Wednesday, December 31, 2008

From the Beltway Pundits' Mindreading Textbook Comes...

This post by Swampland's newest "contributor" Amy Sullivan almost perfectly illustrates the chattering class' inability to distinguish facts from their own imaginations:

Showing he's still really good at thinking things all the way through, Blago has picked Roland Burris no doubt in part because he thinks Senate Democrats would have a tough time refusing to seat a man who would be the Senate's only African-American member. He's right to think they wouldn't be thrilled about it. But they're even less thrilled about lending any legitimacy to Blago himself or accepting a replacement for Obama who would have an uphill battle retaining the seat in 2010.

Although Burris was the first African-American elected to statewide office in Illinois as the state's comptroller, he has struggled in campaigns as well, losing races for governor, U.S. Senate, and mayor of Chicago. Even Blago has expressed concerns about Burris' electability. In a 2002 radio interview on V-103's Cliff Kelley Show, after Blagojevich defeated Burris in a primary contest for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, Blago said that the color of Burris' skin "hurt him" at the polls.

It's a quirky strategy, appointing a candidate you don't think can win. But I'm sure it will turn out just as well as Blago's other creative efforts.

As I say to Amy Sullivan in my commentary, that sure is a lot of mind reading going on. Does this person truly believe that these simple conjectures are actually verifiable in any way? Yes, if what constitutes "verifiable" in your world is the merely plausible as represented by your colleagues' cocktail party chatter/cable news show round-table.

A cursory reading of her blather prompted this comment from me:
Amy Sullivan:

That's sure a lot of mind-reading in this post.

Is there any information to be had out there for some intrepid political reporter to discover that might indicate why Roland Burris has had a less-than spotless win track record in Illinois? Might that information have something to do with less-than-pure factors in Illinois pushing back against Burris' clean politics? Or maybe the races in which he ran had more to do with demographics issues?

After reading your post, I don't know the answer to these questions, and apparently you don't even care to know. Perhaps you might be so good as to provide something more in the way of background and insight than this rather facile cable news-talk segment.

Thanks in advance for not settling for the least insightful, most easily repeated storylines, Amy Sullivan.

What I didn't mention in my comment was the particularly egregious conflation of Burris' gubernatorial primary defeat with "Burris' electability" in general. Let's set aside for a moment an examination of the sheer ludicrousness of Amy Sullivan's quoting Governor Pay-to-Play McConflict-of-Interest in support of any candidates' prospects at the polls. If we look squarely at this post's message, we get to see an incredible sleight-of-hand take place: Burris' defeat in the Illinois Democratic machine's primaries somehow morphs into "electability" in general.

When Amy Sullivan writes "losing races for governor, U.S. Senate, and mayor of Chicago", she somehow neglects to mention that these were Democratic primaries, and not actual statewide races for these offices between a Republican and a Democrat. Perhaps she doesn't know. I have no idea.

In the possibility that she doesn't appreciate the difference in Illinois between a Democratic primary and any other race, let's look at who won these primaries, shall we?
From 1979 to 1991, Burris was elected to the office of Comptroller of Illinois. He was the first African American to be elected to a statewide office in the state of Illinois. Burris was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 1984, losing to Paul Simon who went on to defeat incumbent Senator Charles Percy.

From 1991 to 1995, he was Attorney General for the State of Illinois, where he supervised over 500 lawyers. There, he was the second African American elected to a state office of Attorney General in the United States.

In 1994, he was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Illinois. While Burris had been favored for much of the primary campaign, he and Cook County Board President Richard Phelan were both defeated by State [Comptroller Dawn Clark Netsch, who had a strong late showing in the final weeks of the campaign despite being seen as the underdog. Netsch would go on to defeat the following November against incumbent Republican Governor Jim Edgar in an election where Democrats lost every single race for statewide office.

In 1995, he ran for mayor of Chicago, losing to incumbent Richard M. Daley. In 1998 and 2002, he again unsuccessfully sought the Democratic Party nomination for Governor of Illinois, running in 2002 against, among others, Rod Blagojevich. In 1998, Burris famously caused a controversy by referring to his Democratic primary opponents -- Jim Burns, Glenn Poshard (who eventually won the nomination) and John Schmidt -- as "nonqualified white boys."[6] While arguably true, the statement was considered racist by many and backfired politically.

