SCOTUS: Why Stand Up To Asshattery From The Right?

Political pundits, electoral operatives and former elected officials are like the undead: just when you think they’ve been buried, they rise up again from the political graveyard.

No matter how craptastic their myriad sins may be — stealing from public coffers, ethical lapses out the wazoo, being a race-baiting bigot, whatever — they continue on your teevee and in print. Why?

Because that assholery gives them notoriety. In today’s tabloid media environment? Toxic sells.

Tom Tancredo. Pat Buchanan. Bill Kristol. Newt Gingrich. Ann Coulter. Manuel Miranda. Rush LimbaughBarbara Comstock. Karl Rove. It’s an endless list of asshats with crummy tricksterism, fraud, and outright racial crapitude, parading across my teevee and newspaper pages with their wankery.

The media thrives on a circus. And all of these people — and more — are happy to give them one.  Why?

None of this rightwing attack machine crapola is about Sotomayor alone. It’s designed to throw up an artificial wall on Sotomayor as the "most liberal" judge the right will accept without a big, honking fight. It’s meant to warn off the Obama administration and the Dem leadership in the Senate.

Since Sotomayor isn’t what I’d consider "liberal" — she’s really a moderate to centrist judge — that’s a big, fat "bright line" marker to throw down.

The wingnutty number crunchers know the Sotomayor battle is likely lost.  This is setting the stage for every following SCOTUS nomination, federal judgeship, DOJ appointment, and important policy position to come. 

They are staking out their ground, trying to edge everything as far to the right as they can from the start.  If you don’t see that, then you haven’t been paying attention to the OLC nomination of Dawn Johnsen and the federal bench nomination of David Hamilton.

Moreover, this is designed to make the Democratic leadership and the Obama team understand that they will have to pay a price for every judge that doesn’t get the wingnutty seal of approval before nomination. 

Knowing that the spine on Dem leadership isn’t exactly a strong one — and that Team Obama has not exactly been fighting for its nominees out of the gate — it’s a pretty sound strategy from the right, frankly.

Which is all the more reason to publicly call bullshit.  Because this is designed to push the Democrats into not undoing all the far right tinkering the GOP has done with the federal bench the last few years.  Nothing more, nothing less. (more…)

Journalistic Sins Of Omission Or Commission? Smells Like Tea Spirit

One of the eternal truths of today’s journalism is that its awfully easy to get oppo handed to you and run with it.   

But the real difficulty — and value — is in taking that oppo, reading it critically, and finding the things which a skeptical person might want to question.  Conveniently omitted facts, long-standing ties to lobbying or other client interests involved, or donor conflict of interest questions when it comes from an elected official. 

The I.F. Stone maxim of "all governments lie" can be amended in this context to "all political operatives have an agenda, for which they are paid handsomely by monied interests who get something out of it."

Let’s take the following example from a NYTimes article yesterday:

The web site listed its sponsors, which ranged from FreedomWorks, founded by former House Majority Leader, Dick Armey (R-Texas), Top Conservatives on Twitter, to RNC, to the book from Senator Jim Demint of South Carolina, “Saving Freedom,” giving his “firsthand account of the unsettling socialist shift.”

Note that the reporter has done some investigation on the root sponsorship of the TaxDayTeaParty,com website, including the involvement of FreedomWorks and Dick Armey. So there was some digging on some level there.

But then, within a couple of paragraphs, there is this:

“Our main goal as far as a national organization — although that’s a tough term to use since we wish we were organized better than we were — is just to facilitate an environment where a new movement would be born,” Eric Odom, the administrator of, said in a brief interview on Wednesday morning. “We’re confident that we’ll see taxpayer coalitions at the local level starting tomorrow.”

Mr. Odom sounds like a contractor who was just hired to webmaster the site, doesn’t he? And perhaps someone who has had a bit of media training so that his responses come out succinct and with talking points firmly rooted. 

But is that all he is? Hell no — just read through Jane’s Tea Party timeline and see how many places he crops up:


Saturday Potluck

Thought I’d change things up a little this evening, with on of my favorite scenes from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. This one from the second film of the trilogy, The Two Towers, wherein Samwise Gamgee talks about the stories that matter.

And why the people in them keep on fighting for something better:

“By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.”

“What are we holding on to, Sam?”

“That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.”

It is indeed worth fighting for — the question is, what are the thngs in this world that we all ought to be fighting for? And how do we best do that…together?

Sometimes, the best way to keep moving forward is to pause and think about why you need to keep doing so.  Or to find a better motivation to dust yourself off and get moving again.  Or just to remember that you aren’t in it alone, that others believe in the very things which motivate you as well.  (more…)