Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

More Bad Press

Even Bob Somerby generally endorses the theory that the press are more lazy and stupid than conservative, per se. This, of course, excludes Fox News, The Washington Times, The New York Post, and the like. The laziness manifests itself via a herd approach to reporting the press’s collectively received wisdom. Al Gore is a liar; George Bush is stupid, but honest, trustworthy, and compassionate; Everybody hates Hillary Rodham Clinton [“Rodham” is mandatory]…

As a number of bloggers, myself included, have noticed, Bush coverage has become a bit less fawning of late. And in particular, a “Bush Lied” conventional wisdom may be starting to take shape. Witness, for example, the two editorials cited in the previous post (“Becoming Sane”), though they stopped just short of using the word “lie”. And today, there’s another negative story, this time in the Washington Post: Former Aide Takes Aim at War on Terror. The aide, Rand Beers, rips the administration’s tactics in the War on Terror as well as the War on Iraq, and with tenure at the NSC dating back to the Reagan years, he has some credibility. Beers held the same job that Oliver North held during Iran-Contra, Director for Counternarcotics and Counterterrorism; for more discussion, see Billmon’s post. While you’re there, make sure to take a look at his collection of pre-war WMD quotes.

Back to the media, Beers apparently left the NSC around March 14th, though the article doesn’t give an exact date. Shortly after leaving the NSC, he joined John Kerry’s campaign. My point: this story has been “out there” for about three months now. That it appears so shortly on the heels of a rise in negative press in general, is at least suggestive of a turning tide in press coverage.


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Becoming Sane

Read Kristoff’s editorial and note how, as Josh Marshall points out, Kristoff waffles a bit at the end, writing “But it does look as if ideologues in the administration deceived themselves about Iraq’s nuclear programs”. See? They didn’t decieve the public, or at least if they did do so, it was only because they themselves were deceived (by themselves). Here’s Marshall’s take on the issue:

There was an element of self-deception. A strong one.

If you simply insist on believing white is black, even when you can see it’s white, then when you tell people it’s black then, well, maybe you’re sort of not really lying, right?

Here’s an example from Kristoff’s column of this doublethink in action:

It was a foregone conclusion that every photo of a trailer truck would be a `mobile bioweapons lab’ and every tanker truck would be `filled with weaponized anthrax,’ ” a former military intelligence officer said.

Finally, here is Winston being tortured in the Ministry of Love:

“You are a slow learner, Winston,” said O’Brien gently.

“How can I help it?” he blubbered. “How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.”

“Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.”

We must try harder.


UPDATE: Via Thinking it Through, another tough column–this time from the Chicago Tribune–for the administration.

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Bizzaro World

What did I tell you? Two posts ago, I called the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page “just plain wacky”. Six posts ago I recommended a fairly new libertarian blogger, Amy Phillips. Now Amy reports on more wackiness from the virulently pro-war editorial page of the WSJ: WSJ editorial writers are using the lack of WMD to attack anti-war politicians.

I know, it doesn’t make any sense the first time you read it. There must be a typo, you think. So I’ll say it again: WSJ editorial writers are using the lack of WMD to attack anti-war politicians.

The logic? Well, only the anti-war Democrats knew that there were no WMD. But they lied and said there were WMD, in a vain effort to scare Americans out of supporting the invasion. I’m not freakin’ kidding! Here’s an excerpt:

we can’t help suspecting that war opponents knew better and deliberately misled the public in an effort to establish a pretext for keeping a mass-murdering dictator in power. In either case, [anti-war politicians] now face a yawning credibility gap.

The only explanation I have is that they are joking: making fun of calls for investigation of, e.g., Bush’s false claims in the State of the Union speech, by calling for investigation of anti-war politicians. In fact, upon closer inspection, I’m pretty sure that is their intention. But don’t hold your breath for a “just kidding” piece on Monday, and don’t expect most of their readers to grasph the subtlety. In any event, Amy P.’s got a lot more and she finely shreds the editorial writers with their own words.


