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Print view: Where is 24 more than 48? Deep inside the tribal belt, where Sister Simple dwells
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MORAL EXEMPLARS R US! Where is 24 more than 48? Deep inside the tribal belt, where Sister Simple dwells: // link // print // previous // next //

The return of high excitement/The return of our recent history: Chris Matthews made a fascinating statement on last evening’s Hardball. Rarely does part of press corps culture get defined so clearly.

Last evening, Jennifer Donahue told Chris Matthews that Bachmann might go all the way. Donahue started her cable pundit career in 1999 and 2000, as a local New Hampshire observer of that state’s presidential primary. Last night, she told Matthews that the Granite State GOP has evolved in a way which won’t let Romney win the state in next year’s Republican primary.

Romney will finish second in New Hampshire, Donahue said last night. She was speaking about the state she allegedly knows best. To watch this segment, click here.

(For what it’s worth, Donahue has struck us as a liberal Democrat in past Hardball appearances, which have generally centered around New Hampshire’s quadrennial primary races.)

Bachmann may end up taking New Hampshire! Hedging her bet, Donahue noted that Bachmann does make mistakes; she seemed to say that she sees Rick Perry as the best bet to take the Republican nomination, with Bachmann as a highly viable vice presidential candidate.

Who knows? Donahue could be right. As the segment ended, Matthews expressed high excitement:

MATTHEWS (6/14/11): Jennifer, I have never seen you so sharp. My brain is just— And I’m certainly not being condescending. I’m looking up to you mentally now, I have never thought it this sharp. If you are right, this is absolutely fascinating and profound even. If the Republican Party has moved tectonically over to the right so far that Romney’s latest calculation of positioning is not adequate, that she in fact, seeming to be a Tea Party person, is in fact the true Republican, all bets are off.

But I would love this excitement! I would love it! Thank you.

Matthews, an inveterate Bachmann-basher, would love the excitement. He would love the excitement of seeing her prevail.

For the record, we can think of no obvious reason why Donahue’s analysis has to be wrong. Bachmann is very capable in certain ways, and she’s quite well aligned with the current views of GOP primary voters. Of course it’s possible that she might win the Iowa caucuses. (Iowa is a state where she has some obvious advantages.) Of course it’s possible that she might catch fire with the Granite State GOP too, although the lay of the land in that state may put a brake of her rise.

That said, we were struck by Matthews’ declaration of high excitement. In theory, our journalists observe our politics from a dispassionate pose; they aren’t supposed to root for particular outcomes. But our modern “journalists” routinely say that they root for the better story—for the underdog to make a strong run, to cite one frequently-stated example. Last week, Rachel Maddow went on Letterman and expressed a variant of this unfortunate culture.

But then, Maddow often expresses a common pseudo-journalistic view. By the rules of this narcissistic culture, we citizens are supposed to feel happy for our multimillionaire “journalists” when they get to cover stories they find to be fun, entertaining.

In a more disciplined world, journalists wouldn’t frame things that way. But that’s not the world we live in.

Like Chekhov’s middle-aged hero Gurov, Matthews constantly longs for excitement—for something to fill the empty places in his heart, his soul and his mind. Unfortunately, our recent history makes something quite clear—we the people pay the price when our pseudo-journalists chase excitement and preferred narrative. When “journalists” want the exciting story, they constantly put their thumbs on the scale. They’ll push and pull and lie and invent to get the thrills, and the outcomes, they crave.

This is a very important part of our recent political history. But we liberals have worked extremely hard to bury that recent history, in which people like Matthews worked very hard to produce the stories and outcomes they wanted. For that reason, recent history is back today at our companion site!

Over at How he got there (click this), we recommend our now-completed Chapter 5—the story of one miserable month in the press corps’ coverage of the history-changing Campaign 2000.

How did George Bush ever get to the White House? In November 1999, people like Matthews conducted what Dan Kennedy later described as “a virtual wilding.” They battered Candidate Gore all around because he was taking advice from his “sexpot counselor,” Naomi Wolf. This is a squalid, disgusting part of our recent political history—and career liberals have worked very hard to keep it from coming to view, just as they’ve worked to bury the earlier history of the Clinton years.

