ENDLESS AMAZEMENT! Were still amazed at the childish things our celebrity journalists do: // link // print // previous // next //
THURSDAY, MAY 6, 2010
History can make you sick: A large chunk of Chapter 5 has been posted at our companion site, How he got there. (Our chapter title, A virtual wilding, is drawn from Dan Kennedys spot-on description of the press coverage of Campaign 2000.)We strongly recommend this materialalthough, if youre human, it may make you sick. For an overview of the material, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/4/10.
Chapter 5 will continue in a few weeksat which point, the historical sickness only gets that much worse.
The wages of liberal indifference: As a quick follow-up to yesterdays post (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/5/10):
The New York Times prints several letters today about standardized test scores and charter schools. In the first letter, one perfervid, know-little charter school teacher dreams of the glorious day when we will banish the use of these standardized tests:
Sigh. This teacher dreams of getting rid of such tests. This would be a disaster for low-income kids, as we explained in yesterdays post. Beyond that, this teacher dreams of a type of test score analysis which has been underway for years.
Below that letter, we get this tripe from another charter school defenderthe president of a think tank which supports charter schools:
But that is not the only way to determine charter school successand there are obvious shortcomings with the method the writer recommends. (There is no perfect method.) In fact, the writer seems to mis-describe the nature of Caroline Hoxbys study, which was described last September in this News York Times news report. Hoxbys methodology was more sophisticated than the methodology the writer describes. That said, it too has a built-in shortcoming.
After all these years, why is our biggest newspaper full of such tripe about this important topic? In part, because we liberals, and our liberal journals, quit on low-income kids long ago. We contribute nothing to this debateand the field of play is thus left to the others. We very much like to parade about, announcing our own racial greatness. We just dont like to dirty our hands on matters affecting real kids.
Low-income children? At our various precious Salons, we simply dont talk about children like that! We leave such tedious talk to the others! Darlings! What could you be thinking? That sort of thing just isnt done!
ENDLESS AMAZEMENT (permalink): Twelve years after starting THE DAILY HOWLER, we never cease to be amazed at the cosmic childishness of our celebrity press corps. This particular thought came to mind as we read Gail Collins new column this morning. But Gail Collins didnt start it this time. Her column tracks a clownish colloquy between Keith Olbermann and Lawrence ODonnell on last evenings Countdown.
In 1999 and 2000, all three of these people played major roles in sending George W. Bush to the White House. In those days, these childish ninnies clowned and pandered in support of Republican interests. Today, the trio continue to clown. But today, these childish ninnies clown and pander to you.
At issue is a proposal in Congress to close a new type of gun loopholeto forbid people on the FBI terrorist watch list from purchasing guns or explosives. The Obama administration supports this ban, as did the Bush admin before it. As Dana Milbank notes in this mornings Washington Post, most pro-gun Republicans ducked yesterdays hearing, not wanting to argue the point in public. (Pro-gun Democrat Jon Tester was also AWOL.) Milbank also notes this: The bill to close the gun loophole isn't on the radar of Democratic leaders, making it unlikely that it will reach the Senate floor.
In short, almost everyone is ducking this issue, including a lot of big Democrats. But Lindsey Graham did show up at yesterdays hearing, where he said he isnt sure that the bill is the right way to go. On Countdown, before the clowning began, Olbermanns producers made a mistakethey played tape of Graham citing an actual problem with the current proposal:
Were not experts on that FBI watch list. But like you, weve often heard that its clogged with the names of people who simply dont belong on it; Grahams data would seem to suggest, once again, that this is the case. If this is true, is it really crazy to slow down and think about the best way to address this (constitutional) concern? Especially in a world where pro-gun Republicans skip the hearing, while Democrats are faking their interest in passing this bill?
Actually, noit isnt that crazy. Except in the childish world of Potemkin journalismthe childish, tribal world of a clownish program like Countdown. In that world, a highly-skilled hack like ODonnell is brought on the show to ridicule the guy who did show up at yesterdays hearingto pretend that his remarks are riddled with contradictions and inconsistencies. Alas! This is the way the tribal ninnies started last nights discussion:
Just imagine! Imagine watching ODonnell and Olbermann complain about people who pander! As we said, we never cease to be amazed by the way these people will embarrass themselves in pursuit of celebrity status.
