The Post Is At It Again

It doesn’t matter ultimately, and they’re entitled to whatever opinion they want, but it’s clear this morning that the Post isn’t satisfied to simply have an opinion – they want readers, particularly casual ones, to believe that everyone else shares their view. Which leads them to some pretty heavy duty cherry picking and deception.

Our favorite hack Chris Cillizza says Sanders won.

More than anything he said, though, it was the passion and disruption that Sanders oozed from every pore over the two hours that should push Democrats on the fence about the race into his camp. Sanders effectively positioned himself as the anti-status-quo candidate, a very good position to have in this electoral environment.

That paragraph makes no sense. Sanders has been oozing “passion and disruption” for eight months now, and yet Cillizza has judged Clinton the winner of every prior debate. Suddenly, he feels differently, and in conclusory fashion. What’s changed? My feeling: now that the consensus has shifted and Sanders is viewed as “having a shot,” Cillizza feels more comfortable judging Clinton more harshly on the debates, as he does in other areas.

And Clinton is the loser per Cillizza.

So, why is she in the loser column? Because she did nothing in the debate to slow the momentum that Sanders is building in Iowa and New Hampshire. Aside from guns, where Clinton scored a clean win against Sanders, she was unable to effectively cast him as a pie-in-the-sky idealist and herself as the only person who could truly fight  — and win on — for Democratic priorities.

What debate was Cillizza watching? On health care, on Sanders’ criticisms of President Obama and on his threats to run against Obama in 2012, Clinton scored direct hits on Sanders. Yes, he had some good moments, and I wouldn’t care if Cillizza believed Sanders won, but this idea that a debate is the place to “slow . . momentum” is just stupid.

Not, however, as stupid and quite frankly mendacious as the Post’s morning summary of opinions on the debate. The headline is “Bernie Sanders won the Democratic debate, say pundits and social media.” Well, I watched about a dozen talking heads on CNN – MSNBC was rerunning the debate, a stupid decision that left them out of the conversation – all say that Clinton won, and comfortably so. How did the Post deal with this? Ignore the talking heads and select a group of mostly people you’ve never heard of, plus a few Republicans, to create a false consensus. How bad was it? Instead of even a single one of the CNN talkers, the Post cites a tweet from a CNN producer: 

You think if Teddy Davis said Hiklsry Clinton won the debate that he’d have been quoted in the Washington Post this morning? Hahaha, sure. Right.

And since they couldn’t quote him saying Sanders won – because he didn’t say it – they quote the one thing former Obama svengali David Axelrod said all night that was critical of Clinton, ignoring his several tweets about other issues and the fact that he opined last night that Clinton won the debate.
 
Not five minutes earlier, Axelrod tweeted this, which the Post didn’t see fit to mention.

 

And again, David Axelrod believes Hillary Clinton won the debate. This kind of cherry picking to create a false impression of consensus is embarrassing for a high school journalist. For the Post to do it smacks of ulterior motives.

I’m not criticizing the Post for having a different opinion than mine. I’m criticizing them for reporting that there was a consensus of opinion on Chris Cillizza’s side of the issue when there wasn’t. The Post is entitled to its opinion, as I am to mine. What they’re not entitled to is to claim a false consensus to validate their opinion. Their reporting this morning of only pro-Sanders opinions is inaccurate to the point of mendaciousness. Here’s David Axelrod with a final – and accurate – assessment this morning.  

Maureen Dowd And Hillary Clinton: Here We Go Again

I’ve written more than once about the Washington Post’s obsession with the Clintons, one that goes back to the 1990s. But the other journalistic “institution” that has an unhealthy fixation with Bill and now Hillary Clinton is the New York Times. If you’re too young to remember the 1990s version, the Times is probably worse than the Post, which was often a “me too” reflection of the Times when it came to Whitewater and the ruinous five years of political inanity that resulted. I was going to throw a link or two in, but there are too many choices – use your Google machine and search “New York Times Clinton rules” or a similar search.

