” because of the current immigration bill, which has annoyed Republicans more than Democrats.)

A natural path for people leaving an Administration is to angle for inclusion in the Council of Elders, the DC permanent-pundit class who spend the following decades wringing their hands about how much nastier and less public-spirited politics is now than the olden days. Politics is plenty nasty now. But is interesting, to put it mildly, to hear one of the Bush Administration’s main rhetoricians locate the lost golden age at 1992 and 2000. Sentences like this, from the Post column, are written as applications for the Council: “The abandonment of Bushism and Clintonism is also leaving many Americans ideologically homeless.” So is a title like this: “Two Parties Fleeing the Center.” Moral equivalence indeed! It would be convenient to think that Bush is a conciliator, whose ideal of harmony is sadly being ignored by the squabbling midgets who hope to succeed him. But donnez moi un break: you know, we’ve been reading the papers these last six and a half years.

The Carpetbagger Report Is Shrill!

"Sweet Jeebus, Broder does it again!" were the last coherent words:

The Carpetbagger Report » Blog Archive » Sweet Jeebus, Broder does it again: In all sincerity, I would like nothing more than to stop highlighting the problems with David Broder’s WaPo columns.... But Broder is the “dean” of the DC media establishment, and his columns are influential in shaping the broader political conventional wisdom, so when he’s very wrong — as he is again today — it’s probably worth taking the time to set the record straight.

"[Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid] may be playing with fire [on the immigration bill]. A poll that Andy Kohut completed for the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press four days before the Senate fiasco on the immigration bill found a striking increase in disapproval of Democratic congressional leaders. In January, 39 percent approved of them and 34 percent disapproved. In early June, disapproval topped approval, 49 percent to 34 percent. Among independents, the disapproval score was 58 percent to 26 percent. Reid may think that Bush will suffer if immigration reform is killed. But the public is likely to put the blame where it principally belongs — on the leader of the party that runs the Senate."

Broder appears to have the broader dynamic wrong in several different ways. First, Broder, whose bizarre attacks on Reid are not new, blames the Senate Democratic leadership for the failure of the immigration bill. It’s a debatable point, but holding Reid directly responsible for the breakdown, without the necessary context, is misleading. As Kevin Drum recently explained, “Look at the numbers. This was a bipartisan bill sponsored by Ted Kennedy and John McCain and supported by George Bush. Democrats voted 37-11 in favor of moving forward to a final vote. Republicans voted 38-7 against it. In the end, the Democratic leadership delivered nearly 80% of its votes. Bush couldn’t even get 20% of his party to go along.” Broder, who concedes in his column that he is “no fan of Sen. Reid,” prefers to hold Dems responsible. The evidence shows otherwise....

Broder suggests Dems are suffering politically because Republicans rejected the immigration bill...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Linda Chavez Approaches Shrillness: She Sees Her Party's Base

You see, Linda Chavez encounters her party's base: the 10%:

Linda Chavez: My column last week argued that "Some people just don't like Mexicans — or anyone else from south of the border," and that this sentiment was playing a pervasive and destructive role in the current immigration debate. I estimated the number of such persons in the general population at about 10 percent, a figure I extrapolated from several studies and polls of racial attitudes taken in the last 20 years, which generally show that about one-in-10 Americans harbors some animus based on race.

Ten percent is not a very alarming number (Americans are among the least intolerant groups in all international studies of the issue), even though I think the group includes a disturbing number of influential voices on the right, who even if they don't personally share these views seem perfectly comfortable in the company of those who do. Those in positions of influence, whether elected leaders or talk show hosts, have a special responsibility not to inflame racial passions and animosities.

So how is it that some of my fellow conservatives have demonstrated that I am wrong to think a small group of them might not want Mexicans to come to America — even legally? On, these delightful bon mots appeared (I've preserved the original spelling and punctuation): "Mexicans are pigs" "They can be referred to as: Human Locusts. " " Latino girls are baby factories. They fornicate like animals with no regard for the welfare of the child. Babies having babies while the boy goes out and screws someone else. Most latinos are liars. True again. Look at the corruption at all levels of the mexican government and it carries on to all the people." "Quickly, the fact is that we're being invaded by an inferior culture. Every person of low quality we import plants a family-tree that bears low-quality fruit. The rotten fruit of that tree will rot our own fruit." "We don't want spanish speaking little retards befouling our great country. REMEMBER SAN HACINTO1" "And YES ,Illegals are lazy, disease infested, freeloading moochers. The fact they criminally enter the country automatically qualifies them as lazy freeloaders." "Get a clue Chavez...we dont want wetbacks mooching our system and NO we dont need them. They are simply slave labor.nothing more." "most Mexicans, especially men, are lazy good for nothing drunks who only care about sacking as many mujeres that they can."

