Tag Archives: pundits

And somewhere Paul Wolfowitz is saying we can clean up this mess in Iraq quickly and easily and it won’t cost the price of a movie plus popcorn. For sure.

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It’ll be easy. Honest.

Shamelessly do I copy/paste an entire post from Andrew Sullivan today since I just saw that battle-hardened warrior Bill Kristol on the teevee saying with a straight face what Sullivan recounts here. It was an utterly  hallucinatory experience.

Here’s Sullivan: What do you do with near-clinical fanatics who, in their own minds, never make mistakes and whose worldview remains intact even after it has been empirically dismantled in front of their eyes? In real life, you try and get them to get professional help.

In the case of those who only recently sent thousands of American servicemembers to their deaths in a utopian scheme to foment a democracy in a sectarian dictatorship, we have to merely endure their gall in even appearing in front of the cameras. But the extent of their pathology is deeper than one might expect. And so there is actually a seminar this fall, sponsored by the Hertog Foundation, which explores the origins of the terrible decision-making that led us into the worst foreign policy mistake since Vietnam. And the fair and balanced teaching team?

It will be led by Paul D. Wolfowitz, who served during the Persian Gulf War as the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and as Deputy Secretary of Defense during the first years of the Iraq War, and by Lewis Libby, who served during the first war as Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and during the Iraq War as Chief of Staff and National Security Adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Next spring: how the Iraq War spread human rights … by Donald Rumsfeld.

Most people are aware that relatively few of the architects of a war have fully acknowledged the extent of their error – let alone express remorse or even shame at the more than a hundred thousands civilian deaths their adventure incurred for a phony reason. No, all this time, they have been giving each other awards, lecturing congressmen and Senators, writing pieces in the Weekly Standard and the New Republic, being fellated by David Gregory, and sucking at the teet of the neocon welfare state, as if they had nothing to answer for, and nothing to explain.

Which, I suppose makes the following paragraph in Bill Kristol’s latest case for war less shocking than it should be:

Now is not the time to re-litigate either the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 or the decision to withdraw from it in 2011. The crisis is urgent, and it would be useful to focus on a path ahead rather than indulge in recriminations. All paths are now fraught with difficulties, including the path we recommend. But the alternatives of permitting a victory for al Qaeda and/or strengthening Iran would be disastrous.

But it is shocking; it is, in fact, an outrage, a shameless, disgusting abdication of all responsibility for the past combined with a sickening argument to do exactly the same fricking thing all over again. And yes, I’m not imagining. This is what these true know-nothing/learn-nothing fanatics want the US to do:

It would mean not merely conducting U.S. air strikes, but also accompanying those strikes with special operators, and perhaps regular U.S. military units, on the ground. This is the only chance we have to persuade Iraq’s Sunni Arabs that they have an alternative to joining up with al Qaeda or being at the mercy of government-backed and Iranian-backed death squads, and that we have not thrown in with the Iranians. It is also the only way to regain influence with the Iraqi government and to stabilize the Iraqi Security Forces on terms that would allow us to demand the demobilization of Shi’a militias and to move to limit Iranian influence and to create bargaining chips with Iran to insist on the withdrawal of their forces if and when the situation stabilizes.

What’s staggering is the maximalism of their goals and the lies they are insinuating into the discourse now, just as they did before.

Last time, you could ascribe it to fathomless ignorance. This time, they have no excuse. ISIS is not al Qaeda; it’s far worse in ways that even al Qaeda has noted undermine its cause rather than strengthen it. It may be strategically way over its head already. And the idea that the US has to fight both ISIS and Iran simultaneously is so unhinged and so self-evidently impossible to contain or control that only these feckless fools would even begin to suggest it. Having empowered Iran by dismantling Iraq, Kristol actually wants the US now to enter a live war against ISIS and the Quds forces. You begin to see how every military catastrophe can be used to justify the next catastrophe. It’s a perfect circle for the neocons’ goal of the unending war. I don’t know what to say about it really. It shocks in its solipsism; stuns in its surrealism; chills in its callousness and recklessness. So perhaps the only response is to republish what this charlatan was saying in 2003 in a tone utterly unchanged from his tone today, with a certainty which was just as faked then as it is now. Read carefully and remember he has recanted not a word of it:

February 2003 (from his book, “The War Over Iraq“):  According to one estimate, initially as many as 75,000 troops may be required to police the war’s aftermath, at a cost of $16 billion a year. As other countries’ forces arrive, and as Iraq rebuilds its economy and political system, that force could probably be drawn down to several thousand soldiers after a year or two.

