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Vrwc: Back@The Scene of The Crime



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In the Katie interview the Today Show is rolling out this week in installments, when asked if she stands by her Vast-Right-Wing Conspiracy, HILLARY said, “I might have used a more artful term….” It’s not really a conspiracy, because they’re (we’re) not hidden, but there is a there there on the right.

Times Change



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My new media analysis column examines the resignations at the New York Times and how the Times needs to change. Plus Maureen Dowd’s non-correction correction, coverage of Microsoft, and trans fats.

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Re: Livingston, I Presume



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John – Of course you’re right and I should have mentioned that aspect of things too. Then again, I did say cynicism is always required for everything the Clintons do.

Web Briefing: April 18, 2014

Livingston, I Presume



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Jonah: You may be right about Clinton’s motivations regarding the Livingston resignation, but I think something else may have been at work as well: Livingston would have been damaged goods as Speaker of the House. This is also the reason why James Carville and other Dem hacks, in the latter days of the Lott controversy, suggested that he ought to keep his job. They understood that Majority Leader Lott was better for them than Majority Leader Frist.

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Devil of a Time



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Congrats to the New Jersey Devils for their Stanley Cup victory over the Anaheim Mighty Ducks last night. Must admit I was pulling for the Ducks, partly out of Western Conference loyalties (odd as it may seem to non-hockey fans, anything to the left of Pittsburgh on a map of North America is in the NHL’s “west”–it’s like the University of Michigan fight song: “Champions of the West!”). I was also drawn to Anaheim’s Cinderella story, which was probably even more of a surprise than the Anaheim Angels winning the World Series last fall. Most important, though, is that we were treated to some fine hockey–including the spectacle of a seventh game in the finals. The Devils prevailed, amid some great stories, including the remarkable playoff performance of Ducks goalie J.S. Giguere and the Devils’ game-winning goal from unlikely hero Mike Rupp, a guy who hadn’t suited up for most of the playoffs. As usual, the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora has an excellent summary of how the Devils made it happen.

As I Suspected



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The Times confirms that Hillary’s book is boring twaddle.

Clinton and Raines



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In the wake of the news that Bill Clinton tried to stop Raines from resigning, Andrew Sullivan writes:

CLINTON KNEW: One thing the former president understands is power, and he knew full well that the resignation of Howell Raines at the NYT could hurt Democrats. The news might not be spun as ruthlessly as in the past; the campaign against the Bush administration under the guise of news coverage might not be as relentless; and so, apparently, Clinton intervened. This story, Clinton reminds us, wasn’t just about journalism. At a deeper level it was also about politics; and Clinton wanted to protect a huge victory that the left had won with Raines’ advancement. He lost. Journalism won.

I applaud Andrew’s cynicism. After all, cynicism is always warranted when discussing the Clintons. And, I think Sullivan’s probably right. But I can’t shake another angle. Clinton does not believe in personal responsibility in the conventional sense. He believes character is a “journey not a destination.” He claimed to run the most ethical administration in history (stop laughing) but he never punished anyone who acted unethically. With the exception of the forced Lewinsky apologies, when he’s sorry it’s never because he did anything really wrong. His mistakes are always the product of his virtues: he “cared too much” to compromise is one of his preferred refrains. Or, his apologies are the product of the other side’s venality. “I underestimated how determined the Right was to turn back the clock and deprive Americans of their rights and health care. I’m deeply sorry.” (These aren’t direct quotes, but if you watched any of his post presidency interviews they’re pretty much what he says).

Also, Bill Clinton is deeply invested in the idea that personal responsibility is something you verbally “take” in order to seem decent but not something that involves actually doing anything. Remember how opposed he was to Bob Livingston actually relinquishing power when he got caught doing less than what Clinton did?

So, perhaps Bill Clinton believes that Howell Raines shouldn’t face any real consequences because that simply runs against the grain of everything Bill Clinton stands for?

Pork Pies



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The reliably arrogant British Medical Association is now suggesting that a ‘fat tax’ be levied on fine foods such as “sausages, pies and pastries”. As usual in such cases, this piece of presumption is justified on the grounds that it will save the taxpayer-funded National Health Service money and as usual in such cases it appears to take no account of the fact that, in dying prematurely, the obese are rather generously saving the state the expense of paying years of retirement benefit. For those, such as the busybodies at the BMA, who choose to stress the economic argument, the model citizen ought surely to be someone who works, pays taxes and then drops dead on his or her retirement day. An overweight individual is more likely to manage this splendidly patriotic feat than some lunatic in running shoes.

More than that, however, this piece of bossiness is a reminder that, when it comes to the doctor-patient relationship, the BMA (like the equally repellent AMA) has lost its way. Hippocrates had nothing to say about the imposition of penal taxation on his patients’ mealtime choices, and nor should his 21st Century successors. The role of a doctor is to give advice, not orders. The BMA should just go and take a hike.

Or better still relax on the sofa in front of the telly with a nice pork pie and some chicken-flavored crisps.


Hootie Johnson High?



