Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Fall Review of Unreadable Books: Maureen Dowd's latest leftovers

[Editors' Note: One of the best-endured [Surely, loved? – Ed.] features of the The Spy is its periodic Review of Unreadable Books.  What is an Unreadable Book, you may ask?  It's a book that is not just bad, clichéd, or wrong.  No, to qualify for this distinguished company, the book must be susceptible of review without any need to read it.  Indeed, the contents of the book are typically the least important thing about it.  If this strikes you as unfair to hard-working authors, rest assured that (1) nobody fitting that description has ever appeared in this Review and (2) no one has ever claimed that these reviews failed to capture fully and fairly the content and spirit of the unopened tomes.]

The Year of Voting Dangerously
by Maureen Dowd
Twelve Days to Write Press
$30, already marked down to $18

Maureen Dowd has been rehashing the same tiresome column for the last twenty years, so it shouldn't be any surprise that she's meta-rehashing her rehashes between hard covers.  The new kitchen in her Georgetown condo won't rebuild itself, people.

Comedy gold: on the one hand, a candidate who
used her own email server . . .
You can tell this book not only by its author, but by its cover: a surprisingly crude drawing of Hillary Clinton kicking Donald Trump down his escalator.  We're sure the hilarity continues unabated inside.  After all, what is more amusing than a woman who has spent decades in politics usually devoted to helping the less fortunate running for the most important job in world against a narcissistic tangerine-faced grifter with ADD who bases his entire campaign on appealing to bigots and neo-Nazis, when he's not crawling up Putin's ass?

In Maureen's world view, you've got an amusing bullsh*t artist and ladies' man who doesn't take any of the crap he says seriously running against an self-righteous old schoolmarm who wouldn't kick her cheatin' husband to the curb and tries to protect her privacy from the legions devoted to spreading detestable lies about her.  Oh, also she kept her official emails on her own server.  How amusing that we must choose between equally flawed individuals!  She hasn't had this many laughs since boring sententious Al Gore ran against fun-lovin' W., and that turned out pretty well.

You might think that the udder of both-sides-do-it would be running a little dry by now.  In contrast to the Times columnist, an increasing number of real journalists have kicked over the milking stands and now seek to inform the public that this election is not funny at all and that victory for the TFG would be a disaster of fathomless depth.  If he'd start a war with Iran because a sailor insulted him, who knows what he'd do when he is offended by some country that possesses a working nuclear weapon?

 . . . and on the other
This leaves Ms. Dowd as pretty much the only milkmaid on the barn still pulling away.  We hope that the new granite counters make it all worthwhile, if only because they are among the small minority of objects that would survive a 20-megaton hydrogen bomb detonated over the National Press Club.  On the brighter side, though, if President TFG avoids nuclear holocaust and limits his catastrophes to global warming, she could even end up with oceanfront property.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Finally, some economic development in Cambridge

By Samuel Insull
Business Editor

Cantabridgians learned Friday that there was finally some hope for their economic backwater, in the form of two proposed developments that would bring thousands of jobs to the clearly-depressed city with only a modest dollop of state aid.

Akamai Technologies announced that it was prepared to inject some business activity into the desolate wasteland of Kendall Square in the form of a 19-story office building and the possible addition of 700 jobs, conditioned on receiving an undisclosed amount of shtupping from a Massachusetts slush fund devoted to such things.

The new Spy building would be a beacon of hope for
the economically-depressed Harvard Square region
Later that day, a second ray of hope shone even more brightly.  The Massachusetts Spy Company LLC, in an announcement emailed from its headquarters in George Town, Cayman Islands,  said that it was prepared to move its online and print operations into Cambridge from its current facilities in Old Sludgebury, Mass. as soon as the Commonwealth ponies up $146 million in tax credits for land acquisition and other costs.  In return, it promised to create 701 jobs.

The planned development would require the taking by eminent domain of two underutilized parcels in the Harvard Square area.  One is located on Plympton St., between two Harvard dormitories; the other is a half block away on a musty triangle at the apex of Mt. Auburn and Bow Streets.

The parcels are currently occupied by two shabby day treatment centers for obnoxious undergraduates.  Residents have long complained about the shady and menacing characters lurking around them at all hours of the day and night.

“This project will bring much-needed economic life to the desolation that is Harvard Square,” stated Spy Managing Director for Community Relations Rollo Benjamins.

