Saturday, January 28, 2006

Red Bull in the NYT Water Cooler

Gail Collins sounds almost as mad as Howell Raines did when he was freaking out about a land deal in which the Clintons lost money.

Fresh Thread


Stoller Speak

You read. And then read it again.

Open Thread

A rollicking band of threads we.

Open Thread

No, I'll be brave! Oh, thread descent.

Open Thread

Threading softly to the river.

Open Thread

Awa, away, my thread's on fire!


Why is that some Democrats seem to think losing will make them look tougher than will winning?

Hand Cream and Wack Mags

90% minimum.

Open Thread

Oh! False one, you have threaded me.

Wanker of the Day

Jim VandeHei.

Attention Connecticut Residents

Sign up to volunteer for Ned Lamont.

Technically Correct

After Howard Dean informed Katie Couric that 2+2 was in fact 4 and not as she was claiming 2.718, Matt Lauer followed up the next day claiming that Dean's assertion was "technically correct." Now, that phrase is not without potential validity. Statements can be "technically correct" while being misleading and obscuring a broader truth. But that is in fact one of the reasons why us in the shrillosphere are a wee bit annoyed at the fact that the Washington Post is still aggressively pushing its "Abramoff directed donations to both parties." Because that fact, while it may be (though there isn't even much evidence for it) "technically correct" it does actually obscure the broader truth. If by directed donations they mean "Abramoff once suggested that a client give money to a Democrat" then they claim to have evidence to support that. But the broader truth is that overall Abramoff reduced the amount of giving to Democrats by his clients, something which should be no surprise given his clearly stated intentions.

So when Lauer calls something "technically correct" in a way which implies it's somehow misleading he's full of shit.

The Conversation

Pulling something from Jamo's column which I linked to earlier. From 1994 New York Times editorial:

Attorney General Janet Reno seems hellbent on sacrificing her reputation to the White House's effort to contain the Whitewater Development flap. Not only has she continued to refuse, on insultingly specious grounds, to appoint an independent counsel. It now emerges that by so refusing, she has bought time for Justice Department and White House lawyers to cook up a deal to keep the Whitewater records under wraps. Moreover, those records are being handled so sloppily that when an independent counsel is finally -- and inevitably -- appointed, that official will have to spend vast energy to be sure no evidence has been destroyed.

Is no one at the White House reading the history of recent Presidential scandals? These clumsy efforts at suppression are feckless and self-defeating. This White House's attempts to maintain political control of the investigation into President and Mrs. Clinton's real estate dealings in Arkansas are swiftly draining away public trust in their integrity.

Ms. Reno insists she does not wear the White House collar, but her news conference yesterday undermined that claim. She holds out the possibility that she will seek a court-appointed independent prosecutor as soon as the House passes legislation authorizing such positions. But Ms. Reno does not have to wait. She already has the authority to appoint a special prosecutor from outside her department, and Congressional Republicans are right to insist that she do so. When the Independent Counsel Act is revived -- as it ought to be -- then this special prosecutor can give way to a court-appointed prosecutor operating with even more independence.

The issue I want to highlight is not independent (law expired) or special prosecutors, but the very concept that the attorney general should him/herself be independent. That is entirely gone from our media conversation. Every knows Gonzales is Bush's tool, and it isn't remarkable. It's just the state of affairs. The very idea that he should be independent has been stricken from contemporary discourse.

Open Thread

oh, better far to thread and die.

Open Thread

I am the very thread of a modern Major-General.

Open Thread

Pour, oh pour the pirate thread.


Holy crap.

Friday, January 27, 2006


A thing which I only came to realize recently is just how little reader feedback most reporters get, even post Al Gore's benevolent gift of the internet. Even reporters/columnists/etc who prominently display their emails get very little reader feedback. I was quite stunned to realize that the amount of reader feedback most reporters get - even now - is about the amount I was getting after I'd only been running this lemonade stand for a couple of months. Bloggers get a huge amount of feedback relative to their readership size, both in comments and in email, and I was shocked to realize that this wasn't something most print journalists experienced.

That's why Stoller's assertion to little Debbie, "nothing happened to you," is actually probably more meaningful than most people realize. Getting shitloads of nasty feedback when you get something wrong is, actually, "nothing." It's just another day as a blogger. I've always thought the whole "self correcting blogosphere" nonsense was just that, nonsense. Especially with all the mostly-conservative blogs which don't have comments public correction requires that they actually, you know, correct themselves. But nonetheless everybody deals with the feedback, and anyone with even a modest amount of traffic deals with quite a lot of it.

Boo hoo. People were mean. Welcome to my world.

Open Thread

When you had left our pirate thread.

Still There

The young turks are still going. C&P the link so I don't blow the server.

Never Believe Anything You Read On the Internets

Just why would anyone fork over lots of money for the worst website ever.

Media Matters

Jamo's weekly column is very good this week and worth the time it will take you to read it.

Trained Monkeys

Your liberal media - a giant sock puppet of Karl Rove.

Flip Flop

This will be largely ignored, of course.

Open Thread

Stop, ladies, thread!

Two Stories

Cruising into Tuesday evening next week there will be two possible storylines:

1) The Democrats are a bunch of losers, as are all of their supporters. Bush and his giant codpiece looked magnificent at the state of the union, and Mrs. Alito was very happy and smiling sitting next to Mrs. Bush safe and content now that the magnificent and mighty President Bush made that bad Ted Kennedy go away.

2) The Democrats shocked Washington today by holding together, dropping a mighty turd in the punchbowl of the Bush administration, dealing a deadly blow to his nomination of Alito. The president won't be too happy tonight as he gives the 2006 state of the union speech.

Those are the choices.

Score One For the Good Guys

Washington State gay rights bill passes.

Call Salazar

If you're from Colorado, call Salazar's office. Tell him to vote against cloture.

If you're feeling polite be polite.

If you're feeling less polite ask his staffers why he won't stand up to James Dobson.

Denver Metro Region
2300 15th Street, Suite 450
Denver, CO 80202
Phone: (303) 455-7600
Fax: (303) 455-8851

Washington, D.C.
U.S. Senator Ken Salazar
702 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
(202) 224-5852 main
(202) 228-5036 fax


Charles Pierce reviews Begala and Carville's new book. I have a copy sitting on my shelf but I haven't read it yet.'s the Catholicism/Blitzer anecdote. I'd forgotten about that.


On Meet the Press this weekend:

Senate Maj. Leader Bill Frist, Washington Post's David Broder, Bloomberg's Roger Simon, and National Review's Byron York.

I think something's missing, but I can't quite put my finger on it.

...Actually, a lot is missing. All male. All white. No liberals. Etc. Will Tim Russert ask Bill Frist if he agrees with Ann Coulter's call to poison a Supreme Court justice?

...the site says Kelly O'Donnell will be on also, so it isn't all male.

On Air Filibuster

The Young Turks are staying on the air until this is over.

Oy, I can't link to anyone anymore.

C&P the link:

Born in America

Digby on Tweety's latest horror.

I can't wait for tonight's Hardball, during which Republican Tucker Carlson, Republican Joe Scarborough, and Republican Rita Cosby will discuss the issues of the day with Republican Chris Matthews.

Open Thread

Stay, we must not lose our threads.

Open Thread

Stop, ladies, thread!

Wanker of the Day

Tim Russert.

The Media Borg

Stoller writes:

But my point here isn't about this tiff. It's about the culture of modern journalism. Among journalists, there's a deep sense of pride in the craft of journalism - I just attended a luncheon yesterday with some old practitioners, and they are proud of the work they do. And honestly, much of it is excellent excellent work. And they are keen to talk ethics, and blogging, and print journalism. But whenever I bring up TV, and especially cable TV, immediately reporters throw up their hands and avoid responsibility. They say things like "Chris Matthews is an asshole" or "Don't engage him" or "Fox News isn't what I do", as if the American public's responsibility to police the craft of journalism that they take so much pride in policing.

