Feb
26
2010

OJ and Global Warming: Fossil Fuels Have Their Own Dream Team

Bill McKibben (TheNation.com, 2/25/10) has a good analogy that explains the success of global warming deniers: The campaign against climate science has been enormously clever, and enormously effective. It's worth trying to understand how they've done it. The best analogy, I think, is to the O.J. Simpson trial…. The Dream Team of lawyers assembled for Simpson's defense had a problem: It was pretty clear their guy was guilty. Nicole Brown's blood was all over his socks, and that was just the beginning. So Johnnie Cochran, Robert Shapiro, Alan Dershowitz, F. Lee Bailey, Robert Kardashian et al. decided to attack the […]

Feb
25
2010

Newsweek's Mac Margolis Misleads on Who the World's Arms Merchant Is

Mac Margolis, Newsweek's right-wing Latin America correspondent (Extra!, 1/10), has a small piece in the latest issue (3/1/10) that misleads in a big way. Under the headline "A Killer Deal for Russia," Margolis declares: Russia's campaign to balance U.S. power and prestige around the globe has found a new and willing partner–Latin America–and Washington may be the unwitting facilitator…. Moscow is cutting deals across the region, selling the latest hardware, from rifles to fighter jets, in exchange for influence and access to the area's plentiful oil and gas reserves. And the United States has only itself and its pesky ethics […]

Feb
25
2010

George Will's Perfectly Consistent Filibuster Position

In his Washington Post column today (2/25/10), George Will writes in defense of the filibuster, arguing that Democrats' talk of using budget reconciliation rules to pass ahealthcare bill demonstrates their contempt for the Constitution. He has been perfectly consistent on the question of minority rule–it depends on who the minority is.Back when Republicans filibustered a Clinton economic stimulus bill in 1993, hecheered them on in a column headlined "The Framers' Intent" (Washington Post, 4/25/93). Will defended "the right of a minority to use extended debate to obstruct Senate action" and praised "the generation that wrote and ratified the Constitution" for […]

Feb
24
2010

Tom Friedman's Iraq War

In his New York Times column today (2/24/10), Tom Friedman presents a bizarre view of the Iraq War. Attempting to answer the question of whether Iraq is dysfunctional because of its culture (the "conservative" argument)or because of its politics (the "liberal" argument), he writes: Ironically, though, it was the neo-conservative Bush team that argued that culture didn't matter in Iraq, and that the prospect of democracy and self-rule would automatically bring Iraqis together to bury the past. While many liberals and realists contended that Iraq was an irredeemable tribal hornet's nest and we should not be sticking our hand in […]

Feb
23
2010

To the NYT, Advocates of Killing More Civilians Are Something to Seek Out

Salon's Glenn Greenwald has had a couple of posts (2/18/10, 2/22/10) on a New York Times op-ed (2/18/10) that urged the U.S. to not worry so much about killing civilians in Afghanistan. The piece was written by Lara M. Dadkhah, who is vaguely identified as an "intelligence analyst" and who notes that she is "employed by a defense consulting company." Greenwald's second post reports that Dadkhah actually works for Booz Hamilton, a very well-connected military and intelligence contractor. Greenwald quotes from a response that media critic Charles Kaiser got from Times op-ed editor David Shipley when he asked about Dadkhah's […]

Feb
23
2010

Pundits on Obama: Stay Left or Go Middle?

On NBC's Chris Matthews Show on Sunday (2/21/10), the main topic of conversation was a familiar one for Beltway media: Will Obama finally go to the "center"? Or as the show's website puts it, "The Crucial Crossroads: Will Obama Push His Agenda, or Move to the Middle?" Matthews kicked things off by announcing that"the week began with that stunner from Sen. Evan Bayh, more evidence the president is losing the power of the center that got him elected." How Bayh's sudden decision to leave the Senaterelates to Obama isn't obvious, but the point is perfectly clear: Obama needs to move […]

