Political Animal


May 14, 2013 5:26 PM Day’s End and Night Watch

By Ed Kilgore

As I’ve said before at PA, I’ve never liked scandal politics, even when it’s the “bad guys” being implicated. At best, it reinforces the imprecise and often dead-wrong “they’re all crooks and liars” syndrome that “false-equivalency” media feed on. And at worst, it destroys perspective, as reporters and political enemies plunge into alleged cover-ups of cover-ups and real-life issues fade further and further into the distance. But as a news-cycle blogger I can’t ignore what the whole hep world is talking about, and can only hope it doesn’t last as long as it looks like it will right now.

Here are some final news and views for this particular day:

* CNN’s Jake Tapper reveals that actual email sent by White House on Benghazi! talking points undermines the whole conspiracy theory.

* Whoa! Steve King calls Gang of Eight immigration bill worse than Obamacare!

* TPM’s Tom Kludt provides handy list of GOP Members of Congress already talking about impeaching Obama.

* At Ten Miles Square, Jonathan Bernstein reminds us of the actual crimes at the heart of Watergate.

* At College Guide, Daniel Luzer reports that community college focus on workforce development actually seems to be succeeding, despite economic obstacles.

And in non-political news:

* Diverting update on O.J. Simpson’s efforts to secure a new trial on his robbery conviction on grounds of incompetent legal counsel. If we’re going back to the 1990s generally, might as well keep up with O.J.

That’s it for the day. Here again is Ry Cooder, this time accompanying Randy Newman and Linda Ronstadt in a New York performance of “Rider in the Rain” in 1983.


Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Bokonon on May 14, 2013 6:41 PM:

    If I was a cynical man, I would say that the GOP's goal in stirring up all these scandals and controversies is a distraction, and a way to avoid taking any action on immigration reform or the budget - this spring, this summer, or any time into the foreseeable future.

    Because BENGHAZI! BENGHAZI! trumps the normal business of government. Nothing will happen. Nothing will get done. Normal, functioning legislative process is something the GOP is finding impossible to deliver anyway, based on the vicious divisions in its own ranks. So - now they have created cover for themselves.

  • H-Bob on May 14, 2013 7:03 PM:

    The IRS Commissioner when the Teabaggers were "violated" was a Bush appointee !

    Oh yeah, Cheney certainly was "ready to go" from his secret, undisclosed location !

  • Joe Friday on May 14, 2013 7:20 PM:

    Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan sez: "We will not be dragged into the quagmire in Syria".

    WHAT ?

    What next, gambling at Rick's Cafe ?

  • Cranky Observer on May 14, 2013 7:51 PM:

    Speaking as a liberal who tends to vote Democratic, I don't think that simply ignoring the AP phone tapping situation is very good journalism or politics. Neolibs see things like that with much greater clarity than DFHs though, so I'm sure its all good.


    atsmand throughout - 1st try

  • howie on May 14, 2013 8:30 PM:

    Three of my favorite performers, at least until Linda became a superstar and a little too mainstream for my tastes.

    I wore out my copy of Cooder's Bop til You Drop...

  • Joe Friday on May 14, 2013 11:33 PM:


    It's not "phone tapping", it's phone records, as in a list of what numbers called what numbers and when.

  • Cranky Observer on May 15, 2013 7:59 AM:

    = = = It's not "phone tapping", it's phone records, as in a list of what numbers called what numbers and when. = = =

    Very nuanced! I'm aware of what pen registers and trap-and-trace are. Basically what the FBI was doing was a version of what was called traffic analysis in WWII, except that unlike the codebreakers in 1943 in today's world it is trivial to use this information (combined with information taken from Choicepoint, the credit card companies, and Facebook) to build up a detailed social network of the targets. As per Emptywheel, the goal presumably was and is to find out who was behind the criticism of Obama's drone attack program and shut them up (possibly with a quick rendition to Guantanamo).

    As I said though that's a very nuanced explanation that would never make it on the Sunday talk shows or in a chain e-mail. "AP phone tapping" is short, punchy, and gets the point across, even if not 100% accurate.


    eroSeyb fix - 1st try

  • Ron Byers on May 15, 2013 8:24 AM:

    Cranky, phone tapping isn't 10% accurate and it isn't traffic analysis in the WWII sense. The DOJ was operating with appropriate legal paper tracking down a serious leak at the behest of Republicans in Congress by finding out which official called which AP reporter to leak information. Get over it. If they were using the appropriate court orders, it is what the investigators at the DOJ are hired to do. If Republicans don't like what the DOJ did, they should pass a law legalizing leaking to the press. This is only a scandal because it involves the AP.

  • charles kane on May 15, 2013 10:30 AM:

    Ronstadt! She was something else -gorgeous voice.

  • Joe Friday on May 15, 2013 11:37 AM:

    Just to clarify, I wasn't defending the actions of the Justice Department (for one, not all the facts are in evidence), but merely pointing out that these are not recordings of phone conversations, but just a record of what phone number called what phone number and when. Obviously two WILDLY different endeavors.