Category Archives: Bad Media

Meet the New Ken Starr

Brace Yourselves
<em>Updated below</em>

So the House Majority has decided it’s time to go for the throat, and that Benghazi is the issue that will be on point. The following from is a puff piece describing the Chairman of said committee:

For once, Rep. Trey Gowdy had no questions to ask. It was Sep. 19, 2013, well into a full day of House Oversight Committee hearings on the 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi. The morning had been spent on the facts gathered, then and later, by the State Department. After that the panel heard from the family members of victims—from people like Patricia Smith, whose 34-year old son Sean had been killed in the attack.

“When you were testifying, I couldn’t help but think about this dichotomy of death,” said Gowdy. “That sometimes, it walks slowly to the front of your life—it gives you time to get your affairs in order, you’ve had a good life, you have time to say goodbye to the people you love. It just walks slowly and knocks gently on the front door. And then sometimes it kick downs the door.”

Patricia Smith was transfixed. She had not come to Congress expecting to hear low country poetry about her son. But here it was, spooling out on C-Span, and here came more of it. “I can’t offer you closure,” said Gowdy. “What I hope we can offer you is the truth. Facts. Justice. And let you do with that what you need to do as you walk down that road called grief.” He insisted, “From church, to the grocery store, to Costco—frankly, to the golf course—I am asked about Benghazi.”

Smith finally interjected, forgetting to use her microphone: “Get answers, please!” Gowdy said that he would. It was the most compelling moment of a day that the White House was largely able to ignore. And it was resonant in a way that Chairman Darrell Issa’s post-game response—to tweet a photo of empty Democratic chairs in the room, as if the other party had taken a respite to spit on some graves—was not.

So what we have here is a man who is eminently conversant with wielding style in the courtroom. Substance, not so much.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) slammed House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for creating a select committee to investigate the deaths of four American officials in Benghazi. In an e-mail to supporters Friday, Warren called the committee “shameful” and “no-holds-barred political theater,” accusing the GOP of exploiting a tragedy for political gain. And for Warren, it’s a bit personal.

In the email, Warren notes that she is particularly concerned about Boehner’s selection of Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) to chair committee. She recalls testifying before Gowdy in 2011 when she was setting up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “I know a little bit about the way Trey Gowdy pursues oversight,” she writes. “I was on the other end of it when I was setting up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and I was called to testify before the House.”

Warren says Gowdy lacked basic knowledge of the new agency and was a grand-stander, pushing empty political points rather than conducting a serious investigation. She goes out of her way to make Gowdy appear foolish, quoting a Huffington Post account of the hearing that describes Gowdy as mistakenly suggesting that Warren had written rules that were, in fact, direct quotes from a bill passed by Congress.

Despite claims that this will solely focus on Benghazi, I’m betting this is going to be the Whitewater/White House Travel Office/Vince Foster/Lewinski/Where’s Waldo investigation all over again, and the Beltway media is already salivating. I still have a copy of the Starr report somewhere (it is as salacious in its details as it can be), and the playbook that produced it was essentially one sentence: “keep pushing until you find any mistake, and then beat them to death with it.” We may find that not having any sex scandals to focus on may turn out to be Obama’s detriment. People can empathize with being horny, but most people’s eyes glaze over when confronted with the multi-layered process of producing government communications (let alone government policy).

God damn, but I feel for Senator/Secretary* Clinton. You should not have to face this kind of rabid crazy twice in one lifetime.

Update: Rep. Gowdy is even more of a jerk than I thought. Remember the GOP attacking the Park Service for closing the monuments? Yeah, that was him.

* Not sure what the protocol on former titles is, or which takes precedence

A Question of “Quasi-Theft”

So it seems we have a moment here of vigilante eminent domain in the service of getting a cover story for the New York Times Magazine:

“I won’t try to make it sound like I didn’t struggle with it,” he said of the ethical blurriness of the situation. “It’s not the kind of thing you want to do with every story.”