That same standard is NEVER applied to bloggers - are they journalists, are they reporters, are they mean people on the internet - there's endless handwringing about that question, and a deep sense that this-is-a-very-important issue-that-we-must-all-talk-and-fret-abo ut. Well, that's fine, except that if you believe you belong to a craft, and there is a self-policing mechanism, you have to actually self-police.

That means asking the same questions of Chris Matthews and Tim Russert as you ask of bloggers and journalists. I don't see that happening. And since television is an immensely powerful medium that dominates our discourse, I find it fairly irresponsible that there is such a lack of discouse.

This really is a big issue and it's something too many print journalists just refuse to deal with. To a great degree the media is a collective and the public doesn't really distinguish between outlets. Chris Matthews is granted legitimacy by all of the guests - including print journalists - who go on his show and the relative lack of criticism of what goes on there.

I've written many times that I welcome criticism of bloggers, some of it's just rather bizarre given the incredible silence we get about talk radio/fox news/msnbc/etc. As all powerful as bloggers apparently are now, we're still relatively minor players in the political discourse. What's more important - what Hannity, O'Reilly, Russert, and Matthews have done to our political discourse or what some guy with a website has done to it? The former have the imprint of major respectable news organizations.

If the more respectable portions of the mainstream media don't want to be judged by the excesses of television cable news and talk radio then they should start finding ways to differentiate themselves from it. From the public's perspective you are all Bill O'Reilly.

...let me add that of course being a print journalist at a respectable newspaper is no guarantee of quality. But, at least there are ideals in respectable print journalism even if too often they fail to live up to them.

Open Thread

Away, away, my thread's on fire!

More Timmeh

Arianna responds to Timmeh's use of gossip columns to slime her. Now that's some serious ethics!


I saw the episode with the revived-from-his-coma Martin Luther King. It was great and totally respectful of him. Don't know what Sharpton's talking about.

Short plot summary: Alternate history in which King didn't die but was in coma which he comes out of in 2000. He's turned into public enemy #1 in 2001 after he suggests on Politically Incorrect that the Christian thing to do wouldn't be to go to war in Afghanistan.


Holy crap. Timmeh is running to Lloyd Grove with bullshit from Ed Rollins. We really do need a blogger ethics panel. Rollins, you may remember, had his pundit license suspended for 3 months after he bragged about bribing black ministers to suppress the vote.

Open Thread

When you had left our pirate thread.

Open Thread

A rollicking band of threads we.


I'll be at a Center for American Progress event for the SOTU. I believe it will be webcast and/or broadcast on the Majority Report. Bits of both perhaps.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Russert to Give Media Ethics Lecture?

Oh Jeebus. Maybe he'll explain the ethics of spending months talking about the Plame case without, you know, telling his viewers about his role in the whole affair.

Maybe he can talk about this:

In the film we see RNC glee as AP accepts their oppo research on a Gore misstatement during the first debate . During their months of filming BBC producers also observed producers for NBC's Tim Russert among others calling to enquire if the team had any new material. This was apparently normal trading on both sides.

RNC researcher Griffin comments in the film: "It's an amazing thing when you have topline producers and reporters calling you and saying 'we trust you.... we need your stuff.'"


A strange but familiar horse delivered these photos to me. The first is from today's press conference:


I suppose it's a bit more pleasant than Lou Dobbs's Fear of a Brown Planet, but what the hell?

Radio Blah Blah

I'll be on the Majority Report in about 15 minutes as I am every Thursday except when I'm not.


Drudge says Kerry calls for "le filibuster" from Davos. Davos is in the German speaking part of Switzerland.

Open Thread

Now Threadrick, let your escort lion-hearted.

Open Thread

No, I'll be brave! Oh, thread descent.

Bush Bounce

NEW YORK — As President George W. Bush prepares to give his sixth State of the Union speech, a new FOX News poll finds that Americans want to hear him to talk about the situation in Iraq, the economy and terrorism. The president's approval rating is 41 percent, which is about where it has been for more than two months now.

The poll shows that Americans are most interested in hearing the president speak to the nation about the situation in Iraq (26 percent), the economy (20 percent) and terrorism (11 percent). (Respondents named topics without the aid of being read a list.)

Of course, the liberal Washington Post and liberal New York Times want us to believe that everything's great in Bush world.

Lying Freak Rick Santorum Lies Again!

It's like he just can't help himself.

Santorum also told the Morning Call that he hadn't seen Grover Norquist "in years." When, in fact, Norquist spoke at a Santorum press conference last June.

Hey Rick, I know you've had a rough time since June and it may have felt like years. But it's only been six months since you and Grover teamed up.

Does anyone believe anything this guy says?

Call Your Senators

Tell them you support Kerry's call for a filibuster. Numbers here.

Nuclear Option

One of the best examples of collective media whoring for Republicans has been the discussion about the "nuclear option." As RNC parrot boy/CNN reporter Ed Henry just explained, as I'm sure he's done many times, the "nuclear option" involves something so simple as "changing the senate rules." Of course it isn't about changing the Senate rules. It's about cheating. It's about bypassing the established process for changing the Senate rules.

There's no way to describe it correctly without calling it cheating. So they don't describe it correctly at all.

Digby Speak

You listen.

Help the General

The General could use some coin. Go pay for all the free bloggy goodness you've been getting if you can spare a bit.

He is, after all, America's most patriotic and most heterosexual male.

K Street Project

The reason lying freak Rick Santorum is so scared of the K Street Project is fairly simple - it's really the only thing that the Casey campaign is running on at the moment, and one of the few major areas of stark difference that Casey can capably draw. If this stuff stays in the news over the next few months it'll be fairly easy for it to be the dominant campaign narrative in the local news.

I'm not sure how being a lying freak about the whole thing is going to help him, but maybe it's all he's got.


Their mendacity is stunning.

In His Pants

Just read the poor man. It's educational AND fun!

Damn ferrets. Just copy and paste the link.

Lying to Congress

I remember when members of Congress didn't like being lied to. I remember when members of the press thought lying was a bad thing.

Lying Chris Matthews



Why is it that morning show hosts are always armed with the latest Republican talking points?

Not Everyone in Pennsylvania is a Wanker

Yes, we've had a severe outbreak of wanker disease in Pennsylvania. Lying freak Rick Santorum, Fox News Democrat Ed Rendell, and Bob figgin Casey.

Lois Murphy is, however, not a wanker. And with your help she can beat Jim Gerlach, who keeps making shit up on his FEC disclosure forms.

Murphy almost won in 2004. With some help she can win in 2006. You can donate here.

Breaking the Law

Just curious. How many times will Bush have to admit to being proud of continuing to break the law before the White House Press Corps gets the point?

Greenwald Saves America

Think Progress deals with the ridiculous administration pushback.


I don't usually do I/P issues, but I'm confused. I swear yesterday I saw reports claiming that Hamas didn't win a majority in the election and now I get up to discover they did?


Reed Hundt says what needs to be said.

Wanker of the Day

George Bush.

All decent people should be disgusted.

Open Thread

What ought we to do? Gentle sisters, thread!

Open Thread

When Threadrick was a little lad.

Open Thread

Oh! Is there not one maiden thread?

Open Thread

What ought we to do? Gentle sisters, thread!

Jolly Old Pals

The occasional reminder.

Aaaiii! Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Hebert R’lyeh wagn’nagl fhtagn! Aaaiii!!!!


That was early on the morning of last Aug. 29. On Sept. 1, with the city all but completely underwater, the president went on television and blithely declared, "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees."

