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Feeding the Machine
Posted by: Jon Henke on Thursday, November 23, 2006

I'm not sure there's really anything unusual about the current Pelosi/Harman/Hastings (or Pelosi/Murtha/Hoyer) soap opera — power struggles, ethics problems and personal animus seems to be DC standard operating procedure — but it's certainly interesting to see pundits and analysts reading far more or less into this than they've read into previous power struggles. Is Pelosi's Machine Politics new or unusual? Of course not. It might even be argued that it's politically appropriate from an ideological perspective in the case of the Intelligence Committee Chair. But where are the Democrats who criticized it under Republicans? Why are Republicans, who had little to say about it under Democrats, so upset about Democratic boss politics?

Don't answer that. It's a rhetorical question.

Instead, I'm interested in the libertarians who denied being "liberals" or even "Democrats" but who believed it was important to punish the GOP and to bring back divided government. They got it.

So now — being libertarians, opposed to the overweening State — they'll turn their fire on the incoming operators of the machinery of the State, right?

In some cases, yes. In others, it's looking doubtful.

Greenwald continues defending the Democrats — in this case, Nancy Pelosi — for the sort of machine politics that were so reviled under Republican Congressional leadership, arguing that the "mindless group-think driving the media's caricatures of Nancy Pelosi is truly astounding to behold". It is, he argues, astounding that they would portray her as a "bitchy, vindictive shrew incapable of leading because she's consumed by petty personal bickering rather than serious and substantive considerations" and that this portrayal is "based on nothing". Yet, as Tom Maguire points out, Greenwald goes from "not knowing their proof to knowing they had no proof".

In the intervening time, however, we've discovered more information. The LATimes did a story earlier this week, reporting on the basis for all of this "mindless group-think". Apparently, it's not so mindless. It's been well-known and widely discussed, albeit mostly off-the-record, for some time. Here's a small sample of the "nothing" which the media has "concocted
Their relationship has been deteriorating since Harman returned to the House in 2001, according to those who know them, and the tension now threatens to complicate Pelosi's role as House speaker when the 110th Congress convenes in January.
[...]
Most people contacted for this article spoke only on condition of anonymity, not wanting to get on the wrong side of two formidable politicians.
[...]
"It's so unfortunate because they're both capable people," said William Coblentz, a San Francisco lawyer who has contributed to both their careers and coffers. "I know them both well, and I love them both, but I believe Nancy felt that Jane was abrasive and aggressive, which she can be."
[...]
People who know both women say there was no single incident that soured their relationship; rather it was a series of small irritations that eventually led to estrangement.

Some California Democrats say tensions began during the 2001 redistricting of the state's congressional seats.
Pelosi, according to various sources cited, was also alleged to be "miffed that Harman had higher visibility in the media" and "very angry" that Harman was "was lining up people to lobby" for her. All of which sounds like a basis for the reports that Pelosi had an inclusively personal conflict with Harman.

Greenwald often "harangue[s]" Republicans, right wingers and conservatives (sometimes correctly) to issue a "retraction or correction". Yet, days after the LATimes story, he has yet to mention that the "petty and baseless chattering" wasn't so baseless after all.

If I might quote Greenwald from his own Pelosi post, he seems to have accurately summarized my criticism here. I'll only change one item where our criticism diverges.
It's what these pundits and journalists do. They have pre-conceived, vapid notions about everything and everyone — all driven by deep self-love for their own superior wisdom — and they distort reality and crowd out sober analysis of everything that matters.

[The media], and really everyone, would be well-advised not to listen to them and, above all, never adopt as a goal trying to please or satisfy them. They are frivolous and out of touch with everything that matters and should be treated as such.
Yeah, that sounds about right. Meanwhile, it looks like we'll have plenty more opportunities to whether the anti-corruption dissidents were actually anti-corruption, or merely pro-Democrat.
 
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When Digby, Greenwald and the rest of the Left blogosphere lashed out at the media and the political chattering class for discussing the Murtha/Hastings issue, Mona was here spinning it as part of a long tradition on their part of criticizing media "elitism".