(Quick reminder: As late as October 2000, ODonnell was playing these clownish games in support of Republican interests, making clownish claims about Candidate Gore. Are you happy with how that turned out?)
Back to last night: By the rules of the tribal game, Grahams presentation simply had to represent strange, head-up-the-butt logic. His presentation simply had to involves comical inconsistencies. In fact, whatever you think of Grahams two positions, it isnt clear that theyre inconsistent in any particular way. (One distinction, out of several: The ban on gun purchases seems to involve a large number of people who simply dont belong on the list. Whatever one thinks of the Miranda issue, its much less likely that youre depriving a person who is wrongly accused. Other distinctions obtain.)
Sorry. Whatever you think of Grahams two positions, it isnt clear that theyre inconsistent in any obvious way. But to ODonnell, such vast illogic had never been seen anywhere in the whole land! This one is about as funny and simple-minded as it gets, he simple-mindedly said, speaking as someone who seemed to know his subject matter. To catch him on tape that close together, with conflicting thoughts, is a particularly fun day in those Senate hearings, this big clown stupidly said.
But then, Olbermann and ODonnell are millionaire tribal clowns. In her column on this same topic this morning, Collins is considerably worse. She never even lets you know what Grahams stated objection was. No, wait! If you examine her next-to-last paragraph carefully, in your very best Pravda-watch fashion, you might be able to guess!
In our view, its hard to find a passage in Collins column where she doesnt stage leaps of logic in pursuit of a simplified story line. Beyond that, Collins is a more sophisticated hack than Olbermanns producers. Note the way she shapes what youre allowed to know about those disturbing gun sales:
Clever! Collins tells you that many people on the watch list have been able to buy gunswithout stooping to let you know why there were allowed to do so. (Go back and re-read what Olbermann said, thanks to his hapless producers.) She keeps you from knowing that there is a problem with that FBI watch list. She even seems to equate being on that list to having a felony conviction!
ODonnell took this war even further. In October 2000, just weeks before the Bush-Gore election, he was still calling Gore a big liar on The McLaughlin Group (sitting in a liberal chair), citing one of the many ridiculous claims which had long been made against Gore. Given the popularity of this TV show, are you sure that this one performance, all by itself, may not have tripped the feather-thin outcome in Florida?
(Keith of course had fled the scene, crying real tears in 1998. Talking about Miss Lewinsky upset him, so he begged his darling, Roger Ailes, to give him a high-paying job doing sports for Fox. He thus sat out Campaign 2000, and its destructive war against Gore. Three years later, he returned to the scene, angry about the war in Iraq this election had brought us. What a shame that he ran off and took his big bucks from Darling Roger rather than speak in real time! This big fat bozo cut-and-ran. Today, he clowns on your side.)
This are truly hideous people, the scum of modern, big-bucks corporate culture. But mainly, theyre amazingly childish. Collins column is stunningly clownishand therefore, its pleasing for readers, and it was easy to type. In truth, these people will do and say anything to maintain the tribal game of the moment. And they seem to be sure that your low IQs wont let you spot their game.
Final point about tribal narrative: The watch list story has special appeal because it fits treasured New York Times themes about southerners, guns and religion. Make no mistake: This is part of the basis on which Frank Rich savaged Gore for so many years. (Beyond that, this is part of the reason why High Manhattan Pseudo-Liberal Journalists never quite accepted the cracker, Bill Clinton, and thus made up stories about him.) As late as 2006, Rich bitched and whined to his pal, Don Imus, that Gore had briefly mentioned owning a gun as a child (on his familys Tennessee farm) in his high school movie, An Inconvenient Truth. Rich was of course brilliantly able to see what this brief statement so plainly meant: Gore was pandering to the NRA in preparation for his 20008 White House run.
As weve long told you: Its impossible to be dumber than Rich. And yet, we liberals love his jive. Final question for the day:
What does that say about us?