Tag Archives: Steve Krakauer

Jackson Pollack And Groucho Marx Comparisons Abound, Part II

Eric Lipton at NYT:

A House investigative panel has found “substantial reason to believe” that Representative Charles B. Rangel violated a range of ethics rules, dealing a serious blow to Mr. Rangel, a Harlem Democrat, in the twilight of his political career.

The finding means that the 80-year-old congressman must face a public trial before the House ethics committee, the first member to be forced to do so since 2002, when former Representative James A. Traficant Jr. was expelled from Congress after taking bribes.

The investigative panel did not disclose any details about the nature of the violations.

But two Democrats with knowledge of the investigation said the committee found evidence to support accusations that Mr. Rangel wrongly accepted four rent-stabilized apartments in Manhattan and misused his office to preserve a tax loophole worth half a billion dollars for an oil executive who pledged a donation for an educational center being built in Mr. Rangel’s honor.

The committee also found evidence to support a charge that Mr. Rangel failed to report or pay taxes on rental income from his beachfront Dominican villa.

Jay Newton-Small at Swampland at Time:

The last time such an open process was used was for former Rep. James Traficant, an Ohio Democrat who was expelled from the House in 2002 for taking bribes, racketeering, filing false tax returns and forcing aides to perform household chores on his Ohio farm and DC houseboat (which was, coincidentally, parked not far from Duke Cunningham’s houseboat). Traficant served seven years in prison and is now a radio host in Ohio. He recently filed papers to make an independent run for his old seat.

Former Majority Leader Tom DeLay skipped such a step when his ethics investigation went right from the exploratory phase to admonishment — a first in ethics committee history.

Rangel first asked the committee two years ago to look into newspaper allegations that he’d failed to report income from a Caribbean rental, that he used Congressional letterhead to solicit donations for a charity in his name and that he broke New York rent subsidy laws. The alleged tax lapses were particularly worrisome as the chairman of the Ways & Means Committee is Congress’s top tax writer. Politico reported that Rangel was seen arguing with ethics committee chair Zoe Lofgren shortly before today’s announcement was made. Zofgren had, reportedly, been encouraging Rangel to follow a DeLay route and skip the adjudicatory process. As of August 2009, Rangel had spent more than $1 million in legal fees defending his actions to the committee. If he’s found in violation of House rules the committee’s evidence could be turned over to prosecutors to pursue a criminal case

James Richardson at Redstate:

In the same way that Republican ethics violations loomed large in the 2006 midterm elections that saw the House of Representatives change hands, Rangel’s ethics misdeeds threaten to undermine Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s pledge to run the “most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in History.”

But for now, the specific nature of charges against Rangel remain unknown — and will likely remain as such until next Thursday when he makes his case to the ethics panel. In the meantime, a list–that is, unfortunately, in no way comprehensive–of the 80-year-old lawmaker’s ethics lapses:

  • Violating New York state and city zoning laws, Rep. Rangel rented in 2008 several rent-stabilized Harlem apartments and used one for a base of operations for his reelection effort.
  • Days later it was revealed Rangel had used congressional letterhead to solicit funds for his personal foundation, the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service.
  • The following month, in August of 2008, the New York Post reported that Rangel had failed to disclose income from renting his beachfront villa on a Dominican Republic resort. In total, Rangel failed to disclose $75,000 in rental income since 1988. Rangel secured a seven-year fixed rate loan at 10.5 % for the property, but two years later the interest on the loan, which was awarded by a company for which the congressman was an early investor, was waived. Rangel paid $10,800 in back-taxes for his 2004, 2005 and 2006 tax returns for the unreported rental income.
  • Rangel violated House rules and failed to report income to the IRS when he left his 1972 Mercedes in a House parking lot for several years without registering the car. The car, without license plates and covered by a tarp, occupied a space for several years valued a $290 per month.
  • In November 2008, the Post’s muckrakers discovered that Rangel had improperly received a “homestead” tax exemption on a property he owned in Washington, D.C., while occupying his four rent-stabilized apartments in New York City.
  • Rangel secured tax benefits for a company whose chief executive he was courting as a donor for his private foundation.
  • And most recently, a House panel admonished the scandal-plagued congressman for wrongly accepting reimbursements for two Caribbean trips in 2007 and 2008.

Mary Katherine Ham at The Weekly Standard:

Rangel’s lawyer tried to settle but was rebuffed. The man who writes the tax law you must follow

Gateway Pundit

Allah Pundit:

This is five months in the making, starting with his admonishment back in February over staff members having accepted free trips to the Caribbean and culminating a week later in his removal from Ways and Means — albeit supposedly only on a temporary basis. Anyone think he’ll be returning to the committee after this, even if he beats the rap?

The next step is a trial by subcommittee. Given that the most ethical Congress ever had a decidedly lackluster reputation on ethics until now, I wonder how much pressure for and against charging Rangel there is on the Democratic side. On the one hand, this is going to push ethics back on the campaign menu. On the other, if they beat up on Rangel, it makes them look forthright. Stand by for updates.

Jim Newell at Gawker:

While nothing short of a mobilized Allied army seems capable of forcing Rep. Charlie Rangel out of Congress, the House ethics committee will charge him with official ethics violations, essentially setting up a trial — the first in eight years.The violations have not been officially filed yet, so the specific violations they’re pursuing out of his career’s 10 billion worth aren’t fully clear. Probably related to this stuff, though, which people who’ve followed Rangel’s investigation are quite familiar with:

The committee had been investigating claims that Mr. Rangel improperly rented four rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem at a price well below market value, despite rules forbidding House members from accepting gifts worth more than $50.

It also had been investigating allegations that he improperly used his office to provide legislative favors for an oil-drilling company that pledged a $1 million donation for an academic center named for Mr. Rangel and improperly failed to report taxable income received from a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic.

Maybe we’ll get something else, though? Something a little more blog-friendly? Sex, maybe?

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin

Ed Morrissey

Nicole Allan at The Atlantic

Jesse Zwick at The Washington Independent

UPDATE #3: Steve Krakauer at Mediaite

Ed Morrissey

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We’re Proud At Around The Sphere To Annouce Our Acquisition Of WhatTheHellIsInTheWaterAtMSNBC.com

The Daily Caller:

The Daily Caller, one of the fastest-growing online media properties, announced today its acquisition of KeithOlbermann.com, expanding the company’s global reach into a new segment of the online political market.  For more than six months The Daily Caller has been a recognized market leader in commentary about Keith Olbermann.  Ruth Graham’s weekly Olbermann wrap-up, “We watch, because we’re paid to,” appears on The Daily Caller’s website each Friday.

