In the bag

Is any US outlet other than the Times doing original reporting on the News Corp. scandal? The Times has it wrapped like a mummy, and I can’t help but wonder if WaPo and other outlets have ties to News Corp. (for example, Charles Lane of the WaPo Editorial Board is a regular on Bret Baier’s Special Report) that make it unlikely they will cover the story seriously.

Sullivan is so far in the bag for his paymasters at News Corp. that he’s making “the Guardian is shrill” jokes.

For shame. He is dead to me.

How To Be a Hack


For months, I had assumed that the Republican leadership would be able to find support within its caucus for option No. 2. Based on John Boehner’s brief flirtation with a “grand bargain” that would have included tax reform, the speaker of the House thought so as well.

But based on how quickly he abandoned that flirtation, it appears we were both mistaken. The result was a hanging curveball for President Obama, who spent last week posing as the Last Reasonable Man in Washington, contrasting his willingness to compromise on entitlements with the House Republicans’ intransigence on taxes.

To conservatives, this has been a galling spectacle. A president who spent his first two years in office taking spending to a historic high is accusing them of fiscal irresponsibility? A president who spent the spring demagoguing House Republicans for their willingness to restructure Medicare is citing a much more modest set of cuts as evidence of his fiscal seriousness?

But this fury misses the point. Obama has been playing the reasonability card so successfully because his opponents won’t (or can’t) play one of their own.

Did you see the sleight of hand? Obama’s not really reasonable, he’s just pretending to be, and Obama is to blame for the economic disaster created by Republicans, and no mention of the fact that the GOP was eased into power by… demagoguing Medicare in 2010 then immediately voting to end it. Once again, Dave Leonhardt (really Ross, he works in the same building. I’m sure he could fill you in on this stuff):

The story of today’s deficits starts in January 2001, as President Bill Clinton was leaving office. The Congressional Budget Office estimated then that the government would run an average annual surplus of more than $800 billion a year from 2009 to 2012. Today, the government is expected to run a $1.2 trillion annual deficit in those years.

You can think of that roughly $2 trillion swing as coming from four broad categories: the business cycle, President George W. Bush’s policies, policies from the Bush years that are scheduled to expire but that Mr. Obama has chosen to extend, and new policies proposed by Mr. Obama.

The first category — the business cycle — accounts for 37 percent of the $2 trillion swing. It’s a reflection of the fact that both the 2001 recession and the current one reduced tax revenue, required more spending on safety-net programs and changed economists’ assumptions about how much in taxes the government would collect in future years.

About 33 percent of the swing stems from new legislation signed by Mr. Bush. That legislation, like his tax cuts and the Medicare prescription drug benefit, not only continue to cost the government but have also increased interest payments on the national debt.

Mr. Obama’s main contribution to the deficit is his extension of several Bush policies, like the Iraq war and tax cuts for households making less than $250,000. Such policies — together with the Wall Street bailout, which was signed by Mr. Bush and supported by Mr. Obama — account for 20 percent of the swing.

About 7 percent comes from the stimulus bill that Mr. Obama signed in February. And only 3 percent comes from Mr. Obama’s agenda on health care, education, energy and other areas.

Back to Douthat- that is how it is done. Lie through omission about the cause of our financial woes, claim the President’s policies aren’t really reasonable and that he is just pretending to be, and completely ignore the fact that the Republicans are batshit insane. Last week’s Ross Douthat, still fluffing the crazy party, assured us this was all GOP strategery. Today’s Ross Douthat, while continuing to apply unflinching suction to the GOP, wonders what went wrong.

What went wrong? Maybe they listened to idiots like Douthat, or maybe they feel unconstrained by reality because they always know Ross will be there for them to give them a wet sloppy one. And he knows he will always get a check for his services, be that at the NY Times, or if that doesn’t pan out, there is always the Heritage Foundation or the Pacific Institute or some other wingnut welfare pub to push his drivel.

It’s all in the game.

