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It depends on what the meaning of the word "Contact" is.

Obama claimed Tuesday:

"I had no contact with the governor or his office and, so we were not -- I was not aware of what was happening," Obama said.

Now Politico reports that he did have contact [though, to be clear to those who might not read the rest of the post, I do not think that this contact indicates that Obama discussed the Senate seat directly with Blagojevich]:

Obama and Blagojevich both attended the National Governors Association meeting last week in Philadelphia and were photographed shaking hands at the event.

Before the meeting, Blagojevich was quoted saying he had asked Obama's transition team for federal stimulus aid of $3 billion over the next three years to help fill Illinois' estimated $2 billion deficit.

Blagojevich and Obama not having contact in Philadelphia

Apparently, "contact" does not include a private meeting with governors in Philadelphia, or a public shaking of hands in front of the cameras.

It is not really plausible that Obama was interested in who was replacing him in the Senate, and that Blagojevich was desperately interested in shaking down Obama for money or favors, and that Obama's refusal to yield to Blagojevich's bribery/extortion attempt was conveyed to Blagojevich — but somehow in over a month there was no contact between the Obama camp and the Governor's team.

All this leads me to wonder if Obama is becoming like Clinton?

When Obama says that "I had no contact," does he mean that I DID have contact, but it was indirect so I don't have to admit it to you?

And when Obama says that "I was not aware of what was happening," does he mean that I WAS aware of what was happening, but not to a level of certainty that I could be meet a legal "knowledge" standard beyond a reasonable doubt? (see DRJ at Patterico on this point)

And when Obama says that "I had no contact with the governor or his office and . . . I was not aware of what was happening," does he mean that my staff DID have contact with the governor or his office and they WERE aware of what was happening?

As with Clinton, should we presume that Obama is saying something that is technically not a lie, but that the full truth is closer to the opposite of what he is trying to make us think?

I suppose "It depends on what the meaning of the word ['contact'] is" and "what the meaning of the word ['aware'] is."

UPDATE: Orin disagrees with this post, but I think he misunderstands what I am saying.

After playfully showing the picture of Obama and Blagojevich shaking hands, I do not treat that trivial contact as dispositive on the issue of contact for the very reasons that Orin points to: It all depends on what the meaning of "contact" is, which, after all, is the title of my post.

That is merely the setup for the main point of the post, which is clearly stated:

It is not really plausible that Obama was interested in who was replacing him in the Senate, and that Blagojevich was desperately interested in shaking down Obama for money or favors, and that Obama's refusal to yield to Blagojevich's bribery/extortion attempt was conveyed to Blagojevich — but somehow in over a month there was no contact between the Obama camp and the Governor's team.

If I thought that shaking hands were dispositive on contact, I wouldn't have to make this larger argument. Further, I go on to make it explicit that I think it likely that Obama is not lying because probably only indirect contacts were made between Obama and Blagojevich on the Senate seat.

Also, I have twice posted that I don't believe that Obama talked directly with Blagojevich about the Senate seat, a position I still hold:

My tentative conclusion is the same as I expressed yesterday (and hinted above): Obama is telling the truth when he says that he has not talked to Blagojevich about his Senate seat, but he is not ruling out staff discussions.

My post on the timeline, which is evolving into the conventional understanding of what happened when, points to many clues that indirect contacts were made between Obama and Blagojevich.

So I don't disagree with most of what Orin says except his misreading of what I'm arguing. I neither say, nor think, that meeting with governors indicates that Obama and Blagojevich talked directly about the Illinois Senate seat.

2d UPDATE, Thursday morning: Barack Obama just reiterated that he had not spoken to Blagojevich about the Senate seat and promised over the next few days to have his staff disclose any contacts between his camp and Blagojevich. Though Obama didn't admit indirect contacts yet, he implied that there were some, so we might know in a few days whether my characterization was correct. If the implications of Obama's statement today are borne out, then my characterization above will also be borne out.

BTW, Obama looks relaxed and in control -- excellent affect.

James Lindgren (mail):
Please, civil comments only.
12.11.2008 2:57am
David Welker (www):
Mr. Lindgren,

It now sounds like you really are taking the meaning of "contact" in this context seriously:


After playfully showing the picture of Obama and Blagojevich shaking hands, I do not treat that trivial contact as dispositive on the issue of contact for the very reasons that Orin points to: It all depends on what the meaning of "contact" is, which, after all, is the title of my post.


So, it sounds like you recognize that the meaning could legitimately vary based on context.

But, in your original post, you suggest that Obama might be becoming like Clinton. ("It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is.") That is, you suggest that he is being dishonest.

