Friday, September 28

The Joke Is That "Mitt Romney: Fact Checker" Isn't The Funny Part

Kevin Robillard, "Romney to 'fact-check' Obama in debate". September 27

Karl Rove, "Obama's Biggest Opponent Is the Truth: Voters expect Mitt Romney to blow the whistle in the debates". September 25

NO. As you might've figured out from the above, the real joke is "Because Karl Rove is urging him to".

I mean, I know, I know, it's Politico, but don't any of you aspire to sound kinda like journalists?
Mitt Romney plans to turn himself into a one-man truth squad during the first presidential debate next week, casting President Barack Obama as someone who can’t be trusted to stick to the facts or keep his promises.

Top Republicans are telegraphing Romney’s hard-line strategy for his faceoff with Obama, according to Mike Allen’s Playbook in POLITICO on Thursday. The debate plan comes during a presidential cycle where media fact-checkers have held a high profile and where an earlier effort by Democrats to cast GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan as untrustworthy got results.
Okay, just a couple things here: first, Ryan did that to himself, by being a congenital liar, and the designated Republican base-fellator, which now requires blurting stupid shit out in public, instead of just in private. Second, if "fact-checking" was such a big deal, Ryan never would have been Romney's selection, because it's the same shit he's been saying for the duration of the Obama administration. He would have been a national disgrace, not a "nationally recognized budget expert". Finally, are you not allowed to fact-check your own stories as you type? I'm not really sure how anyone could say "Mitt Romney plans to turn himself into a one-man truth squad" and not bust out a line of LOLs immediately after. "Snooki plans to attend med school."
Romney himself was the first to signal the strategy.

“I think he’s going to say a lot of things that aren’t accurate,” Romney said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” earlier this month, adding he would have to choose between correcting Obama and delivering his own message.

“I’d be tempted to go back to that wonderful line by Ronald Reagan, ‘There you go again,’” Romney said.
Oh, please do.
And in another sign of the Republican strategy heading into the debate on Wednesday in Denver, Karl Rove used his Wall Street Journal column Thursday to advise Romney to call out Obama’s misstatements, without actually calling the president a liar.

“While Mr. Romney must point out the president’s misrepresentations, he can’t take on the role of fact-checker-in-chief,” wrote Rove, who runs a constellation of outside groups spending millions on ads attacking Obama and backing Romney. “He should deal comprehensively with several of Mr. Obama’s untruths and, having done so, dismiss the rest as more of the same. By carefully calling into question the president’s veracity, Mr. Romney will have the opportunity to provide context: Mr. Obama doesn’t shoot straight because he can’t defend his record and has no agenda for the future except the status quo, stay the course.”
Leave us note that the best Bush's Brain could do in that department was characterize a couple of Obama ads.
One Obama spot says, "To pay for huge, new tax breaks for millionaires like him, Romney would have to raise taxes on the middle class: $2,000 for a family with children."

That claim has been thoroughly discredited, including by PolitiFact Virginia and editorials in this newspaper. Mr. Romney, unlike the president, is committed to cutting taxes for everyone, including the middle class.
Go ahead, read the Politifact Virginia piece. Somebody involved in all this should. The "debunking" of the ad's claim amounts to "but Romney says he'll lower everyones taxes!" while being forced to admit that a) Romney hasn't actually gotten around to mentioning any specifics of his tax plan other than, y'know, letting Jobs Creators keep all the money, and b) well:
An August study by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center concluded that, under the broad parameters Romney has set forth, the bottom-line tax bill for middle-class families would rise by about $2,000 in 2015. That’s because the loss of deductions for middle-class families would outweigh the gain of paying a lower tax rate, according to the research.

In contrast, the study concluded that wealthy families would see their tax bills go down because the benefit of paying lower rates would outweigh their loss of deductions.

Romney has disputed the findings, saying the Tax Policy Center made invalid assumptions about how he will fashion his tax plan.

Isn't fact-checking supposed to, oh, check facts? Isn't "disputing findings" more in the way of "disputing"?
Another ad says, "As a corporate raider, [Mr. Romney] shipped jobs to China and Mexico." In response, the Washington Post editorialized, "On just about every level, this ad is misleading, unfair and untrue."

Can't find the editorial right quick (thanks for the link, Karl), but the Fact Checker column that took the ad on relied on the "Mitt wasn't even in town for two or three of those deals, as he was busy saving the Olympics" argument, which is perhaps something less than an open-and-shut case. Particularly since it came out a few minutes ahead of the Washington Post story about Bain's investment in companies that specialized in jobs shipping.

But, again: go ahead. Please.
There is more. An Obama ad aimed at northern Virginia women intones, "Mitt Romney opposes requiring coverage for contraception." In fact, Mr. Romney opposes the president's unprecedented assault on religious liberties—in this case, the federal government forcing religious institutions (like church-sponsored hospitals, schools and charities) to provide insurance coverage for contraception in violation of their fundamental moral values and, incidentally, the First Amendment.

So to recap: the President a) refuses to acknowledge that insurance-paid contraception is actually abortion; b) refuses to admit that for-profit operations which receive federal funds but are owned by a particular cult are, in fact, churches, because 1) Karl Rove and 2) the Constitution clearly say so. And that c) this qualifies as "unprecedented", despite the fact that the identical thing has occurred in American history, and occurs today with some of those same institutions under state law, and has actually been topped, unquestionably, by other restrictions on religious expression (notably the anti-Mormon laws that preceded Utah statehood).

But yes, again, Mitt. Please listen to Karl Rove. The man's a genius.

Wednesday, September 26

And If Only The Vietnamese Had Worn Bright Red Coats And Formed Infantry Squares

Ross Douthat, "Obama Without Romney". September 25

OKAY, I haven't heard a plausible explanation of what's wrong with The Atlantic, but the Times has obviously felt for some time that its position as the leading source of Librul Bias demanded a "conservative" columnist on staff. Then, when they couldn't find one half so amusing nor one-third as mendacious as Bill Safir(e), they decided to try two. And with Bill Kristol they pegged the mendacity meter, but he didn't work out otherwise.

Douthat must've looked like a strong candidate: Hahvahd, a religious maniac at just the moment Bill Keller had decided that magically lambent shots of church interiors would grace the front page once a week as a sort of religious outreach program, and, most importantly, in an era where the internets were picking newspapers' pockets, Ross knew how to do that linky thing all the kids liked.

That was three years ago, and the only memorable thing Douthat has said in that time concerned Reese Witherspoon and avoirdupois. Or was it Renée Zellweger? I get those two confused. Which one scrunches up her nose all the time?

So please. Douthat's gone from no-wunderkind with a bad teenage beard to a middle-aged lump with an inexcusable headshot. With nothing to show. At least David Brooks has a function, trying to make "conservatism" sound partly sane, with the contrivance of Even the Liberal Times. If there was ever a point to Douthat it's passed. The Times is never going to need a source inside the Huckabee administration.