OK now, if Wikipedia has this right, Burris lost the US Senate primary in 1984 to one of the most revered of Illinois' Senators, then won Attorney General over the Republican, then lost a three-way primary for governor in an election in which no Democrat won their election, lost an unwinnable primary to Chicago's reigning Daley Machine heir, then lost another primary to Blagojevich, perhaps because of the racial overtones in his/the campaign (to which the Governor alluded in his radio interview).

In my mind, none of this speaks to Burris' "electability" whatsoever. I'm from Chicago, and believe me, this track record says a lot more about politics in Illinois over the past few decades to me than it does about Burris' capability of winning that US Senate seat in an upcoming election.

Beyond even the silly mind-reading parlor tricks on display, Amy Sullivan's post captures the rank ignorance of the storylines upon which our pundit class settles in order to create consensus around their own inane readings of our nation's politics. She apparently just couldn't be bothered to consider actual facts and actual history before weighing in with a regurgitation of the Village consensus that Burris shouldn't be capable of winning a contest should his appointment stand.

None of this is remarkable in any way, apart from that it serves to demonstrate just how little thought, research or context goes into these peoples' formulations of their inane opinions about our politics. Amy Sullivan is not necessarily the worst offender, nor this post the worst example of this tabloid clique's collective guilt, but nevertheless we should be reminded of how much public push-back we need to do on an ongoing basis to correct their ongoing failure.

Welcome to Swampland, Amy Sullivan.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I wanted to make sure Jay Saw this!

people don't hold a special place here on the planet, nor in the universe
Another spot where we disagree (slightly)

I like to say:

The Universe should be given as least as much credit for consciousness as its contents. We are part of the Universe and conscious therefore, in that sense, the Universe itself is conscious.

Anything past that however is belief in magic.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Michael Scherer's Swampland post The Silent Change to Section 382 addresses only a small part of the secret billion dollar spending sprees. Bloomberg News is filing a lawsuit to force the Federal Reserve to release details on the nearly 2 trillion dollars in emergency loans it has given to unknown financial institutions:

Members of Congress, taxpayers and investors urged the Federal Reserve to provide details of almost $2 trillion in emergency loans and the collateral it has accepted to protect against losses... Bloomberg News has sought records of the Fed lending under the U.S Freedom of Information Act and filed a federal lawsuit Nov. 7 seeking to force disclosure... In a separate FOIA request, Bloomberg asked for details of the collateral the Fed accepted against a $29 billion loan to facilitate the merger between JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bear Stearns Cos. to prevent the investment bank's collapse. The bank rejected that request in a letter dated Nov. 7.

We're talking about trillions of dollars. I'm not an economist and I have no idea how much of this is necessary, and what kind of collateral is appropriate in this situation. But do the Feds know any better? Their actions have contributed to the economic collapse, and now they're asking for carte blanche in cleaning up the mess.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Lot of discussion in Swampland comments about the selection of Rahm Emmanuel as Chief of Staff. Emmanuel is seen by many in the netroots as an enemy--a DLCer, insider, opponent of the 50 state strategy, worse, trying to win purple seats by choosing candidates who don't support progressive principles, and, worst of all, supporting incumbents is solid blue seats who don't support progressive principles.  In some ways, the "better Democrats" formulation is directed against Emmanuel and others of his ilk in the Congress.

Others (I fall more into this camp) are happy to see him out of the Congressional leadership, and in a staff role. This is, in part, because of the effect he has had in selecting and funding Congressional candidates, and in part because he seems to be a natural fit for the role of a tough-minded chief of staff in what will be  a hostile, hard-knocks political environment.

There are other positives. It's good, in my opinion, to see Obama turning to people he was worked with along the way, to see a Chicago axis running through his key appointments, to know that he will dance with who brung him.  It reinforces the image that Obama has cultivated of a president comfortable in his own skin.

But like so much else in this incipient presidency,  it's pretty much impossible to know what this  means.  Is Obama's chief of staff going to play a policy role?   Most of us are confident that the  era of policy subjugated entirely to politics is finally over, but Obama's support for ethanol subsidies, "Clean coal," the FISA and other politically expedient positions leaves room for doubt of the impact of having a chief of staff for whom political expediency is a watchword.

