Moulitsas: 'I'm #2'

A mostly political Weblog.
July 3 2006 6:19 PM

Moulitsas: 'I'm #2"

Come for the Kos. Stay for the Burkle!

Patterico has the solution for responsible newspapers seeking to publish reports revealing sensitive national security secrets without the worry that people will read them: TimesSelect! I knew it would be good for something. .... 11:23 P.M.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Megalomaniacal Moulitsas Quote of the Day: Too good to check and make sure  it was accurately translated into Swedish and back again (but feel free):

"I wouldn't want to be a senator or congressman. I'm able to influence politics much more effectively doing what I do. Now I can shape the national political debate. The only way I could exert more influence would be if I were president."

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David Brooks had a point! ... P.S.: And Mark Warner certainly seeems to not want to piss him off. ... 4:17 P.M.

"Jeez. Why are you spending so much time on Kos," I'm often asked by exasperated readers. "We come to your site for Burkle." Good point! ... In this month's Los Angeles, Steve Oney takes you inside Team Burkle as PR man Mike Sitrick and his billionaire client have a conference call to decide whether to tell the truth. ... P.S.: It turns out Burkle didn't actually write the WSJ op-ed piece that appeared under his name. It was "ghosted by Sitrick." Who knew? Needless to say, the piece called for stricter journalistic standards of ethics. ... 3:35 P.M.

Influence Peddler claims Larry Sabato has written something "very interesting."  I deny it. ... 2:53 P.M.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

David Brooks' timeline of Kos' allegiance-switch in the Ohio U.S. Senate race may or may not be tendentiously garbled, but here's a credible and seemingly definitive account on Buckeye State Blog by a bitter supporter of the candidate Kos abandoned. It's still pretty damning. How damning? Let's say there are four levels of possible Kos corruption:

Hypothetical Level 1 Kosola: Kos' buddy Jerome Armstrong is hired by campaign X and gets Kos to switch allegiances to X--and Kos switches, knowing there's something monetary in it for him, Kos, if he does. To my knowledge, nobody has made a case for this in Ohio.

Hypothetical Level 2 Kosola: Kos switches allegiance when Candidate X pays money to Armstrong (by hiring him), not to Kos. This is the level of corruption suggested for the Ohio case by the misleading timeline offered by Brooks. But Armstrong seems to have been hired by Candidate X before Kos initially endorsed X's opponent (and then flipped).

Less-Hypothetical Level 3 Kosola: Kos' support isn't contingent on any money changing hands, but Armstrong consciously (if not explicitly) sells his "access" to Kos as part of what a candidate gets when he hires Armstrong. This would be standard Washington-style influence-peddling on Armstrong's part. It's not illegal, but it's corrupt in my book--and at least used to be corrupt in most "progressive" books. But it's not as corrupt as Levels 1 and 2.

Level 4 Kosola, a.k.a. Accidental Kosola or One-Sided Kosola: Armstrong doesn't realize he's selling access to Kos; he's just naively doing his consulting thing. If candidates want to pay him money thinking he's going to deliver Kos--well, that's what they think. He's not really aware of their thoughts. It just all works out for him!

Brooks doesn't nail Kos on Level 2, as noted, and the Buckeye State blogger doesn't really allege either Levels 1 or 2 either. He suggests a nasty version of Level 3, but phrases it as a question. ... Those who still hope for a Level 1 case might do well to more precisely follow the flow of advertising money that Armstrong's candidates sluice to "netroots" bloggers, including Kos, according to Buckeye State.

P.S: Armstrong has blogged breezily in his own defense.

Let me just state for the record that any payola allegations or some quid pro quo deal involving Markos and myself are complete fabrications.

'No Quid Pro Quo' is of course the life-giving motto of Level 3 "access" peddlers. ... Armstrong is also surprisingly effective at admitting and charmingly deflating his astrological speculations, until you examine these sentences closely:

Down that line, I dabbled with planets and predictions in the most abstract manner, as one of several different predictive mathematical disciplines, when coming out of finances and into politics during my early blogging days (nobody is surprised that remembers the early 2001 days here), and since then have completely tapered out of it over time. So yea, the cons got me on this one being a little out of the ordinary… It has nothing to do with what I consult with in online political strategy. [Emphasis added]

Hmm. From "finances" to "astrology" into "politics" in a seemingly easy progression. What is the common element in Armstrong's blogging efforts in these three successive areas? Answer: BS!  Armstrong defended  bad stocks, then he defended junk theories of the universe, then he conned a generation of Democrats into thinking they were going to win the 2002 midterms! Now he's promoting Mark Warner. ... Edwards supporter Neil Sinhababu's forceful post stresses that it was more than BS. It was BS dispensed "to people who trusted him." [via Chris' double-secret hidden blog ] ... 9:59 P.M. link

The Senate Starts to Crumble? Who said that when it comes to immigration reform it's the 'Senate bill or nothing'?* It sure looks like  Senate conference leader Arlen Specter is moving rapidly, if not desperately, in the House's 'enforcement-only' direction. Specter's now willing to accept making the Senate's guest worker and legalization programs "contingent on having a secure border," reports the Washington Times. Specter also said

"I don't think the Senate will pass a bill that's limited to [enforcement]."

No fair issuing sweeping categorical prohibitions! Throw the steering wheel out the window! [You mean that's a suprisingly weak formulation?--ed Yes. He doesn't "think." This is the pre-conference bluster period, remember. House members may think he might think different in a few months!]. ... P.S.: More Specter

"It may be down the line that we will come to some terms on a timetable, with border security first and employment verification first."

How about this face-saving timetable: Border security, first, employment verification first--and Congress promises that in a few years it will debate a legalization bill? Throw the man a lifeline! ...

*--Answer: Fred Barnes2:05 P.M. link

Monday, June 26, 2006

Bob Wright thinks David Brooks owes Kos a correction, and maybe an apology (and may even have some libel exposure). Shockingly, Wright has a point. ... 9:11 P.M. link

I've never met a career military man who was a conservative on social issues. I think they tend to see questions such as abortion and marriage as essentially uninteresting, private and not subject to the movement of machines.

MP's conclusions (see also  here and here) surprisingly confirm Noonan's point with respect to one part of the military population. ... P.S.: I'm not sure most polls will capture Noonan's point--she may have been describing military types who will self identify as "conservative" in surveys, and answer "yes" to poll questions about, say, whether abortion should be banned, but who essentially don't care that much about such issues. Note also that only 19% of military "careerists" wanted to ban abortion "entirely". ... P.P.S.: It might be revealing to compare the views of the white males who predominate in the officer corps with the views of white males in the civilian population. 9:11 P.M. link

I'm on the East Coast and there is flooding in the area, but all essential kausfiles employees have reported for work! I credit my Pat Riley-esque motivational techniques.  7:45 P.M.

Defining Defeat Down: Does TNR's Spencer Ackerman really think it would necessarily be a "defeat"  if Iraqi PM Nouri Al Maliki proceeds with

a reconciliation plan ... that essentially uses anti-occupation sentiment to unite the country, which means offering the Sunni insurgents amnesty for anti-U.S. attacks and demands a timetable for U.S. withdrawal.

Technically, Ackerman only says that this is what Bush "has defined for over a year as defeat," after which he links to a Bush talk that demonstrates no such thing. ... In the linked talk, Bush says it would be a defeat if "If the United States of America leaves before this Iraqi government can defend itself and sustain itself and govern itself ... " But of course the Maliki plan is designed precisely to create a government that can sustain itself. If the plan succeeds, it doesn't seem like a "defeat" in either Bush's definition or in reality. ... Is Ackerman so determinedly hostile to Bush that he's rushing to redefine relative success in Iraq as a "defeat"? Is he worried that Maliki's plan might work? You make the call! ... 5:51 P.M.

Read My Lips. No New Planets! Mark Warner's plea to  Jerome Armstrong? ... P.S.: Favorite Armstrong Astroworld quote:

It's not a stretch to trace the whole internet back to the Uranus/Neptune conjunction in Capricorn ...

Already you can see the Warner anti-Gore strategy taking shape. ("You invented the Internet? Tell it to Uranus!") [via Plank5:36 P.M. link

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Oxygen: The Kosola story has made the leap into non-cyberspace! But not the leap over the TimesSelect wall. ... Update: Newsweek gives it a  value-adding MSM graf. ...