I could go on; there are more than 300 posts on Townhall and hundreds more on less mainstream sites, but you get the point. It's hard to imagine that anyone could get away with posting such foul comments about blacks, or Jews, or gay people on a mainstream website. But because I've exposed the nasty underbelly of the anti-immigrant crowd — and let's be clear here, this debate is about more than **illegal** immigration — I'm called a racist, as in this post: "Linda Chavez has revealed herself to be a racist who demonizes color-blind conservatives as racist. Special rights for Latino criminal invaders and mindless labeling to intimidate fair-minded Americans - that is what Linda stands for now."

There are hundreds of similar posts, usually alleging that my views on immigration are linked to my ancestry and inviting me to go back to Mexico — from whence the last member of my family trekked north in 1701.

I want more secure borders and an end to illegal immigration — but the only way that will ever happen is to adopt a market-based legal immigration system that allows sufficient numbers of workers to come here to fill jobs Americans shun. I've spent my entire professional career fighting against racial, ethnic and gender preferences; against bilingual education and multiculturalism; and for making English the official language of the country, for which I have suffered significant abuse, even physical attack. But I absolutely reject the view that our immigration policy should ever be premised on a racial or ethnic test, or that members of one group are somehow unfit to become Americans.

Most conservatives claim to be color-blind, but remaining silent in the face of such naked bigotry evokes Edmund Burke's dictum: "It is necessary only for the good man to do nothing for evil to triumph." It's time for those who truly are color-blind to disavow those in our ranks who are not.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Joe Lieberman Smackdown Watch

Wesley Clark tells Joe Lieberman to stop talking about things he knows nothing about before he does real damamge:

Gen. Wesley Clark: Joe Lieberman Is At It Again - Politics on The Huffington Post: …Senator Joe Lieberman made irresponsible comments this weekend regarding military action against Iran.

On CBS's Face the Nation, Lieberman said, "If [the Iranians] don't play by the rules, we've got to use our force, and to me, that would include taking military action to stop them from doing what they're doing." …

Senator Lieberman's saber rattling does nothing to help... In fact, it's highly … counter-productive, and I urge him to stop.

This kind of rhetoric is irresponsible… Only someone who never wore the uniform or thought seriously about national security would make threats at this point. What our soldiers need is responsible strategy, not a further escalation of tensions... Senator Lieberman must act more responsibly…

Res Ipsa Loquitur Is Shrill!

It writes:

Rising Hegemon: A Note of Thanks: to "Sopranos" creator David Chase, for including this bit of media buffoonery, which pretty much sums up why we are in the mess we are in today, in the "Sopranos" finale. I bet more people saw "reporter" David Gregory dancing like Karl Rove's trained seal on Sunday night than saw it when it was captured on video a few weeks back. So thanks, David Chase, for immortalizing that moment. You know we've come a long way if even a dimwit like A.J. Soprano realizes that there is something massively wrong with our political media.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Fourth Circuit Is Shrill!

Balkinization: For over two centuries of growth and struggle, peace and war, the Constitution has secured our freedom through the guarantee that, in the United States, no one will be deprived of liberty without due process of law. Yet more than four years ago military authorities seized an alien lawfully residing here. He has been held by the military ever since -- without criminal charge or process. He has been so held despite the fact that he was initially taken from his home in Peoria, Illinois by civilian authorities, and indicted for purported domestic crimes.

He has been so held although the Government has never alleged that he is a member of any nation’s military, has fought alongside any nation’s armed forces, or has borne arms against the United States anywhere in the world. And he has been so held, without acknowledgment of the protection afforded by the Constitution, solely because the Executive believes that his military detention is proper.

While criminal proceedings were underway against Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, the President ordered the military to seize and detain him indefinitely as an enemy combatant. Since that order, issued in June of 2003, al-Marri has been imprisoned without charge in a military jail in South Carolina. Al-Marri petitions for a writ of habeas corpus to secure his release from military imprisonment. The Government defends this detention, asserting that al-Marri associated with al Qaeda and “prepar[ed] for acts of international terrorism.” It maintains that the President has both statutory and inherent constitutional authority to subject al-Marri to indefinite military detention and, in any event, that a new statute -- enacted years after al-Marri’s seizure -- strips federal courts of jurisdiction even to consider this habeas petition.

We hold that the new statute does not apply to al-Marri, and so we retain jurisdiction to consider his petition. Furthermore, we conclude that we must grant al-Marri habeas relief. Even assuming the truth of the Government’s allegations, the President lacks power to order the military to seize and indefinitely detain al-Marri. If the Government accurately describes al-Marri’s conduct, he has committed grave crimes. But we have found no authority for holding that the evidence offered by the Government affords a basis for treating al-Marri as an enemy combatant, or as anything other than a civilian.