Hackgate: Rabid Weasels All the Way Down

(Jeff Danziger’s website)

H/t commentor PeakVT for the link to Reuter’s report that Rebekah Brooks was not a nice person to work for:

When Brooks became editor, at age 31, she had a brief to broaden the paper’s appeal by intensifying the focus on celebrity and showbusiness news and publishing fewer of the harder stories the paper had been known for…
At the same time, the pressure to get exclusive stories was so intense that dubious practices were barely questioned. “They were ‘dodgy business HQ’. I’m not sure if people even realised it was illegal. It was a don’t-get-caught culture,” said the reporter of seven years’ standing. New staff would be given the cold shoulder until they’d proved themselves to be “thoroughly disreputable” so their colleagues could trust them.
“It was no place for anyone to pipe up and say: ‘This doesn’t seem ethical to me.’ That would have made you a laughing stock.”
Journalists didn’t explicitly ask for private investigators to get involved in their work, but help would be provided if a reporter got stuck on a promising story. “How it arrived on your desk was a bit of a mystery. You didn’t know and you didn’t ask,” said the reporter. “Every week, somebody’s mobile phone records, somebody’s landline records, sometimes even somebody’s medical records. It was common enough not to be notable.”

Much more disreputable detail at the link. Hoocoodanode seems less and less a defensible legal strategy.

If you prefer something inspirational on a Monday morning, Adweek has a nice little piece on “The Ben Bradlee of Phone Hacking:’Guardian’ editor Alan Rusbridger wouldn’t let investigation die”. (Complete with quotes from the NYT‘s Bill Keller sneering that the Guardian ain’t got no dolla-dolla, and should hurry up and die already.)

And another wonderful tidbit via commentor whose name I’ve misplaced JGabriel (thanks, Sharl!):

Elected conservatives outsource all their work to corporations, leaving me wondering what they do all day

Excellent all-in-one-place piece on ALEC in ProPublica:

This week, both the Los Angeles Times and The Nation put the spotlight on a little-known but influential conservative nonprofit that creates “model” state legislation that often make its way into law. The organization has helped craft some of the most controversial—and industry-friendly—legislation of recent years.
The American Legislative Exchange Council,ALEC, crafted a model resolution for states calling the EPA’s attempts to regulate greenhouse gasses a “trainwreck” and asking Congress to slow or stop the regulations, the Times reported. A press release on ALEC’s site says that at least 13 other states have passed resolutions

It calls itself a “policy making program that unites members of the public and private sectors in a dynamic partnership” based on “Jeffersonian principles.” Critics say it has devolved into a pay-for-play operation, where state legislators and their families get to go on industry-funded junkets and major corporations get to ghostwrite model laws and pass them on to receptive politicians.

I know the information on ALEC has been floating around for months on liberal sites, so it’s heartening to see that news outlets (LA Times, NPR) are now picking it up.

Here’s where you can find the ALEC-drafted bill your state legislator is introducing as his or her own work, “word for word”, in the case of the recent Arizona immigration law:

The Center for Media and Democracy has obtained copies of more than 800 model bills approved by corporations through ALEC meetings, after one of the thousands of people with access shared them, and a whistleblower provided a copy to the Center. We have analyzed and marked-up those bills and made them available at ALEC Exposed.

Looking at the categories, it’s easy to understand why monied interests are drafting this legislation and introducing it in state legislatures all over the country. The profit incentives are clear when they are privatizing public schools and destroying unions, or limiting the right of individual citizens to hold a wrongdoer responsible for money damages suffered, or gutting environmental regulations, or rewriting a state tax code. Those are obvious. What’s interesting is the voter ID bill. That really sticks out. No profit incentive there, so what’s that all about, I wonder?

Debt Ceiling Kerfuffle: Lawrence O’Donnell Explains that Liberal Outrage Helps Obama With Swing Voters

Gigantic Cloud of Smug

Tonight, Lawrence O’Donnell dropped some more knowledge about the debt ceiling negotiations, and I must admit to a sense of self-satisfaction that what he said tonight dovetails nicely with what I’ve been saying for a week (see and here) about Obama governing and courting swing voters1 simultaneously:

Outrage notes have been struck today in the liberal blogosphere and elsewhere that the President was entertaining modest modifications in Medicare and Social Security that could save trillions, even though liberal democrats in the past have done exactly that. The President’s willingness to discuss raising the retirement age in Medicare or Social Security has met rage from some who don’t know that the eligibility age of Social Security has already been raised, that a gradual increase of a retirement age was enacted in 1983, increasing the full retirement from 65 to 67, and that increase had the support of liberals in the House and the Senate.

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