“We plan to make The Daily Caller the one-stop online shop for Keith Olbermann commentary,” said Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson.  “We will be THE Keith Olbermann superstore.”

“This is part of our long-term growth strategy,” added Publisher and CEO Neil Patel.  “Our future acquisition targets include several other annoying cable news commentators.”

Olbermann, the host of a low-rated nightly show on MSNBC, attacked The Daily Caller last week on Twitter.  “Daily Caller has never known what Daily Caller is talking about,” he wrote.

Patrick Gavin at Politico:

You may (or may not) have noticed that there’s been a bit of a feud taking place between MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann and The Daily Caller, the website run by (former MSNBC-er) Tucker Carlson.

The Caller — via its Twitter account, especially — has poked fun at Olbermann with  headlines such as “Keith Olbermann talks too much about himself: We watch, because we’re paid to.”

Olbermann hasn’t taken the taunts sitting down, responding via Twitter with  “@TheDailyCaller unfortunately I don’t read you because I don’t have to.”

Olbermann has said Carlson has a “bow tie contained brain” and named Carlson among his “worst persons in the world” on several occasions.

The Daily Caller has knocked Olbermann’s “ratings decline” and so on and so on …

But the battle has been kicked up a notch today, as The Daily Caller has purchased www.KeithOlbermann.com. The site, as you can imagine, directs readers to The Daily Caller’s online offerings.

“This is just the beginning of an online public service project,” Carlson told POLITICO. “We’ll be rolling out more in the coming weeks and months but I’d love to get your suggestions. Email me anytime at my personal address, keith@keitholbermann.com.”

We’ve reached out to MSNBC for comment. Will update as soon as we hear back.

UPDATE: Olbermann tells POLITICO: “I hope whoever sold it to them got cash.”

Steve Krakauer at Mediaite:

Tucker Carlson and his site Daily Caller have been having fun today with their new acquisition, KeithOlbermann.com.We talked to Tucker in a podcast tonight about the reason for buying the site – but he also unleashed personally on the top-rated MSNBC host and former colleague. And Jon Klein. And Eliot Spitzer

Tucker explained to Mediaite why he bought the site. “The opportunity to acquire KeithOlbermann.com arose and we felt it was a market niche which we could enter and dominate and it would be a public service so we did it,” he said. “Plus it’s amusing as hell.”

Now, about Keith specifically. Here are some comments from our discussion, but you can listen to all of it below:

I’ve heard a lot from MSNBC, from friends of mine who work there who despise Keith. I’ve always had kind of a soft spot for Keith because I feel sorry for him because of his various phobias. He won’t drive a car. He’s obviously a sad guy, in elastic-band jeans…

A lot of people there, as you well know, since you’ve reported on it for years, really hate Keith Olbermann because he’s cruel to people who work for him. A lot of those people have emailed me with joy, jubilation in their voices, in their email. Letters of congratulations, just thank you for doing this finally…

He’s despised at MSNBC…I’m not saying every person at MSNBC despises him but I would say he’s the most disliked person in the building by a factor of 10, and I would dare anybody who’s worked there to look me right in the eye and deny that…I don’t have any malice toward Olbermann. I feel sorry for him.

Well. We’ve reached out several times to MSNBC for comment.

We also asked Carlson about CNN’s recent prime time moves:

I think it’s great. I think it’s probably too late to work but I hope it does. I certainly wish them well. It’s amazing that Jon Klein still has a job. That’s amazing to me. But there’s a lot of good people at CNN. I’m glad to see debate make a comeback.

Of Eliot Spitzer: “The worst Attorney General, probably, in the history of the world.”

Ed Morrissey:

I suspect that the rest of the annoying cable news commentators are contacting hosting services as we speak to buy their own .com domains.  Frankly, that’s SOP for anyone in the business, especially for those who write books. Olbermann has written two, one with Dan Patrick during the ESPN days in 1998, and another in 2007 that repackaged his “special comment” rants about the Bush administration. Still, one would think that Olbermann would have wanted to promote those efforts himself.

Neil Patel is obviously placing his tongue firmly in his cheek with the “acquisition strategy” and rollout announcement.  It’s a parody of corporate communications, and a pretty humorous one at that.  That doesn’t mean they won’t exploit their new asset, of course, assuming they can hang on to it.  They already have a regular Olbermann column (“We watch because we’re paid to watch”) that tracks the host’s daily performance, and the new URL would be perfect for it.

However, Patel better enjoy it while he can.  I’d bet that the Daily Caller doesn’t get to use the name for long.  As I recall, courts have taken dim views of poaching eponymous domain names, and a concerted effort by MSNBC’s lawyers will likely return to Olbermann what he should have bought in the first place.  Meanwhile, keep checking KeithOlbermann.com to keep up with the war.

Alex Pareene at Salon:

As you may have heard, Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller bought KeithOlbermann.com. That URL now takes you to a Keith Olbermann-focused version of the Daily Caller site. (Or, uh, the regular Daily Caller site, which is currently going with at least 7 Olbermann stories above the fold.) It did this purely to annoy Olbermann. No matter what you think of the “Countdown” host, this is childish, petty and boorish behavior for a formerly respected journalist like Carlson. And that is why we here at Salon are proud to announce our purchase of TuckerCarlson.net.

Tragically, Carlson has already reserved TuckerCarlson.com. But TuckerCarlson.net was there for the taking, and so we took it. At the moment, we’re just pointing it at War Room. But what should we do with it?

Greg Pollowitz at NRO:

Ironically, Tucker Carlson successfully sued the owner of TuckerCarlson.com in 2008 for doing basically the same thing he’s doing to KeithOlbmerann.com now:

TuckerCarlson.com was registered in 2003. The domain points to a DomainSponsor parking page including links to “The Tucker Carlson Show” and “Tucker MSNBC”. The owner of the domain name used privacy protection to mask his identity.

In general, celebrities can win UDRP decisions if they are reasonably well known and if the corresponding domain name is being used for profit (ala Jerry Seinfeld). If it is being used for criticism, such as in the case of Jerry Falwell and typo Fallwell.com, domain owners have prevailed in disputes. Also, politician’s domain names are usually fair game if it is being used in a non-commercial manner.

