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Half Wit

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It’s hard to know what was in the head of the illustrator who drew Barack Obama as a sly-looking Muslim terrorist (with Osama bin Laden’s visage hung over the mantle) and Michelle Obama as a gun-toting, camo-clad, fist-bumping, smirking radical with the American flag roasting in the fireplace – artists are strange people – but The New Yorker’s editors must have known that to be satire, it must expose ludicrousness.

American Heritage Dictionary - sat·ire (sāt'īr') n.
1. a A literary work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision, or wit.
b The branch of literature constituting such works. See Synonyms at caricature.
2. Irony, sarcasm, or caustic wit used to attack or expose folly, vice, or stupidity.

Or, as BagNews Notes puts it more succinctly:

“…satire isn't satire if it has to be labeled as such.”

New Yorker editor David Remnick reveals his understanding of the genre:

What I think it does is hold up a mirror to the prejudice and dark imaginings about Barack Obama's — both Obamas' — past, and their politics. I can't speak for anyone else's interpretations, all I can say is that it combines a number of images that have been propagated, not by everyone on the right but by some, about Obama's supposed "lack of patriotism" or his being "soft on terrorism" or the idiotic notion that somehow Michelle Obama is the second coming of the Weathermen or most violent Black Panthers. That somehow all this is going to come to the Oval Office.

The idea that we would publish a cover saying these things literally, I think, is just not in the vocabulary of what we do and who we are...

It is now, dipshit. How do you suppose that the 12% of knuckle-dragging American cretins who believe that Obama is a practicing Muslim and the prominent neoconservative bedwetters who insist that Obama was a practicing Muslim will get the satire? And what about the many Americans who are simply oblivious to the entire story? For them, these smears will not be “misinterpreted or taken out of context,” because you didn’t provide any context at all, you just repeated the smears.

Ohhhh, I get it. It’s not about Obama and the right-wing smear machine at all. It’s about the context-free, valueless “journalism” practiced by you and your colleagues in the establishment press. Too clever Mr. Remnick…by about half.

UPDATE: Speaking of knuckle-draggers, here's how G Gordon Liddy appreciated the "satire" on air: "Yeah, I don't suppose you've, by any chance, have seen the cover of the latest issue of The New Yorker magazine, which is, you know, a huge thing. It's got Obama in his Muslim dress with a turban, and he's there with his wife. His wife has a "mad at the world" afro, circa 1968, she -- she's got bandoliers and an assault weapon, and there in their fireplace is burning the American flag. The New Yorker finally got it right."

Heckuva job, Remmy.

[Cross-posted at Dispassionate Liberal]

Two Faces and No Brains

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I wonder if the Village Gasbags will be able to figure out who is demeaning whose service?

“I can't speak for them, but we all know that General Clark, as high-ranking as he is, his record in his last command I think was somewhat less than stellar."
-- Orson Swindle, John McCain Campaign

Just in case there’s still some question what actually demeaning a war veteran’s service looks like:

Louis Letson: "I know John Kerry is lying about his first Purple Heart because I treated him for that injury."

Van O'Dell: "John Kerry lied to get his bronze star...I know, I was there, I saw what happened."

Jack Chenoweth: "His account of what happened and what actually happened are the difference between night and day."

Admiral Roy Hoffman: "John Kerry has not been honest."

Adrian Lonsdale: "And he lacks the capacity to lead."

Larry Thurlow: "When he chips were down, you could not count on John Kerry."

Bob Elder: "John Kerry is no war hero."

Grant Hibbard: "He betrayed all his shipmates...he lied before the Senate."

Joe Ponder: "He dishonored his country...he most certainly did."

Bob Hildreth: "I served with John Kerry...John Kerry cannot be trusted."

The plain fact is, the Gasbags have no moral or rational authority to judge the matter, they relinquished their credibility and responsibility to do so four years ago.

[Cross-posted at Dispassionate Liberal]

Playing by the Rules

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I’ve always thought that one of the main reasons the Village Press hated the Clintons and Al Gore was because it was so obvious that Bill, Hillary and Al were much smarter people than them all. With egos at least as ginormous as any politician, that cleverness gap had to stick in their craws in a way that it never would, for obvious reasons, concerning any Republican. But, smart as they may have been, the Clintons and Vice President Gore never understood the new rules that were being invented just for them. They were playing a fool’s game – and the Clintons still managed to beat the Village at it – because they were playing as though there were still liberals in the corporate press and that reason and truth would prevail.

Which brings us to today’s campaign. Am I the only one who thinks that the Obama campaign is winning big here and that the media is being played badly? The conversation has begun – “it’s out there” as they say – does McCain’s record as a (not-very-good) fighter jock and POW more than thirty years ago in some way qualify him to be Commander-in-Chief? At the same time, Obama “rejects the statement” and “honors and respects Senator McCain’s service.” How is Obama hurt by this? How is McCain?