Now, it should be noted that Clinton might actually have had a point as a technical matter. See the discussion on that matter here in Slate. But he was clearly being deceptive given the clear intent behind the question.

So, to equate Obama with Clinton, you are equating him with a sort of dishonesty.

Based on your clarification, it seems that this was not your intent. Fine. However, your original post is an example of poor communication in that both I and Mr. Kerr interpreted it to be a harsh attack on Obama's integrity. To say that someone is giving a justification like Bill Clinton is to suggest that why their answer may be technically accurate, they are parsing words and being deceptive with respect to the clear intent of the question.

In contrast, it seems here what he have is an answer that is technically accurate and not deceptive with respect to the intent of the question. If someone asks about your contacts concerning a Senate replacement, then one's contacts on an unrelated matter (i.e. a $3 billion stimulus package that has nothing to do with the Senate seat that is the subject of the question) are irrelevant.

Anyway, I would suggest that in the future, you do not compare someone to Bill Clinton in the context of his famous "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is" unless you do in fact want to suggest that someone is being dishonest even while being perhaps technically accurate. Because that is how you are going to reasonably be interpreted.
12.11.2008 3:16am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
When you attach an 'update,' that creates the impression the original post is unchanged. But when you added the update, you also added this to the original post:

though, to be clear to those who might not read the rest of the post, I do not think that this contact indicates that Obama discussed the Senate seat directly with Blagojevich


I think this is not a good practice. Hopefully the reasons are obvious.
12.11.2008 3:25am
David Welker (www):
Oh, I think I should point out one more thing.

I think that perhaps Lindgren accidentally disabled comments.

Considering that usually Lindgren keeps comments open, the disabling of comments contributed to the sense that he was expecting a backlash. Which in turn fed into the thought that he was really attacking Obama's integrity and wanted to perhaps foreclose an expected backlash.

Anyway, I think that my point about comparing someone to Bill Clinton in the context of his definition of "is" remarks could on its own lead to misinterpretation. However, I think that the inability to comment further fed that perception.
12.11.2008 3:33am
TCO:
I have generally found the editors here very meticulous about sort of legalistic track changes when editting posts. I think this is needed to be fair with commenters. Jim is not following that. Get rid of him.
12.11.2008 4:09am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
david:

I think that perhaps Lindgren accidentally disabled comments.


That's possible. But it's an 'accident' that seems to happen on certain occasions when he posts something that might be considered especially inflammatory (example, example).
12.11.2008 4:10am
LM (mail):
Jim,

Giving the benefit of the doubt to your intended meaning, I'd just re-iterate and endorse Orin's comment that your post didn't come off as you intended. On the contrary, it strongly implied you find Obama dishonest. If you want to invoke an association as loaded on the question of candor as Bill Clinton, but not ultimately be perceived as calling your subject's honesty into question, you have to make your conclusion a lot clearer than you did.
12.11.2008 4:42am
Cardozo'd (www):
I think Obama was the second gunmen.
12.11.2008 5:26am
NI:
Jim, if I say, "it takes four hours to drive from New York to Boston," everyone understands, without my having to spell it out, that I mean it takes four hours if I don't have an accident or get stuck in traffic or have to change a flat tire. And it's only because those assumptions are understood that conversation is even possible; if you had to articulate every possible assumption every time you said something, you would never be able to get out a simple, declarative sentence.

Likewise, when Obama says that he had no contact with the governor, I think most reasonable people understand that to mean that they had no contact concerning the Senate seat, since that's the context. Sorry, but the type of anal-rententive nitpicking you're engaging in is exactly what gives lawyering a bad name.
12.11.2008 7:42am
Federal Dog:
Before the story broke, Alexrod explicitly stated that Obama had discussed the seat with Blagojevich. Axelrod has now been ordered to claim that his statement was a mistake.

Bull.

Anyone with half a brain and any integrity at all knows that Obama has had contact with Blagojevich. The only question is whether he engaged in misconduct during that contact. The fact that Obama is lying about having any contact at all suggests that he did.
12.11.2008 7:48am
FantasiaWHT:
Obama seems to have a problem with that word... First Ayers, now Blagojevich.
12.11.2008 8:22am
runape (mail):
I'm curious, Jim: What is your rationale for comparing Obama to Clinton if you aren't trying to imply that Obama is dishonest in the way that Clinton was dishonest? To be clear, I think Clinton had a point, but it was a point that only lawyers would care about. But I'm wondering why you are posting all of these things if not to cast aspersions on Obama.
12.11.2008 8:38am
1Ler:
I don't see the big point of controversy in Jim's post. He merely pointed out that "contact" in Obama's press statement meant something more than the conventional understanding of the word "contact." This could be justified in context, or it could be indicative of a Clintonian propensity to mince words. I think it's a fair point.
12.11.2008 9:01am
Wiser:
Obama said on Dec 9, "I had no contact with the Governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening." The literal meaning of that statement is that he never had contact with the Governor in his life, and he has no awareness, whatsoever, about anything.

