Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Considered Thoughts on the Paulson Bailout Plan and the Ultimate Risk to U.S. Credit Markets

Just kidding. But the Gormogons do have a very funny post with a picture (possibly) taken outside Wall Street:

Also, there's this:

It's long--8:50--but totally worth it. Particularly for you, CPW.

ESPN Does Something Right

Very right, actually. Tune into ESPN Classic at midnight and they're re-running AWA wrestling from the 1980s. It's pretty fantastic. The other night featured a match between a young Jerry Lawler and Kerry Von Erich. In the last week or so I've seen young Eddie Guerero (who was part of the Guerero Brothers), Cactus Jack, the Midnight Express, the Rock'n'Roll Express, and the Midnight Rockers--as a kid I could never keep them straight. There are even semi-famous recurring jobbers, such as Van Van Horn. It's a fabulous cultural artifact sure to rekindle many fond memories of childhood. A few observations:

* The crowds are very, very different than what you see at wrestling today. These audiences were not the state school frat boys, po-mo ironists, and NASCAR fans we see in wrestling arenas today.

* The actual wrestling is much, much better than today's product. Today's wrestlers are more like stunt-men, enduring dangerous accidents. Yesteryear's wrestlers actually mastered the craft of technical professional wrestling. You see lots of drop toe holds, spinning hammerlocks, suplexes, and piledrivers. The simple fact is that this is more fun to watch than what's aired on RAW.

* The commentary is particularly jarring in its difference from today's commentators. The guys calls the matches in the AWA days are sedate and professorial, treating the entire affair as if it's a real sport--they note changes in strategy and point out the amateur athletic backgrounds of the wrestlers; they offer critiques of the action as it unfolds. It's a far cry from the carnival barker schtick the WWE employs now.

* The most stunning aspect of these old broadcasts is how much of a difference it makes not having the governing body acknowledging that the preceedings are fake. When the WWE decided to become open about the fact that they were producing entertainment and not a sport, it created an existential disconnect for the product. I'm not suggesting that, while watching the old AWA stuff, you'll be fooled into thinking that it's real--of course you won't; we weren't even fooled watching contemporaneously as kids.

But it does make a huge difference in terms of entertainment value to not have the wrestlers acknowledging the fakery. In other words, it turns out that the kayfabe is tremendously important.

Anyway, go set your DVR and enjoy.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Dept. of Oops

In a post the other day I mentioned two giant, book-length mistakes. The first was by NAR "economist" David Lereah, who wrote Why the Real Estate BOOM Will Not Bust. The second was James Glassman and Kevin Hassett's Dow 36,000: The New Strategy for Profiting From the Coming Rise in the Stock Market.

As it happens, the WSJ had a revealing piece mentioning both of these failed efforts in the September 10 issue.

In the first case, the chief of Lereah's publisher, Doubleday Business, defends his book by saying, "In retrospect, everyone was fooled. I would certainly say I was fooled. No one saw what was going to happen with real estate."

In the second case, the Journal asks Hassett about Dow 36,000: "Kevin Hassett . . . says criticism of his book isn't something he's lost a lot of sleep over. He is now an economics adviser to Republican presidential candidate John McCain."

There you have it.

Terror in the Skies

Drudge is carrying a terrifying story, purportedly about a man crossing the English Channel with the aid of a "jet-propelled wing." Here's the pic:

But the man and technology in question are obviously aligned with the international terrorist group known as COBRA. Intelligence sources first identified the "jet-propelled wing" in 1984 as the C.L.A.W.

Blueprints compiled for the C.L.A.W. by American special forces showed the vehicle to look something like this:

And while the pilot who used the vehicle to cross the Channel did not initiate hostilities, here's an artist's rendering of what the C.L.A.W. is capable of:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

All Hail the Gormogons!

Galley Friend B.W. has a new blog full of goodness, starting with this piece of must-have.

I'm amazed to find this image invokes nearly the same feelings as the brass bikini . . .

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Most Important Blogger In the World!