This guy is something. Remember his "Top Gun" moment aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln? And his famous taunt — "Bring 'em on" — to the insurgents in Iraq? His breathtaking arrogance is exceeded only by his incompetence. And that's the real problem. That's where you'll find the mind-boggling destructiveness of this regime, in its incompetence.

Fantasy may be in fashion. Reality may have been shoved into the shadows on Mr. Bush's watch. But the plain truth is that he is the worst president in memory, and one of the worst of all time. Many thousands of people — men, women and children — have died unnecessarily (and thousands more are suffering) because of his misguided and mishandled policies.

Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser for George H. W. Bush, counseled against the occupation of Iraq at the end of the first gulf war. As recounted in a New Yorker article last fall, he said, "At the minimum, we'd be an occupier in a hostile land. Our forces would be sniped at by guerrillas, and, once we were there, how would we get out?"

George W. Bush had no such concerns. In fact, he joked about his failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Like a frat boy making cracks about a bad bet on a football game, Mr. Bush displayed what he felt was a hilarious set of photos during a spoof that he performed at the annual dinner of the Radio and Television Correspondents Association in March 2004.

The photos showed the president peering behind curtains and looking under furniture in the Oval Office for the missing weapons. Mr. Bush offered mock captions for the photos, saying, "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere." And, "Nope, no weapons over there, maybe under here."

This week, as the killing of American G.I.'s and innocent Iraqis continued, we learned from a draft report from the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction that, like the war itself, the Bush plan for rebuilding Iraq has been crippled by incompetence and extreme shortages of personnel. I doubt that this will bother the president any more than any of his other failures. He seems to truly believe that he can do no wrong.

The fiasco in Iraq and the president's response to the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe were Mr. Bush's two most spectacular foul-ups. There have been many others. The president's new Medicare prescription drug program has been a monumental embarrassment, leaving some of the most vulnerable members of our society without essential medication. Prominent members of the president's own party are balking at the heavy hand of his No Child Left Behind law, which was supposed to radically upgrade the quality of public education.

The Constitution? Civil liberties? Don't ask.

Just keep in mind, whatever your political beliefs, that incompetence in high places can have devastating consequences.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

"no standard for accuracy or truth in these things"

Milbank and Matthews, heal yourselves.

Matthews has a real hardon for defending DeLay, over and above his usual hackery. Wonder what's up with that.


The Post picks up Greenwald's stuff. As does the LA Times.

Keeping the Power Dry

David Neiwert joins the shrillosphere:

I broke my longstanding policy of not donating money to political parties last fall when the folks from the DNC called and asked for money to help gird them for the upcoming fights over judicial seats. I was assured that indeed they would fight to keep right-wing extremists off the Supreme Court.

And now, faced with a clear-cut extremist (and dissembler) who is about to not only overturn the right to obtain an abortion, but also to pave the path for an imperial executive branch with limitless powers ... nothing.

I'm not terribly inclined, as my readers know, to use profanity in my posts. But if the Democratic Party wants any more of my money, they can just go fuck themselves.

Aaaiii! Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Neiwert R’lyeh wagn’nagl fhtagn! Aaaiii!!!!
As does Gail Collins:

A filibuster is a radical tool. It's easy to see why Democrats are frightened of it. But from our perspective, there are some things far more frightening. One of them is Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court.

Aaaiii! Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Collins R’lyeh wagn’nagl fhtagn! Aaaiii!!!!


Olbermann does a classic bit on the latest nonsense.

McClellan just can't lie like Fleischer could. Oddly, I think he has a conscience. Not enough of one.

Truth Attacks Truthiness!

Hurray for Knight-Ridder (and Glenn Greenwald!):

WASHINGTON - A July 2002 Justice Department statement to a Senate committee appears to contradict several key arguments that the Bush administration is making to defend its eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without court warrants.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the law governing such operations, was working well, the department said in 2002. A "significant review" would be needed to determine whether FISA's legal requirements for obtaining warrants should be loosened because they hampered counterterrorism efforts, the department said then.

President Bush, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and other top officials now argue that warrantless eavesdropping is necessary in part because complying with the FISA law is too burdensome and impedes the government's ability to rapidly track communications between suspected terrorists.

In its 2002 statement, the Justice Department said it opposed a legislative proposal to change FISA to make it easier to obtain warrants that would allow the super-secret National Security Agency to listen in on communications involving non-U.S. citizens inside the United States.

Today, senior U.S. officials complain that FISA prevents them from doing that.


Glenn Greenwald, an Internet blogger, first connected the earlier Justice Department statement to the Bush administration's current arguments on his Web log, called Unclaimed Territory.

Open Thread

Threading softly to the river.

Freak Out!

Little Ricky freaks out!


Fresh Thread

Blogger's threatening to go down soon, so...

"Straight Talk"

Must be nice being John McCain.

Ho Ho Ho

It's time for Chris Matthews stop comparing Democrats and progressives with terrorists and mass murderers.


Digby has some fun with the perfesser.

Wanker Rendell

Because Casey isn't the only wanker in the state.


BooMan has a good rant up about Casey and his enablers. I don't like Casey's views on reproductive rights and many other issues but the Alito nomination was something he could have either stayed silent on or opposed for a variety of reasons which have nothing to do reproductive rights. Alito was a good opportunity for Casey to throw a bone to people like me, to demonstrate that he was willing to actually fight on those more progressive issues that his people keep claiming he cares about.

Shorter American Journalism Review

Truthiness is our business.

Froomkin Speaks


On the specific underlying issue, it's worth pointing out that the flashpoint for all this was a flatly inaccurate statement by the ombudsman -- that was then left uncorrected and unaddresed for several days. That was a big mistake. The Web offers great newspapers the opportunity to correct their mistakes quickly and effectively. When we don't, I'm actually quite happy to see people getting angry.

Furthermore, the fact is that the over-the-top abusive comments were in a tiny minority. From what I can tell, the vast majority of posts were passionate, articulate, reasoned, interesting.


Brady sez:

Jim Brady: Yeah, that's a terrific analysis. So the point is that the only people qualified to discuss comments on articles are people who allow comments and delete nothing? That would be one heck of a discussion. As for clearly exaggerating, I saw that "analysis." It was of a cached page of one of the two problematic posts, and as I have mentioned a number of times, didn't have any of the posts that we'd removed. If you want to act as it that's proof of clear exaggeration, I think you lose some credibility when you talk about the press and its burden of proof. If The Post had used that burden of proof to show that Abramoff directed money to Democrats, you'd rightfully be all over them.

First, the point of having a conversation about how best to handle a large volume of comments on a high volume site is, presumably, to get some feedback on how to do so. I have site with a high volume of comments. Jane does. Kos does. Charles Johnson does. The slashdot people do. Having Reynolds on to sniff for an hour that he doesn't like comments is rather pointless.

Brady's been all over the map with his claims about number of intolerable comments he deleted. He has, at times, clearly exaggerated the number. Or, maybe, at other times he's clearly underestimated the number. We've heard a few hundred. We've heard 50.


Oh my.

And I thought it was all that nasty Larry Flynt's fault.

Still Incoherent

The Post's Jim Brady:

Jim Brady: I have made this point countless times, but to no avail. The cached posts you see don't include any of the posts we removed. Simple as that. When we saw them, we took them down, which means they weren't live and thus not on that cached page. So analyzing that page and drawing conclusions is faulty.

Were they never live? Anyway, all this could be settled by Brady sending any of us doubters the several hundred intolerable comments he has claimed existed.

...Brady then says they were deleted too fast for a cache to pick them up. Of course, we've gone from a few hundred to 50+ of these intolerable comments.

Daou Speak

You listen.

Your Liberal Media

CNN report on black market fertility treatments:

I find it hard to believe that employers and insurance will cover things like viagra - even abortions - so in other words insurance will help pay for someone to have sex, they'll help pay for someone to actually get rid of a child, but they won't help pay for someone to have a child. That surprises me.