This does not mean that al-Marri must be set free. Like others accused of terrorist activity in this country, from the Oklahoma City bombers to the surviving conspirator of the September 11th attacks, al-Marri can be returned to civilian prosecutors tried on criminal charges, and, if convicted, punished severely. But the Government cannot subject al-Marri to indefinite military detention. For in the United States, the military cannot seize and imprison civilians -- let alone imprison them indefinitely.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Joe Lieberman Stupidity Watch

Joe Lieberman continues to prove he's an idiot:

"Joe Lieberman ... on Sunday proposed that the US bomb Iran... [W]e’ve got to use our force. And ... that would include taking military action... Asked if he was suggesting an attack by ground or air, Mr Lieberman said he would leave that to the generals..."

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Judge Reggie Walton Is Shrill!

From Obsidian Wings:

Obsidian Wings: Snarkalicious!: I present something fun. Twelve law professors submitted an amicus brief in the case of Scooter Libby, in which they claimed that the appointment of Patrick Fitzgerald is a close Constitutional call. The twelve are: Vikram Amar, Randy Barnett, Robert Bork, Alan Dershowitz, Viet Dinh, Douglas Kmiec, Gary Lawson, Earl Maltz, Thomas Merrill, Robert Nagel, Richard Parker, and Robert Pushaw... a pretty high-powered, and generally right-leaning, list.... Anyways: today Judge Walton filed an order granting their request to file their amicus brief. It seems to be a pretty standard order except for one thing: it has a footnote that reads as follows:

"It is an impressive show of public service when twelve prominent and distinguished current and former law professors of well-respected schools are able to amass their collective wisdom in the course of only several days to provide their legal expertise to the Court on behalf of a criminal defendant. The Court trusts that this is a reflection of these eminent academics' willingness in the future to step to the plate and provide like assistance in cases involving any of the numerous litigants, both in this Court and throughout the courts of our nation, who lack the financial means to fully and properly articulate the merits of their legal positions even in instances where failure to do so could result in monetary penalties, incarceration, or worse. The Court will certainly not hesitate to call for such assistance from these luminaries, as necessary in the interests of justice and equity, whenever similar questions arise in the cases that come before it."

Heh. Indeed....

Kevin Drum Is Shrill!

It's George Stephanopoulos's fault:

The Washington Monthly: EXTREMISTS....I just heard Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos chatting on the ABC Evening News about the collapse of the immigration bill. Their conclusion? It was killed by extremists on both sides: liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans overwhelmed the centrists. It just goes to show that partisan polarization has made America ungovernable.

This is ridiculous. Look at the numbers. This was a bipartisan bill sponsored by Ted Kennedy and John McCain and supported by George Bush. Democrats voted 37-11 in favor of moving forward to a final vote. Republicans voted 38-7 against it. In the end, the Democratic leadership delivered nearly 80% of its votes. Bush couldn't even get 20% of his party to go along.

All I can say is: if it was extremists that killed this bill, then 80% of the Republican Party is made up of extremists. For some reason, though, that wasn't quite the impression Charlie and George left us with tonight. Jeebus.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Edmund Burke Was Shrill

The Poor Man passes along Edmund Burke's view of the American Enterprise Institute:

The Poor Man Institute » Edmund Burke was shrill: The poorest being that crawls on earth, contending to save itself from injustice and oppression, is an object respectable in the eyes of God and man. But I cannot conceive any existence under heaven (which in the depths of its wisdom tolerates all sorts of things) that is more truly odious and disgusting than an impotent, helpless creature, without civil wisdom or military skill, without a consciousness of any other qualification for power but his servility to it, bloated with pride and arrogance, calling for battles which he is not to fight, contending for a violent dominion which he can never exercise, and satisfied to be himself mean and miserable, in order to render others contemptible and wretched.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Reading David Broder Can Raise Your Voice Three Octaves

Yes, it is Duncan Black:

Eschaton: Happy FU, ISG! It was six months ago today that the all-important Iraq Study Group report was released. For a meditation on its importance, I give you Dean Broder: "Whatever the final impact of the Iraq Study Group report being issued today, for the 10 commission members this was an exhilarating experience, a demonstration of genuine bipartisanship that they hope will serve as an example to the broader political world." He later wrote: "Bush will reject it at his peril." And then after Bush rejected it, wrote: "It may seem perverse to suggest that, at the very moment the House of Representatives is repudiating his policy in Iraq, President Bush is poised for a political comeback. But don't be astonished if that is the case"...

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

You Come to Me on the Day of My Daughter's Wedding...

Leon Wieseltier writes:

We were desperate for legal help, and... we could not afford the legal help that the problem clearly required. I called Leonard Garment, an old friend, who agreed that something needed to be done, and he promptly put a young colleague of his on the case. The colleague was Scooter Libby.... Libby devoted many long hours to our difficulty, worked indefatigably and compassionately, found a solution to the problem, and did not charge us a dime. His kindness was really amazing. He had better things to do, more pressing things, more lucrative things--but he helped us anyway, and in the finest spirit of charitable assistance...

