Commentary Magazine


Posts For: March 18, 2009

Collusion Course

It’s getting harder and harder to not feel like a conspiracy nut these days.

Ever since Hillary Clinton first started spouting about the “vast right-wing conspiracy” that was out to destroy her and her husband, the Left has been obsessed with telling us all about these secret cabals that are running the conservative movement. And of late, there have been several revelations in support of political conspiracy theories.

However they’re not happening on the Right, but on the Left.

First up, it was revealed a few weeks ago that  four old buddies from the first Bill Clinton administration get together on a conference call most every day to kick matters around and catch up with each other. The four guys who can’t let go of the glory days? ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, and Democratic strategists James Carville and Paul Begala.

So here’s President Obama’s right-hand man (Emanuel) in daily contact with three guys who can get the administration’s message out on the airwaves with considerable ease — one of whom, Stephanopoulos, has his own Sunday morning talking heads show. With those kinds of resources, it was no wonder that the Obama administration so quickly got the “tie Rush Limbaugh around the Republicans’ necks” movement going so quickly — especially considering Limbaugh’s history of mocking and deriding those gentlemen.

And now we have news about something even bigger.  Liberal blogger (and child prodigy) Ezra Klein set up a virtual meeting space called JournoList two years ago, and it’s become tremendously popular — among the select elite only. Set up for journalists and liberals (but I repeat myself) to talk among themselves, it has become the spawning ground for countless stories, messages, agendas, and movements — all done quietly, privately, secretly, behind the scenes.

Of course, the members of JournoList who were willing to discuss the matter were dismissive of such concerns. It’s just a place where members can relax, kick off their shoes, let their hair down, and socialize with their peers without undue public scrutiny.

Through JournoList, members positions refined, opinions shaped, talking points crafted, messages aligned, and, occasionally, organized movements begin.

Precisely the kinds of things that those who command the greatest public trust should not be doing in secret — unless, of course, they’re trying to conspire. Unless their whole goal is to put together a covert plan for crafting an agenda and unifying a message to push on the public without folks realizing that they are the target of an organized campaign.

In that case, then JournoList is just what the doctor ordered — at least, until it’s exposed.

In light of the conference call and JournoList, one is left with the impression that the “vast right-wing conspiracy” is either woefully inadequate at keeping up with the vast left-wing conspiracy — or far better at keeping proof of its existence secret.

It’s getting harder and harder to not feel like a conspiracy nut these days.

Ever since Hillary Clinton first started spouting about the “vast right-wing conspiracy” that was out to destroy her and her husband, the Left has been obsessed with telling us all about these secret cabals that are running the conservative movement. And of late, there have been several revelations in support of political conspiracy theories.

However they’re not happening on the Right, but on the Left.

First up, it was revealed a few weeks ago that  four old buddies from the first Bill Clinton administration get together on a conference call most every day to kick matters around and catch up with each other. The four guys who can’t let go of the glory days? ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, and Democratic strategists James Carville and Paul Begala.

So here’s President Obama’s right-hand man (Emanuel) in daily contact with three guys who can get the administration’s message out on the airwaves with considerable ease — one of whom, Stephanopoulos, has his own Sunday morning talking heads show. With those kinds of resources, it was no wonder that the Obama administration so quickly got the “tie Rush Limbaugh around the Republicans’ necks” movement going so quickly — especially considering Limbaugh’s history of mocking and deriding those gentlemen.

And now we have news about something even bigger.  Liberal blogger (and child prodigy) Ezra Klein set up a virtual meeting space called JournoList two years ago, and it’s become tremendously popular — among the select elite only. Set up for journalists and liberals (but I repeat myself) to talk among themselves, it has become the spawning ground for countless stories, messages, agendas, and movements — all done quietly, privately, secretly, behind the scenes.

Of course, the members of JournoList who were willing to discuss the matter were dismissive of such concerns. It’s just a place where members can relax, kick off their shoes, let their hair down, and socialize with their peers without undue public scrutiny.

Through JournoList, members positions refined, opinions shaped, talking points crafted, messages aligned, and, occasionally, organized movements begin.

Precisely the kinds of things that those who command the greatest public trust should not be doing in secret — unless, of course, they’re trying to conspire. Unless their whole goal is to put together a covert plan for crafting an agenda and unifying a message to push on the public without folks realizing that they are the target of an organized campaign.

In that case, then JournoList is just what the doctor ordered — at least, until it’s exposed.

In light of the conference call and JournoList, one is left with the impression that the “vast right-wing conspiracy” is either woefully inadequate at keeping up with the vast left-wing conspiracy — or far better at keeping proof of its existence secret.

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Re: Will Arlen Flip?