Except that there was nothing about the substance of their remarks that was consistent with a critique of "elitism," nor would one expect a dispassionate analysis of "elitism" to generate the strong animus that was evident in their posts.

My pet peeve is people who argue against their opponents’ supposed "real reasons", rather than the substance of their arguments, but in this case there is no substance in the postings of Greenwald et al for me to address; these people are simply lashing out emotionally in response to (legitimate) criticism of Democrats.

Here is an example of the results of this type of uncritical partisanship:
WASHINGTON — Of all the Democrats who rode a wave of public anger over Iraq to election victories this month, Chris Carney had the most unlikely credentials as a war critic.

Before winning the race for Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District, Carney was part of a controversial intelligence unit at the Pentagon that was responsible for some of the most alarming — and, it turned out, unfounded — prewar claims about Iraq.

Assigned to search for links between Iraq and Al Qaeda, the unit reached a series of conclusions, including that a Sept. 11 hijacker had met with an Iraqi agent in Prague, Czech Republic, that have since been widely discredited. The Pentagon unit was created and run by one of the Iraq war’s principal architects, then-Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith.

Carney took part in briefings at the White House and the Pentagon that disparaged the CIA for underestimating the relationship between Baghdad and the terrorist network. Vice President Dick Cheney and other administration officials frequently touted the findings to bolster the case for war.

Despite his background, Carney campaigned as an antiwar Democrat and said he got a "very warm reception" when he arrived at Capitol Hill this week to take part in orientation activities for incoming members.
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
When Digby, Greenwald and the rest of the Left blogosphere lashed out at the media and the political chattering class for discussing the Murtha/Hastings issue, Mona was here spinning it as part of a long tradition on their part of criticizing media "elitism".
And you are surprised by this?
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
First. McQ had written an entire post, the premise of which that Digby was unhappy with the media only NOW, when "the shoe is on the other foot." That is completely false, and I said so. No spin on my part was entailed and, indeed, Jon Henke himself had long ago had written about left-wing unhappiness with the media and the left’s perception that the MSM and pundit class pushes GOP-friendly narratives — I quoted Jon in a post I wrote on the left’s unhappiness months ago.

Greenwald’s post was about the silly, overwrought narrative taking root that Pelosi is ALREADY an ineffective leader because a couple people say so vis—a-vis her snit w/ Harman. Now, I think Murtha has too much baggage — and in comments, Greenwald also said he Murtha ethics problems that make him quite problematic. But neither Greenwald, nor I, have been particularly loud on the issue of GOP corruption — neither of us wrote much about that one way or the other.

My concerns, like his, have pertained to: the rule of law, and the lack of oversight by a GOP-controlled congress. As well as a failed and bloody war.

But he, and I — and Jon Henke — have long ago written about pervasive Dem uhappiness with the media, disdain that well-precedes anything published by the MSM about Nancy Pelosi post-11/07.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://inactivist.org/
And about this:
Instead, I’m interested in the libertarians who denied being "liberals" or even "Democrats" but who believed it was important to punish the GOP and to bring back divided government. They got it.

So now — being libertarians, opposed to the overweening State — they’ll turn their fire on the incoming operators of the machinery of the State, right?
Inactivist’s server is down, but I went on a holy tear just before it did, on the subject of a proposed draft. Months ago I ripped into Rahm Emanuel on his "universal service" proposal to enslave the young population of the United States, and I renewed that fury after Rangel did his draft dance. But I can’t link to it, because the blog is down.

But I did, indeed, already "turn my fire" on an odious Dem proposal, albeit one I expect to go precisely nowhere.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://inactivist.org/
A group that clones won’t allow any further comments because they are so smart they think they can please democrats by agreeing pelosi has everything under control. Later, after the pain and heart attacks, all the dems will agree they’re right.
 
Written By: wordsafe
URL: http://
Greenwald’s post was about the silly, overwrought [media] narrative...that Pelosi is... an ineffective leader...
Actually, the point Jon (as I read it) was making was that for years, the media has embarked on silly overwrought narratives that have been patently ignored by Dems, Dem supporters, and Bush haters. Not surprising that these narratives coincided with the perspectives of those who remained silent. But now, we must correct those silly, overwrought narratives foisted upon the public (especially when they are unsympethetic to the left).