I have no idea if KeithOlbmermann.com in its current iteration will fall into this exemption category, but I’m sure we’ll be hearing from both Keith and Tucker soon enough.

Dan Amira at New York Magazine:

Whether the Daily Caller’s plans to build KeithOlbermann.com into the Internet’s premiere Olbermann-criticism site is a good publicity stunt is not in question. It is. It’s all over the Internet, and Olbermann will probably complain about it on his show tonight. The back-and-forth will result in lots of attention for both parties involved. That doesn’t mean it’s a smart legal move, though, as Olbermann suggested earlier. In fact, according to Enrico Schaefer, founding attorney of Traverse Legal, a law firm specializing in cybersquatting and domain-name disputes, Olbermann would probably have little trouble becoming master of his domain.

“There’s always room for some debate on this kind of stuff,” Schaefer told us. “But the reality is that Keith Olbermann has got strong trademark rights in his name — a show called Countdown With Keith Olbermann, with his name used as a brand — and therefore anyone that registers a domain name in bad faith, or a personal name of a famous individual who has trademark right, is potentially liable for up to $100,000 in damages, plus attorney fees.”

“But wait a second,” we ignorantly inquired, “What about, you know, freedom of speech? Doesn’t the First Amendment allow us to criticize public figures however we damn well please?” Not always. Some “gripe sites,” as they’re known, are okay, if they “have no financial stake, no positive benefit that they receive. They just have something to say and they’re going to say it,” Schaefer explains. But “the moment that you start to make money or derive a benefit for your business, you lose a whole layer of First Amendment protection.”

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You’re Reading The Moulitsas/Scarborough Feud, Brewed By Starbucks

The full Markos Moulitsas post at Daily Kos:

In case you were wondering why you haven’t seen me on MSNBC recently, it seems that Joe Scarborough, he of the lowest rated morning show in cableland, has blackballed me. And Phil Griffin, the alleged president of MSNBC, is going along with it.

It all began May 29, with Joe Scarborough taking to Twitter to whine about the media coverage of the supposed Sestak scandal (remember that one?):

JoeNBC: The Sestak story is as unbelievable a cover story as Nixon throwing little Checkers under the bus. A farce on it’s face. Luckily for the White House, the media has been negligent on this story since Day 1. The press will let this laughable story slide.

That was too much horseshit for me. If there was someone who had ZERO ground to stand on whining about media bias, it was Scarborough. So I shot back:

markos: Like story of a certain dead intern. RT @JoeNBC: Luckily for the White House, the media has been negligent on this story since Day 1.

Markos: But if you want to talk about bullshit “scandals”, @JoeNBC, there’s this one about Joe Sestak and the White House you might’ve heard of.

It degenerated from there.

JoeNBC: @markos Unbelievable. You have a long history of spreading lies suggesting I am a murderer. This is the 3rd or 4th time by my count.

Markos: @JoeNBC, I’ve never suggested you’re a murderer. I’ve noted media hypocrisy in going after Gary Condit. But he was Dem. You aren’t.

JoeNBC: Anyone in media who interviews @markos, know that you’re extending your credibility to someone who regularly suggests that I’m a murderer.

Markos: A bit touchy, @JoeNBC? Links for where I accuse you of being a murderer please.

There were no links, of course. I never accused him of murder, much less three or four times. In fact, we had just had a pleasant chat in the Meet the Press green room in December, which wouldn’t be the case if I was bedeviling him with accusations of murder. The only time I ever mentioned the incident was this post in 2005, in which I discussed him as a potential Senate candidate.

Note that there wasn’t an accusation of murder. In fact, I called the murder accusations “tin foil” (aka conspiracy theories). Yet Gary Condit got hounded out of polite society for a murder he didn’t commit, while Joe Scarborough got a show on MSNBC. As my tweets made clear, this was about media double standards, and it was about Scarborough trying to invent a scandal from nothing (as was the case with the conspiracy theorists and his deceased aide). One could disagree with those points, but to argue it was somehow an accusation of murder was bizarre, and of course, Scarborough was unable to back it up.

Instead, Scarborough, unable to keep it together, ran crying to Phil Griffin. And while admitting to me that Scarborough’s claims were baseless and overblown, Griffin banned me from the network. Asked for on-the-record comment, Griffin offered this statement:

Markos,

Blog if you must, but here is my on the record statement to you which I ask that you print in full:

Yes, after I became aware of the ugly cheap shot  you  took at Joe on Twitter, I asked the teams to take a break from booking you on our shows for a while. I found the comments to be in poor taste, and utterly uncalled for in a civil discourse.

I’m hoping this will be only temporary and that the situation can be resolved in a mature fashion, but until then I just don’t know how one could reasonably expect to be welcomed onto our network while publicly antagonizing one of our hosts at the same time.

The DailyKos community has been among the most supportive of MSNBC, and we continue to appreciate that support.

I’ve criticized Chris Matthews before, sometimes harshly, and it never led to me being banned. This was not about criticizing some random MSNBC host, but about criticizing the network’s token conservative, a man who wilts in the face of the awesome power of Twitter and its 140-character limit. Morning Joe happens to be Griffin’s pet project at MSNBC. He’s staked his career on it, and as such, lets Scarborough call the shots — to the point of having its least successful host dictate the guest list of its most successful one.

Look, it’s been good for Daily Kos to have me on, but it’s not my favorite medium, I’m often uncomfortable, and part of me would be grateful if I never had to do a TV spot again. I did as much MSNBC as I did because I like and respect Keith Olbermann and Ed Schultz. If they decided they didn’t want me on anymore, I’d be perfectly okay with that. However, I do think it’s noteworthy when I’ve been booted from the network because of a Scarborough temper tantrum.

John Byrne at Raw Story:

Lauren Skowronski, a public relations employee for MSNBC and NBC Universal, MSNBC’s parent company, told Raw Story, “MSNBC is not commenting.”

MSNBC is generally considered a liberal-leaning network, so the claim that a large liberal blogger has been banned has raised eyebrows.

Steve Krakauer at Mediaite:

Moulitsas had been a semi-regular guest on Ed Schultz‘ show as well as Countdown with Keith Olbermann. We’ll see when he’s back.

