For The Trees
Who is our economy FOR, anyway?
About the Authors:
BEST OF STF:
Articles not at STF:
The ATLA Speech on building a progressive infrastructure
Lowering the Bar
The Attack on Trial Lawyers and Tort Law
Who's Behind the Attack on Liberal Professors
On the Right and their communications infrastructure:
Why Republicans Win
Win or Lose
The "Conventional Wisdom" Machine
Some History of the Conservative Movement
HOW TO FIGHT BACK
An Amplifier Of Our Own
Don't Blame the Democrats
How They Do It 1 2 3 4
You're Gonna Get Drafted
Scalia and Self-Government
Who is Our Economy For?
Voting Machine Story Link Collection
What's Wrong with this Picture? (Voting Machines)
Like Meat in the Supermarket
Thin Line 1 2 3
Fixing Social Security
Seeing the Forest I, II, III
"Incredibly Positive News"
The Breadth of It
The Republican Crony Club
Ralph Nader is a Scab
John's Best Of:
Kerry Smear Page
9/11 Commission Report Damages Bush -- if you read it
Florida Goon Squad Intimidated the Supreme Court
The Use and Abuse of George Orwell
Zizka's Archives (John's previous identity)
Information Clearing House
What REALLY Happened
Links to Other Weblogs:
Digby! Digby! Digby!
REAL bloggers post on Memorial Day weekend. In All The News The GOP Sees Fit To Print , Digby writes,
"After twelve years of blown story after blown story, it is time for the press (and not just The NY Times) to either declare that they are extensions of the Republican Party or expose their sources when they've shown themselves to be purposefully passing incorrect information (which Okrent endorses as proper journalistic ethics.)But you gotta go there to read the whole thing.
Everything you need to know about Judith Miller, including nasty gossip
Judith Miller of the New York Times played an enormous role in promoting Ahmed Chalabi's lies. She was at one time listed as an expert by Middle East Forum, a think tank run by Daniel Pipes and William Kristol, and has coauthored a book with Laurie Mylroie, an anti-Saddam obsessive no longer taken seriously by much of anybody. She has been represented by the literary agent Eleana Banador, whose clients are almost without exception neocons. She really should never have been allowed to work for the Times.
She's been under fire for inaccurate, dishonest, and biased reporting for some time, and recently the New York Times has very timidly started to acknowlege that maybe her reporting wasn't really all that hot.
She is married to Jason Epstein, one of the founders of the New York Review of Books (though no longer active there), and judging by her bio pic she's a reasonably hot second wife. Epstein's first wife remains an editor at TNYRB, which recently published a devastating article about Miller's shoddy work for the Times.
One of the oddest things about Miller is that when she first came to Washington she was working for The Progressive, the weeniest of weeny liberal magazines. She moved to the Times in 1977.
As much as any single American outside the government, Miller deserves the blame for our disastrous Iraq incursion. It will be interesting to see whether there will be any real consequences.
Cache from the time when Miller was actually listed as an expert by Richard Pipes' Middle East Forum advocacy group(this is no longer on the web)
Did she fuck her way to the top? Nobody likes Judith!
Steve Gilliard: it's unusual for a reporter to be as thoroughly disliked as Miller is.
Perhaps her primary loyalty was not to journalism: one proposed alternative
Miller's father ran a Mafia hangout (see more below)
More on the Riviera / Marine Room Mafia hangout
Part I of a series on Miller; Part II; Part III; Part IV.
Most Recent NYT Mea Culpa
Previous NYT Mea Culpa
Official Judith Miller Bio
LA Times on Miller
Massing's New York Review of Books Article exposing Miller
Miller's Husband's Ex-wife is an Editor of the New York Review of Books
Editor and Publisher on Miller
Columbia Journalism Review on Miller
Schafer of Slate on Miller
Miller and the Middle East Forum
Who is The Middle East Forum?
Miller published in the Middle East Forum
Benador Associates, Laurie Mylroie, and Judith Miller
Miller even offended her colleagues at the Times
The Right Will Fight Dirty
I’ve been trying for three weeks to write about what happens after the election, and I keep getting hung up on the things the Right will do to stay in power. Beyond just the loss of power, any honest Justice Department or Congressional examination of their activities since January 2001 is likely to land many of them in prison for a very long time. So maybe I need to get that subject out of the way before I can write about AFTER the election.