Anyway, today he turned out a think piece on how the polls would be very different if instead of an election, with it's unreasonable expectation that the Republican party nominate someone who says things, this was just a referendum on the things Douthat and the rest of his email group don't like about Barack Obama.
Imagine that both the Republican challenger and his party were completely invisible on the campaign trail, that the press was only allowed to cover the incumbent, and that on Nov. 6 the choice was whether to vote "up" or "down" on President Obama's performance.
Okay. Meanwhile, why don't you imagine your party being half as repugnant, 80% less venal, and 100% more honest in public?

 How would the last three weeks have played out for the president?
Not necessarily all that well. They started with Obama's lackluster convention speech, which seemed to put a ceiling on the bounce that the rest of the Democratic Convention had created for him. They continued with another mediocre jobs report, followed by the Federal Reserve's announcement that it would make a third attempt to stimulate the still-stagnant economy with massive bond purchases - a decision that boosted stocks and consumer confidence but also served as an implicit indictment of this administration's economic stewardship.

Then came a week's worth of grim news from the Middle East and North Africa, during which time the White House - whose Libya policy has been sold with evasions and dishonesties from the beginning - alternately stonewalled and dissembled on what exactly happened at the American embassy in Benghazi. This unrest in the Arab world coincided with the official end of the Obama-ordered American surge of forces in Afghanistan, which attracted little press coverage but probably deserved more: The surge was one of the president's biggest foreign policy gambles, and it produced few obvious benefits at a high cost in lives.

Finally the president took to the airwaves for a pair of interviews - with Univision and 60 Minutes - that included a number of awkward moments: a weird attempt to distance himself from his own negative ads; a weirder suggestion that he's learned as president that "you can't change Washington from the inside"; and a too-casual dismissal of Middle Eastern unrest and American deaths as mere "bumps in the road."

The last, especially, was Douthat's schtick at The Atlantic: repeating Redstate talking points, minus the obscenity and grammatical errors, which immediately made them Serious. I'm not sure how long this is supposed to fly at the Times. Y'know, if you're writing under a byline, sooner or later you have to start looking for yourself. And when you do, you really are required to figure out that the President saying "you can't change Washington from the inside" is not something which is going to lead to riots and burning effigies in our major cities.

Every time I see one of these right-wing outrages I try to put myself in their place. What if George W. Bush said it? Or the opposite? And, y'know, if Bush said "you can't change Washington from the inside", or if he said, "You can't

Wait a fucking minute. You fuckers ran as Washington Outsiders for thirty-five years. You're still doing it.

Okay, so if he'd said "You can't change Washington from the inside," or "the outside" or "You can only change Washington from a combination of the inside and the outside" I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have given a fuck. The only thing I can figure is that the President sounds like he might be on to you. Finally.
But instead the story of the last few weeks has been all about Mitt Romney - his campaign's infighting, his weakening swing-state numbers, his muddled message, his dismissal of 47 percent of Americans as pathetic supporting characters in an Ayn Rand melodrama.

Well, first, "melodrama" is what Rand aspired to as a novelist, not what she accomplished, and if you, Hahvahd boy, have to dismiss it that way you might have the sand to do so right to Paul Ryan's face. Your people think Rand wrote philosophy.

Second, Ross, Romney's got no record, or little more than Sarah Palin, and a big part of that--at his campaign's insistence--is his business genius, so how he handles his campaign--something which is always news--is of no small interest. He's been a flipper and a flopper and a panderer for the last seven years. He was not exactly every Republican's dream candidate. He's a gaffe machine of near-Dubya page-per-minute ratings, most of those underlining the fact that he's farther out of touch with real Americans than most Americans believe possible.  Which…

Didn't you fucks used to claim to be the party of real Americans?

Uh, he's a horrible campaigner, charisma challenged, and after managing to win the Republican nomination by sheer dint of every other candidate being a fucking moron, he's "taken the race to Obama" by refusing to be attached to any specifics, anywhere, despite the fact that he's now spent more time doing Jim Rockford 180s on policy than he spent as governor of Massachusetts. That 47% thing was not only Pure Distillation of Mitt (does he believe something that stupid? Is he saying it to curry favor with his only natural constituency? It's an endless salad bar of shallow) but also the sort of thing no one with seven years on the campaign trail would have muttered to himself in a dark closet, except your party is insane, Ross.

So blame the Press.
Is this focus just a case of media bias, as many conservatives have alleged? Yes, in the sense that the White House has been getting too free a pass on its absentee domestic policy and shifting foreign policy narratives.

So did the Bush II administration.
As Howard Fineman of the Huffington Post noted this week, Obama is campaigning for re-election "without having to seriously and substantively defend his first-term failed promises or shortcomings, and without having to say much, if anything, about what, if anything, he might do substantially differently if he is fortunate enough to win again." Yes, too, in the sense that the horse race coverage has sometimes helped ratify the sense that 8 percent unemployment and trillion dollar deficits are a new normal for which the current president doesn't actually bear that much responsibility.

But no, in the sense that Romney could have avoided almost all of his current difficulties, media bias or no, through the simple expedient of running a modestly more competent and creative campaign.
This is your man. He is precisely the Republican Republicans who now blast his "campaign style" wanted, lest the party nominate a real Republican. He's not bright, because your party's been Santorumized, and he's had to become a Right to Lifer, which ought to please you, but, you know, tends to make for a candidate no one believes when he opens his mouth. The only thing he knows about foreign policy is that Israel has God's stamp of approval.

You're all bubble boys. Y'all imagined that Mitt Romney: He'll Run the Country Just Like He Screwed Those Widows and Orphans! was a sure-fire electoral winner. How long have people been calling you on this shit? How long have you simply ignored it? How long has the Republican party been the party of corporate interests, and fuck everyone else? You can say it directly to each other; hell, Romney got a bounce among Republicans when that video surfaced. But you've spent the last three decades pretending in public you don't mean it. How d'ya get to be thirty-two years old, let alone Brooks' fifty, without understanding that personal dishonesty isn't really a very good plan, unless all you want is money and don't care how you get it?

And fuck if this isn't precisely the sort of campaign coverage you used to celebrate. Hell, wallow in. From the Gipper to Lee Atwater, from Mike Dukakis in a tank to John Kerry on a surfboard. Now our campaigns aren't about substance? Go ahead. You start.

Tuesday, September 25

History Is Written By The Victors. Then Forwarded To The Ad Writers For Punching Up.

David Brooks, "The Conservative Mind". September 24

EVEN David Brooks…
When I joined the staff of National Review as a lowly associate in 1984, the magazine, and the conservative movement itself, was a fusion of two different mentalities.

I'd just remind everyone that a couple decades later, having joined the staff of the New York Times as an overrated opinion writer and finding his party in a very different sort of quagmire (aka the Bush Administration), a quagmire it had marched into in lockstep while shouting "Traitors!" at everyone who disagreed, David Brooks informed us that we had it all wrong, that there were hundreds of "conservative" factions, all debating discussing the wisdom of Edmund Burke all weekend.

You'd imagine, really, that if that cacophony of metaphysicians had developed in such a short time, over precisely the professional careerspan of one David Brooks, that his work would provide us with a timeline and an explanation. Someone wanna locate that for me?
On the one side, there were the economic conservatives. These were people that anybody following contemporary Republican politics would be familiar with. They spent a lot of time worrying about the way government intrudes upon economic liberty. They upheld freedom as their highest political value. They admired risk-takers. They worried that excessive government would create a sclerotic nation with a dependent populace.