Okay, that's totally unfair of me and I already feel bad about it. What Andrew Sullivan actually calls himself is: "the most popular one-man political blog site in the world." I'm sure that that's true--I don't dispute it. But should you really go around saying stuff like that out loud? Maybe I'd feel differently if I had more than three readers. Who am I to judge!

(New GS motto: The fourth-least popular two-man non-political blog site in Washington D.C.)

All of this is prelude to today's Howard Kurtz story on Sullivan's using The Atlantic to question whether or not Sarah Palin is Trig Palin's mother.

I don't have much to add to the story except to (1) Congratulate Kurtz for taking a look at it; and (2) Observe that there is a bit of a double-standard going on with The Atlantic and the McCain campaign.

Sullivan complains that the McCain campaign has ignored his requests for proof of Trig's parentage.

This is, however, common practice in political journalism: Campaigns often don't respond to reporters they don't like or to questions they don't feel like answering. This rarely has any nefarious implications. I wrote a ton of fairly sympathetic copy about Hillary Clinton during the primary season and had, I think, good relationships with people on her campaign staff. But when I wanted to find out who was running her speech-writing shop, I spent almost two months making calls and sending emails and knocking on doors and getting not a single reply. This didn't mean that Clinton had no speechwriter, or was trying to cover up the fact that Karl Rove and Dick Cheney were penning her speeches. (Or does it!) For whatever reason, they just saw no advantage in playing along with that particular question. That's the way the world works.

But here's what's funny: I know at least one person who has emailed The Atlantic's head honcho, David Bradley, asking for comment on Andrew Sullivan's recent work. I was copied on the email that was sent; here it is:

From: xxxxxxxxxxx
Date: Thu, Sep 18, 2008 at 11:10 AM
Subject: The Atlantic's official position re: Identity Theft
To: xxxxxxx@nationaljournal.com

Mr. Bradley,

Does The Atlantic Monthly endorse identity theft as a legitimate political vetting tool? I'm only curious because a Sr. Editor at your publication recently endorsed this tactic on an official Atlantic blog: http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/09/vetting-palin.html

If this is not the official position of your publication you might want to publish a disclaimer disavowing Mr. Sullivan's recent endorsement of said crime.


Bradley has yet to send a reply. Of course, Bradley is under no more obligation to answer questions from the blogosphere than the McCain campaign is. But perhaps Sullivan's gripe about not getting answers would carry more weight if his employer answered the questions being raised about him.

Update: Patterico goes all next level on Sullivan.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

About That Financial Crisis . . .

I know that all the cooler heads will prevail and that the grown-ups are in charge and that the people who actually understand the intricacies of our financial markets will surely figure out the best course of action for our nation and our economy. If my time in Washington has taught me anything, it's that when great minds such as Barney Frank and George Bush come together, only good things can happen.

But while we're waiting for the big fix, you'll excuse just a moment of small-minded exasperation at the idea that a non-trivial amount of taxpayer money is about to be used not to build highways or kill jihadists, but to clean up the mess made by people who've been (transparently) peddling snake oil for the last five or ten years.

Is no one ever held accountable for their actions?

Update: Here's Kevin Hassett, co-author of the above book, explaining how incredibly simple the entire situation is. I'm certain you're as reassured as I am.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic, and the Endorsement of Criminal Behavior

For the last two weeks, Andrew Sullivan has used The Atlantic as a platform to smear Sarah Palin, questioning over and over whether or not Trig is actually Palin's son.

But last night, Sullivan and The Atlantic went even further: An internet group hacked two of Sarah Palin's email accounts. And Sullivan celebrated the act.

Commenter P.G. puts this in proper context:

[T]oday he endorsed identity theft as a legitimate tool against Palin.

I cannot comprehend how he has not been fired today. The Atlantic Monthly, one of the great publications of the past century+, now endorses identity theft. This is far more shocking that the lunacy and rumor-mongering of the past 3 weeks. Identity theft is a truly insidious crime that destroys peoples lives every single day. Today a Sr. Editor of The Atlantic Monthly, on their own pages, proudly endorsed this tactic. That the Washington Post is not investigating this situation is a complete and utter sham. Howard Kurtz should be ashamed. I plan on calling The Atlantic tomorrow to inquire as to their official position on identity theft and their comments on Sullivan's endorsement of it.