Or you could just save the trouble and focus on the one Times employee who’s been there the whole time and has probably the most bizarre and screwed up obsession with Hillary Clinton in particular. Even a narrowed down “Maureen Dowd Hillary Clinton” search yields tens of thousands of results over two decades. And Dowd shows no signs of letting up. Just in the past year, she’s: criticized the Clintons for hiring “hit men” as advisers and being greedy, accused Clinton of being a control freak and dishonest, wrote a bizarre letter purporting to speak for “America” in criticizing Hillary Clinton for a litany of sins going back to the 1990s, compared Clinton as a candidate to Richard Nixon, simultaneously criticized Clinton for being too masculine in 2008 and too feminine in 2015, trotted out a list of anonymous Hollywood celebrity quotes criticizing Clinton, criticized and psychoanalyzed Clinton’s position on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, compared Clinton to disgraced (but later vindicated) Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, and trashed Clinton’s universally praised performance before the Benghazi Committee. Out of 40 columns over the entire year, nine of them were hack jobs on Hillary and/or Bill Clinton. And two more were about the Clintons, but not quite as hackish as these nine.

Can’t some editor demand that Dowd get some therapy for her obsessions? It’s been 22 years now. It long ago became an embarrassment to the Times. Enough already.

Now, in 2016, it’s clear that we’re in for more of the same. This week’s effort is a strained comparison of Hillary Clinton and the character played by Leonardo DeCaprio in The Revenant, with the role of the bear being played by – fanfare of trumpets – Donald Trump. It’s bizarre.

And finally, of course, there’s the politician most like Glass in her willingness to crawl through glass, flip her positions and persona, and even bear up under a mauling by a merciless, manic bear to reach that goal most yearned for. In Hillary Clinton’s grimly relentless trudge toward the White House, the part of the bear is played by Donald Trump. (The bear in the movie is also a counterpuncher; when Leo tries to shoot the animal in the face, the grizzly races back to molest him again.)

Trump is like a CGI Rathtar or Indominus Rex, a larger-than-life, fight-to-the-death animated creature who improbably pops up in the ordinarily staid presidential campaign and stomps around, devouring attention and sinking his Twitter teeth into rivals. With his muddle of charm, humor, zest, vulgarity, bigotry, opportunistic flexibility, brutal candor, breathtaking boorishness and outrageous opening bids on volatile issues, he has now leapt into that most sensitive area: the Clintons’ tangled conjugal life.

Dowd is rooting for the bear, in case it’s not clear. She’ll criticize Trump, but ultimately, she’s OK with him, because he plays his gender role in what she has decreed to be an appropriate manner. He’s a boor, a rogue, a bully and a jerk, but that’s OK because he’s a man, and that’s what men are supposed to be like in Dowd’s retrograde view of men and women’s roles in the world. It’s appropriate. Boys will be boys and all that. Al Gore is a wuss because he let a woman tell him how to dress, and Dowd dubbed John Edwards the Breck Girl – lots of subtlety there. Hillary is too mannish or too girly, depending on the whims of Maureen Dowd’s feelings that week. Whatever she is, Dowd is unhappy, and ultimately, it’s because Maureen Dowd has determined that Hillary Clinton is illegitimate because she didn’t divorce her husband as early as the 1970s but certainly no later than 1998 or 1999. The idea that a woman – or a man – could make choices that Maureen Dowd wouldn’t is beyond her comprehension.

It also doesn’t hurt that Trump has given Dowd and others the excuse to revisit and relitigate the entire history of the Clinton Rules. Whitewater, Lewinsky, the Rose Law Firm records, Vince Foster, impeachment, all of it, is now fair game again. As I wrote a little while ago, welcome back to the 1990s. While the rest of us would just as soon not replay that era, Dowd and her cohort couldn’t be happier – another reason she adores Trump in her own special way.

She plays out her weird ideas in her weekly column, and it’s been going on for far too long. It’s a discredit to the Times that someone with relationship views stuck in the 1950s – and in some cases the 1920s- is allowed to spew out her problems in a weekly column taking up valuable and limited space in the pages of one of the world’s “best” newspapers. I’m not holding out hope that she’ll stop or that the Times will rein her in, but she is one of the most embarrassing and toxic columnists out there.

Sick Leave and Retirement Are Not “Social Issues”

The Post has another Annapolis preview this morning, this time following the “x things to watch for” rubric. In this case, the lucky number is 7.

