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Pathetic Governors Who Lie

[ 0 ] January 13, 2009 |

Palin:

Sarah Palin fired a new salvo in her war on the media, unloading in a new interview on her home state paper and “bored, anonymous, pathetic bloggers who lie.”

The Alaska governor, who has granted a steady stream of interviews since Election Day, also told an Esquire reporter that she wishes she had told McCain campaign advisors she’d be “callin’ some of the shots.”

“Bored, anonymous, pathetic bloggers who lie annoy me… I’ll tell you, yesterday the Anchorage Daily News, they called again to ask — double-, triple-, quadruple-check — who is Trig’s real mom,” she said, in an interview to be published in the magazine’s March issue.

At least we now know the name of at least one of the newspapers that Palin reads in her daily quest to peruse “all of them.” But for the record, here’s the ADN editor explaining — in a late December e-mail to the governor herself — why the paper had a reporter calling her office about the story.

You may have been too busy with the campaign to notice, but the Daily News has, from the beginning, dismissed the conspiracy theories about Trig’s birth as nonsense. I don’t believe we have ever published in the newspaper a story, a letter, a column or anything alleging a coverup surrounding your maternity.

In fact, my integrity and the integrity of the newspaper have been repeatedly attacked in national forums for our complicity in the “coverup.” I have personally received more than 100 emails accusing me and the paper of conspiring to hide the truth (about Trig’s birth.)

. . . .I finally decided, after watching this go on unabated for months, to let a reporter try to do a story about the “conspiracy theory that would not die” and, possibly, report the facts of Trig’s birth thoroughly enough to kill the nonsense once and for all.

Lisa Demer started reporting. She received very little cooperation in her efforts from the parties who, in my judgment, stood to benefit most from the story, namely you and your family. Even so, we reported the matter as thoroughly as we could. Several weeks ago, when we considered the information Lisa had gathered, we decided we didn’t have enough of a story to accomplish what we had hoped. Lisa moved on to other topics and we haven’t decided whether the idea is worth any further effort.

Even the birth of your grandson may not dissuade the Trig conspiracy theorists from their beliefs. It strikes me that if there is never a clear, contemporaneous public record of what transpired with Trig’s birth, that may actually ensure that the conspiracy theory never dies. Time will tell.

Elsewhere, Eric Boehlert offers a natural history of the rumor, proving once more — as if further proof were required — that Sarah Palin simply has no idea what she’s talking about.

Hamas, Hezbollah, and so forth

[ 0 ] January 13, 2009 |

I diavlogged with Eli Lake last week:

Great Moments In Hackery

[ 0 ] January 13, 2009 |

Speaking of Stuart Taylor and Evan Thomas, who can forget their classic Newsweek cover article asserting that Sam Alito was a moderate who would disappoint conservatives? After all, he liked baseball and had a family –pretty clear evidence that he wasn’t the wholly doctrinaire reactionary more trivial sources of evidence like his judicial record would suggest.

Saying the Loud Part Quiet and the Quiet Part Loud

[ 0 ] January 13, 2009 |

This is the kind of thing that Ehud Olmert shouldn’t talk about, even if it’s true:

In an unusually public rebuke, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel said Monday that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had been forced to abstain from a United Nations resolution on Gaza that she helped draft, after Mr. Olmert placed a phone call to President Bush.

“I said, ‘Get me President Bush on the phone,’ ” Mr. Olmert said in a speech in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, according to The Associated Press. “They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn’t care: ‘I need to talk to him now,’ ” Mr. Olmert continued. “He got off the podium and spoke to me.”

Israel opposed the resolution, which called for a halt to the fighting in Gaza, because the government said it did not provide for Israel’s security. It passed 14 to 0, with the United States abstaining.

Mr. Olmert claimed that once he made his case to Mr. Bush, the president called Ms. Rice and told her to abstain. “She was left pretty embarrassed,” Mr. Olmert said, according to The A.P.

I understand that this is primarily for Israeli domestic consumption; being able to demonstrate that the President of the United States is his bitch (forgive me…) is going to help Olmert’s party in next month’s election. I rather think, though, that the Israel lobby (such that it is) acts more effectively for Israel’s interest when people pretend publicly that it doesn’t exist.

Via Matt.

Deep Thought

[ 0 ] January 13, 2009 |

I sure hope that 98% of EPSN’s news coverage consists of breathless reports about whether and where the 27th best QB in the NFL will play in 2009, just like it did last year.