The media must be brought back in line.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
Being partisan is one thing, but being partisan while pretending your not is contemptible.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
1. The Murtha and Hastings issues are legitimate fodder for political reportage/discussion, and I do not fault the media for covering them.

2. I do agree that the speculation about whether Pelosi is damaged goods is overwrought and premature. (This week’s issue of TIME magazine includes a perfect example.)

3. The overwrought treatment that some elements of these issues are getting is totally unexceptional and par-for-the-course in the current political climate. The fact that this has elicited howls of protest on the Left leads me to agree with McQ that the Left is thin-skinned from having been on the firing end, rather than the receiving end, of this type of hysteria for the last six years.

4. I’m quite sure that you are correct when you say that Digby and Greenwald have been complaining about the MSM for a long time. We all have, here in the blogosphere.

5. As I noted in my first comment above, the howls of protest that we are hearing about the coverage of Pelosi do not seem to be part of some on-going, dispassionate critique of MSM elitism. They seem more like the wagon-circling defensiveness of partisans protecting one of their own.
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
I renewed that fury after Rangel did his draft dance.
Yeah, I saw that.

The powerful Democratic Chairman-in-waiting of the Ways and Means Committee introduced a proposal for a national military draft, and you managed to find some obscure Republican blogger who agrees with the concept to quote at length and direct your fury at.
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
some obscure Republican blogger who agrees with the concept
par for the course with this one.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Yep, Captain.

That was at Inactivist, but the site has apparently crashed and burned, so it can’t be viewed at the moment.
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
Why are we still giving Glenn Greenwald the attention of a legitimate blogger? The evidence that he engaged in sock puppetry is enough to convict, but more importantly he spews leftist tripe.

Pelosi is not damaged goods...yet. She will be soon enough. The Democrat machine will stumble over the same pitfalls that the Publicans did: corruption, arrogance and the inability to form consensus (largely due to the Nutroots, I’m looking at you Greenwald, wanting to stake their claim to the Democrat agenda).

Of course, the GOP has responded by giving us Trent Lott, a master of pork barrel spending and "good ole boy" politics. In the end we find that the Democrats will be no better than the majority that preceded them, which should come as no surprise to libertarian-minded thinkers. Yes, thinkers. That is a commodity that the DNC and GOP lacks greatly.
 
Written By: Joab
URL: http://joabsblog.blogspot.com
The powerful Democratic Chairman-in-waiting of the Ways and Means Committee introduced a proposal for a national military draft, and you managed to find some obscure Republican blogger who agrees with the concept to quote at length and direct your fury at.
As an initial matter, Rangel did not call for just a military draft, but rather, for the same "universal service BS as Buckely, McKenzie and Emanuel.

Further, I didn’t just "manage to find" Ross McKenzie. I wrote about syndicated Town Hall columnist McKenzie last summer , and then again lte last summer or fall when discussing Rahm Emanuel’s vile book. This is at least the third time I’ve brought up McKenzie’s enthusiasm for conscription. Bill Buckley has been pushing the "universal service" idea for almost two decades, and had explicitly written an NR column claiming it was a notion ripe for Democratic picking — Emanuel and his co-author did just that. (Buckley threw in a few words about prefering a "voluntary" program in his book, but I never thought he’d insist on that if it got traction and have been railing about the idea where Buckley is concerened since the early 90s.)

I don’t see a critical mass for conscription now. But, with enough support from Dem and GOP that could change, and I will continue to scream against its evil until a stake is through its heart.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://inactivist.org/
1. The Murtha and Hastings issues are legitimate fodder for political reportage/discussion, and I do not fault the media for covering them.
I completely agree with that. Putting either Murtha or Hastings in charge of any commmittee touching on and concerning ethics would be outrageous. Corruption, however, in either party has never been my particular issue — I’ve seen too much of it from both major parties and have cynically come to expect it — and all I want is the right subpoenas flying for the right investigations. I’m impatient about the corruption kerfuffle because wrt congresscritters, it isn’t even a tertiary concern of mine.