Alas! Our chapter 5 is quite long, but we think it reads fairly brisky. It’s long because it has to be long; which part could we have left out? Should we have dropped all the smutty claims the “press corps” invented about Wolf’s books? Should we have omitted the smutty ways they kept comparing her to Monica Lewinsky? Should we have skipped the ludicrous, three-month episode Paul Krugman later called the “campaign about clothing”—the campaign which came to a head with the famously stupid claim, Naomi Wolf told Al Gore to wear earth tones? (The New York Times formally corrected this claim—in July 2007!) Should we have skipped the small nervous breakdown Brian Williams staged about Gore’s polo shirts?

Should we have skipped the six Hardball shows in which Matthews counted Gore’s buttons (three), then wondered what his buttons meant? Should we have skipped the Cal Thomas column in which the nation was told that Wolf had prescribed “teaching [kids] to get naked with one another in school and to masturbate?” (According to Thomas, these were “two of her recommended strategies to keep them so preoccupied they won't give their parents or the country any trouble.”)

At the time, Thomas was the nation’s most widely syndicated political columnist. Should we have skipped the total silence from the nation’s “press critics” as this smutty nervous breakdown was pimped all through the land?

Chapter 5 is long, but it has an advantage; it’s accurate. On Friday, we’ll post one part of that squalid chapter—a section which details Matthews’ conduct during that long, disgraceful month. Back then, Matthews wanted lots of excitement—and he plainly wanted a certain outcome. Of course, he was working for Jack Welch then. He was working for the man who made him extremely wealthy.

Career liberals have kept their traps shut about this conduct right up to this day. Today, three leading liberals kiss this horrid man’s ass. They fawn at this horrid man’s feet.

To read chapter 5, just click this. As we’ve said, the history here is remarkably squalid—and the chapter is remarkably long. This is the history career liberals won’t tell you. People! Playing Hardball builds careers! Staying quiet puts bucks in folks’ pants.

We’ll pimp this new chapter a bit this week. Next week, our long-delayed second annual fund drive.

Special report: Life in the tribal belt!

PART 3—MORAL EXEMPLARS R US (permalink): How silly can “reporting” get when it comes from inside the tribal belt?

Consider Sister Maddow’s most recent report on Maine’s child labor laws. This Monday, Sister returned to this topic—a topic she has discussed on six programs since March 23. In this case, she linked the state of Maine to the state of Wisconsin, and she discussed two other topics—the attempt to change voter registration laws and the attempt to pass right-to-work legislation.

In all honesty, Sister Simple has beaten Maine’s child labor laws to death in the past few months. On Monday night, this was part of her presentation:

MADDOW (6/13/11): The embattled Republicans of the great state of Wisconsin are now pushing to scale back child labor laws. The proposal was pushed by the Wisconsin Grocers Association. It’s being folded in to the state’s budget with help from Senator Alberta Darling, who’s one of six Republican senators in the state facing recall for her role in helping Governor Scott Walker passed his union-stripping bill earlier in the session.

The child labor laws rollback would allow 16- and 17-year-old Wisconsinites to work unlimited hours per day, except when they’re supposed to be in school. If it sounds like you have heard this story before, it’s because you have. Only you are remembering the child labor laws rollback in Maine, where the Republican-led legislature just last month loosened child labor laws so that teens can work longer hours during the school year.


But if stripping union rights and making it harder to vote and rolling back those dastardly child labor laws is not enough to define a weird, evil-twin relationship between these two states, between Maine and Wisconsin, then how about this? Remember the Paul LePage mural controversy?

There was a mural commissioned by the Maine Arts Commission that was on display in the lobby of the state Department of Labor building, and then the governor, Paul LePage, had this mural removed because it was too pro-labor.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker also has an artwork controversy of his own now. This painting, which is very realistic and looks like a photograph but is a painting of three children playing with bubbles on a Milwaukee street, this was made by David Lenz. It was on display above the fireplace mantel in the drawing room in the governor’s mansion as of November. But the governor has taken it down, replaced it with a painting of a Civil War-era bald eagle from Wisconsin, which I’m sure is much less upsetting that than a poor child.

To watch this whole segment, click this.

