Shorter Rick Santelli: “My wife feels you’re glib, Matt.”

by matttbastard

The preceding exchange–especially Dylan Ratigan’s asinine contention that Rick Santelli is “channeling an emotion that everyone in America is feeling”–ties in with what Glenn Greenwald was saying the other day about how the Beltway press corps is still obsessed with transmitting and furthering GOP talking points in the name of some mythical ‘bipartisanship’,  basically making shit up about public opinion, regardless of all evidence to the contrary:

The political establishment has never come to terms with, and the media establishment just refuses to acknowledge, how deeply unpopular and discredited the GOP is among most Americans in the wake of the eight-year Bush disaster.  Political and media elites don’t want to acknowledge that because they lent their continuous support for eight years to Republican power, yet — even with Bush gone — it’s scarcely possible to imagine how a major political party could be held in lower esteem among voters.  By huge margins (63-29%), Americans believe the GOP opposed Obama’s stimulus package for political reasons, not because they genuinely believed it would be bad for the economy; they overwhelmingly disapprove of Congressional Republicans (38-56%) while approving of Obama (68-25%) and even Congressional Democrats (50-44%); trust Obama over Congressional Republicans to handle the economy (61-26%); and trust Democrats over Republicans “to do a better job in coping with the main problems the nation faces over the next few years” (56-30%).  Those are enormous margins.

The punditry’s claims that Americans want Democrats to dilute their policies in order to attract and include Republican support is entirely misleadingThe endless media stories that Eric Cantor, Michael Steele and Rick Santelli are now riding some resurgent, anti-stimulus GOP wave are pure fiction.  And the incessant calls for “bipartisanship” are anti-democratic in the extreme.

The Villagers stubbornly insist on reading from a hackneyed, out-of-date script, one that no longer even remotely resembles reality (if it ever actually did).  But no matter what steaming, stinking bullshit manufactured outrage merchants like Santelli, Ratigan, or Michelle Malkin brazenly peddle,  as Greenwald notes the bottom line is this:

[T]he reason that Americans voted overwhelmingly in favor of Democrats in the last two elections and overwhelmingly against Republicans is because they want Democratic policies and not Republicans [sic] policies .  They drove Republicans out of office in massive numbers because they don’t want Republicans and their policies governing the country.

In other words, spittle-flecked fauxpulist motherfuckers like Rick Santelli can suck it.  Hopefully he gets banished to the PJTV wilderness post haste, so he can serve heaping plates of bloody red meat to the Chicago Tea Party massif alongside his ideological (and, um, intellectual) brethren Glenn Reynolds and Joe the Plumber.  And the rest of us can get back to, y’know, trying to fix the mess we inherited from the previous administration.

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Beltway Inertia and the Rule of Law

by matttbastard

In a must-read post today, Glenn Greenwald challenges Ruth Marcus and the establishment Washington consensus, in which the pursuit of war crimes charges against soon-to-be-former Bush officials is arbitrarily dismissed as either too polarizing, too partisan, or just too goddamn difficult to successfully prosecute, and thus should be preemptively abandoned.  Greenwald explains why this virtually ensures the perpetuation of an unlawful historical feedback loop:

Along with the desire for just retribution, one of the two principal reasons we impose penalties for violations of the criminal law is deterrence — to provide an incentive for potential lawbreakers to refrain from breaking our laws, rather than deciding that it is beneficial to do so. Though there is debate about how best to accomplish it and how effective it ultimately is, deterrence of future crimes has been, and remains, a core purpose of the criminal law. That is about as basic as it gets. From Paul Robinson, University of Pennsylvania Law Professor, and John Darley, Psychology Professor at Princeton, in “The Role of Deterrence in the Criminal Law“:

For the past several decades, the deterrence of crime has been a centerpiece of criminal law reform. Law-givers have sought to optimize the control of crime by devising a penalty-setting system that assigns criminal punishments of a magnitude sufficient to deter a thinking individual from committing a crime.

Punishment for lawbreaking is precisely how we try to ensure that crimes “never happen again.” If instead — as Marcus and so many other urge — we hold political leaders harmless when they break the law, if we exempt them from punishment under the criminal law, then what possible reason would they have from refraining from breaking the law in the future? A principal reason for imposing punishment on lawbreakers is exactly what Marcus says she wants to achieve: “ensuring that these mistakes are not repeated.” By telling political leaders that they will not be punished when they break the law, the exact opposite outcome is achieved: ensuring that this conduct will be repeated.

