Book Learning

One of the great advantages of having spent an embarrassingly large amount of my disposable income over a quarter century on books is that the darn things just never stop coming in handy.  Although lack of space, blogging, and less travel in the last few years has sharply slowed my acquisition rate, for each Presidency from Nixon to Bush II, the two or three overstuffed shelves I have for each invariably offer treasure troves of both contemporary reporting and later scholarship, which is the good news.  The bad news is how painfully clear it is that so few members or our media appear to have read any of them.

While I’m fully aware that, say, Ruth Marcus doesn’t live within walking distance of Powell’s, she nonetheless gets paid handsomely to occupy with her empty blather a considerable chunk of op-ed pages across the country a couple times a week; I type away at CHNN and, lately, for free, but unlike Ruthie, I bother to do my homework.  Not only does it help me avoid the kind of humiliating blunders she made last week; It’s fun.  (My mother, rest her soul, would be so proud to hear me say that…)  You see, if Ruthie had a library of her own, along with a mad yet methodical system of dog-earing and footnoting as I do and wasn’t afraid to use it, she wouldn’t have made a more than usually complete ass of herself for all the world to see.

While Ruthie was munching on Village cocktail weinies, or perhaps having a much-needed session with Mitch McConnell’s personal trainer, I was delving into the sordid history of our current Supreme court, and it isn’t a pretty picture.  Thus,  she was “stopped cold” by Obama’s studiously mild admonition of the court’s right wing, while I, a week before, had both predicted the outcome and outlined the craven motivations of the notorious actors involved.   When a righty nutcase Reagan-appointed judge predictably went all Glenn Beck on Obama the next day, she had to type up a pretty awkward mea culpa for her harebrained scribbles, and even go on TV to promote it, while I was free to devote myself to the more worthy and urgent endeavors of drinking to excess and demolishing kitchens.

It’s possible, though unlikely, that Ruthie reads books, but it seems indisputable that she doesn’t keep them around for future reference if she does.  Not only could I have pulled out Alan Dershowitz’s Supreme Injustice from 2001, I also had on hand Robert Bork’s astonishingly unhinged 1990 screed, The Tempting of America, as well as many more that amply illustrated the systematic politicization of the Court under recent Republican Presidents, and could have helped save her from her wanton and laughably premature typing.  But she didn’t call.

She also could have skimmed Michael Schaivo’s book about his brain-dead wife and the startlingly sinister Republican assault on the judiciary she spawned, which make abundantly clear what an actual threat to the separation of powers looked like, but I guess she had a deadline, or maybe a mani-pedi.  Both John Cornyn and Tom DeLay explicitly warned at the time that “unelected” judges ought to fear righteous violence against them, but that inconsequential episode was lost in the fog of ancient history; i.e., 2005, for Ruth and her “editors” at the WaPoo.

Probably the most important book I have that could have saved Ruth from herself is one I just picked up for the second time, Jill Abramson and Jane Mayer’s 1994 exhaustive analysis of the Clarence Thomas (continuing) fiasco, Strange Justice. I’m only a few dozen pages into it, but I’ve already encountered enough evidence of a right-wing conspiracy to foist an unqualified opportunist on an unsuspecting nation by the most cynical means imaginable that I really need only skim my margin notes to set up a whole remedial history course for Ruth.

Since the liberal media, including Ruth’s hapless employer, got the story so shamefully wrong when it mattered, that is, before a bitter and perverted nincompoop was elevated to a lifetime seat on the High Court, Mayer and Abramson helpfully tried to set the record straight for those of us who cared to see it straightened.  Unsurprisingly, they proved that Thomas was in fact the sexist, authoritarian, pathological liar Anita Hill accused him of being, traits only exacerbated under oath; but he was also a man whose stunning lack of judicial temperament didn’t belong in any courtroom, except perhaps as a defendant.  Scalia, Roberts, and Alito are just nicer looking peas in the same rancid pod;  the strategies, goals, and even the people behind them are virtually identical, a fact utterly lost on not just Ruthie, but virtually all the media.