Union rights and voter registration are very important topics. But then, to the highly tribal mind, so is Governor Walker’s “artwork controversy,” because it proves that he’s a bad person. So is the state of Maine’s “rollback of those dastardly child labor laws,” pretty much for the same reason.

As noted, this was the sixth program in which Maddow has discussed the Maine child labor law debate. We thought you might be interested in some basic facts of the case.

How big was the change in Maine’s child labor laws? On May 28, Steve Mistler reported the basic facts in the Lewiston (Maine) Sun Journal: “The legislation increases the maximum number of hours 16- and 17- year-olds can work in a week from 20 to 24 and allows them to work until 10:15 p.m. on a school night. The bill also increases the number of hours these students can work on a school day from four hours to six.”

From twenty hours—to 24! Mistler also mentioned a fact which had been endlessly cited during the Maine debate, though Maddow never let you hear it: “Industry groups, including the Maine Restaurant Association, have argued that Maine's law is too strict compared to child-labor laws in other New England states. For example, Vermont law aligns with federal law for 16- and 17-year-olds and imposes no work limits during the school year.”

Say what? Vermont is often pimped by Maddow as a wonderfully liberal state. And Vermont imposes no work limits at all? Maddow has never mentioned such facts as she has pimped this silly story, using it to let us see how evil Maine’s governor is.

Uh-oh! Maddow has also never described the child labor laws in her own state, Massachusetts. We thought you might be interested in those basic facts.

In Maine, the evil LePage changed the dastardly law so teens can work 24 hours per week. So what is the law in the good perfect town where Maddow lives? We quote from this manual by Martha Coakley, the Bay State’s attorney general:

“16-17-year-old minors may NOT be employed more than 9 hours per day [or] more than 48 hours in a week.”

Did you follow that? In the town where Sister Simple lives, 16- and 17-year-old teens can work 48 hours per week. When LePage raised Maine’s limit to half that amount, this helped Maddow’s viewers see that he was a very bad person.

In Maddow’s wonderfully moral town, such teens can work nine hours per day. LePage has now changed the law in Maine. These teens can now work six hours!

(For a taste of Connecticut’s child labor laws, just click here.)

This is the type of crap “reporting” you get served from inside the tribal belt. But increasingly, Rachel Maddow’s hapless program is a vehicle by which we gullible liberals get served all manner of tribal crap—tribal soothings designed to convince us that we and our friends are quite decent and good, while the other tribe is quite bad.

Make no mistake: Governor LePage is no prize package; he has made important proposals which deserve extensive news coverage. But at this point, who can believe a word which falls from Sister Simple’s mouth? Increasingly, her program is a rolling joke, an utter tribal embarrassment. And here’s the most horrible part of the stew: If we were forced to make a guess, we would guess that Sister truly believes her own twaddle! We’d guess that she isn’t mainly trying to play you—for financial reasons, let’s say. We would guess that she mainly believes the silly shit she broadcasts.

Did Sister Simple know the facts about New England’s child labor laws? She certainly should have known the facts; the fact that Maine had unusually tough restrictions has been widely cited in regional reporting on this topic—and there has been no other reporting, so insignificant is this issue. But we’ll guess that, deep in her soul, Sister could see right through such distinctions. After all, she kner that LePage is a very bad person. He’s in the other tribe!

In our view, Sister’s work increasingly follows this format, in which absurd presentations are designed to make you see the evil in The Others. Example: Did you see the endless, pointless report which opened last night’s program? Serious topics went undiscussed as Maddow flogged this groaner.

For obvious reasons, the fight about Maine’s child labor laws was never a national topic—except on the Maddow show, that is, where it was used to help you see how evil The Others are. But then, a lot of silly tribalism has been clogging progressive arteries in the past few weeks. This kind of work keeps us liberals dumb—dumb and ineffective.

Their people are hypocrites—our people aren’t! No one has pushed this pleasing idea more fervently than Our Own Rhodes Scholar, one of the most helplessly tribal players ever let loose on the TV machine thingy. Question: Has Maddow herself been a bit hypocritical in the way she has pimped this theme? We try to stay away from the H-bomb ourselves, for reasons we’ll discuss tomorrow.

We’ll try to cram a lot of recent nonsense into tomorrow’s report.

Tomorrow: Sister Simple tells poor Letterman where the hypocrites are