Washington Post writer-turned-Huffington Post editor Thomas Edsall argues at length for a point that I made in passing when I interviewed a couple of months ago at the Sacramento Bee: If you're going to be liberal, or "progressive," then make no pretense of being something else. The readers don't buy it anymore anyway.
Here's Edsall, writing at the Columbia Journalism Review:
If reporters were the only ones allowed to vote, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, and John Kerry would have won the White House by landslide margins. More specifically, reporters and editors tend to be social liberals, not economic liberals. Their view of unions and the labor movement is wary and suspicious. They are far more interested in stories about hate crimes than in stories about the distribution of income.
But, and this is a mega-but, even though the mainstream media are by this measure liberal, ending the discussion at this point would be a major disservice to both the press and the public. While the personnel tend to share an ideological worldview, most have a personal and professional commitment to the objective presentation of information, a commitment that is not shared by the conservative media. FOX News, The Weekly Standard, National Review, The Washington Times, Drudge, The Washington Examiner, The American Spectator, CNS News, Town Hall, WorldNetDaily, Insight Magazine are all explicitly ideological. FOX makes the bizarre and palpably untrue claim of ideological neutrality, “We Report, You Decide”—a claim it violates so routinely that no one takes it seriously.
While the mainstream media often fail to live up to their own standards, their committed pursuit of neutrality and objectivity is crucial to the quality of American journalism. That commitment is the main reason the mainstream press is so intensely sensitive to allegations of bias. The refusal of mainstream media executives to acknowledge the ideological leanings of their staffs has produced a dangerous form of media guilt in which the press leans over so far backward to avoid the charge of left bias that it ends up either neutered or leaning to the right. This happened at The Washington Post and was reflected in weak and sometimes fawning coverage, first of the opening years of the Reagan administration, and even more so during George W. Bush’s first term—when not only the lead-up to the Iraq invasion but key domestic initiatives went largely unexamined, with disastrous consequences.
I'd take issue with a number of particulars, but I think Edsall's broader point is right on: The press has a vast and ever-expanding trust deficit with readers and viewers, and pretending to be "objective" when the opposite is obvious to even the least-comprehending consumer is counterproductive and economically ruinous.
Edsall goes on to offer several interesting suggestions for how the media should reposition itself. He ends with the following:
Although it is the subject for another essay, the fact is that there are very few good conservative reporters. There are many intellectually impressive conservative advocates and opinion leaders, but the ideology does not seem to make for good journalists. In contrast, any examination of the nation’s top reporters over the past half-century would show that, in the main, liberals do make good journalists in the tradition of objective news coverage. The liberal tilt of the mainstream media is, in this view, a strength, but one that in recent years, amid liberal-bias controversies, has been mismanaged.
That is indeed a subject for another essay, and I think here Edsall's biases get the better of him. Why are there so few good conservative reporters? Perhaps because like attracts like. Journalism, in the main, attracts a certain type of personality and temperament. At the risk of over-generalizing, that personality tends to gravitate toward do-good causes. For whatever reason, many conservatives are simply not wired that way. But the lack of intellectual diversity in America's newsrooms has contributed to the media's implosion.
Again, it's not that Americans do not want straight news, or prefer opinion to fact -- although there does seem to be a sizable segment of the choir that prefers to be preached to by safe and predictable ministers of the liberal or conservative Gospel. Don't forget: "Objectivity" is a mostly 20th century phenomenon. Nobody outside the serene cubicles of a modern newsroom believes that objective journalism guarantees accuracy or truth. Often, the opposite is true. And, let's face it, the republic survived and thrived with openly partisan journalism. It might have been a bit more vicious, but there was a certain honesty in the old journalism.
"The Republican Party has thrown in its lot with the terrorists - the Taliban and Hamas this morning - in criticizing the President for receiving the Nobel Peace prize," DNC communications director Brad Woodhouse told POLITICO. "Republicans cheered when America failed to land the Olympics and now they are criticizing the President of the United States for receiving the Nobel Peace prize - an award he did not seek but that is nonetheless an honor in which every American can take great pride - unless of course you are the Republican Party.
"The 2009 version of the Republican Party has no boundaries, has no shame and has proved that they will put politics above patriotism at every turn. It's no wonder only 20 percent of Americans admit to being Republicans anymore - it's an embarrassing label to claim," Woodhouse said.
For the record, I harbor no particular ill-will toward President Obama for accepting the Peace Prize. It's merely politics, after all.
But I read statements such as the one from Woodhouse and I think maybe -- just maybe -- Atrios was right.
That's insane. I know the Nobel committee spent the last few years awarding the prize to anybody they thought would piss off George W. Bush -- and I can't blame them for the sentiment -- but c'mon. The man hasn't been president for a year yet. I prefer his greater willingness to use diplomacy in foreign relations, but he doesn't really have a "win" yet. The Nobel committee is sending a message without regard to accomplishment, which cheapens the award. If I were the president, I'd be embarrassed.
I know, I know... who the hell is Matt Osborne? Well, I suppose the same question might be asked of me. (The answer, briefly, is here.) But, as it happens, I'd never heard of Matt Osborne or Osborneink.com until tonight, by way of Memeorandum, when I discovered the man's post on "Treason and Sedition" at the Huffington Post.
Osborne, like Brother Mathis before him, doesn't particularly care for some of the rhetoric he's hearing from the fever swamps of the right. He writes:
When the right-wing website NewsMax.com ran a John Perry column praising the idea of a military coup against the president, they were also engaging in sedition. NewsMax wisely pulled the column, but Perry's rhetoric is only growing more common with a new burst of militia movement activity. Sedition keeps showing up on talk radio: Michale (sic) Savage has pined for armed revolt on the air, and Jim Quinn has called for riots. The callers can be even worse...
You would think that Republicans, being the party of law and order, would move quickly to condemn this kind of speech. But in fact, they both enable and encourage it. Texas Governor Rick Perry famously invoked the spectre of secession against stimulus spending and health care reform; Republicans regularly stovepipe policy statements through FreeRepublic.com, whose founder openly advocates the overthrow and removal of the entire US government.
Let me stipulate that what Osborne says about Savage, whose show I sometimes hear but do not listen to, and Quinn, whose show I do not know, is true. Let me also stipulate that what Osborne says about former LBJ staffer John Perry is true. Furthermore, I'm prepared to stipulate that there are some whack jobs at Free Republic. And that Rick Perry used the word "secession" in a speech last spring at a Tea Party event on April 15. Also, many callers to talk radio shows are insane.
Osborne cannot seriously want the U.S. government to start prosecuting people again for seditious libel. The history of such prosecutions is not a distinguished one. Reviving the practice makes no sense under the First Amendment or as a matter of basic political calculation: What goes around, comes around.
