I’m getting pretty sick and tired of hearing the innuendo and “rumors” surrounding the supposed “bombshell” story the New York Times has been allegedly sitting on for at least a week regarding the David Paterson administration here in New York.

From the Huffington Post:

Rumors are flying that the New York Times is set to publish a bombshell scandal regarding New York Governor David Paterson.

Note the use of weasel words, “Rumors are flying.” This is in their lede. In the next paragraph, “Members of the media are abuzz about the alleged story.” Members of the media? Abuzz? Weasel words. They’re designed to provide cover for an organization trafficking in unsubstantiated and potentially libelous rumor.

The Times has officially disavowed any knowledge of the story, and claims to have had no part in starting the rumor.

Put up or shut up, guys. This is, as Paterson himself put it during his appearance on Larry King Live, “Kafkaesque.”

I’m not a Paterson fan, but the treatment of this non-story (at best, it’s a story about a possible story) is beyond disgraceful.

I had initially decided not to watch Sarah Palin’s speech to “Tea Party Nation” Saturday night. Unfortunately, being the political rubbernecker that I am, I caved in and eventually watched nearly the entire address.

My first instinct was the correct one — it was a thing to be skipped. Palin deals in warmed-over conservative feel-good cliche, and she had at least 46 minutes worth of those Saturday evening, addressing the attendees of the “Tea Party Nation” in Nashville, who had each paid something like $600 per ticket.

Palin had clearly been prepped, but felt enough in her own element that she seemed to go “off-script” occasionally, often losing track of where she was in a sentence, and escaping by adding a string of dependent clauses which she would use to trail off wistfully before launching into a new statement.

Predictably, she made countless references to Ronald Reagan — which brings me to her first instance of where Palin should have felt a strong sense of cognitive dissonance. Early on in her speech, she lambasted President Barack Obama for the administration’s response to what has come to be known as the Christmas Day Panty Bomber incident. She decried the fact that the would-be bomber, one Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, has been granted legal representation. She drew cheers as she repeatedly stated that Abdulmutallab had “lawyered up,” and suggested that he will now not be providing law enforcement with intelligence about where he was trained, who he had worked with, or if any more plans for attacks were in the works.

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Matt Drudge has been a mainstay of the Non-Mainstream Media since he “broke” the Monica Lewinsky story on his site (after having it “leaked” to him by Newsweek, whose owners wanted to see how the story would “play” before running with it themselves). Mark Halperin (co-author of the recent political scoop-fest Game Change, which is currently on my bedside table) has apparently referred to Drudge as “the Walter Kronkite of his era,” according to his Wikipedia page.

But Drudge is actually a partisan hack. I know this is not actually a shock to anyone with a modicum of intellectual honesty, but I figured an illustration from today would be apropos.

This evening, here is what his lead headline looked like:

Drudge's front page, 1/28/2010Oooo! What could be going on?

Well, let’s click the link and find out what the story has to say. Obama must have really screwed up to be reversing himself on this New York City terror trial thing, huh?

The headline, “PAPER: OBAMA ORDERS JUSTICE TO MOVE TERROR TRIAL OUT OF NYC” links to this New York Daily News story: “White House asks Justice Department to look for other places to hold 9/11 terror trial.”

Okay, just to review, here’s Drudge’s headline link:

“PAPER: OBAMA ORDERS JUSTICE TO MOVE TERROR TRIAL OUT OF NYC”

Reading the actual story — the story Drudge himself linked to — we find out that he could not have written a less-accurate headline.

In the first edition of the story (which as of this writing had been updated at least once), the Daily News explained that what had actually happened was that someone from the White House had asked (a little different than “ordered”) Eric Holder’s Justice Department to “look into” the “possibility” of another venue than the federal district court in lower Manhattan.

This specific verbiage is scrubbed from the “updated” version of the story (which includes more quotes from various NYC officials, a couple unnamed sources, and New York’s Sen. Chuck Schumer), but nowhere does even the new story indicate that anything other than a consideration of alternate locations is going on, or that these alternate locations are actually outside the city of New York.

Drudge’s headline is misleading in almost every choice of words (other than, perhaps, “PAPER”).  Let’s parse it, shall we?

OBAMA — No, it was actually “White House officials.”
ORDERS — No order to move the trial has been made, simply an examination of other possible venues.
JUSTICE — This is technically accurate as long as you take “Justice” as shorthand for “Justice Department,” but it’s less confusing to use “DoJ.” As it reads now, “Justice” sounds like the term for a federal judge, implying that the president has “ordered” a specific judge to move the trial, which would of course be out of order… which is exactly the implication Drudge is trying to convey.
TO MOVE — See “orders.”
TERROR TRIAL — Can’t really fault these two words, although they’re deliberately salacious.
OUT OF NYC — Again, the Justice Department isn’t necessarily considering a move out of New York City.

Since Drudge isn’t really a “journalist,” per se, but merely a “news aggregator,” his job is to point people to stories. To do that, his stock in trade is headlines. In every news writing and editing class I’ve ever taken, an error in fact results in a 25-point deduction from an assignment’s score. With three glaring errors in fact in this headline, that gives Drudge a total of 25 percent for this lead item… a resounding F.

UPDATE: Well, looks like the DoJ is caving after all. That doesn’t excuse Drudge’s precipitous headline, which was still wrong at the time.

While flipping through satellite radio channels today, I became convinced that I had discovered proof of America’s growing stupidity. Every talk channel I flipped through – Sirus-XM’s “The Virus,” NPR, CNN, and others – were breathlessly covering one of three topics: the soon-to-open “Twilight” sequel, the confusion over when to start getting mammograms, and Sarah Palin’s recently-released memoir, “Going Rogue.”