Why is neoconservative hack-apparatchik doing free legal work for New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier? Rick Perlstein asks the question. I gave an answer that I first thought was too shrill for me to utter publicly, but why not:

Washington X-ray (2) | Campaign for America's Future: Stop back later for more on the Libby Letters. As a historian, you learn that the best imaginable sources for getting to the guts of a culture are the documents that were produced under the impression that they would never, ever be read by another human being besides their intended audience. That's what these letters are. They get beyond the surface, and show what is underneath: Washington X-ray.

Yesterday I asked why so many people in this world appear to offer each other legal services for free. A friend responds:

For the same reason that Don Vito Corleone is always doing "free legal work" for people. It's a way of accumulating favor points: "You come to me on the day of my daughter's wedding..."

Note that Scooter Libby is not merely giving Leon Wieseltier a discount on legal work--charging him the middle-class-individual-in-trouble rate rather than the rich-corporation rate or the Republican-plutocrat rate. Libby never send Wieseltier a bill. Libby eats not only his own time, but support staff wages and office overhead as well.

Doing work for people for free--it's something you do for your family or for your closest friends, with whom you are already enmeshed in a thick network of mutual obligations, or for people whom you are trying to bribe: people whom you are trying to place under some sort of obligation.

Ex Republican Congressmen Are Shrill!

Jeffrey Goldberg reports:

Letter from Washington: Party Unfaithful: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker: Disillusionment with the Administration has become widespread among the conservatives who once were Bush’s strongest supporters. Mickey Edwards, a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma, said recently, “The Republican Administration has shown itself to be completely incompetent to the point that, of Republicans in Iowa, fifty-two per cent thought we should be out of Iraq in six months.” Edwards, who left Congress in 1993 and now teaches at Princeton, is helping to lead an effort among some conservatives to curtail the President’s power in such areas as warrantless wiretapping. “This Administration is beyond the pale in terms of arrogance and incompetence,” he said. “This guy thinks he’s a monarch, and that’s scary as hell.” The grievances against the Administration seem limitless. Many congressional Republicans, for instance, were upset that Bush waited to fire Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld until after the midterm elections.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Do-Over Presidency: Dan Bartlett Is Shrill!

Revealing: Dan Barlett is shrill:

Think Progress » The do-over presidency.: Fox News’ John Gibson to Dan Bartlett today: “A lot has happened obviously in the Bush presidency, and there are undoubtedly things that, in private thoughts, people say, I wish I’d done that differently. What would you take as a do-over?” Bartlett: “Well, there’s too many to count now.”

Bill Kristol is Shrill

Too bad it’s for the wrong reason. He’s not upset that Lewis Libby and whoever else might have been involved did the crimes, he’s upset that Libby will now have to do the time. Bruce Barlett reports:

Bush & Loyalty, by Bruce Bartlett: …Today, Bush's willingness to let Lewis Libby go to jail by failing to give him a pardon has become the tipping point for at least one very prominent Bush supporter who said this:

So much for loyalty, or decency, or courage. For President Bush, loyalty is apparently a one-way street; decency is something he's for as long as he doesn't have to take any risks in its behalf; and courage--well, that's nowhere to be seen. Many of us used to respect President Bush. Can one respect him still?

The author of that remarkably bitter statement is Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard. It can be found here.

When Bush loses people like Bill Kristol, who has slavishly defended him day after day after day, one wonders whether there will by anybody left not on a government payroll who will be willing to defend him in the future. For Bush, this is bad, very bad.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Habemus Catum!: "There's More to Conservative Governance than the Failures of George W. Bush!"

Yes! We now have a new Shrill One! And he ullulates to the dead uncaring stars: "THERE'S MORE TO CONSERVATIVE GOVERNANCE THAN THE FAILURES OF GEORGE W. BUSH!!"

In a midnight ceremony last night here at the Miskatonic University World Headquarters of the Ancient and Hermetic Order of the Shrill--those who have been driven into loud unearthly unsanity by the mendacity, malevolence, disconnection from reality, and sheer incompetence of George W. Bush, his administration, and his tame flacks, journamalists, gibbons, sloths, and other creatures--there was installed a new Grand Heresiarch of the Order: Ross Douthat!

It has been a long time coming for Ross, who spent year upon year on the journey. But welcome! Lead us well!

Ross Douthat: The Lessons of Bushism: [T]he failures of this Administration are therefore something that reformist conservatives of every stripe - whether they're crunchy, Brooksian, Salam-Douthatian (there's a mouthful) or what-have-you - are going to have to live with going forward. They're arrows in the quiver of the Reagan-plus-nothing crowd: Any time someone says that "conservatism needs to adapt to cope with the challenges of X, Y or Z" from here on out, someone else will be able to sneer and say "that's the attitude that gave us the prescription drugs benefit and the Bridge to Nowhere!"