P.S.: Kos responds  to David Brooks' column, with characteristic attention to the merits:

They can praise us, they can trash us, they can ignore us, and ultimately none of that will matter as long as we keep doing what we've been doing.

Whether we succeed or not will depend on our own efforts. Not those of anyone else.

Hmm. Mark Warner may have something to do with it too. If he cuts his aide (and Kos buddy) Jerome Armstrong loose, that won't be a great advertisement for the Kos team. Even if he doesn't, Warner must be rapidly approaching the point where his association with Armstrong has brought him more trouble than it has benefit. ......

P.P.S.: The National Journal's Beltway Blogroll derogates that astrology angle:

Armstrong is a fan of astrology -- the implication being that he is not to be taken seriously. This would be one of those bizarre storylines I mentioned ... . The revelation doesn't seem relevant to anything and sounds like the beginnings of a smear campaign much like the one directed at conservative blogger Ben Domenech earlier this year.

Why isn't it relevant? The argument "if he believes X, how can we trust his judgment on Y" often provokes righteous outrage (when applied, for example, to Carter-era Democrats who were followers of EST, or Scientologists).  I suppose the fear is that the "if he believes X" argument opens up the door to disputes between religions. The trouble is, it's a perfectly logical and reasonable argument to make--even if you can't always make it in public. Mormon Mitt Romney may be about to discover this....

If I were Armstrong I'd try to figure out a way to get the S.E.C.'s blessing to tell my side of the story quickly. ... 8:14 P.M.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who previously declared aides saw an "aura" of light around him when he spoke to the U.N., today boasted

I know I have sort of arrived in a scary way, because now I'm not being attacked for what I've said and done.  People are making stuff up about me now.  They're inventing things.  And so I know now I'm on a different plane.

The prospect of this man getting hold of nuclear weapons is frightening indeed. ... Oh, wait. That wasn't Ahmadinejad at all. Sorry. ... The nuclear thing still holds, though. ... 12:33 A.M.

Friday, June 23, 2006

To the Moon! Dan Riehl  and Red  State  bloggers offer tidbits about Mark Warner aide Jerome Armstrong that are strange enough for me to worry they're some sort of trick to trap bloggers into libeling Kos' buddy. Read them with appropriate wide-eyed skepticism. You're allowed to smile, though. ... Wizbang argues:

The Warner and [Sherrod] Brown campaigns are in a bind. Dropping Armstrong is the logical course of action, but it they do they risk losing the support of Kos, whose support seems to correlate pretty strongly to Armstrong's employment.

Meanwhile, Chris Suellentrop's refrigerator light is on again, but the door is still closed. ... Just between you and me, Suellentrop notes that Armstrong is in a bind too:

Moulitsas also suggests in his e-mail that Armstrong himself will "go on the offensive" about the story in "a couple of months," but that's highly unlikely. Armstrong has accepted a permanent injunction that prohibits him from asserting his innocence, or from asking his friends to assert it. The injunction states that Armstrong has agreed "not to take any action or to make or permit to be made any public statement denying, directly or indirectly, any allegation in the complaint or creating the impression that the complaint is without factual basis."

Binds all around. 11:38 P.M.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Mo' Kosola: [See correction below ]  Kos publicly defends himself--but not Armstrong, who is probably the main person we want to hear from. Jason Zengerle responds, noting that Kos'

restatement that he is not a consultant still does not answer the serious questions that have been raised about his relationship with Armstrong and whether there is some arrangement by which politicians who hire Armstrong as a consultant then receive Kos's support.

Zengerle also quotes from some Kos-sympathizers on the secretive liberal "Townhouse" mailing list who were troubled by the Kosola allegations. (Sample: "I dont see how this can be ignored. We should all write in defense of this once we know the facts. Jerome?") ... Jerome? ... Confusion-generating update: See  Gilliard's questioning of that e-mail. Correction and update: Zengerle now agrees Gilliard  didn't write the email. But did anyone, or was it a fake? ...