Or is Emmanuel going to be an enforcer, leaving policy decisions to the President and his specialized advisers?  The presence of Axelrod and Gibbs in the group of advisors suggests that Emmanuel's political role may be in a circle somewhere outside the center.  Obama's "Team of Rivals" theme, would also indicate a minimal policy role for Emmanuel.  

In every administration, the slots in which the most influential advisers will occupy is pretty much impossible to predict.  The Chief of Staff slot has been filled by the leading adviser in the past,  but the leading adviser has been found in any number of slots from ranging from the head of the NSA (Kissinger) to Attorney General (RFK) to seemingly insignificant offices (Rove).

So does Emmanuel pick really does us much of anything about what we can expect from the new administration?  As with Obama's comment that people see him as a mirror, I think much of the reaction to Emmanuel's selection is projection.  The only thing we can say for sure is that this is more evidence that Obama is not afraid to choose challenging personalities,  rather than sycophants, for key roles.  That alone is  a welcome development.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Shelter from the Storm

Just a post to create space for lonely hearts unable to comment at swampland.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A commenter at Swampland

Said this about a pogniant Joe Klein post re: Obama's Grandmother

What a way to distract from the real issues at hand.

This is my response:

Interestingly enough, while there are many specific issues that need to be debated and that people can find themselves on several sides of, this campaign has unfortunately become a referendum on whether hatred and fear will continue to sell.
It actually touches on all the other important issues, because when we deal with terrorism and threats abroad, it will be important that we deal rationally and with the knowlege that we are dealing with fellow human beings and not demons, and as we tackle a sinking economy, it will be important that we realize that we are all in it together and that by sharing the burden and working together we can lift ourselves out of the difficulty, but if we insist that it's every man for himself, we're doomed to do more harm to everyone.

I have faith that most Americans realize this and that this will become evident as the day wears on.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Swampland Troll

Cross posted because of the moderation control at swampland, re a commenter trying to equate media coverage of pregnant Palin teen to intruding on Obama's Halloween evening.

This is such an amusingly rich incident of wingnuttery that it deserves comment.
First, we've got the classic "Clinton did it too" argument. This is the twisted hypocrisy argument. Here, it seems to take the form of "Vile people in internet comment threads and open diaries spread baseless rumors about Trig's parentage and therefore it's okay for the traditional media to harass Obama and his kid on Halloween."
Second, of course, it's inaccurate. The only reporting in the traditional media I saw about the Trig pregnancy came from the McCain campaign, blaming those rumors on the need to tell the public about the teenaged pregnant drop-out.
Third, it's kinda stunning they should say that the coverage of this has been unduly negative. The fact that the Palins represent a living, breathing example of the effects of abstinence only pregnancy prevention, with two high school drop outs as the result, has not been spoken about much, speaks to quite a bit of self-restraint. When one tries to imagine the firestorm that would have erupted if even a sibling of one of the Obama's had a pregnant teenaged daughter, it's literally laughable that they could complain about the restraint the traditional media has shown.
Finally, and seriously, this is a reminder of what digby said earlier this week. These people do not blink at hypocrisy, at all. They will, turning on a dime, violate the principle they are accusing you of violating five minutes ago. We are going to suddenly be told about the importance of divided government, of voting against party, and, most important, of the perils of a jack-booted all powerful executive. In the most lurid and dishonest terms, at the same time they try that the pursuing exactly the same issues in the past administration is entirely political in nature.

[crossing fingers. No preview. Long post. Did I say @ss by accident somewhere?]

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Florida Elections

Placeholder for immoderate commentary on Democrats campaigning in Florida, for  swamplanders.

Joe Klein's latest column

Wrong guess about the Beltway reaction to Obama. Acquiescence, mostly. Ornstein's comment illustrates a way that McCain could make his apology, though. A joint, antipork appearance in favor of an infrastructure bank could do it for him.

Joe-- is there some chance that we can reexamine the risk of "Islamic extremism?" I think there's a pretty story to be told that it is overblown--more like Basque separatists and the Tamil nationalists than like the Nazis or the Soviets.

