Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Audacity of Schlock

You know Andrew Sullivan is administering doses of soulful truth when he begins using stop-and-start sentence fragments. It’s like the shibboleth of his soul.

Marty does not excuse some of the indefensible comments of Wright that have now been bludgeoned into our consciousness to the exclusion of all else. And those comments should not be excused. And they have not been excused by Obama. But Marty does say this:


Read the whole thing. It matters. Because the truth matters. Because in these complex, volatile areas, Martin Marty is a far more reliable guide to it than Sean Hannity.

Either that, or the post leads with a contemplative picture of something beautiful.

(Don't take this wrong; I like Sully.)

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Glenn Greenwald: Liar Again

Building on the theme of Glenn Greenwald being a liar, my previous post puts me in mind of the hectoring nudge's conduct during the controversy he ginned up about Joe Klein's misunderstanding of FISA in a column for Time Magazine. Like all bloggers who bulldog the "mainstream media", Greenwald is a serial self-aggrandizer who seeks to gain readership at the expense of the journalists he imitates and on whose work he almost entirely relies. In this he is no different from frauds like Little Green Footballs' Charles Johnson and the Powerline clowns.

Greenwald browbeat Klein for getting key facts wrong about FISA in this piece. Unlike Greenwald, whose writings on foreign policy are thin gruel, I try not to produce endless skirls on topics I know nothing about, so I'll take the former Wachtell litigator at his word that Klein fucked up. (Both Klein and Time admitted as much.) Seeking, like water out of a desert gourd, to wring all he could out of his gotcha, and once again wishing to perform his fantasy of being a journalist, Greenwald then teamed up with Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake to browbeat Priscilla Painton, the editor at Time responsible for failing to vet Klein's erroneous column. Remember, this whole thing was about Glenn Greenwald protecting your interests as news consumers...

Here is how Hamsher described that endeavor:

I've spent all morning on the phone trying to figure out who the editor at Time Magazine was on Joe Klein's FISA column (the one Klein has now written about five times, fully admitting he never read the original bill). I finally confirmed that the editor was Priscilla Painton, and called her and identified myself. I asked her what the editing process was, and how a piece with so many errors made it into print.

"That assumes that there are errors," she said. And hung up on me.

Pretty perfunctory. You could guess Painton was being churlish or evasive, or you could guess she wasn't ready to go "on record" with an amateur journalist about facts she wasn't certain of, or you could guess she didn't much care for being waylaid on her private line by some blogger who had badged herself as an investigative journalist. Either way, the exchange doesn't communicate that much.

Greenwald was Hamsher's second in this, observing via video conference, and this is how he described it:

I spent the morning working with the tenacious and resourceful Jane Hamsher on finding out exactly which Time editors were responsible for the wildly inaccurate Joe Klein FISA article. Numerous people at Time vigorously insisted they had nothing to do with it. Finally, Jane was able to ascertain that the person responsible was Time Editor Priscilla Painton.

As Jane details here, she called Painton in an attempt to find out information about how these false claims made it into Klein's article, what Time was planning on doing to correct it and whether they would account for what happened. I happened to be conversing with Jane by video when she was finally able to speak by telephone to Painton and thus heard Jane's end of the discussion.

The call lasted roughly 10 seconds. Jane asked one or two questions in the most polite and professional manner possible -- whether Painton was Klein's Editor and how such errors made their way into the article. As Jane describes, after she asked Painton how such inaccuracies could make it into the Time article, Painton snapped: "That assumes that there are errors." She then slammed down the phone in Hamsher's face.

Compare the two accounts. Hamsher's is like a healthy limb: formed and utile, featuring necessary detail. Greenwald's is like a limb stricken by elephantiasis: deformed and lumbering, cauliflowered hideously with unnecessary detail. But this is not just an aesthetic issue; Greenwald's embellishments are dishonest. Hamsher describes a fruitless encounter with Joe Klein's editor at Time Magazine. Greenwald transmogrifies this into the "tenacious and resourceful Jane Hamsher", who, in sussing out the culprits responsible for Joe Klein's "wildly inaccurate" column, bushwhacks her way through "[vigorous]" denials, to be confronted "finally" by an establishment functionary who "[snaps]" at her and "[slams] down the phone in [her] face".