We’ve all heard each other's paranoid talk that there will be an “October Surprise,” or that the voting machines will refuse to count Democratic votes, or that the Republicans might just cancel the election. Unfortunately there is reason to fear. In 1968, fearing an end of the Vietnam War would mean a Humphrey victory, the Republicans sabotaged the pending peace agreement, and by 1972 they had turned the IRS, FBI and CIA into little more than arms of The Party, with the government acting as a pay-to-play contractor to large corporate contributors. Fortunately there was still an independent press and a Congress willing to investigate such matters when they became visible, and Nixon had to resign.
In 1980 there is every reason to believe the Republicans made a campaign deal with the terrorist government of Iran to keep the American hostages -- and keep Carter looking bad -- in exchange for post-election arms shipments. A few years later, after the Iran/Contra arms scandal investigation began, Lawrence Walsh wrote about the nature of The Party apparatus that had infiltrated the government and obstructed his efforts to find out for us what had happened. The following is from The Impeachment Conspiracy by Robert Parry:
“The North case reached the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1990 and the Poindexter case followed in 1991. Iran-contra special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh, a Republican himself, encountered what he termed "a powerful band of Republican appointees [who] waited like the strategic reserves of an embattled army."Then came the election of Clinton! How much do I have to write about The Party’s activities to bring down the Clinton administration and cause every attempt at governing to fail, never mind the good of the country? With The Party’s Federalist Society judges in place every special prosecutor appointed to investigate Republican wrongdoing was a right-wing Party operative, and those appointed to investigate Democrats was … a right-wing Party operative. Every motion before the Courts went against Clinton and the Democrats. Just one example of Party infiltration of the mechanisms of government was Gary Aldrich. That a far-right sleazebag operative like Gary Aldrich was in the FBI at all, not to mention assigned to the Clinton White House, speaks volumes about the nature of The Party’s takeover of the apparatus of government for its own ends – as well as to the Clinton Administration’s understanding of what it was up against.
And, finally, the 2000 election. The Supreme Court demonstrated the extent and power of Party operatives, positioned within the mechanisms of our government, whose loyalty is to an ideology and a Party rather than the country.
These years of this Bush's hands on the controls mean that our government is now infested with ideological operatives, waiting for their opportunity to prove that their loyalty lies with The Party, not American democracy.
So yes, it's hard to write about what to do if Kerry wins. But I'm working on it. Win or lose, we have to come to understand how the Right managed to become so powerful, and what we must do to counter this before we lose what is left of the America we knew.
I'm irritable for a reason
OK, Ashcroft's smear ("Al Qaeda wants Kerry to win") made it to CNN (look for "Gohel"), and now we're protesting.
That's all well and good, but basically the Republican story is out there now, and we're just responding. Where's the Democratic story? Everybody should know that Bush flubbed the War on Terror, because that's what he did. We should have had the word out there already, but we don't. As long as the bad guys have the initiative, they win.
Supposedly Kerry is biding his time. That's OK for now, but unless Kerry gets his message out there loud and clear well before the election, during the last six weeks or so he'll be batting down one smear after another, and he'll lose. He needs to be on the attack and keep one step ahead of the Republicans; he can't afford to sit back and respond.
I was just involved in a disagreement with some very nice, genteel liberals who were worried that the Democrats would stoop to making nasty remarks about the Bush twins. I had to confess that this particular problem was not anywhere on my list of things to worry about, and that I might actually end up sometime making a few snarky remarks about the little drunken sluts myself.
What is on my list of things to worry about? I mostly worry about seeing a lame, ever-so-professionally-run Kerry campaign getting blindsided during the last month. I also worry about Kerry ending up being a one-term president because Bush's mess proves to be impossible to clean up. And finally I worry about Kerry continuing Bush's Iraq policy because he's worried about being called a dove.
Liberals and Democrats spend too much time reading Orwell and worrying about turning into Stalinists. What they should be worrying about is disappearing entirely the way the Whigs did. Liberals remind me of the cartoon of the 98-lb. weakling promising never to use his martial arts powers for evil purposes.
The Democrats don't have any goddamn superpowers to misuse. Let's quit worrying about it.