And speaking of Olbermann, he hasn’t weighed in yet on Twitter on Moulitsas but he has about NBC’s Amy Robach. A fan asked “Keith!! How goes Operation Save Amy Robach’s Career from having to do features about Cougar Conventions, by coming 2 Contdwn.” Olbermann’s response:

I think she’s said previously that she made the choice not to be on Countdown

Interesting. Stay tuned for more on all the comings and goings at MSNBC.

Greg Sargent:

It’s funny. I don’t recall the chief of MSNBC publicly banning Liz Cheney from appearing on the network when she cut an entire Web video “publicly antagonizing” Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews for allegedly being too frightened to debate her about terrorism

[…]

See, conservatives are expected to demonize the media, and can always count on being granted a platform by the same major networks they hammer publicly on a regular basis. It’s all part of the game, get it? But it seems Markos got publicly dressed down and banned by the president of the network, no less, all because he got under Scarborough’s skin with a few nasty little Tweets.

Alex Pareene at Salon:

This is what Markos is talking about: Back in the summer of 2001, Scarborough, who was divorced at the time, announced his intention to retire from Congress to spend more time with his children. Shortly after that announcement, an intern named Lori Klausutis was found dead in his Florida office.

At the time, the national press was obsessed with Gary Condit, a Democratic Congressmen who was all-but-accused of killing an intern whom he’d been sleeping with. No such attention fell on Scarborough. (Then 9/11 happened.)

Kos was arguing that Scarborough was the beneficiary of a media double standard whereby scandals ginned up by conservative activists receive attention far beyond what they merit. (Kos was also intentionally needling Scarborough.)

Scarborough responded by saying Kos regularly accuses Scarborough of being a murderer, which Kos disputes.

Bill Scher and Matt Lewis at Bloggingheads

Digby:

Now I have to assume that Scarborough is either brain damaged or must want people to look at that story again because otherwise he would have let some innocuous, snarky tweet pass by. Now we all have no choice but to rehash the whole thing in order to explain why Markos has been banned from the network.

I’m guessing he’s running for office again. After all, in today’s GOP if you aren’t picking up men in bathrooms, harassing pages by the dozen or hiking the Appalachian trail, you just aren’t worth the teabag you’re steeping in.

I’ll be curious to see if any of the MSNBC hosts put up a fight. I doubt they will. There seems to be some kind of village Omerta when it comes to Joe Scarborough.

Michael Stickings at Moderate Voice:

What Kos is getting at here is that there appears to be a double standard, just as there was with the coverage of Levy/Klausutis, one driven by partisanship and ideology. And it’s all about the media giving conservatives a free pass. It may not be clear-cut, and there may be exceptions to it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Meanwhile, the Kos-Scarborough flare-up probably could have been handled more maturely, but it’s really only Kos’s first tweet that went a bit too far (if anything, he could have been more tactful). After that, it was Scarborough who lost it, throwing a “temper tantrum” and complaining to his boss (who “lets Scarborough call the shots” and so who was bound to side with his low-rated morning host).

Regardless, it’s pretty stupid for MSNBC to blacklist a major progressive voice and new media icon like Markos Moulitsas. It would do well to rethink its priorities, and to think through its double standards.

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But What Did She Say About Matt Drudge?

Octavia Nasr at CNN:

My tweet was short: “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah.. One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot. #Lebanon”

Reaction to my tweet was immediate, overwhelming and a provides a good lesson on why 140 characters should not be used to comment on controversial or sensitive issues, especially those dealing with the Middle East.

It was an error of judgment for me to write such a simplistic comment and I’m sorry because it conveyed that I supported Fadlallah’s life’s work. That’s not the case at all.

Here’s what I should have conveyed more fully:

I used the words “respect” and “sad” because to me as a Middle Eastern woman, Fadlallah took a contrarian and pioneering stand among Shia clerics on woman’s rights. He called for the abolition of the tribal system of “honor killing.” He called the practice primitive and non-productive. He warned Muslim men that abuse of women was against Islam.

I met Fadlallah in 1990. He was willing to take the risk of meeting with a young Christian journalist from the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation. Fadlallah was at the height of his power. As I was ushered in, I was told that he would not look at me in the eye and to make it quick as there was a long line of dignitaries waiting.

The interview went 45 minutes, during which I asked him about Hezbollah’s agenda for an Islamic state in Lebanon. He bluntly told me that was his group’s dream but there would be room for other religions. He also joked at the end of the interview that the solution for Lebanon’s civil war was to send “all political leaders without exception on a ship away from Lebanon with no option to return.”

He challenged me to run the entire interview on LBC without editing. We did.

This does not mean I respected him for what else he did or said. Far from it.

It is no secret that Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah hated with a vengeance the United States government and Israel. He regularly praised the terror attacks that killed Israeli citizens. And as recently as 2008, he said the numbers of Jews killed in the Holocaust were wildly inflated.

But it was his commitment to Hezbollah’s original mission – resisting Israel’s occupation of Lebanon – that made him popular and respected among many Lebanese, not just people of his own sect.

Daniel Halper at The Weekly Standard:

How did CNN senior editor of Middle East affairs Octavia Nasr celebrate July 4? By mourning the passing of Hezbollah’s Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah. Here’s what the CNN editor posted on her Twitter account:

Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah.. One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot..#Lebanon

Fadlallah “famously justified suicide bombings,” as the New York Times recalls in its obituary for him:

In a 2002 interview with the British newspaper The Telegraph, he was quoted as saying of the Palestinians: “They have had their land stolen, their families killed, their homes destroyed, and the Israelis are using weapons, such as the F16 aircraft, which are meant only for major wars. There is no other way for the Palestinians to push back those mountains, apart from martyrdom operations.”

The Times also reports in its obit that Fadlallah is believed to be responsible for the killing of 241 U.S. Marines during the 1983 Beirut barracks bombings

Michael Totten at Commentary:

I know enough about Fadlallah, who died at the age of 74 in a Beirut hospital over the weekend, that I can interpret her Twitter post charitably. While once known as the “spiritual leader” of Hezbollah, Fadlallah later moved above and beyond the Party of God and even criticized it once in a while. He supported the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and its leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, but he also criticized Khomeini’s regime of Velayat-e faqih — rule by Islamic jurists — and declared it an inappropriate political system for Lebanon. He supported women’s rights, dismissed their unequal treatment as “backward,” and issued a fatwa condemning “honor” killings.