He added, however, that he was legally in the clear, as one cannot own somebody else’s speech, and Mr. McCormick’s transcript features the words of Elvie Thomas. (“You’re not allowed to sit on these things for half a century, not when the culture has decided they matter,” Mr. Sullivan writes in the article, referring to the transcript.)

Yeah, whatever, Sullivan. You’re a douchebag for affirming the social convention that theft and betrayal are OK, as long as it’s done to those weaker than you. To be blunt, when you start saying that someone else “should” think something is as important as (and in the same way that) you do, especially in matters of history, perhaps you’re taking it too personally, and it’s more about you than the history.

Here’s the daughter’s Tumblr post, if you’re into reblogging it.

Bin Laden bites self, plays to own base.

Informed Comment has an astute analysis of the possible impacts of the latest Bin Laden videotape. It is wonderful (despite the darkness of the subject matter) to find a truly three-dimensional view of the Middle East, when all the U.S. media usually gives us is cartoony allegories masquerading as news. I truly believe that the situation in Iraq is more complicated than either the Dems or the Repubs truly wish to admit. A clear examination of the issues is not in the interests of either party – for the Repugs, it would highlight not only that the insurgency does have significant popular support, it would underscore that we shouldn’t be there at all. The Dems, on the other hand, would rather not address the fact that a good portion of the insurgency there is composed of radical terrorists who are killing more Iraqis than Americans.

In this entry is also mentioned a rather interesting change for al-Qaeda, as Zarqawi has just changed the name of his group to “Mesopotamian al-Qaeda” and pledged fealty to bin Laden. Truthfully, apart from noises of solidarity made among like-minded groups after 9/11, I don’t recall hearing about a solid statement of fealty to al-Qaeda from anyone before (then again, I live in the Middle East news vacuum that is the U.S., so who knows). It will be interesting to see if Zarqawi’s pledge is only one of political convenience, since according to Cole’s article, they can only do damage to the reputation the other has with the world at large, and Iraq in particular.
Yes, I know I’m speaking of fundamentalist Muslim groups and the topic category icon has a Christian emblem. Perhaps it would explain things if I told you that the icon is also the logo of an excellent punk band named Bad Religion. [SB 1/18/05 – this refers to when the entry was on the PHPNuke site] Speaking of which, I reccomend you go to their site and pick up a copy of the lead singer’s PhD Dissertation!!!!

All War, All the Time.

Okay, now we’ve been joking about FNC being the war channel, but apparently there’s going to be one now for really real. I’m annoyed that they’re closing down Discovery Wings in order to do this, but with shows like “Mail Call” growing in popularity it was inevitable. I think the technology is neat, I’m that kind of wierd geek, but a whole channel devoted to it is Rumsfeld’s dream. Mark my words, there will be a significant boost in enlistments because of this, folllowed by a significant boost in disillusioned soldiers, I’m guessing.

SB 7/1/14: It is now the American Heroes Channel. Sigh.

How special is this?

Okay, now this is the first time I’ve been outraged over the prior restraint of a religious message in this country (from Alternet.Org). The three big broadcast networks declined to show an ad (viewable at www.stillspeaking.com) that promoted the inclusiveness of the UCC. This isn’t censorship per se, since there is no government involvement, but it is the quiet sort of self-censorship that was a hallmark of the 1950s.

[ed – A look at CBS’s rejection letters.

I don’t pay as much attention to this as I should, with all of the wierdness that happens when religion intersects secular culture, and to be honest, I’m solidly of the opinion that Christians have more freedom of speech here than almost anywhere else in the world, and a small fraction of them are abusing the hell out of it while trying to cut everyone else out of the first amendment. But the issue is complicated as hell, that is certain. So is the fact that censorship doesn’t work.

Why was she so cheerful??

I was watching Fox News for a moment, and Rebecca Gomez came on talking to Neil Cavuto about Bridges TV, an English-language Arabic cable network. Now I wouldn’t be so suspicious, but the last time I saw Fox anchors that happy was in the last big court decision against gay marriage. This worries me, I will be interested to know who’s funding them.

SB: Ten years later, and I still don’t know.