Saturday, February 12, 2011

Katrina vanden Heuvel Fails Again

Editor of "The Nation", Katrina vanden Heuvel, is not new to this blog. After her magazine spent days smearing TSA protester, John Tyner - essentially calling him a Koch-funded, corporate shill for expressing his disgust at being groped in an airport - Ms. vanden Heuvel finally issued a pitiful, half-baked "apology".

Too little, too late, I thought.

She's also a train-wreck of a pundit, as evidenced by her appearances as a pundit commenting against Nick Gillespie on shows like Parker/Spitzer. For instance:

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3:30 in, Ms. vanden Heuvel claims that there is "no uncertainty" in the business community regarding the regulatory climate. Listening to her and Elliott Spitzer talk about economics is possibly the most rage-inducing experience I have suffered at any point in my life. At about 9 minutes, she says that, "like FDR", Obama has "saved Capitalism from its own excesses".

But she's back with a vengeance talking about the Citizens United decision, claiming that Russ Feingold lost his re-election bid last fall because of big money coming from corporate opponents. Reason's Jacob Sullum corrects her idiocy:
"Vanden Heuvel persists, saying Feingold was "the target of a campaign—lavishly funded by corporations and wealthy individuals—that used so-called 'independent expenditures' to attack the senator in the final weeks of the 2010 campaign." How lavishly funded was this campaign? According to the Center for Responsive Politics, "outside spending" against Feingold or in favor of his Republican opponent, Ron Johnson—some of which, such as independent spending by the "wealthy individuals" Vanden Heuvel mentions, was legal before Citizens United—totaled about $3 million. By comparison, Feingold spent more than $20 million, while Johnson spent about $15 million, most of it his own money (also legal before Citizens United)."
So in spite of the fact that Feingold spent substantially more than his opponent overall, and in spite of the fact that every bit of the spending that came in from his opponents was legal before "McCain-Feingold" had been struck down by the Supreme Court... Katrina vanden Heuvel still manages to blame the ruling.


It's not like this is surprising. If you can tolerate watching the Parker/Spitzer clip - and I don't blame you if you can't! - you'll see Ms. vanden Heuvel engage in this kind of nonsense repeatedly. In spite of all evidence, she asserts that the stimulus "worked", claiming unabashedly that it "saved or created" 3.5 million jobs... Obama himself only claimed credit for 2 million, and even though PolitiFact stupidly supported this claim, they knocked the number of acceptable credits down to just 1 million.

For the record, if someone asks "How many jobs did the stimulus save or create?", the correct answer is; "It is impossible to know since no one keeps (or can keep) that kind of data."

Also an acceptable answer: "Zero."

Regardless... On campaign finance - as on economics, on libertarianism, on public outrage over the TSA, and probably everything else - Katrina vanden Heuvel hasn't the slightest clue what she's talking about. And here's the really hilarious part... Ms. vanden Heuvel cites an interview with Russ Feingold in her own publication in support of her idea that the Citizens United decision resulted in his ousting from public office - but in that very interview, Feingold says exactly the opposite!
"...let's be clear: I certainly wasn't underfunded [in 2010]. I don't think another $100 million would have changed the outcome of my race. I don't think even $100 million would have mattered, because of the mindset that had developed, because of the desire on the part of a lot of voters to send that message."
I can't stand to read more than a few words from Ms. vanden Heuvel before I am infuriated with her stupidity, so I thank Wendy Kaminer at The Atlantic for catching more of her failures. Wendy writes:
"It takes chutzpah, shamelessness, or negligence to cite as support for a factual assertion an authoritative statement that directly contradicts it. Maybe vanden Heuvel didn't read the interview in her own magazine; maybe she relies on incompetent research assistance; maybe she assumes that her readers don't bother checking links and accept her claims at face value; maybe, like the right wing propagandists The Nation deplores, she's decided that facts don't matter. Whatever. I like to think they matter to the Washington Post, so, naively perhaps, I emailed a request for a correction. I received no substantive response (only an automated message acknowledging receipt). Vanden Heuvel's disingenuous column still appears uncorrected."
Why am I not surprised?

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