Political Entrepreneurs vs. Political Managers
Matt Yglesias has posted a piece contrasting the right wing's strong infrastructure for encouraging young conservatives to the weak support that the Democratic Party gives its own next generation. This gives me a rare opportunity to agree enthusiastically with Matt, and leads into a piece which I've been planning to write for some time.
Conservatives and liberals come from very different backgrounds. Conservatives tend to come more from the business world, whereas most liberals have a history in academia, public administration, non-profits, unions, and other large bureaucratic organizations. While there are strengths that come from this institutional background, there are weaknesses too, and at the moment I find the weaknesses the most striking.
Businessmen are entrepreneurs, gamblers, opportunists, and sometimes lowlifes, and they are always looking for an edge. Many are semi-educated, uncredentialed, and self-taught, and they're always on the outlook for talent. They don't usually care about someone's credentials if they're able to do the job.
By contrast, academics and administrators are always worried that someone might be hired or promoted who is Not Fully Qualified. In many cases, the administrators see their job as maintaining normality, following standard operating procedures, and keeping things on an even keel. They strongly favor team players who don't rock the boat, and are often quite indulgent of staff who are part of the family, even if they're not pulling their full share of the load. In many organizations positive performance standards are unclear, so avoiding problems becomes the goal, and the fail-safe position is to hire a credentialed, experienced worker with no history of innovation.
This sounds like the generic libertarian stump speech, but I think that this is an issue on which liberals should listen to libertarians. I don't push my argument nearly as far as they do -- they think that it destroys the whole liberal program down to the roots -- but I believe that they do have a major point.
There was something out awhile back saying that liberal foundations keep people on a short leash, demanding tons of documentation and placing a swarm of miscellaneous conditions on every grant. This is true in academia too -- grantwriting has become a profession in itself. Without a good grantwriter (who doesn't really need to know much about the field), many scientists would never be able to do their work at all.
Kos believes that the Democratic Party is dominated by timid people who do well whether the party wins or loses -- he really can rant on that subject (no link, sorry). To call the Democratic bureaucracy risk-averse is a vast understatement. Their practices are the standard bureaucratic ass-covering, and the fact that these practices haven't really been working very well is no skin off their ass. They still have their jobs, right?
Eric Alterman noticed early in his career that his conservative friends all had cushy jobs, and he didn't. Conservatives often say that you can't solve problems by throwing money at them, but they're more generous to young conservatives than liberals are to young liberals, and they're also more willing to take chances. Ann Coulter has supported herself in style for more than a decade by cranking out freelance stuff which is shoddy and nasty, but effective. At the beginning of her career someone just said, "Give her a chance", and she came through for them. Liberals do not work that way.
"But... but... you're not saying that we should get down to their level and hire the liberal equivalents of Ann Coulter, are you?"
Well, maybe I am. I'm sort of sick of seeing liberal Democrats bragging about the Miss Congeniality booby prize we get for losing all the time. But at least, the Democrats should take their chances, spread some money around, and give a bunch of relatively untested and relatively uncredentialed young guys like Matt, Jesse at Pandagon, et. al., the chance to show what they can do.
(Also, they should avoid ageism and shovel some cash my way too. The party needs to mend its fences with its paranoid fringe elements.)
(This is Part II of the piece on competition I promised here. Part I will appear later, since this piece is more or less timely now.
Media ads becoming less effective
Kos has a post up arguing that political advertising in the big media has become less effective.
This ties in with one of my pet ideas: the Democrats' media-heavy campaign strategy has been suicidal. To begin with, big media buys serve to fatten up big media, and big media showed in 2000 that it will ultimately support the Republicans. So we're giving tons of money to some of our worst enemies.
Second, expensive media campaigns force the party to focus too much on fundraising. And the need to raise more and more money forces the Democrats to make more and more deals with the big potential donors, with the result that the less affluent of the traditional Democratic constituencies come to have less and less influence within the party (especially since the party seems to have resigned itself to a low rate of electoral participation).
I'm not an expert on all this, but I know that there have recently been successful candidates (Paul Wellstone was one) who primarily relied on feet on the ground and grass-roots campaigning. Perhaps the national party should think of moving in that direction.