Also, you need to consider the possibility that Obama's prioritizing energy conservation and reduced dependence on oil supplied by some states that, either officially or unofficailly, are engaged in, for what danger it represents, Islamic extremism.

The US is way overdue in shifting away from the use of imperialist application (or threatened application) of military force to addressing the root causes involved with separatist movements in allied countries.

And in the same use of force dealing with countries that express opposition to the US, but have no mechanism for acting on that opposition, and, perhaps, no actual interest in doing so, other than for domestic political consumption.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Posted on an Amy Sullivan thread:

Everyone seems to be missing the point. While Amy utterly fails to make it clear, the movement she is referring to IS new IF you confine your attention to Evangelicals and Catholics!

Of course a quick review of the landscape makes clear that a large percentage of the people who oppose abortion aren't doing so out of concern for the children but out of their contempt for the mothers. If this weren't the case, then the pro-life movement would be among the most ardent supporters of Planned Parenthood and of Sex-Ed in the schools.

As long as we recognize that none of the controversy is about unborn children but ALL about sex unimpaired by guilt or worry and the people who hate that, then everything comes into sharper focus and begins to make sense.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

At the risk of being self-indulgent

This is another one of my insightful and deserving comments that has been moderated into oblivion:

You would think that in addition to watching the tracking polls to simply see how they're doing that the McCain camp would also use them to determine what's working. The evidence suggests to me that they are absolutley tone-deaf as to what voters are interested in and want to hear. Part of the problem is that the folks who attend their rallies and can get all worked up with the cheerleading and name-calling are not representative voters. They're allowing their base to skew their strategy and hurting themselves in the process.

If you read the text of Obama's speech yesterday he talks at length about bringing people together and encouraging citizen involvment. Michelle Obama graciously declined the opportunity to make fun of Palin's wardrobe situation on Jay Leno.

The message that comes through is clear. One side consists of decent people, the other side, of jerks.

This was moderated - Read it here.

It's unfortunate to note just how much our Presidential politics interferes with our ability to strategize coherently. If McCain were to win, you can be sure that the drawdown you describe will be delayed simply to prevent an "I told you so" and if Obama is elected, it will be accelerated just to assert I'M in charge now!

I am told that U.S. intelligence community now considers Pakistan the central front in the war on terror

This of course also means that the CIA is the central force fighting the war on terror. I have to think that that's a more effective use of our resources than throwing 150,000 soldiers at the wrong country was.

All I know is that the overriding issue in this election is keeping John McCain, Randy Scheunemann, and James Woolsey the H377 away from our Middle East policy. As far as I'm concerned it even overrides the economy, because our boneheadedness in the ME is a big part of WHY our economy is in such dire straits.

Monday, October 27, 2008

McCain: Not in This Millennium

Steve Benen points out that while five Secretary of States,  Eagleberger, Kissinger, Baker Haig, other...oh yeah, George Schlutz...have endorsed McCain, neither of the Secretaries of State in this administration has done so.  Actually, Steve just mentions Condi. But it is interesting...

Perils of Nepotism

It was pretty clear from a talk given last week by one part of the Neportism Cubed team, Andrew Rosenthal,  that he has decided to write off William Kristol. So he's only got a couple of months left to say silly, funny things, before returning the shrinking and increasingly irrelevant world of money-losing, low circulation conservative venues.  (No, I don't think the folks at TIME have missed the vacuity of his commentary, either.)

  Here's today's howler:

Then McCain and Palin can spend the final week speaking for themselves. They should throw themselves open full time to the media. Could the press coverage get worse?
Oh, yes it could. As it is, in very controlled settings, both Palin and McCain have had Daily Show moments.  Can you imagine Palin in an open press conference explain again, repeatedly, that "gifts" don't count if you don't want them--echoing Ted Stevens complaining all that furniture that belongs to other people is littering his cabin.  Or  another bout of "Name That Secretary of State" for McCain.

Then there's this knee-slapper:

For that matter, he might as well muzzle the campaign. McCain campaign senior staff members now seem to be spending more time criticizing one another than Obama, and more time defending their own reputations than pursuing a McCain-Palin victory. McCain should simply say that for the last week of the campaign, no staff member is authorized to speak to the media about anything beyond logistical and scheduling matters.

