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Surprisingly, Many American Voters Don’t Even Have Pocket Rockets

[ 5 ] September 9, 2008 |

An editor really needed to tell Gary Kamiya to go back to the drawing board with this one. But I suppose for a publication that publishes Camille Paglia this is unrealistic; indeed, since the piece didn’t relentlessly plug the author’s books and add a lot of deepthink Madonna references from the early 90s, they may even argue that it’s an improvement over their star columnist’s similar nonsense.

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If You Want to Get Techincal…

[ 46 ] September 9, 2008 |

Marc Ambinder says that a GOP ad “claims that Palin “stopped the Bridge to Nowhere,” which is technically true but functionally false.”

Let’s be clear. Palin’s repeated claims are not “technically” true, or “metaphorically” true or “spiritually” true or true in any sense at all. They’re unequivocal, bald-faced lies (although Ambinder’s phrasing obscures this fact.”)To review, Palin’s claim was: “I told Congress, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ on that Bridge to Nowhere.” But:

  • Congress ended the earmark for the bridge before Palin was governor; she had no authority to say “no” to anything.
  • At this time, Palin supported the bridge and criticized its opponents.

Her claim isn’t “technically” true; it’s 100% dishonest. And while the issue itself is trivial, given its centrality to the McCain campaign the lies certainly aren’t. As Matt says, perhaps “the electorate doesn’t seem to penalize” the McCain for these lies because pundits like Ambinder will fudge and obfuscate rather than calling McCain or Palin’s lies lies, while they were happy to call Al Gore a liar for things that weren’t lies or for obvious jokes or for things that he didn’t say at all.

The Real Issue With MSNBC

[ 48 ] September 8, 2008 |

I think this is the key part of Greenwald’s post about Gregory replacing OberMatthews:

Finally, and perhaps most notably of all, Olbermann’s role as anchor somehow destroys the journalistic brand of both MSNBC and NBC, while Fox News continues to be deemed a legitimate news outlet by our political and media establishment. Fox does this despite (more accurately: due to) its employing Brit Hume as its main anchor — someone who is every bit as partisan and ideological as Keith Olbermannn is (at least), who regularly spews the nastiest and most vicious right-wing talking points, yet because he’s not a liberal, is deemed to be a legitimate news anchor.

The Washington Post’s Howie Kurtz — while repeatedly lamenting the ascent of Olbermann (and Maddow) as a threat to objective journalism — proclaims that “Hume is no partisan brawler” while Charlie Gibson gushes: “He has a wonderful style which makes you want to hear what Brit has to say, in an age when so many people are in your face.” The Associated Press recently declared that Fox News has never gone as far as MSNBC in producing partisan news coverage, asserting that “Olbermann’s popularity and evolving image as an idealogue (sic) has led NBC News to stretch traditional notions of journalistic objectivity” and that “Fox has never done that, perhaps mindful of the immediate controversy that would result.”

I don’t, in the abstract, object to replacing them, and indeed would never have given them the job in the first place. The unprepared, trivia-obsessed Matthews has no business anchoring anything. I don’t watch Olbermann; I accept the need for a liberal O’Reilly but I’m not interested in watching it, and he’s far from an ideal choice as anchor (as opposed to pundit.) The problem is the double standard, and the circumstances of their firing.

The other thing to note is that replacing people because they’re too biased and don’t meet Brian Williams’s journalistic standards is pretty farcical.

The Strawman Archetype

[ 9 ] September 7, 2008 |

Oh, sure, it’s been done on American blogs too. But “decent” uber-wanker Nick Cohen gives us the full Republican-ressentiment script. Claim: “On the other, liberal journalists turned [Palin’s] family into an object of sexual disgust: inbred rednecks who had stumbled out of Deliverance.” Omitted: a single name or concrete example. Presumed reason: some Guy With a Sign and/or Random Blog Commenter Somewhere aside the charge is invented.

We’ll be seeing plenty more of that. Republicans are very good at creating such scripts from thin air, and they have a lot of useful idiots to work with.

Your Questions Answered!

[ 0 ] September 5, 2008 |

Q:

Ilya asks whether Palin has libertarian tendencies.

No. This has been…

Admittedly, I do think that it’s fair to say that Palin gives off a “western vibe.” What this vibe seems to entail is simultaneously 1)demanding that the government get off your back while doing things like 2)demanding and accepting buckets of federal money far in excess of your state’s tax contributions, favoring the banning of abortions in virtually all circumstances, believing that a liberal democracy in Iraq can be created ex nihilo in a war that otherwise has no positive relationship to American interests at the cost of trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives, etc. etc. etc.

What this has to do with “libertarianism” in any sense I can’t tell you, unless the term means “being a completely orthodox right-wing Republican with an extra dose of hypocrisy.”

Based on A Poll of Republican Donors in Montgomery, Alabama, McCain Has A Huge Lead!

[ 5 ] September 5, 2008 |

Some nice cherry-picking from Drudgico.