[…]

Every time we immunize political leaders from the consequences of their crimes, it’s manipulatively justified in the name of “ensuring that it never happens again.”  And every time, we do exactly the opposite:  we make sure it will happen again.  And it does:  Richard Nixon is pardoned.  J. Edgar Hoover’s lawbreakers are protected.  The Iran-contra criminals are set free and put back into government.  Lewis Libby is spared having to serve even a single day in prison despite multiple felony convictions.  And now it’s time to immunize even those who tortured detainees and spied on Americans in violation of numerous treaties, domestic laws, and the most basic precepts of civilized Western justice.

One would hope to see those individuals who have been granted a national platform that allows them to have a measurable impact on the tone of discourse in Washington be responsible and advocate on behalf of the rule of law. Instead, they collectively sigh, texturally furrow their brows over how hard it is to do the right thing, before finally settling for the cold, easy comfort of doing nothing (shades of grey, children. Shades. Of. Grey.) In an article published yesterday by McClatchy Newspapers, Marisa Taylor starkly lays out the logical consequence of elite apathy towards defending the rule of law:

Without wider support, the campaign to haul top administration officials before an American court is likely to stall.

What this says to the nation, and the world, about the US and its lack of commitment to justice, human rights, and the rule of law is nothing short of staggering.  As Loyola war law expert David Glazier put it,

It is mind boggling to say eight years later that there is not going to be some sort of criminal accountability for what happened… . It certainly undermines our moral authority and our ability to criticize other countries for doing exactly the same thing. But given the legal issues and the political reality, I am hard pressed to see any other outcome.

And because our gatekeepers of ‘reasonable’, ‘serious’ discourse can’t begin to envision any viable course of action other than forgive and (try our goddamndest to) forget, all of this–state-sanctioned torture and rendition, unlawful domestic surveillance, an unnecessary war in Iraq that, thus far, has killed well over a million people–has, in effect, been green-lighted twice.  First, by Bush, Cheney and the rest of those who felt that burning the Constitution was the only way to save it. Then, retroactively, by those in the Beltway press corps, elite Washington society and–most egregiously–the incoming Democratic administration, all of whom would apparently rather practice their statesman-like ostrich pose than risk disrupting the inertial ebb and flow of their delicate political ecosystem.

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John Brennan Will Not Be CIA Director in Obama Administration

by matttbastard

Thank Maude:

John Brennan, President-elect Barack Obama’s top adviser on intelligence, took his name out of the running Tuesday for any intelligence position in the new administration.Brennan wrote in a Nov. 25 letter to Obama that he did not want to be a distraction. His potential appointment as CIA director has raised a firestorm in liberal blogs that associate him with the Bush administration’s interrogation, detention and rendition policies.

[…]

In a 2005 interview on “The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer,” Brennan defended rendition as “an absolutely vital tool.” In 2007 on CBS News, he said the CIA’s harsh interrogation program, which included waterboarding on at least three prisoners, produced “life saving” intelligence. Waterboarding is a form of simulated drowning.

Brennan has spoken out publicly against waterboarding.

“The fact that I was not involved in the decisionmaking process for any of these controversial policies and actions has been ignored,” he wrote in a letter obtained by The Associated Press. “Indeed, my criticism of these policies within government circles was the reason why I was twice considered for more senior-level positions in the current administration only to be rebuffed by the White House.”

Glennzilla explains why every decent human being should be breathing a sigh of relief at this development, and why Brennan’s contention that he should have gotten a plate of cookies because he was out of the loop with regards to the sausage-making process of torture “enhanced interrogation” is, in a word, bullshit:

Whether he “was involved in the decision-making process for any of these controversial policies” is not and never was the issue.  Rather, as I documented at length when I first wrote about Brennan, he was an ardent supporter of those policies, including “enhanced interrogation techniques” and rendition, both of which he said he was intimately familiar with as a result of his CIA position.  As virtually everyone who opposed his nomination made clear — Andrew Sullivan, Digby, Cenk Uygur, Big Tent Democrat and others — that is why he was so unacceptable.