Anyway, it is just dumb to argue, as the pundits in their herd mentality were heading toward doing, that Pelosi’s leadership is DOA because of her estrangement w/ Jane Harman. Greenwald’s point was that everyone — including Nancy Pelosi — should ignore these self-anointed oracles of political reality, life and death.
But in his comments section he has expressed skepticism about the suitability of both Murtha and Hastings when it comes to serious ethics baggage.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://inactivist.org/
First. McQ had written an entire post, the premise of which that Digby was unhappy with the media only NOW,
Not true. I pointed out you can’t have it both ways. The very same people who they are now whining about were good enough in the past to quote when it was to their rhetorical advantage to do so. And I was alluding to the change of context (going from the group out of power to the group in power) and how, in that context, what was acceptable before (i.e. rhetorical attacks by these people on their ideological enemies)isn’t so acceptable now (rhetorical attacks on their ideological friends). Digby was only the most convenient example. But the same sorts of attacks on Bush, Cheney and the rest were never denounced by Digby, Greenwald or the rest like they’re denouncing the attacks on Pelosi and crew.

That’s a double-standard and was the point of the post.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Not true. I pointed out you can’t have it both ways. The very same people who they are now whining about were good enough in the past to quote when it was to their rhetorical advantage to do so.
But McQ, they have long regarded the ink spilled by most of these same journos and punidts as NOT to their rhetorical advantage. This isn’t a trying to have it both ways scenario; they continue in their same disgust with the usual suspects (by their metrics).
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://inactivist.org/
But McQ, they have long regarded the ink spilled by most of these same journos and punidts as NOT to their rhetorical advantage.
"Most" is correct, Mona ... and that’s the point.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
My comment on this I accidently posted down under the A Day of Thanksgiving thread below.
 
Written By: Paul XQ
URL: http://
Let me copy-paste that for ya, Paul:
Here’s a question for ya. Why are the conservatives and the MSM so concerned about Pelosi’s power struggles, ethics problems, and personal animus when they were virtually ignored under republican leadership?

Don’t answer that, it’s a rhetorical question.

Three examples come to mind right now:
1) The MSM ignored the story of the republicans voting for Boehner and Blunt, buisness as usual, over Pence and the other guy who were more ethical, less K-street driven. The republicans did pay attention to this story but now that the old ways still rule I don’t see much about it.

2) The election of Trent Lott to republican leadership. Ignored by the MSM and treated as buisness as usual by the republicans and White House which had previously opined that Lott was not fit to be leader.

3) Under Gingrich his choice to be majority leader was defeated and Delay won. We did not see all this hand-wringing about Gingrich’s failure by the MSM, the republicans or the democrats.

As for the fair weather libertarians, as you seem to see them, I will just speak for myself in saying that I am libertarian on some issues, conservative on some and liberal on others. I do not define myself into any label or category but that having been said your post seems pointless on this issue. You say Greenwald is defending Pelosi for engaging in the same kind of machine politics that were so reviled under Republican Congressional leadership yet that is all hyperbole. You have no examples of Pelosi engaging in said behavior and no examples of Glenn attacking republicans for doing what Pelosi is now doing. What you do have is an article painting a picture that Pelosi’s animus toward Harman may be personal and have something to do with something from California and bla bla who cares. It sounds like a gossip column. That just goes to Glenn’s point that the media are are going back to their old Clinton Freak Show style of reporting now that the Dems are back.

I would not be so quick to castigate people for not castigating the Dems enough yet. They are not even in power and CNN is asking if they are even fit to lead. You will get your fill of Dem bashing to be shure. Fox of course is off the radar on this. Win for Dems is win for terrorists. Dem win will destroy economy.

Once again back to the lbertarians. My libertarian streak is most concerned about the excesses of the Bush administration concerning civil liberties and constitutional erosion. To a civil libertarion this administration has been a nightmare of catastrophic proportions and the republican Congress has backed them up all the way. If you look at things through this lens you might then be able to understand why a libertarian that sees the Democrats as the last best chance to halt the Bush erosion of civil liberties is not getting as outraged as you over Pelosi’s power struggles and Murthas thirty year old ethics problems. But even there I think you will find you are wrong. I think the liberal/libertarian types like myself will be perfectly willing to critize Democrats when they deserve it. We just have to put things in perspective and stop the massive bleeding before we can worry about the infection.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
Thank You OrneryWP. My old WWI vintage PC just will not let me copy-paste. That or I’m too dumb to figure it out.
 