This would be bad enough if Greenwald had actually witnessed and simply embellished these details. But he didn't. In his incontinence as a writer, he reveals a detail he probably should have kept to himself:

I happened to be conversing with Jane by video when she was finally able to speak by telephone to Painton and thus heard Jane's end of the discussion.

So Greenwald only heard Jane's side of the conversation, but he knows Painton "snapped" at Hamsher and "slammed the phone down in [her] face", and all the rest of it.

Glenn Greenwald is a polyp on the colon of public debate that should be removed.

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Glenn Greenwald: Liar

As is customary, Andrew Sullivan courtesy-links the meta-obnoxious Glenn Greenwald. This time it's in reference to what at first appears to be Greenwald making an insightful critique of the racial double-standards of movement conservatives. In his gouty, larded prose, Greenwald indicts a blog called Instapunk, which Glenn "Army of Corkies" Reynolds appears to appreciate. Reynolds has linked to it occasionally, most recently here to an Easter meditation. Through his snot-plug, Greenwald snorts:

Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds today linked to what he called "EASTER THOUGHTS" from one of his favorite right-wing blogs gers, his namesake, "Instapunk." That Easter post has a large picture of a crucified Christ along with a lovely religious poem.

Immediately beneath that righteous celebration of Easter is a somewhat less charitable post purporting to take up Barack Obama's invitation to speak about race. After listing a few black entertainers and sports figures he says he likes, here are some of the thoughts Instapunk offers on race...

What follows is an excerpt of a truly nasty post extending the old Gut Rumbles saw that some black people really are niggers, and all of us know it and might as well admit it if we want to take Barack Obama up on his call for a candid discussion about race. Suffice it to say this garbage is the right-wing inverse of the victimological identity politics of Jeremiah Wright, both of which Obama held up to censure in "A More Perfect Union", his brilliant speech in response to the Wright kerfuffle.

The problem -- now please go back and reread the Greenwald quote before continuing -- is Greenwald implies the Easter Meditation and the "nigger" excrescence are by the same author. They're not; Instapunk is a group blog. This in turn implies Reynolds' assent to or endorsement of the racist post. He gave no such thing.

Yes, you are absolutely right that guilt by association can be deserved. A political movement is by definition a group of ideas that coheres across many people. I myself wrote about the unsavoriness of Ralph Nader trying to court radical Muslims and far-Leftists in 2004 by invoking the specter of Jewish control of the White House. I also pointed out how M. Shahid Alam, the fool academic who compared the 9/11 hijackers to the American Revolutionaries, had published his piffle on, a radical Muslim web site that also published cartoons in the style of Der Sturmer and sold Henry Ford's The International Jew through an affiliated web site.

I did these things, however, while taking care to differentiate between the primary sources I was discussing and the secondary material with which they chose to affiliate. I took care to emphasize this was the nature of my observation -- that it was guilt by association I thought germane. Greenwald did neither, although later he made one of his supernumerary "updates" trying to set things straight. Instead Greenwald plays the smarmy lawyer's trick of making a factual recitation that is carefully worded to fool casual and lazy listeners into believing the facts are different, and more damning, than they are. Using Google, I can only find one post on all of Instapunk by "Oldpunk". It's therefore unlikely this author's oeuvre has much to do with Reynolds' admiration of the blog.

Greenwald might have written: "Glenn Reynolds links to an Easter Meditation on Instapunk, a namesake blog of his that he's praised before, by a blogger named 'Chain Gang'. That's troubling, because right underneath that post is a nasty racist screed about 'niggers' by some other guy named 'OldPunk'. Don't you think this calls into question Reynolds' judgment?" If so, I would have wholeheartedly agreed with him. But he didn't. He made it seem like Glenn Reynolds personally endorses Oldpunk's post.