Pretty much what you’d expect, with Hogan/Busch relationship, Baltimore, and the eight senators and delegates running for other offices in the April primary (not sure why “more than half a dozen” is the reference, you’d think “eight” would be both more precise and use fewer words) on the list. 

No sign of Todd Eberly in this article, but one item on the list makes no sense whatsoever. Number 4 is entitled “Hogan’s response to social issues,” which would be a wonderful topic of discussion. For example, does Larry Hogan support HB16, a bill by Delegate Ric Metzgar that would allow discrimination against LGBT individuals under the guise of “religious freedom”? 

The problem is that two of the three issues Ovetta Wiggins discusses (paid sick leave and retirement plans) are not, under any rational definition, social issues. A June 30 Vanity Fair article entitled “What Will Be The G.O.P.’s New Social Issue?”by the generally annoying Michael Kinsley explicitly distinguished “social issues” from “economic” ones:

Abortion, marriage equality, gun control, drugs, prayer in the schools, affirmative action, the “War on Christmas”: these are all classified as “social issues” (as opposed to economic and foreign-policy issues) . . .

This is a common sense distinction familiar to anyone who’s followed politics for more than, say, ten minutes. Paid sick leave and retirement issues are bread and butter economic issues. They relate to the wages and benefits and conditions of employment of ALL workers. They will be heard by the House Economic Matters Committee in Annapolis, if some external indicator was needed. They may be excellent indicators of something – economic justice/inequality, for instance – but it defies explanation to cast them as “social.” It’s not even remotely a close call.

 Unless, of course, the idea is to use “social” as a signifier for “controversial,” in the hopes of giving encouragement to opponents of the proposals for paid sick leave and worker retirement accounts (“oh, well, it’s one of THOSE issues. They’re SO divisive. Sigh.” I don’t know what Ovetta Wiggins’ views on the subject are, but the Post as an entity is and has been for many years – decades, in fact – openly hostile to labor and workers’ rights. Seen in this view, what we have here – perhaps – is the subtle hand of management tweaking a subhead to disparage and denigrate an issue that is vigorously opposed by the Fred Hiatts and Charles Laneses of PostWorld (not to mention owner Jeff Bezos, but the Post’s elitist hostility to workers rights long predates his arrival, so he gets a pass for this discussion).

It’s kind of sad, but reading the newspaper has become an intelligence agency exercise in decoding the preferences of the people doing the writing. I think I liked it better when our overlords and social betters just whacked us in the head with a 2×4. At least we knew where we stood then.

As I Was Saying Just Last Night . . . 

Never let it be said that I don’t give credit where credit is due. That Dana Milbank, he’s pretty damn smart. And he nailed the Supreme Court’s blatant hypocrisy on public sector unions, seeing a political power grab for what it is. Go read the whole thing, I agree with every word, but here’s the gist.

Citizens United and other recent rulings created the modern era of super PACs and unlimited political contributions by the wealthy. Because there are fewer liberal billionaires (and those who are politically active, such as George Soros and Tom Steyer, tend to shun super PACs in favor of their own projects) the only real counterweight to Republican super PACs in this new era is union money. And the Supreme Court is about to attack that, too.

The only question is how big a loss Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association will be for the unions. It’s virtually certain to be another step toward American oligarchy. The court’s conservative majority, setting aside a professed respect for precedent and states’ authority, is putting a thumb on the scale of justice in favor of the wealthy donors who have purchased the GOP and much of the government.

Annapolis Preview – The Post Needs A New Expert

Apparently, every Washington Post reporter has one name on their Rolodex when it comes time to write an article about Maryland politics. And it turns out to be Todd Eberly, our favorite know-nothing analyst, who always predicts doom for Democrats when they act like, well, Democrats. Today’s otherwise uneventful preview article finds the Post and Eberly warning Democratic legislators against, well, doing their jobs.

A string of overrides could set a confrontational tone for the session. It also would send a clear message to Hogan, whose approval ratings soared last year as he battled cancer while continuing to govern.

“I think it could be telling. It would be a declaration that ‘We are Democrats first,’ ” said Eberly, who called the vetoes a “shot across the bow.”