Wankers of the Day

For the second day in a row, Ed Rendell and Bob Casey!

There are lots of obvious reasons - reproductive rights - to not be thrilled about Bob Casey as our man to beat the yellowest elephant Santorum here in Pennsylvania. Supporters point to the fact that he's very pro-labor and progressive on economic issues.

Similarly, there are lots of obvious reasons to not be thrilled about Samuel Alito - reproductive rights - as a Supreme Court nominee. But there are also lots of less obvious ones, such as his awful record on workers' rights. Casey hasn't just demonstrated he's an asshole, he's also demonstrated that he has the political instincts of a fig. I'm not sure why 11 months out a Senate candidate like Casey is obligated to take a stand on an issue like this, but if he was going to he could've found lots of very serious reasons to oppose Alito's nomination, ones which would've cemented his reputation as a principled fighter on important issues not related to reproductive rights.

Fucking wankers.

Stupid Rolling Stone

Only Jim Caviezel is allowed to pose as Jesus. It's in the Bible.

Man on Doggery

Here in Philadelphia the 12th Street Gym is right in the middle of the "gayborhood" and I think it's probably fair to call it a central fixture in the local gay community. As upyernoz informs us, the owner is a big contributor to the yellowest elephant, Rick Santorum.

Worst President Ever


Incompetence is not one of the seven deadly sins, and it's hardly the worst attribute that can be ascribed to George W. Bush. But it is this president's defining attribute. Historians, looking back at the hash that his administration has made of his war in Iraq, his response to Hurricane Katrina and his Medicare drug plan, will have to grapple with how one president could so cosmically botch so many big things -- particularly when most of them were the president's own initiatives.

Open Thread

Awa, away, my thread's on fire!

Open Thread

Hold, threads!

Open Thread

Now Threadrick, let your escort lion-hearted.

Wanker of the Day

Joel Stein

Bring on the parades. If our military rank and file have been betrayed by their civilian leadership they deserve our respect doubly.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Nothing like convening a panel to discuss how to deal with internet comments which consists of someone who doesn't allow them, someone who doesn't get any because nobody gives a shit what he writes, and someone who deletes them and clearly exaggerates the reasons why.

Oh, and Jane, who we of course love.

Slumbering Fred Awakens

Someone put some Red Bull in Fred Hiatt's steamed milk.

Bedwetters Media

This is a couple of days old, whic is like generations in blog time, but Bérubé sez:

So, folks, now you know the real reason I didn’t sign up with Bedwetters Media when I was given the chance last November. Who wants to write parodies of wingnuttery for an outfit headed by a guy who throws the very meaning of “parodies of wingnuttery” into semiotic crisis? I mean, think of the position I’d be in. One week I’d be making up batshit crazy stuff like “I used to consider myself a Democrat, but thanks to 9/11, I’m outraged by Chappaquiddick,” and the next week Roger would be writing, “I used to consider myself a Democrat, but thanks to 9/11, I’m outraged by Chappaquiddick.” Before too long, Roger would be charging me with proleptic plagiarism or unauthorized time travel or something. I just don’t need the hassle.

However, even though I didn’t sign up with the jammies crowd, I really could use the advertising revenue—especially since my little experiment with BlogAds has generated so little interest in its first month. So I’ll tell you what. I’ll offer my potential advertisers a special deal: if you buy blog ads on this site, I promise to let you know what Roger Simon is going to say at least 48 hours before he says it. No other blogger—nay, not even Roger Simon himself—can make this amazing guarantee.

Michael Bérubé Online: your best—and first!—source for blogging by Roger Simon.

Wankers of the Day

Ed Rendell and Bob Casey.

Local Republicans - How Dare You Honor Our Troops!


A Republican group is challenging the Iraq War poster at Bucks County's Democratic headquarters.More Philadelphia Suburbs news

A Republican group is calling for the removal of a “death count” of American servicemen in Iraq from the Doylestown headquarters of the Bucks County Democratic Committee.

Democrats have a sign in the front window of their Court Street office that includes the words “We honor our fallen heroes” and a running tally of military deaths in Iraq.

The count stood at 2,222 Friday morning.

Don Petrille, chairman of the Bucks County Federation of Young Republicans, said his group thinks Democrats are “using the numbers for political gain, and that's not something we think helps our mission or is an appropriate use for our soldiers.”

Petrille, unsurprisingly, is an incoherent idiot.

He can be reached at

Open Thread

Oh! False one, you have threaded me.

They Write Letters

Bumped - I just wanted to bump this up as it got a bit lost in the shuffle earlier. Let me add that when Barack Obama hires Belafonte to be his consultant, endorses him for president, gives a speech at his house, or if he does robo-calls in multiple states for him, then there would be a legitimate reason for Russert to have him comment on his remarks.

Here's Meet the Press's response to a viewer who complained about Russert's badgering of Obama about Belafonte:

Thank you for your e-mail.

The Chicago Tribune of December 25, 2005 said the following:
"Harry Belafonte, the entertainer and civil rights activist, corresponds with [Senator] Obama by telephone and e-mail."

The article continues quoting Belafonte as saying:
"I think Sen. Obama is a force...We've seen so many others who have come to high places and have failed so miserably. I think he could be our exception to the rule."

It is sound and fair journalism to ask a political figure about comments made by a prominent supporter. That same standard is consistently applied on Meet the Press. Here are just a few examples: on February 13, 2000, presidential candidate George W. Bush was asked about comments made by Bob Jones; on February 20, 2000, Sen. John McCain was asked about comments made by his political consultant about David Duke; on February 27, 2000, Karl Rove was asked about comments made by Pat Robertson; and on October 3, 2004, Republican Senate candidate Tom Coburn was asked about comments made by Alan Keyes.

Thank you for writing and watching.

Let's run down the list.

Bush was asked about comments made by Bob Jones because he made a speech at BJU.

John McCain was asked about comments made by his political consultant about David Duke was his fucking paid political consultant.

Rove wasn't asked about Pat Robertson's "remarks." Rove was asked about a recorded robocall message which went out to voters in Michigan created by Pat Robertson. That message?

MR. PAT ROBERTSON: (From telephone message) Tomorrow's Republican primary may determine whether our dream becomes reality or whether the Republican Party will nominate a man who wants to take First Amendment freedoms from citizens' groups while he gives unrestricted power to labor unions. A man who chose as his national campaign chairman a vicious bigot, who wrote that conservative Christians in politics are anti-abortion zealots, homophobes and would-be censors. John McCain refused to repudiate these words. You may hold the future of America in your hand. With all the sincerity I can muster, I urge you to go to the polls and vote in tomorrow's election. This is Pat Robertson. Thank you and God bless you.

The "vicious bigot" was... Warren Rudman. Robertson was also making other calls in support of Bush in South Carolina.

Senator Coburn wasn't asked about Alan Keyes because Alan Keyes was a "prominent supporter." Coburn was asked about comments because of comments he himself had made about Alan Keyes.

MR. RUSSERT: Dr. Coburn, let me bring you back to 2000, the Republican primary for president of the United States. And you chose Alan Keyes over George W. Bush, and this is what you said: "It is clear to me that Alan Keyes is the one candidate for president who actually understands what is wrong with our country and who has the vision, the courage, and the clarity of principle to put it right. Ambassador Keyes has shown repeatedly that he has a better grasp on the issues--the foreign policy, the fiscal policy, the social policy and all the rest of it--than any other candidate. ... My heart and my conscience tell me Alan Keyes is the man who should be president."

Why did you think that Alan Keyes would make a better commander in chief than George W. Bush?

