Libby trial reflection: “My pencil is dull and my handwriting stinks”

Isadore Barmash, who passed away last November at the age of 84, was a longtime reporter for the New York Times. Political junkies may be forgiven for not being familiar with his extensive body of work, for Barmash’s beat was retail business, not politics. He had a particular interest in the apparel industry (he had worked at Women’s Wear Daily before joining the Times). His articles were found most often not in the front section of the paper, but deep in the business pages. I myself don’t care about fashion, and when I read a newspaper I usually skip the business stories. So I’m not the kind of guy who would be expected to notice Barmash’s byline. But I used to follow Barmash’s work because for a period in from the late 60’s through 1975, when I was in high school and college, he had series of front-page-of-the-New-York-Times articles that I found absolutely compelling.

His subject was my father.

I thought of Barmash a few weeks ago when Tim Russert’s testimony at the Lewis Libby trial was reported. Under oath, Russert said that when he talked to senior government officials, everything was “off the record” unless the official explicitly agreed to go “on the record.” People who value the role of journalism in a democracy were appalled by Russert’s admission, but attentive students of contemporary American “journalism” were not surprised. Dan Froomkin rightly said, “That’s not reporting, that’s enabling.” Russert’s sworn testimony made patently clear that what he does for a living is not journalism properly understood, but rather a form of court stenography served up in a a faux-journalism format.

Below the fold, what Barmash, a real journalist, told my father about “on the record” and “off the record.”

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Dick Cheney, “Uniquely Ridiculous”

Pardon me for piling on, and I’ll get back to my usual Wetmachine technoparanoia beat forthwith, but kindly allow me to chime in here with Josh Marshall on the subject of the criminal, nonsensical, dangerous and stupid sociopath who shares the presidency with what’s-his-face, that chimp-faced guy about whom the Grammy-winning Dixie Chicks were embarassed to share a home state:

But Dick Cheney’s an exceptional case. He stands on his own unique ground of ridiculousness. And because of that he’s not simply a bully but a glass bully. Outside of the very hard right wing of American politics, pretty much everyone now sees that Dick Cheney is a screw-up and a moron of historic proportions.

It really is time for us to laugh this guy out of office, is it not, my fellow patriots? Every moment that we allow him to remain in the constitutional office he now occupies (however he got there) is a moment that imperils all of us, and those who will follow us.

Those of you who do not think Dick Cheney is a screw-up and a moron of historic proportions, kindly resume your telephone santitizing or whatever else you were doing. Everybody else, please contact your state senators and representatives and get this impeachment ball rolling. Clearly the congress is not going to take up impeachment until we make them do it. When it comes it will come from the state legistlatures. Do your part. Make sure your state reps are on board.


I have chaged the title of this little entry, which never really worked (something about Cheney being a fart joke). The point I was trying to make, which is small but important, is that this man deserves no respect at all. Fearing him is understandable — he’s a Tony Soprano-like sociopath who manages to extract apologies from people whom he has blasted in the face with shotguns. But he deserves no respect, especially not the phoney-baloney respect “for the office, not the man.” The guy is a first-class moron, every bit as clueless as Bush is. Bush is a universal laughingstock, but Cheney, although he’s despised, is somehow still considered “smart” in some circles. He’s about as smart as the rocket scientists who decided to go to the Sun instead of the moon. To avoid the heat problem, they were going to go up at night.

David Broder, well known liar

Being ancient is no crime, neither is it a crime to be an ignorant prissy mandarin. Nor, in most cases, is it a crime to be a liar.

But it’s my blog, and I would like to take this moment to call your attention to the fact that the ancient, ignorant, prissy mandarin known as David Broder, just back from a sold-out performance at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, is up to his usual lying ways.

Now please resume your deliberations over which of Harold Feld’s articles to recommend for the technical writing award.


Impeach Cheney; Impeach Bush. Impeach Rice and Hadley. Impeach the whole festering, law-breaking, constitution-hating lot of them. Start at the top and work down or start at the bottom and work up, I don’t care.

Reclaim our country. Bring back the rule of law. Not only does our whole country deserve it, but the whole world depends upon it.

NOTE: As with every other posting here at Wetmachine, this one reflects the opinion of me alone, not (necessarily) those of my fellow bloggers.

To the barricades! Net Neutrality fight is on in Michigan

Some background is here, at MYDD.

Harold, as always we’ll look to you for guidance in how to best help out. And of course factual analysis of the issues will help us too.

This fight is far from over. The good guys may be poised to take leadership positions in the Congress, but there are statehose battles raging as well. Now is no time to let down our guard.

Congratulations Senator-Elect Webb! Congratulations Senator-Elect Tester

Congratulations to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid! Great day in the Morning! Hallelujah!

