Media

Newt Gingrich takes on Chris Wallace — taking his cue from Bill Clinton

I’ve always seen similarities between Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton: the white fluffy hair, the out-there philandering, the lack of discipline, the big appetites, the lies, the hypocrisy — and, yes, the brilliance: the off-the-charts IQ, the love of history and ideas, the hyper-articulateness.

During the Fox News-sponsored Republican debate last night in Ames, Iowa, when former Speaker Gingrich blasted Chris Wallace, it brought me back to a day five years ago when former President Clinton set the stage for attacking the Fox News anchorman.

Wallace was left a sputtering puddle by Clinton; he did better in his tense exchange with Gingrich, but still, I think, came out the loser.

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Tea Party wins ... Who is Nick Gillespie?

Until this week Nick Gillespie was an unheard-of editor and writer except to those formidable few who admired his perseverance and looked forward to his rumpled commentary on Judge Napolitano’s Freedom Watch. Like Richard Farina in the rising folk scene of the early ’60s, aficionados knew him to be the original item and deeply admired him. But no one else did. This weekend the most mainstream of conservatives, George Will at The Washington Post, favorably reviewed his book, The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong With America. Today he is cited in The Wall Street Journal’s “Notable & Quotable.” Nick Gillespie has arrived. And so has the Tea Party.
 
The debt-ceiling debate has brought a change in the zeitgeist … the spirit of the times. That which was marginal is suddenly accepted. More than that. It is now the avant garde of a new political generation.

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Sarah Palin and the Hobbits

Interesting how the Wall Street Journal commentary referring to Tea Partiers as hobbits caught on after John McCain repeated it. Re: hobbits — Joseph Campbell wrote that myths reveal the deepest psychological passages of a people. The Lord of the Rings, by Oxford professor J.R.R. Tolkien, might be the most important myth of transition in modern times for the English-speaking people. I know a psychologist in Israel who says so. Because what the hobbits did was take the ring of power from golem and destroy both ring and golem. This can be seen in context of Rabbi Loeb of Prague’s great myth which introduced golem at the beginning of the modern age; golem the symbolic figure of rising unlimited power; golem the shadow which blocked the path of God and nature. The destruction of the ring and the golem allowed the world to be born again. Worth noting that the warrior Aragorn was not able to do that. Only the common people, the people of the earth, the hobbits, were.

McCain expressed a kind of alienation from the rising times; that something was happening ... again ... and he doesn’t know what it is. But those pesky Tea Partiers were certainly behind it.

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America’s deepening immorality

An utterly riveting cable TV show called “Love Crimes of Kabul” follows the stories of Afghan women who have been imprisoned for breaking strict Sharia law governing sex outside of marriage. Their crimes would be hardly recognizable in the United States: adultery, fornication, prostitution and lewd behavior have become pretty much the norm here.

In one fascinating episode, a young woman has become pregnant while unmarried. Her parents turn her in to the authorities in disgrace. Her father laments that each time he goes out in public he shields his face out of shame. The neighborhood gossip is unbearable, cries the mother. Her lover is also charged and awaits trial in a neighboring jail.

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Could Cameron be doomed by phone-hacking fallout?

Rupert Murdoch was “humbled” by the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. Today it was British Prime Minister David Cameron’s turn to eat humble pie for employing a former editor of the paper, Andy Coulson, who resigned as his communications chief last January as the scandal grew.

The main players are all saying variations of “Not me, guv,” talking about the benefits of hindsight and "If I knew then what I know now.”

But Cameron’s position is looking increasingly shaky. He has repeated that he is accountable for employing Coulson, who told his boss that he had nothing to do with the illegal phone-hacking while he was editor from 2003 to 2007. "If it turns out I have been lied to, that would be a moment for a profound apology, and in that event I can tell you I will not fall short," Cameron told MPs.

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Could libel laws be the cause of the phone-hacking scandal?

There’s a question that’s been obsessing me for the last few days about Britain’s sensational phone-hacking scandal, and it’s the question “Why?” Why did editors and their journalists break the law systematically in their desperate competition for scoops? And why — we hope — did it not happen here?

For me the answer to the second question is easier. I’m in the camp that believes that the tabloid picture is so different here, compared to the national tabloids in the U.K., that their influence here is far less than their British counterparts. Although let’s not forget that it was the National Enquirer that in 2007 broke the story about John Edwards’s affair that eventually led to his withdrawal as a presidential contender. Secondly, the relationship between newspaper proprietors and politicians cuts across political boundaries in Britain, enhancing the magnates’ clout, whereas here — apparently — they do not cross the aisle.

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Republicans should return Murdoch's campaign donations

Every Republican organization or candidate who received campaign donations since 2006 from Rupert Murdoch should return those campaign donations in full.

The Justice Department should initiate a preliminary investigation to consider whether the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or any U.S. law, was violated during this escalating and repulsive scandal.

The investigations should be full and fair but Republicans should return the tainted money now, in full.

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Rupert Murdoch and the end of fear

The tide has turned against Rupert Murdoch, the world’s most powerful media mogul, who is in London trying to salvage a deal under which his conglomerate News Corp. would merge with the British pay-TV operator BSkyB.

Until now, the political classes in Britain had seemed paralyzed by fear of the man who could control their destiny with a single tabloid headline in the News of the World or The Sun. He is courted by prime ministers of every political stripe, from Tony Blair to the current PM, David Cameron.

In 1998, Blair questioned Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi about broadcasting legislation planned in Italy as Murdoch sought to expand his business empire. Cameron appointed Andy Coulson, the former editor of the News of the World — even then under a cloud for phone hacking of the royal family, which was attributed to a “rogue” reporter — as his communications chief. Coulson is now under arrest and it has emerged that while he was editor, the police were allegedly paid for information.

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Sarah Palin sucker-punches mainstream media with emails

I am still laughing at this. Certain personalities on television looked like they were going to cry on air when Palin looked good after the emails were released! Wow, she sucker-punched the suckers! Who did they think would be deciding which emails were disclosed and which were redacted?

My guess is there were redacted emails that were not pretty, but of course they would be redacted. So heavy breathing before the release humiliated pundits after the release, because if they were honestly reporting, they would have to say Sarah Palin looked great by what was released.

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The continuing war against Sarah Palin and Nikki Haley

From Washington Post coverage of Sarah Palin’s email cache: “Palin, who since coined the phrase ‘Mama Grizzlies’ to warmly describe female conservatives, wrote an impassioned e-mail to an aide in March 2008 about criticism of female politicians: “ ‘they’ said the same thing throughout my career — ‘too young’, ‘pregnant’, ‘kids’ . . . ‘She won’t be able to do it’ . . . This coming from good ol’ boys who don’t like change . . . And so far along in my career we’ve proved them wrong at each turn.”

The good ol’ boys who don’t like change brought their women with them when they went after Palin in 2008. They also went after South Carolina’s new governor, Nikki Haley, with even more venom, reviving Old South strategies used effectively during Jim Crow.

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