The F-35 boondoggle in context: This “is oppressive, dictatorial regime-building that would do any petro-state proud”

We are definitely not in Kansas anymore, Canuckistan — and Michael Harris says that we just had our “Wizard of Oz moment”:

The curtain has been well and truly whipped away from the PM’s self-promoting deceptions and he is revealed for what he is: a power-tripper on a mission to give Canada an extreme makeover that only the super-rich and the semi-comatose could endorse. And he is doing it with virtually no debate, creating something of a new phenomenon in Canadian politics; sole-source public policy.

We have Peter MacKay to thank for the official revelation — belated though it was. The minister of defensiveness has finally dished after weeks of embarrassing prevarications. It turns out the whole Harper cabinet was in on the F-35 whopper, an exercise that both the Parliamentary Budget Officer and the Auditor General saw for what it was — a studied deception.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office had an even better description of the same process stateside. The Pentagon’s top weapons’ purchaser, Frank Kendall, said the plan to buy the F-35 was “acquisitions malpractice.” In this country, two sets of books were produced – one containing the real scoop, the other the “communications” version for the Great Unwashed. It turns out interim Liberal leader Bob Rae was dead right — the PM and cabinet knew they were lying to Canadians about the true costs of the F-35 during an election and Stephen Harper is ultimately accountable.

This is not “strong, stable government” a la Harper’s PR mantra. It is oppressive, dictatorial regime-building that would do any petro-state proud.

It is also the de-confederation of the country and the death spiral of independent information bearers. The war machine is more important than the social safety net. Canada can apparently have $45 billion jets and $800,000 military fly-overs, but must rein in the Old Age Supplement and cut food inspectors. The PM can blow $45,000 in public money on a baseball junket (why on earth was Harper’s official photographer along for the ride?), but 19,000 public servants must lose their jobs. And if these institutional thugs lose a seat in an election they lust after, there’s a plan B – gerrymander the riding, as they may well do in Saanich-Gulf Islands, where Green Party leader Elizabeth May knocked off former cabinet sock-puppet Gary Lunn.

As for parliament, what’s parliament? Something to ignore, shutter, or the favored option, to geld.

Happy 1 year anniversary, Canuckistan — oh, and re: what Naomi Klein said:

For now, I’m happy, as noted, to let the Harpercons keep tripping over themselves; but that doesn’t mean we can’t reinforce (firmly and forcefully) the enormity of Harpercon efforts to subvert our democracy, and what it ultimately means for Canadians.

(Image: dbking, Flickr.)

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Dear Associated Press

by matttbastard

1992 called–it wants its appalling lack of journalistic ethics and standards back.

No, seriously–you keep making shit up, with no apparent interest in sifting through unfounded allegations and baseless conjecture to find a nugget of fact. Hint: continually filing meat-free stories with breathless headlines like “Senate-for-sale case threatens new chief of staff” is a good way to brand yourselves as the Fox Newswire. Not to say that you’ve collectively lowered yourselves to the histrionic level of Professional Obama Haters (yet); but the desperate Blagobamarahmbogate obsession is getting a bit pathetic.

At this point, it seems that the primary source fuelling most of the recent unfounded allegations and baseless conjecture regarding Blagobamarahmbogate is–wait for it–the Associated Press. As Steve Benen said, “[a]s serious as Blagojevich’s problems are, it sounds like the Obama/transition team angle is a dud. There’s just nothing there.” So why, in the middle of the worst economic downturn since 19-fucking-29, do you insist on flailing and floundering with great speculative ado over, um, nothing?

Newsflash: there’s no clutter left to cut through, kids; you’ve totally eviscerated the biggest obstacle to successfully implementing Ron Fournier’s new mandate: your credibility.

in fairness and balance,

matttbastard

PS: George Stephanopolus would like to formally apologize for taking the wind out of your sails today. Not that this latest no-shit-revelation will be enough to stem the speculative bluster emanating from your Washington Bureau. But one can always hope you’ll now start charting a new course.

(I know, and a dapple-fucking-grey pony.)