Shocking Verdicts of the Market

[ 0 ] September 5, 2008 |

Apparently, there isn’t a market for a fourth reactionary newspaper in a city that can be expected to vote Obama about 85-15 during a brutal time for the newspaper industry. Who could have possibly predicted it? (And, yes, the Sun does have very good arts and sports coverage. It’s also not surprising that this wasn’t enough to support a newspaper founded on the principle that it would be great to read an entire newspaper written like the craziest Wall Street Journal editorials.)

For further comedy check this out. Since on days where we get an Atrios link I think we have a greater readership than the Sun , this reminds me that I forgot to say that we are hiring interns with similar rules — it’s a great deal! In fact, we will permit our male interns to wear khakis with their sport jackets on Sunday…

But POW! Hockey Moms! Arugula!

[ 15 ] September 5, 2008 |

Family visitation and work commitments meant that I didn’t see any speeches at the GOP convention last night; I can’t say I was terribly disappointed. Nonetheless, I did look at some transcripts and clips. We could do this all day, but consider the density of lies and nonsense packed into this sentence:

[Obama’s] plan will force small businesses to cut jobs, reduce wages, and force families into a government-run health care system where a bureaucrat…

(AUDIENCE BOOS)

… where a bureaucrat stands between you and your doctor.

There are a couple of obvious lies here: Obama’s plan specifically exempts small businesses from contribution requirements, and he’s not proposing British-style socialized medicine. But what really kills me is the idea that in the current American system no “bureaucrat” will stand between you and your health care. I hate to break this to McCain — whose immense wealth and government benefits mean he doesn’t have to deal with this — but private insurance companies all invest in large bureaucracies whose primary purpose is to stand between you and your doctor.

More Please

[ 0 ] September 3, 2008 |

This ad seems like a good start, although it says something about the way pundits see abortion that cutting an ad supporting a Supreme Court decision supported by 2-to-1 majorities can be seen as a “counterintuitive” move. The next step: include in an ad the fact that both John McCain and the Republican platform support a constitutional amendment that would make abortion illegal (and indeed, if one takes the platform seriously, first-degree murder) in all 50 states. Drawing attention to your opponent’s exceptionally unpopular opinions really should be Politics 101, but when it comes to abortion for some reason only Republicans seem to believe that you should try to fight on favorable terrain.

The Lies of Sarah Palin

[ 114 ] September 2, 2008 |

Bob Somerby correctly notes that Palin’s extravagant claim that she “told Congress thanks but no thanks on that Bridge to Nowhere” is simply an “outright lie.” And this is true not only in the sense that she was for it before she was against it, but also because by the time she become governor Congress had given up the earmark. Her self-praise was simply nonsense. And this lie might seem rather consequential, given that her fictitious opposition to federal pork is central to justifying McCain’s selection (cf. David Brooks.)   And this isn’t even getting into the fact that she’s still using federal pork to build a road to nowhere.   And yet, Palin’s lie has been soft-pedaled into a mere “slight exaggeration.” The contrast with how the Times treats Democratic candidates is obvious:

But so it has gone in the past sixteen years, as lying became a Democratic disease in the press corps’ reliable scripts. In the journalism of the past sixteen years, Republicans have been allowed to misstate as much as they pleased. By way of contrast, the press corps has often invented lies, then pretended that Major Democrats said them. Covering Palin, hapless news orgs like the New York Times are enacting this drama again.

Compare the treatment of Palin’s straightforward lie with the treatment of Gore’s (accurate) statements about his role in the development of the internet (let alone the stuff that was entirely made up), and I think it tells you what you need to know.

I do have one quibble, though. Somerby says that “Liberals, of course, are busy examining photos of Palin’s waist-line. Did she really bear that child? Liberals demand to know this!” Certainly, the thigh-rubbing conspiracy theories about Palin’s fifth child are absolutely idiotic. But nor do I think that there has been any significant interest in this non-story from liberal bloggers of any influence (and, no, Andrew Sullivan hardly counts as a liberal.) The idea that “liberals” or “the left” as opposed to “some random, non-front page Daily Kos diarist” or “some blog commenter somewhere” were drooling about Palin’s recent pregnancy is itself a GOP script that shouldn’t be repeated without naming names. I do agree, however, that the lies underlying Palin’s reputation as a pork-buster are a far more important and far more politically fruitful line of attack than her daughter’s pregnancy.

This is Excellent News!!!!!!! For McCain!!!!!!

[ 24 ] September 2, 2008 |

It always is.

Places Not To Go

[ 20 ] September 1, 2008 |

Monika Bauerlein is, of course, correct that it would be grossly sexist to bring up Palin’s youngest child or his disability with any implication that this makes her running for vice president inappropriate. To state the obvious, nobody would bring such things up about a male vice presidential candidate, just as when people bring up family issues to explain the gross underrepresentation of women clerking for the Supreme Court they never seem to question how Antonin Scalia has had a long career as an appellate judge with nine kids. Men are also capable of being caregivers, and the assumption that Palin should have the primary responsibility for caring for her children is just sexism, full stop. There are very good reasons to oppose her — most notably such rather more important things as her very reactionary political views and her lack of knowledge about most important domestic and foreign policy issues — but the fact that she has become a state leader while being a mother of five is emphatically not one of them.

And while I’m not suggesting that it’s on the same level, somebody also needs to have a long talk with Joe Biden.

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