Pretty woman ...


Great Moments in Unnecessary Anonymous Sourcing:

A person familiar with Mr. Geithner's thinking who was not authorized to speak publicly said that there was "no secret handshake" between the New York Fed and Goldman, describing such speculation as a conspiracy theory.

-- Julie Creswell and Ben White, "The Guys From 'Government Sachs', " Sunday's New York Times.

Really, the guy needed anonymity to deny something that no one in the world would ever profess to believing? What would they have given him if he said there was a "secret handshake?" A Cadillac?

What this country needs is more reporting -- or so right-wingers keep insisting, sort of. First, Rep. Michelle Bachmann on Hardball:

What I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look -- I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America, or anti-America? I think people would love to see an expose like that.

Rudy Giuliani is also disappointed in the level of journalistic inquiry:

GIULIANI: You can't even -- you can't even raise these issues. And, you know, God forbid somebody would do some reporting on Barack Obama's use of drugs. I guess that was the point that Mrs. McCain's lawyer made.

And it's true -- Mrs. McCain's lawyer did make that point in a letter to the New York Times.

It is worth noting that you have not employed your investigative assets looking into Michelle Obama. You have not tried to find Barack Obama's drug dealer that he wrote about in his book, Dreams of My Father. Nor have you interviewed his poor relatives in Kenya and determined why Barack Obama has not rescued them. Thus, there is a terrific lack of balance here.

Calls for more reporting are not uncommon, as readers of this space know -- we've asked for more coverage of the war in Afghanistan, U.S. torture policy, investigations at the Office of Special Counsel, and so on.

It's no secret -- at least, it ought not to be a secret -- that these particular calls to journalistic arms are part of a continuing campaign war on the press, slamming reporters for not covering the "real" stories, like Obama's own admitted flirtation with drugs. For the record, the Times did run a 1,700-word story titled "Old Friends Say Drugs Played Bit Part in Obama's Young Life." By "do some reporting," we can assume that what they really mean is: "We demand that, once again, you rehash this non-newsworthy but politically advantageous story for our benefit."

We wrote yesterday that the McCain campaign was having pretty good success exercising authority over what narratives the media presents -- like "measuring the drapes" -- but these latest open calls for more stories on Obama's college drug connection seem to be a bit too much, a bit too obvious and tactless. For now...

Speaking of the Office of Special Counsel -- you'll recall our Think Again column on the scandal, which has largely flown beneath the MSM radar -- there is some news today. Scott Bloch, the head of that office, is going to resign in January.

Bloch's long list of offenses include the staffers who complained he intimidated and transferred employees who opposed his policies; Bloch was also accused of not protecting gay federal employees from discrimination. The FBI raided Bloch's office and home after he had been accused of destroying evidence and lying to Congress during the probe. (He paid over $1,000 to have his computer hard drive thoroughly erased by "Geeks on Call" during the investigation).

This was in early 2007 -- so why is his resignation not occurring until January 2009? If anyone has a better answer than the fact there's never been any real pressure to resign because the public has no idea what's been going on there, I'd like to hear it.

(Talking Points Memo, it should be noted, has been on Bloch since the beginning.)

McCain Suck-Up Watch: The Politico repeated Cindy McCain's assertion that "[t]he day that Sen. [Barack] Obama cast a vote not to fund my son when he was serving sent a cold chill through my body," but did not note that Sen. John McCain himself voted against legislation to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. More here.

George Zornick writes: Mark Halperin blares this morning that John McCain is "slamming Obama for his World Series flip flop."

Here's what McCain said, in the speech Halperin is referring to:

I heard that Senator Obama was showing some love to the Rays down in Tampa Bay yesterday. Now, I'm not dumb enough to get mixed up in a World Series between swing states, but I think I may have detected a little pattern with Senator Obama. It's pretty simple really. When he's campaigning in Philadelphia, he roots for the Phillies, and when he's campaigning in Tampa Bay, he shows love to the Rays.

Note that McCain tiptoes here -- he only says Obama "shows love to the Rays." Which, while in Tampa with some Rays players, Obama naturally did, while maintaining he is rooting for the Phillies:

Obama, who is White Sox fan, recently told a crowd in Philadelphia that he would be rooting for the National League champion Phillies now. But today, he tried to patch things up with Tampa baseball fans, by joking that he is a "unity candidate."

"I've said from the beginning that I am a unity candidate. Bringing people together so when you see a White Sox fan showing love to the Rays, and the Rays showing some love back, you know we're on to something right here," Obama said, "Congratulations to the Rays."

It seems obvious to me that Obama -- a true fan of neither of these teams -- can "show love" to the Rays, and congratulate them, without actually rooting for them. So McCain is just making trouble, and even he hedges his words so as to suggest a flip-flop, but not actually say it. But, of course, Halperin takes it home and writes of "Obama's World Series flip flop."

Just want to be clear about these things.

Jim Naureckas at FAIR has some questions for Howard Kurtz.

Quote of the Day: "'I have information; I have people who trust me. What else am I going to do? I love golf and tennis and if I was good enough, I'd be professional. Since I'm not, what am I gonna do? Why shouldn't I be energetic? Our whole country is at stake. We have never had a situation like this. These men have completely ruined America. It's so depressing, my business!'" -- Sy Hersh.

From ANP:

Even after plenty of forewarning, it seems like battleground state Pennsylvania's upcoming election could be a disaster waiting to happen. The media isn't paying attention, and the man charged with running Election Day is glad of it. He scoffed at these voting "problems," suggesting that voters should not only prepare to wait in line, but that they should "get a life" and wait in line. In fact, he shared many startling opinions with ANP. That's here.