And yet in a broader sense... [that] argument... attributes a deep ideological consistency to an Administration that's rather obviously been making things up as it's gone along. Yes... small-government conservatives knew - or should have known - that Bush was no Phil Gramm. But the content of that accomodation has been driven more by expedience than by any kind of intellectually-consistent revision of conservatism. In 2000, you'll recall, Bush campaigned on the theme of "compassionate conservatism" and made tax cuts and education reform his signature issues. "Compassionate conservatism" gave us very little... the people associated with it, from John DiIulio to David Kuo, soured on the Bush Administration long before a lot of small-government conservatives did.... Education reform gave us No Child Left Behind, the only major Bush-era policy innovation that actually attempted to use federal power to advance conservative ends, which was what the boosters of "big-government conservatism," notably Fred Barnes, claimed the Bush era was all about.... [N]either Rod Dreher nor David Brooks were begging for steel tariffs, or the prescription-drugs benefit, or the energy bill or the transportation bill. These were attempts to buy off swing voters... and reward the party's interest groups....

Indeed, insofar as Bush emphasized an ideological theme... it was the "ownership society," not "compassionate conservatism"... that led to the signature domestic-policy push of Bush's second term, the politically-disastrous quest to reform Social Security, as well as various attempts to woo the mythical "investor class" with dividend tax cuts and HSAs. Then of course came immigration "reform," which is... ideologically-unclassifiable... unites free-market absolutists... [and] evangelicals... while taking fire both from cultural conservatives like Rod and a collection of empiricists....

There's more to conservative governance than the failures of George W. Bush, and I fail to see how (to take a personal example) "Sam's Club Republicanism" is descredited by the transportation bill, steel tariffs, or Medicare Part D, when the only thing they have in common is that they aren't libertarianism...

Ah. We remember the early days, when the Order of the Shrill was so small that its Grand Conventions consisted of Paul Krugman talking to himself while warming a can of baked beans over a can of sterno while he huddled from the rain beneath a New Jersey turnpike overpass...

Rising Hegemon Is Shrill!

It asks: What have the Kagans been wrong about now?

Rising Hegemon: What have the Kagans been Wrong about Now?: let us focus on the more dapper [Robert] of the Kagan's again, besweatered brother who puts the uh... WAR in the 'Carnegie Endowment for International Peace' where he works draws a paycheck.

As mentioned on Saturday, Bobby had a column in the Washington Post in which he said: "By far the biggest problem, and the source of most of the violence reported every day, has been al-Qaeda in Iraq." I pointed out that was a blatant lie then, but I think it is important to demonstrate just how hard some of these people are working to just knowingly act as war lovers that will just knowingly toss out bullshit to keep the calamity going.... This isn't Al Qaeda, it's sectarian. Shiia militias are not Al Qaeda Bob and when they act against Sunni, not every reprisal comes from the hand of Osama bin Laden. As long as these simplistic and simplifying maroons are in charge of things (and Robert is an original PNAC member) we are going from one disastrous adventure to another.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Glenn Greenwald Is Sure Shrill!

It's Mike Allen this time:

Glenn Greenwald - Salon: Mike Allen, consummate Beltway "journalist": The Politico's "Chief Political Correspondent" Mike Allen (until recently Time's White House Correspondent") has a characteristically hard-hitting, insightful new article on Rove protegee Dan Bartlett and his departure from the White House. The 1,150-word article relies upon an impressive constellation of four different sources -- Bartlett, Bartlett's lawyer, Bartlett friend and former Bush aide Michael Gerson, and George W. Bush. The headline -- "Bush's 'truth-teller' leaving president's side" -- may actually be the least obsequious aspect of the article.

Even someone hired to serve as Bartlett's publicist would be embarrassed to churn out something this adoring and one-sided. But not Mike Allen, who very well may be the single most obedient, right-wing-power-worshipping reporter in Washington, a distinction for which there is a crowded and heated competition.

This is what we learn from Allen's article this morning: Bartlett was "an uncomfortable truth-teller in the system" who was "willing to tell the president hard truths" (Gerson). Bartlett was one who "could take the heat that sometimes resulted from the boss's decisions," and he "made an 'immeasurable' contribution and [the President] and first lady Laura Bush will miss him" (Bush). He was "a voice for calm, balance, reasoned discourse" and he is seen "not just having good press judgment, but good judgment, period" (Gerson).

"The trigger [for Bartlett's leaving] was 'a third child, and a realization that [his] commitment to [his] family, after 13 years of commitment to the Bush family, now has to come first" (Bartlett). But Bartlett's departure has not created any tensions, because "Bush, 'more than anyone,' understands the constraints White House service puts on a family," and "there's an incredibly experienced and gifted staff around this president, and a clear path forward for this administration and this president to accomplish more things on behalf of the American people" (Bartlett).