You could put it that way. Or you could say they spend a lot of time polishing turds like Supply Side Economics and the Trickle Down Theory so that they, or their masters, could seal the triumph over Franklin Delano Class Traitor Roosevelt they imagined Reagan had begun. And fighting, then as now--something else someone following "contemporary" Republican politics will find familiar--against labor, organized and disorganized, the underclass in general, environmental and fiscal regulation, a sensible Defense posture, and academia.

By the way, I'm kind of a shut-in, so maybe I've missed some, but the next "conservative" I meet who is actually concerned about a social safety net creating dependence will be the first. I know quite a few who are terrifically concerned that a small fraction of their tax dollars, if any, might buy someone a sandwich or some insulin, but, frankly, if you could figure out a way to get China to foot the bill for Big Macs and meth for every poor person who wanted to sign up they'd be fine with it. Thrilled, in fact, so long as the cages were escape-proof.
But there was another sort of conservative, who would be less familiar now. This was the traditional conservative, intellectual heir to Edmund Burke, Russell Kirk, Clinton Rossiter and Catholic social teaching. This sort of conservative didn’t see society as a battleground between government and the private sector. Instead, the traditionalist wanted to preserve a society that functioned as a harmonious ecosystem, in which the different layers were nestled upon each other: individual, family, company, neighborhood, religion, city government and national government.

In other words, Mr. Brooks, you're having a spot of trouble with your party at present, (or, more accurately, with its prospects), and need somewhere to hide, preferably well-stocked with principles you can use to hurl the exact same Republican crap at people after another defeat/disaster/metaphysical depantsing.
The two conservative tendencies lived in tension. But together they embodied a truth that was put into words by the child psychologist John Bowlby, that life is best organized as a series of daring ventures from a secure base.

The economic conservatives were in charge of the daring ventures that produced economic growth. The traditionalists were in charge of establishing the secure base — a society in which families are intact, self-discipline is the rule, children are secure and government provides a subtle hand.

Lemme just repeat, for those of you who came in late, that where Nabokov once opined that "reality" was the only word which should always appear in quotes, I believe that "conservative" should join in when speaking of the American post-war variety. And Mr. Brooks has just explained why.

This is like having a three-legged stool where each leg is on a different plane. Paleoconservatives (no, sir, I don't care for the term either, but y'all gave it to yourselves, and well-earned it was), who supported, acquiesced, or just stood around complaining about the temperature of the sherry while international corporate piracy took over their party, proved themselves to be nothing but political hacks with an inordinate fondness for Latin derivatives. It ain't like the Nixon administration wasn't enough fucking warning. And there's nothing, nothing whatsoever which is conservative about Daring Ventures, LLC. Traditionalists went through the Great Depression, too. Even those who didn't suffer personally saw the result of unfettered Capitalism. They saw the absolute need--whether or not they admitted it--for disciplined markets, legally enforced. They'd seen, while we're at it, the shame of war profiteering (and they'd seen a lot of those responsible held legally accountable, another thing no contemporary political observer will be much familiar with). And once tens of thousands of their fellow citizens--and tens of millions of Godless Soviets--had disposed of Germany and Japan, they looked around and asked themselves how they could get back to making an extra buck off it.
Ronald Reagan embodied both sides of this fusion,

"When Stupidity Met Cupidity". Yeah, he's to "Conservatism" what Ronald McDonald is to cuisine.

And by the way: like Fun he did. Reagan, or, in the interest of accuracy, his handlers, ran screaming every time imposing "traditional conservatism" clashed with Daring Ventures and Large Sums of Cash. Reagan--meaning Reagan Idolatry--is the very reason you're in this mess today. There was no "traditional conservatism" left by the time he and Mommy left Washington. Just the slime trail from everyone who'd been gorging himself at the public trough for eight years. If you wanna reform the Republican party, there's your place to start. And Godspeed.
and George W. Bush tried to recreate it with his compassionate conservatism.

Translation: there's a paper trail, or I'd deny I ever heard of him.
But that effort was doomed because in the ensuing years, conservatism changed.

No it didn't. It ran to its extremist elements in the 60s because it was afraid of the Negroes. And eventually, with Reagan, the money boys found a way to affect a leveraged buyout.
It’s not so much that today’s Republican politicians reject traditional, one-nation conservatism. They don’t even know it exists. There are few people on the conservative side who’d be willing to raise taxes on the affluent to fund mobility programs for the working class. There are very few willing to use government to actively intervene in chaotic neighborhoods, even when 40 percent of American kids are born out of wedlock. There are very few Republicans who protest against a House Republican budget proposal that cuts domestic discretionary spending to absurdly low levels.

It’s not so much that today’s Republican politicians reject traditional, one-nation conservatism. They don’t even know it exists. There are few people on the conservative side who’d be willing to raise taxes on the affluent to fund mobility programs for the working class. There are very few willing to use government to actively intervene in chaotic neighborhoods, even when 40 percent of American kids are born out of wedlock. There are very few Republicans who protest against a House Republican budget proposal that cuts domestic discretionary spending to absurdly low levels.

The results have been unfortunate. Since they no longer speak in the language of social order, Republicans have very little to offer the less educated half of this country. Republicans have very little to say to Hispanic voters, who often come from cultures that place high value on communal solidarity.

Y'know, Dave, I agree with you. And here's the thing: I agreed with you in 1980, before you ever thought it.  It took you thirty years to notice? Bullshit. You were converted, not by St. Ronnie the Fusioner, but by Milton Friedman, who'd be doing campaign appearances with Paul Ryan right now, assuming Milt was alive and out of prison.

Where's this column been in all this time? Where was the recognition? If there are such things as actual Times readers who actually give a shit, this might fool some of 'em. But to me you're the guy who didn't just champion Bush II's Middle East adverturism, but the guy who crowed about our stunning victory in Afghanistan. Eleven years ago. And the guy who, once Iraq II turned unquestionably to a stinking shitpile, said he needed to take some personal time and think things over, then never spoke of it again until it was time to champion The Surge! (You'll always be that guy to me.) This is just more covering fire on the "moderate" flank for when "Conservatism" needs to retreat again. It's a concern for the Hispanic voter which equals the "conservative" concern for the African American voter, a serious rumination on what the non-white, non-Republican voter wants, assuming he's able to climb over the obstacles and vote anyway.

Monday, September 24

The Second Coming

OF  George W. Bush:
Romney’s wife, Ann, was in attendance, and the candidate spoke of the concern he had for her when her plane had to make an emergency landing Friday en route to Santa Monica because of an electrical  malfunction.

“I appreciate the fact that she is on the ground, safe and sound. And I don’t think she knows just how worried some of us were,” Romney said. “When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly, there’s no — and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem. So it’s very dangerous. And she was choking and rubbing her eyes. Fortunately, there was enough oxygen for the pilot and copilot to make a safe landing in Denver. But she’s safe and sound.”