And now we can let the bloviators compare this honest question to what was done to John Kerry. Remember how Kerry’s record was fair game because he brought it up and Bush and Rove pretended like they had nothing to do with the SBVT? Democrats didn’t make them up but Obama seems to have learned the new rules. As Ara likes to say, if I were having any more fun, I’d have to be twins.

[Cross-posted at Dispassionate Liberal]

Poor, Stupid Joe

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“I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president.”
-- Gen. Wesley Clark

"Clark is just plain wrong when he says that "getting shot down" doesn't qualify as foreign policy experience."
-- Joe Klein

I’m not sure what to comment on here, that Joe Klein thinks that getting shot out of the sky and imprisoned in another country counts as “foreign policy experience,” or that he thinks that “experience” is the same thing as the qualification to be president.

Same result, I guess.

[Cross-posted at Dispassionate Liberal]

Ain’t Nothin’ But a…

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Last week on NBC or MSNBC (or possibly even CNN – they’re practically indistinguishable at this point) someone marked the moment where – one week prior, “we learned of the death of Tim Russert”.

It struck me odd. Who receives that sort of recognition in our culture? In the past, I could remember only people of immense importance and accomplishment and often only if they had died in some tragic circumstances such as a plane crash or assassination. An FDR, a JFK, a Buddy Holly or an Elvis (though we don’t know for sure he’s actually dead).

Apparently, Gene Lyons had a similar reaction [H/T Bob Somerby]:

Few events so reveal society’s unacknowledged values as a royal funeral. So it was following the untimely death of NBC newsman and “Meet the Press” moderator Tim Russert. We have no formal aristocracy in the United States, but Washington has a selfappointed media peerage. Russert was a political celebrity / courtier of exalted rank. [snip] On “Hardball,” they held an Irish wake for several days. All that was missing was a bottle of Jameson’s, and that may have been under the table.
Of course, Russert was of very modest importance or accomplishment:
To his grieving colleagues and many viewers, Russert embodied the best of TV journalism. Others think very differently about his legacy.
Lyons explains why Russert’s colleagues liked him, because of his apparently genuine warmness. My son met Russert by chance one day and confirmed that widely shared impression of him. But being a nice guy is a dubious asset when your job is to reveal the truth about the politics and the powerful that surround you.
Back to Russert and Washington journalism: In the sport of beagling, two bad faults can get a hound disqualified. One is “cold-trailing.” I had a beagle named Leon who’d hoot down scent trails so old the rabbits that left them were probably being digested by coyotes. Leon made so much noise about nothing that my pals dubbed him “The Journalist.” Then there’s “ghost-trailing.” Unable to keep up, a hound will sometimes invent a fictitious rabbit and make a great show of running it. Other dogs learn to ignore him. Washington courtier-journalists have done plenty of both recently. Russert was among the worst. Like most, he obsessed over Bill Clinton’s sexual sins, but handled the Bush administration’s Iraq war propaganda like the Baltimore Catechism: Memorize, regurgitate. Linda Hirshman nails it in The Nation: “The political leaders who did the best answering Tim Russert’s questions in the last seven years—Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Colin Powell—are the authors of the most disastrous American foreign policy since the Vietnam War, and maybe since 1776. The Russert Test was a disaster because it rewarded people willing to lie unabashedly on TV.”

Russert’s colleagues are of course free to mourn the death of their friend - I’d bet Russert is about as good as it gets in their world – let’s just not get carried away about his “journalism”. Tim Russert was no Elvis.

[Cross-posted at Dispassionate liberal]

I believe I'm on record being pissed enough with the Ass Press for the documented bias (especially Liz Sidoti) on behalf of John McSame, or at least their slip-shod reporting transcription of Republican Party talking points (a feat they no doubt learned in the run-up to the Iraq War), well before the latest flap over blogger's fair use of their copyrighted materials.

The drum-beat goes on.

Parroting the conventional wisdom, AP's Liz Sidoti wrote an "analysis" today slamming Obama's decision to forsake public campaign financing. It's quite sanctimonious. But guess what Ms. Sidoti failed to include? John McCain's campaign finance criminality. You'd think that an AP reporter writing an analysis about campaign finance might mention the fact that John McCain's illegal attempt to remove himself from the campaign finance system, after financially benefiting from it, is punishable by five years in jail. But you'd be wrong. Now, there was an AP article about McCain's campaign finance scandal just two days ago. Someone at AP knew about it. But, the facts might interfere with Sidoti's analysis.

And he's at it again. This is the baffling part. McCain was campaigning in Canada today.