Under the plan, the Spy's online and printing facilities, together with 84 luxury condominiums, would be housed in a breathtaking 36-story tower to be built on the Plympton St. site, while the nearby Mt. Auburn St. triangle would be used for a ten-level parking garage and state-of-the-art car wash, to be named after legendary Cambridge statesman Al Vellucci.

“My grandfather always dreamed of a car wash in Harvard Square.  Now his dream is finally coming true,” said Spy Vice President for Development Michaela Vellucci.
The Spy project would replace two seamy local hangouts
for undesirables.

Reaction on Beacon Hill to the Spy's proposal was favorable.  State Sen. Cash Payment (D – Somerville) noted that as part of the proposal the Spy had agreed to employ a truck owned by officers of Teamsters Local 25 to haul stuff around.  State House eminince greased, the legendary Rep. Whiff “the Stiff” O'Bribe, said he expected that the project would provide scores of well-paid no-show jobs for his relatives [Surely, constituents? – Ed.].

It goes almost without saying that even in a desperately poor ghetto like Cambridge, a few unwashed anti-business Communists can be counted on to oppose anything resembling progress.  They questioned why businesses as large and profitable as Akamai and the Spy needed hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money to do what they would do anyway.

In an exclusive interview with anyone who calls him, Benjamins warned the granola-and-bicycle brigade not to stand in the way of economic opportunity.  “We would hate to leave Massachusetts for our alternative site in an old mill in Claremont, New Hampshire, but we will if we don't get every f***in' farthing of this modest tax incentive,” he warned.

State House leaders are taking the threats seriously and also appreciate the opportunity to clean up a pair of unsavory patches of blight.  Reached for comment, Governor Charlie Baker '79 was heard to mutter “it would serve the bastards right.”

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

News from Zontar: Candidate's health disclosure raises issues, optics, reporters' pulses

Editor's Note: After working too hard and too long, a 68-year-old woman feels ill.  Not only that, she decided she didn't want to anyone to use this uninteresting information against her.  If only she had told us immediately she was feeling poorly, that would have been much better.  By amazing coincidence, we received a dispatch from the distant planet Zontar, in the Remulac system, where someone in a somewhat similar position decided to make such a disclosure and it worked out great!


By Amy Chachem V. Bubos and Patrick Holy
The New Zontar Times

In an effort to dispel nagging questions about her health, Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton today said that her recent coughing attacks were caused by what her campaign termed “walking pneumonia.”

But influential Republican and Democratic political insiders said that the disclosure raised as many questions as it answered.  “Why weren't we told about this earlier?” asked Trump campaign scarecrow [Surely spokeswoman? – Ed.] KellyAnne Conmedia.

Questions like these are casting a cloud over the Clinton campaign and raise anew longstanding questions about Ms. Clinton’s health, candor, and ability to chug a six of Natty Light during halftime.
“How can the American people trust a sickly old lady who may well have Parkinson's, Korsakoff’s dementia, leprosy and hammer toes?” asked Trump campaign shoplifter Kristin Pispore on Schlox News.

The candidate's apparent ill health is bad for optics,
according to her political enemies
Her interviewer Sean Minime echoed her concern: “When we have credible reports that Hillary Clinton is a weak, decrepit, broken-down old hag, we have to ask: what else is she hiding?  Make it more than health.  Roger.  Don't read this part on air you idiot.”

Democratic operatives are privately filling their pants over the prospect that their nominee could be portrayed as not up for the job as President in contrast to a fat old man with a comb-over and slathered in bronzer.

One Democratic campaign veteran, who asked to remain anonymous so that he could piss on Hillary without fear of retribution, said: “It fits into a narrative that she is too sick and untrustworthy for the Presidency, which narrative your article will advance.”

To show how balanced and professional we are, we contacted the Clinton campaign for comment.  “I can’t believe you are putting on your front page a story about Clinton’s supposed health and credibility problems while ignoring the facts that her crooked, lying opponent has not released his taxes or any non-forged health information, and has based his entire campaign on bigotry and bribing state officials with other people’s money,” said spokeswoman Cassandra Muggins.

However, since one anonymous source is always good enough for us, expect further questions about the candidate’s health and candor to continue for as long as she refuses to take Maureen Dowd’s advice and divorce her no-good cheatin’ husband.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

In the matter of Human Race v. Estrich

By Scott V. Sandford
Justice Correspondent

Our old friend Alessandra Stanley '77 today haled Susan Estrich before the bar of justice and surprisingly to us at least let her off with a warning.