Does Billy think that the backstabbing and resume distribution has been authorized?   Given his role in all this, especially the Palin Pick, shouldn't he consider following his own advice?

No. Instead, he says McCain should completely retool (again, just like Billy has advised for the last three weeks) and go back to "POW POW POW!" in a 30 minute ad just like Obama's. First Palin gives a First Lady speech:

Palin could speak first, reprising her fine recent speeches on women’s issues and special needs kids — speeches that got almost no press coverage. She could then introduce her running mate, reminding people of his heroism, and pointing out, as she does on the stump, that he is the only candidate “who has truly fought for America.”

And then The Real John McCain provides the hard-hitting substance that has always been the basis of his candidacy:

As for McCain, he needs to speak about America’s greatness and its future; about how the ingenuity and toughness of the American people will turn around this financial crisis just as the ingenuity of General Petraeus and the toughness of his fighting men and women turned around Iraq; about how America’s spirit was not undone by a terrorist attack, and will not be undone by a financial mess; about how the naysayers will once again be proved wrong; about how America will emerge from its troubles stronger than ever and will win its battles at home and abroad.

Yep. That's the ticket.  A pep talk.  That's the kind of change America needs, my friends.

In fact, why not fire everybody, and have Billy write the speeches?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

This didn't pass the moderation filter! Astounding

What I find the most reassuring isn't that Obama is presenting himeself as serious and sober in contrast to the mouth-foaming that McCain's abetting and encouraging, it's that it appears to be working.
Ever since Karl Rove spewed his "therapy and understanding" line, I've been waiting patiently for the American people to realize that the Republican playbook is utterly devoid of anything constructive to contribute to the Country.

It appears that they're finally catching on.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Motorpsycho Nightmare

Swampland is sorta back up, in a word press implementation with redirects still propagating and therefore failing, I think.

Here's the direct link:

Thanks, KT, for  passing that on.

Potty Mouths on the Record

Ambinder prints a fairly informal press release from testy Randy:

Just read your post.  This is on the record.  This is cleared by HQ.  It is a fact that Barack Obama was palling around with terrorists.  It was a fact before Governor Palin  said it in a fully vetted speech and it is fact today.   It is bullshit to claim or write anything else.

Does this mean that it's okay now for Atrios and Markos to use profanity? Are we no longer offended by this kind of language?

Update: Worth noting that Ambinder is apparently another of  those journalists whose default mode of communication with sources is "off the record."

Swampland Drained Today

Interesting that this had to happen on two of the worst news cycles imaginable for McCain. With Obama out of the picture, he had a  chance to gain some traction, at least a little, and what did he get?
  • A horrible hoax designed to foment racism.
  • A brother abusing 911.
  • His VP demonstrating in so many ways  that she is a phony
  • Endorsements of Obama by Charles Fried, Reagan's Solicitor General and Bill Weld. Republican right and left fleeing the ship.
  • Fingerpointing starting to crack the McCain camp, with more and more past tense references to the campaign from its workers.
Steve Benen has all the details.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Pulled Directly from AmericaBlog:

Obama has noted this before, as has Jon Stewart - the fact that Republican politicians admire stupidity and ignorance. They wear their lack of education, their incompetence, their failure as a badge of honor. And it's certainly an American tradition, having disdain for intellectuals. But when push comes to shove, do you really want bubba, or bubba with lipstick, in charge of your 401k and your life savings? At some point America has got to get over its love affair with stupid. Or the mistakes of the last eight years, when we elected stupid to an art form, will continue to repeat themselves.

This is a theme that's been close to my heart ever since March. If you google the word 'elite' I'm sure you will find page after page extolling the virtues of mediocrity.

I find the whole thing - dare I say it - stupid!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Debate impressions

I know it's considered impolite to dwell on McCain's age, but am I the only one who, while listening to McCain trying to impress us with his vast experience was reminded of my own Grandfather droning on about how coddled teenagers were at the time and regaling us with his experience of having to don snowshoes to trudge six miles to attend school?

