Better Press Corps (Time edition)/Odds and Ends.

A couple of things.

As Zander points out, Ta-Nehisi Coates has already gutted  Tucker Carlson.  In my view, the prematurely bow-tied young fogey has finally and irrevocably dissappeared within the SchwarzDrudgechild radius boundary.  He has descended into a region where the ordinary laws of space and time break down.  He will experience nothing but an infinite loop of right-wing fantasy world affirmation, while those of us safely beyond the event horizon will enjoy the blessed tranquility of something approximating real life.

Not going to bother with FdB either, who (a) never claimed to be a journalist and hence doesn’t belong in this post and (b) whose latest effort to troll this and other blogs seems to me simply sad.  Mistermix deals with that last and oddly jumbled cry for help more gently than I would, and I think it best just to leave it lie, but for this:  in the past, I’ve achieved world-competitive pinnacles of high dudgeon when right wing folks assert as facts claims like : “Bloggers are insecure, as a species. I find that if you scratch at the perfectly calculated pose of preemptive superiority, you find people who are unable to look you in the face while they tell you you’re wrong.”  This is McArdle-worthy — akin to her habit  of saying her (unnamed) liberal friends are all (x).  Freddie is better than that by far, usually.  Here’s hoping he finds a better analytical groove soon.

Nope, the reason I’m chiming up when I should be doing almost anything else is to deal with the latest bit of truthiness from Time’s website, a Michael Scherer bit of wisdom on lying in politics telling us…wait for it…that both sides do it.

Most of the article is a rehash of stuff a lot of folks have already been covering about the role of party affiliation (and leader-influence) on whether or not mere factual argument penetrates somebody’s body of assumptions and agreed narratives.  Nothing wrong with that, for the most part, other than it’s old enough to grow whiskers.

But as he attempts to find equivalence Scherer surrenders to his default village instinct (an example of the pathology he goes on to describe, perhaps?)  He offers one notable Romney lie — the claim regularly repeated that Obama’s administration has gutted welfare-to-work rules, and he says, almost bluntly enough to satisfy even partisan me, that “The ad was unmistakably deceptive.” (It was false, and not merely misleading, but still, this is a pretty clear evaluation.”

But then he goes on to put forward two alleged Obama falsehoods.

Here’s the first:

“Nobody accused Mr. Romney of being a felon,” he said. In fact, one of the President’s senior strategists, Stephanie Cutter, told reporters a month earlier that Romney was misrepresenting himself either to the American people or to securities regulators—“which is a felony,” she said.  Cutter’s was a conditional accusation but an accusation nonetheless.

So, on the one hand you have a piece of information publicly and widely disseminated that is false (the welfare/work stuff) and on the other you have someone saying that if Romney did (x) that’s a felony, and thus Obama lied when he said that his folks hadn’t called Romney a felon.  I’m not going into the weeds of parsing how what Obama said is in fact accurate (if politically clever in the mode of the great and vicious LBJ).  But if you can’t see the consequential difference in the two statements you’re in the wrong line of work.

But the really egregious statement comes a little later:

One of the most galling Obama deceptions, embedded in two television ads, asserts that Romney backed a bill outlawing “all abortion even in cases of rape and incest.” This is not true. Romney has consistently maintained, since becoming a pro-life politician in 2005, that he supports exceptions for rape and incest and to protect the life of the mother.

“This is not true.”

Sure you want to pick that hill to die on Michael?

 

Consider:

In March of 2012, Romney explained to radio host Tommy Tucker that his current positions were the same as “the last time.” He offered the same to Sean Hannity in a November 2011 interview: “I have the same positions today I had four years ago where you know I’m a conservative guy.”

…From an Aug. 8, 2007 ABC News article:

Appearing Monday on “Good Morning America,” Romney was asked by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos if he supports the Republican Party’s 2004 platform on abortion rights, which states, “We support a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution and we endorse legislation to make it clear that the 14th Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.”
Romney replied, “You know, I do support the Republican platform, and I support that being part of the Republican platform and I’m pro-life.”

…Here’s a post from Peter J. Smith at LifeSiteNews:

Romney made the choice to abandon his earlier rejection of the human life amendment as he poured money and energy into winning the Ames caucus in Iowa, where Republican voters run strongly social conservative.
“I do support the Republican platform and I do support that big part of the Republican platform, and I am pro-life,” Romney said during an August 6 Republican debate, when asked whether he affirmed the human life amendment, a key part of the 2004 Republican pro-life platform that was written by his pro-life advisor James Bopp,Jr..