P.G. seems right to suggest that at this point it's The Atlantic itself which is endorsing the commission of crimes against Palin--because no one else at the magazine has written to contradict Sullivan. Whether by design or not, Andrew Sullivan is now speaking for the entire magazine by applauding criminal behavior directed at Sarah Palin.

What does David Bradley think about this? Why are no media reporters interested in asking him?

Update: Tech Guru P.G. expands a bit on hacking and identity theft:

I've read elsewhere around the web the notion that hacking an email account does not qualify as identity theft, but may be covered by various anti-hacking laws.

This is not necessarily true. The method most likely used to gain access to the account almost certainly qualifies as identity theft.

I can think of only a few ways to gain access to a private email account: some sort of brute force password hack, or trick the provider to reset password and/or account info.
Brute force attacks these days are mostly defeated by security protocols in place designed specifically to stop such attacks. It is probably highly unlikely that this was a brute force attack, and if it were Yahoo has a huge problem on their hands regarding their security.

In all likelihood this was either a web-password-reset or some other form of reset that gained access to the account. If a web-reset occurred it is possible that with the plethora of personal Palin information available to the public someone might be able to answer the questions set up before a reset can occur (i.e. where did you attend middle school, what is your dog's name, etc...) If you read a EULA or any agreement, to answer these questions as though you are the account holder is identity theft. It is also possible that someone simply called Yahoo to get this information, again under the guise that they were Sarah Palin or someone authorized on her behalf. This constitutes identity theft.

Nonetheless, whether it violates a hacking law or identity theft laws, it was a crime. And The Atlantic sanctions crimes against Sarah Palin. Until a retraction or disclaimer is provided, this is their official position.

Update 2: Orin Kerr has more on the criminal actions in question.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sullivan Issues a Retraction!--Updated!

Just not about the topic you think.

This morning Sullivan posted (on The Atlantic's website) an item attacking his Atlantic colleague Ross Douthat and raising factual questions about Sarah Palin and her family:

Ross Douthat tells us he is very comfortable with outright lies in politics. In fact, it is so faux to care about truth in politics (but never faux to display outrage at journalists asking factual questions about Palin's stories about her own family). He couldn't get worked up about Clinton's lies either, he tells us. Why? Because the ends always justify the means. If you're going to ban all abortion, you just have to tell a few whoppers and demonize a few opponents along the way:

The point of being in national politics is to win elections and govern the country in accordance with whatever goals led you into the arena in the first place, not to please columnists who disagree with you on ideological grounds but appreciate a finely-tuned sense of political principle.

It's really come to this? Notice the avoidance of what is at stake here: the basic question of truth: empirical, checkable, verifiable truth. How naive to care about that.

Pretty amazing stuff, no? Sullivan is walking as close up to the line as he can on the parentage of Trig Palin without actually having the stones to say so out loud. Look at that phrase: "asking factual questions about Palin's stories about her own family."

Someone, perhaps one of his Atlantic colleagues, should ask Sullivan to clarify exactly what factual question about Palin's family he is referring to.

Remember that the only "factual" question about Palin's family that Sullivan had previously asked was whether or not Trig Palin was Sarah Palin's son. Unless he has a new, unarticulated question, it seems reasonable to assume that that's what he's still talking about. Irrespective of whatever arrangement he came to with David Bradley and the management of The Atlantic.

But wait! I promised you a retraction! Did Sullivan take back this barely-veiled attempt to question the parentage of Trig Palin? No.

In an item originally posted here Sullivan went after Douthat again, saying, "Mitt Romney calls McCain's and Palin's lies 'wrong and reprehensible' and a 'massive mistake.' So Mitt is now more concerned about basic levels of honesty in the McCain campaign than Ross Douthat. Yes, Ross is now officially more cynical than Mitt Romney."

Upon having it pointed out that the Romney video dates back to the primary season, Sullivan removed the post in its entirety and issued a correction. (Though not an apology to Douthat.)

This seems like an important development.