P.S.: Kos repeats a boast he made in his "Townhouse" email, that the YearlyKos staffers

got a whole slew of corrections and apologies in response to pieces in the NY Times and Slate

There has been no correction or apology by Slate that I can find. There was a correction and apology on Bob Wright's bloggingheads.tv. ... 1:05 P.M. link

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Kos Wants Silence! TNR's  Jason Zengerle has discovered one reason why normally fierce Kos defenders have been strangely silent on the Kosola controversy: In a message to "'Townhouse,' a private email list comprising elite liberal bloggers"--the authenticity of which seems to be undisputed--DailyKos founder Markos Moulitsas has issued a

request to you guys [that] that you ignore this for now. It would make my life easier if we can confine the story. Then, once Jerome [Armstrong] can speak and defend himself, then I'll go on the offensive ... and anyone can pile on. If any of us blog on this right now, we fuel the story. Let's starve it of oxygen.

A shrewd strategy, designed to prevent the Kosola scandalette from "making the jump to the traditional media." I've pursued the identical strategy myself, in analogous circumstances, though with a far less powerful and centralized institutional apparatus. So far, the "sheep-like" Kositburo members have largely complied. ...

The email also contains a cursory defense of Kosbuddy Jerome Armstrong signing a suggestive consent decree with the SEC ("he was a poor grad student at the time so he settled because he had no money"), plus some thuggy blustering about "lawsuits" and "exploring legal options."  Kos offers no defense, in Zengerle's account, on the central moral (not legal) corruption at the heart of the Kosola scandal: whether one thing you get when you buy Jerome Armstrong's services is highly effective "access" to his co-author Kos--access that in practice affects Kos' loyalties and the direction he sends his followers. If that's the case, it seems just as corrupt (and just as non-illegal) as when a former Tom Delay aide sells himself to corporate clients in part on the basis of his "access" to the bigshot he used to work for.  That's business as usual  in Washington--but I thought the Kos reformers were supposed to be different.

If Armstrong did, as the S.E.C. alleged, tout an iffy Internet stock in exchange for "undisclosed compensation,"  that a) illustrates that some things that are legal in politics are less legal in business; b) suggests that, instead of following the traditional path to Beltway corruption--youthful idealism gradually transformed into mature access-peddling--Armstrong may have had a non-idealistic attitude from the start; and c) raises suspicions that Armstrong's candidate-touting generally has been less sincere than previously suspected (which in turn undermines the credibility of those, like Kos, who've let themselves be influenced by Armstrong).

Is the newly-discovered Kositburo itself a sinister institution? In recent years the right has behaved as if it had some sort of shadowy de facto steering committee. You figured the Left must have something like that--how else to explain why an antiwar site like Huffington Post would suddenly decide to  seize the cheap partisan opportunity to posture as patriotic by making a show of opposing the Iraqi governments attempts to end violence through an amnesty program  (and mocking the GOP's failure to similarly posture)? Maybe Arianna got a "Townhouse" email! ...

Meanwhile, the vaunted, all-powerful Right Wing Noise Machine turns out to be a guy in Jersey! ..

P.S.: The Kosola controversy offers more proof, if you needed it, of the folly of TimesSelect. Do you doubt that Chris Suellentrop's initial scoop about Jerome Armstrong's alleged stock touting would be march harder for the Kositburo to bottle up if it hadn't been stuck behind the TimesSelect subscription wall? I'd say TimesSelect cut its impact by at least 50%. .... You'd think the guy who guided the disastrous Times Select experiment would get kicked to the side and given an assignment in far-off Asia, where he could do little further damage, instead of ...  oh wait. ...

 

P.P.S.: The official NYT memo announcing Len Apcar's new assignment  does not contain, in the section boasting of his many accomplishments, the sentence "He initiated TimesSelect." Kf's subtle Pravda-like reading of the memo therefore extracts this meaning: TimesSelect is dead. They'll pull the plug within a year. ...

 

See also: Excellent posts at Red State, where "Trevino" notes a) that Kos & Co. are behaving like "the Armstrong revelations have them scared," and b) there have long been suspicions about Kosola-esque dealings, and theyv'e been "more on the left ... than the right." ... 10:11 P.M.  link

 

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Kosolafest, 2006: Jim Geraghty has posted a "comprehensive Kos-Armstrong" timeline, which he claims shows an "interesting pattern." (The pattern:Buy one, get one free!) ... I debate the issue with Bob Wright here. Wright pooh-poohs the scandal. I say you don't have to have illegality to have corruption, and this situation reeks of corruption. ... Joyner tends to the Wright view, claiming there's only "one strike" against Kos. ... What about Ohio12:40 P.M.  link

No Time For NEXIS! Krugman's Hours Too Valuable**:

Thus in 2004, President Bush basically ran as America's defender against gay married terrorists. He waited until after the election to reveal that what he really wanted to do was privatize Social Security.