The human life amendment intends to change the US Constitution by expanding 14th Amendment protections – such as due process and equal protection clauses – to include unborn children. Such an amendment would ban abortions nationwide and repeal the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

I have a suggestion.   Michael?  Anytime you feel tempted to use the words “consistent” and “Romney” in the same sentence, lie down until the feeling passes.

In that vein, I should note that Jason Linkins, the HuffPo writer who assembled the record quoted just above also dug up this bit of High Romneyism:

However the Associated Press reports that Romney later qualified his support for a human life amendment. According to the AP, Romney said his advisor Bopp had told him “there are a wide range of possible human life amendments” ranging from a total ban on abortion to an amendment that let states make the decision. On top of that, getting both houses of Congress and 38 out of 50 states to support a constitutional amendment, Bopp told him, “is just not realistic.”

What does Romney really think about abortion?  Who the f**k knows.  If I were to guess I’d say his deepest wish is that talk of abortion would go away — he’s running for office for Pete’s sake.  But Romney’s waffle doesn’t get Scherer off the hook:  He claimed the Obama campaign lied because Romney has since 2005 maintained a single and clearly articulated position on an issue — but that statement is easily and clearly shown to be that which drops from the south end of a north facing horse.

To steal the phrase from Brad DeLong, why oh why can’t we have a better press corps?

Image:  Giovanni Bellini, Four Allegories: Falsehood (or Wisdom), c. 1490.

Cross posted at Inverse Square.






58 replies
  1. 1
    scav says:

    Ahh, brilliant – I need an upgrade in allegory management if that’s one of the four. shell and viper guy? Want. And many thanks for calm breathing space to cycle down the brain.

  2. 2
    third of two says:

    I think you mean “event horizon;” there’s no such thing as a “Schwarzschild boundary.”

    So, “Drudge Horizon.”

  3. 3
    Alison says:

    Yeah, on Romney and abortion, I suspect he doesn’t really give a shit about it, which is bad. His rich white ladyfriends and their rich white daughters will always be able to get abortions if they need one (because their abortions are the only moral abortions, i.e. the “rape, inc3st, and me” exception concept) and he doesn’t care about anyone else getting the care they need, so he won’t try to protect it at all and will happily give in to the wingnuts who want to make it quadruply illegal.

    ETA: Think I used a naughty word that I’ve changed to hopefully fix the modding…if that works?

  4. 4
    Maude says:

    Saw your tweet, you’re such a hottie I had to come over to BJ to read the post.

  5. 5
    Hill Dweller says:

    Willard recently said he was against abortion, with rape, incest and the health of the mother being exceptions. Two hours later, the campaign walked back his health of the mother exception. This happened in the last couple of months.

    Willard has said he’d love to see Rove v. Wade overturned. He told Huckabee he supported a personhood amendment.

    Research, what is it? The Village is worthless.

  6. 6
    Tom Levenson says:

    @third of two: Yeah. I know. Looking for a bit of vocabulary variety. Fixt, I think.

    @Maude: [blushes]

  7. 7
    Tom Levenson says:

    @scav: Those early folks could paint a bit, couldn’t they?

  8. 8
    patroclus says:

    I wish TNC had eviscerated Tucker Carlson; not simply “gutted” him.

    Regarding Michael Scherer, I was a semi-regular at Swampland when he came aboard (I haven’t been back in 4 years though) and our name for him then was “McCain Fluffer.” It’s interesting to see he hasn’t changed much. His examples are not apt – Romney lied (and continues to lie); Stephanie Cutter (not Obama) didn’t.

  9. 9
    scav says:

    @third of two: mmm, reading up on Schwarzschild, I think we may also run into problems applying this to the Village as it applies to a non-rotating black hole and spin is inherent to this particular beast. But I’ll leave that to the experts.

  10. 10
    👽 Martin says:

    I think today is among the worst of all possible days to ask for a better press corps.

    I’m just trying to not think about it until the debate starts and I have something 80-proof in hand.

  11. 11
    Walker says:

    His first “Obama lie” is what happens when undergraduates who are unable to grasp the meaning of a conditional sentence go on to become journalists.

    Is it too much to ask that people who get paid to write for a living understand the basic precepts of language?

  12. 12
    Tom Levenson says:

    @👽 Martin: You know, I’m doing something I thought I would never do. I ain’t going to watch the debate. Instead, we’ve got a babysitter and my wife is taking me out for a belated birthday dinner at a damn good restaurant tonight, and I’m planning on spending the debate having an old fashioned date with my sweetie.

