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June 03, 2013

Daily Randomness

The corporate version of the yellow card in soccer:



Those dirty, rotten 8 percenters are at it, again:

When Robert Gibbs was preparing to step down as White House press secretary in early 2011, Barack Obama stressed to The New York Times that he understood the life pressures weighing heavily on his loyal aide. After all, the president said in a revealing comment, Gibbs has been “going 24/7 with relatively modest pay.”

Modest pay?

Gibbs was making $172,200 a year on the public payroll in a bad economy, which was an income higher than 92 percent of all American families. But such is the bipartisan sense of martyrdom in Washington that almost no one questioned Gibbs’ intention to move to greener pastures while Obama was still in the White House.

So what is Private Citizen Gibbs up to these days?

He was was recently in Baku, Azerbaijan, along with David Plouffe (Obama’s 2008 campaign manager) and Jim Messina (who held the job in 2012). The Washington Post uncovered the reason behind the mid-May reunion in such an exotic locale: The three political operatives were paid five-digit fees to speak at a conference designed to burnish the image of a former Soviet republic with a dicey human rights record.

So much for restoring America's moral legitimacy in the eyes of the global community. Oh, and all that talk about the need to address the unbearable injustice of income inequality? You didn't take it seriously, did you?

Because in Washington, a sound argument grounded in facts is no substitute for playground-level name calling:

"Strong words from Mr Grand Theft Auto and suspected arsonist/insurance swindler," tweeted David Plouffe, the political guru (and unofficial adviser) for President Obama, referring to the chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

"And loose ethically today," Plouffe ended his tweet, linking to a story about Issa answering questions on CNN's “State of the Union” with Candy Crowley about the controversy over IRS staffers targeting conservative groups for scrutiny, in which Issa referred to White House press secretary Jay Carney as a "paid liar."

...Plouffe, however, is clearly interested in another focus, allegations one or two generations old about Issa, not current questions about the IRS and the Obama administration.

Asked what his tweet allegations have to do with whether IRS officials in Cincinnati took direction from officials in Washington, Plouffe told CNN "the credibility and motivation of accusers are valid here."

Of course the press will fulminate about the 'paid liar' jab endlessly and gloss over "Mr. Grand Theft auto". That's business as usual, but one sided press coverage doesn't change the fact that neither side is enhancing its credibility here. Is there anyone left in Washington who can still make an argument on the merits?

If there were, would anyone listen? Maybe that's the real problem.

Posted by Cassandra at June 3, 2013 08:01 PM

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Given Plouffe's claim that Issa did, in fact, steal a car (as opposed to only being suspected of it), would that open him up to libel?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 4, 2013 09:50 AM

Government has run its course and, as predicted, finds itself on the ash heap of democracy. To expect, at this point, anything resembling deliberative governance is, literally, whistling past the graveyard.

Scan the political prospect. Consider the elected and unelected leaders of Western nations. Have the intellectually stupid, culturally vapid, morally craven, and flagrantly treacherous ever been so utterly in control? There's not one thing commendable can be said of any of them; no virtue may be attributed to any of them. The best to be said of them is they are simply and purely political hacks; the worst can be said of them is they are Mr. Obama and Mr. Cameron. It's bad enough Western culture is collapsing; it's downright embarrassing that the Anglo world is no longer haven and exemplar but now the chief culprit.

Posted by: George Pal at June 4, 2013 11:02 AM

Given Plouffe's claim that Issa did, in fact, steal a car (as opposed to only being suspected of it), would that open him up to libel?

Maybe it just makes him a "paid liar" :p

Posted by: Cass at June 4, 2013 11:17 AM

I don't understand the objection to calling Carney a paid liar. Did his paycheck bounce?

Posted by: Texan99 at June 4, 2013 11:31 AM

I suppose it depends on your goals.

After eons of yearning, Republicans have been handed a scandal that disturbs even die hard Obama supporters. One that has many of my Democrat friends reassessing things big-time.

How does name calling (as opposed to simply pointing out the discrepancy between Carney's statements and other people's sworn testimony - and let's not confuse that with proof - or other established facts) advance the argument?

How did you react during the BusHitler years when Dems accused various administration officials of lying? Did that make you more or less receptive to their arguments?

I know exactly what effect it had on me.

We can ignore human nature in favor of pet theories about how people react in some fantasy world, or we can live in the real world where humans overlay a thin layer of rationality over a very thick sublayer of group loyalty and tribalism. Which tactic appeals to that thin layer of rationality?

And which appeals to that thick sublayer of emotion?

Posted by: Cass at June 4, 2013 11:46 AM

Well, I can see the objection because it is nothing more than a insult and can legitimately considered unbecoming on those grounds alone.

But last time I checked being paid to lie isn't, in and of itself, a crime.

At some level, even that can be brushed aside as an opinion (e.g. I believe if OJ wants to find the real killer, all he has to do is look in the mirror!).

But where is that line?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 4, 2013 11:48 AM

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying one is as bad as the other.

I think dredging up unsubstantiated accusations from decades ago and dishonestly repackaging them is substantially worse than calling someone a paid liar. As you observed, it may also be libel.

But I'm really pretty sick of the "WHAT THEY DID WAS WAAAAAY WORSE" school of moral distinctions. And since I'd actually like to see this scandal make a difference in public opinion, I'm not wild about the own goals from our side.

Posted by: Cass at June 4, 2013 12:04 PM

Have the intellectually stupid, culturally vapid, morally craven, and flagrantly treacherous ever been so utterly in control?

Never fear, George: Hope is on the way!

*running for the barricades* :)

Posted by: Cass at June 4, 2013 12:06 PM

Hope is on the way!

Oh dear God, please no. What have we done to deserve this punishment?

And since I'd actually like to see this scandal make a difference in public opinion, I'm not wild about the own goals from our side.

You are more optimistic than I am. I expect this to be slow walked until it is "old news" and then we'll see a couple of token firings for show and a promise to never do it again. It isn't a bad structure just a couple of bad people.

And nothing will change.

The right will know it's BS, but the left will see the problem as solved, and it's just those conspiracy nuts being paranoid again.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 4, 2013 05:25 PM

Hi George,
Have to note the current Canadian PM is a pretty good egg, and beyond that it is my observation that these things go in cycles.

Britain was even worse off when Thatcher came to the rescue, and obviously Reagan provided a much needed course correction. I'd argue that part of the reason GW was elected 43 was that he was direct and plain spoken; a distinct contrast to Clinton. I'm hoping there is a similar aversion to Dim double speak in 2016.

Best Regards,

Posted by: CAPT Mike at June 4, 2013 09:20 PM

I wouldn't throw the accusation of lying around casually, but when it becomes the elephant in the room, it's time to acknowledge it openly. Otherwise we perpetuate the idea that a little lying is OK and shouldn't expose anyone to the heartache of being publicly outed as a liar. He's a liar, a damn liar, even the supine liberal press knows it now (his name is mud with them), and not only does he deserve to be pilloried for it, but we all owe it to ourselves not to be too intimidated to call him on it.

My objection to people calling Bush a liar is that they seemed to be using the word to cover a situation in which he expressed an opinion about an unclear situation that turned out to be (arguably) invalid when the smoke cleared. If that's all Carney had done, I wouldn't call him a liar, either. If Bush had been caught outright lying, I would have flinched when people called him a liar, but I wouldn't have taken offense or tuned them out. Is there any reason not to identify Bill Clinton openly as a liar? These are adults who should take responsibility for their crimes, even if they thought they had really good reasons for committing them.

Posted by: Texan99 at June 5, 2013 11:14 AM