There’s a lot of moron packed into those two short paragraphs. Where to begin?  “Confrontational tone”? Hogan’s a Republican, while 65% of the House and 70% of the Senate are Democrats. They stand for different things – confrontation is part of the deal in politics. Additionally, why warn Democrats against confrontation, when Hogan gave a highly “confrontational” State of the State speech a year ago? And then puzzled even his own party’s legislators by attempting to sabotage a budget that had been agreed to by all concerned?

Next, is it the Post’s view that because Larry Hogan is personally popular, Democrats should just do what he wants? What other “clear message” might veto overrides carry with them?

Next, Eberly’s nonsensical “we are Democrats first” comment. These are Democratic Party elected officials – how else would he like them to act? Like Republicans? There are some key issues embedded in those Hogan vetoes and the underlying bills. Asset seizure, criminal law changes regarding marijuana paraphernalia, voting rights for ex-felons. Eberly seems to be saying that legislators shouldn’t legislate in ways that Hogan disapproves of – why? Any difference between the various overrides, or is it just a general principle that Democrats aren’t supposed to be Democrats? What a load of horseshit.

And finally, the “shot across the bow” nonsense. When national Republicans filibustered every bill for so many years, was that a shot across the bow? When Maryland Republicans use the filibuster in Annapolis, is that a shot across the bow? Don’t remember those arguments being made by the only known Maryland political analyst used by the media. So why is it a shot across the bow for Democrats, who have the requisite votes within their own party to override vetoes, to use an available means of legislative expression?

I can’t really think of a good answer to any of my questions. And if the answer involves deferring to Hogan because he has cancer, you and I can’t be friends any more. Which you ought to know if you’ve been reading this blog for any significant amount of time. Personal courtesy and expressions of support are all well and good, but cancer is not a political bargaining chip to be traded upon. Politics is making real, hard choices about big issues, and no vote on policy – ever – should be made out of sympathy. 43,000 ex-felons shouldn’t have the question of their voting rights decided because Larry Hogan got sick. Which I really shouldn’t have to explain to a professor of political science.

I’m done. A little too dizzy and out of breath for a mic drop but I feel better now. To the Washington Post – please do a Google search and find someone else to discuss Maryland politics. My future mental health thanks you in advance.

Not Even Pretending

As the presidential primaries crash headlong toward the first votes in three weeks, our pal Chris Cillizza has dropped any pretense of objectivity, today speculating about a Sanders sweep of both Iowa and New Hampshire. His fig leaf basis for indulging this fantasy scenario this is two polls yesterday, one showing Hillary Clinton leading in Iowa by 48-45 and the other showing Sanders leading in New Hampshire by 50-46. From this, Cillizza gushes:

Consider two polls conducted by the Wall Street Journal, NBC and Marist College in Iowa and New Hampshire that were released Sunday. In Iowa, Clinton has 48 percent, Sanders has 45 percent, and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley has 5 percent. In New Hampshire, it’s Sanders in the lead with 50 percent, with 46 percent for Clinton and 1 percent for O’Malley.

Even if you accept that these surveys are a snapshot in time and take a step back to look at the broader polling picture, the idea of Sanders sweeping the first two states remains plausible.

Ummm, not really. As Cillizza acknowledges deeper into the article, the NBC/WSJ poll in Iowa is out of whack with the trend line in Iowa which shows Clinton with a larger lead. Her lead in the Real Clear Politics average in Iowa is 10.6 points. The new poll is the closest of the five being used in the current average. Sanders has not led an Iowa poll since early September, and out of 43 polls in the state since late April, he has led in precisely two of them.

In New Hampshire on the other hand, Sanders’ RCP lead is a mere 4.7 points, Clinton leads two of the most recent polls, and she’s led in 16 out of 35 polls since early May. Sanders’ current lead is the product of one poll – by Fox News – showing him with a  13 point lead in early January. But at the same time, the new NBC/WSJ poll shows Sanders ahead by 4, while Clinton leads by 3 in a PPP poll.

From all this data, Cillizza spins out a “nightmare scenario” of Clinton losing both Iowa and New Hampshire. If anything, however, the data argues for precisely the opposite – if Sanders can’t win in either Iowa or New Hampshire, he’s pretty much done. And the chances of him losing New Hampshire are growing with each new poll recently.