    Somebody else (here) can tell me what happened at that other thing going up at 9 p.m.

  13. 13
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    As i have other duties scheduled tonight, i will have to wait for the replay, or just read up on it here.

  14. 14
    eemom says:

    Freddie is better than that by far, usually.

    Yeaaah, I’m going to have to go ahead and disagree with you there.

  15. 15
    👽 Martin says:

    @Tom Levenson: I’m actually looking forward to the debate, but I’ll skip the commentary.

    And happy birthday.

  16. 16
    BGinCHI says:

    Tucker Carlson is trying to be the next George Will.

    Imagine wanting to be that.

    It’s like a young football player who wants to be Jeff George when he grows up.

  17. 17
    Redshift says:

    @BGinCHI: I suspect Tucker Carlson has always hoped to be the next George Will, what with the bow tie and all. If Will had not impolitely failed to die or retire before Tucker got demolished by Jon Stewart, he probably would be the next George Will right now.

    But yes, it is a pretty sad thing to aspire to.

  18. 18
    Scamp Dog says:

    I’ll give you the same answer I’ve given on Brad’s blog: it’s their job to be that way.

  19. 19
    Redshift says:

    @Tom Levenson: I also have a birthday dinner tonight. Afterwards, we may go by the local campaign office where they’ll be watching the debate, or to friends, or just home.

    In ’08, we went to our local-local Dems debate watch party for one of the debates, and it was dreadful. Most of the people there wanted to make sure they heard every word, so they shushed anyone who made a sound, and we watched most of it in dead silence. If you want that, why would you go to a party at all? In any case, I don’t expect the campaign office to be like that.

  20. 20

    Shit! That’s exceptionally bad news. Because as Tucker is beyond the “Drudge Horizon” for us outside we will see him falling for all eternity towards the Rush Limpballs Singularity.

  21. 21
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    Is it too much to ask that people who get paid to write for a living understand the basic precepts of language?

    @Walker: I catch WaPo and the NYT with errors in basic grammar and spelling on an almost daily basis.

    Guess it’s not important anymore. Just like newspapers. The local billionaire is buying up ALL of our local papers and turning them into his own personal propaganda distribution network. A good strategem, one might think, save that the demographic of “people who read newspapers for their news” is starting to die off, and is being replaced by “people who don’t read newspapers at all.”

  22. 22
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Redshift: It was either George Will, or a talkative doorman with a drinking problem.

  23. 23

    Sully just threw bow tie boy under the bus, drove over him, reversed and then drove over him again just to be sure.

  24. 24
    Redshift says:

    Romney has consistently maintained…

    This one’s about on the level of the Factcheck.org one declaring that the ads saying that Romney’s would raise taxes on the middle class is false because “Romney has said he won’t do that.”

  25. 25
    JPL says:

    Tom, I’m glad that your other job allows you time to post. Scherer just doesn’t care about the truth.

  26. 26
    geg6 says:

    @eemom:

    Finally, something that you and I can agree on in complete harmony. ;-)

  27. 27
    Nellie in NZ says:

    Way off topic, but I’m oddly happy this morning in New Zealand to think of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Tom Levenson sharing a hallway in Boston these days.

  28. 28
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    My folks are going to arrive from California in about two hours, so I will miss the debate also. I will go back and read the live blogging at Little Green Footballs and Sully for a recap.

  29. 29
    geg6 says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt:

    Yes, he did. Could it be that our Sully is learning?

    Nah, not really. He still blathers endlessly about the Magical Unicorn Grand Bargain as being electoral gold. But I give him credit when credit is due, as it is here.

  30. 30
    Dork says:

    In tonite’s debate, if I were Romney and I was going for 27%-esque optics, I’d walk out with a scud of 8-ball in a jimmy sack and hand it to Obama, then walk away.

    I think BO should be ready for this by wearing Mormon special underwear that he can shread like Lou Ferrigno.

    Clearly I have low expectations for tonite.

  31. 31
    Tone In DC says:

    @BGinCHI:

    I think you mean Ryan Leaf.
    Just sayin’.

  32. 32
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt:

    Sully just threw bow tie boy under the bus, drove over him, reversed and then drove over him again just to be sure.

    Pretty much.

    Carlson used to be a brilliant writer. He’s now a racist demagogue. He’s a story in one person of how degenerate and disgusting much of American “conservatism” has become.

    I think bow-tie boy is trying to feebly raise one arm and signal for help…which, alas, will not be forthcoming.