There's a point past which, everyone starts to nod politely, waiting for the old guy to finish so they can pick up where they left off disussing what's actually going on today

I honestly think the reason McCain wants to be President is so he can refight all the battles that didn't go his way back in the 70's.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Emerging Netroots Consensus on the Bailout

The Administration and Democratic Congressional Majority have joined forces to fuck us again.

This post by Rainbow68 should really be in our minds, as we react to the news of a Patriot Act-style bailout plan.

Matt Stoller at OpenLeft asks the relevent question:
"If a Legal Armed Robbery Happens in Front of Everyone, Does It Make a Sound?"

I just read the proposed regulation that Atrios pointed to, and he's right, this is a $700 billion blank check for the Bush administration and the financial elites. Glenn Greenwald notes the pacing of the discourse is identical to the run up to war. The political system is engaged in a massive transfer of wealth to corrupt actors with no debate (except in the foreign press and in the blogs) with no details made public. Furthermore, the Democratic leadership is entirely complicit in what is happening.
I've taken to calling this newest betrayal "AUMF 2.o".

John McCain has completely flip-flopped on supporting the bailout, wrenching himself so hard 180 degrees from his position held just hours ago that he's in danger of snapping his own neck.

Where's Barack Obama? Will this be another episode of FISA betrayal from him?

Sometimes I really wish that Obama had been in the Senate in 2002, but now we all get to see what he'll do with AUMF 2.0.

Joe Klein is Not Your Friend

There's been a lot of commentary lately @Swampland in which many have expressed (with some enthusiasm) the notion that Joe Klein is "on a roll", or "hitting them out of the park".

Relieved, earnest paeans are being posted in Joe's threads praising his newly found "effectiveness", exclaiming "bravo" in response to this dearly received "honesty".

What a fucking joke.

Folks, Joe Klein is as much of a liberal as Andrew Sullivan. I am sadly reminded of the horrifying period of recent Swampland history, in which praises were sung of Reagan speechwriter/Republican shill Peggy Noonan by certain Obama fanbois/grrls when that wretched person wrote some Obama-praising (and liberal-bashing) columns along with fellow fraud David Brooks. Just because, like the Bush 2000-voting Andrew Sullivan, Joe Klein has thrown his lot in with Obama (not even necessarily Democrats) this time, it does not mean that Joe Klein likes you, thinks like you, or supports your political or policy agendas in any way.

Repeat after me:

Joe Klein is not a liberal.

Joe Klein is a Centrist.

For those of you not familiar with the weirdly hidden (I'll get to that in a moment) Centrist ideology (and who find ideological treatises boring as hell), let me just quote Joe from his 1995 Newsweek hallelujah chorus to Centrist dream candidate Colin Powell entitled "Stalking the Radical Middle":

...Bill Bradley is right: the budget won't be balanced until money power is limited. The Cato Institute has estimated that $ 85 billion -- roughly half the deficit -- will be spent on "corporate welfare" in fiscal 1995 alone. Neither Republicans nor Democrats have said a peep about this, preferring to argue over fiscal hiccups like federal funding of the arts. A true radical-middling candidate would put everything (even social security) on the table. He might even unfurl Bruce Babbitt's famous, hopeless 1988 campaign banner: "Vote Babbitt: Universal Means Testing for All Entitlements."

Restore Civilty. Colin Powell did a revolutionary thing last week, his first as an official noncandidate. In about two minutes flat, he gave Barbara Walters his positions on each of the hottest social issues. For abortion, reluctantly. For affirmative action, mildly. For gun control (while owning a bunch of guns). For capital punishment . . . And you know what? The sky didn't fall. His popularity survived (NEWSWEEK'S new poll). That's because the very prominence of these issues is a mirage, a symptom of the disease that needs to be cured: special-interest fanaticism. The real social crisis is more amorphous. When asked what troubled them most, 62 percent of Christian Coalition members cited a sense of "general moral decline" (only 10 percent cited abortion).

This is one area where the radical middle really is moderate. The dueling certainties of the Religious Right and Lifestyle Left seem equally arrogant -- and somewhat off the point, which is the restoration of all sorts of civility: civil order (in the streets), civil society (volunteer and charitable organizations), civil discourse (in Hollywood and Washington).

