Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Return of Nigel Tufnel

Well, not really. But Jonathan Gurwitz brings the fictional headbanger back from obscurity in his latest column.
His contention is that Obama’s stimulus plan is like trying to turn the volume up to 11 the way the fictional Nigel did on his amplifiers in the mockumentary “Spinal Tap”. The only problem with this analogy is that we are not talking about spending stimulus dollars that don’t exist. The money will be there, borrowed no doubt, but there none-the-less.
Perhaps if the Federal Reserve was threatening to lower the interest rates to -1, then the Spinal Tap analogy would be applicable. But as it is, I think the more apt analogy would be that of firefighters spraying water on a raging fire. The stimulus package is the equivalent of spraying a whole bunch more water in order to get the fire under control.
Republicans are essentially arguing that it is more important right now to conserve our water than it is to put out the fire.

But the reference to Nigel Tufnel naturally brings back memories of that disagreeable chap who used that pseudonym on Bill Crawford’s now defunct blog. “Nigel” seemed to be most intent on disparaging me personally and arguing in particular about the covert status of Valerie Plame and the question as to whether or not Karl Rove broke the law.
Since “Nigel” would never comment on my blog and because Bill ultimately deleted his entire blog before vanishing into the ether, there is now no record of our lengthy and protracted debate on this subject. However, I did make reference to it in several posts on my blog here, here and here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

25 Most Influential Liberals

JimmyK links to a Forbes list of 25 Most Influential Liberals in the media. Here it is in reverse order:

Michael Pollan
Kurt Andersen
Kevin Drum
Ezra Klein
James Fallows
Gerald Seib
Andrew Sullivan
Glenn Greenwald
Hendrick Hertzberg
Matthew Yglesias
Maureen Dowd
Christopher Hitchens
Bill Moyers
Chris Matthews
Fareed Zakaria
Markos Moulitas Zuniga
David Shipley
Josh Marshall
Rachael Maddow
Oprah Winfrey
Jon Stewart
Thomas Friedman
Fred Hiatt
Arianna Huffington
Paul Krugman

It’s a pretty good list with just a few questionable inclusions and some glaring omissions.
First for the omissions.
Where the heck is Keith Olbermann? They have Chris Matthews, which is questionable, and Rachael Maddow, which is well deserved, but not Olbermann?
And what about Duncan Black - Mr. Atrios himself, probably the leading liberal blogger of all time.
And another up-and-coming liberal blogger I would probably include is Steve Benen, who took over Kevin Drum’s slot at Political Animal. He has been doing a bang-up job and is a must-read for me everyday.
They also left off several prominent liberal columnists including Frank Rich at the NY Times and E.J. Dionne and Eugene Robinson at the Washington Post. Also, Clarence Page at the Chicago Tribune.

Now, for the questionable inclusions.
What were they thinking putting Christopher Hitchens on this list?? He went over to the dark side back during the Clinton era and has been a reliable wingnut voice throughout the entire Iraq War quagmire. His grudging endorsement of Obama notwithstanding, there is no way he should be included in a Top 25 list of LIBERALS. Sheesh!
And speaking of Iraq War cheerleaders, how about Fred Hiatt, the neo-con editorial page editor at the Washington Post. Hiatt is one of the chief reasons the WaPo editorial pages are often more in line with the Wall Street Journal Op-Ed page than they are with the New York Times. A leading liberal voice?? Hogwash!
There are a few others I could nitpick including Andrew Sullivan, Thomas Friedman and Chris Matthews. Also, there is the fact that I had never before heard of Michael Pollan and Kurt Andersen, which is not to disparage their liberal credentials but just to suggest that they might fall short of being in the Top 25.

Who else got left off who should be on the list?

Wackiest governor is NOT in Chicago

It’s not often that I tout Maureen Dowd columns, but her latest Which Governor Is Wackier? says just about everything that I’ve been thinking recently in regards to the fiasco of recent Senate appointments.
Rod Blagojevich may be a complete looney tune, but when it came to picking someone to fill Illinois’ Senate vacancy he did a far better job than New York Gov. David Paterson.
What an awful, wretched performance by Paterson.

So now we have an N.R.A. handmaiden in Bobby Kennedy’s old seat? Kirsten Gillibrand, a k a Tracy Flick, accepting the honor with her Republican pal Al D’Amato beside her on stage?....
Paterson could have acted a month ago, or even a week ago. There was no reason not to, certainly not his claim that he had to wait for Hillary, ad nauseam, to exit to State. Colorado’s governor named Michael Bennet senator two and a half weeks before Ken Salazar resigned his seat for the Interior Department.
Then the Democrats would have had another Kennedy in the Senate representing New York — Bobby’s niece and a smart, policy-oriented, civic-minded woman to whom the president feels deeply indebted in an era when every state has its hand out.
Instead they have Gillibrand, who voted against the Wall Street — as in New York — bailout bill. And who introduced a bill to balance the federal budget annually, which suggests she would oppose the $825 billion in deficit spending that President Obama proposes to rescue the country, not least New York.
Paterson’s five weeks of dithering let the jealous vindictiveness of the Clintons and friends — still fuming over Caroline’s endorsement of Obama and Teddy’s blocking Hillary from a leading health care role in the Senate — poison the air. With his usual sense of entitlement and aggrievement, Bill Clinton of Arkansas did not want Caroline Kennedy of New York to have the seat that Hillary Clinton of Illinois held.
Paterson wasn’t thinking of New York, only of how an upstate ally who was a woman would bolster his own chances for re-election. We can only hope that an avenging Andrew Cuomo takes him out in a primary.

Paterson comes out of this looking much more the fool than Blago. And New York will pay the price with much, much less power and influence in the Senate than they did have or than what they could have had.