Jonathan, as you point out, it seems for now Specter isn’t interested in flipping. Moreover, the “offer you can’t refuse” from Big Labor, has now gotten another shove back from Specter:

“It’s a very heavily lobbied item and I’m hearing from all sides, and I’m going to listen to what people have to say,” Specter said on the Fred Honsberger show on Pittsburgh’s KDKA radio. “But I’ve made no deals, Fred, and I do not make deals like that.”

At this rate Specter may become a dependable member of the Republican caucus. Now that would be a change.

Jonathan, as you point out, it seems for now Specter isn’t interested in flipping. Moreover, the “offer you can’t refuse” from Big Labor, has now gotten another shove back from Specter:

“It’s a very heavily lobbied item and I’m hearing from all sides, and I’m going to listen to what people have to say,” Specter said on the Fred Honsberger show on Pittsburgh’s KDKA radio. “But I’ve made no deals, Fred, and I do not make deals like that.”

At this rate Specter may become a dependable member of the Republican caucus. Now that would be a change.

Read Less

Even More Freeman Lunacy

There are a lot of unexpected gems in Philip Weiss’s American Conservative story on Chas Freeman, especially from the great defender of the Tiananmen Square massacre himself. The following one really takes the cake for what it says about the various manias of State Department Arabists and the journalists who love them:

I am interested in seeing the survival of a humane and not a thuggish Jewish state in the Middle East.

Let us, for analytic purposes, take at face value Freeman’s characteristic of Israel as a “thuggish” state. What, then, does that make Saudi Arabia, the monarchy to which Freeman was posted as Ambassador and where he developed a severe state of clientitis? The state where gays are beheaded, women are banned from driving, and the practice of Christianity is outlawed? Surely, rational people can agree that the things the Saudi monarchy does to keep itself in power are more “thuggish” than the Israeli occupation. Certainly, “thuggish” and stronger epithets can also be used to describe Ba’athist Syria, or Jordan, where torture is routine. Why is it only the perceived transgressions of Israel that rile men like Chas Freeman and the Israel-obsessives at the American Conservative?

There are a lot of unexpected gems in Philip Weiss’s American Conservative story on Chas Freeman, especially from the great defender of the Tiananmen Square massacre himself. The following one really takes the cake for what it says about the various manias of State Department Arabists and the journalists who love them:

I am interested in seeing the survival of a humane and not a thuggish Jewish state in the Middle East.

Let us, for analytic purposes, take at face value Freeman’s characteristic of Israel as a “thuggish” state. What, then, does that make Saudi Arabia, the monarchy to which Freeman was posted as Ambassador and where he developed a severe state of clientitis? The state where gays are beheaded, women are banned from driving, and the practice of Christianity is outlawed? Surely, rational people can agree that the things the Saudi monarchy does to keep itself in power are more “thuggish” than the Israeli occupation. Certainly, “thuggish” and stronger epithets can also be used to describe Ba’athist Syria, or Jordan, where torture is routine. Why is it only the perceived transgressions of Israel that rile men like Chas Freeman and the Israel-obsessives at the American Conservative?

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Larry Kudlow and Sen. Mitch McConnell discuss what Tim Geithner knew about the AIG bonuses and when he knew it – and whether government is equipped to run businesses.

Sen. Ron Wyden explains he tried in the stimulus plan to prevent the bonuses but his amendment “didn’t get through.” Hmm. Wonder who didn’t let it through. Wyden doesn’t seem enamored of Geithner or motivated to defend him.

Harold Meyerson wants to can Geithner. Who could disagree?

Maureen Dowd’s dreamboat is a wimp, apparently: “Barack Obama even needs a teleprompter to get mad.”

The vast leftwing conspiracy reveals itself again. No it’s not surprising, but it is “creepy” and ultimately dishonest if all of these people go back to their publications and represent their leftwing-approved consensus as their own masterful insights.

Caterpillar apparently won’t be one of those places with stimulus plan “saved” jobs.

Okay, the president isn’t keeping an eye on AIG or coming up with a bank plan, but he’s a busy man. He’s filling out his NCAA bracket and going to L.A. for the Tonight Show. Priorities, people.

A comprehensive take-down of the New York Times’s effort to ignore the Chas Freeman story out of existence.

Bradley Blakeman’s take on Geithner isn’t kind, but it is accurate: “He exudes zero confidence. He was suppose to be this ‘whiz kid’ and he turned out to just be a nerd the other school kids harass for his lunch money.”

This explains (better than the ramblings of most elected conservatives) the benefits of reducing corporate income tax, contending that “repealing the corpo­rate income tax alone, which would cost approxi­mately $300 billion in annual tax revenue, would produce by 2012: 2 million more jobs than the baseline scenario; $280 billion more in real GDP); $4,000 more in real disposable income for a fam­ily of four; $707 billion more in household net wealth—the base of economic strength and stability.”