Right. I'm going to assume that, if you're already reading this, you don't need me to unpack all of the absolute nonsense that was jammed into just that section of his ridiculous little Newsweek manifesto.

People, we've got come to terms with this fact: Joe Klein is not a liberal.

The entire "liberal media" is not liberal --we know this.

The establishment political press corps' professional ideology, by conviction, or custom, or trade temperament or by simple peer pressure is Centrism.

The problem here is that the national political journos won't admit to an ideology at all, because that violates their "professional objectivity" code. That's why they won't label themselves in mainstream print as such. Movement Conservatives call them "liberals", and they recoil in horror. Adding to the confusion, Centrism is an ideology that fatuously characterizes itself as "pragmatic", "non-ideological" and "moderate". Centrists pride themselves primarily on the national political press corps' claim to authority and Seriousness: an absurd, often reality-denying "objectivity".

Because of this phenomenon, we actual liberals are routinely mystified by this state of affairs. Some of this has to do with our internalizing of the "liberal media" meme, perhaps.
Even the great writers and thinkers among us confuse the issue, by reasoning that Beltway "liberals" are somehow irrationally pretending away an assumed liberalism:

Glenn Greenwald
Monday March 10, 2008 09:24 EDT
The religion of balance and centrism

For any political commentator perceived to be any strain of "liberal," the first requirement for being accorded Seriousness status by the political and media establishment is "balance." To be deemed a sober and responsible thinker, one must Joe-Klein-ify oneself -- show what a good, thoughtful, decent liberal you are by eagerly spending at least as much of your time praising conservatives and bashing liberals as you do anything else. That's what a reasonable, thoughtful liberal does, by definition.

The converse applies just as rigidly. If you criticize the Right too stridently, condemn the Bush faction without qualification or restraint, or fail to posit an equivalence between Right and Left, then -- regardless of the accuracy or truth of your critique -- you are automatically deemed too partisan, shrill, and, worst of all, Unserious.

But this belief that "balance" and "centrism" are intrinsically sober is itself a deeply corrupt and shallow notion. What if one side really is far more destructive and more toxic than the other -- not even necessarily because one side is more inherently corrupt but just because it exerts far more power? What if the administration and its political followers who happen to be running the country at any given time really are radical extremists and unprecedentedly corrupt and dangerous? Under those circumstances, practicing Beltway "balance" for its own sake -- venerating Broderian "centrism" -- is deeply unserious, even dishonest and dangerous.

When there is grave imbalance in political power, corruption or extremism -- as there has been for the last eight years, at least -- then those who preach balance and demand a centrist critique of everything are the ones who are mindless, misleading partisans. They demand centrist equivalencies as an ideology, regardless of whether those equivalencies are real.

Despite all of his excellent points, Greenwald unfortunately misses the reality of the situation: the reason "Broderian centrism" loudly renounces liberalism, demands "a centrist critique of everything", and then demands ridiculously false "centrist equivalencies as an ideology" is simply because it actually is Centrism, the ideology.

This is why these people habitually distort or ignore facts that contradict their premises, and are disastrously wrong on just about everything of significance, from the Iraq debacle, to the FISA horror, to the Defense of Marriage Act, to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act...I could go on and on (as I'm sure some readers are aware). They are ideologues, just as determined in their premises and convictions as any Ayn Rand devotee or Trotskyist.

The main practical characteristic that needs to be understood about Centrism and Centrists is that, if you are in any sense of the word a political activist --even to the extent that you comment on political blogs in your spare moments, or go to your bible-based church a real lot-- they don't like you. That's it in a nutshell: they don't like politically active people trying to control their own government. They don't trust you to make the right decisions that they, the technocrats should be making for you. They trust institutions; they trust themselves. They don't trust you. They don't think that you're up to the job that citizenship in a democracy demands. They think that you should be working and shopping instead.

