Cool like that

The Times (via Tom Tomorrow) find Jon Meacham trying to make Newsweek cool again:

Editorially, Newsweek’s plan calls for moving in the direction it was already headed — toward not just analysis and commentary, but an opinionated, prescriptive or offbeat take on events.

The current cover article argues that America’s involvement in Afghanistan parallels the Vietnam War, and a companion piece offers a plan for handling that country. Newsweek also plans to lean even more heavily on the appeal of big-name writers like Christopher Hitchens, Fareed Zakaria and George Will.

Starting in May, articles will be reorganized under four broad, new sections — one each for short takes, columnists and commentary, long reporting pieces like the cover articles, and culture — each with less compulsion to touch on the week’s biggest events. A new graphic feature on the last page, “The Bluffer’s Guide,” will tell readers how to sound as if they are knowledgeable on a current topic, whether they are or not.

Remember what happened last time Meacham tried to get the kids to read Newsweek:

After about an hour, there seemed to be no more questions for him, so Newsweek editor Jon Meacham turned to his audience—about 100 graduate students at Columbia journalism school—and said he had a question for them: Did anyone in the room read Newsweek or Time? There was a small, awkward rumbling before finally, a man shouted, “No!”

Mr. Meacham scanned the audience for his quarry and then asked the journalism student, clad in a black turtleneck, whether he read The Economist. Yes, he did.

“It’s the most talked about and least read magazine,” said Mr. Meacham. “Have you looked at Newsweek?”

“Sure,” said the J-schooler.

“And it’s not up to your standards?”

“I find less useful honestly. The news? I don’t get it from Newsweek. The Economist is more courageous,” he answered.

“The success of The Economist—the fact that you read it, a black-turtlenecked guy at Columbia,” Mr. Meacham began.

The whole thing reminds me of the Pat Boone heavy metal album. Meacham is a sociopathic dweeb and we’ll all be better off when his crappy magazine goes bankrupt. Sorry, but there’s no excuse for this kind of facile stupidity:


Hero Hudson pilot cool as a cuke on “Cactus” tape. Clint Eastwood in biopic?

How many Washington wise men does it take to screw an administration?

More on the Gregg withdrawl from Politico:

Republican Sen. Judd Gregg abruptly withdrew his nomination as President Barack Obama’s commerce secretary Thursday, telling Politico that he “couldn’t be Judd Gregg” and serve in the Cabinet.

The harsh response from a White House caught off guard: Gregg was the one who asked for the job – and he repeatedly promised that, “despite past disagreements about policies, he would support, embrace, and move forward with the president’s agenda.”

White House aides described themselves as “blindsided” by what White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs described as Gregg’s change of heart.”

Broder last week:

…in months to come, Gregg will be worth celebrating. He is one of the smart guys on Capitol Hill, especially when it comes to fiscal policy. And he provides Obama with a third strong Republican Cabinet member, joining Defense Secretary Bob Gates and Ray LaHood at Transportation.

Gregg and North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad, the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee, respectively, have been pushing for the creation of a bipartisan commission that would tackle the looming bankruptcy of the three big entitlement programs — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Conrad told me that he deeply regrets the departure of his partner and does not know where to find a substitute.

But help may be on the way. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the No. 3 man in the Senate Republican leadership, quietly joined the Budget Committee last month. When I asked him why, he said it was to “help move the Gregg-Conrad commission proposal forward.”

Moreover, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader of the Senate, told the National Press Club that a bipartisan deal on entitlements is something he thinks can and should happen in this Congress.

Obama said the same thing when he visited The Post just before his inauguration, and now he has in Gregg someone who can help him lobby Congress to move the project forward.

Ha ha.

The parable of the frog turtle and the scorpion:

A scorpion, being a very poor swimmer, asked a turtle to carry him on his back across a river. “Are you mad?” exclaimed the turtle. “You’ll sting me while I’m swimming and I’ll drown.”

“My dear turtle,” laughed the scorpion, “if I were to sting you, you would drown and I would go down with you. Now where is the logic in that?”

