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Liberals Always Believe Implausible Tales of GOP Disarray



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From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Politico Columnist Writes Anti-GOP Satire; Lefties Completely Fooled, Repeat as Fact

You want to talk cocooning?

When Roger Simon wrote in Politico Wednesday that Paul Ryan’s new nickname for Mitt Romney is “Stench,” a number of news outlets — from MSNBC to Mediaite — took it seriously.

Simon told BuzzFeed: “Some people always don’t get something, but I figured describing PowerPoint as having been invented to euthanize cattle would make the satire clear. I guess people hate PowerPoint more than I thought.”

Among those fooled? Paul Krugman.

The thing is, every cycle we see this sort of thing. Back in 2004, this Democratic Underground post was making the rounds in the final days:

Sent: Saturday, October 30, 2004 9:51 PM

To: Class of 1976 discussion group.; Class of 1976 discussion group.

Subject: RE: Notes from a friend on what Kerry’s team is saying

ok, got a call on my cell phone this am while taking my son to hockey. my friend in the kerry campaign spoke late last night with mark mehlman of the bush team. mehlman was a roomate of my friend when they were both at the harvard law school. they are at opposite ends of the politcal spectrum, but are very good friends.

mehlman says the bush team is in “major melt down” because their polling has them losing in ohio and florida, so they are in a mad dash to pull something out in the upper midwest. michigan isn’t really in play. he called it a “head fake”. wisconsin is slipping away, bush spoke in green bay today to less than 5,000 people (kerry drew 80,000 in madison on thursday). iowa has the numbers potentially but they’ve focused on it way too late, after the dems had a massive absentee push, so iowa is unlikely. they can’t win with minnesota alone and even that state doesn’t look good. 

mehlman says that there is incredible discord at the top. cheney is absolutley livid with rove on the overall strategy (“we peaked too soon you bastard”) and with karen hughes for not adequately preparing bush for the debates (“he looked like a g** d***** mental patient”). cheney is apparently a “real monster”. the rnc doesn’t know what to do because they can’t get any clear direction from the top. mehlman says that bush’s slide in their polls began about three weeks before the debates when kerry when into attack mode with major foreign policy speeches at nyu and at a national guard convention, the day after bush spoke. the slide accelerated big time after the debates, “everyone was as bad as the first with no let-up in free fall” according to mehlman. cheney freaked during the first debate, convinced that bush “‘lost the f****** election in front of 65 million people”. Now they simply don’t have the numbers to win in Florida, have not got their ducks in a row to “deflect” the massive number of early voters and are having real trouble maintaining the base in Florida and elsewhere (“our people are just turning away”). in ohio they’ve been simply overwhelmed with the new voter registrations and have been unsuccessful in court challenges. bush’s number actually go now when he visits ohio after Treasury Secretary Snow’s comments in the state that job losses were a “myth”. Additionally many repubs are pissed about the financial proligacy of Bush and Cheney and their incompetence in Iraq, so a lot are simply going to “take a pass”, read not vote. bush apparently has been totally “out of it” believing Rove and Hughes that everything was fine and that victory was assured, but is finally and slowing catching on that he might lose this thing. yesterday morning when made aware of the bin laden tape in nh, simply said. “It’s over.”

The first clue that entire above message is BS: Bush’s campaign manager was KEN Mehlman, not Mark Mehlman.

As we all know, none of the above “rumors” were true. I reprint all that to illuminate how people are A) willing to make up elaborate tales of chaos in the opposition  in order to boost morale on their own side and B) how credulous people are when they hear what they want to hear – i.e., the other guys are hapless and doomed, the public is breaking to our side, a landslide victory is at hand, etc.

Tobin Harshaw:            

As Ben Smith of Buzzfeed, a former Politico blogger, tweeted: “So uh a lot of people seem not to have picked up that @politicoroger’s column was satire.” Put more succinctly by conservative blogger JammieWearingFool: “Satire should actually be funny.”

Or, at least it should be pretty obvious. There is no underestimating the literal-mindedness of the American reader: Years ago when I worked at the Times we published a satirical op-ed column by Steve Martin riffing on the idea that a NASA Mars probe had discovered millions of kittens on the Red Planet. Shortly thereafter, a subscriber sent a terse letter to the editor asking us to “inform your science correspondent” that the lack of oxygen on Mars made kitten infestation highly unlikely.

Naturally, no writer wants to put a blinking sign indicating “This Is a Joke” above his or her parody piece. But editors should realize that if there is even a chance that such a sign is necessary, it’s probably best to spike the whole idea. Otherwise, you might end up fooling a lot of people, maybe even a Nobel Prize winner.

In Simon’s defense, it’s not that hard to fool Paul Krugman.

A lot of people believe what they want to believe because they see what they want to see.

Tags: Paul Krugman , Paul Ryan , Politico

Politico’s Sudden interest in Individuals in Romney Web Videos



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Politico finds it important that a man who appeared in Mitt Romney’s video was convicted of “assault on a peace officer” in 2005. Their research indicates the man served his sentence.