--"Class War Politics," Paul Krugman, New York Times, June 19, 2006, Page 19. [Emphasis added]

President Bush's vision of an ''ownership society'' is built, as much as anything else, on a sweeping promise: that he will transform Social Security so younger workers can divert some of their payroll taxes into private investment accounts.

At a rally in Pennsylvania last week, Mr. Bush declared, as he does at almost every campaign stop nowadays, that ''younger workers ought to be able to take some of their taxes and set up a personal savings account, an account that they can call their own, an account that the government cannot take away and an account that they can pass on from one generation to the next.''

--"Bush Revisiting Social Security, And Fight Is On,"  by Robin Toner and David Rosenbaum, New York Times, September 17, 2004, Front Page. [Emphasis added]

**--This is an inaccurate shot, of course. Krugman doesn't need to check NEXIS--he remembers perfectly well that Bush campaigned on his Social Security plan. On October 19, a few weeks before the election, Krugman himself wrote that he'd "never believed Mr. Bush's budget promises" in part because "his broader policy goals, including the partial privatization of Social Security -- which is clearly on his agenda for a second term--would involve large costs ...." [Emphasis added] Bush's plan was misguided and costly, but it was hardly hidden from voters. 4:21 A.M. link

A stunningly cynical move by Senate Democrats. ... Note: The posturing Dems opposed amnesty  for all Iraqis "who have attacked ... members of the U.S. Armed Forces," not just those who've actually killed Americans. [Emphasis added] That would seem to rule out amnesty for most of the insurgents the Iraqi government is trying to win over, no? .... 3:45 A.M.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Influence Peddler  dissents from the emerging  herd wisdom that--thanks to the unpopularity of the Senate's legalization approach with actual voters--there will be no immigration bill before the election. Thanks to the unpopularity of the Senate's legalization approach with actual voters there will be a bill, IP predicts. It will be a House-style, enforcement-oriented bill that will give Democrats fits. According to this theory, which I buy, Speaker Hastert's current intransigence is a feint. ... P.S.: But isn't the House-Senate conference committee stacked with pro-legalization types? IP explains why this is not an insoluble problem. ... 6:34 P.M.

Friday, June 16, 2006

It's a Connecticut Thing: Ryan Sager thinks Joe Lieberman's new campaign ad is awful. So does Josh Marshall. You make the call. .. P.S.: It seems juvenile to me. But doesn't its effectiveness hinge on whether (and how much) Connecticut Democrats hate Lowell Weicker? ... Update: The ad  revives a cartoon Lieberman used 18 years ago, and may be designed to  remind state voters why they elected Lieberman in the first place. ... 3:19 P.M.

Touting Mark Warner--Suellentrop's Secret Scooplet: If the NYT's Chris Suellentrop had a scooplet about Kos crony/Mark Warner payee Jerome Armstrong and the S.E.C. but nobody read it--because it a) wasn't in the NYT print edition and b) on the Web it was stuck behind the TimesSelect subscription wall--would it make a sound? ... Update: Not total silence. ... But not totally behind the subscription wall either. ... More: The Plank has an excerpt:

[S]ome people ... compare the blog boomlet [Kos and Armstrong] helped create for Dean to the work of online bulletin-board posters who touted dodgy Internet stocks during the boom market without disclosing that they were being paid for their words.

Which, interestingly, is precisely what the Securities and Exchange Commission, in court documents filed last August, alleges that Jerome Armstrong did in 2000. (The original S.E.C. complaint is here.) In a subsequent filing, the S.E.C. alleges that "there is sufficient evidence to infer that the defendants secretly agreed to pay Armstrong for his touting efforts" on the financial Web site Raging Bull.

Without admitting or denying anything, Armstrong has agreed to a permanent injunction that forbids him from touting stocks in the future. The S.E.C. remains in litigation with him over the subject of potential monetary penalties.