Written By: Paul XQ
URL: http://
"Instead, I’m interested in the libertarians who denied being "liberals" or even "Democrats" but who believed it was important to punish the GOP and to bring back divided government. They got it. So now — being libertarians, opposed to the overweening State — they’ll turn their fire on the incoming operators of the machinery of the State, right?" -JH
FWIW - at least in my case- Right. Although, I think it is less important to turn "rhetorical fire" on the Democrats, than to continue to lobby for a divided government vote in ’08. Over the last few months, I added a few comments to the Divided Government posts at Q&O and on my blog, advocating and amplifying some of the divided govenment sentiment expressed here. Not surprisingly,as an admitted (libertarian leaning) registered Democrat my sincerity was questioned.

To close the loop, in these two posts - "2008 Election Prologue - Check your assumptions" and "Libertarian swing vote backs Chuck Hagel" I’ve outlined why and how my blog will be in the service of a Republican candidate for President in 2008.

I wonder if RedState will let me back on their site now...

 
Written By: mw
URL: http://westanddivided.blogspot.com/
Here’s a question for ya. Why are the conservatives and the MSM so concerned about Pelosi’s power struggles, ethics problems, and personal animus when they were virtually ignored under republican leadership?
I asked that question in the body of the post.
Three examples come to mind right now:
I’m not really sure your examples are strong. It seems to me that there was a decent amount of attention given to them, although — in the first two — the in-fighting of the minority Party is generally less important than the in-fighting of the majority.
...your post seems pointless on this issue. You say Greenwald is defending Pelosi for engaging in the same kind of machine politics

As it pertained to Greenwald, the dominant point was that he claimed (falsely) that there was no basis for the characterizations. There was a solid basis, yet he never corrected himself.
You have no examples of Pelosi engaging in said behavior and no examples of Glenn attacking republicans for doing what Pelosi is now doing.

I believe stacking the deck with "your people" is pretty much the definition of machine politics.
They are not even in power and CNN is asking if they are even fit to lead.
Can you show me a citation where CNN has questioned whether they are fit to lead?
But even there I think you will find you are wrong. I think the liberal/libertarian types like myself will be perfectly willing to critize Democrats when they deserve it.
I hope so. "Those in power will give us plenty of reasons for criticism" is pretty much an ironclad rule of politics. If you’re a libertarian, it’s almost axiomatic that you should criticize the Party in power.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
Why are we still giving Glenn Greenwald the attention of a legitimate blogger?
More, why has it that he is (at least ostensibly) trading Greenwald’s claim that he is a libertarian with any degree of credibility? I must assume there is some sarcasm at work here.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
More, why has it that he is (at least ostensibly) trading Greenwald’s claim that he is a libertarian with any degree of credibility? I must assume there is some sarcasm at work here.
If you grant someone the possibility that they are sincere in their words, then pointing out the hypocrisy of their actions is all the more damning. If he wants to continue to call himself libertarian, he’ll have to either justify himself on libertarian grounds (which may cause him to further strain his credibility) or change his behavior.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
My libertarian streak is most concerned about the excesses of the Bush administration concerning civil liberties and constitutional erosion.
94% of the constitutional erosion occured under FDR and LBJ.

All of the erosion that has occured post-’68 has been based upon the logic put in place by FDR/LBJ.

Most of the post-’68 erosion occured pre-’81.

Bush and the Republicans may not be good defenders of liberty, but the Democrats have been enemies of liberty.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
If you grant someone the possibility that they are sincere in their words, then pointing out the hypocrisy of their actions is all the more damning. If he wants to continue to call himself libertarian, he’ll have to either justify himself on libertarian grounds (which may cause him to further strain his credibility) or change his behavior.
Ahh. But internet leftists are often more than willing to engage in blatent intellectual dishonesty, with no regard for embaressment. Grenwald’s documented sock puppet exploits place him in the category of a person who doesn’t care if his hypocrisy is exposed.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://

 
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