Because it proves that when Sullivan and That Atlantic believe that he has made an error, The Atlantic's policy includes not only explicit acknowledgment of the error, but also wholesale retraction of the item.

The fact that Sullivan's posts about Trig and Sarah Palin (here, here, here, and here) remain published must be an indication that the magazine and David Bradley are standing by Sullivan's writing on the subject.

Shouldn't Howard Kurtz ask Bradley why that is?

Update: Ace notes Sullivan's further insinuations. And Victor Davis Hanson finally goads Sullivan into breaking his omerta on the subject of Trig Palin. Here Sullivan is, speaking for The Atlantic Monthly:

As for blog "rumors" about a Down Syndrome pregnancy, all this blog has done is ask for facts and context about a subject that the Palin campaign has put at the center of its message, facts about a baby held up at a convention as a political symbol for the pro-life movement, and cited in Palin's acceptance speech. You do that, you invite questions about it. I make absolutely no apologies for doing my job.

I find the account of her pregnancy and labor provided by Palin to be perplexing, to put it mildly, and I have every right to ask questions about it, especially since we have discovered that this woman lies more compulsively and less intelligently than the Clintons. . . . And in the absence of any information from the Palin campaign, I have aired every possible view trying to explain it. What else am I supposed to do? Pretend these questions don't exist? Pretend her story makes sense to me? I owe my readers my honest opinion. That's not rumor-mongering, it's fulfilling my core commitment to my readers. . . .

All my factual questions of more than two weeks ago, moreover, remain unanswered by the McCain campaign. They are all factual questions demanding simple factual answers that any campaign that wasn't bent on deceit and lies would be more than eager and perfectly able to provide.

Why haven't they? When will they?

Well there we have it. Andrew Sullivan is once again openly using The Atlantic as a platform to demand that Sarah Palin "prove" that she is mother of her youngest child.

It is a disgrace for the magazine and everyone associated with it. One hundred and fifty years of storied history set ablaze in fortnight by a single writer.

Since dissent is obviously tolerated at The Atlantic (see above) at what point to other staffers at the magazine have a duty to publicly and explicitly disavow Sullivan?

Update 2: Is the great Jeff Goldberg moving in that direction, using Jill Greenberg in personas Sullivanas? Here's Goldberg writing about Greenberg. His comments seem eerily--perhaps not accidentally--applicable to Sullivan:

I don't know Greenberg (I count this as a blessing) and I can add nothing to what James Bennet told the Post except to say that Greenberg is quite obviously an indecent person who should not be working in magazine journalism. Every so often, journalists become deranged at the sight of certain candidates, and lose their bearings. Why, this has even happened in the case of John McCain once or twice. What I find truly astonishing is the blithe way in which she has tried to hurt this magazine.

Update 3: A blogger named Alex Massie who says that he once guest-blogged for Sullivan has spoken out about Sullivan's continued smearing of Trig and Sarah Palin.

I'm sympathetic to Massie's complaint, which is that Sullivan's sustained questioning of Trig's parentage is doing terrible damage to a valuable intellectual institution. But Massie misses the larger point: The institution in need of protection here isn't Andrew Sullivan's blog--it's The Atlantic Monthly.

I can't emphasize this enough: There is nothing especially note-worthy about a blogger repeating unsubstantiated smears about a politician's personal life. Troll around enough websites and you'll see plenty of it from the left and the right. You'll recall the right-wing nutters who thought that the Clintons ran cocaine shipments out of an airstrip in Mena and were responsible for the deaths of Ron Brown and Vince Foster. (They were just asking question about the Mena airstrip, mind you.) So this sort of dirty pool is nothing new or remarkable.

What is noteworthy is that Sullivan has injected this sort of behavior into a once-great magazine that's been at the forefront of American letters for 150 years. Institutions matter more--much more--than people.

Andrew Sullivan should be allowed to write whatever he wants about Trig and Sarah Palin. That's not a scandal. The scandal is that The Atlantic is allowing him to write these things under their name.

