Matthew Yglesias

A Necessarily Inevitable Point

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton works from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya, 18 October 2011. (Kevin Lamarque/Associated Press)

What seems most bothersome about the so-called email scandal is the number of people who ought to have known better, by which we ought to mean among those pretending to be shocked and appalled. Matt Yglesias phrases it delicately for Vox: “The real Clinton email scandal is that a bullshit story has dominated the campaign”.

Because Clinton herself apologized for it and because it does not appear to be in any way important, Clinton allies, surrogates, and co-partisans have largely not familiarized themselves with the details of the matter, instead saying vaguely that it was an error of judgment and she apologized and America has bigger fish to fry.

This has had the effect of further inscribing and reinscribing the notion that Clinton did something wrong, meaning that every bit of micro-news that puts the scandal back on cable amounts to reminding people of something bad that Clinton did. In total, network newscasts have, remarkably, dedicated more airtime to coverage of Clinton’s emails than to all policy issues combined.

This is unfortunate because emailgate, like so many Clinton pseudo-scandals before it, is bullshit. The real scandal here is the way a story that was at best of modest significance came to dominate the US presidential election―overwhelming stories of much more importance, giving the American people a completely skewed impression of one of the two nominees, and creating space for the FBI to intervene in the election in favor of its apparently preferred candidate in a dangerous way.

When all is said and done, who else do we treat this way? Who else would tolerate a quarter-century of this? Who else could endure it yet still find ways to flourish? Seriously, they can even tell us it’s bullshit, and there is still a market sector anxious to gobble it up like manna from Heaven.

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Image note: Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Associated Press.

Yglesias, Matthew. “The real Clinton email scandal is that a bullshit story has dominated the campaign”. Vox. 4 November 2016.

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A Brief Note About “Her”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton works from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya, 18 October 2011. (Kevin Lamarque/Associated Press)

Matthew Yglesias offers yet another example―

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, circa 2013. (Photo: Mike Segar/Reuters)So what about the charity? Well, Powell’s wife, Alma Powell, took it over. And it kept raking in donations from corporate America. Ken Lay, the chair of Enron, was a big donor. He also backed a literacy-related charity that was founded by the then-president’s mother. The US Department of State, at the time Powell was secretary, went to bat for Enron in a dispute the company was having with the Indian government.

Did Lay or any other Enron official attempt to use their connections with Alma Powell (or Barbara Bush, for that matter) to help secure access to State Department personnel in order to voice these concerns? Did any other donors to America’s Promise? I have no idea, because to the best of my knowledge nobody in the media ever launched an extensive investigation into these matters. That’s the value of the presumption of innocence, something Hillary Clinton has never been able to enjoy during her time in the national spotlight.

―of how that dastardly liberal media conspiracy always tanks the story to help a Democrat and sabotage a Republican.

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Image notes: Top ― U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton works from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya, 18 October 2011. (Kevin Lamarque/Associated Press) Right ― Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, circa 2013. (Photo: Mike Segar/Reuters)

Yglesias, Matthew. “Colin Powell’s foundation and Hillary Clinton’s are treated very differently by the media”. Vox.

The Jeb Bush Show (Fancy & Shame)

Republican U.S. presidential hopeful and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush waves after he spoke during the 'Road to Majority' conference June 19, 2015, in Washington, DC. Conservatives gathered at the annual event held by the Faith & Freedom Coalition and Concerned Women for America. (Detail of photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

It would seem we were not the only ones who noticed.

Matthew Yglesias looked into the Jeb Bush’s suggestion of four percent GDP growth:

But 4 percent is not really a round number. The US economy grew faster than 2 percent in 2014, 2013, and 2012 and is projected by most economists to grow faster than 2 percent in 2015. Economists surveyed by the Associated Press, Politico, and the New York Times all doubted that 4 percent growth was achievable.

Wednesday, speaking in Iowa, Jeb defended the 4 percent target on the grounds that “aspirational goals” are important in politics.

According to James Glassman, Bush originally selected this goal at random, backed by zero substantive analysis of any kind:

That ambitious goal was first raised as Bush and other advisers to the George W. Bush Institute discussed a distinctive economic program the organization could promote, recalled James Glassman, then the institute’s executive director.

“Even if we don’t make 4 percent it would be nice to grow at 3 or 3.5,” said Glassman, now a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. In that conference call, “we were looking for a niche and Jeb in that very laconic way said, ‘four percent growth.’ It was obvious to everybody that this was a very good idea.”

No, really, is there any telling that doesn’t make the story sound incredibly stupid? As Howard Schneider and Steve Holland explained for Reuters, “Asked by Reuters during a campaign-style stop in New Hampshire on Thursday how he had arrived at the figure, Bush said: ‘It’s a nice round number. It’s double the growth that we are growing at. It’s not just an aspiration. It’s doable.'”

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The Warmongers’ Drum Circle

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.  (Photo: Dennis Cook/AP)

With so many complaints about President Obama and foreign policy, we might take a moment to consider what Matt Yglesias describes as “perhaps the greatest memo ever written”. And it seems true enough that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld “asked Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith to solve all the problems”.

April 7, 2003 11:46 AM

TO: Doug Feith

FROM: Donald Rumsfeld

SUBJECT: Issues w/Various Countries

We need more coercive diplomacy with respect to Syria and Libya, and we need it fast. If they mess up Iraq, it will delay bringing our troops home.

We also need to solve the Pakistan problem.

And Korea doesn’t seem to be going well.

Are you coming up with proposals for me to send around?

Memorandum from Donald Rumsfeld to Doug Feith, 7 April 2003Thanks.

DHR:dh

040703-26

Please respond by_____________________

And, yes, it is in fact a real memo.

Sometimes it pays to listen to the criticism, and actually consider whence it comes and what it looks toward. And as Congressional Republicans aim to wreck American foreign policy in order to restart the New American Century, this is the sort of competence they are hoping to achieve. You know, while sending troops to war in Iran.

And with Sen. Schumer (D-NY) ascending, it turns out the GOP might have enough support to pull this off; there are several centrist Democrats who seem to really, really want a war, as well.

Apparently, peace is too scary a prospect.

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Yglesias, Matthew. “12 years ago today, Donald Rumsfeld sent the greatest memo of all time”. Vox. 7 April 2015.

Rumsfeld, Donald. “Issues w/Various Countries”. 7 April 2003.

Strobel, Warren. “Republicans push demand for a vote on Iran nuclear deal”. Reuters. 5 April 2015.