The reason Bartlett and the president were so close is that "they share a Texas view of life," which includes their mutual "casual manner and a manly humor" (Gerson). But now, Bartlett's wife, who "has enjoyed their White House years . . . is ready for a little more Dan at home" (Allen).

Allen tell us that "many people over the years have speculated that Bartlett will run for governor of Texas" and that he has had to hire a lawyer to "sift through job offers." The world is his oyster, because "he has the respect of the media, the Congress, the political world and the business community. That's a rare confluence for people coming out of White Houses" (Bartlett's lawyer).

Imagine calling yourself a journalist and producing tripe like this on a regular basis. It's more of a tongue-wagging hagiography than a standard Pravda item announcing the retirement of a long-term Politburo official. But that is what Allen does. He has numerous close associates in the Bush circle, and his "reporting" consists almost exclusively of running to them, writing down what they say, and then printing it uncritically.


Here is but one example of how this works. Last month, actual journalist Murray Waas obtained a secret internal DOJ document in which extraordinary hiring and firing authority was delegated by Alberto Gonzales to two young and inexperienced Gonzales aides -- Kyle Sampson and Monica Goodling.

As TPM Muckraker's Paul Kiel noted at the time, that story provided "further convincing that Kyle Sampson and Monica Goodling -- the two young Justice Department aides who have resigned due to their roles in the U.S. attorney firings -- were major players at the Department." Pat Leahy -- who, as Senate Judiciary Committee Chair, was unaware of the memo -- described the revelation as both "troubling" and "disturbing."

But the following morning, Allen wrote about the story, first belittling it by calling it "a late-afternoon/early evening frenzy [] stirred up" by Waas, and said that Senate Democrats see it as "a new chance to poke the attorney general." Allen's sole contribution to the story, as usual: relaying "what the administration told [the Politico] about the development."

Allen then copied a long anonymous quote from the White House which asserted that there was nothing secret about the order because "it was published in the Federal Register," and blamed the story on "Chairman Leahy's creative imagination and thirst for perceived scandal." Allen proceeded to pass on a variety of other statements from the White House -- all anonymous -- claiming that there was nothing unusual at all about this delegation of hiring powers.

Were the White House's claims about this revelation true or false? One would have no idea reading Allen's piece. Investigation and reporting on whether the White House's statements are true is not his role. That's what a journalist does. Allen's role is to shape stories in accordance with the version of his White House sources and dutifully to pass along those claims with no effort whatsoever to determine if they are true.

In fact, the White House's principal response to Waas' story, copied so efficiently by Allen, appears to be factually false, as the order unearthed by Waas does not seem to have been published in the Federal Register at all. Indeed, the memo itself prominently bears the designation: "Internal Order -- Not Published in F.R." And the only seemingly relevant Federal Register entry does not remotely constitute publication of that delegation order. Did Allen even look at the memo or the Federal Register to see if the White House claims which he mindlessly repeated were true? It's hard to believe he did.


Both of these stories vividly illustrate the role Allen eagerly performs in our Beltway system. He is a mindless disseminator of government statements, at least insofar as the government is in the hands of right-wing operatives. And it undoubtedly was Allen's love affair with right-wing Beltway sources which generated one of the most politically tone-deaf and misguided articles of all of 2006: his October piece in Time -- entitled "Campaign 2006: The Republicans' Secret Weapon" -- all but predicting a GOP victory engineered by "uberstrategist Karl Rove":

The polls keep suggesting that Republicans could be in for a historic drubbing. . . . But top Republican officials maintain an eerie, Zen-like calm. They insist that the prospects for their congressional candidates in November's midterms have never been as bad as advertised and are getting better by the day. Those are party operatives and political savants whose job it is to anticipate trouble. But much of the time they seem so placid, you wonder whether they know something.

They do. What they know is that just six days after George W. Bush won re-election in 2004, his political machine launched a sophisticated, expensive and largely unnoticed campaign aimed at maintaining G.O.P. majorities in the House and Senate. . . . The Republicans are, after all, in the enviable position of being able to lose a lot. As long as they end up keeping control of both houses, they still come out the winner on Election Day. That was preceded by an equally prescient Allen article back in August -- entitled "Why the Republicans are Loving the Lieberman Loss" -- which argued, following along with the standard GOP talking points, that the primary loss of Joe Lieberman would spell doom for Democrats: "the Democrats' rejection of a sensible, moralistic centrist has handed the GOP a weapon that could have vast ramifications for both the midterm elections of '06 and the big dance of '08."