We're not as kind as Alessandra.

The charges are grave: that Estrich did knowingly and willfully use her position and her reputation to smear innocent, indeed heroic, journalists for publishing truthful reports about her loathsome client, Roger “The Ladies' Man” Ailes, who was lately given his walking papers from Fox for tormenting and some cases rogering his female subordinates.

Those of a certain age will recall Susan Estrich as a pioneer if not a heroine: she survived both rape and serving as first female President of the Harvard Law Review.  Then she went on to join the brains trust running the 1988 campaign for Michael Dukakis, which made him what he is today.   A bright career as a smart politically-adept law professor and activist lay ahead of her.

Rogerin' Roger's mouthpiece, Susan Estrich
Then she made a fatal mistake: she moved to Los Angeles, and, after many years in the hot sun, she started writing about dieting and such, and became buddies with The Ladies' Man.  Still later, she became a big-bucks partner in a fancy California law firm.

As Ms. Stanley recounts, it was only natural when The Ladies' Man's sordid past finally caught up with him that he would turn to Ms. Estrich for the finest representation $1,100 an hour could buy (paid for naturally by his employer, the almost-equally-loathsome Rupert Murdoch).

Now we would be the last person to deny a smart person the right to earn big bucks as a mouthpiece, and we wouldn't object to representing the loathsome, like Rogerin' Roger.  After all, without horrible clients, lawyers would never be able to buy that $8 million fixer-upper in Malibu.

Zealous representation of odious clients in court rooms and pleadings is what lawyers do.  What they shouldn't be doing is out-of-court smearing of those exposing or opposing their client's depredations.  As Ms. Stanley reports, Counselor Estrich took the fatal step leading to a life of slime:
But what really turned heads was Ms. Estrich’s zeal in attacking the New York magazine reporter who first broke the scandal. Interviewed for an article in The Daily Beast, she said, “Ultimately, it will become clear that the real enemy of women is Gabe Sherman.”

That sounded a little like a “jerks and perks” defense, and Ms. Estrich went on to suggest that Mr. Sherman, who published an unflattering biography of Mr. Ailes in 2014, had his own agenda for pursuing the story. She told The Daily Beast that Mr. Sherman was willing to “use and abuse” vulnerable women to pursue a vendetta against Mr. Ailes. (Mr. Sherman declined to comment.)
Portia went on:
Gabe Sherman has made clear that nothing will stand in the way of his vendetta against Roger Ailes, and he will use any woman he can find — no matter how clearly and deeply troubled she is — to try to concoct allegations against Mr. Ailes.
What is going on here?  This isn't a legal pleading.  The journalist Gabe Sherman isn't a party to the any cases against Ailes.  He isn't even a witness (it would be hearsay).  What's happening is that Susan Estrich is using her position and her former reputation for integrity to smear an honest journalist.  Her goal is to intimidate Sherman and other intrepid reporters from pursuing stories about the revolting conduct of her client and indeed to intimidate other women from telling their stories of mistreatment at, uh, his hands.

She also sends the message to other victims of the rich and powerful that anyone who complains will be smeared and intimidated by high-priced lawyers, as long as the client or his employer continues to pay the bills.

We certainly hope the Boston Police did not write off her rape complaint as the concoction of a clearly and deeply troubled Wellesley College student, but given the climate of the time, who knows?

Oh, and by the way, Sherman has now written thousands of words about Ailes.  Despite the best efforts of Estrich, supported no doubt by a platoon of $500-an-hour associates at Quinn Emanuel, not a single one of Sherman's claims has been refuted on the merits.  Thus far, everything that has come to light, including Ailes's departure in disgrace, supports Sherman's reporting and refutes Estrich's ad hominem attacks.

Perhaps vile clients now expect out of court smearing as part of the services they purchase from mouthpieces like Estrich and her New York accomplice, Mark Mukasey.  And perhaps that infinity pool cost a hell of lot more than she anticipated.  But none of that erases the line between zealous representation in court and sliming those who dared at great personal risk to reveal the true hideousness of one's clients.