A few years ago, Gabriel Schoenfeld made the case in Commentary for prosecuting the New York Times under the Espionage Act. Schoenfeld is obviously smarter than Osborne, but his idea was just as foolish. Do we really want to return to the good old days of A. Mitchell Palmer? Do we even need to have that discussion?
Obviously, the fear is that crazy speech will lead to crazy -- or deadly -- acts. Fear of violence or subversion has long been an excuse to suppress dissent or mere heterodoxy. But it's worth remembering that George W. Bush never did what Osborne and his ilk are contemplating today. Scratch a civil libertarian, find a censor, I guess.
Anyone who suggested the radical domestic terrorist Bill Ayers wrote "Dreams" for Obama was promptly labeled a right-wing crank — even by fellow right-wingers. I don't know how I missed this until now, but apparently Ayers has admitted to writing the book at least twice in the last week. From The Hill:
First, here's how Ayers responded to a question on the matter from National Journal:
National Journal caught up with Ayers at a recent book festival where he was exhorting a small crowd of listeners to remember that they are citizens, not subjects. "Open your eyes," he said. "Pay attention. Be astonished. Act, and doubt." When he finished speaking, we put the authorship question right to him. For a split second, Ayers was nonplussed. Then an Abbie Hoffmanish, steal-this-book-sort-of-smile lit up his face. He gently took National Journal by the arm. "Here's what I'm going to say. This is my quote. Be sure to write it down: 'Yes, I wrote Dreams From My Father. I ghostwrote the whole thing. I met with the president three or four times, and then I wrote the entire book.'" He released National Journal's arm, and beamed in Marxist triumph. "And now I would like the royalties."
Second, here's an encounter between Ayers and a conservative blogger:
But he didn’t scowl, and didn’t run off as he has been known to do. Instead, unprompted, he blurted out: “I wrote ‘Dreams From My Father… Michelle asked me to.” Then he added “And if you can prove it we can split the royalties.”
Anne responded, “Stop pulling my leg!”
But he repeated insistently, “I wrote it, the wording was similar [to Ayers’ other writing.]”
Anne responded, “I believe you probably heavily edited it.”
Ayers stated firmly, “I wrote it.”
Now, is this a case where we should take what Ayres says at face value? Hard to say, though I'm inclined to say "yes." After all, Obama during the campaign expressed in plain words his plans to "transform" the country. And while conservatives tried to draw attention to his leftist plans to redistribute wealth, "reform" energy so that our bills would "necessarily skyrocket," etc., the MSM downplayed such statements and portrayed Obama as a "moderate." Ayers, too, should probably be taken at his word.
If true, I agree with Jonah. This is a big deal — not that I expect the MSM or the White House Press Corps to pursue the story.
Anyway, for a look at a pre-Ayers-admission investigation of the book's true authorship, go to Jack Cashill's work at The American Thinker.
The Muffled Oar blog calls shenanigans on an alleged unit of the Department of Justice's Office of Public Affairs "tasked with posting anonymous comments, or comments under pseudonyms, at newspaper websites with stories critical of the Department of Justice, Holder and President Obama."
The Heritage Foundation's Hans von Spakovsky elaborates at the Corner:
I doubt that the Office of Public Affairs (OPA) has received an ethics opinion from Justice’s Professional Responsibility Advisory Office (PRAO) saying that it is acceptable for OPA employees to be harassing critics of the department through postings that deliberately hide their DOJ affiliation (a practice that is not very “open” or “transparent”). DOJ lawyers also ought to be aware of ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4, which states that it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation. If the report in The Muffled Oar is correct, tax dollars are being used directly for such dishonest, deceitful behavior.
I'd like to see some follow up about this from other bloggers and perhaps even a mainstream media outlet before weighing in further. (With respect to the Muffled Oar, I'd never heard of it before today.) I would simply remind readers that the Pentagon found itself in a boatload of trouble last year over revelations that it had paid retired generals to parrot the government line on TV. This sounds similar, if not more insidious.
This is ranks as the lamest piece of journalism I've read in six, maybe seven hours.
Yahoo's Brett Michael Dykes goes about "fact checking" Saturday Night Live's opening sketch from October 5. In case you missed it, the sketch featured Fred Armison as Obama recounting the administration's accomplishments so far. The most cutting part of the bit was Armison/Obama saying the left should be more displeased with him than the right because, after all, "I could make it mandatory for all gays to marry and require all cars to run on marijuana. But do I? No!" Hey, Dykes: Just because the administration is "hopeful" it will somehow make its January 2010 deadline to shut down Gitmo, that doesn't make it a "fact."
Let the word go forth that Brett Michael Dykes is the biggest stick in the mud this side of David Brock, Christopher Hitchens and Charles Angoff. Off to clown college with him!
Update: My apologies to Brett Michael Dykes. He has nothing on the stiffs in the comments at Salon.
Update 2 (10/6/09): Good grief, CNN did a fact check segment on the bit, too?! Is this going to be a regular thing now? Why didn't they show this kind of interest in parsing comedy shows, say, 12 months ago? (Why, yes, that is a rhetorical question!) You know what's funny? This is coming from the same network whose president a couple of months ago told his producers to avoid booking radio talk-show hosts because "Complex issues require world-class reporting." Watch the video below and tell me: Does that look like "world-class reporting" to you?
(Via Townhall and a bunch of other people.)
Over at Mediaite, Tommy Christopher plays his analysis straight:
By framing the segment as a fact check, CNN is providing conservatives with confirmation that the mainstream media is “in the tank” for Obama, despite evidence to the contrary. They could have accomplished the same thing by deconstructing the clip as part of a broader examination of the way comedy fiction becomes popular fact.
Perhaps CNN isn’t being inconsistent, but rather instituting a new policy. If that’s the case, I can’t wait to see their first fact-check of “Family Guy.”
Update: Go to Twitter. Search "#CNNFactCheck". Funny stuff.
"Despite what Fernando says, you do NOT look marvelous."
"CNN has obtained a statement from the CDC advising that "more cowbell" is nvr the appropriate cure for a fever."
"General Francisco Franco is still dead."
In the now-public "flap" between Gen. Stanley McChrystal and the Obama administration on what may constitute a winning strategy in Afghanistan, I think it best to stand on the sidelines — at least for now. I'm inclined to think Gens. McCrystal and Petraeus have better ideas than, say, Joe Biden. But we have a military structure in this country in which generals may advise, but civilian authorities make the call. The public leaks of McCrystal's views and his public statements which clearly advocate instead of advise a course of action comes close to being inappropriate.