Everyone makes statements like this every day. Unfortunately it takes common sense to understand it. It takes venality suggest the person is minceing words (ie lieing).
12.11.2008 9:17am
Rhode Island Lawyer:
Jim, you are disingenuous to claim that Orin "misunderstood the point of your post. Neither Orin, nor the rest of us misunderstood a thing. Nice try, though.
12.11.2008 9:45am
Uh_Clem (mail):
Agree with TCO &Rhode Island Lawyer. Lindgren is not only disingenuous but dishonest. Although I often disagree with the top-level posters here, at least I can assume a basic level of ethics and candor and I can respect the opinion even if I don't agree. Lindgrin brings this blog down to the level of LGF or Hot Air - i.e. beneath giving the agrument serious attention because facts, logic, and analysis take a back seat to sheer partisan hysteria.

Eugene &Co would do well to ask him to move on. There are plenty of places on the interwebs where his writing style would fit right in.
12.11.2008 10:49am
Accountant Ed (mail):
Well, I hope the next four years are fun for Jim, picking through every statement from the Obama administration, looking for little kernels of possible scandal. Sounds like a great use of your time. I'm sure it'll make you feel better about the Bush administration.

Now how do you activate the Lindgren filter on this site?
12.11.2008 10:54am
rarango (mail):
NI: it is impossible to give lawyering even more of a bad name than it already has :)

With respect to "having contact," I would assume that Obama would be smart enough to steer clear of the Gov; his staff, of course, is a different matter, but there again, I assume his staff is competent enough (Axlerod's misspeaking excepted) to keep their boss fireproofed. Given the muck that is chicago politics, I find it incredible that someone on Obama's staff had no idea what was happening. Even if that were true, however, that in no way implicates Obama.
12.11.2008 10:55am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
clem:

Lindgrin brings this blog down to the level of LGF or Hot Air


How right you are. It's interesting to note that Hot Air is now running exactly the same bogus talking point that Lindgren posted. Lindgren got there first, by 11 hours.

So if you want to know what Hot Air will be posting about 11 hours from now, keep your eye on Lindgren.
12.11.2008 12:18pm
Guest101:
"As I've said before, as with Bill Clinton, Barack Obama's Jim Lindgren's words should be read carefully to see what he is saying and not saying."
12.11.2008 12:50pm
Wiser:
Lindgren, this is you chacterization: "As with Clinton, should we presume that Obama is saying something that is technically not a lie, but that the full truth is closer to the opposite of what he is trying to make us think?"

More like character assassination based on your reading of Obama's mind. Nothing will ever make that the truth, unless you give us all a demonstration of your amazing mind reading abilities: Please write out what I am thinking of you, right now.
12.11.2008 1:16pm
LN (mail):

"As I've said before, as with Bill Clinton, Barack Obama's Jim Lindgren's words should be read carefully to see what he is saying and not saying."


Win.
12.11.2008 1:45pm
Michael B (mail):
The First Commandment: Thou shalt not entertain errant thoughts about The One. (I mean, it's not as if a single complaint has been voiced that better questions or a better line of inquiry might be more reasonable, more responsible, more productive, more probative.)

The NYT,

"Mr. Emanuel was among the few people in Mr. Obama's circle who occasionally spoke to Mr. Blagojevich. He declined to answer questions on Wednesday, waving off a reporter who approached him as he walked across Capitol Hill.

"A Democrat familiar with Illinois politics and the Obama transition, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said there probably were calls between the Blagojevich and Obama camps about the Senate seat. It was not clear if any calls were recorded by federal agents, who had tapped the governor's phones."

John Fund, Obama Was Mute on Illinois Corruption, excerpt:

"In 2002, Mr. Obama turned up to help Mr. Blagojevich ... win the governor's mansion. Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama's incoming White House chief of staff, told The New Yorker earlier this year that six years ago he and Mr. Obama 'participated in a small group that met weekly when Rod was running for governor. We basically laid out the general election, Barack and I and these two [other participants].'