And as a remind of what sort of things Sullivan is saying from his platform at The Atlantic, here's his response to Massie:

Alex Massie is disappointed by my relentless vetting of Palin, specifically the bizarre facts in the public record about her fifth pregnancy. For my part, I stand by my skepticism of everything Sarah Palin says. [emphasis in original] . . .

[M]y working assumption now is that she is a pathological liar--even about things that are objectively checkable.

A pathological liar simply cannot be trusted to tell the truth about herself, even on a subject as routine as a pregnancy and infant son. I can't believe I'm asking these questions either. But in the absence of any answers, what am I supposed to do?

I know this puts me out of the mainstream of acceptable Washington opinion. But let me just remind Alex that doubting the existence of Saddam's WMDs put some people out of the mainstream of acceptable Washington opinion. Would the world be a better place if those people had refused to be silenced or intimidated?

That's right: The Atlantic is now comparing rumor-mongering about Trig Palin's parentage to the multi-national intelligence gathering operation about Iraq's nuclear and biological weapons capability.

David Bradley shouldn't try to "silence" Sullivan; he should simply disentangle his magazine from him.

Monday, September 15, 2008

"Mr. Sullivan, did you order the Code Red?"

Pursuant to last week's discussion about Andrew Sullivan's shifting opinion on whether or not Sarah Palin is Trig Palin's mother (all being done under the aegis of The Atlantic), it seems that Sullivan, having issued a brief forced sounding post saying that Gov. Palin had, in fact, been pregnant with Trig, now seems to be trying to coyly contradict that pose as often as he deems practicable.

To wit, Sullivan first claimed that Palin's ABC interview provided grounds for the media (including, presumably, David Bradley's Atlantic) to investigate everything about her entire life. Here's Sullivan, "She has therefore pulled a Gary Hart in inviting the press to examine her life in full." More:

when you agree to run for vice-president of the United States, you surrender any zone of privacy. Al Gore's sometimes wayward son; Dick Cheney's daughter and now granddaughter; Dan Quayle's wife; George H. W. Bush's extensive clan: all these families have been an "open book" to the press. . . .

The Edwards story - showing stunning recklessness in a potential president - legitimized the reporting of the National Enquirer, and made their reporting in this news cycle legit. And the story - subsequently reported and endorsed in the New York Times and every mainstream media source - was less relevant to public life than Palin's. Because by the time the story broke, Edwards was out of the race. Palin is not just in the race, she's ahead - and we have six weeks to go. It is, I'd argue, the duty of the press and the blogosphere to ask any factual and fair questions to which there can be clear and factual answers. . . .

In 2008, in mid-September, we are not even allowed to ask questions about Palin's real and actual life as a mother-as-governor? That notion is as absurd as the Palin candidacy itself, in my judgment.

Of open books, any sincere and legitimate factual question is askable. . . .

Sullivan never actually spells out which factual and answerable question, in specific, he's driving at. But I think we can make a fair inference. Here's the kicker:

It seems to me that if you are on record saying that your life is an open book, and you have a state-run web-page about your infant son, and your own children's travel is paid for by the state, and you presented your infant son at a convention televised across the entire world, and you sent out a press release outing your own daughter's current pregnancy, then it is not despicable, evil, vile or outrageous for the press to ask factual, answerable questions about Sarah Palin's experiences as a pregnant and non-pregnant mother and about her marriage and about her parenting of her children.

Hmmmm. I wonder what he means by "non-pregnant"? It's a term I haven't seen used before. Perhaps David Bradley knows?

Just for good measure, Sullivan later notes:

Now I begin to understand the intimidation I have been subjected to for simply asking questions. All I can reassure my readers is: I'm now more determined than ever to reveal the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about this dangerous, vindictive Christianist cipher being foisted on the United States.

Shouldn't someone ask Sullivan exactly what the factual, answerable question about Sarah Palin is that he's determined to reveal the truth of?

It's almost as if he's speaking elliptically in order to hold to the letter of some agreement with someone about a some subject which he isn't supposed to write about . . .

Friday, September 12, 2008

Andrew Sullivan's Quotes

So other people are noticing it, too: Something happened earlier this week with Sullivan. He stopped writing without notice. Then mysteriously reversed his position on the parentage of Trig Palin, without explanation or retraction of his earlier insistence that there was no reason to believe for certain that Trig was Sarah Palin's son.