P.S. Since this is just a blog, I think I can shoehorn in another pet idea of mine. My experience has been that the Democrats' paid staff tends to be heavy with bright and shiny recent college grads (often from Ivy League schools) for whom the job is just an easy, low-paid break between college and their real career. For local outreach work in non-middle-class areas, at least, wouldn't it be better to hire people from the community for whom the job might actually be a good job? Didn't the Democrats use to work this way?
To see Al Gore's speech click here. (RealPlayer)
Mayfield False Arrest Under Patriot Act
Brandon Mayfield, an American-born Portland lawyer and convert to Islam, has just been released and exonerated after having been held for about two weeks as a material witness under provisions of the Patriot Act. The basis for his arrest was a fingerprint match, which turned out to be erroneous, connecting him with the big recent bombing in Spain.
People who say that worries about the Patriot Act are exaggerated should look at this case. Mayfield was released only because Spanish police working on the case (who had doubted the FBI identification from the start) finally connected the fingerprint to a different man. Otherwise the guy would probably be in jail indefinitely.
The FBI found several fingerprint matches (perhaps by setting their computers to pull in as many matches as possible: my guess) and then zeroed in on Mayfield after they found that he was a Muslim convert who had represented a convicted terrorist in a non-political case. At first they represented the match as much closer than it really was, even though the Spanish police had their doubts.
Problems with Fingerprint Identification
From the Case Transcript
Talkleft on Mayfield
Best Blog Line of the Week
In The Smirk, Stirling Newberry writes,
"We have just had a three trillion dollar experiment in 'does it matter who is president'."
Why the Chalabi Problem is Worse Than You Think
Why the Chalabi Problem is Worse Than You Think: over at The Blogging of the President: 2004.
They Just Lie 2 (or is it 3 or is it 45 ... lost count)
Here is the Republican Party's official response to Al Gore's call for Rumsfeld and others to resign because of the abuses at Abu Ghraib. G O P.com :: RNC Communications Director Statement on Al Gore's Comments Today at MoveOn.org Rally:
"Al Gore served as Vice President of this country for eight years. During that time, Osama Bin Laden declared war on the United States five times and terrorists killed US citizens on at least four different occasions including the first bombing of the World Trade Center, the attacks on Khobar Towers, our embassies in East Africa, and the USS Cole.Here we have the Republican Party officially blaming Clinton and Gore for the 9/11 attacks -- and doing so in response to Gore's call for accountability for what happened in the prison in Iraq.
So just as President Bush said in his speech the other night that we are in Iraq in response to 9/11, the Republican Party responds to Gore's call for accountability for the Iraqi prison scandal by accusing him of being responsible for 9/11! AND the Republican Party says that Gore asks for accountability because he "does not understand the threat of global terror."
As if the prison scandal had anything to do with global terror, and as if people who do understand the threat of global terror would excuse what happened.
Here we have an entire political party that bases its positions on outright lies. What's left to say? How does one respond to this level of deceit? How does one protect oneself from this level of deceit? And most importantly, how do we protect the country from this level of deceit?
But wait, there's more.
Rush Limbaugh gave a longer version of the same statement today when he responded today to Gore's call for Bush to condemn Limbaugh's incredibly offensive statements on the torture at Abu Ghraib. Here is some of Limbaugh's response:
"Algore, this whole speech, he went nuts. He's flailing around wildly there. Not just me, he's attacking everybody who has led the nation through 9/11, the war on terrorism, and he's making statements that are flat out lies in this speech. For example, the Geneva Conventions. I don't know how many of you know this, the Geneva Conventions do not protect terrorists. They protect soldiers who serve under a nation who wear uniforms who carry their weapons openly, and with the kind of threat that we're facing today with terrorist cells in the U.S. plotting an even bigger attack than 9/11. I mean, it says a lot about Gore. It says he's perverse, that he would be argue to go confer greater rights on those who seek to murder millions of Americans and calling for even tougher actions to seek them out and destroy them before they destroy us, and this is what is truly puzzling to me about the left, and this is what's disarming about these prison photos.Remember, he's talking about the treatment of people in a civilian prison in Iraq, where there is no question that every single person is covered by the Geneva Conventions. Every single person in Iraq is covered by the Geneva Conventions. (AND we are covered by OTHER treaties and laws banning torture of ANYONE, ANYWHERE, as well as our own ethics as Americans.)