To Allen, every story, every scandal, helps Bush and the Republicans, because that is what his Rovian friends tell him. In January 2006 -- a mere month after the NSA scandal first began -- Allen wrote a Time article (headlined "Losing his Script and Finding his Voice") claiming that the revelations of Bush's lawbreaking would be politically beneficial for Bush, as it will "turn out to offer a foothold" for Bush to recover from his declining approval ratings.

Just as Mark Halperin conclusively unmasked himself with his now-iconic appearance on the Hugh Hewitt Show, where he literally begged Hewitt to recognize that Halperin agrees with almost everything Hewitt said, Allen had a similarly revealing appearance with the Politico's principal benefactor, Matt Drudge, back in March.

When Drudge began mocking the subpoenas served on administration officials by the Congress, Allen remarked: "Democrats are like a dog that bites someone, right? They taste blood and they won't stop." Then, literally out of the blue, after Drudge asked him about a completely unrelated topic, Allen had a voluntary outburst of intense homage paid to both Drudge and Fox News, so worshipful that it was actually cringe-inducing to hear: Matt, congratulations on -- as you are day after day, year after year -- being ahead of the curve, on the Al Gore story. . . .

Fox -- aside from being a great journalistic story -- and I think that their insight about looking at stories differently than other people do -- basically looking though the other end of the telescope -- is complete genius.Drudge had been mocking Al Gore that week as Gore prepared to testify before Congress on global warming. Allen assured Drudge that the real purpose of this testimony was to launch Gore's presidential bid, and lauded Drudge for his derision of Gore's global warming activism, telling Drudge that there "might be a Gore eclipse" that week. Allen then proceeded to spew the standard anti-Gore cliches which virtually all Beltway reporters spout as a matter of course (exactly as Allen did days earlier when he joined with Glenn Beck in standard anti-Gore mockery):

People may like the idea of Al Gore better than Al Gore. Is it possible that it's not a coincidence that he's so popular now that people have not really been seeing or listening to him -- and is it possible that he will come across as grim and dogmatic and preachy?

Al Gore has been all over the media this year, and his book just debuted as #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list.

At the end of the clip, Drudge wanted to tell Allen about an item on the Drudge Report and said: "I don't know if you have been to the Drudge Report tonight," and Allen interrupted immediately to say: "Are you kidding? Are you kidding?" and tried to assure Drudge of how frequently he visits. But, by that point, even Drudge was annoyed at Allen's oozingly eager attempts to please, and sternly cut him off.

These are the people we are supposed to think are our objective political journalists. Worse still, even as the most influential establishment journalists like Halperin (of ABC News and Time) and Allen run around lavishing the most embarrassing praise on the likes of Hugh Hewitt and Matt Drudge, and churn out articles which can only be described as White House press releases, the myth of the "liberal media" persists in most circles. Halperin and Allen themselves embrace that myth (hence Allen's statement to Drudge that Fox, as compared to the rest of the media, looks "through the other end of the telescope," and Halperin, of course, repeatedly assured Hewitt that he recognizes, and is deeply sorry for, the towering bias of the liberal media).

One can ask seriously how Allen's articles cited here would be any different, at all, if they were written (overtly) by Karl Rove. With political journalists like Allen and newspapers like The Politico, who needs Tony Snow? UPDATE: One point worth adding: Dan Bartlett's entire career has been shaped by his close association with one of the most controversial political operatives in the country's history. He has spent the last six years loyally serving one of the most unpopular presidents in the country's history, a president whom most Americans believe deliberately deceived the country into war. And Bartlett himself has been at the center of all sorts of controversies and been accused of all kinds of dishonest conduct -- from his shifting defenses of the Iraq war to his role in the story of the President's National Guard service.

The notion that he is some kind of universally respected figure who merits obituary-like, criticism-free homage upon leaving is just absurd. But Allen and his circle of Beltway journalists do love and admire Bartlett, just as Halperin and David Broder previously acknoweldged their great respect for his boss, Karl Rove. And Bartlett, along with Rove, are almost certainly key sources for Allen's GOP-bolstering "reporting." Thus, to Allen, Bartlett -- like most White House officials -- is a man of sterling honor and integrity and thus Allen's reporting reflects only that view.

Matthew Yglesias Watches the Fun

Matthew Yglesias tells us that over at the New Republic website, the estimable James Judis has been driven into shrillness by the unqualified James Kirchick:

Matthew Yglesias: It's good New Republic versus bad New Republic and I'm afraid that while it's not much of a competition it's certainly fun to watch.

Here is James Judis:

The Plank: A TWO-STATE SOLUTION: Readers of The Plank might be interested to compare the Nation editorial that James Kirchick excoriates with the positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that The New Republic has taken over the years. The two magazines have often disagreed on particulars, but like The Nation, The New Republic has long been on record supporting a two-state solution to the conflict. While harshly criticizing PLO leader Yasir Arafat and the current leadership of Hamas, the magazine has also recognized that the mainstream of Palestinian as well as Israeli opinion backs a two-state solution. That includes the leadership of Fatah. Even Uzi Arad, former foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyhu, wrote in these pages in 2005 that "by now, even most Palestinians--who, in previous decades, rejected a two-state solution--have recently come to accept the formula."