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Inverted Priorities and Blagojevich Coverage

by matttbastard

Apparently the general public isn’t as concerned about the faux-Blagobamagate taint as the MSM would love to believe:

Public ratings of Barack Obama are unscathed by the scandal swirling around Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich’s apparent effort to trade off his power to appoint Obama’s successor to the U.S. Senate, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

More than three-quarters of Americans approve of the way Obama is handling the presidential transition, up significantly from three weeks ago, and a slim majority in the new poll said the president-elect has already done enough to explain any connections his staff may have had with Blagojevich.

But, as Steve Benen notes, a new Rasmussen poll does seem to indicate that the constant bombardment of MSM innuendo and conjecture is beginning to make a dent in the public consciousness–either that, or the poor phrasing of the question affected the response:

Forty five percent (45%) of U.S. voters say it is likely President-elect Obama or one of his top campaign aides was involved in the unfolding Blagojevich scandal in Illinois, including 23% who say it is Very Likely.

Just 11% say it is not at all likely, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey taken Thursday and Friday nights.

The exact wording of the question was: “How likely is it that President-elect Obama or one of his top campaign aides was involved in the Blagojevich scandal?”

The problem, of course, is that “involved” is more than a little ambiguous. For that matter, asking about “Obama or one of his top campaign aides” opens the door awfully wide.

Indeed, while I suspect some news outlets will pounce on the Rasmussen results as evidence of public doubts about Obama, the exact same pollster, on the exact same day, found that Obama’s approval rating is still soaring, and one point shy of a post-election high.

In other words, looking at the Rasmussen numbers, Americans either a) believe the president-elect or his team were part of a major corruption scandal, but don’t care; or b) think Obama or his aides were “involved,” but not in a way that reflects badly on the president-elect or his team. My hunch is that it’s the latter.

Regardless, as Benen further observes, the Village appears bound and determined to ride their new (dead) pony into the ground, despite the lack of public concern:

Yglesias tuned into MSNBC this morning, and found a “lengthy discussion of Obama’s involvement in Blagojevich’s corruption.” It follows a week of inexplicable media reports about Obama’s non-existent role in the matter, reality notwithstanding.

Not surprising, if one uses the following agenda that Mark Halperin laid out yesterday as an outline of Village priorities:

1. Watch the Blagojevich affair. …

2. Watch Obama’s press conference to unveil his environmental and energy team. …

3. Watch the economy.

Yes, in that order.  Look, the Blago affair is the political equivalent of Britney Spear’s crotch, or Anna Nicole Smith’s corpse: a frivolous waste of journalistic resources that has stolen attention from an issue that the public overwhelmingly declared to be its number one priority on November 4th. This is exactly what Jamison Foser meant when he warned about the media distracting us from  “serious problems by overheated conjecture and baseless insinuation masquerading as journalism.”

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Foser: “[T]his week brought signs that much of the media is set to resume the absurd and shameful behavior that defined the 1990s”

by matttbastard

Jamison Foser on the Blagobamagate!!1 media circus:

If the news media regains a bit of the skepticism so many of them set aside for the past eight years, that would be an unequivocally good thing, and it should be applauded.

But this week brought signs that much of the media is set to resume the absurd and shameful behavior that defined the 1990s — guilt by association, circular analysis whereby they ask baseless questions about non-scandals, then claim they have to report on the “scandal” because the White House is “besieged by questions,” grotesque leaps of logic, downplaying exculpatory information, and too many other failings to list.

If that happens — if the media continue to behave as they did in covering Whitewater — they will damage the country. It’s really that simple. We cannot afford to be distracted from serious problems by overheated conjecture and baseless insinuation masquerading as journalism.

IOW, less Blago, more bailout.

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Dear Murdoch Times

…ahh, fuggeddaboutit.  Y’all are beyond redemption– making shit up is standard operating procedure for many in the UK press, ethics and standards be damned.   At least folks in the Mother Country readily acknowledge this fact, making its impact far less potent (at least domestically–there are those here in NA, many of whom should know better, who actually treat the Daily Mail as something resembling a legitimate source, rather than discount bird cage liner.  No, seriously!)