  33. 33
    nellcote says:

    @BGinCHI:

    Tucker Carlson is trying to be the next George Will.

    Did they co-ordinate their Race Day efforts yesterday?

  34. 34
    catclub says:

    @nellcote: Race day indeed.

  35. 35

    @Litlebritdifrnt: @celticdragonchick: Yup. But my only quibble is to ask someone, anyone, to point me to a Carlson piece from any era that was “brilliant.”

    Grade inflation, peeps.

  36. 36
    celticdragonchick says:

    @nellcote:

    Maybe, but somebody forgot to tell Chunky Reese Witherspoon and Bobo ahead of time.

  37. 37
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    Bow tie boy could be smart in roundtables on TV back in the 90’s, even if he always came off as an insufferable asshole. (I wanted to fucking choke him to death and I was a hard core Republican at the time!)

    Now, he doesn’t even come off as smart, and he is still as unlikable as he ever was.

  38. 38
    Hokey Nation says:

    Holy krap, look at the size of this apophasis:

    Not going to bother with FdB …

    followed by this blistering chunk of not bothering:

    …who (a) never claimed to be a journalist and hence doesn’t belong in this post and (b) whose latest effort to troll this and other blogs seems to me simply sad. Mistermix deals with that last and oddly jumbled cry for help more gently than I would, and I think it best just to leave it lie, but for this: in the past, I’ve achieved world-competitive pinnacles of high dudgeon when right wing folks assert as facts claims like : “Bloggers are insecure, as a species. I find that if you scratch at the perfectly calculated pose of preemptive superiority, you find people who are unable to look you in the face while they tell you you’re wrong.” This is McArdle-worthy—akin to her habit of saying her (unnamed) liberal friends are all (x). Freddie is better than that by far, usually. Here’s hoping he finds a better analytical groove soon.

  39. 39
    JustRuss says:

    It’s impossible to lie about Romney’s stance on abortion, because at some point he’s held–with apologies to Ms. Palin–all of them.

  40. 40
    Maude says:

    @Tom Levenson:
    I kept forgetting to tell you to tell your wife that she must be something, in a wonderful way.
    Bet she’s a hottie too.
    Have a good dinner. We’ll all be here making nasty comments.

  41. 41
    hueyplong says:

    Think of poor Tucker. In the vicous, attack dog world of right wing punditry, he will be forever known as The Guy Who Was Given A Lifetime Wedgie By A Basic Cable Comedian.

    While wearing a bow tie.

    Every day, Ann Coulter takes his lunch money and THEN beats him up, just because she can.

    If yesterday’s Hail Mary doesn’t work, he’s a pretty good bet to get up close and personal with his auto’s exhaust pipe.

    Then the most humiliated living right winger will be Hannity himself (this presumes that the unsuccessful 2012 GOP presidential candidates lack the self awareness to be humiliated by anything, ever).

  42. 42
    trollhattan says:

    @BGinCHI:
    Per the always useful David Sedaris, wearing a bowtie is announcing to the world you can no longer achieve an erection.

  43. 43
    celticdragonchick says:

    @JustRuss:

    JustRuss Says:

    It’s impossible to lie about Romney’s stance on abortion, because at some point he’s held—with apologies to Ms. Palin—all of them.

    According to the Quantum Theory of Mitt Romney:

    Complementarity. In much the same way that light is both a particle and a wave, Mitt Romney is both a moderate and a conservative, depending on the situation (Fig. 1). It is not that he is one or the other; it is not that he is one and then the other. He is both at the same time.

    Probability. Mitt Romney’s political viewpoints can be expressed only in terms of likelihood, not certainty. While some views are obviously far less likely than others, no view can be thought of as absolutely impossible. Thus, for instance, there is at any given moment a nonzero chance that Mitt Romney supports child slavery.

    Uncertainty. Frustrating as it may be, the rules of quantum campaigning dictate that no human being can ever simultaneously know both what Mitt Romney’s current position is and where that position will be at some future date. This is known as the “principle uncertainty principle.”

    Entanglement. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a proton, neutron or Mormon: the act of observing cannot be separated from the outcome of the observation. By asking Mitt Romney how he feels about an issue, you unavoidably affect how he feels about it. More precisely, Mitt Romney will feel every possible way about an issue until the moment he is asked about it, at which point the many feelings decohere into the single answer most likely to please the asker.