But that’s not the story that Chris Cillizza wants to tell. What he suggests certainly isn’t impossible, but absent his transparent cherry picking of a single poll this morning, there’s no evidence to indicate that it’s any more likely now than it was a week or a month ago. Leading me to wonder why this story wasn’t headlined “Sanders lead slipping in New Hampshire.”

Actually, upon 2.3 seconds of reflection, I don’t wonder at all. Chris Cillizza is a hack.

Cranking Up The Clinton Wurlitzer, 2016 Style

The Post has a story today that reports that, with great sorrow (yea, verily!) the paper is being forced against its will to report things that it would really just as soon ignore. But Karen Tumulty is a soldier, and she will do what she must in the cause of Journalism (a Pulitzer wouldn’t hurt either).

The ghosts of the 1990s have returned to confront Hillary Clinton, released from the vault by Donald Trump and revved up by a 21st-century version of the scandal machine that almost destroyed her husband’s presidency.

This is a moment that her campaign has long expected. What remains to be seen is whether a reminder of allegations of sexual impropriety against Bill Clinton — which were deemed to have varying levels of credibility when they were first aired — can gain new traction in a different context.

The fresher case being made is that Hillary Clinton has been, at a minimum, hypocritical about her husband’s treatment of women, and possibly even complicit in discrediting his accusers.

Oh spare me your pious bullshit. You’ve been ready to write this story for YEARS. You troll the usual right wing fever swamp websites DAILY, all aquiver for the day you could repackage the original shit sandwiches for a new generation of gullible idiots. “Maybe if we take the sexual assault angle, that’ll make it fresh and appealing. Yeah, that’s hot right now,  let’s do that .”

By the end of the article, Tumulty has dropped the pretense of hesitancy and dived straight into the heart of the cesspool.

Tom Watson, owner of Maverick Investigations, an Arizona-based private investigative agency, built a website — “A Scandal a Day” — for Willey last spring, shortly after Hillary Clinton declared she was running for president. It aims to bring forward new allegations.

The site went live in June, Watson said, and in the first two hours it received 100,000 hits.

“Kathleen is going to be very popular this year,” Watson predicted.

Last month, Aaron Klein, a writer for such right-of-center publications as World Net Daily and host of a weekly radio talk show, wrote an article on Breitbart.com headlined “In Their Own Words: Why Bill’s ‘Bimbos’ Fear a Hillary Presidency.”

In it, Klein described how his radio program had become “a support center of sorts” for Bill Clinton’s female accusers — “a safe-space for these women to sound off about the way they were allegedly treated by both Bill and Hillary.”

In the article, Klein quotes Broaddrick, Willey and Gennifer Flowers, an actress who had an affair with Clinton when he was governor.

In what Klein described as Flowers’s only interview since Clinton announced her candidacy, Flowers accused Hillary of being “an enabler that has encouraged [Bill] to go out and do whatever he does with women.”

“I think it’s a joke,” Klein quotes Flowers as saying, “that she would run on women’s issues.”

These guys are right wing hacks. They care as much about “safe spaces” as I do about the “carried interest” tax deduction for hedge fund managers. And right out of the gate, the Washington Post is giving them maximum exposure without even so much as a nod to the now decades long lack of string of false stories surrounding the Clintons. “[V]arying levels of credibility” doesn’t even constitute a fig leaf for the (figurative?) tumescence that the Post (and the Times too) have for these kinds of stories.

And of course I I know the answer to this one: when will we see the breathless tabloid coverage of a bunch of left wing nutballs about the GOP candidates? Hahahahahaha. I crack myself up. The answer is “no silly, because they are no left wing nutballs in Karen Tumulty’s Rolodex. Duh.”

Welcome back to 1994, folks. Strap yourselves in, because it is going to be one hell of a bumpy ride.

Hillary Clinton Rakes It In

Earlier in the week, the media was abuzz with news that Ted Cruz raised $19 million in the fourth quarter of 2015. Hillary Clinton has a comment: “Dude, that’s like a rounding error for my fundraising.”