He appears to be a carpenter, working on staircase repair at a hotel; he refers to an anecdote of writing his daughter’s name underneath a stair that appeared in the Des Moines Register.

So… why is this important?

The Register wrote about the ad, and did not mention the man as some local troublemaker or ne’er-do-well.

I suppose an argument could be made that the man’s run-ins with the law contribute to his long-term unemployment and under-employment. But the man’s need for a job, and ability to support himself and pay his child support, is real. Iowa’s unemployment is a relatively low 5.2 percent, but that still adds up to 86,978 Iowans looking for work. It’s unlikely that the other 86,977 currently unemployed are all struggling to find work because of criminal records.

Over at Ace of Spades, Drew M. writes:

The bigger issues is [Politico reporter Maggie] Haberman appears to have taken it upon herself to do background checks on people appearing in Romney videos. There are no links or sources in her piece so it’s either original reporting or she’s just running opposition research dumps for the Obama campaign.

I wonder if Haberman has done background searches on everyone who appears in an Obama ad. If not, why not?

The rules are clear, if the media isn’t going to do this stuff conservatives will have to. No more playing a gentleman’s game when the other side is playing for keeps. Everyone who appears in a Team Obama ad better be prepared.

I guess we know why Obama prefers to cite “composites” like “Julia.” They never found the little girl whose family couldn’t afford a winter coat that John Edwards kept citing again and again.

Tags: Iowa , Mitt Romney , Politico , Unemployment

Mark Block: We Never Expected Our Viral Video to Go Viral



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Herman Cain’s chief of staff, Mark Block, is currently being interviewed on MSNBC. Block says that Cain never sexually harassed anyone. He said he knew nothing about any alleged cash settlements with National Restaurant Association employees complaining about Cain’s behavior.

If the settlements included the standard non-disclosure agreements, parties may hide behind them as a reason to refuse to answer further questions. (Of course, with the alleged incidents in the headlines, they would seem rather moot.) But this is something fairly verifiable. Either the NRA made the payments or they didn’t, and a look at their books during the years in question would clarify whether there was an issue that the organization considered worth allocating money to resolve without further legal incident.

And if there were no payments, the National Restaurant Association wouldn’t be running afoul of any nondisclosure agreements by saying, “There were no payments.” The NRA statement to Politico was:

Please understand that our corporate policy is not to discuss personnel matters (other than to confirm employment and dates of employment) with outside sources, including media. Thus, I must respectfully decline to comment on your questions or any allegations you may be looking into that concern current or former employees of the Association.

In non-harassment-allegation news, Block says Cain is averaging $1.25 million per week in the past month, so he’s taken in roughly $5 million in October.

Chuck Todd asked a couple of questions about his smoking in the Cain web video, and at one point Block said, “We never expected this to go viral the way it did.” While modesty is an undervalued trait in American politics, isn’t that precisely the point of a web video?

UPDATE: The position of the Cain campaign appears to be that they are 100 percent certain that any allegations of sexual harassment from the 1990s are untrue, but that they have no knowledge whatsoever of whether there were legal settlements reached. Claiming absolute certainty and knowledge in one aspect of a matter and absolute ignorance in another aspect is… not reassuring.

Tags: Herman Cain , Mark Block , Politico

‘Coming Up Next on TLC . . . Alvin Greene’s South Carolina.’



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The lighter conclusion of the final Morning Jolt of the week:

Am I correct in theorizing that the key conduit for a shocking amount of these stupid, fact-free arguments is Politico? I’m not saying that their correspondents are stupid; they work like maniacs and get scoops like clockwork. But sometimes you get the feeling they’ll write about anything. Ed Schultz accuses Palin of using “rhetorical dog whistles” in the term “Blood Libel,” and Abracadabra! A 650-word piece examining the theory that Palin used a term most familiar to Jewish historians who focus on European anti-Semitism to send some sort of coded signal to evangelical Christians. Next week, Schultz (or Olbermann, or Maddow, or O’Donnell) will offer some other theory suggesting sinister motive behind Palin’s words and actions. Why is this news? Why is this surprising? Why is this worth the attention of Politico readers?

Because it has Palin in the headline, I suspect; I see the traffic numbers that a good item about Palin can generate. To illustrate this phenomenon, tonight I randomly thought about Palin’s TLC show, and chuckled at how only she could have attracted an audience for a family reality show/travel documentary about her home state. Go ahead, try this with any other GOP contender:

“On TLC tonight . . . Mitch Daniels’ Indiana.”

“On TLC tonight . . . you won’t want to miss . . . Tim Pawlenty’s Minnesota.”

“This evening, join us for a very special . . . Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts and/or New Hampshire, which is his legal residence, and/or Michigan, where he has his roots, and/or Utah, where he saved the Winter Olympics, and/or . . .”

Maybe some folks would watch “Mike Huckabee’s Arkansas.”

He won’t run, but I would watch “Chris Christie’s New Jersey.” I foresee a lot of overlap with “Diners, Dives, and Drive-Ins.”

Tags: Politico , Sarah Palin , TLC

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