What I find interesting is the way some liberals are chiding McCrystal for crossing some "line" here. As Mackubin Thomas Owens reminds us at The Corner today.
What is really interesting about this whole affair is the reversal of elite opinion. When leaks indicated that the some of the uniformed military were critical of the conduct of the Iraq war under George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, those critics were seen as necessarily speaking truth to power. David Ignatius of the Washington Post argued that the military needed a chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who would “push back” against Rumsfeld and the Bush administration’s policies in Iraq. The always entertaining Maureen Dowd of the New York Times wondered why Bush refused to take advice from his much more experienced and clear-headed uniformed officers. And one genius at the Huffington Post even called upon the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to “relieve” Bush as commander in chief for dereliction of duty. Only Bush hatred could get the lefty blogosphere to call for a military coup.
Heh. Good line, that last one. Of course, Bush did take the advice of his "clear-headed uniformed officers" — but he chose to listen to Gen. David Petraeus, who wanted to win in Iraq, not figure out a way to carry out an "honorable" retreat. Suddenly the line of the liberal elite changed from "follow the general" to to "follow the advice of a blue ribbon panel of experts that say we need to get out, not double down, in Iraq!" As we all know, Petraeus was right and the surge worked even better than could be hoped when implemented.
The difference between what Bush faced in fighting this war and what Obama faces is that Obama has a lot more information about what works and what doesn't. The "light footprint" strategy in Iraq seemed the best course at the time, but created many problems — problems the surge eventually fixed. But Bush and our military commanders had to figure that out on the fly.
Today, Obama has a choice: Listen to generals who suggest strategies proven to work, or rely on the vast military experience of yourself and Joe Biden to devise a strategy in Afghanistan. If I were a liberal wanting my president to succeed, I'd be reproducing all those "listen to the generals" columns from 2005. As an American, I want my president to succeed in Afghanistan. And I think he should listen to McCrystal.
Oh, for crying out loud:
In an attempt to gain favor with China, the United States pressured Tibetan representatives to postpone a meeting between the Dalai Lama and President Obama until after Obama's summit with his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, scheduled for next month, according to diplomats, government officials and other sources familiar with the talks.
The U.S. decision to postpone the meeting appears to be part of a strategy to improve ties with China that also includes soft-pedaling criticism of China's human rights and financial policies as well as backing efforts to elevate China's position in international institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund. Obama administration officials have termed the new policy "strategic reassurance," which entails the U.S. government taking steps to convince China that it is not out to contain the emerging Asian power.
I'm not so naive as to think America can give China the cold shoulder. And I'm not so naive to think that America can keep China from becoming a great power (though China's own demographics might do that).
But I guess I am naive enough to think that America's president ought to make a pretense, at least, of honoring human rights and discouraging tyranny around the world. This is extremely disappointing.
(Welcome Corner readers by way of No Left Turns. It's a long interview, but worthwhile. Download the file, pour a cup of coffee and enjoy.)
Steven F. Hayward, author of The Age of Reagan: The Conservative Counterrevolution, 1980-1989 and a stirring op-ed in the Sunday Washington Post, "Is Conservatism Brain-Dead?" joins Ben and Joel for this edition of the podcast.
Among the Big Questions we discuss:
• Who are we? What do we stand for? What's it all about, man?
• Is conservatism brain dead?
• Can constitutionalism save the country?
• Was George W. Bush a superficial Reaganite?
• Could Reagan pass a conservative purity test?
• Is Sam Tanenhaus all wet about Edmund Burke?
• Is Glenn Beck just a high-brow Morton Downey Jr.?
Music heard in this podcast:
• "1976" - RJD2
• "Shot in the Dark" - RJD2
• "Clean Living" - RJD2
• "Disconnected" - RJD2
• "Making Days Longer" - RJD2
• "A Beautiful Mine" - RJD2
Believe me. There's a reason why I haven't waded far into Joel's latest Afghanistan post. I have an aversion to taking friendly fire, and Khabalox and ronaldlau are letting loose with the ordnance. I'll leave that fight to them (and it's an interesting one to observe from the safety of the bunker).
At any rate, I think the lead to Jonah Goldberg's latest column addresses well some of the issues Joel, Khabalox and Ron have been bandying about. The column isn't really focused on the Afghan theater; it's more about Obama's supposed love of "pragmatism" in general. But here's a bit that I agree with and think applies to the debate on Joel's posts:
"When John McCain said we could just ‘muddle through’ in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights,” Barack Obama thundered as he accepted the Democratic nomination for president in Denver last year. “John McCain likes to say that he’ll follow bin Laden to the gates of Hell. But he won’t even go to the cave where he lives.”
It was a shabby bit of rhetoric, even for a campaign. Insinuating that McCain, of all people, didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to take the fight to bin Laden was not only absurd on its face, it smacked of overcompensation coming from the former community organizer whose greatest foreign-policy passion prior to his presidential bid had been nuclear disarmament.
But the line did what it needed to do: communicate that Obama had the sort of true grit required to fight the good, i.e. popular, war in Afghanistan. That war may or may not be good anymore, but it is most certainly not popular. And so what was for Obama a “war of necessity” has become a de facto war of choice. At least that’s the sense one gets as the president is suddenly searching for a politically palatable strategy other than the one he announced months ago.
Say what you want about Bush. But he was serious about fighting the war on terror, no matter the political cost. People seem to have forgotten that Bush's decision to implement "the surge" was mocked in every corner of America's liberal establishment (and even among some conservatives and previously reliable Bush allies). "But that's not what the special 'Blue Ribbon' panel recommended," the naysayers said. Yet Bush pulled off what was once considered impossible: Stabilizing Iraq — i.e. "winning" before leaving office, or at least all-but-closing that front in the war against al-Qaida, which entered Iraq expecting victory and American retreat and got slaughtered instead. The enemy has since shifted strategies and have retreated to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Anyway, I think Jonah's right that Obama is now making political calculations while contemplating what to do in Afghanistan, and not deciding what is best tactically from a military perspective and in the interests of national security — or at least what Obama himself said was essential to national security less than a year ago as a candidate. The enemy is confronting Obama in that theater just as they confronted Bush in Iraq. We'll see in good time how Obama responds, and will eventually be able to fairly judge our president's performance. I wish Obama wisdom and success.
As an aside, Khabalox. Seriously. Could you have picked a harder user name to remember to spell correctly? Thank God you comment so often so I can simply cut and paste. I enjoy corresponding with you and I'll get it eventually ... but still :-)
I remember taking part in a patriotic pageant in grade school as a kid around Independence Day some time in the late 70s. I was honored with exclaiming Patrick Henry's historic line: "Give me liberty, or give me death."