"Mr. Blagojevich won, but before long, problems surfaced. In 2004, Zalwaynaka Scott, the governor's inspector general, said his administration's efforts to evade merit-selection laws exposed 'not merely an ignorance of the law, but complete and utter contempt for the law.' Nonetheless, Mr. Obama endorsed Mr. Blagojevich's re-election in 2006."

And, 7 Blago questions for Obama, example:

"When did you learn the investigation involved Blagojevich's alleged efforts to 'sell' your Senate seat, or of the governor's impending arrest?"
12.11.2008 2:27pm
Real American (mail):
of course, Obama knew what was going on, just like he knew Ayers and Rev. Wright were horrible people who said and did horrible things. Like those situations, Obama just didn't think much of it because he's a Chicago thug politician like Daley and Blago and Rahm and selling government is what they're all about and it's no big deal.

Welcome to Obama's Whitewater.
12.11.2008 2:45pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Giving the benefit of the doubt to your intended meaning, I'd just re-iterate and endorse Orin's comment that your post didn't come off as you intended. On the contrary, it strongly implied you find Obama dishonest."

Of course he's being dishonest. He's concentrating on narrow statements of what he didn't do. Perhaps he can help us all out by telling what he and his team did do.
12.11.2008 4:05pm
a knight (mail) (www):
You are being artful, but not entirely truthful. For the citation of:
"I had no contact with the governor or his office and, so we were not -- I was not aware of what was happening," Obama said.

Your citation references your own use of it previously on this blog, which itself points to a blog post by Katie Allison Granju at the Knoxville News Sentinel, which in turn points back to Jake Tapper at ABC News. You also imply a much broader context for this Obama quote through omission. From the Granju post:
Today, President-Elect Obama spoke out about the emerging political scandal out of Illinois involving his former Senate seat, and he denied emphatically having ever even spoken to the now-arrested governor about the matter, saying:
"I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening."

Katie Allison Granju, "Note to President-Elect Obama: just tell the truth", Knoxville Sentinel News, December 9, 2008

From the Tapper article:
Asked what contact he'd had with the governor's office about his replacement in the Senate, President-elect Obama today said "I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening."

Jake Tapper, Questions Arise About the Obama/Blagojevich Relationship, ABC News, December 09, 2008

Clearly, in both of these articles, Obama was referring to whether he had spoken to Blagojevich about his choice for the open Senate seat, but you simply omitted that very relevant fact, and went off of the ranch, seeking not truth, but intent upon rumour-mongering. Do you allow your students to twist facts by obfuscating original sources in this manner?
12.11.2008 4:41pm
Syd Henderson (mail):
My feeling is that Obama knew Blagojevich's phone and office were certainly bugged because of the ongoing investigation and was Obama very careful not to have direct contact with Blagojevich. (Not counting a public function like this where they have only a momentary contact and aren't discussing policy.) He must have had contact through his aides or else Blagojevich wouldn't know that the Obama team wasn't playing his game.
12.11.2008 4:43pm
LM (mail):
Elliot123:

"Giving the benefit of the doubt to your intended meaning, I'd just re-iterate and endorse Orin's comment that your post didn't come off as you intended. On the contrary, it strongly implied you find Obama dishonest."

Of course he's being dishonest. [...]

So are you saying:

(1) Jim's a liar, since he intended to accuse Obama of dishonesty? or

(2) Jim's a liar, since although he didn't intend to accuse Obama of dishonesty, Jim didn't believe what he intended to say, but rather what he was inaccurately perceived as saying? or

(3) Jim isn't a liar, since he neither believes Obama is dishonest nor intended to accuse him of dishonesty; but Jim's wrong, since you have some insight into Obama's mind Jim lacks?
12.11.2008 5:39pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
Jim
If you compare Obama to Clinton, you are necessarily accusing him of being dishonest, and weasly with the truth, given Clinton's impeachment over lying to Starr and during the Paula Jones lawsuit deposition. Let us not be naive.

How is Obama being dishonest or speaking the technical truth but in a fashion designed to mislead? He hasn't said his staff didn't talk to Blago's staff, It appears likely that Valerie Jarrett did, to say "I can only give you my gratitude" (if we believe the tape of Blago).