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A Lucky Ducky Speaks Up

One of my earliest posts was on the subject of the “lucky duckies”, deemed Lucky by the writers for the editorial page of the WSJ because they make so little money that they pay little or no income taxes, though they pay substantial payroll taxes.

Via The New Republic’s Blog, &c, I see that a Lucky Ducky has offered to share his good fortune:

‘LUCKY DUCKIE’ INVITES EDITORS INTO HIS POND I am one of those lucky duckies, referred to in your June 3 editorial “Even Luckier Duckies” who pay little or nothing in federal income tax (at least by the standards of Wall Street Journal editors; $800 is more than a chunk of change to me). I am not, however, a stingy ducky, and I am willing to share my good fortune with others. In this spirit, I propose a trade. I will spend a year as a Wall Street Journal editor, while one lucky editor will spend a year in my underpaid shoes. I will receive an editor’s salary, and suffer the outrage of paying federal income tax on that salary. The fortunate editor, on the other hand, will enjoy a relatively small federal income tax burden, as well as these other perks of near poverty: the gustatory delights of a diet rich in black beans, pinto beans, navy beans, chickpeas and, for a little variety, lentils; the thrill of scrambling to pay the rent or make the mortgage; the salutary effects of having no paid sick days; the slow satisfaction of saving up for months for a trip to the dentist; and the civic pride of knowing that, even as a lucky ducky, you still pay a third or more of your gross income in income taxes, payroll taxes, sales taxes and property taxes. I could go on and on, but I am sure your editors are already keen to jump at this opportunity to join the ranks of the undertaxed. I look forward to hearing from you. Pier Petersen Chicago

How about it, WSJ Editorialists? Put your money where your mouth is?


P.S. Note that there’s a big difference between the WSJ, which is a great source of news and analysis, and the WSJ Editorial Page, which is just plain wacky.

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Consumer Sentiment Down

“University of Michigan’s closely watched gauge of consumer confidence slipped to 87.2 in June from May’s 92.1,” Reuters reports. Gains in the stock market (it’s about where it was a year ago, after being way down), and dividend tax cuts, cuts in the top marginal rates, and expansion of the 10% bracket, are apparently not enough to offset the fears caused by steadily increasing unemployment and ballooning deficits.


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Some Sanity?

From the NYT today:

Federal authorities said today that they planned to use stricter standards for identifying and locking up terrorist suspects in light of concerns raised in a recent report that hundreds of illegal immigrants were mistreated after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

U.S. Citizen Mike Hawash remains out of luck, however. I have no idea if he’s guilty or innocent, but he was held for five weeks without charges and judged in secret hearings, and apparently will remain in detention until his trial, currently scheduled for January 2004. Speedy.


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I’m always looking to link more opposing but reasoned views, but it’s tough to do in good conscience with most of the righties. I’ve got Postrel, den Beste, Lileks, BusinessPundit, Jane Galt, Media Whores Online, OxBlog, Samizdata, and Volokh (one of these blogs is not the same). That’s about all the righties I can tolerate.

Several or most of the blogs on the previous list would justly call themselves more Libertarian than conservative, which is probably why they made the list. I give Libertarians credit for wanting to keep government out of my bloodstream and out of my bedroom. Now, if I could just make Libertarians realize that sometimes we’re all better off when the government puts its hands in our pockets (you know: “form a more perfect Union“; “promote the general Welfare“).

In any event, say hello to two more non-lefties with blogs worth reading:

While you’ve probably seen Julian S. before, Amy P. is new. And we give her extra credit for disliking Bush’s tax cuts.


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Living History

Even if you’re not interested in reading it, you should probably buy it, just to anger some Republicans. And it has a second important use: it’s a great wingnut-detector. Keep it on your coffee table when you have dinner parties and, by watching closely for visceral negative reactions, you’ll know which of your friends secretly listen to Rush/Hannity/Savage/and the rest. In any event, for as long as the book remains on the bestseller lists, you’ll probably see and hear the same nonsense repeated ad naseum. Liar, power-hungry, should have left him, … Save yourself a lot of time, and just read Jesse’s version instead.


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