Such exercises are essential to instilling in our youth the spirit of the Revolution and the Founding Father's notion of liberty. It is not an exaggeration to say that moment in my youth, as well as being a Boy Scout, helped instill a sense of patriotism that has not yet left me — and never will.
It seems there is a new version of patriotism being taught in our public schools. And it centers on the Cult of Obama. If you're not creeped out by this, then there is something wrong with you. I actually got chills hearing these moppets shout in unison:
CHANGE HAS COME! CHANGE HAS COME! ...
STUDY! WATCH! LEARN! KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN! ...
EDUCATION IS THE KEY! EDUCATION IS THE SECRET! EDUCATION IS THE WAY! EDUCATION IS THE PATH! ...
YES! ... YES WE CAN!
YES! ... YES WE CAN!!!
Watch for yourself.
What the hell is going on in this country?
Winston Churchill rightly called the bond between Great Britain and the United States a "special relationship," and its strength has greatly served both countries and the cause of freedom around the world. Yet President Obama in just nine months seems to be doing his damnedest to damage that relationship at every opportunity. We all remember the details of what can only be described as high-level petulance:
It's a string of shameful embarrassments from the man who was supposed to rescue our foreign policy from the bumbling idiot from Texas who supposedly couldn't get anyone to like him or America. I note that Obama is quick to apologize on the world stage for every real (and mostly imagined) sin perpetrated by the United States — all of which happened before Obama arrived to redeem us, of course — but not only can he not apologize for his boorishness towards our greatest and most important ally, he keeps doubling down.
Via Scott Johnson at Power Line, we learn the latest instance of Obama giving Great Britain the back of his hand. Apparently, Gordon Brown had asked repeatedly to be granted a brief audience with The One, and was rebuffed by the Obama administration. Brown had to resort to scrambling through the U.N. kitchen and trapping Obama somewhere between the line cooks and the walk-in. This kind of treatment towards the leader of a country that has sacrificed 217 soldiers in Afghanistan — you know, that war Obama said was not a "war of choice" but one we "must win" — is disgraceful.
Or, as David Hughes of The Telegraph of London puts it in the headline of his blog post: Barack Obama's churlishness is unforgivable. The whole post is brief, but powerful, so I paste it here in its entirety:
The juxtaposition on our front page this morning is striking. We carry a photograph of Acting Sgt Michael Lockett - who was killed in Helmand on Monday - receiving the Military Cross from the Queen in June, 2008. He was the 217th British soldier to die in the Afghan conflict. Alongside the picture, we read that the Prime Minister was forced to dash through the kitchens of the UN in New York to secure a few minutes “face time” with President Obama after five requests for a sit-down meeting were rejected by the White House.
What are we to make of this? This country has proved, through the bravery of men like Acting Sgt Lockett, America’s staunchest ally in Afghanistan. In return, the American President treats the British Prime Minister with casual contempt. The President’s graceless behaviour is unforgivable. As most members of the Cabinet would confirm, it’s not a barrel of laughs having to sit down for a chat with Gordon Brown. But that’s not the point. Mr Obama owes this country a great deal for its unflinching commitment to the American-led war in Afghanistan but seems incapable of acknowledging the fact. You might have thought that after the shambles of Mr Brown’s first visit to the Obama White House - when there was no joint press conference and the President’s “gift” to the Prime Minister was a boxed DVD set - lessons would have been learned. Apparently not. Admittedly, part of the problem was Downing Street’s over-anxiety to secure a face-to-face meeting for domestic political purposes but the White House should still have been more obliging. Mr Obama’s churlishness is fresh evidence that the US/UK special relationship is a one-way street.
Scott offers an apology to the British people. I extend the same, and ask again: What the hell is wrong with this guy? I took a little flak back in March when I observed the defining characteristic of Obama's foreign policy seemed to be to piss off our allies and curry favor with our enemies. Not much has changed. Obama's obsequious speech before the UN Wednesday was applauded most heartily by the worst tyrants in the world — the same tyrants who always seem to have nice things to say about President Obama but always had awful things to say about President Bush.
I don't know about you, but I'd rather British journalists had reason to praise my president, rather than call him out for churlishness and graceless behavior. And I rather British Prime Ministers didn't have to re-enact a Benny Hill sketch to catch up with an American president.
I've read a substantial bit of Matt Latimer's memoir, Speech-Less: Tales of a White House Survivor, which is getting flack from all the right people. (Did I buy the book? Of course not! I'm saving my money for John Derbyshire.)
Latimer is a stranger to me. But I happen to be good friends with a couple of former White House speechwriters. They wouldn't have written a book like this. I'm not a fan of George W. Bush and I believe a proper, non-screedy post-mortem of the Bush administration still needs to be written. But Speech-less isn't it. Is there a middle ground between Latimer's frivolousness and Latimer's attempted message? The story that needs to be told is subsumed by the shallowness of the teller.
(I understand that Latimer is collaborating with Donald Rumsfeld on the former secretary of defense's memoirs. Interesting.)
I am a fan of Bill Bennett, however -- warts and all. Bennett discussed Latimer's book on CNN yesterday. Here's what he had to say to Wolf Blitzer (via Peter Wehner at The Corner):
Talk about way over your head. He's way over [his] head. That's the best job he'll have ever. The guy is a worm. He's a worm. He belongs under a rock next to Scott McClellan. This is so disgusting. I don't know if Don Rumsfeld knows what he's getting. I have been critical of the Bush administration, but I did not work for the George W. Bush administration. This kind of disloyalty is — you know, give me ten ultra liberal Paul Begalas for his integrity. [Latimer] needs to read his Dante. He probably hasn't read "The Inferno." The lowest circle of hell are (sic) for people who are disloyal in the way this guy is disloyal and the very lowest point Satan chews on their bodies. Maybe Scott McClellan will chew on this guy's leg in the after life. So creepy and so disgusting. Why waste 15 minutes on this guy?
I would have said something like, "Latimer will likely regret writing this book, especially at this stage in his career." But you really can't go wrong with fantastically over-the-top Dante references.
To sum up: Matt Latimer belongs in the same company as Brutus, Cassius, and Judas Iscariot. Matt Latimer is officially History's Worst Monster.
Wow. Hitler, Stalin, and Jimmy Carter must be envious.
Politico reports ACORN is suing Andrew Breitbart, James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles for covertly videotaping an employee offering advice on tax evasion and immigration fraud.
