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Friday, February 27, 2009

Brad DeLong contrasts the articles on Accountability Now by Same Stein and Jim Rutenberg in a post entitled "Trying to Reduce the Power of K Street."

What is Accountability Now ? Ask Stein

Some of the most prominent names in progressive politics launched a major new organization on Thursday dedicated to pinpointing and aiding primary challenges against incumbent Democrats who are viewed as acting against their constituents' interests... it will actively target, raise funds, poll and campaign for primary challengers to members who are either ethically or politically out-of-touch with their voters

Rutenberg concludes

"The new organization is in many ways the liberal equivalent of the Club for Growth,"

Brad Speculates "I think this is because Rutenberg likes incumbents because he has lunch with them."

I comment.

Yes that makes sense. There is a web based movement featuring two liberal bloggers and so we can assume that an unbiased story won't come from the dead tree establishment MSM where they practically are lobbyists and crooked congressmen but from an unbiased neutral liberal web journal.

Brad, you are inviting parody. The most obvious interpretation of the difference between the slants of Stein's and Rutenberg's articles is that Stein is friendly with Hampshire, Greenwald, move on and that guy Hauser who I don't read every day.

Let's see if I can criticize DeLong as you criticize Rutenberg.

" Brad DeLong's post on accountability Now's plan to support primary challengers against, among others, Democratic congressmen who are to the right of their consitituents is entitled "Trying to reduce the power of K Street." You may not know this but all US conservatives and centrists are on K-street which is very long and has paved over most of Utah.

There is no need to argue that the only reason anyone has views to the right of Hampshire is that he or she is bought off by K-Street. Ipsit quos loqueter or whatever (DeLong likes to toss in a bit of Latin but he has an unfair advantage cause he actually knows what it means).

For example, Brad himself is clearly to the right of Hampshire and even tolerates the evil Larry Summers and, gasp, once said that his choice for President was a banker -- Robert Rubin. This is explained by the fact that the evil banker Robert Rubin once bought him a coffee with extra cream and sugar at the Treasury caffeteria."

-Robert Rutenberg

Back to being me. There are reasons other than corruption which cause people to vote in ways displeasing to Hampshire and Greenwald. Also, they do not condemn the motives of the people they plan to challenge. Knowing they can't tell, they just say they will go by the numbers. Sincere conservatives representing liberal districts can't be distinguished from the tools of K-street. St Peter may or may not have to decide if the targets of accountability now were sincere, but sensible people don't try to read minds.

Now I personally have an objection to Rutenberg who wrote "But it also illuminates a deepening wrinkle for President Obama, whose attempt to build a broad governing coalition — often by tempering some of his more liberal previous positions — has already angered some of his supporters on the left." identifying "liberal" and "on the left." The liberal positions in question are liberal in the sense that Locke, Mill, DeLong, Hayek and Greenwald are liberals.

It appears that only the left thinks that the President is not above the law, that alleged crimes should be investigated if there is overwhelming evidence that the law was broken, that the state secrets privilege (which is not mentioned in the constitution) can be used to refuse to hand over subpoenaed evidence but not to force judges to dismiss cases, that the US can't grab people anywhere in the world (except the USA? I should wait to find out, but it looks like people arrested in the USA have habeas corpus rights again) based on executive fiat and hold them forever without trial and, of course, that the people must nationalize the means of production and grind the rich into hamburger (the last follows logically).

I consider myself a leftist, but I would never dream of claiming that the concept of the rule of law is our exclusive patremony parentemony.

Now are these the issues Rutenberg had in mind ? Well he referred to an organizatino of which Glenn Greewald and Jane Hampshire are leaders so he should have had them in mind.

I'd guess that the problem with Rutenberg isn't just that he is an insider and eats lunch with insiders (like Brad I guess that is part of the problem) but that he has decided that it would be improper for him to have any views on the merits of positions taken on the issues and, therefore, seems to have decided that it would be improper for him to keep the issues debate in his mind when he writes about politics as team sport and/or celebrity culture.