I'm still waiting for someone to explain what, exactly, disqualified Rick Perry.

Sunday, September 23

Um, No.

LAURA Miller, high on some primo Errol Morris:
MacDonald claimed that he has been sleeping on the living room sofa because his half of the marital bed had been wet by one of his daughters. He woke up to find four intruders at his feet, three men and a woman. Two of them assaulted him. After a struggle, he lost consciousness for a while. He came to in the hallway and called the police. The intruders, he said, looked like hippies. The woman had long blond hair, a floppy hat and boots, and was carrying a candle. They were, he claimed, chanting “Kill the pigs. Acid’s groovy.”

As outlandish as MacDonald’s account sounds today, it seemed plausible at the time, less than a year after followers of Charles Manson had committed the Tate-LaBianca murders in Los Angeles. 
Trust me, darlin'; it sounded just as ridiculous then. In some ways even more so, since your notion of the "outlandishness" of such of claim is based on the benign stupidity of shag carpeting and on a complete absence of insane, homicidal, acid-gobbling hippie avengers in the ensuing forty years. Whereas at the time it was based on, oh, the absurdity of the story. 

We know who murders families, particularly when "intruders" beat the wife to a bloody pulque and give the husband a first-degree paper cut. We knew it then.

And we knew--at least a lot of us did--that LSD didn't make people kill people, or jump out windows thinking they could fly, or stare at the sun until their eyeballs melted. It was an easy, shoddy, risible cover story. It was more apparent then than it seems to you today, and it underlined more at the time than now, even, that MacDonald was a liar and a con man. Blaming the murder on hippies was like Susan Smith blaming her carjacking on a large colored man. It could've been true, in the sense that it described something physically possible, but once you determined that it almost certainly did not you understand immediately how deep the lie went.

Did you happen to see Morris on Colbert? Colbert is someone wise enough to understand what a laughable pile of horseshit MacDonald's story is. Morris, on the other hand, is old enough to've understood what an obvious lie it was on the face of it, at the time. And when Stephen hit him with the Acid is Groovy quote Morris had the look of a fighter who's been hit on the button, in the millisecond between recognition and falling flat.
Nevertheless, as Morris details, there was evidence supporting MacDonald’s version of events. An MP responding to the call saw a woman matching the description of one of the attackers (long, light-colored hair, floppy hat, boots) standing on a nearby street corner. A narcotics detective for the local police had an informant, Helena Stoeckley, who sometimes wore a long blond wig, floppy hat and boots, and he had seen her get into a car with three men several hours before the murders. He sought out Stoeckley the next day and alerted the MPs that she was available for questioning, but no one was sent to interview her or examine her belongings. Stoeckley later destroyed her wig and hat, and until her death in 1983, she would often talk of being present during the murders, although when called upon to testify to this in court in 1979, she denied it.

So there was someone who might've matched the description who possibly existed in the general vicinity in the hours beforehand. Y'know, we do not require apodictic certainty or metaphysical assurance to convict anyone. Beyond a reasonable doubt.

I will admit that, had I been on the jury, the fact that someone in the early 1970s did actually wear a floppy hat, outside the pages of Vogue or one of those awful Hollywood Generation Gap misadventures starring Jimmy Stewart, cast against type as a befuddled middle-ager, I might've had a moment's reconsideration. (Now if you, or Morris, could have proven that anyone in those days said "Groovy", unless they were singing backup at a Holiday Inn lounge in a band covering "The 59th St. Bridge Song", I would have held out for acquittal.)
MacDonald was the most logical suspect for the crime, but he had no discernible motive and no history of violent behavior or mental illness.

Which are not required to file charges, let alone grounds for a reversal.
As a result, the case against him — first examined in a military hearing — relied entirely on physical evidence.

That sentence is so remarkably insensate I double-checked the logo to make sure I wasn't reading Slate.
However, the crime scene had been hopelessly contaminated by inexperienced MPs and incompetent investigators. Key pieces of evidence were moved, lost, destroyed, mislabeled, stolen, overlooked or simply uncollected.

None of which, none of it, manages to suggest in any way that MacDonald's story could be true. Inexperienced and incompetent investigators did not manage to erase evidence of a cadre of psychedelic assassins tripping balls and awash in pig blood. Military investigators did not plant evidence under Mrs. MacDonald's fingernails, nor accidentally erase all evidence of the life and death struggle MacDonald claimed happened downstairs.
Morris is careful to state that he does not know whether MacDonald is the killer.

Yeah, for good reason. Does MacDonald deserve a new trial, something no one's seen fit to agree to in the last thirty years (since an appellate decision, later reversed, that his right to a speedy trial had been violated) ? Maybe. That can, and should, be argued before the bar at this point. Is there any reason, after all this time, to question the wisdom of the original decision? To be "open-minded" enough to reconsider it?


Wednesday, September 19

Even The Conservative David Brooks…

David Brooks,  "Thurston Howell Romney". September 17

John Dickerson, "Why If Romney Loses, the GOP Will Declare War on Itself". September 18

Every love's the love before,
in a duller dress. 

--Dorothy Parker

JOHN Dickerson is in his mid-forties and a second-generation Washington insider; professionally he's a writer for Slate and CBS's Political Director, although I'm not sure what either of those things means. So, honestly, if he can't be bothered to remember four years ago, same as the Republican party can't be bothered remembering George W. Bush, I guess we all might as well forget it.

It was during the Republican 2008 convention that Peggy Noonan shocked everyone, myself included, who subscribed to the theory that she knows absolutely nothing by dissing Sarah Palin when Nooners thought she was off mike. (So did Chuck Todd, but nothing will change my attitude about him.) The mumbles were loud enough to make out by September, and by early October a) the inevitability of defeat by Barack Obama had taken hold on the Right, and b) the rough outline of the Ross Douthat/Reihan Salaam Blueprint for a Republican Resurgance (short version: be like us!) was on the breakfast agenda at Doubleday. This, as we all know, led to the Republican party distancing itself from Palinesque extremism, and moving toward the happy center it occupies now.
In addition to my reporting, there are now some public signs. David Brooks offered a withering critique of Romney in a column today that ends with what feels like a post-election analysis seven weeks before the election. "He’s a kind, decent man who says stupid things because he is pretending to be something he is not—some sort of cartoonish government-hater. But it scarcely matters. He’s running a depressingly inept presidential campaign." In a piece for Politico today, the former GOP chairman Haley Barbour already sounds like he's offering post-game analysis. “In the future, and not distant future, Republicans have to come to grips with the right policy on immigration," says Barbour. Bill Kristol also appears to be in the mood to offer final words on this campaign: "Has there been a presidential race in modern times featuring two candidates who have done so little over their lifetimes for our country, and who have so little substance to say about the future of our country?" (He is apparently not yet buying the Romney campaign’s move to specificity).