So says Energy Secretary Steven Chu. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Speaking on the sidelines of a smart grid conference in Washington, Dr. Chu said he didn’t think average folks had the know-how or will to to change their behavior enough to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
“The American public…just like your teenage kids, aren’t acting in a way that they should act,” Dr. Chu said. “The American public has to really understand in their core how important this issue is.” (In that case, the Energy Department has a few renegade teens of its own.)
I thought about making a play on "sending Chu to his room," or some such. But what's the point? The outrage now playing out across the Internet
will likely prompt a mea culpa from Chu's office in a few days prompted a quick "clarification" (but not an apology!) from an Energy Department flack, who would have us believe that Chu didn't really say what he meant or mean what he said:
“Secretary Chu was not comparing the public to teenagers. He was saying that we need to educate teenagers about ways to save energy. He also recognized the need to educate the broader public about how important clean energy industries are to our competitive position in the global economy. He believes public officials do have an obligation to make their case to the American people on major legislation, and that’s what he’s doing.”
In fact, Secretary Chu was comparing the public to adolescents while explaining the need for a concerted federal effort to indoctrinate teens in the virtues of switching off lamps when they leave their bedrooms.
Anyway, if the Energy Department had tried to apologize, it should have been rejected out of hand. Chu's paternalism and contempt for Americans is shared by many of his Democrat colleagues in government, including the Speaker of the House and, of course, the president himself. Such moments of clarity and candor are rare. Which is why the government spokesman had to shuck, jive and obfuscate.
Update: The ever-helpful Heritage Foundation's Nick Loris chimes in with climate change "messaging even a teenager can understand."
I've been pretty disappointed in President Obama's embrace of the "state secrets privilege," under which the government -- under both him and his predecessor -- tried to get torture lawsuits dismissed on the basis of national security concerns. Judges haven't been able to see evidence that that such lawsuits would actually harm security; they've had to rely on the president's assertion. And that's bad.
It's not that I don't think that national security doesn't sometimes trump other concerns; but there has been no real process in place to ensure the privilege is used legitimately instead of as a means to cover up government misconduct.
The Washington Post reports today that the Obama Administration is promising to hold itself to a tighter standard when it comes to invoking the privilege:
The new policy requires agencies, including the intelligence community and the military, to convince the attorney general and a team of Justice Department lawyers that the release of sensitive information would present significant harm to "national defense or foreign relations." In the past, the claim that state secrets were at risk could be invoked with the approval of one official and by meeting a lower standard of proof that disclosure would be harmful.
Which sounds great. Except that if the Bush Administration taught us anything, it's that you can get whole teams of Justice Department lawyers to sign off on conduct that's plainly illegal if that's what the president wants. In the past, the executive branch's use the state secrets privilege has amounted to: "Trust us." Under Obama it's: "Now you can really, really trust us."
Only we can't.
This has nothing to do with Obama, personally, and everything to do with the nature of executive power. It wants to be untrammeled. But it should be trammeled, and under the Constitution's separation of powers it is. When it comes to the state secrets privilege, though, the executive branch is telling the courts: "No need to check us. We got this one."
That's not how it should work. And it doesn't have to be that way: You'll remember that Arlen Specter a few months back introduced legislation that would allow a judge to privately weigh the evidence that the government's assertion of the state secrets privilege is, in fact, warranted. It's a way of keeping the president in check, to make sure he doesn't use national security concerns to cover up misconduct.
Specter's bill appears to be going nowhere. That's too bad. Letting a judge check and balance the president would have minimal harm on national security, but it would mean a great deal for letting citizens hold their government accountable.
James Taranto at The Wall Street Journal's "Best of the Web" draws attention to a story I saw earlier today, but now (finally) have time to note. An insurance company mailed out a letter to its customers, warning them that ObamaCare might not actually present the utopia of doctors riding in on unicorns sprinkling healing dust. This resulted in the federal government immediately dropping the hammer of the state:
The government is investigating a major insurance company for allegedly trying to scare seniors with a mailer warning they could lose important benefits under health care legislation in Congress.
The Health and Human Services Department launched its investigation of Humana after getting a complaint from Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., a senior lawmaker usually viewed as a reliable ally of the insurance industry.
"It is wholly unacceptable for insurance companies to mislead seniors regarding any subject--particularly on a subject as important to them, and to the nation, as health care reform," Baucus said Monday, disclosing the HHS investigation. . . .
In a warning letter to Humana, HHS said the government is concerned that the mailer "is misleading and confusing" partly because the company's lobbying campaign could be mistaken for an official communication about Medicare benefits.
HHS ordered the company to immediately halt any such mailings, and remove any related materials from its Web site. In the letter, the government also said it may take other action against Humana.
Good thing the horror of the speech-squelching Bush administration is history, eh? All Humana did was state, truthfully, that Obama plans to fund his health care overhaul by cutting from Medicare. Oh, I forgot, Obama says all the cuts will come from "waste, fraud and abuse" and not affect lawful Medicare recipients one iota. So ... if you don't believe that pablum and propaganda, and state so publicly to your own customers, that is speech that the federal government must put a stop to. "Warning letters" from a senator will be issued. A powerful government agency will open an investigation. You'll be accused of "scaring" people and being "misleading." Nice. So much for free speech.
To its discredit, Humana has backed down and has rescinded its statement. As Taranto says:
Corporations may provide lots of useful goods and services, but never count on them to take a stand for freedom.
Shame on Humana, but more shame on Baucus, HHS and the Obama administration. A private entity, even a corporation, should be able to issue any letters it likes saying whatever it pleases to its customers. Or am I remembering a different America that no longer exists?
(Cross-posted at From the Heartland)
Jim Lakely, better known to Infinite Monkeys' dozen regular readers as Dr. Zaius, posts his thoughts on the FCC's proposed "Net Neutrality" rules at the Heartland Institute's blog. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski outlined the plan in a speech Monday. Jim responded later:
“Genachowski is attempting to solve a problem that doesn’t exist—and will end up harming the vast majority of broadband and wireless consumers in the process. In today’s ultracompetitive tech sector, market forces efficiently punish those who would impose ‘unfair’ network practices and reward those who provide the best service. The FCC chairman would make a grave mistake if he replaced the swift judgment of millions of consumers with the dictates of a handful of uninformed and unaccountable bureaucrats.
“The FCC should not claim for itself the power to determine what level of traffic management is ‘reasonable.’ Free-market forces, with broadband consumers regulating with their wallets, answer such questions with more fairness and efficiency than any government bureaucrat.
“If Genachowski is really interested in ‘preserving and maintaining an open and robust Internet,’ he should keep the FCC out of the way of the market.”