Headline: “VP: Obama’s job harder than FDR’s.” Well, Obama has inferior help and no executive experience so that might be right.

That Pennsylvania GOP Senate primary is well underway. Pat Toomey zeroes in on the Democrats’ efforts to get Specter to switch parties: “‘Given Sen. Specter’s voting record and the interest of senior Democrats in wooing him, it’s pretty clear that, substantively, he is a Democrat,’ Toomey told The Hill. ‘I wish he would switch to the Republican Party.’” It’ll be an interesting year.

Some Republicans think it’s not a good idea to have a non-Arabic speaking, non-expert in the Middle East as our ambassador to Iraq. Must be the Competency Lobby at work again.

Expect this to be the Republicans new mantra: personal responsibility and the freedom to fail. It shows how key context is. A year ago that would have been a meaningless platitude. Now, Democrats are saying virtually the same thing.

Your government at work: “Congressional Democrats careened between the circular firing squad and the three-ring circus Tuesday as they struggled with their new reality: playing defense on the economy.”

More comedy gold from Tapper vs. Gibbs. But it’s less amusing each day, as we realize Gibbs is covering for the administration’s incompetence.

What’s Obama’s health care plan going to cost? $1.5 trillion over the next decade. “That’s more than double the $634 billion ‘down payment’ President Barack Obama set aside for health reform in his budget, raising the prospect of sticker shock at a time of record federal spending. Administration officials have pointedly avoided providing a ballpark estimate, saying it depends on details to be worked out with Congress.” Not very transparent, huh?

Larry Kudlow and Sen. Mitch McConnell discuss what Tim Geithner knew about the AIG bonuses and when he knew it – and whether government is equipped to run businesses.

Sen. Ron Wyden explains he tried in the stimulus plan to prevent the bonuses but his amendment “didn’t get through.” Hmm. Wonder who didn’t let it through. Wyden doesn’t seem enamored of Geithner or motivated to defend him.

Harold Meyerson wants to can Geithner. Who could disagree?

Maureen Dowd’s dreamboat is a wimp, apparently: “Barack Obama even needs a teleprompter to get mad.”

The vast leftwing conspiracy reveals itself again. No it’s not surprising, but it is “creepy” and ultimately dishonest if all of these people go back to their publications and represent their leftwing-approved consensus as their own masterful insights.

Caterpillar apparently won’t be one of those places with stimulus plan “saved” jobs.

Okay, the president isn’t keeping an eye on AIG or coming up with a bank plan, but he’s a busy man. He’s filling out his NCAA bracket and going to L.A. for the Tonight Show. Priorities, people.

A comprehensive take-down of the New York Times’s effort to ignore the Chas Freeman story out of existence.

Bradley Blakeman’s take on Geithner isn’t kind, but it is accurate: “He exudes zero confidence. He was suppose to be this ‘whiz kid’ and he turned out to just be a nerd the other school kids harass for his lunch money.”

This explains (better than the ramblings of most elected conservatives) the benefits of reducing corporate income tax, contending that “repealing the corpo­rate income tax alone, which would cost approxi­mately $300 billion in annual tax revenue, would produce by 2012: 2 million more jobs than the baseline scenario; $280 billion more in real GDP); $4,000 more in real disposable income for a fam­ily of four; $707 billion more in household net wealth—the base of economic strength and stability.”

Headline: “VP: Obama’s job harder than FDR’s.” Well, Obama has inferior help and no executive experience so that might be right.

That Pennsylvania GOP Senate primary is well underway. Pat Toomey zeroes in on the Democrats’ efforts to get Specter to switch parties: “‘Given Sen. Specter’s voting record and the interest of senior Democrats in wooing him, it’s pretty clear that, substantively, he is a Democrat,’ Toomey told The Hill. ‘I wish he would switch to the Republican Party.’” It’ll be an interesting year.

Some Republicans think it’s not a good idea to have a non-Arabic speaking, non-expert in the Middle East as our ambassador to Iraq. Must be the Competency Lobby at work again.

Expect this to be the Republicans new mantra: personal responsibility and the freedom to fail. It shows how key context is. A year ago that would have been a meaningless platitude. Now, Democrats are saying virtually the same thing.

Your government at work: “Congressional Democrats careened between the circular firing squad and the three-ring circus Tuesday as they struggled with their new reality: playing defense on the economy.”

More comedy gold from Tapper vs. Gibbs. But it’s less amusing each day, as we realize Gibbs is covering for the administration’s incompetence.

What’s Obama’s health care plan going to cost? $1.5 trillion over the next decade. “That’s more than double the $634 billion ‘down payment’ President Barack Obama set aside for health reform in his budget, raising the prospect of sticker shock at a time of record federal spending. Administration officials have pointedly avoided providing a ballpark estimate, saying it depends on details to be worked out with Congress.” Not very transparent, huh?

Read Less




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