Okay: David Brooks is a simpering self-promoter interested only in keeping his own taxes low and justifying his juvenile Milton Friedman crush; Brooks' sole purpose within the Republican party is to convince Republican insiders that they have somebody in the "liberal" Press who makes them sound reasonable. He's an ad man for a crappy product. Republicans don't listen to him. They've never listened to him. They're not supposed to listen to him. Haley Barbour is a genuine Republican insider, albeit one who found out just how blatantly corrupt you have to be to get your fellow Republicans to notice. Leave us note that Barbour is blathering about immigration, which has nothing to do with Romney's problems, except, maybe, as a symptom of what becoming more attractive to the Republican electorate has cost him. Barbour, following Romney's loss, has now set himself up to be the next Ed Rollins. And to serve as a career template for Reince Priebus.

Kristol? Does anyone know what Bill Kristol is? Okay, he may be a consultant to Republican insiders who can't quite manufacture all the Crazy they require in house, but otherwise he seems little more than something a clinically insane homicidal maniac with seventeen personalities might aspire to become if he could just reduce 'em to one or two.

The Republican party won't reform. The Republican party can't reform. It certainly isn't gonna reform because a few insiders wish the collection of racist religious fascists and chain-letter cranks it threw in with fifty years ago would make themselves a little more presentable in time for Prom.

Mr. Brooks?
In 1980, about 30 percent of Americans received some form of government benefits. Today, as Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute has pointed out, about 49 percent do.

Which I guess means you guys are ready to discuss pandemic income inequality and astronomical healthcare costs?

Ha, ha. Just kiddin'. Boy, nothin' relieves you of the obligation of serious analysis like spouting a statistic, does it? I guess Mitt Romney could have explained that to you.
In 1960, government transfers to individuals totaled $24 billion. By 2010, that total was 100 times as large. Even after adjusting for inflation, entitlement transfers to individuals have grown by more than 700 percent over the last 50 years.

Might be a little more accurate if you adjusted for the inflation in medical costs over the past 50 years. Especially since there was no such thing as Medicare or Medicaid in 1960.

Here's a lil' stat they might be interested in at AEI. In 1960, US aid to Israel totaled…well, nothing, really; it was mostly loans, which were repaid. In 2010 that total had marginally increased to…nearly $3.2 billion, 87% of which is military aid. What's the percentage on that?
This spending surge, Eberstadt notes, has increased faster under Republican administrations than Democratic ones.

Yeah, shocking, ain't it, that nobody's fucked the lower classes over the last half-century like Republican administrations?
There are sensible conclusions to be drawn from these facts. You could say that the entitlement state is growing at an unsustainable rate and will bankrupt the country. You could also say that America is spending way too much on health care for the elderly and way too little on young families and investments in the future.

You could say that our problem is the cheapening of political discourse by people paid to say totally unsupported shit just to score points. One of those surmises is supportable.

Wait, aren't you the guys who opposed Death Panels?
This comment suggests a few things. First, it suggests that he really doesn’t know much about the country he inhabits. Who are these freeloaders? Is it the Iraq war veteran who goes to the V.A.? Is it the student getting a loan to go to college? Is it the retiree on Social Security or Medicare?

Y'know, this is the sort of political cowardice which put the Republican party increasingly in the hands of the people Mitt Romney has been incrementally pandering to for the last seven years. It's the sort of political cowardice which, in the hands of John Dickerson's cohort, or Democratic centrists, has enabled it, because calling this shit out requires calling it shit. What Romney said was precisely what Paul Ryan has been saying for the entire Obama administration. The math hasn't changed. The ugly reality behind that attitude hasn't changed. People on Social Security are, by and large, elderly, or disabled. And they're there because at one point--long ago, now--we were a moral enough people to judge that such people should not be eating out of garbage cans in a land of plenty. That access to the resources of this country carried with it a responsibility to help husband those resources, including--especially--human resources. How did this come to be debatable, Mr. Brooks? How did the year 2000 lead directly to the 14th century, if not via Ronald Reagan and Milton Friedman?

And leave us mention, as well, that at least half of those 47% are women, and your party's been busy all season telling them to shut up and birth some more babies. Y'know, in my experience, smart decisions are a lot less likely than stupid decisions to fall victim to bad timing.
Romney’s comments also reveal that he has lost any sense of the social compact. In 1987, during Ronald Reagan’s second term, 62 percent of Republicans believed that the government has a responsibility to help those who can’t help themselves. Now, according to the Pew Research Center, only 40 percent of Republicans believe that.

The Republican Party, and apparently Mitt Romney, too, has shifted over toward a much more hyperindividualistic and atomistic social view — from the Reaganesque language of common citizenship to the libertarian language of makers and takers. There’s no way the country will trust the Republican Party to reform the welfare state if that party doesn’t have a basic commitment to provide a safety net for those who suffer for no fault of their own.
Flummery. This is precisely the result of Reaganism, which came to power after a sixteen year crusade to eliminate the National Debt--almost all of which, at the time, was due to WWII, the Marshall Plan, and the hyper-military spending of the 50s and 60s--by eliminating the social safety net. Don't tell me what sort of cover language Reagan used--he, or his puppeteers, were smart enough to test-market the elimination of Social Security, by taxing the dividends of the elderly--and they turned and ran from the resulting Gray onslaught. The mystery involved here isn't how 60% of Republicans come to imagine the US has no responsibility to its citizens; the mystery is who the other 40% are. The real mystery is how Republicans imagine they can fuck 50% of the population--plus the additional 20% who'd get fucked over, but enjoy it--with impunity.
Sure, there are some government programs that cultivate patterns of dependency in some people. I’d put federal disability payments and unemployment insurance in this category. But, as a description of America today, Romney’s comment is a country-club fantasy. It’s what self-satisfied millionaires say to each other. It reinforces every negative view people have about Romney.

In other words, it's the truth.

Wait, disability payments? Th' fuck is wrong with you people?
Personally, I think he’s a kind, decent man who says stupid things because he is pretending to be something he is not — some sort of cartoonish government-hater. But it scarcely matters. He’s running a depressingly inept presidential campaign. Mr. Romney, your entitlement reform ideas are essential, but when will the incompetence stop?

With the exception of Jon "Not A Fucking Chance In This Or Any Other Solar System" Huntsman, Mr. Brooks, Mitt Romeny was far and away the best your party had to offer. When will that incompetence stop?

Tuesday, September 18

I've Said It Before, I'll Say It Again: Democracy Simply Does Not Work

I GOTTA tell ya, first, how enjoyable it's been hearing the local morning teleprompter reader introduce Mitt Romney's "explanation" for why he wants to be President of the Deadbeats with the caution that Romney "was recorded secretly". So am I, hairdo, every time I drive through a fucking intersection in this town. You oughta understand that; half your newscast anymore is YouTubery. 

Mitt says he spoke "inelegantly". In other news, today's sky color: bluish. Fer crissakes, if you think speaking without elegance gets you in trouble in this country you're even more detached than repeating that 47% nonsense suggests.

Let's just say it plainly: Mitt Romney is not smart enough to be President of the United States. Paul Ryan is not smart enough to be Vice President of the United States. And that's taking into consideration the last pair the Republican party and its Court subsidiary foisted on us. And it's taking into consideration the fact that both men are professional liars, and likely personally dishonest into the bargain. There's lying, and then there's lying in such a way that you register enough contempt for the listener to not be bothered with good lies. 