It appears to me that you are letting your low opinion of Obama's ethics (which your many posts during the election evidenced) carry you away in attempting to slime Obama, before the facts are in, with charges of wrong-doing/coverup even though he may not have done any of that. Let's just wait to see what plays out, and not get all hot and bothered making what appear, so far, to be groundless accusations, shall we?
12.11.2008 6:03pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"(1) Jim's a liar, since he intended to accuse Obama of dishonesty? or

(2) Jim's a liar, since although he didn't intend to accuse Obama of dishonesty, Jim didn't believe what he intended to say, but rather what he was inaccurately perceived as saying? or

(3) Jim isn't a liar, since he neither believes Obama is dishonest nor intended to accuse him of dishonesty; but Jim's wrong, since you have some insight into Obama's mind Jim lacks?"


Sorry, I didn't say anything about Jim, but feel free to do so if you choose.
12.11.2008 10:20pm
LM (mail):
Elliot123,

Sorry, I didn't say anything about Jim, but feel free to do so if you choose.

I already did. But you know that, since your accusation of Obama's dishonesty was a response to my comment, which was exclusively about how I thought Jim's post diverged from his stated views.

So, if you weren't saying anything about Jim, your comment was just a non-sequetor, right? That's OK with me, but what inspired you to pick my comment to quote above your unrelated response?
12.12.2008 1:33am
Elliot123 (mail):
"So, if you weren't saying anything about Jim, your comment was just a non-sequetor, right? That's OK with me, but what inspired you to pick my comment to quote above your unrelated response?"

It's your good cheer, pleasant personality, and superior intellect.
12.12.2008 10:27am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
lm:

your [elliot] comment was just a non-sequetor, right?


I'm sure you realize this, but elliot was sent here to personally represent the Dept of Non-Sequitur. He was chosen carefully; he apparently has a black belt in Non-Sequitur. And it's obvious that he takes his responsibilities seriously. Likewise for the work he's doing for the Dept of Evasion.
12.12.2008 11:33am
Elliot123 (mail):
"I'm sure you realize this, but elliot was sent here to personally represent the Dept of Non-Sequitur. He was chosen carefully; he apparently has a black belt in Non-Sequitur. And it's obvious that he takes his responsibilities seriously. Likewise for the work he's doing for the Dept of Evasion."

Klaatu barada nikto.
12.12.2008 2:08pm
Michael B (mail):
LM,

That's pathetic. Before using terms such as liar, might you consider counting to ten on occasion?
12.12.2008 5:19pm
LM (mail):
jukeboxgrad:

And it's obvious that he takes his responsibilities seriously. Likewise for the work he's doing for the Dept of Evasion.

If you're suggesting that his Non-Sequitur work is up to the standard he's set for Evasion, that's high praise.
12.12.2008 6:08pm
LM (mail):
Michael B,

That's pathetic. Before using terms such as liar, might you consider counting to ten on occasion?

I wish I had time to do justice to the irony of that, but I don't so I'll keep to the matter at hand. Did you actually read and understand what I wrote, as well as the comments I was referring to? Are you under the misguided impression that I called or even insinuated that Jim or anyone else is a liar?
12.12.2008 6:18pm
LM (mail):
By the way, I'll probably be accused of logrolling in light of this previous flattery, but I meant what I said in all sincerity.
12.12.2008 6:27pm
Michael B (mail):
I was referring to your 5:39 comment. But I'm a bit curious, so to risk belaboring the point, I'll give it a stab.

No, I did not say you "called" someone a liar, I more simply think the allusion itself served as little or nothing more than a type of incitement. Especially so as there are other options than the three you list. It would be similar to me asking if, in doing so: Are you tacitly admitting you're a liar, since there are obvious and other options? Are you a liar in that sense? Are you a liar otherwise? Or, similarly, in a nearby thread where you misrepresented what I said, as pertains to asking questions and probing, does that suggest you're a liar? (Or perhaps you believe "justice" requires one to remain incurious as pertains to Obama, Rahm Emanuel, et al. when it comes to the Blago scandal?)

As to not having time for "justice" and assuming I catch your drift, do take time. Here and here are a couple of recent examples you might begin with. If the suggestion is one can have a fruitful exchange by merely being decorous when it comes to such ossified issues, we disagree. But I don't use terms such as "liar," a term that brands an individual as such rather than how he or she might be addressing a specific subject. If you dismiss that as a moralizing trifle, so be it, though we would again disagree.
12.12.2008 8:18pm
James Lindgren (mail):
Orin,

Your characterization in your post of my response is again highly misleading.

I suggested the way in which Obama is not lying (he had no direct conversations with Blagojevich) and the way in which he was less than candid.

Come on, Orin, you can do better.

BTW, my analysis is looking better every day. Obama is already strongly hinting that I'm right on the contact issue.

My analysis may have seemed harsh to you, but it's turning out that I was right.