It's one thing to spend most of the week in Texas fundraising, where he at least can try and sore up his edge in winning the Longhorn State's electoral votes and putting the squeeze on the rest of the Gulf Coast with some offshore drilling bamboozlement.

On a side note, why is Mean Jean Schmidt so damn wrong about this, and hows-a-come the AmericaBlog braintrust has all the good linkage tonight?
Florida CFO on drilling: "shortsighted approach to put our economy at risk"

Meanwhile, back in the Great White North, following the lead of the Procrastinator In Chief, Johnny "Ace" to a swing at Barack Obama on trade, ignoring the old saw that politics stops at the water's edge, even if that water is the Great Lakes.

Not content to engage in the unseemly airing of America's dirty laundry in front of the neighbors (and this is the good part), he probably was in violation of the Hatch Act on top of his thwarting of campaign finance laws since the affair was hosted by the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, something he's forbidden to do under Federal Law.

Note that all this reporting we lowly bloggers pass on was freely obtainable via the Edmonton Sun and the Globe and Mail exposing of McSame skating some of the basic ethical and legal behavior required of public servants, yet no mention whatsoever in the self-important Associated Press.

Who needs 'em.

Tim Russert 1950-2008

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(cross posted at Daily Kos)

First of all, speaking as a 55 year old man...WTF, Tim? I saw Andrea Mitchell's interview with your doctor and he said you had your blood pressure under control, your "cholesterol fractions were optimal" and you worked out on the treadmill on a regular basis. Brokaw said he and your other friends were alarmed about your recent weight gain and tried to encourage you lose some of it by making it into a competition. And/But in the end it was a chunk of cholesterol plaque that busted loose in one of your arteries, clogging the pipe to your heart -- and that was all she wrote. I'm really sorry it ended so early for you. And if it makes you feel any better, I now view your life -- career aside -- as a cautionary tale.

Speaking of your career, allow me to begin by saying that I always liked your geniality. Your enthusiasm for politics was legendary. I knew you started out as a political aide in DC but what I didn't "get" was that you were Sen. Dan Moynihan's chief of staff (for crying out loud) in the late 70's/early 80's. That would have put you on Capitol Hill around the same time that Chris Matthews was on Jimmy Carter's White House staff and later when Matthews was Tip O'Neill's chief of staff. Did you know him then? If so, what must a couple of guys in their late 20's have talked about back then -- could you have ever imagined the roles you'd play in politics 30 years later?

[Note: speaking of Chris Matthews, his remembrance of you was a thing to behold last night. As always, his heart was on his sleeve. As always, you could read his face like a book. And, as he spoke from Paris in the middle of the night, his words revealed as much about him -- as always -- as they did about you. It was vintage Chris Matthews. He was in equal measure distraught, self-pitying, bitter about how he (Chris) was never one of the cool kids and you were, and, in the end, how much he admired you and would miss you. It seemed heartfelt, shocking and genuine all at the same.]

But, here's the hard part of this piece: Tim, I didn't much care for you as a journalist. As is usually the case with people, your greatest strength -- your genuine affability and ability to establish rapport with your subjects -- was also your greatest weakness. Your standards were compromised by your seeming desire to remain one of the in-crowd in Washington, one of the powdered, pampered poodles of the press. You were too "high school" Tim. You settled for being a big man on campus; you seemed a bit too pleased with yourself for being a member of the Don Imus He-Man Girl-Haters Club. You sucked up too often to those in power and it wasn't pretty.

[Scooter] Libby's conviction on perjury and obstruction of justice charges was, in some large part, based on Russert's testimony. Like former New York Times reporter Judith Miller, Russert was one of the high-level Washington journalists who came out of the Libby trial looking worse than shabby.

Libby testified before the grand jury investigating the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity that he first learned she worked for the intelligence agency from Russert during a phone call on another matter. Russert took the stand to contradict Libby only because he'd been subpoenaed -- a summons he and NBC had strenuously resisted on grounds of journalistic privilege.

As it emerged under examination, however, Russert already had sung like a choirboy to the FBI concerning his conversation with Libby -- and had so voluntarily from the first moment the Feds contacted him. All the litigation was for the sake of image and because the journalistic conventions required it.

But you're gone now and, all that aside, there is no denying it: you'll be missed. You were, like another one of your heroes, the straw that mixed the drink. Every election night we looked forward to your analysis (despite the fact that you had a face made for radio, your ginormous jack-o-lantern of a head reminding me of Chucky). You brought with it equal parts of depth and sheer enthusiasm for the game. I liked that a lot -- and respected it. Your coverage of the 2000 election-night from Hell is legendary; your whiteboard ("Florida Florida Florida") is in the Smithsonian; and your description of "Red America Blue America" has, for good or bad, survived the test of time.

So, rest in peace, Tim. I hope your wife and son -- and father -- will also find some measure of peace after your passing.