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Here’s another story about high school students who wanted their own, segregated, private prom. Mercifully, unlike the recent occasion in Georgia, this was not on racial grounds, and it’s possible to make a respectable case that this was an utterly benign event. Nevertheless the tone of the piece is striking. Would the New York Times have been quite so enthusiastic if these high schoolers had been devout young Christians rather than devout young Muslims?

Pork and Ingratitude



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If this account is accurate, Senator Craig should be ashamed of himself.

Amtrak Spins George Will



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Our hero claims that “a nationwide poll shows 71 percent public support for subsidizing Amtrak at current or increased levels.” He does not identify the poll, but it appears to be a summer 2002 Washington Post poll. Here’s what I wrote about this poll back then.

Weyrich On Specter Vs. Toomey



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A very interesting take, with some thoughtful comments on the controversy surrounding American Conservative Union chairman David Keene’s endorsement of Specter.

Poor Hillary



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According to Anna Quindlen, the reason “the right wing and the media” are so hard on her is that “she couldn’t hide the fact that she was smarter and more ambitious than most people.” Funny, I don’t remember “the right wing” holding that against Margaret Thatcher. Quindlen continues, “In distress Hillary has soldiered on, damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t, like most powerful women. . . . If she’d failed to write about l’affaire Lewinsky, she would have been accused of shortchanging the reader and the publisher. Because she did address the matter in her memoir, it is considered unseemly or political.” I don’t think the major criticism of Clinton’s treatment of the Lewinsky scandal is that it is “unseemly or political”; it’s that it is untrue.

David Brock made the same point on Friday on MSNBC: Sen. Clinton is criticized when she is “guarded,” but also criticized when she opens up about these painful personal matters. What an awful double standard: She’s criticized when she stonewalls and when she lies. Excellent point, Anna and David!

No Sale



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Matt Bai, writing in the New York Times Magazine, says that Bush’s just-enacted tax cut “won’t end up being a tax cut at all; it’s really just a tax shift”—at least for “a lot of Americans.”

Here’s his argument: “The tax cut will choke off revenue to the federal government . . . This means Congress can’t increase financing for the mandates it’s been heaping onto the states for 40 years. For instance, Congress shares with states the cost of Medicaid, the health care program for the poor, which gobbles up huge chunks of state budgets. Since Washington hasn’t seen fit to provide elderly patients with a prescription drug plan, that, too, falls to the states.” Congress gave some money to the states as it cut taxes, but the aid is inadequate to the states’ fiscal hole.

Bai continues: “If Bush and Congress cut taxes, and your governor doesn’t raise them, then the buck ultimately stops with your mayor, who has to find ways to pay the police and firefighters, paint schools and pave roads. That’ll mean higher property taxes or fees on services like garbage collection, or maybe the town will decide it’s time to reassess the value of your house. Either way, you’re likely to be paying someone else the money you no longer send to Washington.”

First of all, the explosion in Medicaid spending has not been the result of federal “mandates.” (A recent AEI report notes that “two-thirds of Medicaid spending is now devoted to constituencies and services that the states may, but need not, cover as a condition of receiving federal Medicaid reimbursements”—emphasis in original).

Second, how are we supposed to figure out how substantial the Bai effect will be? Are we to assume that if taxes were not cut, every dollar in tax cuts would have been spent on prescription drugs, etc.? (Didn’t we just read, earlier in the same issue of the magazine, that Bush’s tax cuts were bad because they would increase the deficit? Yes we did. The truer that claim is, the smaller the Bai effect.) If the feds increased spending, would each dollar of spending result in a dollar less in state tax burdens? How much would the states be raising taxes even without the federal tax cut? If the answer is that 80 percent of their tax hikes would be happening anyway, isn’t it possible that the federal tax cut is reducing the hit to taxpayers?

Bai never goes into any of these questions. And while he quotes conservatives to illustrate his points, he never allows the possibility of competing analyses of the state budget crunch to get in his way. Even if I were predisposed to accept Bai’s conclusion, I don’t think his article would be at all persuasive.

Sorry



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We are a tad slow today. Will make up for it tomorrow. (There is lots to read on the NRO homepage, though. Go, now!)

Re: V



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No, Jonah, the less Sid on TV the better. V news cool though. It was a Friday night treat after a hard week of grade school. Someone quickly post though to say they don’t know what V is, so we look cooler than we’re looking right now.

V Is Coming Back!



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The sci-fi series was due for a remake. Maybe they can get Sid Blumenthal for a cameo so he can eat a rat raw.

Whew!



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I guess I can continue posting after all.

Prediction



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Hillary’s book will be dropping on the best-seller list within 2 weeks and be off entirely in less than a month, if not sooner. Once the media boomlet is over, no one will feel the need to read the thing and there will be no “it’s a great read” word-of-mouth.

Ashcroft Haters



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Ok. So maybe I am obsessed with the Clintons. I’ll consider the possibility. But what about news editors who stick Ashcroft looking evil pictures wherever they can? Will they admit they are obsessed? And, remember, they are objective, which opinion journalist types never pretended to be.

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