And throughout all of this, Sullivan has been posting "Quotes of the Day" which seemed designed to function as a sort of Greek Chorus. During his period of radio silence, he posted the German "About which one cannot speak, one must be silent."

Today he publishes a quote reading, "It may be false. It may be true. But nothing has been proved."

For whatever reason, Sullivan seems to have backed away from smearing Sarah Palin, but his heart just doesn't seem to be in it. He's like Col. Nathan Jessep, just dying to tell us exactly who ordered the code red.

Update: Galley Friend Dean Barnett makes a fairly important point:

[The left] smeared Sarah Palin with a host of - um - imaginative charges like she wore a fat suit to fake a pregnancy that had actually visited itself upon her daughter. Even the chief disseminator of that rumor from his perch at the Atlantic has since bethought himself of that smear, publicly crediting Palin for bringing her fifth child to term on Wednesday (although of course neither admitting error nor apologizing for his role in spreading the rumor).

If Sullivan and The Atlantic are now walking back from their charge--and don't get me wrong, this is a good thing--don't they need to issue either an explanation or a retraction of the earlier stuff? Otherwise, how are we to know which is the real position?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Has Andrew Sullivan Been Muzzled by The Atlantic?

So it appears that Sullivan's earlier claim that no one is telling him what he can and can't write about might not be strictly true. He now posts a "quote of the day" which translates to roughly "About which one cannot speak, one must be silent."

This suggests that Sullivan has been in some way disciplined by management at The Atlantic. Surely this is enough to interest a mainstream media reporter? Right?

Seriously, is there a more interesting media story out there right now than one of the nation's oldest journals having an internal dispute over a staffer's writing, causing said staffer to temporarily cease work, and then post a barely-veiled dissent?

Oh, well, maybe there is. But still! America's media beat writers must be able to fight two conflicts simultaneously! If they can't, they're just daring rogue journalists to behave badly . . .

Update: The great Ace is all over this, with a comment from a tipster who claims to work at The Atlantic. (Ace has no idea if the tipster is genuine, fyi.)

Update 2: Sullivan seems to be back posting at The Atlantic, but has yet to mention Sarah Palin. I'm sure some industrious reader could tell me how many times he's posted about her since her nomination. We can then see how long he goes until mentioning her again.

Update 3: Big news! Sullivan is back on the Trig Palin story and he must have uncovered some new evidence, because he's now certain that Trig is Sarah Palin's child:

Say all you want about Sarah Palin's non-existent record on foreign policy, series of public lies, non-existent vetting and absurd, unprecedented shielding from the press. At least we know this for sure: she went through the psychological, emotional and spiritual test of eight months of pregnancy and a painful, difficult, endless labor for a cause she believes in.

Did he get a gander at the hospital records during his time out off?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Andrew Sullivan and The Atlantic, cont. and Updated!

Following last week's meltdown, Andrew Sullivan floated another unfounded smear against Sarah Palin from his perch over at The Atlantic over the weekend. Dean Barnett has the rundown.

Even MSNBC is reevaluating its HR decisions. Shouldn't David Bradley be doing the same? How long does it take to tear down a century-old reputation?

Update: Galley Friend A.W. sends in another example of Sullivan's shoddy reporting/analysis. Here's A.W.:

Sullivan, referring to "Troopergate," links to an ABC News video and concludes, "Palin clearly lied."

But if you watch the video, you find two things:

(1) Accusations from the fired state official that he believes he was fired because of the brother-in-law; and

(2) Audio recordings that literally include no reference to Palin intending to fire the police commissioner.

It's funny that Sullivan would call this, in effect, a "slam dunk." There's no evidence there! And Sullivan never hesitates to (1) bemoan the Bush administration's reliance on thin evidence in the run-up to the war, or (2) remind us all that "true" conservatives are skeptics.