And say hi to Samuel Tilden for me.


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Now that Hillary Clinton has “suspended” her campaign for the Democratic nomination for president, millions of angry, white women are turning their disappointment-led ire toward Barack Obama and assuming that it is his responsibility to heal the party:

Obama is the victor, now let's see what he does. The burden is on him as it should be.
Now let's see if Obama can deliver. He has much to do and undo. Yes, his unfortunate comments "Hillary, you are likeable enough" spoke volumes. He was some work to do.

First, let’s get one thing straight: Barack Obama did nothing to Hillary Clinton or her supporters that he should or could undo.

  • One Democratic candidate said that the Republican presidential candidate was obviously qualified to be president and suggested that the other Democratic candidate was not.

  • One Democratic candidate repeatedly claimed that the other Democratic candidate might not be able to beat the Republican.

  • One Democratic candidate derided the other Democratic candidate’s capabilities (and, by extension, that candidate’s supporters) as nothing more than empty rhetoric.

  • One Democratic candidate’s campaign was dismissive of the other Democratic candidate’s numerous state primary/caucus wins.

  • One Democratic candidate’s campaign implied that racial bias was behind their successes and failures.

  • One Democratic candidate tried to change the party’s rules mid-race to boost their campaign.

  • The other Democratic candidate said that candidate one was, “likable enough”.

In fact, Obama only brought up his opponent in response to the most unfair and divisive rhetoric (see above), rhetoric that is dangerous to the party and the country come November.

This TPM reader and Hillary supporter at least gets it half right:

She did so much "just right" and could have won it had she not had the rough treatment from the media.

This person at least understands who was unfair to Hillary. But it is a wild stretch of the imagination to say that she “could have won it” if not for the misogyny and Clinton-animus displayed by a number of prominent media gasbags. In fact, backlash against this unfair treatment may have been a driving force behind Clinton supporters and is widely credited for her late, come-from-behind victory in the New Hampshire primary. Her campaign might have been over many months ago had she not won that contest.

Finally, this Clinton supporter lobs one additional insult at Obama supporters:

If there are those Democrats who still feel it is necessary to denigrate Senator Clinton and her run for the Presidency, I would ask them to think about the change they advocate and the no more politics as usual. The only way to say no to the Washington politics of the past 20 years is to stop hating and start moving forward.

Every man that has lived with a woman knows about resentment built on perceived slights. And it isn’t surprising that this Clinton supporter should project her resentment on Obama supporters. But the truth of the matter is that most Obama supporters seem heartsick (perhaps I’m projecting somewhat here), not hateful, about what the Clinton campaign did to the Clintons and yearn for the party to unite against our common enemies.

And, incredibly, this last Clinton supporter seems to think that saying “no to the Washington politics of the past 20 years” requires Democrats to “stop hating” when it should be obvious, particularly to a Clinton supporter, that the politics of the past 20 years has been all about Republican hatred of liberals and Democrats and the abject failure of the corporate media. It will take everything liberal Democrats can do to overcome this deep ignorance and mass media turpitude and teach even many Democrats who our real enemies are.

[Cross-posted at Dispassionate Liberal]

by Mark Adams

I remember it almost like it was yesterday, trying to outdo other bloggers with cute little names for the guy I called Scotty McManequin: Scott-bot 3000, McClellatron, Scottie McLiar, McClerrator -- good times.

Today, Politico's Mike Allen bypassed the embargoed publication of McClellan's tell-all book by (get this) buying it in a Washington DC bookstore a week before its scheduled release date and documents the atrocities Scotty lays bare in "whacking" Bush, Cheney, Rove, Libby and the whole merry band of criminal conspirators who "propagandized" us into war, lied about outing Valerie Plame, and twiddled their thumbs "in shock" for a week during the Katrina mess (much like Bush did upon learning the news of planes crashing into building as he sat stupidly in that classroom).

McClellan also skewers the mainstream press.

"If anything, the national press corps was probably too deferential to the White House and to the administration in regard to the most important decision facing the nation during my years in Washington, the choice over whether to go to war in Iraq.

"The collapse of the administration’s rationales for war, which became apparent months after our invasion, should never have come as such a surprise. … In this case, the ‘liberal media’ didn’t live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served."

Next thing you know, Scottie will be referring to the Beltway establishment as Villagers. Funny how some decidedly non-mainstream media folks, my favorite rhetorical bomb throwers The Young Turks, were on this story six months ago, as was Shakes and a few other easily dismissed libs.

I love these guys. Figures that they're not even on Air America anymore. What a shame.

by Mark Adams

When did the Stalkerazzi replace Britany, Lindsay and Paris with Ted Kennedy?

Helicopters outside the guy's home? Really?

The great question of the day being, "Can he go sailing?"




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