Limbaugh is a spokesman for the Republican Party, no way around it. And in case there is any question whether he diverges from the official position of The Party, we have seen the Party's statement that says pretty much the same things Limbaugh says here. Limbaugh says Gore is "perverse" for objecting to the treatment that we saw in those photos -- The Party says Gore "does not understand the threat of global terror." Limbaugh says those people in the Iraqi prison "seek to murder millions of Americans" -- The Party says Gore should not ask for accountability in Iraq because when Gore was in office "Osama Bin Laden declared war on the United States five times and terrorists killed US citizens on at least four different occasions including the first bombing of the World Trade Center, the attacks on Khobar Towers, our embassies in East Africa, and the USS Cole."
Limbaugh IS The Party.
One more thing. Limbaugh also equates "our adversaries in Europe" with "our enemies in the caves of Afghanistan and the allies of Iraq." This is not "fringe" Republican thought, it comes up over and over. Here, for example. (Ledeen is one of the architects of the Iraq war.) It comes up in The Party's treatment of France and the United Nations, as well as Bush's threats against Mexico.
It's just lies, which they try to cover by accusing Gore of being the liar.
The question is, how far these people will take this? The question is, what are they capable of doing to achieve and hold on to power? Remember, they have taken it all the way to war in Iraq. Watch your backs.
Survivor - Republican Stype
Over at DCCC.
Immediately below, Dave comments on Ashcroft's new terror alert, which implicitly claims that al Qaeda wants to see Kerry elected.
Obviously any terror attack between now and the election will be given a Republican spin by the administration. Ashcroft's announcement sets that up, while also trying to immunize the administration against any negative interpretations, should a new terrorist attack occur during Bush's watch.
In other words, the next terrorist attack hasn't even happened yet, and it has already been politicized. Kerry's campaign team needs to start preparing the ground for their own response to the next attack, when and if it occurs. Pre-emptively pointing out loudly and often that Bush has so far done nothing much to protect the US against terrorism (and in particular, that the Iraq War hasn't helped) would be a great place to start.
Beyond that, they should have a response ready for immediate release as soon as an attack take place. (You can be sure that the Republicans have one.) The various possible scenarios should all be prepared for, with a string of followups in the can ready to go. If the Kerry people sit around strategizing for a day when and if something happens, Bush will have won the election by the time Kerry says a word.
The Republicans have framed it this way: if al Qaeda attacks, it's because they want Kerry to win; if al Qaeda doesn't attack, it's because Bush has been effective. The Kerry team has to break that frame, and the time to start is now. Bush has not been effective.
Isn't That Conveeeeenient!
U.S. Warns Of Al Qaeda Threat This Summer:
"The concerns are driven by intelligence deemed credible that was obtained about a month ago indicating an attack may be planned between now and Labor Day.Right. They want Bush out. So if you are a Kerry supporter then you're also a supporter of al-Queda. Isn't that conveeeeeenient!
The information was obtained a month ago, but released today. And we happen to know that "al Qaeda operatives are pleased with the change in government resulting from the March 11 terrorist bombings in Spain." Except that the change in government was NOT the result of the attack, it was the result of the government LYING ABOUT the attack. And everyone in the world knows that except people who get their new from U.S. sources.
Isn't that conveeeeeenient!
Roger Ailes notices, too.
Presidents falling off of things
Hasn't George W. Bush now passed Gerald Ford in the Presidential Falling Off Of Things stats? As I recall, Ford stumbled twice getting off planes, but I don't remember any visible marks. Bush has fallen off a couch, a Segway, and a bicycle, and two of those three times he had some hickeys to explain.
The Presidential Vomiting On Allied Prime Ministers record is still held by the elder, smarter Bush.
I Told You So
US intelligence fears Iran duped hawks into Iraq war:
"An urgent investigation has been launched in Washington into whether Iran played a role in manipulating the US into the Iraq war by passing on bogus intelligence through Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, it emerged yesterday.Not to mention, getting Iraq's oil fields. Ha Ha I Told You So!
"It's pretty clear that Iranians had us for breakfast, lunch and dinner," said an intelligence source in Washington yesterday. "Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the US for several years through Chalabi."Jeeze. These stupid, incompetent, ideologically insane, hateful, arrogant, cultish, corrupt, right-wing, ignorant CLUCKS got duped, sold us out, made fools of us, betrayed us, destroyed our honor, besmirched our good name, bankrupted us, sold us up the river, destroyed our reputation, undermined our integrity, and killed thousands.