Atrios also claims that the Stein article is much more accurate. He doesn't speculate as to the role of lunches with incumbent congressmen.

Oh this is embarassing. I went over to Glenn Greenwald's blog looking for his criticisms of Obama from the far left where Hayek meets Orwell and read

UPDATE II: On an unrelated note, The New York Times today has an article on the launch of Accountability Now. As is always true with articles of this sort, one cannot control how the message is conveyed. There are many terms employed by the article ("liberal" and "left" and "progressive" and "centrist") that aren't accurate in terms of describing the central goal of the organization, but, for purposes of an article like that, the basic theme is correct enough.

I liked the Stein article too and I consider Greenwald to be the Orwell of our times.
I just donated $25 to Accountability Now here.


Anonymous said...

Having read the essay a couple of times I am not sure I understand what it is about, but I get the idea as always there are a bunch of supposed or pretend liberals who are intent on being as scary as the wildest of conservatives and Brad DeLong has become as scary as these pretending folks can become. Why? I have no idea, but DeLong is scary as can be.

Anonymous said...

The calumny against the New York Times, not against specific parts of specific articles in the Times but against the Times is beyond shameful and frightening for whatever influence there may be to the crusade.

Anonymous said...

March 3, 2009

New York Times Crashed-and-Burned Watch (Worst David Brooks Column Ever Edition)

-- Brad DeLong

Of course the New York Times is and was terrific this very day among other days, being the finest newspaper I have found anywhere in the world, but there is an evident need to harm the newspaper and intimidate the staff that is, I repeat, scary and shameful.

Robert said...

Anonymous I (first comment). I don't blame you for my incoherence. I get comments in my e-mail. Reading the comment, I had no idea what post was being commented on.

Anonymous II and III I assume you are someone else. Otherwise I misread comment 1. I'd say that Brad has made a very strong case against the NY Times and (even more so) the Washington Post over the past few years.

He'd suggest you read the Financial Times if you haven't found a newspaper better than the New York Times. I wouldn't know, I don't read The Financial Times regularly. I think he'd also list the news pagers of the Wall Street Journal and the McClatchey papers.

His main accusation is that, he claims, the NYTimes and the Washington Post slant their stories in order to maintain access. The Bush administration was willing to leak to them under some conditions. Brad argues that those conditions were inconsistent with quality journalism.

He is often intemperate, but he has built the case based on specific examples for years and it is, by now, quite impressive.

I still read the Washington Post (first news source of the day) and the New York Times (second) and then no newspaper third, so I can't be all that convinced.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the generous response which I will consider further.

For now I think the New York Times superb and cannot imagine any person reading the Financial Times for other than technical-economic reasons. There is at best a hint of culture, and the slant of the Financial Times is as obvious and intemperate as Lawrence Summers has always been obvious and intemperate. My take on the matter is that DeLong has been wildly intemperate in criticism of institutions and people when specific instances are enough. Character demeaning is not even criticism only....

No matter, I will consider further because of your fine response.

Anonymous said...

No; I do not in the least agree even though you are kind. DeLong is simply intent on censoring and intimidating reporters and analysts and damaging the institutions they work for, definitely so the New York Times, and DeLong is not interested in criticism. Intimidation is not criticism.

Robert said...

I'll be frank. I don't know about The Financial Times -- I don't read it. On Brad, although I have no evidence, I believe that he is working the refs, that is deliberately trying to intimidate as you argue. I repeat, I have no evidence for this suspicion.

It's just that on the blogs which he and I read it has been remarked many times that the right has managed to intimidate the press and, hypothetically, if someone on the left did the same coverage would be more balanced.

I think Brad is also very angry about the behavior of the press when he was a deputy assistant secretary. The gross bias against Clinton really was extreme (and the New York Times was a very bad offender Also the rules of slant for access really got on his nerves (I don't have the link but it was negative slant to punish Summers for too little access).

So there may be some strategy there (cui bono) but the anger is real.