Tag Archives: josh marshall

News Roundup – John Oliver, Trump, Bowling Green, Yemen

I didn’t watch the Last Week Tonight show after the election. John Oliver was exactly right. This is NOT normal. Trump is not normal. We have no idea what Trump is going to do. This is a leaky White House. I really, really want to give Trump the benefit of the doubt, but I still believe that he does not have the intellectual curiosity to be a good president. Remember, we had a long national discussion about Bush and his lack of being curious. He just accepted information that was given to him. You simply can’t do that.

Great opinion piece by John Marshall at Talking Points Memo. He argues that Trump was never a populist; rather, he is a nationalist. This could be a good thing, but it could also be interpreted negatively. From the perspective of a nationalist, it would seem that the fact that America is an open and inclusive society, embracing abd loving our melting pot, is one of our strengths. Trump, however, has adopted a different type of nationalism.

Paul Krugman has put my fear into words. It seems as if we are picking fights with everyone. Why would we want to pick a fight with Australia? BTW, what does “putting Iran on notice” actually mean? I have a bad feeling that we are going to be at war with someone pretty soon.

There is so much going on that it is easy to miss things like a raid on a compound in Yemen. For me, American casualties are never a good thing. We need to think long and hard about everything we are doing any time any American soldier dies. Was the raid worth it? So far, I don’t have any idea. I understand the problems with counterterrorism. The purpose of this raid was to stop what exactly? As the American soldiers approached the target they knew that they had lost the element of surprise. So why press on? Was this that important? I don’t know. We lost a $75 million MV-22 Osprey (an aircraft that got a terrible reputation 20 years ago as it was being developed).

Have you heard anything about the Bowling Green Muslim Massacre? Nope, neither had I.

So, it is Black History month. The White House usually does something to honor Black Americans. Trump was Trump. He started on the topic of Black History, covering the basics – Martin Luther King, Fredrick Douglass, and Harriett Tubman. He then veered off the subject into nothingness. It isn’t that I think that our president needs to be an expert on Black History, but he should at least pretend that it is important to America. That’s all that I ask…maybe that’s too much.

What stories are you following?

Olbermann is suspended and I have a few questions

Here’s what I don’t understand. Is there a policy at MSNBC or not? If there is, then is it being applied to everyone or only to Keith Olbermann?

From Josh Marshall at TPM:

I find the Keith Olbermann story bizarre, on both sides but mainly on MSNBC’s. First, political contribution records are the most public thing in the world for anyone who is even somewhat in the public eye, certainly for someone who courts controversy. So political giving strikes me as something done entirely in the open for someone of Olbermann’s stature. On the one hand that sounds like MSNBC is flipping out about something that must have been all but an open secret. On the other, if this is MSNBC’s policy, why was Olbermann openly flouting it?

Second, MSNBC’s policy forbids employees from making donations to political candidates, unless they ask for permission to do so, in which it seems usually to be granted. That seems to me to undercut the principle behind the policy.

But of course all of this pales behind the larger point which is that Olbermann’s job at MSNBC is to be an extremely opinionated commentator on politics. And he’s the centerpiece (along with Maddow and more equivocally, Matthews) behind the business strategy of making MSNBC the liberal cable news/chat network. (How they square that with simultaneously having a more traditional and by the books NBC News is something they clearly have yet to work out.) But when you take that all into account, seeing him now all but canned over a handful of individual political contributions because he’s compromised the objectivity he’s supposed to bring to the job sounds like a bit of a joke.

Greg Mitchell comments on the media for The Nation. Here’s what he has had to say:

Just hours after Politico dug up the fact that MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, a few days ago, had donated to three Democrats running for office, the cable news network suspended the newsman / commentator without pay indefinitely.  Olbermann has not yet responded and it is unclear when, or if, he will return.

A little later, Rachel Maddow tackled the episode, saying that she understands the NBC rules about asking permission before making a donation–as MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough apparently did at least once.  But she insisted that the “point” had been made and “we need Keith back.” She then profiled the multitude of Fox hosts donating to, fundraising for and outright endorsing Republicans.  “We are not a political operation,” she said. “Fox is. We are a news operation. And the rules around here are part of how you know that.”  Here’s a transcript.

More from Greg Mitchell:

Liberal bloggers were quick to point out that  Scarborough, once and current MSNBC host, donated $4200 to a House candidate in 2006.   Records also show that Scarborough made a $5000 contribution to a candidate earlier this year.  He claims the records are wrong — the donation was from his wife.

It recently came to light that Fox’s Sean Hannity, and his wife, each gave $5000 to Michele Bachmann.  Neil Cavuto has also donated to candidates.

Greg Sargent at the Washington Post raises the question: Did Olbermann even violate the network’s policy?   Activists are already circulating petitions — more than 100,000 signed by the end of the evening —  and jamming NBC phone lines.

Wow! What stupidity by Governor Blagojevich.

I cannot explain the stupidity and gall of Governor Blagojevich.

From Political Animal:

CHUTZPAH…. Reading the case (pdf) against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) paints a remarkable picture. The charges will, of course, still have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, but there are tape recordings of the governor’s conversations that are going to be very difficult to explain.

We’re not just talking about playing fast and loose with ethics rules here; we’re talking about almost comical levels of corruption. It’s not quite as jaw-dropping as the case against disgraced former Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.) — now that was an interesting read — but it’s certainly in the ballpark.

But there’s some context here that shouldn’t go overlooked. Josh Marshall noted:

Even setting aside the primordial level of corruption of trying to sell the senate seat of the President-elect of the United States, I never fail to be amazed at the brazenness and stupidity of some political crooks. I mean, I think everyone involved in politics or interested in political corruption in the country had to know that Blagojevich’s phones were tapped and probably his offices were bugged, and that Pat Fitzgerald had him under the craziest level of scrutiny. And he tries to sell the senate seat with that hanging over his head? That’s simply amazing. I guess you could say he’s just a traditionalist, trying to keep up heritage of Chicago machine politics. But with some of these characters, it must just be pathological.  (more… )

Fitzgerald mentioned that the Chicago Tribune was going to run a story on the whole situation but was asked by the FBI and the US Attorney’s office to hold off on publishing it.  Here’s the Tribune’s official statement from the editor:

The Chicago Tribune investigated allegations of misconduct involving Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich independent of the U.S. attorney’s criminal probe.

As a standard practice, our reporters contact individuals involved in these stories for confirmation and comment prior to publication. Consequently, we contacted the U.S. attorney’s office in the course of our reporting.

On occasion, prosecutors asked us to delay publication of stories, asserting that disclosure would jeopardize the criminal investigation. In isolated instances, we granted the requests, but other requests were refused.

The Chicago Tribune’s interest in reporting the news flows from its larger obligation of citizenship in a democracy. In each case, we strive to make the right decision as reporters and as citizens. That’s what we did in this case.

TPM has a ton of stuff on this case.  Here and here.

The Chicago Tribune, of course, also has a whole lot.