Most Americans don’t know this about Fadlallah, or have even heard of him. Octavia Nasr surely does, though. It’s common knowledge in Lebanon. She lives in Atlanta, but she was born in Beirut, and covers the Middle East for a living. More likely than not, some or all of the above is what she had in mind when she posted her comment on Twitter.

Still, she’s talking about a man who issued theological justifications for suicide bombings. He threw his support behind hostage-taking in Lebanon during the 1980s and the truck bombings in Beirut that killed more American servicemen than any single attack since World War II. Nasr didn’t mention any of that. It doesn’t even look like she factored it in.

Twitter has a strict limit of 140 characters per “tweet.” It’s hardly the place for a nuanced exposé of a complicated man. There simply isn’t room to write more than one or two sentences at a time. Even so, I suspect the average American consumer of news would find it alarming that a senior editor of Mideast Affairs respects and mourns the loss of a man who supported the kidnapping, murder, and truck bombings of hundreds of her adopted countrymen — and that she said so on the Fourth of July — even if she mourns and respects him for entirely different reasons and does so despite, not because of, his positions on “resistance” and terrorism.

Steve Krakauer at Mediaite:

In the latest case of new media (or oversharing) gone wrong, CNN’s Senior Editor of Mideast Affairs Octavia Nasr is leaving the company following the controversy caused by her tweet in praise of Hezbollah leader Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah

Mediaite has the internal memo, which says “we believe that her credibility in her position as senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs has been compromised.”

Nasr tweeted this weekend: “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah… One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.”

After a blog post expanding on her position, CNN promised the issue was “serious” and would “be dealt with accordingly.” That’s apparently her exit from CNN. Here’s an internal memo obtained by Mediaite:

From Parisa Khosravi – SVP CNN International Newsgathering

I had a conversation with Octavia this morning and I want to share with you that we have decided that she will be leaving the company. As you know, her tweet over the weekend created a wide reaction. As she has stated in her blog on CNN.com, she fully accepts that she should not have made such a simplistic comment without any context whatsoever. However, at this point, we believe that her credibility in her position as senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs has been compromised going forward.
As a colleague and friend we’re going to miss seeing Octavia everyday. She has been an extremely dedicated and committed part of our team. We thank Octavia for all of her hard work and we certainly wish her all the best.
Parisa.

Nasr has been with CNN for 20 years.

Frank Ross at Big Journalism:

As if further proof were needed that a sizable segment of the Fourth Estate is now effectively the Fifth Column, this one is right up there. Apparently it’s no longer enough that reporters and correspondents pretend to be neutral, even about the good guys — now, they’re not only not neutral, they publicly express their admiration for sheer, malevolent evil — a man who, according to the obits, was “known for his staunch anti-American stance.”

Good Lord, is this what American journalism has come to?

Ed Morrissey:

After having outed herself as a Hezbollah sympathizer, which is certainly the rational conclusion of Nasr’s Twitter message and subsequent explanation, doesn’t CNN owe its viewers and readers a complete accounting of their coverage in the Middle East and a complete explanation of Nasr’s role  in it?

Furthermore, the very fact that she offered that message in a public forum speaks to Nasr’s odd conception of how Hezbollah should be presented.  It’s an Iranian proxy terrorist army, run and funded by the mullahs in Tehran.  Nasr seems to believe that the consensus opinion of CNN’s audience is that they are a heroic band of freedom fighters with an unfortunate bent towards misogyny.  If that was her worldview, shouldn’t CNN have known about that either before or after putting her in charge of the news reporting from the region?  It’s certainly good that we’re finding out about it now.

I suspect that Mary Katharine Ham was correct in her assertion during my show today that a lot of bloggers are going to start reviewing their notes about CNN coverage of Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, and the entire region in the context which Nasr’s messages reveal.

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo:

Doing a little sleuthing it seems like it may be slightly overstating things to say he was a member or leader of Hezbollah, more like a spiritual mentor or a cleric closely associated with the movement. In any case, given CNN’s record of running for the hills over a lot less, I can’t say I’m completely surprised at their decision. And I’m a little surprised she’d tweet that myself. And in the internal memo CNN circulated explaining her termination, a CNN VP wrote, “she fully accepts that she should not have made such a simplistic comment without any context whatsoever.”

But a twenty year run down the tubes over 140 characters?

That just doesn’t seem right to me.

Glenn Greenwald:

With the Nasr firing, here we find yet again exposed the central lie of American establishment journalism:  that opinion-free “objectivity” is possible, required, and the governing rule.  The exact opposite is true:  very strong opinions are not only permitted but required.  They just have to be the right opinions:  the official, approved ones.  Just look at the things that are allowed.  The Washington Post lavished editorial praise on the brutal, right-wing tyrant Augusto Pinochet, and that caused no controversy.  AP’s Washington Bureau Chief Ron Fournier got caught sending secret, supportive emails to Karl Rove, and nothing happened.  Benjamin Netanyahu formally celebrates the Terrorist bombing of the King David Hotel that killed 91 civilians and nobody is stigmatized for supporting him.  Erick Erickson sent around the most rancid and arguably racist tweets, only to thereafter be hired as a CNN contributor.  And as Jonathan Schwarz wrote of the Nasr firing:

William Barr is on the board of directors of Time Warner, the parent company of CNN. Barr was a senior adviser in the Reagan administration, which attempted to assassinate Fadlallah, missing him and killing more than eighty bystanders.

Having someone who was part of the slaughter of 80 civilians in Lebanon on your Board is fine.  And having a former AIPAC official with an obvious bias toward Israel (just watch Blitzer in this 5-minute clip if you have doubts about that) is perfectly consistent with a news network’s “credibility.” But expressing sadness over the death of an Islamic cleric beloved by much of the Muslim world is not.  Whatever is driving that, it has nothing to do with “objectivity.”

All of this would be so much more tolerable if CNN would simply admit that it permits its journalists to hold and express some controversial opinions (ones in accord with official U.S. policy and orthodox viewpoints) but prohibits others (ones which the neocon Right dislikes).  Instead, we are subjected to this patently false pretense of opinion-free objectivity.