Feb
23
2010

You Can't Be a Neutral Observer of Your Child's War

New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt (2/21/10) returns to the issue of Times Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner having a child fighting on one side of the conflict he's covering (FAIR Activism Update, 2/12/10): Some Times journalists have taken issue with my position in this case, believing it suggests that no Jewish reporter could fairly cover the Israeli/Palestinian conflict (or, for that matter, a corollary: that a Muslim of Arab descent could not cover Iraq). Until Thomas L. Friedman was sent to Jerusalem in 1984, the Times would not assign a Jew to that post, a sorry history that […]

Feb
22
2010

Delusions of Radicalism: A Longstanding Media Syndrome

Think Progress's Matthew Yglesias (2/22/10) points to a rather bizarre Economist editorial (2/18/10) blaming President Barack Obama's problems on his failure to move to the right: It is not so much that America is ungovernable, as that Mr. Obama has done a lousy job of winning over Republicans and independents to the causes he favors. If, instead of handing over healthcare to his party's left wing, he had lived up to his promise to be a bipartisan president and courted conservatives by offering, say, reform of the tort system, he might have got healthcare through; by giving ground on nuclear […]

Feb
22
2010

WaPo Editorial Page: Watch What You Read!

From the paper's editorial today (2/22/10) on climate change deniers: The Earth is warming. A chief cause is the increase in greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere. Humans are at least in part responsible, because the oil, gas and coal that we burn releases these gases. If current trends persist, it's likely that in coming decades the globe's climate will change with potentially devastating effects for billions of people. Contrary to what you may have read lately, there are few reputable scientists who would disagree with anything in that first paragraph. That's especially true if "what you may have read […]

Feb
21
2010

When a Scandal Involves a Stockholder, NYT Takes a Pass

James Ledbetter (Big Money, 2/20/10) points out that Mexican media mogul Carlos Slim, the third-richest person on the planet and one of the New York Times' biggest stockholders, is a central player in a remarkable New York-based legal story–one that the Times has so far ignored. The story involves Slim's attempt to take over a loan that JPMorgan Chase made to a subsidiary of Grupo Televisa, Slim's major business rival–a deal that would have required Televisa to reveal virtually all its financial secrets. A U.S. federal judge in New York City held that JPMorgan was acting in "bad faith" and […]

Feb
19
2010

New York Post Style Guide for White American Political Violence

The New York Post (2/19/10) has an interesting front page on the anti-government protester flying his plane into an office building. After the bad pun ("KAMIKAZE ATTAX!"), the subhead reads: Fed-Up Madman Crashes Plane Into IRS Building "Madman"–because unlike, say, Nidal Malik Hasan, Joseph Stack is not a "terrorist" whose actions might discredit a wider political movement. And "Fed-Up" because…maybe he has a point?

Feb
19
2010

Time Garbles Poll Numbers to Puff Tea Party Popularity

An article in the new issue of Time (3/1/10) takes a look at the Tea Party movement–which, according to their calculations, is surprisingly large: Whether bitter or sweetened, the tea is winning admirers. According to the latest CBS News/New York Times poll, roughly 1 in 5 adult Americans identifies with the Tea Party movement, which scored its first major victory last month when Republican Scott Brown won the Massachusetts Senate seat long held by the late Democrat Ted Kennedy. One in 5, while a lot smaller than movements considered fringe by corporate media (i.e., single-payer advocates), is pretty startling considering […]

Feb
19
2010

E.J. Dionne's Question Answers His Question

Why are liberals and Democrats losing on issues like healthcare?Columnist E.J. Dionne (Washington Post, 2/18/10) rightly points out that congressional Democrats have caved on almost every big issue: "Single-payer was out at the start. The public option died. A Medicare buy-in died." He wonders: While liberals were arguing about public plans and this or that, and while Obama was deep into inside deal-making, the conservatives relentlessly made a straightforward public case based on a syllogism: The economy is a mess. Obama and the Democrats are for big government. Big government is responsible for the mess. Therefore the mess is the […]