This is the Republican party. It's the Republican party since 1980, the Republican party since the time it lied its way past Watergate, lied its way past Vietnam and Civil Rights, and decided that lying was the key to a shining future. This is the party which has believed, since the Ascension of St. Ronnie, that advertising plus money was not only more powerful than the truth, it was better than the truth. Even smart Republicans have to see, now, what that's got them. Assuming there are any. 

Saturday, September 15

Pop Quiz: Name One Fortune 500 Company That Hires Consultants Who Neither Know Nor Care Anything About Its Products

David Brooks, "Guess Which Side of the Chicago Teachers' Strike I'm On, Entirely Due To Principle?" September 13

SPEAKING of business, if a salesman starts spinning a line of earnest, transparent horseshit like the following, how many seconds before you figure it's a scam?  a) Twenty b) Ten c) If he simpers and smirks like David Brooks? Soon as I see him coming.

(By the way, the real title of this thing is "Après Rahm, Le Déluge". We don't presume that Brooks writes his own headlines. But who did? This is either a) an historical reference the person using it did not understand or b) an historical reference the reader was not supposed to get, but was nevertheless expected to translate from the French. Either way, Th' fuck?)
Modern nations have two economies, which exist side by side. Economy I is the tradable sector. This includes companies that make goods like planes, steel and pharmaceuticals. These companies face intense global competition and are compelled to constantly innovate and streamline. They’ve spent the last few decades figuring out ways to make more products with fewer workers.

This being on the World Wide Web an' all, I'm sure there's someone out there noting how often David Brooks' Universal Dichotomies turn out to be Fiduciary Republican talking points vs. how often they turn out to be, y'know, actual dichotomies or somethin'.
Economy II is made up of organizations that do not face such intense global competition. They often fall into government-dominated sectors like health care, education, prisons and homeland security. People in this economy believe in innovation, but they don’t have the sword of Damocles hanging over them so they don’t pursue unpleasant streamlining as rigorously. As a result, Economy II institutions tend to get bloated and inefficient as time goes by.

Bloated inefficiency vs. intense competition and constant innovation. And "such as" vs. "often fall". Gee, I guess I didn't realize it was such a no-brainer. I mean, literally.
For example, between 1960 and 2006, health care spending increased twice as fast as G.D.P., but there were no comparable gains in health outcomes. A study by the Institute of Medicine estimates that 30 cents of every $1 spent on health care is wasted — about $750 billion a year.

Okay, so let's forget the clumsy slight of hand here which turned American health care from private enterprise to government-run operation. There's been "no comparable gains in health outcomes" in forty-five years? Average life expectancy for the general population is up by eight years. It's up by nine for African-Americans since 1970. A heart attack went from 75% survivable to 96% survivable. Organ transplants went from experimental to common. You can get procedures as an outpatient now that would have laid you up for weeks then.

The only excuse for saying something like this is to win an argument by misdirection. Something that is still worth exactly what it was in 1960.
Over the past 50 years, spending on K-12 education has also skyrocketed. In 1960, Americans spent roughly $2,800 per student, in today’s dollars. Now we spend roughly $11,000 per student. This spending binge has not produced comparable gains in student outcomes. Education productivity is down, too.

Assuming, arguendo, that there was some way to qualitatively compare an education in 1960 with one today, and there isn't, the fact is that we don't have it. It's a completely bogus statement. If comparing test scores would do it, and it won't, the fact is that we have no such test. The closest thing we have is the NAEP, which dates to about 1970. And while there's still a considerable methodological challenge in comparing scores over forty years, for whatever it's worth the NAEP shows American education improving over that period, and improving considerably for African-Americans, the general, if usually unspoken, targets of "educational" "reform".

Of the dollars argument, which can only impress someone who's impressed by basic arithmetic, and thus probably unqualified to judge educational practices, may I just mention that I actually attended public school in 1960? That the cost to educate me then was the sum total cost of fat pencils, lined paper, Dick and Jane readers, addition and subtraction flashcards, and construction paper? They expected us to do all that learning without a single computer. Practically child abuse. 'Course they had built us a new school building, courtesy a thing called "taxes" they collected in those days from "citizens". Nowadays that money goes to keeping seventy-year-old buildings from collapsing. At least in the Indianapolis public school system, which last built a new high school in 1964. It's a little different in the suburbs.

Not to mention, of course, things like school lunches, guaranteed special education, and non-English speaker programs, the sort of things "reformers" ought to champion, but somehow never do.
If Economy I is great at generating output without generating employment, Economy II is great at generating employment without generating output.

Well, I'll grant you this: over the past fifty years the American educational system has not generated the sort of informed reader who demands things like "evidence" or "critical thinking skills" from his Op-Ed columnist.

But let's just keep our methodology constant, shall we? Has "Economy I" been "great" at generating output? If we can blithely make illusory comparisons to an educational system in the days when Plate Tectonics was sneered at, then we can compare outputs between the old analogue, metal age and our digital, plastic one. Whose watches would you rather own? Whose cars would you rather work on? Whose clothes were better made, whose appliances built to last? Whose burger would you rather pop down to the corner and eat? If your life depended on a single phone call getting through, would you choose Ma Bell or AT&T?

The point--it shouldn't need to be spelled out, Dave, but apparently it is, at least to you--is that "technological innovation" is not a measure of "improvement". "The trading economy is great at generating output" is a tautology. That's what it exists for. Much of that output is just shit being churned for the sake of a dollar. And that's not a proven benefit. Not for anyone who doesn't get the dollar, at least.
By Thursday night, this strike seemed to be heading toward a resolution. Both sides are giving ground, but, as best as I can tell, Emanuel has successfully preserved the core of his reform agenda. There will be longer school days and a longer school year. A child who begins in the Chicago school system in kindergarten and goes all the way through high school will have an extra two-and-a-half years of learning time. That’s huge. There will also be no caps on parental choice. As more charters and different types of public schools are created, parents will have an array of options for their children.

Phones will be smaller! Bluebirds will sing! Shit will still float!

Call me when it happens. Hell, call me when you've figured out an honest way to measure whether it happens, and how to go back, dig up Rahm Emanuel, and kill him again if it doesn't.
Emanuel’s willingness to hang tough and accept a strike was itself a hopeful sign that some Democrats are hardy enough to take on interests aligned with their own party. Emanuel certainly didn’t get everything he wanted. The unions won concessions, too. But if the final results resemble what I’ve been hearing in any way, then Chicago will move toward the forefront of the reform movement. That result would also be a national credibility booster for Emanuel’s party. It would be a sign that Democrats may be able to successfully reform ailing public institutions, so that the nation as a whole can prosper.

All those people behind all the great creative innovation and constant streamlining of Economy I? Where were they educated, again?

Thursday, September 13

Charles Ponzi Didn't Think Big Enough

TEE SHIRT message briefly ahead of me on the Trail today:  "When the going gets Tough, the Tough go to Jesus". The Meek shall inherit the earth, but the Brutish will have all the bandwidth tied up.