As Allen Barra points out, the Jets would have been much better off signing Kurt Warner. This isn’t to say that Warner is a “greater” QB than Favre. Durability matters, and while Warner is certainly a better QB at his best and certainly has been better in the playoffs, Favre has had a much longer career at a usually high (if often highly overrated) level of value. But Favre’s durability was irrelevant to what his signing meant in 2008, and his expensive sub-mediocrity couldn’t have been more predictable. Mangini probably deserved to get fired, but if the Jets bring Favre back at the price they have much worse problems.

I’m Duly Impressed…

[ 0 ] January 13, 2009 |

The Provost at UK has launched a “War on Attrition”, designed to mobilize faculty around the goal of keeping economically marginal students in school during the recession. In spite of my general skepticism of Wars on X, I think that the goal is a worthy one; a certain attrition rate for public universities is healthy and necessary, but the reasons for that attrition should be related to academics and maturity rather than to economics. Moreover, a recession is precisely when economically marginal students should be in college, because the alternatives aren’t so good. Matt had a good post on the challenges facing college graduates during poor economic times, and I’d assume that the situation is even more dire for non-graduates. And there are, of course, lots of things that faculty can do to help out economically disadvantaged students, such as maintaining non-traditional office hours, being open to alternative assignments, and trying to keep textbook prices down.

Most of all, though, I’m impressed that we’re now naming our campaigns after semi-obscure episodes in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Looking forward to our Suez Crisis…

Proof of the Pudding

[ 0 ] January 13, 2009 |

Michelle Goldberg on signals that Obama will rescind “don’t ask, don’t tell”:

Granted, he didn’t say when it was going to happen, but it’s definitely an encouraging sign, and one with far more concrete repercussions than the participation of Warren in the inauguration. That doesn’t mean choosing Warren was a good idea – Obama still elevated the already too-high standing of a fundamentalist ideologue. But if this pattern holds – symbolic sops to the right, followed by real-world gains for gays and lesbians – it will be a huge improvement over Bill Clinton, who did almost exactly the opposite.

Of course, as Goldberg implies Obama shouldn’t be given credit for the good policy change until it happens it either. Symbolic losses for policy gains is a tradeoff worth making if he comes through on the former latter, so we’ll see. Which is why, despite the need to talk about something in the dead time for politics, there’s no point in reaching judgments either way until we see what actually does. People who claimed in 1962 that LBJ was playing supporters and opponents of civil rights for suckers would both have had plenty of ammunition. If we’re lucky (and put on enough pressure), Obama will (in the manner of LBJ) will shiv his more unsavory allies; if we’re not, in the manner of JFK he’ll talk a good game sometimes and not actually do much of anything to avoid upsetting his unsavory allies. I’m betting that he’ll be closer to the former (or I wouldn’t have supported him), but until we see how he actually performs in office, the question will simply remain open.

“This is Rickey calling on behalf of Rickey. Rickey wants to play baseball.”

[ 0 ] January 12, 2009 |

With Henderson going to the Hall of Fame, now is as good a time as any to relive the greatest Rickey stories of all time. This profile in The New Yorker a few years back was also pretty excellent.

I’m not quite sure why, but I always liked Henderson. When I was a kid, about the only thing I could do capably on the field was stealing bases. I wasn’t fast, and I ran more or less like you’d expect a duck to run if it had slightly longer legs, but I could easily take second or third base whenever the ball dribbled through the catcher’s legs to the backstop. And so in 5th grade, I senselessly tried to model my batting stance after Henderson’s, until my coach asked me, and I quote, “What the fuck kind of stance is that?” Not having a good answer — and “It’s just davenoon being davenoon” would not have been one — I resumed my regular habit of striking out while merely looking like your bog standard, uncoordinated 10-year-old, instead of your bog standard, uncoordinated 10-year-old with a vestibular defect.

Not Good

[ 0 ] January 12, 2009 |

Concur with Spencer re: the banning of the participation Arab political parties in the next Israeli election. Such a ban effectively disenfranchises Israel’s Arab minority, making the claim that “Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East” problematic at best.

UPDATE [by SL]: Hopefully, the Israeli Supreme Court will intervene, as they did in 2003. I have no idea how likely this is; obviously, the political context this time may make it less likely.

Better Than Hitler? Get Out of Jail Free!