So we're not going to let Susan Estrich off as easily as Alessandra did.  We sentence her to life imprisonment in a hellish pit of fire, smoke, Kombucha tea colonics, and narcissistic entitlement.  In other words, Los Angeles.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Well-groomed paranoid destroyer of woman's rights dead at 92

The obituary page of The Massachusetts Spy

By Luke Reschuss
Obituary Editor

Phyllis Schlafly's life was rich in achievement, if by achievement you mean success in demeaning, degrading, and limiting the lives of her fellow women.  Proof that you don't have to be a man to oppress women, she devoted her entire life to promoting a series of reactionary causes, chiefly successful opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment.

It may be hard to believe today, but forty years ago, the women's movement was only three state legislatures short of amending the U.S. Constitution to prohibit all discrimination, public and private, on the basis of sex.

Coed everything: who could oppose that?  Phyllis Schlafly for one.
Until Phyllis Schlafly stepped in.  Prior to then she had been only a moderately harmful reactionary crank chiefly known for her impassioned advocacy of Sen. Barry Goldwater, today best remembered for his view that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was unconstitutional, as the only man who could have us from the International Communist Conspiracy.  He lost, said Conspiracy took over the world, and life went on.

But Mrs. Schlafly, who made her money the old-fashioned way (she married it), had plenty of time on her hands to cast the ERA as an evil Red conspiracy to deny women their rightful place, presumably in Roger Ailes's gunsights.

To be fair to Mrs. Schlafly, she was able to muster other arguments against the ERA: it would require co-ed bathrooms and legalize gay marriages.  Can you believe there was a time that reactionary bigots tried to stop the march to equality by raising the specter of terrible things happening in bathrooms?   And gay marriage?   It was enough to curl your hair if it hasn't already been curled, styled, and pasted into place with aerosol glue.

Not only that but, according to Mrs. Schlafly, the ERA would have left a woman without recourse should she be booted out by her husband and replaced by a Playboy bunny or even Gretchen Carlson.

Truth be told, we can't inter Phyllis Schlafly anywhere near as well as the great Lucinda Franks did in a 1977 review of one of Mrs. Schlafly's nutty screeds in the New York Times Book Review, so bear with us as we do some extensive, uh, borrowing:
“Whatever the secret of Mrs. Schlafly's appeal, it certainly does not lie in the lucidity of her mind . . . . [In her view, the women's movement] has driven indulgent husbands, disgusted with this display of ingratitude, to the taverns; forced neglected children to drugs and fornication; been responsible for risqué textbooks, socialized medicine and the demise of the Bible.”
Wow: the women's movement sounds almost as terrifying as undocumented immigrants. 
“What is most disturbing about her book is its undertone of contempt for everyone.  She is basically anti-woman; wives can only get the upper hand over their husbands with sexual favors; . . . And she is also anti-men . . . . [whom] she paints as primitives who would run amok if not kept within the restraining wall of the home.”
Can't argue with that last bit, though.

Her ideas were shaggy and wild, but she was always well-groomed
Of course what was really going on was Mrs. Schlafly's relentless ability to mobilize white anxiety about a society changing slowly for the better and straight-up bigotry against a modest change that would help women fight the pervasive discrimination that has held them back, in some cases even if they are married to wealthy white men.

This did not go unnoticed.  In fact, it became the one Republican trick that they have repeated, generally successfully, for four decades.  Think we've gone beyond it?  Imagine if you will the chances of passing the ERA today in the legislatures of Texas, Wyoming, Missouri, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Kentucky . . . .

So now Phyllis Schlafly is buried next to the ERA, but her foul political strategy goes ever bravely on.  One thing you have to say for her: at least she was generally civil, if condescending.  That's some improvement over the raging menstruation-phobic tangerine-faced grifter who has succeeded Mrs. Schlafly as the chief stirrer of the witches' brew of paranoia and bigotry that is today's Republican Party.  Imagine how much better off our political discourse and our nation would be if any of the T.F.G.'s wives had heeded Mrs. Schlafly's sage advice to get her biscuits in the oven and her buns in the sheets, as they say in Slovenia.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

No one's working on Labor Day, including reporters

Labor Day: the last long weekend of the summer, and lots of people, especially white and affluent, are taking it easy.  None easier than the press corps covering the Clinton campaign, who have dropped any effort at reporting, instead contenting themselves with passing on leaks and talking points from anti-Clinton extremists.

Don't believe us?  Let's look at something hacks covering Hillary Clinton seem allergic to: the evidence.