Jim Lindgren
12.13.2008 1:42am
LM (mail):
Jim,

Here's what you said was the main point of your post:

It is not really plausible that Obama was interested in who was replacing him in the Senate, and that Blagojevich was desperately interested in shaking down Obama for money or favors, and that Obama's refusal to yield to Blagojevich's bribery/extortion attempt was conveyed to Blagojevich — but somehow in over a month there was no contact between the Obama camp and the Governor's team.

In your update you added this:

BTW, Obama looks relaxed and in control -- excellent affect.

I think he looks relaxed because it never occurred to him that anyone who's seen the complaint could suggest, as I think you're doing, that Obama would deny, explicitly or otherwise, that there was at least indirect and maybe direct contact between his staff and Blago or Blago's staff. I think you have to read his statement(s) in the context of common knowledge of the complaint. One can't play "hide the ball" with what's in the public record. He knows that and he assumes everyone knows he knows it.
12.13.2008 5:59am
LM (mail):
Michael B:

No, I did not say you "called" someone a liar, I more simply think the allusion itself served as little or nothing more than a type of incitement.

Incitement to whom? By this stage of the thread, I find the torch and pitchfork bearers can be pretty tough to roust.

As you know, I said I took Jim at his word that he didn't think Obama was being dishonest. My reply to Elliot's response of "Of course he's being dishonest" boils down to, "Are you saying Jim's a liar or that you know something he doesn't?" I don't think that's incitement, but even if it is I don't get the impression Elliot's all that thin-skinned. If he disagrees and says I provoked him or hurt his feelings I'll take it under advisement.

Especially so as there are other options than the three you list.

I thought I covered it well enough for government work.

It would be similar to me asking if, in doing so: Are you tacitly admitting you're a liar, since there are obvious and other options? Are you a liar in that sense? Are you a liar otherwise? Or, similarly, in a nearby thread where you misrepresented what I said, as pertains to asking questions and probing, does that suggest you're a liar?

I mostly don't know what you're talking about, but I'm pretty sure I didn't misrepresent anything you said. Please direct me to what you have in mind.

(Or perhaps you believe "justice" requires one to remain incurious as pertains to Obama, Rahm Emanuel, et al. when it comes to the Blago scandal?)

Huh?

As to not having time for "justice" and assuming I catch your drift, do take time.

I'm not sure you do catch my drift. When I said I don't have much time, I meant I'm under more time pressure than usual and I don't have much time. What "justice" has to do with it... I'm afraid you lost me again.

Here and here are a couple of recent examples you might begin with. If the suggestion is one can have a fruitful exchange by merely being decorous when it comes to such ossified issues, we disagree.

"Merely being decorous?" No, I think civility is necessary but not sufficient for a useful exchange.

But I don't use terms such as "liar," a term that brands an individual as such rather than how he or she might be addressing a specific subject. If you dismiss that as a moralizing trifle, so be it, though we would again disagree.

Have you ever seen me call anyone a liar? Did I do it here? I asked Elliot if he was calling Jim a liar. I don't consider the two remotely comparable. Calling someone a liar is a pretty reliable impediment to a useful exchange. Asking if one is calling someone else a liar -- it depends. If that means we disagree....
12.13.2008 6:54am
Michael B (mail):
You're a bit exciteable so I'll forego anything beyond the following:

As to Barack Obama lieing or not lieing, perfectly valid questions remain. That a variety of people are attempting to foreclose those questions is revealing of their methods and motives, but little more. Jesse Jackson Jr., Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett certainly remain suspect (Blago is the primary suspect, others remain "secondary" suspects, given the facts of the case) and the fact that the sole denial coming out of Obama has been a studied avoidance together with the limited denial that Obama personally and directly had contact with Blagojevich speaks further still to the fact that - perfectly valid questions, perfectly valid suspicions, remain.
12.13.2008 3:18pm
TCO:
Why did you post this initially without comments? why open it later (because Orin showed you up?)
12.13.2008 3:44pm
LM (mail):
Michael B,

Excitable? If you say so.

Valid questions, yes. Valid suspicions, other than Jackson we disagree. Time will tell.
12.13.2008 4:30pm
Michael B (mail):
Exciteable, yes. E.g., they (your three options) may have been acceptable for Blago-styled "govt work," but nothing beyond that. Regardless.

A suspicion directly implies a question. It can be used in a sense that has an even darker implication, but that's not the way I used it. I did not color it in that darker sense. Likewise, a suspicion doens't even inherently imply a legal angle, it could refer to a lesser deception, one with no legal implications.