Followed later by:

MR. RUSSERT: I just want to follow up on Alan Keyes one last time and then I want to ask Mr. Carson about George Bush. "In May of this year"--this is what Alan Keyes said--"now you think it's a coincidence that on September 11th, 2001, we were struck by terrorists--an evil that has at its heart the disregard of innocent human life? We who have for several decades killed not thousands but scores of millions of our own children, in disregard of the principle of innocent human life--I don't think that's a coincidence, I think that's a warning. ... I think that's a shot across the bow. I think that's a way of Providence telling us, `I love you all; I'd like to give you a chance. Wake up! Would you please wake up?'" Do you agree with Ambassador Keyes that September 11 was a warning by the creator about America and its policy on abortion?

DR. COBURN: No, not at all.

MR. RUSSERT: You did say that abortionists should be killed, the death penalty.

News organizations apparently have nothing but contempt for the intelligence of their audience. Jeebus.

Hey, American Prospect...

TNR is talking trash on you! From an email I just got:

Dear Reader,

You may want clear opinions from The New Republic or from any magazine of political commentary. But you certainly don't want predictable opinions or simple opinions, which, alas, is what you get from The Nation and the National Review, The Weekly Standard or The American Prospect. Why, I bet that you could write their articles in advance. No challenge, no mystery, no surprise, no puzzling through of argument. Not like The New Republic.

What wankers.

...Big Media Ezra, who just turned into Wonkette or something, responds. I'm so confused.

The Yellowest Elephant

Rick Santorum:

And yet we have brave men and women who are willing to step forward because they know what's at stake. They're willing to sacrifice their lives for this great country. What I'm asking all of you tonight is not to put on a uniform. Put on a bumper sticker. Is it that much to ask? Is it that much to ask to step up and serve your country.

Just stunned. Video at the link.

Jim Brady and Majority Report graciously offered to host the mp3 file I tried to put up earlier. Here it is.

Froomkin Strikes Back at Howell


Earth Moving News

Most didn't seem to care all that much about the effective merger of UPN and the WB, but apparently the stockholders of our old friend Sinclair Broadcasting thought it was important:

The Sinclair message board at yahoo is still a hilarious political flame war.

Uh, Journalists?

You might want to take a look at Glenn Greenwald's latest post, the contents of which should be pretty much the opening segment of every evening news show. He points out that in 2002 Senator DeWine proposed the legislation which would've amended the FISA law to lower the burden necessary from probable cause to reasonable suspicion (one caveat, for non-US persons only), precisely what our constitution-challenged former NSA head was claiming was why they "had to" break the law. He also claimed they sought such changes but Congress wouldn't give it to them.

The kicker? The Bush Justice Department opposed the law on constitutional concerns.

Let's recap the Bush talking points as they've been shot down.

The program was some super-technology thing! Not true.

The program was necessary because the FISA court doesn't allow them to act fast enough. Not true.

The program was necessary because Congress wouldn't let us lower the necessary burden . Not true - they opposed a similar measure themselves.

Once again, all we're left with is:

They wanted to spy on whoever they wanted to without any oversight or accountability.

That's it.

Give'em Hell

Watch Reid's speech to CAP here.

Transcript here.

I went to college in the 1960s and studied government. One of the things I remember discussing was a quote by Lord Acton:

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.”

It’s been many years since I graduated college, but I finally understand what Lord Acton meant.

Republicans today control the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House. They have absolute power, and it has corrupted their Party and led to the culture of corruption that we see now in Washington.

We have the Republican leader of the House of Representatives, admonished three times for ethics violations and under indictment now for money laundering.

We have the White House, where an employee has been indicted for the first time in 135 years.

There’s Karl Rove, who is under investigation… and David Safavian, the man appointed by President Bush to be charge in charge of hundreds of billions of dollars in government contracts who was led away in handcuffs because of his dealings with Jack Abramoff and others.

Special Election CA-50

The Dukestir is gone and there's a special election coming up. 50%+ and Francine Busby can win the seat in April, otherwise there will be a runoff in June. Democrats have had excellent luck winning (Chandler, Herseth) or coming close to winning (Hackett) special elections in realtively wingnutty areas, and there's some polling data which adds reason for optimism.

Here's Busby's issues page which gives you an idea of what kind of campaign she's running.

A win would provide good press and momentum. Busby's been added to the Eschaton community donation page, so consider making a donation. Open primary is on April 11 and that isn't very far away.

More Vapors

A little reminder from Rick Perlstein - from 2000 - when conservatives ruled the political internet.

The gap may be widest in the realm of politics. The Amazon page for Paul Berman's '60s study, A Tale of Two Utopias, excerpts five glowing reviews from newspapers and magazines but not a single one from an Amazonian; John Judis's new book has six print reviews to one Amazonian. Books about Clintons and Reagans are well-covered. Gary Aldrich's Unlimited Access: An FBI Agent Inside the White House has been reviewed on Amazon 70 times, garnering, like most conservative books, 80 percent five-star ratings and 20 percent one-star, as opposed to pro-Clinton books, which receive 20 percent five-star, 80 percent one-star. In both cases, the quality tends to be as debased as ... well, the typical political campaign. We get the political reviews we deserve.

Perhaps someone should tell Vaugh Ververs who wrote, apparently without irony, that Michelle Malkin is a place you can go to get "all the details" of a story.

The point here isn't "their side is mean too!" The point is that all of the stuff which is causing fainting spells by those in the media has been around a long time. For some reason they only notice this stuff when liberals make a bit of noise.


World O'Crap has a great post which humorously weaves together a few recent threads of the delicate flowers who inhabit our world.

One things that's sort of entertaining is that back when I first started doing online politics stuff conservatives basically controlled the online discourse. They were always "freeping" online polls and always spoofing amazon reviews. CNN had an online chat which was moderated by arch-conservatives who basically banned any liberals that dared showed up. Now that our side is engaging in some of the same tactics everyone is suddenly getting the vapors.

Since we're on the subject of how evil spoofing amazon reviews is, let's re-run my all-time favorite review of Frist's book:

This is a fascinating study of the extraordinary mix of in-breeding, animal sacrifice, and corruption required to produce the world's worst human being. Coming from a family of mildly despicable cheats, the Frists had a leg up on normal human beings...but it still took an enormous amount of laboratory work and careful training to produce not just a self-involved twit but an unspeakable monster.

This book is Frankenstein of our century, a marvellous account of the line between science and morality, and the "Dr. Frist" character is a chilling reminder of the true evil inherent in all humanity...even if readers will find Dr. Frist himself an impossibly overdrawn character. Surely, no actual human could be so evil. Neverthless, he stands like Shelley's monster as an emblem of the path we as a species must never take.

By damning this "Dr. Frist" character and the bizarre process that created him, this sterling work serves as a moral guide, a hope for the future.


Just on CNN, the WB and UPN will be collapsed into one broadcast network. Not Earth changing news, but will be at least modestly interesting.

Bastards had better not cancel Veronica Mars. release here.

Brady on the Majority Report

You can listen to the Post's Jim Brady on the Majority Report last night. Audio quality is crap as I've shrunk the file down as much as I could. Sam Seder dealth with him quite well.

2 meg mp3 file here.

...Never mind, damn comcast keeps purging the file for some reason. Will post if I can find somewhere to put it...


Chris Matthews certainly in't the only Republican hack on TV, but everyone pretends he isn't one.

Open Thread

Poor threaded one.

Open Thread

All is prepared! Your gallant thread awaits you!

Open Thread

Hold, threads!

Occam's Razor

Since in the numerous and changing justifications for the illegal acts by our criminal president we have yet to hear any sensible explanation for why they couldn't simply go to the FISA court to obtain warrants, the simplest and most obvious explanation is that they're up to no good.

Liars for Life

Once again, what Digby says.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Wanker of the Day

Hey, I just realized the honored title is still available.