[ 0 ] January 12, 2009 |

I strongly endorse Dahlia Lithwick’s position in the debate in the Sunday Times about the prosecution of Bush administration war criminals. Making Lithwick’s argument stronger are the embarrassingly weak conclusions reached by Charles Fried. First, we get the “Dick Cheney is better than Pol Pot” gambit, which I suspect we’ll be hearing a lot more of and is certainly revealing in a way its users don’t intend:

If you cannot see the difference between Hitler and Dick Cheney, between Stalin and Donald Rumsfeld, between Mao and Alberto Gonzales, there may be no point in our talking. It is not just a difference of scale, but our leaders were defending their country and people — albeit with an insufficient sense of moral restraint — against a terrifying threat by ruthless attackers with no sense of moral restraint at all.

I trust that it doesn’t require extensive argument on my part for you to see how specious and dangerous the “if you’re not as bad as Mao, you should be exempt from prosecution for unquestionably illegal acts” argument is. Hilzoy says what needs to be said about this. The other standard is just as useless. If we’re going to exempt executive officials from facing consequences for illegal actions as long as they really think their actions are in the best interests of the country, we might as well not have any legal restraints on executive officials at all.

To top it off, Fried adds to this a collective guilt argument: “But we must remember: our leaders, ultimately, were chosen by us; their actions were often ratified by our representatives; we chose them again in 2004.” Poor Richard Nixon — if he had only knew that simply being re-elected should exempt him form facing consequences for any past or future acts! And like Brad DeLong, I must have forgotten all the times in which Fried publically asserted during the Clinton impeachment that because he had been elected twice he ipso facto couldn’t be guilty of anything.

That’ll Solve All Your Problems!

[ 0 ] January 11, 2009 |

I know the state of Michigan is reluctant to turn down money from the feds these days, but this kind of thing really should be left to wingnuttier states. In fairness, its administrators certainly can mount a convincing defense:

And a study by the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health, released in late December, shows that youth who take chastity pledges and partake of abstinence-only education will start sexual activity at the same time as their religious and conservative peers, only they are much less likely to engage in behavior to protect from unwanted pregnancies or sexual transmitted infections.

“What we know is that there are study after study that shows this stuff (abstinence-only) doesn’t work,” said Lori Lammerand, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Mid and South Michigan.

“Well, I disagree with you that studies show that it (abstinence-only education) doesn’t work,” said MDCH spokesperson James McCurtis when asked about the studies. “I challenge you to cite one study that shows that.”

When presented with a study from the Guttmacher Institute web site, McCurtis responded, “I am not going to amend my previous comments. Thank you for the study.”

Well, I’m convinced!

Worst American Birthdays, vol. 45

[ 0 ] January 11, 2009 |

Few actors on the fringes of American politics have been so consistently insane as David Joel Horowitz, who commences his eighth decade of douchebaggery today.

Like the itinerant street prophets who descend upon university campuses each spring like an Old Testament plague of toads, Horowitz’s claim to relevance has always depended utterly on his status as a convert, as someone still atoning for the unpardonable errors of his youth. One suspects that he is unable to navigate the drive-thu service at Jack-in-the-Box without reminding the hapless window jockey that he, David Horowitz, committed treason in 1972 while working as an editor for Ramparts; that he, David Horowitz, was once a devoted companion of Black Panthers like Huey Newton; and that he, David Horowitz, eventually realized that his life had been mistakenly devoted to a struggle against all that was decent and right in the world.

Since his political conversion — tediously detailed in his sub-Proustian 1996 memoir, Radical Son — Horowitz has spent most of his time challenging what he regards as the most dangerous force in the contemporary United States: humanities professors who discourage their students with decadent fables about their homeland. In his new role as agitator against leftist indoctrination on American campuses, Horowitz has become a one-man Macy’s parade, a giant, cartoonish, inflatable fuck-up bobbing goofily down the street. Whether he’s toasting the unacknowledged blessings of chattel slavery, calculating the civilizational demerits of Native Americans, or sponsoring extended circle jerks like his “Islamo-Fascist Awareness Week,” Horowitz has apparently decided to atone for his years as a Panther fanboy by turning himself into the archetype of the stupid Whitey, an unselfconscious apologist for The Man. Meantime, Horowitz’s abounding intellectual dishonesty and his relentless capacity for self-promotion have earned him a “relevance” to the Right that he could never have enjoyed — but which he so clearly craved — from the Left. As political psychodrama, it’s quite frankly embarrassing to behold.