It also happens to be that professional class Centrists are scared shitless by the tent-revivalists, costume survivalists, antebellum Confederacy nostalgists and latter day Know Nothings who make up the Republican base. This is because they're threatened by people and popular movements in general. That's why they love to equate us with the speaking-in-tongues Pentecostals in Sarah Palin's rural Alaskan church. They think that, Left or Right, we're all nuts, and should just be out shopping for more SUV's, like normal, low-information, suburban Americans (whom they empower to ruin our political discourse every four years). You know: the people who let the political class run Washington --who genuinely judge the candidates on "appearing Presidential"? David Broder's store clerk, to whom he chats briefly when he's summering on Nantucket? They like those Americans. Incredibly, laughably, they call these political in-activists "the Radical Middle", i.e. Centrists, like themselves. That's why they claim to special knowledge of what "regular Americans" are really thinking, regardless of the reality of those claims, regardless of available polling data. That's also how the regular attendees of the National Radio-Television Correspondents' Association Dinner can know so much about what goes on in the minds of the customers of any given Applebees. This is why Conventional Wisdom is so bizarrely divorced from reality.

They guard their privilege --including the privilege of inside information on how everything actually works in government and the press-- as tightly as they can. They do so because they believe that they deserve such privilege, that they are entitled to their power. This is why they're so reflexively revolted by the concept of blogging (and commenting). Because of they worship at the altar of institutional power, they respect and even sometimes admire the Right-wing media nutcases who created their own massive (and now established) press/political machine, even whilst fearing and loathing the talk-radio show calling, mouth-breathing carnival marks to whom they condescend in print.

We need to get this through our heads, so that we don't end up letting the Villagers be the perpetually corrupt referees of a game whose rules by right should be decided by us. Don't think for a second that, once the scary fundamentalists are put down this time, they won't just ignore us again, or make "liberal" a dirty word in politics again. They will. Remember, these people loved the authoritarian George W. Bush for the past six years. Remember when he ran as a "uniter, not a divider"? Remember when they dutifully reported on his "reaching across the aisle to the Texas legislature to get things done"? Remember the Vile Gore whose public character they destroyed? That kind of thing is what these people do for a living.

Joe Klein has no problem with the Village's normal procedures; he will do whatever it takes in print to put an end to the careers of his political enemies. This time, he's made the determination that the Palin nomination signals that McCain has gone over to the dark side, meaning Movement Conservatism, and rejected institutional, Serious Centrism. He'll have no problem calling us all kinds of names when we demand that Barack Obama live up to our ideas of why we got him elected. He'll have no problem doing his best to ruin Barack Obama's political image, if by some strange chance Barack Obama even comes close to doing what we're trying to elect him to do.

Say it again with me one more time, and then remember it the next time you start to write laudatory commentary to the next post in which Joe reverses himself entirely from the years and reams of print he's spent building up the character of the "moderate", "Centrist" "reformer", "truth teller" John McCain:

Joe Klein is not your friend. Joe Klein is not a liberal.

Senate Firewall

Shortly after Sarah Palin was given the VP slot on the Republican ticket, Paul NNTO suggested that this choice wasn't about the presidential campaign.  Palin didn't help the ticket much; if anything, in contrast to a candidate like Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine, Palin weakened the ticket with swing voters and Hillary Clinton supporters.  McCain seemed to realize this. He preferred, according to multiple news reports, the pro-choice, bipartisan alternatives of Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge.

In the event,   his staff and the Republican leadership "persuaded" him to select a hard right Christianist, a creationist Pentacostal who, among other things, doesn't think that law and order includes paying for forensics kits for victims of rape and doesn't really know all that much about pretty much anything the federal government deals with.  Outside of earmarks, that is.

Paul's suggestion was that this was not about the presidency, but about the Senate--that Palin would drive turnout in states, especially in the Mountain West, where support for McCain was lukewarm, and Republican seats were in danger.  He and I discussed places like Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and Minnesota as states where Palin would help turn out the base down ticket.

Later on in that week, I was talking to Cliff Schecter, author of The Real McCain, and mentioned this idea.  As we chatted about it, he remarked that this did seem plausible.

Well, Markos put up a poll yesterday that supports this contention.  Idaho has moved dramatically against a great candidate, Larry Larocco in response to the Palin nomination. 

Weekend Digs

A few of us Swampland regulars are going to be posting here when the posting at Swampland gets light, creating some  space for comment threads. At the moment, Paul Dirks, Stuart Zechman and I will be putting up some content.  Please feel free to fill up the comment space.