Thursday, 01 February 2007

Random Musings

Ken Berwitz

I'm in Los Angeles right now, after working in Chicago and Houston.  I feel as crumpled as what's left of my clothes.  Travelling to a different city every day doesn't do much for your shirts and pants.

-Molly Ivins died this week, finally succombing to a years-long battle with breast cancer.  I didn't agree with almost anything she wrote, but I greatly respected her as a writer with a sharp, acerbic wit.  When Molly Ivins nailed you, brother you were nailed.  May she rest in peace.

-After working well into the night on Wednesday, I blearily put on the TV and caught Jay Leno laughing over Joe Biden's "clean" comment about Barack Obama.  Leno called it the shortest presidential bid in history - i.e. 7 hours from announcing his candidacy to making this comment and blowing himself out of the race.

Me, I don't know what in the world he said wrong.  He was TRYING to compliment Obama and trying, I think, to characterize the Obama candidacy as somewhat the way Jackie Robinson was thought of when he became the first Black major league player of the modern era. 

Yes, it's true that Biden has a special talent for putting his foot in his mouth.  But at some point we have to get off our high horses and give at least some weight to what he obviously meant instead of playing the bloodsport of turning it into something else and then nailing him for the something else.  Biden deserved better. 

What a terrible sign of the times we live in, that a clumsily worded positive comment can, and almost certainly will, torpedo a presidential candidacy.

-Before heading to the research facility I am typing this from, I caught a couple of minutes of Hardball with chris mouthews.  And, for the 6,738th time since his show began, he had al sharpton on --  this time to talk about Biden's gaffe.  Al sharpton is a racist and an anti-semite, but one who has a talent for great sound bites.  So mouthews fawns over him like a 14 year old girl fawns over the latest boytoy heartthrob. 

I wonder if david duke can ratchet up his collection of one-liners and become a regular on Hardball too. 

-The Wall Street Journal had an editorial today in which it enumerated a bunch of economic statistics.  Reading them, it is impossible not to conclude that we are in the midst of a huge economic boom.  Growth at 3.5%, unemployment at 4.5% -- numbers that the European Union is galaxies away from.  And a ton more, such as 4.4% spending growth, exports rising 10% in the last quarter (9.2% for the entire year) and exports to (not from, to) China rising 30%.

If this is all new to you;  that is, you haven't read or seen almost anything about it in mainstream media, then you should think about why.  Specifically, you should think about just how far so much of mainstream media will go to manipulate you towards an anti-Bush point of view.  And just how well they usually succeed.

-Judith Miller testified in the Libby, trial yesterday.  The defense made her look ridiculous by comparing her notes to what she could and could not remember on the witness stand.  Were the exchanges between Miller and Libby's lawyer contentious and angry?  You bet they were.  And you'll see this repeated again and again with every reporter who testifies. 

What does it mean?  It means that when you're doing interviews, and writing stories, and worrying about deadlines and a bunch of other things, you are going to forget things you said and dates when you did or didn't say them.  If that is true of the reporters who claim Libby told them things on dates he disputes, then it stands to reason that it is true of Libby too. 

If this is fitzgerald's best shot (and it has to be since he couldn't indict anyone else BUT Libby), then he comes across like a circus clown. 

The only way patrick fitzgerald will accomplish anything besides making a fool of himself in this debacle is if Libby can be convinced to plead to a lesser charge so he doesn't have to continue bleeding money to defend himself against an unprovable charge which has nothing - repeat, nothing - to do with the REASON for this investigation.  The reason, you may remember, is the "outing" of valerie plame, who was so deeply undercover that she did a frigging photo story in Vanity Fair magazine.  She was about as undercover as Paris Hilton.

-Finally, since I'm in Los Angeles, I toyed with the idea of contacting and maybe getting together with John Amato, who runs the very popular leftwing blog,  We had a pleasant email correspondence going for a couple of months last year which, for reasons I am unaware of, abruptly turned sour (on his part, not mine).  I thought it might be good to meet face to face, because it would "humanize" us to each other.  You don't get that by emailing back and forth. Ultimately, though, I decided against it.  Maybe next time.

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