Update: In this Rube Goldberg Machine of a sentence, in which he tries to extenuate the dishonesty on which his whole post is predicated, Greenwald lies again:

The original purpose in pointing out that Instapunk is a favorite blog of Glenn Reynolds was not to suggest that Reynolds is directly responsible for the particular racist screed I quoted, but rather, to demonstrate that I did not select some obscure unread blog nor go searching deep in the comment sections in order to find something inflammatory -- the typical method used to generate almost every liberal blog "controversy" -- but instead had found this written by a principal contributor on one of the most heavily-promoted right-wing blogs.

Greenwald refers to "Oldpunk" as a "principle contributor" to Instapunk. Again, this is factually true, if you interpret "principle contributor" as someone who contributes a post to a blog that happens to be on its front page right now. But Google and Technorati searches show that "Oldpunk" is not a principle contributor to anything, let alone Instapunk, which gives the lie to the interpretation Greenwald means you to make, which is Reynolds' appreciation for the blog is based on its racist oeuvre.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Separated at Birth?

Elliot SpitzerQuark the Ferengi

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Me on Sirius Radio

I just got done being interviewed by Joe Salzone for the Blog Bunker, a blog-centric talk radio show on Indie Talk, Sirius 110. Joe was great and I had a lot of fun. We discussed Ron Paul and his defunct campaign in light of my writings about the strange convergence of the antiwar Left with the isolationist Right, here and here. The program will rerun tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM and afternoon at 1:00 PM; I appear in the last twenty minutes of the hour-long show. Check it out if you're a subscriber.

Update: If you're coming by after having listened, feel free to leave some comments.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Looking Forward

One of the more disheartening things about the Bush Administration has been its contempt for expert opinion in policymaking, and its supersession of experts with incompetent cronies wherever possible. That's why it's invigorating to see the caliber of people Barack Obama is surrounding himself with. I think the Hillary-is-a-monster kerfuffle with Samantha Power has helped rather than harmed the Obama campaign. It has allowed us to see what intelligence, integrity and accountability in government looks like.

Update: Alex Massie, who had a long-term affiliation with the Scotsman as a journalist, comments on the controversy attending that paper's decision to publish Power's "monster" comment in spite of her after-the-fact attempt to shoo it off the record:

It may well be that Power's comments came at the end of an interview which mainly focused on her new book. I don't know. But I do know that you don't really get to take a mulligan when you make a blunder in an interview. If power had prefaced her characterisation of Hillary as a monster with the phrase, "Now, what I'm about to say is off the record..." then that would be one thing and it would be a breach of trust or etiquette for the paper* to print her comments. But you don't normally get to determine what is and what is not off the record after you've said your piece or simply because you realise you've made a blunder.

Now, even allowing for that, you can say that this still a marginal call but there's a long distance between a marginal call and a shameful breach of trust.

I don't like the fallout of what the Scotsman did, but Massie is right.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Knave's Gambit in the Jewish Press

My apologies for the break in posting. I do have a good reason: besides my 9-to-5, I've been working on refining the original Knave's Gambit for publication in the Jewish Press. A 50%-condensed version appears on the front page of today's issue. Enjoy.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Quote of the Day

From Jackboots and Whole Foods, Michael Tomasky's review of Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism in The New Republic:

Goldberg no doubt believes that he has written something that will provoke, traduce, and infuriate liberals everywhere. (For all his supposed fearlessness, though, he pulled one haymaker of a punch: the original subtitle of the book was The Totalitarian Temptation From Mussolini to Hillary Clinton. I'm mildly curious about the logic by which a writer who insists that Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy were fascists thought that the original subtitle violated some canon of judgment or taste.) For about fifty or sixty pages, I confess, I took the bait, and did my best to work myself into a lather. By page 200--there are 405 pages of actual text--offense was beside the point, and I was mentally imploring the author to get it over with. By page 300, I was bored out of my skull. And by the time I made it to the final pages, I was wishing that I had been invited instead to review a multi-volume history of farm subsidies.

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