Congrats of course to winners everywhere (most especially to those in the mainstream, majoritarian party, the Democratic Party). A Democratic-led House of Representatives! Speaker Nancy Pelosi! A Democratic majority in the Senate! Hoo-boy. Some hope, at last, that we may pull back from the brink.

In Virginia the Republican candidate for the Senate is the racist thug brownshirt liar George Felix Allen, and in Montana the Republican candidate for Senate is the corrupt firefighter-hating Abramoff flunky Conrad Burns. They’re backed by the full force of the Repubiican Bush/Cheney/Rove crime family, er, national party who rightly fear marginalization if not impeachment, trial and conviction if two more Democratic senators are seated, so don’t expect them to go down without a fight — a nasty, dirty, dishonest fight. But Tester and Webb and Reid are no patsies, and a fair count will prevail.

It will be easier to concentrate on my day job today. Somehow the dread is much, much less oppressive this morning.

Stunning Announcement! Ward Churchill appointed to Hoover Institution!

We all remember Ward Churchill, poster boy for the “blame America first” crowd, who basically wrote about the September 11, 2001, attacks that “we (Americans) had it coming to us.” In particular he slandered the actual dead who had worked in the World Trade Towers as “little Eichmans.”

His invitation to speak at Hamilton College caused a national stink (google can tell you all about it), even though he had been invited to speak on another topic and the person who invited him had no prior knowledge of his controversial opinions about September 11th. (I paid some attention to this stink because I’m a Hamilton alumnus, and also because the person who invited him to Hamilton is a good friend and former professor of my sister Muggs, who is also an alum.)

Well as anybody who has spent any time at wetmachine at all knows, I’m a left-leaning liberal pinko Christo-athiest from Massachusetts; you can hardly get any further away from Bill O’Reilly and the other torchbearers who kept Churchill from speaking at Hamilton (the death threats which the State Police deemed ‘credible’ kind of forced the college president’s hand, according to her letter to the community). Yet even I am no defender of Ward Churchill, and I find his remarks scandalous and cruel. ANYWHO, imagine, then, my surprise, upon learning that the conservative Hoover Institution, a right wing “think tank” closely associated with Stanford University, had appointed this hate-filled, blame-America nut job, Ward Churchill, to its prestigious faculty! Ward “Blame America First” Churchhill on the faculty of the Hoover Institution!

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Weimar Washington: Republican Christian Homosexual Predators in the Halls of Congress–So What Else is New?

Child rapists roam the halls of congress, protected by the Powers that Be, powers such as the People’s Representative Dennis Hastert and his live-in “chief of staff” Scott Palmer (um, incidentally, Scott, can you define “staff” for us, please?). Surprise, surprise, the corporate media (the same guardians of our democracy who created the pan-channel “All Monica All the Time” monocourse) somehow did not think that sexual predation on adolescents by congressmen was even back page news. Katie Couric is no Einstein, but even she knows that blowjobs are newsworthy when performed by adult women on Democratic men, not when boys and Republicans are involved.

For as anyone who pays attention to this kind of thing would expect, the predators in this case are men who rape boys, and they’re Republicans.

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Christofascists on the march

I just finished reading Michelle Goldberg’s Kingdom Coming, the Rise of Christian Nationalism. It’s a short and scary book and I highly recommend it. Goldberg, a reporter for Salon, immersed herself in the Christofascist world over a period of a year, going to their churches, talking to leading preachers and ordinary “believers” in the pews, reading the works of their so-called theologians. She also documented Christofascist ties to the Bush administration, ties that affect everything from stem cell policy to choice of judicial nominees to the enormous ongoing wealth transfer (mostly from — no surprise here– “blue states” to “red states”) under the rubric of the Faith-Based Initiative.

Goldberg does not use the word Christofascism; that’s simply my preferred term for the phenomenon she discusses: a paranoid, anti-intellectual, patriarchal, hate-driven, war and death-loving syncretic cult, nominally Christian, that has an elaborate mythology and symbology derived from crackpot eschatology and an idiot-Disney invented history of the United States of America. This multifaceted cult, which boasts hundreds of prominent, sometimes competing, sometimes cooperating ayatollahs like Pat Roberston and Jerry Falwell, and tens of thousands of lesser clerics, claims George W. Bush (who swore an oath to preserve and defend the Constitution against all enemies) as an adherant, despite having the avowed goal of replacing our constitutional republic with a corporatist theocracy. “Christofascism” may not be the best term for the Christian Nationalist movement, but I can’t think of a better one, and since we’re all going to be bombarded with the Islamofascism “I-word” every day until either the Second Coming or the end of the war on terra (whichever comes first) anyway, I figure I might just as well trampoline off of it.

Goldberg’s tone is reportorial, God love her, but I can’t talk about this stuff in a neutral tone. Something about malevolent sanctimonious kitsch kinda brings out the invective from me.

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