Alter-reviews: Lucinda Williams, Roy Orbison, "Sports Night" and Katherine Anne Porter

Little Honey -- Lucinda Williams

I read a lot of complaint about the new Lucinda Williams album from people who think she only sounds righteous when she's depressed. I beg to differ. Her own personal happiness aside, I've had enough of that sad puppy, as great as she was, for a while. I like the funky new record just out on Lost Highway, called Little Honey. Of the tracks, by far my favorite is the funny one with Elvis Costello, about what a nogoodnik he is, called "Jailhouse Tears." I even like her AC/DC cover, something I never thought I'd say. She also makes great use of the beautiful harmonies of Matthew Sweet, Susanna Hoffs, Jim Lauderdale, Tim Easton and the great Charlie Louvin. Really, more info is here.

The Soul of Rock and Roll -- Roy Orbison

How can it be that it's taken us this long to get a really good Roy Orbison box? Well, our friends at Legacy come to the rescue with a new four-disc collection of 107 Roy Orbison songs, including hits, live performances, rarities, demos and 12 previously unreleased tracks Called The Soul of Rock and Roll, it spans all phases of Orbison's career from early recordings by the Wink Westerners and The Teen Kings through his final -- and unreleased -- performance in December 1988. Roy's later period is actually much underrated, and I don't just mean the Wilburys. He remained a vital, inventive musician long after most people stopped paying attention. (Check out both his final album as well as his appearance on the first season of SCTV if you doubt this.) Anyway, this box does justice to the latter Orbison, which will come as a surprise to many, and contains all of the hits. Roy is one artist for whom a single or even a double greatest hits package is nowhere near enough, though a certain lack of attention to the quality of the songs he recorded early on makes him a perfect candidate for a carefully chosen box set like this one. (Even so, everybody with a pulse should own the DVD of A Black and White Night, which is not only beautiful but also quite moving). The packaging is handsome and the book and liner notes are better than adequate, though not quite terrific. For more, go here.

Sports Night: The Complete Series, 10th Anniversary Edition

Sports Night was Aaron Sorkin's first television series -- he teamed up with director Thomas Schlamme, and while this series was canceled too soon, the pair went on to make The West Wing and Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip. Sports Night also saw early performances from several future television stars including Rachel's cousin, Josh Malina, and his really cute girlfriend on the show whose name I don't know. The show is about a SportsCenter-esque broadcast, but that's just an excuse for Sorkin-esque banter and hugs. This anniversary edition, out on Shout! Factory, has all the episodes, plus extra stuff, like a 36-page booklet on the show. More information is here.

The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter -- Library of America

The newest volume of the LOA features Katherine Anne Porter, whom Edmund Wilson called "a first-rate artist" who wrote "English of a purity and precision almost unique in contemporary American fiction," is the subject of a new Library of America collection. The centerpiece is her shorter writings, collected in The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter. There are also short nonfiction writings, including speeches, notes, and essays on the writer's craft, literary reflections on Hardy, Pound, and Welty, political dispatches from revolutionary Mexico, and a personal history of the Sacco-Vanzetti case. It was edited by Darlene Harbour Unrue, a professor of English at the University of Nevada. I'm sold, and you can learn more here.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Ben Miller
Hometown: Washington, DC

Mr. Alterman,

Watching Tom Brokaw on Meet the Press with Colin Powell, I was just waiting to hear his unfair, slanted questions that really have nothing to do with anything. And he did not disappoint. He asked Colin Powell if he thought that William Ayers needed to renounce his past actions? Besides the fact that the entire Ayers story is absurd, what could Powell possibly have to say about what Ayers should do, and even if it did, what would it possibly matter? It was as if Brokaw sat up all night, trying to figure out some way, any way, to make sure he brought up Ayers to Powell, and that was the best he came up with.

Name: Larry Howe
Hometown: Oak Park, IL

Eric --

The McCain flap about Obama "measuring the drapes" got picked up very quickly by the media despite the fact that transition teams are often in place at this point in the campaign, as you point out. What didn't get a lot of play outside of the blogosphere is that McCain, too is measuring the drapes. And here's the kicker: leading the drape measuring team is William Timmons, who among other things was lobbyist for Saddam Hussein, in efforts to reduce sanctions imposed by the US and allies.

Name: Dwayne Hardin
Hometown: Austin, TX

I think Krugman deserves another award. He was the first in the MSM to call Bush a liar and actually use the word "liar."

Name: Alan
Hometown: Holland, PA

About the capital gains tax. It seems to me that Brit Hume's argument would be the exact one I would use AGAINST any capital gains tax decrease. If one of the major problems with Wall Street is that people now speculate there instead of invest, it would seem to me that it would be in the national interest to encourage long term investment and not the "gambling" that occurs now. A more reasonable approach might be to have different capital gains tax rates based on the length the asset was held, to encourage long term investment AND to offset the effects of inflation. For instance, gains made on assets owned less than 2 years would be taxed at 40%, 2 to 20 years at 25%, and over 20 years at 10%. This would not cripple people who sell family businesses, but would generate more long term thinking in both investments and business, as companies would receive investment dollars based more on long term rather than short term projections. After all, people would think long and hard about a company when tax incentives made it unprofitable to take out a "gain" in less than 20 years. It would almost be patriotic, investing in the USA's economy long-term, instead of raping and pillaging today's companies and leaving their carcasses for our kids. Just sayin'....

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