Update 2: A little Kremlinology: So last night Sullivan posts what reads like a semi-CYA post saying that he really does admire Sarah Palin quite a lot.* Then he posts a nonsensical bit about the NYT Trig Palin story, which somehow suggests that the story was an "exposé" (as per Drudge's promise). (The story wasn't, by-the-by.)

And since then: silence. Well, not total silence, just one wordless picture out a window. People have been emailing me all afternoon speculating that management over at the National Journal group may be dealing with the Sullivan problem in some way. My guess is that he's just in transit somewhere. We'll see.

* A close reading of that semi-endorsement of Palin, however, shows that Sullivan is still peddling the smear that Trig isn't the governor's baby. Look very carefully at Sullivan's wording. He says, "I want to go on record again as saying that the decision to bring up a child with Down Syndrome is one of the most noble, beautiful and admirable decisions any person can make. That Sarah Palin is doing that says a huge amount in favor of her." [emphasis added]

Is it coincidence that Sullivan merely credits Palin with "bringing up" the baby, instead of, you know, "bearing him" or "having him" or "giving birth to him"? I don't think so. It seems pretty clear that even as late as last night, Sullivan was still hinting to readers of The Atlantic that Palin's youngest child isn't actually hers.

Update 3: Other writers for The Atlantic are beginning to address the question of Sullivan's disappearance. Ta-Nehisi Coates has now forbidden commenters from speculating about Sullivan, saying, "Frankly, I have no clue what the situation is--and neither do you."

That sounds kind of ominous. Marc Ambinder says "Lots of e-mails asking about Andrew's whereabouts. I checked in with him; he's fine. He's taking a few days off."

Does this mean that David Bradley has finally stepped in to take control of his magazine? Doesn't this, finally, serve as enough of a hook to get some media reporters to start making phone calls?

Update 4: More speculation. It would be nice to have some actual reporting, though. Romenesko? Kurtz? Anyone?

Update 5: Sullivan speaks! "I'm absolutely fine, nothing has changed with this blog, no one is pressuring me to write or not write anything . . ." Not quite a total denial that there is some friction with management. After all, he'd be free to write anything he wanted at andrewsullivan.com--and he could do it without embarrassing The Atlantic Monthly.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Why They Hate Her

I hate to be so stuck on politics, but I've been on the road for two weeks at the conventions so it's kind of what's in front of me.

To that end, I've done a little item for First Things trying to explore what it is about Sarah Palin that has so enraged the left, "Why They Hate Her."

Not to worry, though. The Dark Knight will come out on Blu-Ray some time in February and this site will then revert to its previous all-Dark Knight, all-the-time incarnation. I'm sure you're counting down the minutes . . .

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Atlantic Becomes a Laughingstock--Updated--Again, and Bumped--with Final Convention Post

Note: I'm just going to keep updating this thread, so keep checking back.

Double Note: I'm moving what was the final post up to the top, as it seems to be more useful as an into to this discussion, rather than a footer. Here it is:

Final Update of Convention Week: Believe me, I'm more relieved about that than you are. A friend sends along an email with this link and the subject header "Why David Bradley Doesn't Care." I'll spare you the click: It's Sullivan informing readers that his site has gotten 2 million views over the last two days.

So perhaps I should make a little more explicit why I've been so worked up about this whole thing.

I have no particular aversion to the smearing of political figures; or rather, no aversion greater than that of the average reasonable person. I find it ugly and distasteful, but I realize that it's part of the rough and tumble of politics. It has always happened. It will continue to happen. That's why you'll note that I haven't written a single word about what sites such as Daily Kos, Democrats.com, or Democratic Underground have said about her.

And I hold no particular brief for Sarah Palin, per se. As I've written elsewhere, there are reasonable criticisms of her both as a governor and as a vice presidential candidate. I don't think anything I've written about her would count as boosterism. (Although I do make the case that she was the best strategic pick available to McCain, as an analytical matter.)

What's caught my attention here, then is The Atlantic. I am, and always have been, an enormous booster for the Old Media, and smarty-pants general-interest magazines in particular. What's so notable in this whole affair isn't the tarring of Palin but the fact that The Atlantic Monthly is the vehicle for the irresponsible spreading of smears about Palin and speculation so inane that it can't be counted, by any reasonable measure, as analysis. (Here, I'm thinking of Sullivan's claim that he thought it possible both Palin and McCain would relinquish their nominations.)