Next question--Suellentrop's Props: If Suellentrop breaks a story behind the TimesSelect wall, and the story gets out, will he get credit for his scoop? Not  here. .. TimesSelect could become a secluded free-fishing zone for reporters from other publications. In this case, the TimesSelect wall lets the New York Post get credit for a New York Times scoop. Good work, Pinch!  ... Caveat: Is it really possible that this story didn't come out in late 2003, when Armstrong is said by the Post to have "signed off on" the settlement of the S.E.C. charges? I can't find a mention on Nexis or in Wikipedia, but I have a vague memory of something like this .... I'd check Suellentrop's published version again ... if I could get to it. But it seems to have re-disappeared behind the TimesSelect wall. Another example of TimesSelect inhibiting the blogosphere's search for truth! ...

More: Here's a roundup of blog reactions, including agonizing Kossacks! ... 2:45 P.M. [Updated 6/18] link

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Peggy Noonan on some unexpected pockets of non-party-line sentiment:

I've never met a career military man who was a conservative on social issues. I think they tend to see questions such as abortion and marriage as essentially uninteresting, private and not subject to the movement of machines. (Connected to this, I suspect [Democratic Senate candidate James] Webb will benefit to some degree by the high number of military retirees in Virginia. They're always assumed to be hawks on Iraq. From personal experience I'd say a high percentage have been dubious about the war, many from the beginning.) [Emphasis added]

This observation--and the parallel, more common claim that Kos followers are actually free-floating reformers conspicuously un-anchored to any of the traditional Democratic interest groups (e.g. unions)--might be two keys to winning a large majority for a non-warlike, centrist, candidate, no? ... 2:18 P.M.

kf's Evil Triangle of Triangulation: If you've read this far it's already too late!  Wilbur argues this site is a "critical joint" in the Republican media maniplation machine--"not the canary in the coal mine but the person who carries it in"! (The coal?) Maybe we can sell that blurb to the advertisers. ... P.S.: But does he link? ... Update: Wilbur describes me as a "Dickensonian character." This is an obvious misspelling. He means "Dickersonian"--he's saying I remind him of Slate's charismatic chief political correspondent, John Dickerson. ... 2:05 P.M. 

On Iraq, Clinton's problem is that it's such an intensely polarizing issue where there's no middle ground - and most Democrats are intensely against it.

That leaves Clinton twisting herself in bizarre pretzel shapes as she claims to be against President Bush's "open-ended commitment," but also against setting "a date certain" to withdraw.

I join in mocking Hillary's politically-damaging stand--the "kind of tangled straddle-speak [that] killed 2004 loser John Kerry"--except isn't it, you know ... the right position (whether or not the war was a bad gamble in the first place)? ... 1:13 P.M.

Did you know that Rush Limbaugh is represented by Sitrick and Company? Suddenly he seems guiltier! ... 12:34 P.M.

Mastio says Thomas Friedman left something out in his anti-GM op-ed. ... (Or maybe Gail Collins did.) ...P.S.: Friedman's super-sized (1,100 word) response would seem like overkill--unless the NYT thinks GM's blogging  might have actually embarrassed them. ... 11:04 P.M.

Kevin Drum and Matt Yglesias are skeptical of the Daily Kos crowd's enthusiasm for Virginia's ex-Gov. Mark Warner. Indeed, isn't Warner a Democratic Leadership Council type of the sort the Kossacks ordinarily loathe? (The one time I've seen Warner in person was at a DLC event during the 2004 Democratic Convention, where he was proudly presented by DLC chief Al From). You don't think that Warner's popularity with Markos Moulitsas ("Governor Mark Warner in Virginia has delivered") could have anything to do with Warner's hiring of Moulitsas' buddy, Jerome Armstrong, do you? (Cilizza does.)  I mean, if a candidate or corporation hired, say,Tom DeLay's buddy and then gotten strangely good play at a DeLay-run convention, nobody on the left would raise a peep, right? ... Update: See  TPM discussion. b... P.S.: If The Kos is now moving in a respectable, big-tent, just-looking-for-results direction, doesn't that make it less likely that (unlike McCain) they would  resort to the "third party in a laptop" gambit anytime soon? ... Of course, one feature of Internet-based politics is that players can now reverse course very quickly. So the third-party threat is always there. ... 2:08 P.M.