Kirchick also cites Christopher Hitchens's opinion about The Nation. I would suggest that readers treat with care and circumspection Hitchens's claims about what people have privately told him while looking instead at the actual public statements that Hitchens and the editors of The Nation made about the invasion and occupation of Iraq. What one find is Htichens applauding and The Nation criticizing a foreign policy that has turned into an unmitigated disaster.

A final word: Writers at The New Republic have consistently criticized left-wing blogs for taking a sectarian take-no-prisoners attitude toward publications and organizations on the center-left or center with whom they disagree, including The New Republic and the Democratic Leadership Council. This statement by Kirchick exemplifies the same kind of behavior, although from the right toward the left.

Mickey Kaus Drives Mark Kleiman Shrill!

Mark Kleiman notices that Mickey Kaus finally deigns to admit that Fox News doesn't do "journalism":

The Reality-Based Community: Immigration and the fear-and-greed coalition: Footnote Kaus has even done the unthinkable: criticizing one of the GOP's tame publicity outlets instead of bashing the "mainstream media." It seems Fox News is reflecting the views of its greedy owner rather than its fearful viewers, backing Bush rather than siding with Limbaugh, and Mickey is shocked — shocked! — to discover that Fox News isn't doing honest journalism. It's It's "Pravda-like." [See May 26.]

Yes, Mickey, Fox News is like Pravda: they don't do journalism, they merely propagandize for the ruling party. If youda ast me, I coulda toldja. That's why some of us are grateful for the admittedly imperfect performance of all the legitimate journalistic outfits whose demise you tirelessly predict and try to bring about.

Here's Kaus:

Fox Weekend: Anything But Amnesty! I've now watched a couple of hours of Fox News Channel coverage, and Bush loyalists worried about anti-amnesty anger on the right will be pleased: The network's Pravda-like, immigration-bill blackout continues! Lots of discussion of Iraq, and Rosie, and old WWI munitions in Surf City, N.J., and Rosie. And Rosie! My favorite was the thumbsucker: "Can You Hurt Your Career Defending President Bush?" Not on Fox. Even if it means abandoning the network's traditional role as a voice for conservatives shut out of the MSM.... Any minute now I expect them to start playing somber classical music...

Friday, June 01, 2007

Brian Beutler Is Sadly Shrill!

Brian Beutler wishes he could laugh:

Brian Beutler: Almost daily Corner bashing: One of the nicer things about being a liberal is that we don't have to waste our time with medieval debates about whether or not it's plausible that God intervenes right at the moment when one species is about to become two species and does all the heavy lifting himself. Nicer still is that we don't have to be quite so embarrassed about the idiocy of our most powerful elected representatives. Now if only we could get their stone-aged hands off of related matters of sex and education policy, we could passively enjoy spectacles like this one for the fun little circuses that they are.

And here's the raw data:

The Corner on National Review Online: John Derbyshire: Here is Sam Brownback talking about evolutionary biology. That's a bit like saying: "Here's Paris Hilton talking about partial differential equations"... from which you can deduce that I don't feel much inclined to offer a detailed critique of Brownback's position. I would though like to draw attention to the following bit of weaseling. "If belief in evolution means simply assenting to microevolution, small changes over time within a species, I am happy to say, as I have in the past, that I believe it to be true. If, on the other hand, it means assenting to an exclusively materialistic, deterministic vision of the world that holds no place for a guiding intelligence, then I reject it." What's going on here is that Brownback has got a whiff of the notion that living species indisputably do change over time. This is so well established that the old creationist position—that species do not change over time—has had to be abandoned. Creationists have retreated to this new position: "Yes, OK, a given species does change over time, but never into a new species." You could summarize this as "micro-evolution yes, macro-evolution no." It's a common creationist line of argument...

The Corner on National Review Online: Jonah Goldberg: I wonder whether there couldn't be a different or at least additional interpretation of Brownback that is equally plausible?... I'd guess you're right that he's trying to slip something past the reader with the use of "microevolution" and "within a species."... As one of those people who believes in evolution, macro and micro, but who also believes that such belief doesn't rule out the existence of God, I agree with Brownback's complaint even if I reject his argumentation. He's setting up a strawman, it seems to me, by saying that if you believe in anything more than "microevolution" you're buying into a cold, godless, materialistic universe. But he's certainly on defensible ground when he suggests that some want to use evolution as a tool to dethrone God and religious faith. Obviously, that's not the case with many others — but those folks aren't the ones Brownback's concerned with. And his op-ed isn't about the science, but about how faith and science interact...