The reality is that “pro-Israel” is not considered a viewpoint at all; it’s considered “objective.”  That’s why there’s no expression of it too extreme to result in the sort of punishment which Nasr just suffered (preceded by so many others before her).  Conversely, while Hezbollah is seen by much of the world as an important defense against Israeli aggression in Lebanon, the U.S. Government has declared it a Terrorist organization, and therefore “independent” U.S. media outlets such as CNN dutifully follow along by firing anyone who expresses any positive feelings about anyone who, in turn, has any connection to that group.  That’s how tenuous and distant the thought crime can be and still end someone’s career.  It’s true that much of the world sees some of Hezbollah’s actions as Terrorism; much of the world sees Israel’s that way as well.  CNN requires the former view while prohibiting the latter.  As usual, our brave journalistic outlets not only acquiesce to these suffocating and extremely subjective restrictions on what our political discourse allows; they lead the way in enforcing them.

UPDATE: Tom Friedman in NYT

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Quote Of The Day: “I Have Already Canceled This CNN Show In My Mind.”

Steve Krakauer at Mediaite:

As has been speculated for about a week now, Eliot Spitzer and Kathleen Parker will be paired up as co-hosts of a new 8pmET “spirited, nightly roundtable discussion program” on CNN.

The Crossfire-like show replaces Campbell Brown’s program – which she announced she was leaving last month.

Let’s take a look at the key players. Spitzer was a surprise regular guest on Dylan Ratigan’s new MSNBC show starting almost one year ago today. Over this past year he’s risen through the ranks at MSNBC and began anchoring occasionally a couple months ago during news hours. He also, of course, is the former Democratic Governor of New York…and Client 9.

Parker is a conservative columnist and regular pundit on a variety of networks. She memorably called on Sarah Palin to drop out as VP candidate during the 2008 election – a column that to this day has some conservatives calling her “Republican In Name Only.”

In a fairly exhaustive Google search to find anything Parker has written about Spitzer, this was all I could come up with.

It’s fun to joke about Spitzer’s journey from being Client No. 9 to CNN Rising Star No. 1, but really I’m not concerned with TV shows, news or otherwise, rewarding or punishing people’s moral behavior in their hiring practices. This is, after all, the business that employs Charlie Sheen. So if CNN decides that the route to primetime goes through the doors of the Emperor’s Club, I won’t criticize. There are too many other things to criticize.

The first is not that Spitzer has been chosen despite his sex scandal. It’s that he seemingly was chosen, at least in part, because of the scandal: that is, because of the short-term blast of notoriety and buzz that he will bring with him. Now, for all I know, CNN genuinely sees special and distinctive broadcasting talent in Spitzer, but if they do, it’s eluded me in his long recent history as commentator and guest-host on CNN and MSNBC, where—to my ears, anyway—he comes off grating and supercilious. If he didn’t come with the name and the headlines, I have a hard time believing he’d been chosen on the basis of ability alone.

(As for Parker, I’m not familiar enough to say whether she’s a good choice or not, though her résumé is strong enough. But I do have to guess that—call me cynical—given Spitzer’s history it would have been hard for CNN to even consider pairing him with a man. Not that the underrepresentation of men in cable news is exactly a problem, but the idea that pairing Spitzer with a woman makes his choice any better is just icky.)

Further, it seems like CNN is trying to answer a problem cable news doesn’t have, and fill a need viewers aren’t looking to fill. CNN hasn’t named the fall program, but it sounds as if, in some sense, it is essentially reviving Crossfire. I suppose that will be counterprogramming in a sense to Fox and MSNBC’s commentary shows headed by individual hosts, but it’s not exactly as if cable is starved for opinion.

Bill Carter at New York Times:

Eliot Spitzer described himself as “extremely thankful” to be getting an opportunity to revive his reputation as a television news host after the tawdry circumstances of his forced resignation as governor of New York.

In a telephone interview discussing his appointment Tuesday to the co-host role in a new prime-time hour on CNN, Mr. Spitzer acknowledged that he would have to deal with the continuing fallout from his admission of patronizing call girls as he tried to rehabilitate his image on the news program.

If the subject of the night’s news discussion touches in some way on behavior of public officials or sexual peccadilloes, Mr. Spitzer said simply, “We’ll deal with it.”

He acknowledged that  guests might try to turn the discussion back on him when he pressed them on questions of behavior or judgment. “So be it,” Mr. Spitzer said.

Nick Gillespie at Reason:

I like Parker, but Spitzer, yeesh.

Reason.tv’s interview with Spitzer’s former madam, who did time for supplying the “well respected political mind” with hookers even as he pushed for prosecution of prostitution rings. Kristin Davis is running for NY governor on a platform focused on legalizing sex work, pot and gay marriage and pointing out the inequities of a criminal justice system that, er, put her in jail and let Gov. Spitzer go on to CNN.

Allah Pundit:

Now, riddle me this. If the new show is all about creating an unpredictable alternative to the predictable ideological fare on Olbermann and O’Reilly at that hour — and for the record, O’Reilly ain’t always so predictable — what’s Spitzer doing here? Parker may be, ahem, “unconventional,” but apart from defending Israel from Glenn Greenwald’s broadsides, Client Number Nine’s a pretty doctrinaire Democrat as far as I know. They could have went and gotten our favorite liberal to co-host if they were really that bent on some sort of RINO/DINO centrist news show. As it is, James Poniewozik’s right — it’s hard to escape the conclusion that Spitzer was chosen because of his hooker problem, not in spite of it.

Exit question one: Aren’t they really just aiming for “Morning Joe” in primetime here, albeit with the partisan roles reversed? Exit question two: Worth tuning in to watch the debate whenever there’s a sex scandal in the news, just for the awkward pauses

Michael Kinsley at The Atlantic:

Why can’t CNN President Jonathan Klein have the guts just to admit he was wrong and call his new show “Crossfire”? Or at least to apologize to all the hard-working CNN employees working on Crossfire whom he insulted as he kicked them out the door? (Not me. By the time Klein killed Crossfire, I was long gone, out in Seattle starting Slate.) Crossfire, if you never saw it, was a CNN interview show with two “hosts,” a conservative and a liberal, and two or three “guests,” from the usual pool of camera-ready politicians. When I was involved (though not necessarily for that reason) it was the top show on the network many evenings, with an audience larger than Larry King himself and far larger than anything CNN attracts today.

But then, one fateful evening, Jon Stewart came on to push a humor book, and blindsided the hosts (at that time Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson) by going all gooey and high-minded, and declaring that Crossfire was “hurting America” with its strident argumentation. Klein, opining that audiences wanted information, not opinion, not only took Crossfire and several other CNN discussion shows off the air, but declared that he “wholeheartedly agreed” with Jon Stewart that his own subordinates were hurting their country.