In today's New York Times, right there on page 1, is shocking news about the Democratic nominee: she's raising money for her campaign.  Sit down before we pass along the rest of the story: she's raising money from people who have money to donate.  In other words, rich people.  If you haven't already collapsed from the vapors, it turns out that some of these rich people are her friends.  Yes, politicians have rich friends.  Just like some of the journalists we've met on South Beach.

That was the whole story.  Must be why the reporters were too busy to cover trivia like Clinton's proposed mental health plan and interview experts in the field to determine if it would really work.

But the scriveners at The Washington Post were working not one whit harder over the weekend.  There Karen Tumulty told us who was to blame for the 20-year right-wing program of vilifying Hillary Clinton.  If you guessed Hillary Clinton, you won!

In this version of history, it all goes back to 1993, when in response to shoddy stories about a non-existent scandal called Whitewater, she refused to release her family's financial records.  If only she had, according to veteran Republican conventional wisdom dispenser David Gergen, all those people who launched one crusade after another to bring down the Clintons would have given up and gone back to quilting bees.  Oh, and Bill Clinton wanted to, but mean, paranoid Hillary said no. 

That's why the Clinton Foundation “scandal” is more than just hot air and smoke, she says.  In support of this, uh, thesis, Ms. Tumulty rolled over on her chaise and quoted a source of unimpeachable integrity: “You can’t tell where the Clinton Foundation ends and the State Department begins. Big donors get all the access, and that’s what this is about.”  What ever happened to that source?  Our non-working reporter is willing to tell us that he's now the deputy campaign manager for Ms. Clinton's principal opponent.

The funny thing about this lazy compendium is that those reading it will be persuaded that Hillary Clinton is right: there is an organized 20-year campaign to drive her and her husband from power.  If only she had turned over those bank records in 1993!

Speaking of long lazy summer days at The Washington Post, veteran hack Chris Cillizza got a head-start on his long weekend by filing a column replete with excerpts from the FBI notes of their interrogation of Hillary Clinton.  Leaving aside the propriety of the FBI opining on and releasing documents related to an investigation closed without criminal referral (none), Cillizza helpfully circles the juiciest tidbits, viz:

However, in the paragraph noted above he didn't find it interesting that, while Clinton was Secretary of state, “there was no restriction on the use of personal email accounts for official business.”

Wait, WHAT?

If there was no restriction on using private email accounts for official business, then the entire matter of her emails goes up in a puff of smoke.  And Chris and his fellow scandal-floggers can take the whole weekend off.

The whole week before Labor Day was relaxing at McClatchy's DC bureau, which has come a long way in the wrong direction since, in its previous incarnation as Knight-Ridder, it questioned the official version put out by the Bush Administration to justify its Iraq adventure even before the debacle unfolded.

They tried to gin up a twofer non-story combining emails and the Clinton Foundation.  The article describes an email released pursuant to a suit by longtime Clinton hellhound Judicial Watch that allegedly should have been turned over by Clinton to the Department of State.

The email was from a Foundation donor asking Hillary to make sure that women's issues were adequately addressed at a forthcoming Foundation conference.  In other words, it had nothing to do with Clinton's job as Secretary of State and accordingly was not an official record that had to be preserved.  It was as private as Bill asking Hillary to make sure that the laundry bleached his shirts.

We can't stand to watch political coverage on TV anymore so for all we know, the same lazy hazy crazy days of summer mind-set prevails there too.  We did pick up one data point today though.  While trying to get a weather report this morning, we did hear Martha Raddatz's interview with Tim Kaine on Disney's This Week with Michael Strahan's Sidekick.  Sure enough Labor Day lassitude had struck Ms. Raddatz.

Almost the entire interview was taken up with questions about (1) emails, (2) the Clinton Foundation, (3) why she hadn't held a news conference in the last nine months (she had), and just to show that Martha isn't just interested in recycling past GOP talking points, (4) whether Clinton was responsible for Putin's invasion of Crimea.  The Vice Presidential nominee, his faced contorted by disgust, parried all of these ridiculous attempts without difficulty, thus allowing Martha to continue her weekend unencumbered by any need to do her job.

Speaking of avoiding heavy lifting, like reporting or thinking, where was Maureen Dowd while all this was happening?  No column today.  She must be on vacation.  The question is: on vacation from what?

– A.J.L.