The situation is the same all over the Internet, at least as far as Sarah From Alaska is concerned. Wonkette has basically just run with the “PalinBlog” (RogueBlog? SarahBlog?) theme already established over at NRO, Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish has officially been overwhelmed, and the whole spectrum of punditry has basically had nothing else on its collective mind for the past two weeks or so.

It’s not just the blogs, either – Newsweek ran a front-page story on her (complete with leggy cover shot) last week, National Review’s Rich Lowry continues to slavishly adore her in print and online, and she’s made a tour of all the major talk shows, including Barbara Walters and… (even!)… Oprah.

Why not? It’s a fun story with colorful characters and conflict (the story about Palin’s book, I mean; not Palin’s book itself). I’m tempted to pick it up, but have decided not to for at least two reasons: one, I don’t want to encourage this kind of behavior and two, I have no idea where I left my last box of crayons.

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Health care reform has taken center-stage in the headlines, but it would be a mistake to call any of what’s happened a “debate.” Proponents of the bill have been saddled with the thankless task of countering the constant, bawling parade of misinformation and red herrings, which requires explaining subtleties and specific policy points — as well as overarching goals — that the other side is either too stupid or too willfully bull-headed to understand.

As H.L. Mencken once observed, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.”

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“Operation Rescue” founder Randall Terry seems to have gotten a pass for a release he issued a few days ago, which I noticed in my general news inbox when it came out:

WASHINGTON, July 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The following was released today by Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue.

Randall Terry, Founder of Operation Rescue, and other local pro-life advocates will hold a press conference at the National Press Club (529 14th Street NW, Washington, DC) on Tuesday, July 21, at 2:00 P.M. Mr. Randall Terry to discuss what he and other pro-life leaders will and will not do if healthcare passes and includes paying for child-killing, and what convulsions follow.

Health Care, Murder, and the Coming Convulsions

“Let all those in government be warned: They cannot order people to pay for the murder of babies, and betray God Himself, without horrific consequences.”

Randall Terry

Background: It is clear that many elements in the pro-abortion congress and White House want to force Americans to pay for the murder of the unborn in their “healthcare” program.

If that happens, it is tantamount to the government putting a gun to taxpayers’ heads to pay for the brutal murder of an innocent child. This is tyranny and evil of the highest order.

“Please understand: neither I, nor any thinking person wants the convulsions that would inevitably come from such a government policy — the decision to force Americans to pay for the murder of their neighbor.

“Nevertheless, the sheer horror and frustration of such an evil policy will lead some people to absolutely refuse to pay their taxes. And I believe — if my reading of history from America and around the world is correct — that there are others who will be tempted to acts of violence.

“If the government of this country tramples the faith and values of its citizens, history will hold those in power responsible for the violent convulsions that follow.”

While Terry includes some perfunctory throat-clearing about not wanting any “convulsions,” make no mistake: he is making a very clear threat, not just about refusing to pay taxes, but about the kind of violence that we’ve already seen at least one instance of this year. In that case, the murder of Wichita abortion doctor George Tiller, Terry pronounced that Tiller had brought his slaughter on himself.

Let’s run a little mind-experiment. Imagine that you are assigned the task of making a statement designed to show as much support for domestic terrorism as you possibly could, without crossing the line into explicitly calling for murder. What would that statement look like? Would it be very much different from Terry’s thinly-veiled “warning” about coming “convulsions”?

It is time to stop using the term “pro-life” to describe Mr. Terry. He can be accurately described as “anti-abortion,” but he is no advocate for human life.

I watched the video of Sarah Palin’s resignation speech yesterday with much discomfort — sort of the way I watch disgusting viral videos sent to me by old friends from college.

It wasn’t because I’m a Sarah Palin fan — I’m not. It was just the sheer awkwardness of the entire event: the timing, right before the July 4 weekend; the setting (in front of the lake near her Wasilla home); and, most of all, the speech itself — rambling, babbling, incoherent, full of forced, ham-handed metaphors, and topped off by the worst use of a (mis-) quote I’ve heard in recent memory.

(On that last note, others have already pointed out that the “We are advancing in a different direction” quote wasn’t Gen. MacArthur’s, it was Marine Gen. O.P. Smith’s, whose remarks came just before X Corps pulled back to Pusan during the Korean War — which remains the largest retreat in U.S. military history, whatever Gen. Smith may have wanted to call it).

Speculation abounds over the governor’s unexpected resignation. Perhaps, she’s opening up her schedule in order to gear up for a run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012. Maybe she’s got some significant skeletons that are about to make an appearance from the closet. Or maybe she’s genuinely had it with politics and is calling it quits.

If the first of those theories is true, Friday’s resignation has scuttled her ship before it’s even had a chance to sail. She came under fire for being a political novice during the last campaign, and quitting her office before having completed even a single full term as governor is only going to add fuel to the fire. In the case of the second — some kind of upcoming political bombshell on the immediate horizon — then she’s preemptively battening down the hatches, which would suggest a problem bigger than South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s.

In the third case, she’s probably making the right move. She was very obviously out of her depth on the national politics stage — as Mark Purdom’s piece in this month’s Vanity Fair makes clear. The resignation speech itself, as Paul Begala points out, was inane and childish, even in the text version posted on Palin’s own web site.

I fear, however, that we have not heard the last of Sarah Palin. She has her political fundraising group (“SarahPAC”), a “book” on the horizon (heavily edited by publisher Harpur-Collins, if Friday’s speech is any indication of the governor’s own literary ability), and she remains one of the Republican Party’s most profitable audience-pleasers.

And this may indeed be a role the former beauty queen is more cut out for. She’s a spokeswoman, not a politician.