Thursday, September 16, 2010

Odds and Ends--again...

It’s certainly time for some odds and ends, isn’t it?  Aside from the regular depressing news from Afghanistan, we’ve been inundated with news from primary elections and all manner of nonsense from the Sarah and Glenn Dog and Pony Show.  (Could someone please tell me which one is the pony?)  
There have been a few bright spots, only a few, but the bright ones shine through the murky gloom like lasers.  I’m thinking particularly of the reports that Obama has finally gotten around to appointing Elizabeth Warren as a special advisor to set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the bureau that was her idea to begin with. [Here] What took him so long?  Every liberal and progressive group that I know of has been urging this appointment for months.  I know that I’ve signed petitions and written notes but until this report, the only response that we read was a rumor that Timothy Geithner wouldn’t like to have her appointed but that he thought she was “well-qualified.”
According to some of the stories that I’ve read, Warren will set up the Bureau, reporting directly to the President and, some have added, to Geithner.  Since the agency was Warren’s brain child to begin with and she’s been around Washington long enough to know all the necessary tricks of the trade to get the job done, she is precisely the person to get this bureau up and running.  
We still don’t know if this will be just an interim appointment or whether she will be appointed as the permanent head of the agency.  Whichever it is, the move is a good one, but, I repeat, what took him so long?  The delay engendered much bad feeling among Obama’s base, something that this administration does not need right now.  Bad tastes take time to disappear and the memory of them linger.  We’ll have to wait to see how this plays out.
On to another odds and ends, and this one is indeed odd.  A few days ago we wrote about Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers who run Koch Industries, a private conglomerate based in Wichita, Kansas.  Janet Mayer, the splendid staff writer for the The New Yorker, wrote a long piece for the magazine’s August 30th edition about the brothers, their backgrounds and libertarian political views. [Here] Mayer also went into detail about the Koch brothers’ early involvement with the Tea Party movement.  (If you are interested in even more Koch details, Frank Rich added some in his weekly column for the NYTimes. [Here])
It didn’t take long for a pro-Koch defensive response.  After all, there aren’t many young writers who can turn away from an opportunity to cozy up to the very, very, very rich--and generous.  And where was the pro-Koch piece placed, you might ask?  The Daily Beast--and Beast editor Tina Brown should have known better.  After all, Brown was editor of the New Yorker (1992-1998) and should have checked on a few facts with Mayer herself before putting out this fluff on the internet.  The piece, titled “Tea Party Billionaire Fires Back,” was written by Elaine Lafferty, whose biography tells us that she was a Hillary supporter before she became a consultant for the McCain/Palin campaign and a co-author of a book with Fox pundit Greta Van Susteren.  Ahem. 
What does Ms. Lafferty tell us?  She starts off by writing that Charles Koch is very, very, very angry and to tell us that for Mayer to  say that Koch is a funder of conservative causes is “simplistic.”  Yes, that’s what Ms. Lafferty says.  Simplistic.  And to call Koch Industries a polluter might be true but then, she adds:
...the University of Massachusetts at Amherst Center describes Koch Industries as a top polluter.  But then its polluters list seems to include almost any company that still manufactures stuff in the U.S., including Ford Motor, General Motors, GE, Pfizer, Eastman Kodak, Sony, Honeywell, Berkshire Hathaway, Kimberly Clark, Anheuser Busch, and Goodyear.”
I guess Ms. Lafferty is telling us that all manufacturers of “stuff” are polluters so that fact makes Koch Industries just fine.  Forget about them.    
Also, in an editor’s note way at the bottom, the Daily Beast admits that they didn’t check with Jane Mayer before they posted the Latterty piece, but they did leave some telephone and email questions with the New Yorker offices.  How’s that for great journalism?
Let’s hope that the folks who read this know that the Daily Beast is Huffpost Lite and should only read it for a chuckle.  We do.
In the meantime, let’s keep our eyes on the Pope’s visit to England.  That should keep us busy for a while.
My money is on the Queen...

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