That sounds about right to me. The Wall Street Journal echoes Jim's concerns and expounds in the implications in an editorial Tuesday:
The new policy is a big political victory for Google and other Web content providers whose business model depends on free-loading off the huge capital investments in broadband made by others. Telecom has been one of the bright spots during this recession. Phone companies like Verizon and AT&T have spent tens of billions of dollars on broadband pipe in the past two years. To pick one example: AT&T's capital investments in the U.S. totaled some $18 billion in 2008, the highest of any company. By threatening to limit what telecom companies can charge and to whom, net neutrality rules will discourage such investment.
If enacted, the new proposals will inevitably lead to lawsuits challenging the FCC's authority over the Internet given that Congress has never passed a law giving the agency net neutrality enforcement powers. And telecom firms that recently paid a premium at auction for what was advertised as unencumbered radio spectrum will not take kindly to being told after the fact that net neutrality requirements now govern use of that spectrum. That's another lawsuit in waiting.
The proposed rules really aren't about competition. They're about power. If the Obama Administration really cared about competition in broadband access, it would stay out of the way.
Because it seems clear that Obama lied in his address to Congress. While I believe Obama was intentionally fibbing when he said no illegal aliens would get free health care under the plans floating around Congress, he certainly fibbed when telling this story:
President Barack Obama, seeking to make a case for health-insurance regulation, told a poignant story to a joint session of Congress last week. An Illinois man getting chemotherapy was dropped from his insurance plan when his insurer discovered an unreported gallstone the patient hadn't known about.
"They delayed his treatment, and he died because of it," the president said in the nationally televised address.
In fact, the man, Otto S. Raddatz, didn't die because the insurance company rescinded his coverage once he became ill, an act known as recission. The efforts of his sister and the office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan got Mr. Raddatz's policy reinstated within three weeks of his April 2005 rescission and secured a life-extending stem-cell transplant for him. Mr. Raddatz died this year, nearly four years after the insurance showdown.
What Wilson did during Obama's address was rude. But that doesn't mean he was wrong on the merits.
(HT: The Corner)
John Fund guts ACORN like a mackerel in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal.
(That's right... I compared a nut to a fish. Sue me.)
You've been reading about the ongoing exposé of ACORN, I hope? Andrew Breitbart's latest venture, BigGovernment.com, launched amid real fanfare last week with journalist James O'Keefe's explosive video of a fake prostitute and pimp getting advice from ACORN workers in Baltimore on how to skirt tax and immigration laws to set up a brothel using underage El Salvadoran girls.
The organization of "community organizers" receives hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars every year from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Commerce, and other federal and state government sources. ACORN is even receiving money from the $787 billion stimulus bill President Obama signed in February.
ACORN officials said the Baltimore case was an "isolated incident."
Then O'Keefe and his collaborator, Hannah Giles, went to Washington D.C. and pulled the same pimp-and-prostitute stunt.
The U.S. Census Bureau, which planned to use ACORN volunteers next year as canvassers, cut ties with the group on Friday.
Then O'Keefe and Giles went to New York and did it again.
The United States Senate on Monday voted to strip ACORN of its HUD funding.
Then O'Keefe and Giles came here to California -- just down the road apiece in San Bernardino, as a matter of fact -- and did it again.
Meantime, House Republican Minority Leader John Boehner on Tuesday called on Congress to cut all federal funding to the group. Tax dollars aren't just ACORN's bread-and-butter... they're the group's very lifeblood.
O'Keefe, Giles, Breitbart and Fox News, which has been airing the videos, are going to be sued, of course. There are the usual questions about what O'Keefe may have edited out of his videos. I, for one, can't wait to see what comes out during the discovery phase of the lawsuit. But ACORN likely won't escape state scrutiny in all of this, either, in the form of criminal investigations. That's investigations, plural.
Live by Alinsky, die by Alinsky. Ironic, isn't it?
Update: ACORN is pushing back hard on the San Bernardino video. The San Bernardino Sun is reporting that "the head organizer for California ACORN says a new video that appears to show a staffer at the organization's San Bernardino office is fake journalism."
Also, the ACORN people are saying the crazy Berdoo lady, identified on the video as Tresa Kaelke, "was messing with" the would-be journalists.
From the Sun story:
"In this video, there are two actors who come into our office and who were messing with us. And our employee was messing with them," (California ACORN head organizer Amy) Schur said.
She said that the complete and unedited video needs to be released to the public.
Schur said that in a moment not shown on the edited video, Kaelke asked the undercover "pimp" if he was joking and then proceeded to play along with the joke.
Furthermore, Schur said that Kaelke will sign an affidavit stating that she was not seriously entertaining the idea of cooperating with an apparent attempt to establish a house of prostitution.
"She (Kaelke) asked if they were joking and asked if they were reporters. They said they weren't reporters and they aren't. This is not legitimate news," Schur said.
I don't believe a word Schur says. But I'm forced to agree with one thing: BigGovernment and James O'Keefe should post the unedited videos. There will always be questions, and Lord knows an editing job can paint a skewed or unreal picture. Releasing the videos would allay many doubts, answer many questions, and stop pro-ACORN spin cold.
John McCain's former chief of staff, campaign strategist, and book collaborator Mark Salter is dismayed at how far the public discourse has fallen. He writes:
Excesses of zeal by anti-Obama protestors make me ashamed for my country. As did excesses committed by anti-Bush protestors. Today's "birthers," are no more offensive or weird than those who believe the Bush Administration was complicit in planning the attacks of September 11 or invaded Iraq to increase the profits of defense companies. And, yet, it only seems to be rude or asinine behavior on the right that gives the press and other Washington elites the vapors. While on the left it is tolerated, attributed to provocations by the right, or in some cases invested with a virtuous significance it surely lacks.
So far so good. Salter goes on:
Political intolerance and incivility by the left and right is as prevalent on the internet as porn, and not that much less a factor in the coarsening of our culture. But for many reporters, anger on the right side of the web is worrying and important story. The Huffington Post is a source.
Right on. He continues:
I'm more than a little familiar with that calumny, having been charged along with other senior members of the McCain campaign and our candidate with the same offense. We were somehow complicit with every intemperate jerk who shouted something obnoxious at any of our campaign events. Our ads about Democratic support for Fannie Mae were racist. Calling candidate Obama a "celebrity" was racist. Shouts of "murderer" or "warmonger" by Obama supporters or our opponent's accusation that Senator McCain was anti immigrant or trying to steal grandma's Medicare went largely unnoticed. And yet it was our candidate who often and publicly denounced crude or outrageous attacks on our opponent. The courtesy was seldom returned. McCain would have fired any staffer who said something or acted in a way that could fairly be described as racist. For his troubles, he was likened by a leading civil rights figure and Obama supporter to the murderers who killed three little African American girls. There was barely a murmur of protest by the press about that injustice.