Minimally, we're not seeing the "transparency" Obama was previously overtly promising and perfectly valid questions and suspicions remain open. Not closed, not confirmed in one way or another, they remain open and are perfectly valid as such. That you cannot own up to that minimal level of warranted curiosity is telling because anything below that level is simply irresponsible, even from the more benign vantage point of an abstract, intellectual curiosity that is willing to look at all the facts in the criminal complaint and elsewhere, such as Obama's decidedly limited denial that he alone did not have (direct) contact with Blago, also Obama's refusal to answer further questions, with the excuse that the investigation is ongoing. The whole purpose of transparency is to be forthright, not coy about these types of situations. And if Obama truly didn't wish to comment because of the "ongoing investigation," they why even offer the solitary comment that he (and he alone) had no direct contact with Blago? Reading the criminal complaint other responsible questions and suspicions become apparent, but that reflects a couple of the causes for valid concern.

My own most basic interest is not that anyone is necessarily or obviously guilty, but rather that a reasonable and responible level of questioning be pursued to it's proper end. It's as simple as that and I've suggested nothing beyond that.

In a broader sense it's both amusing and intriguing because this need to maintain Obama's immaculate political conception is evidencing itself as well among the acolytes and yet more fevered Obamabots who seem incapable of doubting the purity that is He.
12.13.2008 6:06pm
TCO:
Jim: Why don't you link to Orin's post as opne of the related posts??
12.13.2008 8:02pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
lm:

If you're suggesting that his Non-Sequitur work is up to the standard he's set for Evasion, that's high praise.


He deserves even more praise than that. I was just scratching the surface. As you observed in the other thread, his excellence in Obfuscation should not be forgotten. There's so much masterful work, it's going to be hard for the judges to decide the right category for his medal. He's in a strong position to pull a trifecta and capture all three. Even though he's up against stiff competition from the usual suspects.
12.14.2008 3:13am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
tco:

Why did you post this initially without comments? why open it later


You're asking good questions about some unusual behavior. Here's another question: why are certain threads getting shut down prematurely? (Example, example.)
12.14.2008 3:18am
LM (mail):
JBG,

To be fair to JL I asked him several times to give some warning before closing his threads, and he answered at least a couple of times that (subject to exception) he sets comments to stay open 24 hours.
12.14.2008 5:32am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
(subject to exception) he sets comments to stay open 24 hours


That sounds good, until you look at the actual practice. Many of his threads live for about 24 hours, but many others have lifespans that differ greatly from that standard. Many threads only live for about 12 hours or less (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here). Some threads only last 6 or 7 hours. (I'm obviously using the timestamp on the last comment as an imperfect proxy for the thread-closing time. But in a busy thread, I think it's a reasonable proxy. And most or all of the threads I cited were busy threads.)

On the other hand, this thread lived for about 68 hours. The thread that contains this comment has now been open for more than 80 hours.

The exceptions are exceptionally frequent, so I think the rule effectively becomes 'I close threads whenever the whim strikes me, in a highly arbitrary manner.' It seems that the whim often strikes him about 24 hours after he posts, but that number varies pretty widely. Based on what? It's hard to tell.

It seems very clear that he's not using an automatic timer to do this. Although that's what implied in your comment (and I guess your comment is an accurate paraphrase of whatever it was that he said to you).
12.14.2008 10:42am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
With regard to this and other behaviors, the word that comes to mind is a word that was often applied to the candidate he supported: 'erratic.'
12.14.2008 10:54am
LM (mail):
jbg,

It seems very clear that he's not using an automatic timer to do this.

I'm pretty sure that's not true. The exceptions, I agree, are too numerous, erratic, and as someone who's more than once found himself finishing a long comment that has no place to go, maddening. But I also tested several of his threads after he posted the policy, i.e., reloading them frequently as the deadline approached, and they all closed on time to the minute.
12.14.2008 7:34pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
they all closed on time to the minute


Thanks, that's interesting. So he does use a timer, except when he doesn't! But in most instances it's the timer kicking in. That's helpful to know.
12.14.2008 10:42pm
Michael B (mail):
Seems you have sufficient time after all, LM. As to your civility, you're often "civil" in the Eason Jordan sense of the term or, likewise, as I represented in the first graf of my initial comment in this thread. Complacency is not synonymous with "civility," even to the contrary. To be so selectively "civil" and otherwise incurious or worse, is not obviously commendable. Hence your concerns with JL are less conscientious correctives than they are denunciations for failing to be supportive of your own particular views.