Shorter Dave Weigel: The fact that Mitt Romney is an idiot is no reason to think he's an asshole.

Really, that's his fucking argument: Romney did not "gaffe" [sic] because he really thinks like that.

So let's have a principled discussion of the issues, on those terms, America, and quit beating up Poor Mittens.

Let's begin, as always, with tangents. "Gaffe" is not a verb. Period. Putting it in "joke quotes" does not absolve you, unless you're directly quoting someone, or the damned thing's become as prevalent as horseshit on the campaign trail. Anyone who thinks otherwise should be gaffed.

Second, whatever has become of the search for opponent's misstatements--if it's somehow more gawdawfuler now, in 2012 (it ain't)--you have your own party to blame. The fucking Republican party has been one long Snopesworthy email scam since Mike Dukakis put on that helmet. It cannot go below Zero credibility, though God knows it tries.

Which does not excuse making "Silly Putty" a verb. Stop it. Now that you've told the world everything you learned about Prog Rock by growing up after it was a punchline (so that you could, all Slate double reverse contrarian-like, tell us all that there might've been a baby tossed with the bathwater), please just go read a real book. Just once.

Finally, the fact that Mitt Romney has, over the course of a particularly dispiriting seven-year campaign, learned to mouth pro-Israel, make that "pro-Israel", inanities about the Middle East, the better to infuse an important part of the Republican coalition--"scripturally and historically-mazed Armaggasmists"--and put it in a book--does not make those ideas, well, ideas. It's too much to ask that either major party candidate actually lay down some actual history of the Middle East, or underline the distinction between mythical Israelites and modern Israelis. A distinction, one adds, which gets more play in Israel than it does in the Freest Nation on Earth. What we can ask for, beg and plead for, even pray for, if we're in the mood, is that the American voter not manage to elect another Jebus-mazed Second-Cummer like George W. Bush. You remember George W., don't you Dave?

Although, and we'll finish with this in a moment, acting as if "gaffing" has somehow transmogrified itself into something stupid and pro-forma and non-sensical just in this election cycle is pretty much to've forgotten everything that ever happened before the poor, benighted Dubya took his boots off the Oval Office desk and returned to stuporizing. Private stuporizing, I mean.

An American Presidential candidate who waves his Glorious Imaginary Sword at crowds in I-o-way convinced he's hastening the culmination of Inerrant Scripture is not, simply is not, fit or safe to be President. I don't care that Mitt Romney tried to make hay of this situation. Fair's fair; it'd be nice if our Commentariat took that to heart, too. That he wound up eating a shitburger is unquestioned; the fact that it was judged as such, and immediately, is all the proof one needs, or can ever obtain. It was a colossal mistake on Romney's part. Not to turn events into a political weapon in the late days of a campaign, but to be such an idiot about deadly serious matters in the first place. Mitt Romney made a mistake on the Campaign Trail? Dog bites Man. But you might at least have the decency to admit it, rather than pretend he's been error-free and packed with substance like a jelly doughnut to this point. Romney's a flying-saucer-level religious nut who managed to hide that successfully enough to cram his pockets full of cash. Which argument, of course, assumes "flying-saucer-level religious nut" is an actual drawback in economic circles. If he's more than that, please tell us. And tell the multi-million-dollar team of his, too. Romney's Yet Another Republican pledging to do Lukudnik business given the chance. And Romney--who has pretty much answered the question of whether his intelligence quotient exceeds that of the last two governors to run on Republican tickets--the answer is No, by the way--has managed to evince no underlying grasp of the realities which might allow us to chalk his stance up to simple Republican politicking. The real gaffe is that Mitt Romney makes less sense when he says what he means than when he channels Moroni.

Wednesday, September 12


WELL, I sure hope everyone enjoyed, if that's the right word, the first annual Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance, the extended mix of Patriot Day, now rebranded to more closely reflect the solemnity and self-reflection we used to have the good sense to observe without having to wait a decade before something resembling our senses returned. Decoration. Memorial. Armistice. Let's face it: it is only the Grace of the Almighty and the Already Brimming Federal Holiday Calendar (one more day off and bankers won't have the time for due diligence) which stand between us and 9/11 Day Sales. Don't you wish now that you'd'a had the presence of mind to have invested in red, white, and blue icing stocks in those frightening times?

Twice yesterday I was informed that 9/11, the Original, was The Day That Changed Everything. That's without my trying. Both times it was someone on teevee, where the only thing that had changed in eleven years was the identity of the person who was sounding out the platitudes, lies, and vacuities. It's Apple that changed everything, you twits, and you celebrate that every fucking day, in the only way anything really means anything in this country anymore.  In fact, if we'd kept Gitmo open just for everyone responsible for iTunes I'd be rethinking the staunchness of my civil libertarianism right now.

My favorite was the local who solemnly intoned about the need to educate "people who weren't even born yet". I guess that must be the horrible circumlocution of choice when "people who were unborn" sounds too political. He was accompanied by tape, sorry, video, everything's changed, of public school ninth-graders being taught their Nines and Elevens, apparently because they were more photogenic, and less hyperactive, than the eleven-year-old fifth and sixth graders who decidedly weren't even born then. Anyway, for fuck's sake, People Who Weren't Even Born Yet on 9/11 are yet People Who Can't Even Be Trusted With Boogers, so they aren't going to be taught so much as indoctrinated into a way of looking at those events that gratifies the generic teleprompter reader or wholesale American flag importer. I said to my Poor Wife, "Little fuckers don't know the first thing about World War II, either. And all the guy who just said that knows about it is that We Won! and Nazis were bad. He doesn't know any more than they do about the Reconstruction, and none of 'em knows the first thing about the Spanish Conquest, the Enlightenment, or Biology."

You probably already figured out I'd like the name returned to Patriot Day, to Honor and Remember just how fucking insane our public officials went, how easily "Patriot" "Flag" and "Freedom Fries" got tossed into the mix, without justification, and the remarkably inerrant roosting instincts of the patriotic headless chicken. "Patriot, Hyperpatriot, and Scoundrel Day, Including Remembrance, Service, Domestic Foodstuff Euphemisms, and Two Plastic Flags Flapping in the Breeze From Every Vehicle Day".  Unless Arizona already has one.

Thursday, September 6

Office Politics

SEPTEMBER 3, 2012: The Indianapolis Star, you should pardon the expression, publishes a puffy little piece about how Purdue, the Ag college in West Lafayette, has upgraded the office of the President, about to be occupied by diminutive Indiana governor Mitch Daniels.

September 4, 2012: Diminutive Indiana governor Mitch Daniels announces, in his best PR petulance voice, that he's shocked, Shocked! to learn an organization that would have someone like him as a sinecure would even consider spending large sums of money in a way that made Mitch Daniels look bad to Mitch Daniels.

Fer cryin' out loud, they spent $300,000 of University repair funds to update a place that looks like it's barely been vacuumed since the late 70s:

Although, if you've spent much time at Purdue you know this qualifies as "Way-out European styling."