The double-standard is indeed appalling. Salter concludes:
I despair of the coarsening of our politics and our broader culture. So much so that after a lifetime in politics I'm beginning to think I might have rendered more honorable service to humanity had I worked in professional wrestling. That independents, who decide elections in this country, seem to feel the same way is enough encouragement to hope that perhaps we are still capable of reform. But our political discourse won't begin to recover any civility until we get some referees back in the game, who will call bullshit on both sides.
Oh, how that kicker makes me smile. Once again: Atrios was right.
Walter Olson writes in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal about the execrable Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008:
Why did Congress rush to pass this bill, and why is it so reluctant to amend a law whose burdens fall mostly on products that have never been linked to poisoning? One reason is the skill of antibusiness groups claiming to speak for consumers. Groups such as Public Citizen and the Public Interest Research Group seized on and promoted the Chinese toy panic for their own legislative ends and have taken credit for some of the law's most extreme provisions. (The tracking-labels provision was added by then-Sen. Barack Obama.)
Some of the same groups are active in the coalition now pushing for "traceability" principles in food and farm safety. New mandates being talked of include everything from machine-readable leg tags on backyard chickens to batch labeling of orchard fruit. Before ideas of that sort pass into law, one hopes the farm and food communities will study closely the experience of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.
The best part? Mattel, the toy maker most associated with the lead-laced toys that inspired Congress to pass this idiotic legislation, is exempt from a key provision of the law. The CPSIA act has loosed all manner of evils upon the land, including federal garage sale cops, which I posted on here.
Politico reports: "Obama calls Kanye 'jackass'"
ABC News's Terry Moran tweeted the comment. "Pres. Obama just called Kanye West a 'jackass' for his outburst at VMAs when Taylor Swift won. Now THAT'S presidential."
Apparently it was an off-the-record comment and Moran deleted the tweet not long after.
Jules Crittenden remarks:
Obama finally says something we can all agree with … Then does a grab back. Figures.
Too bad. Could have been a great bi-partisan civility reach-across uniter-not-adivider kind of move in these uncivil times.
And Allah at HotAir observes: "I knew he had his good points. What I don’t know is why he’d insist on keeping this off the record."
You can't have nice things.
Our last discussion about health care, fascinating though it was, lacked a certain level of expertise on the subject. In this episode, Ben is joined by David Burkhart, who when he isn't lurking in the shadows of Infinite Monkeys is consulting with hospitals on how to navigate the ins-and-outs of bureaucracy while continuing to turn a profit.
Also joining us is the Heartland Institute's Jim Lakely, a.k.a. Dr. Zaius at Infinite Monkeys. Joel sat this one out.
(By the way, we recorded this one a couple of weeks ago -- and before President Obama's address to the joint session of Congress. But it still holds up!)
Among the questions we discuss:
• Can Medicare be fixed? If not, how does the government expect to fix the whole health care system?
• Which typeface is better for treating a sick person? Times New Roman or Helvetica?
• Are medical savings accounts worthwhile?
• Is health care reform akin to intelligence reform?
• Should presidents even bother with sweeping reforms during their first year in office?
• Is Obama trying to take over the Internet? Or is the real threat that the Internet will become as efficient as the Department of Homeland Security?
Music heard in this podcast:
• "Blast Off" - The Monks
• "Complication" - The Monks
• "Higgle-Dy-Piggle-Dy" - The Monks
• "Monk Time" - The Monks
• "He Went Down to the Sea" - The Monks
• "Oh How To Do Now" - The Monks
• "Treat Me Like Your Mother" - Dead Weather
Economic illiteracy among the journalistic class is hardly new. Journalists were usually the people with higher verbal than math scores on the SAT. (I speak from personal experience.)
Economic illiteracy among the political class is fairly widespread, too. I'd wager that four out of five congressmen of either political party, if asked, couldn't explain the law of supply and demand and would probably vote against it if they could.
But economic illiteracy among presidents is a much more consequential affliction.
The shape and scope of Barack Obama's economic illiteracy becomes more manifest with each passing day. Three examples from just the past week suggest the president and his team of economic advisers know little about the big plans they wish to foist upon the American public.
Obama visited Wall Street on Monday to mark the anniversary of Lehman Brothers' collapse with plans to enact sweeping new regulations over U.S. financial services.
"Under the Treasury reform blueprint," write the Wall Street Journal's editors today, "any financial company, whether a regulated bank or not, could be rescued or seized by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation if regulators believe it poses a systemic risk."
Much hinges on the term "systemic risk," but the president didn't elaborate much about that on Monday. Instead he hauled out a few hoary clichés from last Winter.
"We will not go back to the days of reckless behavior and unchecked excess that was at the heart of this crisis, where too many were motivated only by the appetite for quick kills and bloated bonuses," Obama said. "Those on Wall Street cannot resume taking risks without regard for consequences, and expect that next time, American taxpayers will be there to break their fall."
Obama's visit to Wall Street follows an announcement Friday that the United States would impose a 35 percent tariff hike on Chinese-made tires. Now, the tariff is a complicated issue. Phil Levy attempts to explain the nuances at Foreign Policy's Shadow Government blog. The bottom line, however, is that the tire tariff was a choice, not a necessity -- an act of protectionism, not of free trade.
Yet here's what President Obama had to say about the tire tariff on Monday: "Enforcing trade agreements is part and parcel of maintaining an open and free trading system."
That's true -- when a trading partner breaks an agreement, you enforce the rules. And the Chinese have not been good partners when it comes to intellectual property, for example. But the tire tariffs have more to do with appeasing unions and other special interests in the United States, not punishing Chinese malefactors abroad. Naturally, China filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization.
Now, I might feel less anxious about Obama's high-stakes gambits with China and other prominent trading partners -- including Japan and Mexico -- if he didn't say things that would make a freshman econ major blush.
In the middle of his address to Congress last week, Obama dropped this little stink bomb:
I've insisted that like any private insurance company, the public insurance option would have to be self-sufficient and rely on the premiums it collects. But by avoiding some of the overhead that gets eaten up at private companies by profits and excessive administrative costs and executive salaries, it could provide a good deal for consumers, and would also keep pressure on private insurers to keep their policies affordable and treat their customers better, the same way public colleges and universities provide additional choice and competition to students without in any way inhibiting a vibrant system of private colleges and universities.
Profits aren't overhead and overhead isn't profits. Profits are what you're left with after overhead, salaries, benefits and taxes are paid. That's elementary economics -- so basic even a freelance journalist knows it.