If Andrew Sullivan were to have written everything he wrote this week at his own website, I wouldn't have said a word about it. The real scandal here isn't Sullivan: It's what The Atlantic has become by publishing him.

As for Sullivan's page views, I sincerely hope that David Bradley isn't making his editorial decisions based solely on eyeballs and dollars. Were that so, you could simply give The Atlantic's pages over to Perez Hilton or Slashdot or Matt Drudge or any other number of content formats. But the point of The Atlantic, like other great journals, is to be something different--to be a stage in the world of ideas, even if it's not the most profitable thing.

I find the prospect of The Atlantic devolving into some version of Free Republic or Daily Kos to be immensely worrisome. Hopefully David Bradley will do something to put his house in order. Soon.

Now back to the original thread.

After demanding that he be allowed to inspect Trig Palin's placenta all day yesterday, Andrew Sullivan is now suggesting that he thinks John McCain might withdraw from the election.

Yes, that's right. There's some serious political analysis from one of the nation's most prestigious general interest magazines.

I wonder what the other folks on the masthead think about having their credibility linked with Sullivan's.

Update 1: National Review, another of America's venerable journals, tries to save The Atlantic from Sullivan:

Once a respectable journalist, The Atlantic’s self-declared champion of respect for privacy and of civil discourse now obsesses over Miss Palin, airing baseless and abhorrent questions about the motherhood of Trig, Gov. Palin’s infant son, born this year with Down syndrome. One wonders if David Bradley bought The Atlantic — a venerable institution that once published Mark Twain and Martin Luther King — so that he could associate it with the most despicable ravings of the left-wing blogosphere. What price in reputation is Bradley willing to pay for increased unique-visitor numbers from among the fever swamps?

Sullivan has become a media story in himself. Howard Kurtz and Jim Romenesko should be taking note. There's dissension in the ranks at The Atlantic. Surely this is worth a reporter's call to David Bradley to ask if he stands by Sullivan?

Update 2: Ross Douthat courageously breaks into open warfare against Sullivan:

I think the coverage of Sarah Palin to date - by colleagues I used to respect and publications I normally admire - at least partially vindicates this theory about the reception that would greet the kind of GOP I'd like to see.

Other Atlantic colleagues seem close to doing the same. As I said above, Sullivan's coverage of Palin is becoming a media story in itself. Someone--Jack Shafer, Howard Kurtz, E&P, the NY Observer--should start poking around The Atlantic to see if Sullivan's tenure is sustainable.

Update 3: A friend writes in to ask whether or not the Sullivan taint really does spread to the magazine, since he is, after all, just a blogger. I'd argue that having "The Atlantic" in giant letters at the top of every one of his posts is pretty damaging to the brand. But then there's also this:

Sullivan's reaction to Palin puts his gushing cover story on Obama in an entirely new light. Or perhaps it's the other way around. Neither view is good for The Atlantic.

Update 4: Sullivan continues to demand to know the "details" of Trig's birth. And now he has new justification: Because Trig was present at the convention. Here he his, mere moments into Palin's speech:

Brandishing a Down Syndrome child as a campaign statement is daring the press to ask questions about him. And if you are going to hold the baby in front of the cameras, how can you say that the details of his birth cannot even be discussed?

Yes, we're now six days after Palin's announcement and Sullivan is still insinuating that Trig Palin is not Sarah Palin's child on the web-pages of The Atlantic Monthly.

Update 5: Ace of Spades finds another bit of Trig Palin obsessing from Sullivan. He also gets that Sullivan is single-handedly destroying the reputation of The Atlantic.

Update 6: Now Sullivan responds to Ross Douthat, meaning we have an open, ongoing conflict between writers at The Atlantic.

Update 7: Reason takes note.

Geeks on Parade

So hot.

Dr. Horrible, Culture 11

A brief piece on Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible over at the new, and very excellent, Culture 11.

There will not be a quiz.