Ben Ginsberg surrenders some billable hours!


Gets praised by the nation’s top liberal: We really felt sorry for poor Jackie Calmes this morning.

Calmes strikes us as the sanest person at the New York Times. Through absolutely no fault of her own, she had to report the recommendations from Obama’s blue-ribbon panel about the best ways to reduce voting delays.

In the real world, this is what you call pap. Remember, these are just recommendations—nonbinding recommendations:
CALMES (1/23/14): Among the commission’s recommendations:

*All citizens should be allowed to register to vote or update their registrations online, to reduce time-consuming confusion at polling places.

*States should exchange data from their voter and motor-vehicle lists with other states to keep voters rolls current as many Americans move.

*All states should expand alternatives to Election Day voting, like in-person early voting and mail-in ballots. The panel did not recommend a time period for early voting; in some states Republicans have sought to restrict it.

*Schools should continue to be used as polling places, and local officials should make Election Day a day off for teachers and students where security is a concern.

*To address the impending shortage of usable voting machines, and hold down costs, the process of setting standards and certifying machines should be overhauled to allow local officials to adopt widely available technologies, such as iPads.
Let’s see if we can keep track of that wave of reform:

Schools should be used as polling places. Also, iPads are OK!

(Adding to the air of fatuity, Calmes reported that the commission “offered no recommendations about voter ID cards.” The two parties couldn’t agree!)

For some reason, Rachel Maddow interviewed the panel’s co-commissioners on her TV program last night. But first, consider one reaction to the indictment of Ultrasound and his wife for having escaped with those golf shirts.

On All In last night, then again in today’s New York Times, a common reaction was voiced. When politicians get elected to office, they may suddenly find themselves surrounded by very rich people. They may lose their values as they try to keep up with a new set of Joneses, folk who may be billionaires.

People who make it big in TV may confront similar challenges.

Last night, Maddow ran a pointless segment about these pointless recommendations. We’re not sure why she did the segment at all. But here’s the strange way she signed off:
MADDOW (1/22/14): All right. Ben Ginsberg, Bob Bauer, co-chairs of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. Thank you very much for your time tonight and talking to us. But I also have to say, you guys are busy guys who bill a lot for your time, and your devotion to do this for the country and to spend a year working on this in a totally nonpartisan way is really an honorable thing for you both to have done. So thank you for doing it.

GINSBERG: Thank you.

BAUER: Thank you very much.

MADDOW: Thank you.
Did she really say that?

Good God! Ginsberg and Bauer are both major machers in big money Washington. Ginsberg played key roles in the chase after President Clinton, in the 2000 Florida recount, and then in the pursuit of Kerry by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

That’s some fairly imperfect stuff. But to Maddow, the fact that he bills at such a high rate made his service on the commission an especially wonderful thing.

We’re sure that Maddow is a nice person among her family and friends. It’s not a good sign when people long to see others ruined in the way Maddow does. That said, we all have our points of imperfection. And she could be an excellent journalist if she were being supervised.

That said, she isn’t being supervised, and she’s making a big Swift boatload of money. No, that sign-off last night didn’t matter. But the analysts came right out of their chairs when TV’s truest-believing liberal said that weird strange bizarre thing.


  1. "she’s making a big Swift boatload of money."

    Blogger can go on obsessing - but apart from possibly giving him an ulcer - his hate will have no effect on Maddow's finances.

    Cool-aid crowd - can't you at least tell your god how utterly crass it is to obsess about the money some public figure is making (or their sweating or their "self-stroking" or "moaning") ?.

    1. Aw damn, we hoped you left.

    2. Bob isn't doing that obsessing over $140,000 in ill-gotten golf shirts, Maddow is. She is the one calling these craven actors good samaritans because they served on a committee when they could have been earning big bucks. Maddow is injecting odd values about money into public discourse. Her excitation is inappropriate -- his vocabulary captures that. If you object to what he is describing, let Maddow know. Blogger isn't seeing anything that isn't there for all to see.

    3. Let me fix that for you:

      "Blogger isn't seeing anything."

    4. Anon at 6:19 is a perfect example of why Somerby devoted so much attention this week to his foolish readers who read but do not comprehend.

      Anon: "Blogger isn't seeing anything that isn't there for all to see."

      Blogger: "Our intellectual culture is broken. Our rotted-out values leave us just this side of insane.

      This breakdown is so widespread it can’t be seen by many observers" Blogger 1/15/14

  2. Commentators on TV usually try to say something nice to their guests. It may be kind of stupid, but I think the thanks were not so much for their spending their time at high pay, but for two super-partisan people working to put their ideologies to the side. Hardly worth bolting from the chair, unless it's for being hit with a gotcha inspiration.

    1. Hey, it was the kind of exchange which quite recently earned Meygn Kelly a boquet of a post from a smitten Somerby.

      When Megyn Kelly was good!
      TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2013

  3. Republican here (I find Bob's education-related stuff informative).

    re: Ben Ginsburg - During our quarterly Koch-funded secret Republican cabal meetings we sometimes try to figure out who fed Ben Ginsburg after midnight. (1)

    (1) It's a 'Gremlins' reference.

    Take a look at some of Ben's first television appearances and you'll see the resemblance.

  4. The elderly poll workers seem to slow things down where I vote. I go early and they never seem to have had any training. They cannot see well enough to find the names in the lists. Cannot there be actual skilled employees doing this work?

    1. Perhaps polling places can be moved to Wal Mart, where the more lively of Bob's contemporaries are employed as greeters.
      With their Wal Mart buck, Social Security, and an occaisional election judging stipend, they might be able to go back in the workplace and buy some Depends.

    2. The poll workers in my county get paid $200.00 tax free for what is a 15 hour or longer shift.
      They also must attend a 2 hour training session.
      They may not leave the building once they start (except for the Marshal, who can go to the parking lot.)
      If we give them a low tax bracket, then the take home pay works out to less than $12.00 per hour for someone receiving two hours total training every two years.
      We get what we pay for.