You can read Brennan’s withdrawal letter in full here.

h/t pogge @ BnR

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Greenwald: Right-Wing Hypocrisy is “healthy”

by matttbastard

After surveying some of the rightwing opposition to the $700 billion Paulson bail-out (and acidly noting that such sentiments from these quarters are unfortunately “vital for having any meaningful chance to stop [the Paulson plan]” thanks to the sorry record during the Bush years of craven Democrats in Congress), Glenn Greenwald explains how the sharp, self-interested reversals on display are actually indicative of democracy in action:

The blatant hypocrisy here, while extreme, craven and obvious, is also healthy. Hypocrisy of this sort is actually a vital part of how checks and balances are supposed to work. It is expected that political factions, when in charge of the government, will seek to obtain greater power for themselves, and the check against that is that the “opposition party” will battle and resist — not necessarily out of ideology or principle but due to raw power considerations and self-interest. That is what has been so tragically missing from our political process for the last eight years: while the GOP sought greater and greater government power, Democrats acquiesced almost completely when they weren’t complicitly enabling it. While the Executive was off the charts in terms of the power it seized, the Congress was off the charts in its passivity and eagerness to relinquish its Constitutionally assigned powers to the Bush White House. That’s what has caused the extreme imbalance, with a bloated Republican Party and virtually unlimited presidential power: the failure of Democrats and the Congress to serve as a check on any of that. As their newfound contempt for unlimited power makes conclusively clear, the executive-power-worshipping Republicans of the last eight years — if there is an Obama presidency — will quickly re-discover their limited government power “principles” and won’t be nearly as accommodating.

Related: Jim Johnson on how bipartisanship poses a threat to a healthy US democracy (h/t Crooked Timber):

In terms of consequences, why should we endorse bi-partisanship? That is a fundamentally anti-democratic response. Here I am persuaded by argument by political theorists who, following Joseph Schumpeter (whose conception of democracy is, despite common caricatures, neither a ‘realist’ nor ‘minimalist’), insist that robust competition is crucial to a healthy democracy. For instance, Ian Shapiro* suggests that competition has two salutary effects: (i) it allows voters to throw out incumbents (known more appropriately as ‘the bastards’) and (ii) it pressures the opposition to solicit as wide a range of constituencies as they are able. Given these effects, Shapiro suggests quite pointedly:

If competition for power is the lifeblood of democracy, then the search for bi-partisan consensus … is really anticompetitive collusion in restraint of democracy. Why is it that people do not challenge legislation that has bi-partisan backing, or other forms of bi-partisan agreement on these grounds? …

Among the crucial empirical observations about partisan polarization in the U.S. is that it reflects the economic bifurcation (in terms of wealth and income mal-distribution) among the population. Because the poor participate at relatively low levels, and because many recent immigrants remain unnaturalized (hence disenfranchised), the constituency for a real alternative to right-wing policies remains politically inchoate. The solution to political polarization is to attack economic inequality, to resist anti-immigration policies, and so forth. That might, in fact, require Democrats to stop their headlong rush to mimic Republicans and prompt them to seek to forge broader and deeper alliances between constituencies that do not now see one another as allies. But that would require the Dems to be political rather than play the bi-partisan game. What we need is more robust competition.

That sonic boom you heard was Johnson’s point swooping over David Broder’s shiny pate.

Update: Greenwald pwns the mother of all shameless partisan hacks, “Captain” Ed Morrissey.

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John King Needs A Time Out

by matttbastard 

Hmm, methinks Greenwald struck a delicate, precious nerve with CNN tongue bather  Chief Political Correspondent John King  after GG took King to the woodshed the other day over a recent Situation Room rim job King gave to perpetual media darling John McCain (as is apparently King’s wont):

From: King, John C

To: GGreenwald@salon.com

Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2008 5:40 PM

Subject: excuse me?

I don’t read biased uninformed drivel so I’m a little late to the game.

But a friend who understands how my business works and knows a little something about my 20 plus years in it sent me the link to your ramblings.

Since the site suggests you have law training, maybe you forgot that good lawyers to a little research before they spit out words.

Did you think to ask me or anyone who works with me whether that was the entire interview? No. (It was not; just a portion used by one of the many CNN programs.)

Did you reach out to ask the purpose of that specific interview? No.

Or how it might have fit in with other questions being asked of other candidates that day? No.

Or anything that might have put facts or context or fairness into your critique. No.

McCain, for better or worse, is a very accessible candidate. If you did a little research (there he goes with that word again) you would find I have had my share of contentious moments with him over the years.

But because of that accessibility, you don’t have to go into every interview asking him about the time he cheated on his sixth grade math test.

The interview was mainly to get a couple of questions to him on his thoughts on the role of government when the economy is teetering on the edge of recession, in conjunction with similar questions being put to several of the other candidates.