“You’re right!” cried the turtle. “Hop on!” The scorpion climbed aboard and halfway across the river gave the turtle a mighty sting. As they both sank to the bottom, the turtle resignedly said:

“Do you mind if I ask you something? You said there’d be no logic in your stinging me. Why did you do it?”

“It has nothing to do with logic,” the drowning scorpion sadly replied. “It’s just my character.”

Obviously, this is a huge setback for the struggling Obama administration. The only way to rectify it would be to appoint Mitt Romeny as auto czar.

Update: A Democratic staffer writes TPM:

It’s hard not to think that Gregg’s withdrawal, with the grumbling about the census and the stimulus, was not timed to cause the most damage possible to the Obama administration. Releasing the statement just as Obama took the stage in Peoria was clearly designed to undermine the President’s event. The fact he scheduled a presser only seems to confirm it. The classy exit would have been to wait til tomorrow afternoon to quietly bow out. Basically Gregg decided not just to politely decline, but rather to blow shit up and burn the bridge behind him. Do not think this portends good things for the wider political climate.

Can We Make A Trade?

DiFi, up to no good:

US Senator Dianne Feinstein hopes to update President Barack Obama’s $838bn economic stimulus package so that American ISPs can deter child pornography, copyright infringement, and other unlawful activity by way of “reasonable network management.”

Clearly, a lobbyist whispering in Feinstein’s ear has taken Comcast’s now famous euphemism even further into the realm of nonsense.

According to Public Knowledge, Feinstein’s network management amendment did not find a home in the stimulus bill that landed on the Senate floor. But lobbyists speaking with the Washington DC-based internet watchdog said that California’s senior Senator is now hoping to insert this language via conference committee – a House-Senate pow-wow were bill disputes are resolved.

“This is the most backdoor of all the backdoor ways of doing things,” Public Knowledge’s Art Brodsky told The Reg. “Conference committees are notorious for being the most opaque of all legislative processes.”

As baseball season is getting close, I would like to propose a trade. We give the Republicans Dianne Feinstein and a PTBNL and they give us Olympia Snowe. This is a solid trade for us. With Judd Gregg at commerce, we would almost complete the New England rout, and Feinstein, as a newly minted Republican, will go down to certain defeat in California. Additionally, there is nothing in this agreement that says the PTBNL can’t be Nelson or Lieberman.

I like this ad

Americans United For Change is running a hard-hitting ad against Boehner, McConnell, and Cantor for their opposition to the stimulus package (via Ben Smith):

These guys deserve to be taken apart for their bullshit, caveman-like attitude towards the stimulus package. It’s a disgrace. And I certainly wouldn’t say that about their possible opposition to the Geithner “plan” (which may very well be fatally flawed, if it even deserved to be called a plan) or about their positions on a lot of other issue. What’s disgraceful here is that they have no alternate plan, that we’re facing the worst recession since WWII, and that the stimulus package proposed by Obama is right out of a macroeconomic textbook (albeit with too many tax-cuts), as Paul Krugman puts it.

To let them off the hook because they’re Republican or southern, or whatever the excuse is, is almost like some kind of racism. They know better, they can do better, and they need to be held accountable, the same way that normal adults are supposed to be held accountable when they make cynical, selfish decisions that hurt other people. It really is that simple.

The Madonna standard

Jen R points me to the following from Howie Kurtz:

DeKalb, Ill.: Dear Howard, Was a question about A-Rod really appropriate during the President’s press conference last night? Why not also ask about Jessica Simpson’s weight gain or the fact I missed House…. I would expect that question from a sport reporter, but I was shocked a “serious” reporter would ask it based on the topic at hand.
Howard Kurtz: You know, there are different views of this, but I didn’t have any problem with Michael Fletcher’s question. A-Rod is not only the biggest star in baseball, he’s a huge celebrity. I mean, he hangs out with Madonna!

Maybe I should just be grateful, there were no questions about Michael Phelps (there weren’t any, right?). But I can’t be alone in thinking that a multi-trillion dollar bank bailout might be more important.

Howie also thinks Obama screwed up by giving long detailed answer to the more important questions.