It reminds me of a play I produced in the 80′s called The Housekeeper, wherein a homeless grifter wiles her way into the affections (and home) of a stuffy and pretentious failed “author,” recently bereft of his mother who amply supported him.  I envision the first interview between Donald Graham and Ruthie just like the first scene of the play, when the potential housekeeper gamely fakes an interest in literature:

DG: (delightedly) I’m always so happy to meet a fellow traveler in Terris Librorum.

RM: (uncertainly shifting in her chair) I’ve been all over.

No, Ruthie, you haven’t, much to the detriment of your readers, and your own credibility.



  1. mikeinportc says:

    Geeeeez, CH! Bein’ all like curious, and knowledgeable, and stuff , is sooooo 1974. It’s holdin’ ya back from bein’ a famous celebrity truthiness dispenser. Bein’ correct is such a career killer . Get over it, if ya ever wanna go anywhere. ;)

  2. daphne says:

    So-called liberals like Marcus and Cohen demonstrate it really isn’t so much right vs. left as up vs. down.

    • cocktailhag says:

      It’s laughable, really. Marcus, Cohen, Milbank…. They’re what the Post calls “left leaning.”

      • daphne says:

        what gives me a laugh, hag, is when I’m reading an actual liberal like Meyerson, and in the left column there’s a “you may like” link to Marcus; or van den Heuvel, and there’s a link to Milbank; or Robinson, and there’s a link to Cohen. Like it’s all the same difference.

        • cocktailhag says:

          No such false advertising plagues the righties: Krauthammer, Will, Samuelson, Parker, and what have you.
          To them, “liberal” means “not out and out fascist.”

  3. avelna says:

    Marcus was on Spitzer’s new Current TV show the other day blabbing on about the subject:

    “Having 5-4 majorities, decisions, either way with a group of entirely Republican or entirely Democratic justices is not healthy for the court, and I suspect some of the justices know that.” Marcus goes on to predict an outcome for the Affordable Care Act.

    Egads and little fishes.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Yes, that was the day she tried to cover up her idiotic fainting spell about Obama. I give her credit; she admitted being wrong when she signed off, which is highly unusual for her ilk.

  4. loretta says:

    I’m sure Ruth had to read a few books at Harvard and Yale, and she’s married to Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz; which may explain why she’s on the staff at the predominantly Jewish WaPo op-ed page. This is a seriously tribal newspaper. So, I disagree that she’s not learned, I’m convinced this is an AGENDA, and she’s going to push it regardless of facts. Obviously, based on her appearance on Spitzer’s show, she has a face that is better behind a monitor and not on the monitor. (meow)

    I think Elliot Spitzer is far better on TV than Olbermann. Olbermann always stuttered, screwed up the script every night, and seemed to lose his sense of irony. Too bad, because 5 years ago, I think he was great. It’s really sad that he self-destructed. Left-wing media is pretty much doomed, we knew that when they destroyed Air America.

    If Olbermann was half the guy he is supposed to be, he’ll set up a webcam in his Manhattan apartment and post 10-minute Countdown episodes on YouTube for free. He’s got enough money to live just fine, and he’d be a folk hero if he did it. Heck, I’d write for his web show for free. Half of his content comes from Talking Points Memo anyway.

    Now the breathless media question is which Fat Right Wing gasbag can win the 12-3 pm radio crowd – Limbaugh or Huckabee? I am rooting for Huckabee just because I can’t wait to read about when Rush goes after him for being a fake republican or something. They are both repulsive.

    As far as Michael Shiavo, IMO that guy was a piece of shit.

    • cocktailhag says:

      I like Spitzer batter, too. I was getting sooo tired of James Thurber and KO’s other self-indulgent rants.
      I though Marcus looked a little less homely on TV than she does in her profile photo, but she’s still no looker.
      As for Schaivo; his antagonists made him look good; by their enemies you shall know them, and all.

      • loretta says:

        That entire Shiavo episode makes me want to vomit. I remember I refused to let anyone discuss it on my blog, but I was eventually forced to read about it so I’d know what I was avoiding (besides heated divisiveness – I had no political discussions on the blog. It was a crime blog. Wait…) anyway, I read both sides of that story, and even before the Congress interfered, I hated Michael Shiavo. As far as I was concerned, he gave up his spousal rights when he cohabitated and reproduced with another woman. I thought her parents should be powers of attorney at that point. If they wanted to keep her alive forever, who did that harm, really?