So, I give you Lord Saletan.


One thing which has been telling throughout the last few years (Jeebus, it's been *a few years*) is how much the "Iraq War Is Our Only Hope" crowd has been much more enthusiastic about covering up any problems and any culpability of Dear Leader than they have been about, you know, trying to make sure the whole thing was done right. If I had signed on, as much as Chris "I consider myself enlisted in it" Hitchens had in the mostest necessary war ever, then I think doing it right would have been a priority.

But, mostly we've had crickets.

The first official history of the $25 billion American reconstruction effort in Iraq depicts a program hobbled from the outset by gross understaffing, a lack of technical expertise, bureaucratic infighting, secrecy and constantly increasing security costs, according to a preliminary draft copy of the document dated. The document, which begins with the secret prewar planning for reconstruction and touches on nearly every phase of the program through 2005, was assembled by the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction and debated last month in a closed forum by roughly two dozen experts from outside the office.


In the document, the paralyzing effect of staffing shortfalls and contracting battles between the State Department and the Pentagon, creating delays of months at a stretch, are described for the first time from inside the program.

The document also recounts concerns about writing contracts for an entity with the "ambiguous legal status" of the Coalition Provisional Authority, the question of whether it was an American entity or a multinational one like NATO.

Seemingly odd decisions on dividing the responsibility for various sectors of the reconstruction crop up repeatedly in the document. At one point, a planning team made the decision to put all reconstruction activities in Iraq under the Army Corps of Engineers, except anything to do with water, which would go to the Navy. At the time, a retired admiral, David Nash, was in charge of the rebuilding. "It almost looks like a spoils system between various agencies," said Steve Ellis, a vice president and an authority on the Army corps at Taxpayers for Common Sense, an organization in Washington, who read a copy of the document. "You had various fiefdoms established in the contracting process."

All along the 101st Fighting Keyboarders have at best been trying to prove anti-war people wrong and more frequently trying to portray them as traitors. Maybe if they'd fed and cared for their pet a bit more dilligently things would've worked out a bit better.

Our Leaders

General "What's this fucking constitution thing you keep talking about?" Hayden today:

QUESTION: Jonathan Landay with Knight Ridder. I'd like to stay on the same issue, and that had to do with the standard by which you use to target your wiretaps. I'm no lawyer, but my understanding is that the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution specifies that you must have probable cause to be able to do a search that does not violate an American's right against unlawful searches and seizures. Do you use --

GEN. HAYDEN: No, actually -- the Fourth Amendment actually protects all of us against unreasonable search and seizure.

QUESTION: But the --

GEN. HAYDEN: That's what it says.

QUESTION: But the measure is probable cause, I believe.

GEN. HAYDEN: The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure.

QUESTION: But does it not say probable --

GEN. HAYDEN: No. The amendment says --

QUESTION: The court standard, the legal standard --

GEN. HAYDEN: -- unreasonable search and seizure.

QUESTION: The legal standard is probable cause, General. You used the terms just a few minutes ago, "We reasonably believe." And a FISA court, my understanding is, would not give you a warrant if you went before them and say "we reasonably believe"; you have to go to the FISA court, or the attorney general has to go to the FISA court and say, "we have probable cause."

And so what many people believe -- and I'd like you to respond to this -- is that what you've actually done is crafted a detour around the FISA court by creating a new standard of "reasonably believe" in place of probable cause because the FISA court will not give you a warrant based on reasonable belief, you have to show probable cause. Could you respond to that, please?

GEN. HAYDEN: Sure. I didn't craft the authorization. I am responding to a lawful order. All right? The attorney general has averred to the lawfulness of the order.

Just to be very clear -- and believe me, if there's any amendment to the Constitution that employees of the National Security Agency are familiar with, it's the Fourth. And it is a reasonableness standard in the Fourth Amendment. And so what you've raised to me -- and I'm not a lawyer, and don't want to become one -- what you've raised to me is, in terms of quoting the Fourth Amendment, is an issue of the Constitution. The constitutional standard is "reasonable." And we believe -- I am convinced that we are lawful because what it is we're doing is reasonable.

I trust Eschatonians are vaguely familiar with the 4th amendment to the constitution.

50 bucks to the White House Press Corps member who asks Scottie tomorrow to recite the 4th amendment.

Left Wing Lunatics

58% of us are wacky:

A new USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll shows that 51% of Americans say the administration was wrong to intercept conversations without a warrant. The poll also showed that 58% of Americans support appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the issue. The poll of 1,006 adults was taken Friday through Sunday and has a margin of error of +/—3 percentage points.


The LA Times says:

Lawmakers Debate New Limits on Spying

Actually the debate isn't really about limits on spying, it's about whether the president is entitled to break the law. Limits on spying are currently set by both the constitution and federal statute and the president is in violation of both of them. The limits exist, the president has illegally ignored them.

So Sorry


Gay-rights activists are blasting Don Imus and sidekick Bernard McGuirk as gay-bashers, Last week, when fellow MSNBC talker Chris Matthews asked Imus if he'd seen the cowboy love story "Brokeback Mountain," Imus sneered, "Why would I want to see that?" He added that McGuirk had his own name for the movie — a crude candy reference we'll skip. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation called the "slurs" a "juvenile display of homophobia." MSNBC has apologized for the banter. …


Karl Speaks, the media swallows.

The Rules of Discourse

Thanks for clearing that up.

Memories of Chris Matthews

May 1, 2003:

Senator McConnell, let me ask about today.

What's the importance of the president's amazing display of leadership tonight?


What do you make of the actual visual that's people will see on TV and probably, as you know, as well as I, will remember a lot longer than words spoken tonight?

And that's the president looking very much like a jet, you know, a high-flying jet star. A guy who is a jet pilot. Has been in the past when he was younger, obviously.

What does that image mean to the American people, a guy who can actually get into a super sonic plane, and actually fly in an unpressurized cabin, like an actual jet pilot?


Do you think this role, and I want to talk politically for just a secretary, the president deserves everything he's doing tonight in term of his leadership. He won the war. He was an effective commander. Everybody recognizes that, I believe, except a few critics. Do you think he is defining the office of the presidency, at least for this time, as basicly that of commander-in-chief. That is role, that if you're going to run against him, you'd better be ready to take away from him.


Let me ask you, Bob Dornan, you were a congressman all those years. Here's a president who's really non-verbal. He's like Eisenhower. He looks great in a military uniform. He looks great in that cowboy costume he wears when he goes west. I remember him standing at that fence with Colin Powell. Was the best picture in the 2000 campaign.

And later, Pat Caddell and Ann Coulter. What a duo.


And we're going to talk about the president's incredible performance, flying into the USS Abraham Lincoln today. More on that when we come back with HARDBALL's buzz.


Look at this guy!


MATTHEWS: OK, let me run through the names, Ann. Lieberman -- can you see him in this picture? Ann?

COULTER: What about him?

MATTHEWS: Can you see him getting into an F-18...

COULTER: Oh, no!

MATTHEWS: ... an flying onto an aircraft carrier?


MATTHEWS: Joe Lieberman, can you see him there?

COULTER: No possibility. I -- I have...

MATTHEWS: Can you see John Edwards doing it?

COULTER: No possibility.

MATTHEWS: Can you see Dick Gephardt doing it?

CADDELL: Yes. No. Yes.


MATTHEWS: Can you see John Kerry do it?

COULTER: I can think of very few Republicans I could even see doing it. But no, not even Kerry.

MATTHEWS: Can you -- Pat Caddell, are there any Democrats that could go for this part, if this were a Hollywood casting director? Who could play this part as a Democrat, besides the president? Pat?

A little later Matthews went on Countdown:

We're proud of our president. Americans love having a guy as president, a guy who has a little swagger, who's physical, who's not a complicated guy like Clinton or even like Dukakis or Mondale, all those guys, McGovern. They want a guy who's president. Women like a guy who's president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president. It's simple.

Even more Chris Matthews fun here.

Open Thread

There's nothing we can't face except for threads.

Quote of the Day

"Therein lies the path to dictatorship."
--Paul Begala

Shorter General Hayden

I have no idea what this "constitution" thing is that you keep talking about:

Gen. Michael V. Hayden, who led the National Security Agency when it began a program of warrantless wiretaps, vigorously defended the program today, but acknowledged that it depends on a lower standard of evidence than required by courts.

"The trigger is quicker and a bit softer," said General Hayden, an Air Force officer who is now the principal deputy director of the new national intelligence agency.


The standard laid out by General Hayden - a "reasonable basis to believe" - is lower than "probably cause," [sic] the standard used by the special court created by Congress to handle surveillance involving foreign intelligence.

Actually, "probable cause" isn't just the lower standard used by the special court, it's also the standard required by the US constitution.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

As Holden pointed out in email, this also means they're completely changing their story. Previously they lied and said that the FISA courts just couldn't act fast enough. Now we find out that they hate the US constitution and federal laws.

Killing Us Softly

What Digby said.

"Terrorist Surveillance Program"

So that's what they're calling it now. So, has every American citizen they've illegally spied on been a terrorist or been talking to one? Wow, that's a lot of terrorists. If all the people we're spying on are terrorists why couldn't they have gotten FISA warrants?

I know this little leap might be just a bit too complicated for the 101st Fighting Keyboarders and the gang at Fox and Friends, but...

Why aren't we arresting or otherwise detaining all of these terrorists?

Pony Pony Pony

We had a lot of "Bush Bounce!" stories and then last week CNN had the nerve to do a "Will Bush Get a Bounce?" kind of story.


Health Savings Accounts

Big Media Ezra has a good post on the Worst Idea Ever.

There are some policy ideas which, while I disagree with, I at least understand the conservative argument behind it. Health Savings Accounts are just idiotic.

Right Wing Cowards

Tom Tomorrow.

Just click through the damn ad. You don't even have to watch it.

What's Missing

Roger Ailes on WATB David Carr.

The Unsoiled Ears of Deborah Howell

Simple obscenity is not the same as invective and invective is not the same as sexist personal attacks. But, of course, since we haven't really seen the offending emails/comments/whatever we still don't know exactly what got their knickers in a twist.

From 1992 National Pres Club interview:

When I was twelve years old, we were going to this Baptist church in San Antonio. I was listening to this preacher, and he said something about Mary, "the so-called queen of heaven by the Catholics." It was very anti-Catholic. I listened and I said a twelve-year-old's version of, "What is this shit?"


She was a wonderful mother in the sense that she was a great stay-at-home mother. She was very supportive of me. I remember her spanking me as a child and the usual kinds of things. The only time I ever remember her giving me a total and complete batch of shit was when I lied to her about smoking, and she knew better.


Howell: "Adios, mother fucker." [Laughter.] I didn't. I said, "See ya." And I walked out, and I started to work on the Corpus Christi Caller-Times in two weeks. I only had to work five days a week, too, but I had split days off and split shifts. I'd come to work at 5:45 in the morning, work till noon, go home, and come back and work three to six. It was just screwy. And I liked it, and I had a good time.


Howell: Yes, it became clear to me they had never had a woman in management, and I walked in to the managing editor's office and said, "You know, if I don't get this job, I should get another job. I mean, I'm good enough that I could be management. I'm certainly as good as the guy you picked. So I think you ought to consider me. I feel like kind of fucked over."


Howell: A guy. I had been going with a copy editor in Corpus Christi, and he left to go to work on the Minneapolis Star. We corresponded, and I decided I had to get out of Texas sometime. Remember there was no good journalism in Texas then. I'm working in probably the best newspaper in Texas. San Antonio papers were shitty; the Houston papers were shitty; the Dallas papers were shitty. There was no good journalism. There's no place to go to learn anything. The papers are crummy! So I knew I had to go up north, so I thought, "Well, why not go to Minneapolis?"


He gave a total and complete batch of shit to the reporter who works for me. I'm sitting back in the bedroom, listening to this whole conversation, thinking, "Oh, Lord, why me?" I was actually glad when he decided to drop out of the U.S. Senate race. It wasn't clear if he could win the nomination or not, and it was going to get very ugly. He just decided that at [age] fifty-five, forget it. I was just as happy that he got out of the U.S. Senate race, because it was really hard.


There was one guy, Jim Shoop, I really liked him a lot. He was a friend who was working for me, and he really wanted to be city editor, and I got the job. He was my political editor, so he was really key, because I was entrusting to him some of the things I couldn't do because of Nick. He was giving me a batch of shit about something, and I said, "You know, Jim, I know you wanted this job and I know you didn't get it and that I got it. Sometimes you resent the fact that I have it. I've got to tell you something. You were my hero as a reporter. In the days I was a young reporter around here, you were always my hero.


Howell: Being more participatory in management, paying attention to workers, not treating them like shit, standing up for people who worked for me.

That earned me respect among the troops, so I went in with their respect, and I don't think I ever abrogated it. On occasion I got a batch of shit because...


Uh-huh, till 1979. And then a new editor was hired from the Washington Post, a fellow named Steve Isaacs. He came in and he thought we were all for shit. "I'm from the Washington Post, and I know journalism, and you all are hicks." And he was kind of a jerk. He wanted to get rid of me because he didn't like the fact I was married to Nick, and he didn't like any of us. He wanted to get rid of the entire editor corps.


Howell: Yeah, and he didn't like women. I had already heard that; it was his rep [reputation] at the Washington Post. One day in a meeting with the managing editor, he called me a "dumb cunt," and I got really pissed. I said, "No one calls me that, not even my husband when he's mad at me." And it was overheard by a number of people, and it was just a firestorm. He was forced to apologize, but I thought to myself, "I've got to get out of here."


Moorhus: Have you had the staff come to you with personal examples of other staff behaving in racist or sexist ways?

Howell: Oh, yeah. For years—I mean, this happens. Sometimes it's important, sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's somebody who has taken something the wrong way when it wasn't meant, sometimes it's somebody really just being a little too friendly when they might not ought to be. Sometimes it's serious. I have on tape the whole story about Steve Isaacs and him calling me a "dumb cunt," don't I?

Moorhus: Yes.

Howell: I think I do. Geez. That's the most serious example I've ever had of that kind of name-calling.


Moorhus: Personally.

Howell: Personally, or out in the office. This is a pretty informal office. I'll go out there and call somebody a jerk if I think they're being a jerk. [Laughter.] I'm pretty straightforward, always have been, if somebody's acting out. If somebody tackles me in public, I'll tackle them in public. Otherwise I'm pretty careful about doing it behind closed doors. I probably get by with stuff that a white male boss couldn't get by with.

Moorhus: What kinds of things?

Howell: Oh, putting my arm around somebody, calling someone an "asshole." It may have been in jest, but if I was a male, I wouldn't be calling a female employee an "asshole." And I may call one of the guys and say, "Aw, don't be an asshole." They're not going to do anything, it doesn't bother them. If it does, I think there's somebody who'd say something to me. It's all an informality, but the rules of the office are much more formal now than they were when I was growing up in the newspaper business.

(Thanks to reader e)


Not to beat a dead horse but this has been really bugging me all along. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume they aren't, you know, just lying to cover their asses. But it gets really difficult to do. Before the comments were yanked I was reading the Washington Post blog throughout the day. I saw very little that was over the top or obscenity laden. The only way their claims are plausible is if they were extraordinarily quick on the trigger to delete such posts. There were mean posts, yes, but not the kind of sexist profanity-laced invective that Howell and Brady keep claiming. There's been almost no evidence to support those claims. Since then they've been restoring many of the comments, though not all of them, and there's some evidence trail regarding the posts which are just too awful for the world to see.