The portion you cited was aired by one of our programs — so by all means it is fair game for whatever “analysis” you care to apply to it using your right of free speech and your lack of any journalistic standards or fact checking or just plain basic curiosity.

You clearly know very little about journalism. But credibility matters. It is what allows you to cover six presidential campaigns and be viewed as fair and respectful, while perhaps a little cranky, but Democrats and Republicans alike. When I am writing something that calls someone’s credibility into question, I pick up the phone and give them a chance to give their side, or perspective.

That way, even on days that I don’t consider my best, or anywhere close, I can look myself in the mirror and know I tried to be fair and didn’t call into question someone’s credibility just for sport, or because I like seeing my name on a website or my face on TV.

Greenwald’s post wasn’t evidence of unprofessional “bias”; he was merely utilizing one of the senses evolution gave us hairless apes–in this case, a keen nose that caught a whiff of what King was so eagerly shoveling.

As Greenwald tartly observes:

Ponder how much better things would be if establishment journalists — in response to being endlessly lied to and manipulated by political officials and upon witnessing extreme lawbreaking and corruption at the highest levels of our government — were able to muster just a tiny fraction of the high dudgeon, petulant offense, and melodramatic outrage that comes pouring forth whenever their “reporting” is criticized.

Hey, here’s another novel idea, John–how about directing some of your self-important umbrage towards your CNN producers–y’know, the ones who (apparently) bowdlerized your hard-hitting muckracking until it was nothing but anodyne pablum.  Either that, or cut the crap and become The Maverick’s new communications director. But for the love of god, don’t get your dander up in an entitlement-infused huff just because a member of the great online unwashed dared to call bullshit.  

More from Blue Texan and Big Tent Democrat.

Via Memeorandum

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Ceaseless Wonders

by matttbastard

r0np4l.jpg

(originally uploaded by Granny Miller)

Not to be all “I toldja so“, but I’m in no way surprised that The Good Doctor is actually a Neo-confederate-rightwing populist-JBS-fluffin’-tinfoil-true-believer (ZOMG! WET WATER!) What has me utterly flabbergasted is that uber-lazy junior Neocon Jamie KirchickMarty Peretz’s golden gopher–actually put forth a well-researched piece of hard-hitting investigative journalism. Am awaiting the inevitable sound of distant hoofbeats–no doubt hastened by this latest missive from the vast Zionist conspiracy.

(Oh, and Glenn Greenwald owes Dave Neiwert a BIG apology. *Crickets*)

Enjoy the fun @ Memeorandum (a day late and a Liberty Dollar short–mea culpa for succumbing to illness at such an inopportune time).

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There’s A Riot Goin’ On (Say What?!)

by matttbastard

doughy-pantload.jpg

Doughy Pantload (“ZOMG NEGRO RAMPAGE!!11”) + The Ole Perfesser (“Heh, indeed”) = dogwhistlin’ racist dumbfuckery at its finest.

Glenn Greenwald, dnA and Athenae do the heavy lifting so I don’t have to (hooray for lazy Sundays!)

Related: Pretty safe to say that Bill Bennett provided the ultimate Biden moment during the Iowa Caucuses:

Barack Hussein Obama, a black man, wins this for the Democrats.

I have been watching him. I watched him on “Meet the Press,” I’ve watched him on [Anderson Cooper’s] show, watched him on all the CNN shows — he never brings race into it. He never plays the race card.

Talk about the black community — he has taught the black community you don’t have to act like Jesse Jackson, you don’t have to act like Al Sharpton. You can talk about the issues. Great dignity. And this is a breakthrough. And good for the people of Iowa.

Yes, well done, BHO–I for one have learned my lesson: down with uppity (if that’s alright with Massa Bennett, o’course)! And golf claps for the (white) people of Iowa. Jon Swift might just be bang on here:

The other big winners were white voters and white members of the party establishment. By voting for Barack Obama, they were able to prove that they are not racist. The fact that Obama is young, charismatic, inspiring, a mesmerizing speaker, has fresh ideas and appeals across the partisan divide will make no difference in the general election where it is a well-known fact that the American people will be afraid to vote for a black man with a funny name who is inexperienced and might secretly be a Muslim. By letting him win this one, and giving us a historic moment that we can tell our grandchildren about, we can all feel better about ourselves.

Ahhh, I think that Obama’s rhetorical MDMA has finally begun to wear off. It’s the morning after in America. Sketchy cynicism FTW.

h/t GG for both the Bennett and Swift quotes.

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