Career liberal pimping of Kagan: As Glenn Greenwald notes at Salon (click here), David Brooks wrote an intriguing column this week about Elena Kagan. Kagan is very smart, Brooks writes. But where the heck is Kagans soul? To Brooks, Kagan is a very smart person who has carefully kept his views to herself, carefully planning for the day when she might make her way to the Court. At Salon, Greenwald has excoriated Kagan for her silence on the issues of the past decade, even as Bush was destroying the legal landscape of the known world. This is the way Brooks closed his column on the same subject. (To understand his reference to Organization Kids, youll have to read the full column.):
BROOKS (5/11/10): What we have is a person whose career has dovetailed with the incentives presented by the confirmation system, a system that punishes creativity and rewards caginess. Arguments are already being made for and against her nomination, but most of this is speculation because she has been too careful to let her actual positions leak out.
Theres about to be a backlash against the Ivy League lock on the court. I have to confess my first impression of Kagan is a lot like my first impression of many Organization Kids. She seems to be smart, impressive and honestand in her willingness to suppress so much of her mind for the sake of her career, kind of disturbing.
If Kagan is a person who has been too careful to let her actual positions leak out, its hard to know why youd go out of your way to call her honest. But such are the professional courtesies which drive the establishment world.
For ourselves, we dont know what Kagan is like. We dont know what kind of Justice she will turn out to be, if confirmed. But weve been warning you about this type of upper-end career liberal player for quite a few years now. These hustlers killed you in the 1990s (through Campaign 2000), when they sat out the wars against Clinton and Gore for the sake of their precious careers. If Brooks and Greenwald are right, they may be selling your interests out again in the matter of Kagan.
Lawrence ODonnell is one of the players who aggressively sold you out in the Clinton-Gore era. (As late as October 2000!) Last night, ODonnell was on Countdown pimping for Kagan. The permanent establishment is lining up to support the permanent establishment, just as they did in the Clinton-Gore yearsthe years the career liberal establishment still refuses to discuss.
ODonnell was pimping the insider line. But a much more remarkable case occurred on Mondays nights Maddow Show, when pro-Kagan hustler Larry Lessig basically lied in your faces, about Greenwald himself, all through his session with Rachel. For her part, Rachel kissed Lessigs keister, in typical fashion, when his performance was done.
Background: Greenwald appeared first on Monday nights program, making the case against Kagan. After that, out came Lessig, a Harvard Law School professorand a Kagan hire. Lessig trashed Greenwald all up and down, making a series of claims about the things Greenwald and Kagan have said which are quite hard to square with reality. We wont review the facts here, but this rebuttal by Greenwald makes the case rather convincingly, even though Greenwald is much too polite about Lessig himself. (If Lessig has just spewed total falsehoods on TV, as the headline asserts, why does Greenwald continue to praise him? As we said moments ago, such are the professional courtesies...)
In 1999 and 2000, these insider, establishment career liberal types lined up to support the stance of the clan. None of them told you what was apparentthat the clan was lying its keisters off about the hated Candidate Gore, spawn of the hated Bill Clinton. Half of these types drove the war against Gore. (This includes ODonnell and Arianna.). The other half of this bankrupt group agreed to let them do it. (This includes E. J. Dionne and Keith Olbermann.)
The same configuration presented on Mondays Maddow Show.
Last night, Maddow took the night off. Tonight, her viewers are owed an explanation for the extraordinary things her second guest, Lessig, said on Monday nights program. Did Lessig really spew total falsehoods on her show, on the TV machine thingy? Remember how we all insisted, a few weeks ago, that we want our big news programs to fact-check matters like this?
Of course, that pretty much wouldnt be Rachels style. This is how she closed Mondays segmentkissing establishment keister, as always:
MADDOW (5/10/10): Professor Lawrence Lessig of Harvard Law School, I have to tell you, the Supreme Court nomination process, in my view, has become a process where nominees try to prove how conservative they are, either small "C" or large "C," depending on whos president.
Talking with you and Glenn tonight just makes me really wish that it was a big fight amongst liberals and centrists. I think it could be really, really interesting to get in to all this stuff in great detail. I really thank you for your time tonight.
LESSIG: I appreciate it. Thanks for having me.
Kiss kiss kiss kiss kiss kiss kiss! Maddow, a prime self-promoter, has never met a useful keister she wasnt prepared to kiss, often loudly. (Gwen Ifill! Andrea Mitchell! Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson! And good God: In a thoroughly gratuitous move, even the loathsome Chris Matthews!) Lessig had just filled viewers heads full of smack about Greenwaldand, to a lesser extent, about Kagan. Rachel thanked him for his brilliance, falling all over herself with praise for how interesting it had been.
Its quite possible Maddow didnt know the problems with the things Lessig had said. By now, she certainly does.
Alas! Whatever her various merits may be, Maddows a bit of a self-promoter. That said, she does owe viewers an explanation for the remarkable things they heard on her show Monday night. Remember when we all swore that we want this kind of fact-checking?
These hustlers ate you alive in the Clinton-Gore years. Whatever Kagans merits may be, they seem to at it again.
Special report: The race follies!
PART 2SCHALLERS FOLLY (permalink): Is the Tea Partys anti-Obama sentiment driven by racial animus?
Presumably, some of it is, though it would be hard to say how much. In his column in Saturdays New York Times, Charles Blow made some intelligent statements about this general point (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/10/10).
There is no way to know how many Tea Party supportersor supporters of any groupare motivated by racism, or to what degree, Blow wrote, perhaps overstating the problem a tad. There are no easy answers, he said, but blanket accusations and denials are worthless and disingenuous.
We agree with almost everything Blow wrote in that passage. It is hard to measure the degree of racial animus directed at President Obama, especially given the severe (and irrational) hostility directed at President Clinton before him. (President Obama was born in Kenya. President Clinton was a serial murderer.) But liberals love to call conservatives racist; we sometimes seem to love it more than life itself. And so, sure enough! Within three paragraphs, Blow renounced his basic good sense. He made something resembling a blanket accusation, basing it on a bungled study from a big football school:
BLOW: [Tea Party leader Amy] Kremer credits the Tea Partys racial problems, to the extent that she would agree they existed, to an unwelcome fringe. This seems plausible at first blush. There is often rabble at rallies.
However, widely cited polling, like the multistate University of Washington survey released last month, has found that large swaths among those who show strong support for the Tea Party also hold the most extreme views on a range of racial issues. The fringe theory is a farce.
That isnt quite a blanket accusation, but for political purposes, it comes pretty close. According to Blow, large swaths among the Tea Party movement hold the most extreme views on a range of racial issues. Gone was the day, three paragraphs earlier, when there was no way to know how many Tea Party supporters are motivated by racism, or to what degree.
Repeat: Liberals love calling people racistsas long as the people in question belong to The Other Tribe. It often seems that liberals know no other political move.
Unfortunately, the research on which Blow bases this claim is, simply put, a multiply-bungled pile of pseudo-academic crap. But so what? The liberal world has rushed to embrace this pleasing study. (The study was presented by assistant professor Christopher Parker.) In the process, the liberal world has showcased its bad judgment, its bad faith on matters of race, and its generally low IQ.
Liberals should be embarrassed to see such bungled work hailed by its biggest players.
Who has hailed this multiply bungled study? Lets start with this post at 538.com by Professor Tom Schaller. We like Baltimores own Schaller a lot around here, but Tom Terrific embarrassed himself as he raced to affirm this pleasing but bungled project. Schallers post was one of the first which sent this bungled study to fame in the liberal world.
Joy to the world! At a liberal site known for its technical savvy, Schaller announced the great new findings which had emerged from Parkers study! At the start of his post, he presented two charts, titled White Views of African-Americans and White Views of Latinos. And he quickly announced the Good Newswhite Tea Party sympathizers express very bad attitudes about these minority groups:
SCHALLER (4/12/10): The survey asked white respondents about their attitudes toward the tea party movementand their attitudes toward non-whites, immigrants and homosexuals.
The charts contained herein show the disparity between whites who strongly approve and disapprove of the tea party movement. In a few casesattitudes toward Latinos, for instancethe differences were small. But only in a few cases: tea party sympathizers believe blacks are less intelligent, hardworking and trustworthy. They appear to be particularly wary of immigrants. And they don't much care for gays, either. (Although note that two-thirds of them support gays in the military, an issue on which policy has long lagged public sentiment.)
Lets repeat that highlighted claim: [T]ea party sympathizers believe blacks are less intelligent, hardworking and trustworthy, Schaller said, writing unclearly. (Less intelligent than whom?) And thats not all! Parker's study shows much higher levels of intolerance among whites who sympathize with the tea party movement, Schaller soon said. But that claim, however appealing, simply isnt supported by the charts which Schaller produced.
Warning! Parker bungled his study in a wide variety of ways. For today, lets concentrate on the data which went into Schallers charts about white views of blacks and Latinos. Do Schallers charts of Parkers data really show much higher levels of intolerance among whites who sympathize with the tea party movement? Not really. In fact, if we take Schallers data at face value, the charts seem to show extremely high levels of intolerance among whites who oppose the Tea Party too.
Warning: Parker bungled the part of the study to which Schallers charts refer. And Schaller failed to see the way Parker had bungled. But lets assume that none of that is true; lets assume that Schallers data are fairly transparent. Its stunning to think that the liberal would want to take a bow for the data as Schaller presents them.
Look at Schallers first chart, for examplethe chart called White Views of African-Americans (for an enlarged version, click here). As Schaller presents it, this chart seems to say that only 45 percent of white Tea Party sympathizers view African-Americans as intelligent. (Though Schaller doesnt describe the question which produced those results.) That seems like a rather low figure, as Schaller helps triumphant liberals seeuntil we look at the comparable figure for white Tea Party opponents. (For simplicity sake, you might call this second group liberals. You might even call them us.) Uh-oh! According to Schallers chart, it looks like only 59 percent of this group view African-Americans as intelligent! Yes, that is a higher number than obtained among the white Tea Party supporters. But are liberals really prepared to parade about, claiming their own moral greatness, on the basis of data like these? On the basis of such minor differences?
That said, the difference between Tea Party supporters and Tea Party opponents is even smaller when it comes to Latinos. Judging from Schallers chart (click here), it seems that only 44 percent of white Tea Party supporters view Latinos as intelligent. (What question had they been asked? We werent told.) That number is lowbut the corresponding figure for white Tea Party opponents (us) is only 56 percent! Its stunning to think that liberals like Schaller are willing to trash Tea Party supporters on the basis of their numbers on this question, whatever it was, while ignoring the very low numbers recorded by Tea Party opponents. If these numbers say what they seem to say, the news was bad about white Tea Party supporters. But the news was almost as bad about white Tea Party opponentsabout people in our own tribe
What does it say when liberals are prepared to claim victory from marginal data like these? Are prepared to parade about, proclaiming our own moral greatness? Most obviously, it says that we liberals maintain a very low standard for ourselvesfor those in Our Own Shining Tribe. (More simply put, it says that we liberals arent especially moral.) But in this highly bungled case, our cry of victory says several things beyond that.
In this case, it says that Schaller misrepresented what these data meant, right from the start. It says that Schaller failed to understand the various ways Parker bungled his study. And uh-oh! Since Schaller is a bright young liberal academic, writing at what is supposed to be one of our brightest liberal sites, this says something quite unflattering about the basic intellectual capital of the liberal world.
Go aheadexamine those charts again. Its clownish to think that the liberal world was prepared to claim a moral victory from data like thesedata which make white Tea Party opponents look almost as bad as white Tea Party supporters. Even more shocking is the fact that we were too dumb to know how to interpret such datahow to spot the problem with Parkers work. That were so careless in talking about something as crucial as race.
What actually happened in the case of this study? Professor Parker mishandled his project from the get-go, bungling in innumerable ways. Along came Professor Schaller, and he failed to notice. And alas! In the weeks which followed, a laundry list of bungling triumphalist liberals only made matters worse; this was especially true at Salon, from triumphalist editor Joan Walsh on down. And then, last weekend, Blow made it official: The bungled study drove a bungled column on the New York Times op-ed pagethe prime location for clownish bungling in the world of American journalism.
Moral of the story? If a study calls the Tea Party a bunch of bigots, its results will be trumpeted widely by liberals, even if the study is so bungled that its a virtual hoax. But so it goes as the liberal world pretends to care about race. So it goes as the liberal world keeps showing us how liberals lose.
Tomorrowpart 3: Parkers folly