Columnist Thomas Friedman on the genius of TimesSelect:"I hate it. ... I feel totally cut off from my audience."  But at least the NYT's stock is up. ...  Just kidding! ... [Thanks to NewsAlert] 9:04 P.M.

kf Calibrates Its Outrage: I rag on Markos Moulitsas for his 2004 "screw them" comment  about the four American security contractors killed in Fallujah. That comment was more offensive than anything Ann Coulter's book is currently being criticized for. But I have to say that just as Coulter's comments become much less shocking when read in context (Chapter 4 of Godless, criticizing the press canonization of four highly political, pro-Kerry 9/11 widows), Moulitsas' comment also becomes more understandable when you read it on its original page, which is here  [search for "screw"]. As his subsequent  childhood-blaming non-apology apology makes clear, he thinks he's making a distinction between Americans who are "trying to help the people make Iraq a better place" and mercenaries who voluntarily accept risk in exchange for cash. True, that distinction breaks down under inspection (the people trying to make Iraq a better place rely on the mercenaries, who are also human beings). And only someone who doesn't want the U.S. to succeed in Iraq would say what Moulitsas said. Still, it's less odious than I'd thought.  ... P.S.:  But it's still worse than Coulter! Yet  Tim Russert and the rest of the MSM are falling over themselves giving respect to Kos. Is this due to a) liberal bias or b) Kos' seemingly determined Graydon-Carteresque attempt to make himself presentable** and join the club [$] he's been attacking? I suspect (b). Coulter would be on Meet the Press too if she decided to tone herself down. [But she wouldn't have gotten famous in the first place if she'd toned herself down--ed. Right. It's all in the timing!] ...

**--Dickerson says Kos is maintaining his "snotty arrogance." (Sample: "I reach more people than most of these publications that are interviewing me—I don't need them.") But on Meet he was sweet. Don't tell me he was faking it! ...

Update: The Crank disagrees. ... P.S.: He argues it's not about Kos "the person," but rather "the community"! I'd feel better about this community if every member who wrote me didn't robotically parrot this same argument, whether apposite or inapposite. I remember a science fiction phenomenon like thatThe Kos! Will Mark Warner be assimilated? ... Anyway,  I was writing about Kos, "the person."... 5:25 P.M. link

Fitzbust: kf's go-to site on Plamegate, Tom Maguire's JustOneMinuterises to the occasion  this morning with informed speculation on a) why Fitzgerald gave up on indicting Karl Rove and b) why Fitzgerald also hasn't indicted another prominent Bush administration figure who's less controversial (because he's no partisan gunslinger):

Look, the fellow who leaked to Woodward and Novak is (IMHO) Richard Armitage, former Deputy Secretary of State, and an indictment seems to be unlikely.  I am not sure why that is, but I think that, in FitzgeraldWorld, Libby was part of a vicious White House conspiracy to make Joe Wilson cry; Armitage was just flapping his gums about a CIA operative.  That's a big difference.

But Maguire doesn't think Armitage is completely out of the woods. .. Contrarian Spin O' the Day: Since Rove is presumably a key figure helping to drive the Bush adminstration into domestic policy oblivion--by pursuing his ancient dream of buying off the Hispanic vote for generations with a mass-legalization of illegals--Fitzgerald's failure to indict Rove was a victory for the Democrats! They need to keep Rove on the job. [Do you actually believe this?-ed No. I can't quite believe Rove won't advocate compromising on a "security-only" immigration bill when the crunch comes. Until then, the Bush administration's futile pro-legalization push might be intended simply to minimize the long-term damage to the party among Hispanics.].. . Better Contrarian Spin: It's a plus for Dems because now they can focus on issues voters actually care about instead of issues YearlyKos panels care about. ... Plus Rove's magic is going.   ... 12:46 P.M. link

Coulter and Kinsley's Dictum #4: I suspect Bob Wright thinks he kept his cool in this exchange more than he actually did (especially if you play it, as recommended, at 1.2X speed) ... 1:33 A.M.

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Nov. 25 2014 3:21 PM Listen to Our November Music Roundup Hot tracks for our fall playlist, exclusively for Slate Plus members.