Not A Serious Nation

You have to be kidding me:

Now it appears the case has expanded beyond Phelps’ activities.

The party took place in November at a house on Blossom Street near Five Points.

It was at that house where someone snapped the photo of Phelps taking a hit on a marijuana pipe called a bong.

Lott says the picture indicated a law was being broken in his jurisdiction. He said he couldn’t ignore the violation just because Phelps is rich and famous.

We’ve now learned that since investigators began trying to build a case, they’ve made eight arrests: seven for drug possession and one for distribution. These are arrests that resulted as the sheriff’s department served search warrants.

We’ve also learned that the department has located and confiscated that bong.

Sources say the owner of the bong was trying to sell it on eBay for as much as $100,000.

The owner, who wasn’t even at the party, is one of the eight now charged.

When I read crap like this, I just want to give up. Apparently there is nothing else of importance for the local authorities to contend with, so there is an investigation into a bunch of jackasses smoking pot.

A country that does this and puts Tommy Chong in jail (nice work, Joe Biden) just isn’t a serious nation. Dissolve our federal, state, and local governments. Dissolve the courts. Screw the stimulus package. Let the banks fail. Let’s just say to hell with it all and let the country die a quick death and hope the Chinese do a better job governing us than we did.

And let me also make the point that yes, often times being rich and famous does give you access to more favorable situations in our screwed up system of justice, but some times, it goes the other way. Just like Paris Hilton got screwed with her jail time because she was a celebrity, Michael Phelps is about to get boned by some overzealous cop because he is famous. And if you want to argue otherwise, then what you are saying is that police agencies around the country have nothing better to do than to hunt average everyday folks down and bust them because they saw a picture of them doing a bong hit. If that is the case, then maybe Sen. Ensign was right the other day- the states need to do some budget cutting, and they should start with the police.

It’s an isolated Village

John wrote earlier about the fact that a Gallup poll shows the public overwhelmingly siding with Democrats over the stimulus bill. Democracy Corps (an important Democratic polling firm) has a poll on the possible effect of the stimulus debate in contested House races:

Voters in the 40 of the most competitive Democratic-held congressional districts favor the economic stimulus legislation passed by the House this week, according to a new Democratic poll.

Democracy Corps sampled 1,200 people combined in those districts, dividing them into two groups: the 20 most competitive districts in the first tier and the next 20 in a second tier.

Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, who conducted the poll, reported that 62 percent of voters in the 20 most competitive districts favor the $819 billion stimulus plan, while 66 percent in the next tier favored the legislation.

“I think that this bill and its conference … will be the defining vote of this Congress,” Greenberg said Friday morning at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor. Greenberg said lawmakers’ votes for the stimulus package were akin in importance to members’ votes for the economic package proposed by President Clinton early in his administration, in terms of their impact on congressional midterm elections.

The idea that opposition to the stimulus bill seems to exist primarily among cable news pundits is catching on. Here’s Josh Marshall:

What’s most striking about these numbers is the continuing disconnect between the mood of the capital and that of the country. For me, a lot of that is a product of how Washington continues to be wired for Republican control. A president, and particularly one like Obama, is the one person who is in a position to cut through that.

And here’s some comments from the Obama team:

Gibbs: I think it’s illuminating because it may not necessarily be where cable television is on all of this. But, you know, we’re sort of used to that. We lost on cable television virtually every day last year. So, you know, there’s a conventional wisdom to what’s going on in America via Washington, and there’s the reality of what’s happening in America.

Axelrod: If I had listened to the conversation in Washington during the campaign for president, I would have jumped off a building about a year and a half ago.

This hearkens back to my favorite political quote of the last campaign:

If Politico and Halperin say we’re winning, we’re losing,” Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, would repeat mantralike around headquarters.

I *still* don’t really understand the Villager love for stupid Republican talking points or Villagers’ failure to come to grips with the fact the Republican party is now a regional party. It infects new members of the Village almost immediately — see Scherer, Michael and Ambinder, Marc. It goes much deeper than Cokie and Broder. And I really don’t know why.