For example, from the Obama camp, we should be seeing "transparency," one of the much touted virtues Obama promised during his campaign, yet we're seeing precisely the opposite. Not "change," but politics as usual - and in the Chicago/Illinois mold of politics as usual. We're additionally seeing the MSM/Dem alliance and talking points being forwarded, no "change" there either.

It's revealing that Obama pronounced definitely upon his own innocence - then immediately thereafter states that no questions would be responded to because of the "ongoing investigation." If that were true and he were consistent, then he wouldn't have offered the single self-exculpatory statement he did offer, in part because it's not simply about his own personal/direct comminications with Blago. In the following, with the L.A. Times' reporter's questions bolded and Obama's replies in italics, emphases added:

Have you ever spoken to [Illinois] Gov. [Rod R.] Blagojevich about the Senate seat?

"I have not discussed the Senate seat with the governor at any time. My strong belief is that it needed to be filled by somebody who is going to represent the people of Illinois and fight for them. And beyond that, I was focused on the transition."

And that was before and after the election?

"Yes."

Are you aware of any conversations between Blagojevich or [chief of staff] John Harris and any of your top aides, including Rahm [Emanuel]?

"Let me stop you there because ... it's an ongoing investigation. I think it would be inappropriate for me to, you know, remark on the situation beyond the facts that I know. And that's the fact that I didn't discuss this issue with the governor at all."

Whatever that is, it's not transparency - it's precisely the opposite - it's a finessed opaqueness. Hence, it's not "change" either.

For further context, in terms of the continuing MSM/Dem alliance in lieu of "change," contrast the deferential line of questioning above with David Gregory's renown exchange during a White House presser, the one where Gregory, according to some depictions, nearly got into a fist fight with Press Secretary Scott McClellan, concerning Cheney's shooting accident. Gregory, though angry, was nonetheless representative of the White House press corp's insistent line of questioning, emphases added:

David Gregory: "I'm sorry, but I'm not getting answers here, Scott, and I'm trying to be forthright with you, but don't tell me that you're giving us complete answers when you're not actually answering the question. Because everybody knows what is an answer and what is not an answer."

And later, off camera, David Gregory again, still directed to Scott McClellan: "I'll calm down when I feel like calming down. You answer the question."

Iow, there's an absolute insistency, a demanding quality there that is absent - entirely - from the line of questioning directed to Obama. And keep in mind that part of Scott McClellan's rationale for being hesitant was an "ongoing investigation" at that point. Too, Gregory didn't stop there, in a later commentary, days after the press conference, he indicated the way the White House was handling the affair was "emblematic of the rather secretive style with the press by the vice president," further insisting the White House press corp was a "proxy for the American people."

No such line of questioning with Obama. To the contrary and decidedly so. These are not reporters qua reporters before The One, these are reporters qua fauning fans and apologists and spinners, deferential and very nearly obsequious. Similarly with you and your "civility".

A stark study in contrasts. Change!, Hope! and Transparency! seem to signify nothing more than: politics as usual. That you and others are "civil" in the face of such flim-flams and officious pretense advances neither civility nor a more informed discourse. Yet you're all too happy to be "civil".
12.15.2008 4:36pm
LM (mail):
Michael B:

Seems you have sufficient time after all, LM.

Time for what, Michael? Is it possible the things you assume I've had time for didn't coincide with those I didn't?

As to your civility, you're often "civil" in the Eason Jordan sense of the term or, likewise, as I represented in the first graf of my initial comment in this thread. Complacency is not synonymous with "civility," even to the contrary. To be so selectively "civil" and otherwise incurious or worse, is not obviously commendable. Hence your concerns with JL are less conscientious correctives than they are denunciations for failing to be supportive of your own particular views.

And what is it about those accusations you think would move me to spend time defending them, busy or not? Aside from the fact that they're vague character attacks you haven't even bothered to support with quotes, links, examples -- you know, the kind of stuff that might actually make an indiscriminate smear at least arguably relevant -- what does something like this tell me about how fruitful it would be trying to inform or persuade you?

Michael, I wish you no ill, but I've said this to you before and I should have followed my own advice: Life's too short, and mine's better without going down these roads with you. So feel free to call me names, impugn my motives, dangle any bait you like. Just don't expect me to answer.
12.15.2008 9:34pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
michael:

we should be seeing "transparency," one of the much touted virtues Obama promised during his campaign, yet we're seeing precisely the opposite


Bad news. The Financial Times is obviously in the tank for Obama:

he [Obama] made a clear effort to be more transparent than most politicians usually are at such moments


Because we all know that you're more objective than they are.
12.15.2008 10:03pm

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