Hillary Clinton’s campaign announced Friday that it raised $55 million in the final fundraising period of 2015, and $112 million in primary-election funds for the year. Clinton brought in $37 million in money specifically for use in the primary during the fourth quarter of 2015.

Clinton also raised $3 million for the general election. Her annual total is the most for any non-incumbent in a non-election year and roughly equal to what President Obama raised as a sitting president ahead of the 2012 election, the campaign said.

I’m beginning to like this whole Year of the Woman thing. Except for Carly Fiorina’s shameless pandering on the Rose Bowl yesterday, which backfired horribly.

Seriously, Clinton raised more money than incumbent Barack Obama in 2012. Think about that. And then gaze in glassy-eyed stupefaction at moron Chris Cillizza’s having awarded Clinton the Worst Year of 2015, along with Jeb Bush. That’s 55 million new reasons why Cillizza is a pathetic joke. I also highly recommend this screed listing by month all the incisive and prescient analysis conducted by Cillizza throughout 2015. What’s even more pathetic is Cillizza’s effort just this week to defend (after a month of savage attacks) his lumping the presumptive Democratic nominee with the latest failed Bush family scion.

Another emerging narrative for the New Year: just how much will the Washington Post embarrass itself in 2016? The Bezos Boys are off to a flying start so far.

Fred Hiatt Strikes Again

The next person who calls it the “liberal Washington Post” really needs to have his or her head examined.

Fred Hiatt, the Washington Post’s editorial page editor, has fired columnist Harold Meyerson, one of the nation’s finest journalists and perhaps the only self-proclaimed socialist to write a weekly column for a major American newspaper during the past decade or two.

At a time when America is experiencing an upsurge of progressive organizing and activism — from Occupy Wall Street, to Black Lives Matter, to the growing movement among low-wage workers demanding higher minimum wages, to Bernie Sanders’ campaign for president — we need a regular columnist who can explain what’s going on, why it’s happening, and what it means.

More than any other columnist for a major U.S. newspaper, Meyerson provided ongoing coverage and incisive analysis of the nation’s labor movement and other progressive causes as well as the changing economy and the increasing aggressiveness of big business in American politics. He was one of the few columnists in the country who knew labor leaders and grassroots activists by name, and who could write sympathetically and knowledgeably about working people’s experiences in their workplaces and communities.

Since Steve Greenhouse retired last year as the New York Times’ brilliant labor reporter, no other major paper has a reporter who covers unions and working people on a full-time basis. Now with Meyerson’s firing, there’s not one weekly columnist who understands the ins and outs of organized (and disorganized) labor.

So why did Hiatt fire Meyerson? Here’s a clue:

  
Yeah, it’s like I always say – if there’s one thing I hate about the national media, it’s the excessive focus on labor issues.

Meanwhile, across the op-ed page, George Will is soiling his bedclothes with verbal diarrhea like this (George doesn’t realize he’s chasing the kids off of a lawn that exists only in his demented mind. Anecdote/data fallacy, etc.). And Robert Samuelson continues to write the same anti-entitlements column over and over again.

Let’s be real here, folks: Meyerson got fired because Hiatt doesn’t believe labor is worth writing about. Period.

I’m really hoping my next Post endorsement interview is with Fred Hiatt (the one with fellow neo-con Charles Lane was a surreal hoot). Suggestion to Hiatt: wear some fire retardant clothing.

It’s Tough Out Here For The Squirrels

Just when I thought that Barry O’Connell had returned to this planet from his extended stay “elsewhere,” he goes and says this. I had such hopes that he’d find some more nuts. Alas.

 
The article Barry links to is all about Cummings not running. There is no discussion, none, about who, if anyone, Cummings might endorse if he doesn’t run. So yes, neither Cummings nor Edwards makes any  comments about an issue they weren’t asked about.

Well, shit, if that’s how it goes, I’ve got one too:

“Neither Cummings nor Edwards had any comment about reports that aliens looking just like Barry O’Connell have landed on earth with the mission to make nonsensical blog posts regarding issues the candidates weren’t asked about, thus confusing readers and causing general chaos, in hopes of destabilizing the planet for the imminent invasion of an army of O’Connells.”

At least mine has a better basis in reality than Barry’s. His streak of nut finding is over at one.