        If it were my daughter, I’d pull the plug because I know she would not have wanted to live that way, and neither would I, but the principles that were fought in that story were about Shiavo refusing go give up his power over Terri, and he was simply another malignant narcissist, as far as I was concerned.

        The fact that his enemies wound up being assholes does not change my opinion, but YMMV. I think I’m just overly critical of men like him.

        • cocktailhag says:

          Keep in mind, Terri had been in a vegetative state for a decade; what would you have done if you were Michael?
          I guess it’s a little personal for me; I was quite active in supporting Oregon’s Death With Dignity law, which was subject to not one but two referenda. On end-of-life issues, I’m quite sick of God-botherers elbowing in, as they always do. Handing those Jesus freaks their asses in court, repeatedly, simply had to be done. We all know that they treat every “victory” as an invitation to take the next step.

          • loretta says:

            I’ve already made a deal with my eldest daughters, who are both nurses, so I have a pretty good chance *one* of them will get me the good stuff when I’m beyond hope. I just want to go out like they do in Soylent Green – but instead of Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony (a fine choice, but a little too cliche), I’m going out to Pat Metheny’s “The Way Up” album, unless he records something better before my D-day.

            I plan to be seriously stoned, thanks to the Dilaudid one of my daughters will smuggle out of the hospital. Bon Voyagee!

          • cocktailhag says:

            Funny you should mention Soylent Green; I was just talking about that the other night. I was thinking that the Eating Raoul method might be alright. Clank. Thud.
            I have no doubt I could find lots of volunteers to do the honors….

  5. loretta says:

    Self-promotion – new blob entry on the delusion of self-insuring:

    In response to this ridiculous argument from Rep Steve King:

  6. Teddy says:

    Ruth Marcus has a face for radio, a voice for the newspaper, and a pen for moveable type; she is seriously flummoxed why her in-service-to-power efforts haven’t been better rewarded. It offends me no end why WaPo continues to employ her, but I expect she’s hoping to slide into the OmbudSeat pretty soon. Doesn’t she seem like the inhouse scold the WaPo specializes in? Highlights internal disagreements while ignoring readers completely?

    The “left” leaning faculty at WaPo is tiresome; none of them promulgate actual left views, even the elfin Dionne. Robinson will defend Obama to the death, even over drones and civil liberties and assassination. As long as they are reliably ‘anti-GOP’ they’ll get the Beltway clicks they need to stay around.

    Sad. Katie Graham is rolling in her grave, let alone her pa.

    • cocktailhag says:

      And her husband, too. What worthless progeny they spawned.

      • Teddy says:

        Donnie should have stayed a DC policeman, he’d probably be a precinct captain or shift commander by now. And this new girl, named for her grandma? Isn’t worth the ink printed on her fancy degrees. She’s the one who hired the current ExecEditor from the WSJournal Marc Broccoli); they all cooked up the compromised “salons” sponsored by lobbyists on the very issues to be discussed. “Come to the WaPo Publisher’s house to talk about Health Care Reform — an evening sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield and Lobbyist Tom Daschle!”

        That’s not journalism, that’s Marketing.

        Very sad.

        • cocktailhag says:

          Well, her mother, Lally, turned into a righty early on; I believe it was she who cooked up the now-infamous “salons.” Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations, I believe is the rule. Had it not been for Kaplan, and other enterprises of dubious value, all the Grahams would be, as my crazy Grandmother Etta used to say, “clerking in a dime store” by now.
          Ain’t the “free market” grand?

  7. Teddy says:

    Kaplan being the enterprise Uncle Warren Buffett had to bully Katherine into buying. She was extremely dubious of including a ‘trade school’ in her media empire.

    Class will out.

    • cocktailhag says:

      I always wondered why she fell so under the spell of Buffett in her later years; he marked the beginning of the end.

      • Teddy says:

        She was always unhappy in her leadership role after Philip’s death. Unprepared, ill-treated by most men her equal, and despised by the GOP, she was delighted to find another rich man who treated her royally, married happily though he was.