Bush The Liar
From his speech last night, AGAIN saying Iraq is a war against the 9/11 terrorists:
"In the last 32 months history has placed great demands on our country and events have come quickly. Americans have seen the flames of Sept. 11, followed battles in the mountains of Afghanistan and learned new terms like orange alert and ricin and dirty bomb. We've seen killers at work on trains in Madrid, in a bank in Istanbul, in a synagogue in Tunis and a nightclub in Bali. And now the families of our soldiers and civilian workers pray for their sons and daughter in Mosul and Karbala and Baghdad.
The Agonist: Justice Must Be Seen To Be Done
The Agonist: Justice Must Be Seen To Be Done:
"We must face the facts, the cold, hard facts. We illegally invaded another nation, engaging in war crimes to do so, in that we lied to the UN as to the causes for war. We did so without pressing necessity to invade - or to lie at all, since our target was an individual who could have been legally indicted for war crimes by merely stretching forth our hand. We invaded solely because of the electoral time table of George W Bush Jr, and for no other reason. This is worse that a crime, it is worse than a mistake, it is a blot against that most precious object of a free people - our willingness to comply with our own laws."Stirling says it all for us -- go read.
Judith Miller off the NYT Chalabi beat
The Times has finally come up with a pretty good piece about the Chalabi spy story. It mentions that the information had to have come up from someone high up on the totem pole, probably in the Defense Department.
Oddly enough, Iran, William Safire, and Chalabi himself all deny that Chalabi was an Iranian spy. Safire is becoming loonier and slimier by the minute.
At the moment Judith Miller, the Times reporter who eternally disgraced herself and the Times by reporting Chalabi spin as fact, is nowhere to be seen.
Johnston and Oppel on Chalabi
Safire on Chalabi
Miller's errors have still not been acknowledged by the Times
Guardian on rape/abuse of female prisoners in Iraq by American guards
[This is horried and repulsive enough... especially the fact that these women are being released without any protection or follow up (resulting in disappearances, murders, suicides, etc.)... but what really gets my goat is this:
"Invented by the Bush administration..."
"indefinite detention without charge..."
WHY ARE WE TOLERATING THIS? WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE ON CAPITOL HILL?
Our ancestors fought a REVOLUTION a little bit over two hundred years ago precisely because King George was engaging in this type of behavior. One of the outcomes of that experience was the Constitution of the United States and the accompanying Bill of Rights, along with a lot of jurisprudence (such as Habeus Corpus) designed to translate those nobel words into tangible reality. These rules were put into place for a REASON, and our new King George and his cabal of neo-conservative nogoodnicks are busy demonstrating exactly what that reason was - and sullying the good name of our country, our heritage, our government and each of us as American citizens. I take this very personally. Bastards!
[...continued at URL above]
CHALABI WAS AN IRANIAN SPY!!!!!!!!
So far you're not seeing that kind of headline -- there's not much excitement at all. A Google News "Chalabi" + "Iran" search gets more responses and cover stories from Iran and from Chalabi himself than it gets stories. The always-reliable Evan Bayh doesn't want to hear about it -- he thinks that the American people are tired of hearings. (Was Evan one of the big Chalabi suckers? You sort of guess so, don't you?)
Chalabi appeared on national TV three times today and is getting the kind of fair treatment in the media that I wish Scott Ritter had gotten. From reading by the tea leaves it seems clear that the hawks and their friends in the media are completely unembarassed and are fighting back -- so far, very successfully. (The New York Times, whose Judith Miller was the single biggest journalistic offender, didn't mention the story at all today.)
Whenever it seems that we've finally come to the last straw, it blows away in the wind. My worst nightmare is the same as Karl Rove's fondest dream: George W. Bush might end up being reelected entirely by the combined votes of the proto-fascists of his core constituency, and the airhead centrists who don't know, don't care, and can't be bothered. If you follow the Bush campaign at all closely, you'll see that that's exactly what Rove's strategy is, and the frightening thing is that it might very well work.
What can you get away with saying?
As long as I've been on the internet, I've been dealing with the question "What can you get away with saying?" My solution has been to confess to being a paranoid conspiracy theorist and then say my piece. By making a joke of it, I can slip past some people's radar, and when what I say turns out to be pretty well grounded, people are pleasantly surprised. (Sometimes.) But I pay a price for this, and for most people I'll probably always be in the extremist niche.
The reason I have to play this game is that a lot of Americans, and I'm especially thinking of the Democratic leadership and the vaguely-liberal members of the media, just don't want to hear certain kinds of ideas. One way or another doves, "populist" Democrats, and "conspiracy theorists" are just tuned out.
This comes up because recently Jonathan Alter of Newsweek was criticized for dealing with the same problem ("What's OK to say?") rather differently. When Atrios excerpted Alter calling the Bush Administration a "bunch of clowns" on Air America, Kevin Drum pointed out that Alter's Newsweek writing during the same period was much milder. Kevin wondered why Alter didn't say the same things on the pages of Newsweek that he did on Air America, and Brad DeLong pitched in, basically endorsing what Kevin said.
You really don't have to wonder. Alter has an editor who will let him go only so far. The media are big business, and people who want careers learn what they can say and what they can't. Significantly, one of the very few major-media people who lets it all hang out is Paul Krugman, who has a successful career of his own and is actually slumming when he writes for the New York Times. (In not-completely-unrelated news, Josh Micah Marshall and Matt Yglesias have both recently admitted that they are to the right of most of their readers. Not that they aren't entirely sincere in every word they say, but they are certainly aware that moving to the left would not be good for their careers).
This is normally explained in terms of "what people want to hear". That would be a doubtful explanation even if it were true -- since sooner or later the truth bites you on the ass, whether you want to hear it or not. But it's not the real explanation anyway. There are certain things the commercial media don't you want to say, and professionals learn what those things are.
It gets worse. As we know, the right wing has learned the game of "working the refs", so besides the publishers and editors, there's an enormous, well-funded, conservative "media watch" goon squad ready to jump on any evidence of "liberal media bias". And so Krugman, who is intellectually and ethically head and shoulders above almost all of his peers (e.g., William Safire and George Will), has been under fierce, unremitting attack ever since he figured out how bad the Bush Administration really is.
I should probably stop now, but then I'm a paranoid ideologue. The centrist (i.e. right) wing of the Democratic Party, possibly including some of the bloggers named, has played its own part in this. During the runup to the Iraq war, even most Democrats put the doves outside the pale. Prudential anti-war arguments were allowed, but dovish ones were not. The same could be said of things like free trade and welfare reform. Refusing to "pander" to its own constituency (except for social liberals, natch) seems to have become Rule One for many Democrats. Unfortunately, once the Democratic center had destroyed the Democratic left, the Democratic center in its turn became the "left", and the vicious right-wing attacks continued without interruption. Appeasement never works.
During the 2000 election, the Republican right wing -- a frightening group of Armageddon Christians, exterminationists, anti-Government anarchists, and neo-Confederates -- stayed within the party, whereas the heavily-reviled Democratic left was driven out. (That was what Lieberman was for, right?) Buchanan got .7% of the vote, and Nader got 2.7%. Switch those percentages, and Gore would have won in a near landslide, 50%-46%.
Atrios excerpts Alter.
Kevin Drum compares Alter on AA and in Newsweek.
Brad De Long pitches in.
Yglesias is more conservative than his readers
Marshall is more conservative than his readers
Copyright © 2002-05.
Blogger's RSS feed
Please help Seeing the Forest meet expenses. You can contribute using Paypal or Amazon by clicking either of the following buttons. Thanks!
I took out the Amazon "donate button" because they are a red company, helping fund the right.