February 24, 2003:  “Having defeated and then occupied Iraq, democratizing the country should not be too tall an order for the world’s sole superpower.”

March 5, 2003: “We’ll be vindicated when we discover the weapons of mass destruction.”

April 1 2003: “On this issue of the Shia in Iraq, I think there’s been a certain amount of, frankly, Terry, a kind of pop sociology in America that, you know, somehow the Shia can’t get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There’s almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq’s always been very secular.”

Yes, “always been very secular”. Always. Would you buy a used pamphlet from this man – let alone another full scale war in Iraq?

I agree with every word

Frank Bruni today in the New York Times writes of the vast distance between those in uniform and the celebrity pundits busily passing judgement on a soldier. Pundits, most of whom have never even tried on a uniform. Good column. He also says this:

This has been an emotional, messy and confusing week, which ends with as many questions as answers. One of mine concerns the Obama administration: Is there anyone there doing serious messaging strategy? Anyone stepping back to consider how a story like this one is likely to unfold and how the administration may get tripped up in it?

When Susan Rice (rightly or wrongly) carries around that Benghazi baggage, how do you send her of all emissaries onto TV to talk up the “honor and distinction” of Bergdahl’s military service? This characterization was sure to be disputed; there was countervailing evidence in circulation even as she spoke. How do you fail to realize that this is going to come back to bite you? Incredible.

It looks like the villagers* are aboard

Aye aye sir. Now keep me on the Rolodex, ya'hear?

Aye aye sir. Now keep me on the Rolodex, ya’hear?

If there were any doubt at all about corporate (not to mention entirely self-absorbed) media playing the apologist when one’s place in the social pecking order in D.C. is at stake, let this exchange settle it – David Gregory and his cohort are only too glad to jump aboard the USS Patriot. And salute.

“Meet the Press” host David Gregory asked columnist Glenn Greenwald why he shouldn’t be charged with a crime for working with NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

Greenwald was on to discuss his source’s Sunday morning flight from Hong Kong to Moscow. (It is unclear where Snowden will ultimately land, though reports have suggested he is headed to Venezuela.) At the tail end of the conversation, Gregory suddenly asked Greenwald why the government shouldn’t be going after him.

“To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?” he asked.

Greenwald replied that it was “pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies,” and that there was no evidence to back up Gregory’s claim that he had “aided” Snowden.

Keep speaking truth to power Glenn. You’re on the right side of this one. (There’s video at the link.)

*And who are ‘the villagers’? See here.

Zacharia scrapes bottom of pundit barrel on Memorial Day weekend

Why was Peggy Noonan making sense this morning? That doesn’t make sense.

Maybe she just looked good, sharing, as she did, the pundit table with this sorry collection:

  • Ross Douthat, The NY Times’ least deserving op-ed hire of all time
  • Bill Keller, former Exec Editor of the The NY Times (big morning for the Old Grey Lady!) and legend-in-his-own-mind and probably the guy who hired Douthat
  • Chrystia Freeland of Reuters online, a teenager through and through – not surprising I guess from a woman saddled with such a precious name. Also shrill.

 

In defense of Pat Buchanan

For a long time, old Uncle Pat Buchanan has been my favorite misogynistic anti-Semite. And credit where it’s due: he is definitely America’s most polite racist. Pat lives happily in Leave-It-To-Beaver-land, where the men are strong, the women know it and the children say thank you. They’re all nice and white, go to Church together on Sunday and then, for a treat,  have breakfast at Howard Johnson’s.