Klein’s principled opposition to opinion lasted just a few months. Soon enough, Anderson Cooper was sobbing all over his black t-shirt in New Orleans and Lou Dobbs had completed his remarkable transition from corporate shill to snarling, pitchfork-bearing populist. And now this. Two hosts, one liberal and one conservative, newsmaker guests, a “spirited” discussion of the issues of the day. But oh no, not Crossfire. Heaven forfend!

And the difference? This show will be “organic,” not “artificial,” explained conservative host Kathleen Parker, a Washington Post columnist, to the Huffington Post. The liberal host, Eliot Spitzer, last seen hiking the Appalachian trail with fellow governor Mark Sanford, amplified: “Big issues, little issues, coming at it from different perspective, same perspective, agree, disagree…. Thoughtful, smart, funny, not boring, not predictable.” On Crossfire, of course, it never occurred to us to try to be thoughtful or smart or any of that pansy stuff. We were just a “simple left vs. right partisan shouting match.” But in the Huffington Post piece, Parker contradicted Spitzer on the partisanship point, saying that she and Spitzer “bring completely different perspectives…which is what this country is all about.” Maybe they can make this their first topic of discussion.

Wonkette:

Do you worry every time you leave your house about encountering Eliot Spitzer, who will attempt to pay you for sex, or Kathleen Parker, who will attempt to determine if you are a “full-blooded American,” and then bludgeon you with her Pulitzer Prize if you aren’t? Well, now at least the period from 8 to 9 p.m. every night will be safe, because these two will be busy making eyes at each other on CNN during that time period. Quick, scurry out and purchase supplies!

Spitzer and Parker’s Olde Time Politics Variety Hour will replace Campbell Brown, who was too good and pure for this world. Remember how CNN used to have shouty shows where political enemies would shout at each other, loudly, before Jon Stewart shamed them out of it? Well, that’s not what this show is about! Instead, it will offer “a lively roundup of all the best ideas.” ALL THE BEST IDEAS, ON ANY TOPIC. If your idea isn’t rounded up by this show, it is not the best, or even very good.

Choire Sicha at The Awl:

Starting in September, love guv Eliot Spitzer is now your TV chitchat host on the CNN at 8 p.m. every night (that hour when you don’t watch TV). He’s been partnered with a lady. That lady is Kathleen Parker. She is not bright, basically, though she has a Pulitzer, just like Jennifer Jason Leigh did in the Hudsucker Proxy. CAREER WOMEN, what can you do, etc. I have already canceled this CNN show in my mind.

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Exit The Great Orange Satan

Keith Olbermann at Daily Kos:

I was checking in tonight to see what was new, came across a diary trashing first me and my colleague Rachel, and scrolled through it shaking my head, sadly, until I got to one comment that leaped off the page.

can’t verify, of course… (2+ / 0-)
but a friend in the news biz tells me he got a damaging e-mail from one of his pals at NBC.  something to the effect that their anger was pre-planned because “beating up on the President has been good for ratings.”

I haven’t checked but I’m hearing that Olbermann slammed the speech on Twitter before it even started.

“Can’t verify”… “haven’t checked”…It can’t be verified because it’s nonsense, and it wasn’t checked because nobody bothered. Unfortunately there’s been a lot of this here lately.

And what’s more, I didn’t “slam” the speech on Twitter before it even started. I got off the phone with my White House source at about 7:35, and then summarized his description of the speech thusly::

I gather this may not be the big picture broad canvas “never again” speech redefining our nation’s energy addiction that many are expecting

Wow. What a slam!

For years, from the Katrina days onward, whenever I stuck my neck out, I usually visited here as the cliched guy in the desert stopping by the oasis. I never got universal support, and never expected it, nor wanted it (who wants an automatic “Yes” machine?). But I used to read a lot about how people here would ‘always have my back’ and trust me this was of palpable value as I fought opponents external and internal who try to knock me and Rachel off the air, all the time, in ways you can imagine and others you can’t.

Now I get to read how we pre-planned our anger because ‘beating up on the President has been good for ratings’.

If I can understand people’s frustration with seeing a speech by a Democratic president criticized in a venue such as mine, why is it impossible for some people here to accept my frustration about the speech? You don’t agree with me, fine. You don’t want to watch because you don’t agree with me, fine. But to accuse me, after five years of risking what I have to present the truth as I see it, of staging something for effect, is deeply offensive to me and is an indication of what has happened here.

You want Cheerleaders? Hire the Buffalo Jills. You want diaries with conspiracy theories, go nuts. If you want this site the way it was even a year ago, let me know and I’ll be back.

Steve Krakauer at Mediaite:

Salon’s Glenn Greenwald tweets, “Not saying this isn’t thin-skinned – it is – but what he’s reacting to is very common.”

It’s interesting to see Olbermann react strongly to the commenters who, almost universally, have been supporter of his show and his network. As he sticks with his ‘non-Obama-cheerleader’ position, it’s now clear there are some in this country far farther left than he is. It is a testament to the polarized American public that Olbermann would be on the outs with the Daily Kos and his liberal Twitter followers.

Peter Wehner at Commentary:

As a friend wrote me, “It’s a bit like the Iran-Iraq or Germany–Soviet Union wars. But who does one root for?” That is an existential question I cannot possibly hope to answer. But watching this all unfold is quite fascinating.

Liberals do seem quite unhappy these days, don’t they? Call it the Obama Effect.

David Freddoso at Washington Examiner:

Allow me to suggest that there are two kinds of crazy in politics.

First, there’s the crazy of the minority — a crazy consisting of wild conspiracy theories by the powerless. A significant minority on the liberal side excelled at this in the Bush years with conspiracy theories about 9/11; a smaller group still went further with protest violence, advocacy for violence against the military, and anti-war rallies at which the yellow Hezbollah flag flew proudly.

In the Obama era, this kind of crazy has been carried forward by the minority of conservatives who are birthers and believers that President Obama is a Muslim; there also the smaller group that actually calls for violence. (And I mean militia groups here, not just people who use figurative campaign language that causes liberals to whine.) In the Clinton era, we had the same thing in the form of the Vince Foster murder conspiracy, etc.