They just aren't so bad.

The "civility card" has been played ever since I've been watching the media. You know, "yes, well, uh, maybe we were wrong but the REAL STORY IS JUST HOW MEAN OUR CRITICS ARE." This is rich coming from people who regularly deal with Karl "fair game" and "fuck him like he's never been fucked before" Rove. I'm all for civility for people who deserve it but frankly the only way to get a lot of these people to respond is to make a hell of a lot of noise. Making a hell of a lot of noise doesn't require profanity or insults, but it does require, metaphorically, releasing the hounds on them. Get a few thousand critics and a few of them might say something which makes Howell and Brady, who have lived their lives in hermetically sealed tanks up until this point, blush.

I've tried to give them the benefit of the doubt but increasingly I just think they're full of shit. In her most recent column Howell claimed:

the thousands of flaming e-mails I got last week over my last column, e-mails so abusive and many so obscene that part of The Post's Web site was shut down.

I'd like to think that in 2006 the person hired to be the ombudsman of a major newspaper understands the difference between a "comment" and an "email." I guess she probably doesn't, but if she really does I'd like to see some of the "flaming emails."

But, basically, I call foul. The Post trashed its readers with multiple news stories in multipe media outlets claiming they were oh so abusive. There's been almost no evidence of that despite many efforts to find it.

Ad Naggery

Judged by his usual standards Nagourney's article on the spying issue was fairly good. But as Glenn Greenwald explains the media has to come to a decision about whether their role is to best communicate the truth as they know it or whether their role is to simply air competing claims and wash their hands of it.

Dan Bartlett was on CNN this morning once again lying about the program. If the program is as they describe there's no reason they couldn't have gotten FISA warrants. None. If the program isn't as they describe then the question is what is it that they were doing that they thought the FISA judges would disapprove of?

I remember when lying was a bad thing, something which caused aneurysms in editorial writers around the country. Now there's no objective reality at all, just what "Karl Rove says" and what "Karl Rove's critics say."

Missing Follow-Up Questions

Wolcott tells us about some of the questions Russert didn't ask Obama because of lack of time.


Yes, this is mostly repeat. But, Abramoff shifts his Indian tribe clients away from their "traditional" support of Democrats and therefore any money they receive from those clients has been "directed" by him.


Losing the Post

Fred Hiatt and the gang grudgingly admit that maybe, just maybe, presidential lawbreaking and the concept of unlimited executive power (otherwise known as "dictatorship") are something worth writing a gentle tut-tutting editorial about.

Open Thread

I think this thread is mostly filler.

Open Thread

I don't care what time it is, unlock his cell, unstrap him, and bring him to the thread!

Open Thread

There's nothing we can't face except for threads.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Over at Jay Rosen's place Steve Lovelady writes:

So if you're a responsible reporter and you call up the RNC spokesman and get the response to Gore's speech, you're just going to have to accept that when the spokesman tells you something kinda sorta plausible but fundamentally untrue you're going to attribute it, quote it accurately, and run it. Now you're involved in the propaganda machine yourself, but it happened as a result of trying to be balanced and responsible and 'avoid the impression of...' -- Jay.

Unless, of course, you write the follow-up paragraph, based on a little research easily accessed in these days of digital databanks, which says, basically, "The RNC response is fundamentally untrue."

Now, I grant you, nine out of 10 reporters don't do that -- even though it is not that hard to take that extra step.

I learned that woeful fact in 2004, running Campaign Desk, the predecessor to CJR Daily. And every time we saw it, we called them on it -- usually to no avail.
But my point is, that is the way out of what you describe as Downie's dilemma ... or Sue Schmidt's dilemma ... or Harris's dilemma ... or Howell's dilemma.
What's depressing is that none of them get it.

It's weird that they don't get it because in the mind of readers it essentially makes the reporters liars. Despite how some like to think of themselves, reporters are not passive conduits of information. They choose their sources. They choose the quotes. They decide when a source has been full of shit so many times that, if they care, they stop going to them for information.

More than that, from the perspective of the reader when the journalist passes on the quote without question or any rebuttal or refutation, the journalist is implicitly putting his/her stamp of authentication on it. This is doubly true for those "anonymous senior administration official quotes" where no sensible (hah!) reader assumes that a reporter would pass off information under cover of anonymity without doing at least a modest bit of verification.

This is different from, say, CNN running some of a Bush speech live and not doing an instant fact check. TV news, in part, is a passive conduit for live events. But print reporting should never simply be, uh, what was that word? Oh, yes, stenography.

When a reporter puts the byline on something they own it. I understand that it is actually news when a senior administration official says something, no matter what it is, but it's even bigger news if they're, you know, lying.

Speaking For Your People!

Twice Tim Russert has asked his guests to comment on the remarks of Harry Belafonte.

There was Barack Obama today, and previously it was Colin Powell.

I'm not sensing any pattern here myself...

Young Chuck Norris

This is pretty funny.

Hating the Gay

Really that's all they've got. Sad, empty lives.

Comment of the Day

From "newsguy" at Huffington Post:

People objecting to Russert's question are apparently not aware that all prominent black people get together at a meeting in Secaucus, New Jersey, every Wednesday afternoon to share fried chicken and watermelon and decide what all black people think that week. Russert, being the perceptive newsman that he is, knows about these meetings. That is why he asked the question.

Dial 'F' For Freedom

The Keyboard Kommandos have a new adventure.

Open Thread

Where do we go from here? When does the thread appear?


I imagine that there are some out there who wonder why a factual error in an ombudsman's column combined with the dismissive attitude about complaints pisses people off so much. It's very simple. Time and time again those of us who pay attention see how right wing narratives grow to dominate ongoing news stories. Factual errors, distortions, and general misinformation on which those right wing narratives are hung are repeated over and over again both by right wing hacks and mainstream journalists.

Since the Abramoff story broke there has been a concerted effort by right wing hacks, journalists, and their editors to paint this as a bipartisan scandal when it simply isn't one. Doing so requires a degree of ignorance about who Abramoff is and what his role was which, no matter what one's opinion of the general intelligence of the Washington press, simply has to be deliberate. Reporters understand how lobbying works in DC. They also understand who Abramoff was, what his history was, what his role was, what his entire existence in Republican politics was about.

Small factual errors aren't in themselves the biggest deal in the world, but nor are they in the words of the increasingly wankerific Michael Crowley "foolish semantics." The propagation and repetition of these errors provides the structure onto which the false narrative can be hung.

Are there corrupt Democrats in congress? Quite possibly. I have no illusions that having a 'D' after your name guarantees your purity. Will there be lobbying scandals which bring down Democrats at some point in the future? Quite possibly. But this isn't a general "lobbying scandal," this is a Jack Abramoff scandal. It is a Republican scandal. That is what this story is about, and any seasoned media observer who hasn't yet figured out how bullshit right wing narratives are constantly wrapped around "foolish semantics" just hasn't figured out how this game is played.


NBC scrubs reality.

Sunday Bobbleheads

Document the atrocities.

Alterman on Time's Liberal Columnist


So here, apparently, is the punditocracy argument in a nutshell: Never mind that liberals are constitutionally correct. Never mind that their view is supported by a majority of Americans. And never mind that the Bush Administration has repeatedly lied to the American people on exactly these issues. Never mind, most of all, the truth.

Get Your War On

Right wing bedwetters edition.

(thanks to reader s)

Open Thread

She does pretty well with threads from hell.

Open Thread

I think this thread is mostly filler.

Bed-Wetter Right Wingers

That's about how it is.