Ole’ Pat, second left, back in ‘the day’

For years, he’s been a regular panelist on MSNBC shows but now they want Pat to go away and stay in his own yard,  because his new book has offensive chapter titles.

They can make a case for their actions. I know that. Even though there’s nothing new here. He’s been called ‘racist’ and ‘homophobic’ and ‘anti semitic’ on air many times – because he is. But he was not brought on air to speak for their brand or their network (were that the case, it would have been an entirely different thing);  he was put on air to provide political commentary. And in that, he is one of the best.

So I’m pissed off this time: warts and all, Buchanan is one of the few in cable-TV land who isn’t entirely enthralled with himself and who is not vapid. He is also one of the sharpest political observers in cable land. He has keen insights and his institutional memory of American history – political and otherwise – is sharp and always at hand. He is classically educated, a rarity in teevee land, and that informs his commentary as well.

I don’t need MSNBC to insulate me from Buchanan. I can separate the baby from the bath water just fine. And I’ll wager so can other viewers.

UPDATE: Buchanan has an explanatory column up at The American Conservative. Quite a few commenters, many of htem liberals, agree with me. This one is pretty representative:

Paulo, on February 17th, 2012 at 10:28 am said:

As a good Progressive, gay man I happen to disagree with Mr. Buchanan almost constantly. I do however buy his books and on the rare occasions when I wander into the cesspit of cable news I listen to his opinions. He makes me think rather and in this soundbite driven would that is a true gift.

When I walk away from a Buchanan argument I feel called to do my homework, to iron out and resolve my moral and political stances in response to his critiques. I have seen enough value in this that I use his book on WWII as critical reading for a small history class I teach. As I tell my students “Disagree, I do! Now go out and tell me why.”

I am deeply saddened that he has fallen victim to a PC witch hunt on the left in the ongoing tit for tat. I expect another left wing thinker will soon fall in retaliation.  Exceptionally sad and I plan on telling my local HRC coordinators exactly that.

Bobblespeak has a fine ear

Meet The Press – EJ Dionne and some congressman I never heard of seemed sane and made some sense. The rest not so much. But lookee! Peggy Noonan agrees with me (I agree with her?) about, what’s ‘er name, Palin.

NBC did a Sunday funny

The ego of the pundit (and producer) knows no bounds. On Meet the Press today, Gregory called his round table discussion (which was actually quite good) a Jobs Summit. Really.

Just like Nixon/Mao. Just like Reagan/Gorbachev. You know, a summit.

Students need projects

And an enterprising group at Hamilton College undertook to look at how our public prognosticators are doing with their predictions.

. . . analyzed the predicts of 26 pundits — including Sunday morning TV talkers — and used a scale of 1 to 5 to rate their accuracy. After Paul Krugman, the most accurate pundits were Maureen Dowd, former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “The Bad” list includes Thomas Friedman, Clarence Page, and Bob Herbert..

It’s cool that Krugman was rated most accurate. They rated syndicated columnist Cal Thomas the least accurate.

As for the ‘bad’ list, I really admire Page and Herbert and am disappointed to see them there. But Thomas Friedman? Delicious! Durng the Iraq War he opined for a few years that ‘the next six months’ would resolve matters one way or the other. And he said it over and over and over for so long that a period of six months came to be known as “a Freindman unit” or just ‘an FU”.

But this has to be my favorite line from the story.

Finally, those prognosticators with a law degree were more likely to be wrong.

A sweet racket

You’re a pundit, or a political reporter, or a columnist. And you write a book.  All your buds and peers on cable TV have you on three or four times to make sure your book moves in the stores. Then you have them on your show when they write their book. Don’t have a show? Plug it when you’re a guest, plug it in a column. Tit for tat, folks, tit for tat. Keep the circle moving, pick up the speed and pretty soon you think you’re going somewhere!  Adore at each other’s altars. Cable masturbation.