7/14/02 - 7/21/02 7/21/02 - 7/28/02 7/28/02 - 8/4/02 8/4/02 - 8/11/02 8/11/02 - 8/18/02 8/18/02 - 8/25/02 8/25/02 - 9/1/02 9/1/02 - 9/8/02 9/8/02 - 9/15/02 9/15/02 - 9/22/02 9/22/02 - 9/29/02 9/29/02 - 10/6/02 10/6/02 - 10/13/02 10/13/02 - 10/20/02 10/20/02 - 10/27/02 10/27/02 - 11/3/02 11/3/02 - 11/10/02 11/10/02 - 11/17/02 11/17/02 - 11/24/02 11/24/02 - 12/1/02 12/1/02 - 12/8/02 12/8/02 - 12/15/02 12/15/02 - 12/22/02 12/22/02 - 12/29/02 12/29/02 - 1/5/03 1/5/03 - 1/12/03 1/12/03 - 1/19/03 1/19/03 - 1/26/03 1/26/03 - 2/2/03 2/2/03 - 2/9/03 2/9/03 - 2/16/03 2/16/03 - 2/23/03 2/23/03 - 3/2/03 3/2/03 - 3/9/03 3/9/03 - 3/16/03 3/16/03 - 3/23/03 3/23/03 - 3/30/03 3/30/03 - 4/6/03 4/6/03 - 4/13/03 4/13/03 - 4/20/03 4/20/03 - 4/27/03 4/27/03 - 5/4/03 5/4/03 - 5/11/03 5/11/03 - 5/18/03 5/18/03 - 5/25/03 5/25/03 - 6/1/03 6/1/03 - 6/8/03 6/8/03 - 6/15/03 6/15/03 - 6/22/03 6/22/03 - 6/29/03 6/29/03 - 7/6/03 7/6/03 - 7/13/03 7/13/03 - 7/20/03 7/20/03 - 7/27/03 7/27/03 - 8/3/03 8/3/03 - 8/10/03 8/10/03 - 8/17/03 8/17/03 - 8/24/03 8/24/03 - 8/31/03 8/31/03 - 9/7/03 9/7/03 - 9/14/03 9/14/03 - 9/21/03 9/21/03 - 9/28/03 9/28/03 - 10/5/03 10/5/03 - 10/12/03 10/12/03 - 10/19/03 10/19/03 - 10/26/03 10/26/03 - 11/2/03 11/2/03 - 11/9/03 11/9/03 - 11/16/03 11/16/03 - 11/23/03 11/23/03 - 11/30/03 11/30/03 - 12/7/03 12/7/03 - 12/14/03 12/14/03 - 12/21/03 12/21/03 - 12/28/03 12/28/03 - 1/4/04 1/4/04 - 1/11/04 1/11/04 - 1/18/04 1/18/04 - 1/25/04 1/25/04 - 2/1/04 2/1/04 - 2/8/04 2/8/04 - 2/15/04 2/15/04 - 2/22/04 2/22/04 - 2/29/04 2/29/04 - 3/7/04 3/7/04 - 3/14/04 3/14/04 - 3/21/04 3/21/04 - 3/28/04 3/28/04 - 4/4/04 4/4/04 - 4/11/04 4/11/04 - 4/18/04 4/18/04 - 4/25/04 4/25/04 - 5/2/04 5/2/04 - 5/9/04 5/9/04 - 5/16/04 5/16/04 - 5/23/04 5/23/04 - 5/30/04 5/30/04 - 6/6/04 6/6/04 - 6/13/04 6/13/04 - 6/20/04 6/20/04 - 6/27/04 6/27/04 - 7/4/04 7/4/04 - 7/11/04 7/11/04 - 7/18/04 7/18/04 - 7/25/04 7/25/04 - 8/1/04 8/1/04 - 8/8/04 8/8/04 - 8/15/04 8/15/04 - 8/22/04 8/22/04 - 8/29/04 8/29/04 - 9/5/04 9/5/04 - 9/12/04 9/12/04 - 9/19/04 9/19/04 - 9/26/04 9/26/04 - 10/3/04 10/3/04 - 10/10/04 10/10/04 - 10/17/04 10/17/04 - 10/24/04 10/24/04 - 10/31/04 10/31/04 - 11/7/04 11/7/04 - 11/14/04 11/14/04 - 11/21/04 11/21/04 - 11/28/04 11/28/04 - 12/5/04 12/5/04 - 12/12/04 12/12/04 - 12/19/04 12/19/04 - 12/26/04 12/26/04 - 1/2/05 1/2/05 - 1/9/05 1/9/05 - 1/16/05 1/16/05 - 1/23/05 1/23/05 - 1/30/05 1/30/05 - 2/6/05 2/6/05 - 2/13/05 2/13/05 - 2/20/05 2/20/05 - 2/27/05 2/27/05 - 3/6/05 3/6/05 - 3/13/05 3/13/05 - 3/20/05 3/20/05 - 3/27/05 3/27/05 - 4/3/05 4/1/12 - 4/8/12