    Noncausality. The Romney campaign often violates, and even reverses, the law of cause and effect. For example, ordinarily the cause of getting the most votes leads to the effect of being considered the most electable candidate. But in the case of Mitt Romney, the cause of being considered the most electable candidate actually produces the effect of getting the most votes.

    Duality. Many conservatives believe the existence of Mitt Romney allows for the possibility of the spontaneous creation of an “anti-Romney” (Fig. 2) that leaps into existence and annihilates Mitt Romney. (However, the science behind this is somewhat suspect, as it is financed by Rick Santorum, for whom science itself is suspect.)

    What does all this bode for the general election? By this point it won’t surprise you to learn the answer is, “We don’t know.” Because according to the latest theories, the “Mitt Romney” who seems poised to be the Republican nominee is but one of countless Mitt Romneys, each occupying his own cosmos, each supporting a different platform, each being compared to a different beloved children’s toy but all of them equally real, all of them equally valid and all of them running for president at the same time, in their own alternative Romnealities, somewhere in the vast Romniverse.

  44. 44
    trollhattan says:

    @hueyplong:
    Am surprised the leaked pre-interview tape of Willard and Sean chatting about expensive horsies didn’t have a longer shelf life, particularly after Willard distanced himself from “Ann’s hobby” at the Olympics. An artfully blase lie.

  45. 45

    @Maude:

    Bet she’s a hottie too.

    She is.

  46. 46
    Schlemizel says:

    @Redshift:

    I’m not sure I agree with you. I am willing to bet Will makes a lot more money than you and I put together – A LOT MORE. ‘Important’ people seek his opinion, they never ever point out when he is wrong and the work is very easy.

    Some days I wish I had an option like that. My guess is tiny Tucker does too. And he would have succeeded if not for you meddling kids Jon Stewart!

  47. 47
    Maude says:

    @Schlemizel:
    I think that they make a lot of money and that is part of the problem. It makes them think they are smart.

  48. 48
    Crow73 says:

    @Maude:
    I just threw-up a little in my mouth.
    lol

  49. 49
    BGinCHI says:

    @Tone In DC: Generational update accepted.

  50. 50
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Hokey Nation:

    Holy krap, look at the size of this apophasis:
    __

    Not going to bother with FdB …

    __
    followed by this blistering chunk of not bothering:

    You must be new here.

    When Tom L says he’s not going to bother, that means don’t expect any cool artwork which satirizes the target and holds them up to ridicule in a subtle and culturally enriching fashion.

    FdB didn’t rate his own painting, in this case. Oh well, life goes on.

  51. 51
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    FdB didn’t rate his own painting, in this case.

    No paintings of someone crying over the invention of gunpowder? It’s a big moment in Ariosto’s _Orlando Furioso_.

  52. 52
    Chris says:

    @celticdragonchick:

    Carlson used to be a brilliant writer. He’s now a racist demagogue. He’s a story in one person of how degenerate and disgusting much of American “conservatism” has become.

    Pretty much.

    Put me down alongside my fellow melanine-deficient poster from yesterday who said “I had no idea just how badly white people were about to lose their shit when Obama was elected.”

  53. 53
    gluon1 says:

    @scav: No great wisdom in myself, but the Wikipedia explains the painting thusly:

    Falsehood shows a man (different from the usual representation as a woman) exiting a shell, symbol of crookedness of lies. Armed with a snake (symbol of calumny), he is assailing what resembles a hermit, who is setting for the wisdom path from a pedestal, where is also the artist’s signature.

  54. 54
    replicnt6 says:

    @Hokey Nation:

    Holy krap, look at the size of this apophasis:

    It’s always about the size of the apophasis, isn’t it? Sheesh.

  55. 55
    Hugely says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease: you must mean San Diego UT and NC Times?

    heres what I like to read in its place: http://www.voiceofsandiego.org

    of course their servers must be two x86s under somebodys desk cuz its slow as dogdoo

  56. 56
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @replicnt6: _Apophasis Now_. The horror. The horror.

  57. 57
    Vico says:

    @Tom Levenson: Tom, I am also skipping the debate tonight, in favor of the one-time showing of the 30th anniversary print (?) of E.T. on the big screen. I am going to tape it, however. But I thought this time, in the light of that graph above that explains NBC’s pro-Republican bias in the Bush-Kerry debate, I’d watch the media coverage of the debate first and then watch the debate later.

  58. 58
    Rex Everything says:

    It’s funny how your quote from Freddie exactly predicts and describes your response tactic. I don’t recall a McMegan barb that was borne out by its targets in the very act of refutation; do you?

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