Among the extravagances Mitch supposedly--in my relative youth I figured that no one would ever touch Ronald Reagan when it came to requiring "supposedly" in front of his "achievements"--pulled the plug on was an upgrade to the office's computers and videoconferencing equipment, removal of "decades-old" wood panelling, bringing the bathroom facilities up to Federal accessibility standards, and replacement of the office carpet, which was so old Earl Butz designed it.

Not really. I just think Earl Butz and Mitch Daniels should now be joined forever.

Anyway, we say "supposedly" pulled the plug, not simply because anything that comes out of Mitch Daniels' mouth is suspect, but because the original story noted that work had been completed last week.  That is, about a week or so after Daniels was reportedly given a tour of the new digs by acting President Timothy Sands.

This, in case you were wondering, is the same Penny Pinchin' Mitch who wouldn't move into the Indiana Governor's Residence until it was renovated (through private donations, of course), and then didn't move into it anyway. He's the same Mitch Daniels who said of the almost $200,000 in campaign contributions from Republican financier and outright thief Tim Durham, that he couldn't return the money because it had already been spent. (Bankruptcy trustees for the un-ironically named Fair Finance did manage, just this year, to squeeze $3000 out of the Governor).

But my favorite part of this story is how it was stovepipes reported by Jim Shella of Channel 8, the Dean (Broder) of Indiana political reporters, who closed his recitation of a story he would have known to be false had he bothered to read the previous day's paper by saying that the Purdue community ought to have known what a sharp-eyed cost-cutter they were getting.

This, really, is precisely how Randian Republicans manage to move mountains, ain't it?

Tuesday, September 4

Another Titanic Idea

SOMEHOW Roy manages to do more work while taking two weeks off for his honeymoon than I can manage in full repose. But the suggestion of a Creators' Day, to counterbalance Parasites' Day just past, has lifted my topor just a bit. I mean, when you think about it, it's absolutely true.  Where would we be without Jobs Creators? We'd all be serfs.

So, c'mon Thalidomide babies. Raise your hands for Grünenthal.

You citizens of Bophal, stand up for Union Carbide.

Kids! Yell and scream for Dow Chemical!

Americans of African descent, don't turn your backs on your economic masters.

Don't be a shut-in, Triangle Shirwaist workers! Come on down and join the parade!

Light a candle, Ford Pinto owners!

In fact, everybody. From Love Canal

to the Gulf of Mexico.

From Prince William Sound

to Centralia, PA.

Hell, let's teach the world to sing. From Portsall Rocks

to Minimata

Let's raise a glass of wine and propylene glycol to our betters, to the people who don't mind if we draw oxygen provided it's not too inconvenient and they don't have to watch. Let us sit down to the traditional meal of Bon Vivant ™ Vichyssoise, Pink Slime burgers, Wright County™ Egg Salad, and Thousand Year Old Twinkies. And give thanks that fully one of those items is a joke.

Saturday, September 1

Our Politics In A Nutshell, Where It Belongs, Part MCCCLXXVI

Glenn Kessler, "The Truth? C'mon, this is a political convention". September 1

READER, it's from a column called The Fact Checker:
For all the outrage (on the left) about misrepresentations and misinformation in Rep. Paul Ryan’s speech accepting the Republican nomination for vice president, my reaction was: par for the course. 
We are, of course, talking about a political convention. The whole point is for the party to put its best foot forward to the American people. By its very nature, that means downplaying unpleasant facts, highlighting the positive and knocking down the opposing team.
So Lies are understandable, expected, and all in the nature of confrérie; reaction (on the left) is tiresome and unrealistic, a wetter of blankets and a pooper of parties.

This is from a column called The Fact Checker.
In fact, until Ryan showed up, in the traditional role of a vice president attack dog, my impression was that, given the nasty, brutish attacks by both sides in this campaign, the Republicans were generally on good behavior. 
The first night was a bit odd, since it was devoted to the political exploitation of a single Obama gaffe — “You didn’t build that” — the Republicans blatantly misrepresent. The theme was so overdone, with virtually every speaker making reference to it, that it may have actually diluted the impact of the attack.
Y'know, so long as it's still referred to as a "gaffe" by what is referred to as "political journalists" then it's not dilute enough. In fact, so long as there are yet-undrowned Republicans floating on it not nearly enough water's been added.
Ryan was so quickly labeled a fibber by the Obama campaign that one suspects it was a deliberate effort to tear down his reputation as a policy expert, similar to using attacks on Romney’s Bain Capital record to undermine his reputation as a skilled business executive.

Oh, yes, one does suspect that. Just as one suspects the only people who actually believe that Ryan is a "policy expert" are members of the press corps too bored by policy to bother looking.
But worst convention speech ever? Please.

The Obama campaign said that? Facts, please.
Palin, for instance, gave a self-serving account of her support for the “Bridge to Nowhere”— claiming she said “thanks but no thanks”— when in fact she had supported it until it was largely killed by Congress. This is a bigger failure to tell the whole story than Ryan criticizing Obama for doing nothing with the Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction recommendation, without noting that he himself voted against the commission report .

No. It isn't. Not unless we're voting for who we want to be best friends with in third grade, and those are the only two choices.

Palin's comments underlined a personal dishonesty so thorough that no one would trust her to make the proper change. This was a subject the Press, naturally, stayed the hell away from; her wardrobe grifting got some play, but also the required faux-balance pushback. When she told Katie Couric she read "all" newspapers it was taken as evidence that she couldn't name any (possibly true, extemporaneously, anyway), but not so much as evidence that she'd lie to anyone about breakfast, if she felt she needed to ("C'mon. She's a politician!").

Ryan, on the other hand, simply misrepresents inconvenient facts in order to push his apodictic Randian certainties on the rest of us, and those certainties collapse the moment facts are applied. That's an exponentially greater lie than Palin's fictional bio (or Marco Rubio's), and several orders of magnitude more consequential.
For all the tough ads on television, this cycle’s GOP convention was largely a kinder, gentler affair.

C'mon, it's a political convention. Romney wasn't gonna break out the Birther routine again. Besides, they save Full Crackpot Mode for incumbents (Buchanan '92; Zell Miller '04).
In his acceptance speech, Mitt Romney toned down his rhetoric. He repeated some claims that have earned him Four Pinocchios (such as Obama going on an “apology tour” overseas) but he passed up many others, such as reprising an attack on an Obama administration change in welfare rules that his campaign claims is his most effective ad.

Yeah, now you point it out, "Traitor" does sound a lot nicer than "Shiftless Negro". Probably more popular with primetime advertisers, too.
Romney’s speech had none of that angry, dismissive tone.

Look, how does one become a Fact Checker without understanding that this PR shit is the biggest lie of all? The tone of Romney's speech had nothing to do with anything other than the roomful of expensive consultants who decided what tone he needed to take.
Ultimately, convention speeches are about making the argument for your team. We should fully expect politicians to make their case using facts and figures that either tilt positive about their accomplishment — or negative about their opponents.

Yes. Using facts and figures. If you can't make your case without lying outright, then you can't do it at all.
As the fact checking business has blossomed in the news media, it has been increasingly hard for politicians to get away with such truth-shading without someone noticing.

Though not at the WaPo Fact Checker column, apparently.