Then there’s the crazy of the majority, characterized by empowered groupthink. As President Bush steamrolled conservative hopes with his Farm Bill, subsidies for unsustainable businesses and executive power grabs, the Right was nearly silent. When he tried to “fix” 9/11 by creating a new and incompetent federal bureaucracy in the Department of Homeland Security, you could hear the crickets. The wisdom of the Iraq War was barely questioned at all by conservatives, and those who did question it (like my old boss, Robert Novak) were denounced by groupthinkers as “unpatriotic.” It wasn’t until the Harriet Miers debacle that the Right really began pushing back.

But now that the Right is out of power, liberals are suffering from this majority variety of crazy. As President Obama fails to keep his promises to the Left on curbing lobbyists and Bush-era executive power grabs, on closing Guantanamo, on showing basic competence in government, only a few on the Left are raising the skeptic’s flag.

The most prominent liberal to do so was Keith Olbermann, whose scathing criticism of Obama’s Tuesday night address nearly earned him a firing squad at the left-wing site Daily Kos.

Matt Welch at Reason

Dan Riehl:

Oh. Oh. Oh. This is so precious, it effin’ hurts through the laughter. Keif Olbermann has gotten his panties in a bunch over something he read at DailyKos and has crawled under his desk, pledging to leave the site. Keif! Come back!

Or don’t, who cares? Over 1,000 comments and counting. Enjoy the tasty goodness of it, this is a day that will live in the infamy that is Keif Olbermann. And enjoy the Blogasm sure to come via Memeorandum. I feel dirty just watching it. ha ha ha!

UPDATE: Bill Scher and Matt Lewis at Bloggingheads

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Kipling And Teasing The Panther

Heather Horn at The Atlantic:

The Atlantic Wire likes to keep tabs on its beloved Atlantic 50. On Wednesday, Entertainment Weekly picked up the video trailer for an upcoming book, a thriller written by Glenn Beck (number seven on the list). Keith Stastkiewicz says the book, which will be released June 15, “is about twenty-something named Noah Gardner who finds himself in the midst of a massive fight to protect the country he loves from nefarious forces that threaten to corrupt it.” Points if you can get that from the video

Meredith Jessup at Townhall:

“The Overton Window” is set to be released June 15.  Meanwhile, the Left is already bashing it, despite rave reviews from authors such as Vince Flynn (love him!), Brad Meltzer and Nelson DeMille.

PS–the poem featured in Beck’s trailer is this one by Rudyard Kipling, despite folks on the Left claiming that each “over-the-top-line” was written by Beck himself.

Richard Lawson at Gawker:

Crazy conspiracy-cruller Glenn Beck has a new novel, The Overton Window, coming out very soon. And now, because I guess this is what we do these days, there is a trailer. For a book. It’s just one long, scary quote.

The quote is from “The Gods of the Copybook Headings,” a wacky poem by Rudyard Kipling. It speaks of terrible things that happen after “social progress,” which Glenn “Walking Knish” Beck really hates. Mostly, though, it is about dog vomit. Yayyyy, dog vomit.

E.D. Kain at The League:

The odd poetry in the trailer is from Rudyard Kipling’s poem, The Gods of the Copybook Headings – a rather odd choice for Beck, but what do I know? Either way, pasting the last two stanzas a Kipling poem into a book trailer is certainly a bold move. I hope they make it into a film so that we can get the entire poem in there.

Ben Dimiero and Simon Maloy at Media Matters:

The opening lines of Glenn Beck’s yet-to-be-released novel, The Overton Window, read as follows: “Most people think about age and experience in terms of years, but it’s really only moments that define us.”

In a quirk of convenience, this line also describes the best way to deconstruct The Overton Window, a copy of which Media Matters obtained and read — nay, devoured — with great relish. As we slogged through its many plot holes, ridiculous narrative devices, and long-winded limited-government sermonizing passed off as dialogue, we singled out ten moments that define The Overton Window as the truly and remarkably awful novel that it is.

First, a quick summation of the plot, such as it is. The protagonist, Noah Gardner, works for an impossibly powerful public relations firm in Manhattan that has been the driving force behind pretty much every political and cultural movement of the 20th century. Their latest and grandest scheme is the culmination of a lengthy plot to change the United States into some sort of ill-defined progressive plutocracy, and the catalyst for this change is a nuclear explosion that will occur outside the home-state office of “the current U.S. Senate majority leader,” which happens to be at the same address as Harry Reid’s Las Vegas offices. The nuclear attack is to be blamed on the Founders Keepers, a Tea Party-like group — led by Noah’s love interest, Molly Ross — that is working to foil the plot.

1. Rule number one is: “Don’t tease the panther”

Noah and Molly find themselves in bed together early in the book after a harrowing experience at a Founders’ Keepers rally. They agree to sleep in bed together because Molly is too scared to sleep at home, but Molly insists that nothing sexual will take place. Noah agrees, on the condition that she “not do anything sexy.” She presses her cold feet against his legs, and Noah responds:

“Suit yourself, lady. I’m telling you right now, you made the rules, but you’re playing with fire here. I’ve got some rules, too, and rule number one is, don’t tease the panther.

Oliver Willis

Dennis DiClaudio at Indecision Forever

It appears as though Glenn Beck is making the leap from bestselling author of paranoid political opinion to bestselling author of paranoid political fiction. That’s right, he’s about to release a new book Kevin Grisham-esque thriller called The Overton Window, after a political theory popular amongst libertarians about the shifting range of what is considered acceptable political policy. (You know how Glenn Beck likes to read big piles of prop books, right?)Obviously, this is hilarious news. And there is a 112 percent chance that I will be “reading” the audiobook version of this book for the same reason that I am “reading” the audiobook version of the Left Behind series. Because life is too short to not subject oneself to third-grade-reading-level unintentional self-satire. I am not made of stone, people.

However, a lot of people are justifiably making fun of this book for unjustifiable reasons. The just-released trailer for this book (Yep! A trailer for the book!) features the excerpt from Rudyard Kipling’s poem “The Gods of the Copybook Headings“…

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

These verses — which, I’m assuming people think was written by Beck — are supposed proof of how crazy and, um, poemy the book is gonna be. As if there’s any fucking chance in the world that Glenn Beck is capable of writing anything even approaching the level of quality. Has anybody ever seen this person talk? If that poem is reprinted in the book, I guaran-fucking-tee it will be the stand-out section by about six orders of magnitude.

UPDATE: Steve Krakauer and Glynnis MacNicol at Mediaite

John J. Miller at The Corner

Jim Newell at Gawker

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Filed under Books, Mainstream, Political Figures