(There are actually two stinkers in that passage. Perry Glanzner noticed and discusses the second one.)
Possible objections: That's just one gaffe! Bush made a million of them and gave us TARP and committed a million other sins, shredded the Bill of Rights, and all the rest of it. Yes, yes, that's fine. But Obama is president right now and it's his economy to ruin by virtue of his words and deed.
In fact, Obama's public displays of economic ignorance are extensive, if not particularly well documented. And they aren't always gaffes. Sometimes, Obama will speak in vague platitudes that suggest maybe he's just trying to B.S. his way through a economic policy discussion or making stuff up. From little slips like "profit and earning ratios" to howlers such as comparing the stock market to a "tracking poll," it's clear that the president is simply not in his element when it comes to questions of finance and economics.
Take a look at the transcript of the president's July 22 press conference. In his opening remarks, he says, "we passed a Recovery Act that has already saved jobs and created new ones." The administration predicted the $787 stimulus -- most of which has not been spent, by the way -- would hold unemployment at 8 percent. The official unemployment rate in August was 9.7 percent.
The point is, making economic predictions is tricky and making economic policies is trickier still. Having a president who doesn't know much about economics in the Oval Office wouldn't be so alarming if he had advisers who could check his worst impulses and correct his errors and temper his anti-market instincts. But instead Obama's surrounded by people, with the exceptions of Ben Bernanke and possibly Tim Geithner, who think and act just like him.
It's worth noting that the president's Wall Street audience gave him a standing ovation at the conclusion of his remarks Monday morning. Praise, like currency, can be easily inflated. Obama's job is to do no harm to the economy. So far his efforts, while expensive, have been of little help.
But the president can only get by on wit and ridiculous federal expansion for so long. For while those stockbrokers were cheering the president, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 23 points on sluggish trading. The market, it seems, is immune to the president's charms.
The New York Times mainstay casts his lot with the "enlightened" tyrants of Beijing in today's column. Key paragraph:
One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century.
Jonah Goldberg replies:
So there you have it. If only America could drop its inefficient and antiquated system, designed in the age before globalization and modernity and, most damning of all, before the lantern of Thomas Friedman's intellect illuminated the land. If only enlightened experts could do the hard and necessary things that the new age requires, if only we could rely on these planners to set the ship of state right. Now, of course, there are "drawbacks" to such a system: crushing of dissidents with tanks, state control of reproduction, government control of the press and the internet. Omelets and broken eggs, as they say. More to the point, Friedman insists, these "drawbacks" pale in comparison to the system we have today here in America.
As it happens, Goldberg wrote a book about just this sort of thing.
Update: Read Kenneth Anderson's lengthy but thoughtful take at the Volokh Conspiracy:
Let me just say for the record that this is a monstrous column. When faced with American public defection from elite-preferred outcomes on certain policy issues that involve many difficult tradeoffs of the kind that democracies, with much jostling and argument, are supposed to work out among many different groups, Friedman extols the example of ... China's political system, because it's both enlightened and autocratic? Who among us knew?
The headline is funny, too: "Thomas Friedman, For One, Welcomes Our New Chinese Creditor Overlords"
In a follow-up post at the Daily Kos, Olbermann writes:
To clarify something I obviously didn't previously, I'm not talking about letting up on criticism of Lonesome Rhodes' work here. I am talking about calling off the Baker Street Irregulars -- while reserving the right to reactivate them. Trust me, I'm going after him tonight on the tweet to his masses that precipitated this, the "find out everything you can" about three Obama appointees.
Yay! A urination contest! With Arthur Conan Doyle references! As it turns out, it's really just about thin-skinned Olbermann sticking it to his former paymasters at News Corp:
In 2006 or 2007, Glenn Beck responded to something I said about him by going on his HLN show and ranting about me. He described how I write my show, how my research copy is delivered to me, and how the technical issues of handling and ordering questions are handled in my script. This came from a staffer or ex-staffer, directly or otherwise.
NewsCorp has been playing this game since I left its employ in 2001 mostly in Page Six of the New York Post (and 90% of what was printed hasn't even been true). The Post once printed my then street address, sent somebody over to terrify my neighbors, and mocked the fact that I (and Letterman, and Sumner Redstone, and others) had received fake anthrax, and that the police had ordered me to go to the hospital to make sure it was fake anthrax. Later the Post staked out my home, so a goober of theirs could shout insults at me about three-figure tax disagreements I'd had with the state of California seven years previously (which had been resolved five years previously)....
Blah blah blah blah blah... who gives a crap? Well, I only mention it because Olbermann offers a splendid opportunity to expound once again on the Law of Unintended Consequences.
Olbermann points to a post by David Carr, who asks:
What might Mr. Olbermann do if someone digs up dirt on his intended targets, who, like him, work in the infotainment industry and have been elected by no one? Once the game of oppo research on the press begins, it’s hard to tell where it might stop, no?
Olbermann's post is intended partly as a reply and a rationalization to Carr. Evidently, he sent a separate reply to Carr, who dutifully appended it to his blog post. Neither piece is persuasive. Does Olbermann not realize he sounds like a complete lunatic? Is he so blinded by his fanaticism? Does the sun rise in the east?
Here's the first, last and best profile I've ever read about Keith Olbermann. Although it appears in a generally sympathetic venue -- the New Yorker -- it pretty much tells you what kind of man he is. When Olbermann self-destructs on live TV in a few years, you'll know why.
My son Benjamin heard President Obama's speech at school this afternoon. Here is his after-action report, by way of a Q&A with your humble servant:
Me: So, Benjamin, you heard the president speak today. What did you think?
Benjamin: Mmmm. Naw.
Me: What do you mean? You didn't hear it or...?
Benjamin: I didn't like it.
Me: Why not?
Benjamin: Well, I couldn't really understand most of the words, and there was a lot of talking.
Me: So it was noisy? You couldn't hear the speech?
Benjamin: I couldn't hear it, and my neck started to hurt.
Me: Why did your neck hurt? Was it because you couldn't see?
Benjamin: No. It was because I've been holding up my neck all day! And I was bored.
Me: So was there anything about the speech you could hear that you thought was interesting or you actually liked?
Benjamin: No, I already said I didn't like it.
Me: Nothing at all?
Me: Did your teacher talk to your class about the speech after the president finished talking? Did she ask questions?
Benjamin: No, because it was almost the end of the day, near the bell.
Me: If you had a chance to hear the speech again, would you be interested?
Benjamin: What do you mean?
Me: I mean, if you could listen to it without noise or distractions...
Benjamin: Oh, no! No, no, no! Nooooo. Thaaaaank. Yooooooou.
And there you have it. Indoctrination failed.