Just keep this in mind: according to CNN, Rahmbo “has been notified that he is not a target of the investigation.”  That means that, despite the sordid innuendo of James Bone’s copy, the future CoS wasn’t caught on tape  saying things to Gov. Blagojevich (or Blago’s staff) that could “prove an acute embarrassment to the incoming Obama Administration, even if no illegal deals were discussed”–which obviously weren’t, or else Rahmbo would likely be a target of the investigation–“and could even force Mr Emanuel’s resignation”. Yes, and it could also force winged simians to emerge flapping from Mr. Emanuel’s backside.

Hey, anything’s possible in the Murdoch Times (Drudge siren!!11one)

Here’s the thing: It is all too apparent that  Obama (and the Village) is already quite aware of Rahmbo’s, ah, colourful reputation.  That’s likely why he’s CoS, not Secretary of State.   So you’d think it would take a whole lot of, ah, colour to embarrass the incoming White House, acutely or otherwise.
Or, as fakerahmemanuel colourfully puts it:

In a word: NOTAFUCKINGCHANCE.

with bemusement and resignation,

matttbastard

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Media Maestros Strike a Sour Note

by matttbastard

Via Hugh Hewitt groupie Mark Halperin, we see that The Politico is still going strong in its crusade to make the Blago affair into Whitewater 2.0. Incidentally, Halperin, in a move that will shock and disgust you (cough) jumps on the irresponsible headline bandwagon–um, “Obama Faces the Blago  Music” implies that Obama will soon be forced to confront the unpleasant results of his own actions (oh noes!)  Kinda difficult, when you aren’t, y’know, actually accused of doing anything, apart from being a bit player in Gov. Blago’s comedy of errors.

Even more difficult when the author of the original criminal complaint , US attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, plainly stated “We make no allegations that  [Obama] was aware of anything.”

Not that ‘facts’ (slowly going the way of the buffalo in today’s post-clutter corporate media environment) will likely stop the press from raising a cacophony of dissonant allegations during today’s sure-to-be discordant press conference with the President elect.  And, courtesy Halperin, Kenneth P. Vogel and Carrie Budoff Brown have helpfully provided the sheet music, 7 Blago questions for Obama (nice segue after a lengthy digression, eh?)  Although after reading through the list (and the rationale behind each one) I think KPV and CBB forgot an eighth:

“When did you stop beating your wife, Mr. President-elect?”

Seriously, what do these New (Old) Media upstarts have against the classics?

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Of Fools and Folly

by matttbastard

How much you wanna bet that the only reason Jonathan Martin and Ben Smith cobbled together this rickety structure of baseless speculation about Obama and the potential (yes, potential) scandal that might (yes, might) arise (passive voice!) for the President-elect and certain members of his team, following yesterday’s dramatic arrest of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, was to frame the following paragraph:

One prominent Chicago Democrat close to many of those named in the indictment suggested the risk for Obama is “Whitewater-type exposure.” That was a reference to an Arkansas real estate deal that produced a series lengthy and highly intrusive investigations in the 1990s that never proved illegality by the Clintons.

Apparently The Politico brain trust is still stuck in 1992.  Not surprising, considering that throughout the ’90s Politico editor-in-chief John F. Harris and his then-colleagues at the Washington Post reported extensively on many  now-infamous media-and-Republican-manufactured Clinton-era scandals that would not fucking die.   Eric Boehlert, critiquing a 2006 book written by Harris and ABC News  Political Director Mark Halperin, puts “Whitewater-type exposure” in proper context:

The duo devotes an entire chapter detailing Clinton’s often troubled first term in office, yet the phrase “Whitewater” never appears in print there. Keep in mind that reproducing The Washington Post’s library of breathless Whitewater stories printed during Clinton’s first term would likely fill three volumes the size of The Way to Win, while ABC’s Whitewater archives could fill a weekend of around-the-clock coverage. But for Halperin and Harris, the story, and the media’s absolutely central role in keeping alive a Republican-generated hoax about a long-ago real estate deal, goes down the memory hole.

The old proverb about dogs and vomit comes to mind.

Update: More from Steve Benen, who looks at AP’s latest “wildly irresponsible” example of “cutting through the clutter”  by not relying on such hoary journalistic conventions as “facts” or “evidence” to support ones assertions.

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