Stupid, crazy and mean: “Fear a stupid enemy,” goes a Turkish proverb that came to mind as Calbuzz perused the latest news from Alaska that Snowbilly Sarah has engaged some vicious lawyer to intimidate journalists. Palin’s irrational antics can be tres amusant to be sure — Wonkette’s subtle characterization of her as “batshit-insane” gets it just about right –- but the soon-to-be-ex-governor of Alaska’s latest outrage ain’t no laughing matter. Her threats to the NYT, Washpost and MSNBC are silly on their face, but her effort to muscle and silence Alaska blogger Shannyn Moore, for the crime of not being content to swallow Palin’s incoherent explanation of her resignation, is both reprehensible and dangerous.
Calbuzz knows through bitter experience that being a lowly journalist dragged through the legal system by a vengeful, powerful person who operates on the ancient legal theory of Keep Your Mouth Shut or I’ll Ruin Your Life is a scary, painful and expensive proposition, and every principled pol, newshound and hen in the nation ought to be speaking up for Moore and throwing a red flag at Palin.
The Republican’s 2008 vice presidential candidate is a demagogue of the first rank who, despite the condescending chuckles of Beltway wise men, remains dead serious about exploiting the bitterness and resentments of the nation’s culture wars for the sole and focused purpose of benefiting her own career and self-interest. Palin right now is demonstrating for all to see that her notion of the First Amendment is not much different than that of Ali Khamenei or Kim Jong-Il, so it’s prudent for everyone who practices, covers or follows politics to keep that in mind. Forewarned is forearmed.
I dunno, what do you think she’s up to: The tsunami of ongoing speculation about what strategic calculations, if any, lie behind Palin’s walkaway include a couple of outstanding takes: Paul Begala, CNN talking head and longtime FOB, argues the full insanity plea, while the journalist Geoffrey Dunn, who’s writing a book on Palin, offers one of the meatier analyses, examining not only the political/ethical angles but that whole character is fate thing. Most Valuable Blogger award goes to the redoubtable Mickey Kaus, who catalogued (at last count) 14 separate theories floating on the web.
Another Right-Wing Scribe Falls Hard: Heartthrob Meg Whitman, already the object of a mad crush by conservative bloviator Fred Barnes, now has another right-wing pundit in the full throes of l’amour fou. This time it’s George Will, normally the most decorous and starchy of men, who’s been smitten by Her Megness and is in full gush about it. He begins his tonguey lip lock with an anecdote displaying his own chuckling delight at how eMeg “delights” in recounting to him – little minx! – the story behind the Central Valley’s biggest corporate carrot farm. Be still, my heart!
Then the Great Man, always a substantive figure, is on to more substantive stuff, giving us the nuts and bolts of Meg’s program:
“She would reduce the number of state Assembly districts (there are 80) because the Legislature is cumbersome, and would modify the initiative and referendum process.
“Voters have discombobulated budgeting by mandating spending without providing revenues, other than promiscuous borrowing. Whitman favors making it harder — requiring more signatures — to get measures on ballots, limiting the number on ballots in particular elections, and requiring the ballot language to specify the costs of measures being voted on…
Today’s most pressing problem — government in the grip of public employees unions — is, she thinks, ripe for improvement: 85 percent of the state’s unionized employees are working without contracts.”
“She would,” “she thinks” – Voila, what else is needed? L’etat c’est Moi!
And how will eMeg accomplish these great goals, which clearly have never occurred to lesser lights:
“To change Sacramento, which Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego television stations barely cover, she must find new ways to communicate with a disconnected public.”
Turgid Times Strikes Again: In another blow to big-time big city journalism, the resident geniuses at the sinking L.A. Times have forced out the widely respected John Arthur as executive editor. A smart, funny, blue collar, hard news guy, Arthur worked his way up the ladder in 23 years at the Times, playing key roles in the paper’s Pulitzer Prizes for breaking news coverage of the Northridge earthquake and the 1997 North Hollywood bank robbery and shoot-out.
Arthur got pushed out because of a disagreement over “masthead changes,” according to a memo to the staff posted by Russ Stanton, the latest Vichy editor installed by the minions of big brain Sam Zell. Brilliant move, Capitan: Axe a guy with great instincts, great experience and great passion because of a battle over rearranging the deck chairs. (One of Stanton’s big moves, which Arthur apparently disputed, was installing the…wait for it…Obituaries Editor as managing editor for news. You can’t make this stuff up).
A telling sidebar to this woeful tale is the characteristic hustle shown by two of L.A.’s better blogs in covering the story faster and better than the Times, which force fed its readers a business section story that could have been written by the marketing department. Word of Arthur’s departure came first from L.A. Observed, a daily must-read for SoCal news junkies, while the best behind-the-scenes yarn came from Nikki Finke Fan Club President Sharon Waxman, editor and publisher of The Wrap:
The firing of Arthur raised the ire of some members of the masthead in a meeting on Thursday. Arthur, much like his former colleague Leo Wolinsky — who was canned last fall — was (is) an unabashed, old-fashioned newsroom guy, the kind who stayed till 10 at night, who checked in on weekends and who guarded the sanctity of the front page with the loyalty of a Saint Bernard. But he was a leftover from the era of Jim O’Shea, an editor ago.
He’s gone now, replaced by people who are presumably more loyal to Stanton.
Safe travels, man.
— By Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine