Rubio gets some right wing love ... is that a good thing?
Marco Rubio has at times, been considered a potential GOP star: the young, Hispanic face of the Republican Party (well, maybe the only Hispanic face of the Republican Party, since that crowd never seemed to really be feeling Mel.) Now, his Senate run has gotten an endorsement from conservative South Carolina Sen. Jim Demint, previously known mostly for his bug-eyed entreaty urging tea partying wingers to "take to the streets!!!" to stop the Obamaian "slide toward socialism." Yes, yes, that should help Marco expand his base... (ahem) ... Says Politico:
The move is not out of character for DeMint, who often finds himself at odds with GOP leaders over thorny political issues.
But DeMint has a significant grass-roots conservative following, and the fight speaks to the larger struggle over the GOP’s tent: Should it be big enough to include more moderate candidates who have a better chance of winning but stray from the party’s principles? Or should it be mainly limited to bedrock conservatives who would help the party return to its socially conservative and limited government roots?
DeMint firmly believes in the latter. A leader of the conservative Senate Steering Committee, DeMint has started a political action committee — called the Senate Conservatives Fund — designed to prop up the candidacies of Senate incumbents and wannabes who adhere to conservative principles. So far, DeMint has backed former Republican Rep. Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania (he planned to do so even before the moderate Sen. Arlen Specter became a Democrat) and the staunch conservative Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who is up for a second term in November 2010.
This cycle, DeMint plans to take a different tack with his Senate Conservatives Fund; instead of simply making donations to his preferred candidate, he plans to ask his 20,000 supporters to help raise the maximum allowable limit for the endorsed candidates — a process known as “bundling.” A person familiar with the PAC said that DeMint is expected to endorse between three and five candidates this cycle.
Is that really what Rubio wants? The name Pat Toomey is almost synonymous with "loser," associated as Toomey is, with the loser-prone Club for Growth (During the 2008 presidential campaign, Toomey even launched his very own jihad, as the then-CFG president, against that liberal squish Mike Huckabee, for the sin of once raising taxes as Arkansas governor. Commie...) So Rubio, it seems to me, has a choice: he can be the future of the GOP, or he can be the standard-bearer for the dwindling, geographically and demographically constricted far right wing past. The bundling, I'm sure he'll take. The poster boy for the Limbaugh wing part? He may want to rethink ...
Right wing blogger and Salem Communications talk show host (they're the same outfit that bought my old station, btw...) has launched what might be the most un-American "campaign" since Strom Thurmond ran for president. He (and his fellow travelers on the right) want his listeners (and Rush's too) to boycott American cars. Hewitt wrote in the Washington Examiner on June 1st:
I won't buy a socialist car, which means I won't be buying a GM or Chrysler car for as long as the U.S. government owns huge blocks of the companies.
So what does Hugh want you to buy? The answer includes ... wait for it ... Japanese cars, made in the Republican south, where workers get paid whatever the Socialized government of Japan says they can make. Read on:
Any American who values their traditions of free enterprise and political freedom will urge the federal government to disinvest itself from these companies immediately. The federal government can quickly put its controlling stake in the companies on the market and do so at whatever price makes the market.
... Buy Ford. Buy Toyota. Buy anything that isn't owned and operated by the federal government. There are plenty of great cars out there. You don't have to buy one that costs not just your cash, but also your commitment to free enterprise and all the benefits that flow from it.
And then to prove his idea is popular, Hewitt writes another piece on his winger radio page in which he cites toootally credible numbers ... his own listeners!
In the two days since the nationalization of GM was announced, the callers and e-mailers to my program have been 10 to 1 against the Obamaization of the American car business.
And then, Hewitt shows his "human" side...
In the effort to reverse this lurch beyond the farthest left fringe of previous Democratic statist urges, individual Americans have a role to play. They have to say no to GM products and services until such time as the denationalization occurs. This is a painful conclusion for those of us with friends still working for the company, and who had supported aggressive efforts to help the private company restructure.
But there isn't any alternative, every dollar spent with GM is a dollar spent against free enterprise. Every car or truck purchased from Government Motors is one not purchased from a private car company that competes fairly against all other car companies.
Aww... Hugh is in pain... But he's apparently just fine with buying cars subsidized by Japan, or Germany, but not those made by American car companies. An interesting argument coming from someone whom I assume purports to be a patriot. Meanwhile, Boss Limbaugh weighs in (no pun intended):
Nobody wants to support an Obama company," Rush Limbaugh told his audience Friday, citing a poll showing that 17 percent of Americans backed a boycott of GM.
... The popular, controversial Limbaugh didn't outright call for a boycott, but said he understood why people would want to avoid GM vehicles. "They don't want to patronize Obama. They don't want to do anything to make Obama's policies work."
For Limbaugh, it all comes back to wanting Obama ... and any American north of the Mason Dixon line, apparently, to fail. It's getting tired now, dear.
UPDATE: Ed Shultz just lost his cookies on MSNBC responding to Hewitt, and railing that he's taking his show on the road. He also called for a boycott of Salem Broadcasting, which runs Hewitt's tiny radio show. So ordered.
The DNC adds:
"While it's not surprising that Rush Limbaugh would root for the failure of a national institution for partisan political gain, it is surprising that the other so-called leaders of the Republican party are silently going along with him given how many hard working Americans rely on GM for a living," said DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan.
In 2006, a few months before the midterm elections, conservative blogger/talk-show host Hugh Hewitt published a book on the drive for a "permanent Republican majority." Soon after, Democrats won a sweeping, historic victory, and reclaimed the majority in both chambers.
In 2007, a few months before the primaries, Hewitt published a book on Mitt Romney and the prospects of a "Mormon in the White House." Soon after, Romney blew leads in Iowa and New Hampshire, and withdrew from the presidential race after a surprisingly poor showing.
In 2008, Hewitt has a new idea for a book. It's called, "How Sarah Palin Won the Election ... and Saved America." There's a small problem: no one wants to publish it ...
Well, we all know how The Wasilla Whiz Kid made out.
The first thing I thought when I looked at DougJ’s post about these morons organizing a boycott of GM and Chrysler was that they just spent the last three weeks incorrectly screaming that Republican Chrysler dealerships were unfairly targeted by the Obama administration for closure, so now they want to boycott them and finish off the rest of them- “Republican dealerships were unfairly targeted! Let’s kill the survivors!”
I usually think it's a bad idea to call people "un-American," but in this case I'll make an exception. Hewitt and his gang, especially El Rushbo, is un-American.
Republicans would be crazy to attack Judge Sotomayor ... but they'll probably do it anyway
Would the Republican Party, already shrinking away to nothingness under the weight of a demographic tsunami, dare to oppose what would be the first Hispanic and only the third woman to serve on the Supreme Court? Would they risk alienating the multiple interest groups who will be galvanized by the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, including not only Latinos and women, but also Catholics (not to mention New Yorkers and Yankees fans...?) The short answer is no, they wouldn't, unless of course they are collectively insane. And yet, the arguments against Judge Sonia Sotomayor are already gathering, and none of them is helpful ... to the GOPI:
1. She's "temperamental." Not that anyone knows what that means, but Media Matters caught the neocons at TNR attacking Sotomayor without even pretending to do anything more journalistically rigorous than quoting random people who clearly aren't fond of her. Unfortunately for the right, attacking Judge Sotomayor's "temperament" will ring awfully familiar, and not in a good way, in the ears of women, who are used to hearing their strength conviction read by some old school dudes as a tendancy toward tantrums.
2. She doesn't like white people. Righties have already begun dissecting Sotomayor's membership in Hispanic organizations at Princeton and her general empathy for fellow Latinos as somehow disqualifying. John Perazzo wrote ominously in Front Page Magazine about one of those membership organizations:
The other group to which Sotomayor belonged, Princeton’s Third World Center (TWC), was established in 1971 “to provide a social, cultural and political environment that reflects the needs and concerns of students of color at the University.” A 1978 Princeton publication explained that the TWC had arisen chiefly to address the fact that “the University’s cultural and social organizations have largely been shaped by students from families nurtured in the Anglo-American and European traditions,” and that consequently “it has not always been easy for students from different backgrounds to enter the mainstream of campus life.”
Oooh ... sounds subversive ... The other knock on Sotomayor in the race case is the case of Ricci v. DeStefano, the now infamous New Haven firefighter case that raises the specter of affirmative action, "reverse discrimination," and more bluntly, black guys taking white guys' job opportunities away (or in this case, the government doing it.) Sotomayor, who ruled against the white firefighters who filed a discrimination suit after a test they passed was thrown out because from the City of New Haven's perspective, not enough minorities passed, was featured in a Willie Horton style web ad claiming she "didn't give a fair shake to firefighters not promoted on the basis of race." Personally, I think that the city of New Haven was wrong to throw out that test because they didn't like the demographics of the passing scores. But going after Sotomayor on the basis of this racially charged case will only make Republicans look hostile in the eyes of Black and Brown people, something they need no more of at this stage.
3. She's a token. Apparently, Justice Antonin Scalia has been heard to opine that “the next nominee to the Court will be a female Protestant Hispanic”. Funny stuff, Nino. And expect more wingers to complain that Sotomayor is not a white guy, and was selected by the other non-white guy wingers loathe (Barack Obama) on that basis. But again, conservatives do themselves no favors by attacking the fastest growing ethnic and voter group in the nation, in order to placate the dwindling number of Angry White Men, all of whom already vote Republican.
4. She's an "activist judge," (which is code for, she's a liberal.) For this one, the righties say they have videotaped evidence, namely a talk Sotomayor gave at Duke University in which she dared to say this:
“All of the Legal Defense Funds out there — they’re looking for people with Court of Appeals experience. Because it is — Court of Appeals is where policy is made. And I know, and I know, that this is on tape, and I should never say that. Because we don’t “make law,” I know. [audience laughter] Okay, I know. I know. I’m not promoting it, and I’m not advocating it. I’m, you know. [audience laughter]”
To this I'd have to say, so what? The judge properly asserted that the courts don't make law. But she was guilty of a bit of "truthiness," in that in many ways, our courts do set policy. From Brown v. Board, which undid racial separation in schools, to Roe v. Wade, which clearly altered national policy on abortion. Like it or not, courts, by interpreting the laws made by legislators, do in effect, make policy. Today, for instance, the California Supreme Court will decide if voters in that state had the right to decide that state's marriage laws. As inartful as Sotomayor's statement about the power of our court system was, it was in essence, true, and hardly disqualifying. Besides, since the right has already charicterized Barack Obama as a Marxist, I'm not sure there's room to place Sotomayor much to his left.
Most importantly, Judge Sotomayor is bringing a heavyweight resume to the table: 17 years on the federal bench, educated at Princeton and Yale, editor of the Yale Law Review (President Harvard Law Review had to love that), not to mention her incredible life story, rising from the projects in the South Bronx to potentially, the highest court in the land. Given her qualifications, and her back story, the right bears a hell of a lot at risk in potentially attacking this nominee. Whether they do it anyway will tell you a lot about the mental state of the Republican Party and the conservative movement.
Meanwhile, the GOP has tried to stop Sotomayor's ascent before, namely, back in 1998:
Senate Republican staff aides said Trent Lott of Mississippi, the majority leader, has agreed to hold up a vote on the nomination as part of an elaborate political calculus; if she were easily confirmed to the appeals court, they said, that would put her in a position to be named to the Supreme Court. And Senate Republicans think that they would then have a difficult time opposing a Hispanic woman who had just been confirmed by the full Senate.
''Basically, we think that putting her on the appeals court puts her in the batter's box to be nominated to the Supreme Court,'' said one senior Republican staff aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity. ''If Clinton nominated her it would put several of our senators in a real difficult position.''
At that time, Pat Leahy described Republican opposition to her this way:
'Their reasons are stupid at best and cowardly at worst,'' he said.
''What they are saying is that they have a brilliant judge who also happens to be a woman and Hispanic, and they haven't the guts to stand up and argue publicly against her on the floor,'' Senator Leahy said. ''They just want to hide in their cloakrooms and do her in quietly.''
Let's see who's hiding in the cloakrooms this time.
Mancow takes his waterboarding like a man, and concludes it IS torture
Are you listening, Miss Hannity?
Of course, if he were really being waterboarded, Mancow wouldn't have been given so many calm instructions or opportunities to stop the torture. It would have been considerably more unpleasant, and accompanied by serial sleep deprivation, beatings, constant terror of being taken from your cell over and over again, and more torture. Still, Mancow gets major props for stepping up to the plate, unlike Lady Sean, he went through with it. And Keith will give the $10,000 to charity on his behalf. He'll now have to endure the hatred of his fellow wingers (scroll down), and will probably be kicked out of the Republican Party by El Rushbo (who like the other soon-to-be winger Mancow haters, wouldn't have even lasted 6 seconds,) but at least there's one honest winger in talk radio today.
Yeah, the Barbara-Whoopi vs. Glenn "lying sack of dog mess" smackdown was satisfying, but what's up with Glenn Beck not being able to answer the question, "what are your convictions?" Watch, and cringe:
The Republican Party is in a sure-fire pickle. They can't stand moderates -- really they can't -- but the available evidence for the last two election cycles suggests they can't get their preferred candidates (namely, anti-taxation, pro-corporate, illegal immigrant hunters who think Barack Obama is a foreign Muslim and who stockpile guns in their mother's basements) elected.
In fact, most of the successes the party has had in winning elections in recent years have been with candidates who at least tried to appear moderate (former Gov. Christie Todd Whitman in New Jersey, former Gov. Pataki in New York, the ousted John Sununu in New Hampshire, Senators Snowe and Collins in Maine, and even the Bushes: Jeb, who dropped the "probably nothing" approach to ethnic politics, sucked up to black and Hispanic voters and moderated his way to victory in 1998, and George W, who ran as a "compassionate conservative" for president in 2000...) Here in Dixie, where the Republican Party is now almost exclusively based, and where Saxby Chambliss (one of the many veteran-smearing GOPers to slime their way into office in recent years) still has a job, it's looking dicey for the GOP when they try to go the Club for Growth route, rather than the Bush (pre governing) route.
Enter Marco Rubio ... the young, Cuban-American Republican of the Future. He's good looking ... he can rip into Democrats in Spanish, just like Jebbie, and he's running on those vaunted "conservative principles," like refusing to take federal aide that could help salve a yawning, $6 billion statewide deficit run up by Republicans -- that wingers cherish (at least now that George W. Bush is out of office.) And yet, he can't catch a break. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, let by Texan John Cornyn, took less than 15 minutes to shove him aside and endorse yet another squishy "moderate," Barack Obama's fave GOP governor, Charlie Crist, for Melly Mel Martinez's Senate seat -- without even checking in with El Rushbo first -- and causing much head scratching and consternation among the qaida ("the base," for those of you not caught up on the lingo) who are rightly wondering whether a party leadership that has utterly failed to advance the winger cause for so many years, and which so thoroughly screwed up the country for the last eight, should get to pick Florida's GOP Senate candidate. For shame! And now, the Florida GOPers, who, like Dick "pick the stranger's car over his, kid" Cheney, would take El Rushbo over Colin Powell, are in mini-revolt:
Anti-Crist 'backlash' brewing
So national Republican party leaders have blessed Gov. Charlie Crist's campaign for the U.S. Senate and the chairman of Republican Party of Florida is ready to do the same. Case closed?
Not so fast. Sharon Day, the party's national committeewoman, is refusing to sign off on a statement that would allow the state party to start providing Crist with support even though he's running in a contested primary against former House Speaker Marco Rubio and other lesser-known candidates.
The Hillsborough and Brevard local parties have passed resolutions protesting the state party's efforts to close ranks, and Palm Beach Republicans are considering the same.
Throw in the RedStaters, who are pledging to starve the NRSC of cash as payback for not towing the Club for Growth line, all because of their love and support for Hispanics (stop that laughing!) and you've got yourself a veritable teabag party of right wing fury! OMG, wait till Cornyn finds out the guy is gay! God, I love politics!
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!
With all the media excitement over Charlie Crist apparently becoming the next Senator from Florida before a single primary vote has been cast ... ahem ... and despite all the attention Marco Rubio is getting for getting the shaft from the NRSC, Charlie and Marco aren't the only candidates in the race. Dr. Marion Thorpe, an African-American physician who frankly, has been running for the Republican Senate nod before either of the other two guys, issued this statement today (for which he helpfully tagged me on Facebook...)
THORPE For US SENATE Statement: The Protocol and Fairness of the 2010 Race
Dr. Marion D. Thorpe, Jr., candidate for U.S Senate in the state of Florida remains 100% committed to all laws and notions affording open and fair election processes in our Nation. In response to the growing disagreement between the state-wide Republican Party of Florida and Florida's County Republican chapters and grassroots activists, Dr. Thorpe has issued the following statement:
I support efforts of party activists to pass resolutions throughout the state of Florida in support of an open and fair Primary Election process.
While I welcome the Governor into the race, I do so with the hopes of having a spirited debate about who can be the best standard-bearer for the Republican Party, the state of Florida and the Nation as a whole.
In a free republic we have elections, not coronations.
I do so hope that Governor Crist and Speaker Rubio will join me in support of these resolutions.
Marion D. Thorpe, Jr. MD MPH
Chief Medical Officer (Former) Agency for Health Care Administration State of Florida
Thorpe is also a conservative, who last time around ran against Alcee Hastings for Congress. We'll see if the media -- or the qaida -- gives him any love.
Here in South Florida (officially the Worst Talk Radio Market in the World...) Clear Channel has blown away three stations, converting the former Love 94 (a terrific smooth jazz station) to a computer-programmed party music station with no deejays, and the "progressive talk" station to an all-syndicated sports station (the market's fifth.) The third blow came last week, when dozens more employees were let go, as the company's FM hip-hop/R&B station was handed over to the New York computers, too. Clear Channel has layed off who knows how many people, maybe more than 100, including sales and programming staff, in South Florida. Across the country, the job loss has been in the thousands.
So you'll forgive me if I consider Clear Channel employee Rush Hudson Limbaugh III a total cretin -- if an unsurprising one -- when he, a resident of real estate-devastated Florida, and Madoff-hit Palm Beach no less, belittles the recession as the little people's problem, as ThinkP reports:
Last night, Rush Limbaugh came to Washington, D.C. to address the President’s Club Dinner, a meeting of wealthy donors and supporters of the Heritage Foundation. The audience included Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), as well as various millionaire trustees of the Heritage Foundation, like Thomas Saunders.
After more or less reprising his radio show routine, Limbaugh went on to brag about his $400 million contract with Clear Channel Communications. As he continued to gloat about his show’s success, Limbaugh mocked the idea that Americans are suffering, noting, “I’ve never had financially a down year” despite the “supposed” recession:
LIMBAUGH: But during all this growth I haven’t lost any audience. I’ve never had financially a down year. There’s supposedly a recession, but we’ve got - what is this May? Back in February we already had 102% of 2008 overbooked for 2009. [applause] So I always believed that if we’re going to have a recession, just don’t participate. [laughter]
(ThinkP also has the audio.) Which leads me to a question. Just what do the Dittoheads need to hear before they figure out that they're storming the Bastille on behalf of Marie Antoinette, and that the Queen is laughing her ass off at how stupid they are?
“This effort plus the cloth produces the perception of ‘suffocation and incipient panic,’ i.e., the perception of drowning. The individual does not breathe any water into his lungs. During those 20 to 40 seconds, water is continuously applied from a height of 12 to 24 inches. ... The sensation of drowning is immediately relieved by the removal of the cloth. The procedure may then be repeated.”
On Jan. 21, 1968, The Washington Post published a front-page photograph of a U.S. soldier supervising the questioning of a captured North Vietnamese soldier who is being held down as water was poured on his face while his nose and mouth were covered by a cloth. The picture, taken four days earlier near Da Nang, had a caption that said the technique induced "a flooding sense of suffocation and drowning, meant to make him talk."
The article said the practice was "fairly common" in part because "those who practice it say it combines the advantages of being unpleasant enough to make people talk while still not causing permanent injury."
The picture reportedly led to an Army investigation.
Twenty-one years earlier, in 1947, the United States charged a Japanese officer, Yukio Asano, with war crimes for carrying out another form of waterboarding on a U.S. civilian. The subject was strapped on a stretcher that was tilted so that his feet were in the air and head near the floor, and small amounts of water were poured over his face, leaving him gasping for air until he agreed to talk.
"Asano was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor," Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) told his colleagues last Thursday during the debate on military commissions legislation. "We punished people with 15 years of hard labor when waterboarding was used against Americans in World War II," he said.
We also hanged them, according to John McCain. And next, the unbelievable justification for waterboarding U.S. detainees:
“Although the subject may experience the fear or panic associated with the feeling of drowning, the waterboard does not inflict physical pain. ... Although the waterboard constitutes a threat of imminent death, prolonged mental harm must nonetheless result to violate the statutory prohibition infliction of severe mental pain or suffering. ... Indeed, you have advised us that the relief is almost immediate when the cloth is removed from the nose and mouth. In the absence of prolonged mental harm, no severe mental pain or suffering would have been inflicted, and the use of these procedures would not constitute torture within the meaning of the statute.”
The May 10, 2005, memorandum from the attorney general's office to the CIA defines torture as -- among other things -- activity where a subject suffers prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from "the threat of imminent death." From there, waterboarding was justified as a technique that, while possibly qualifying as a "threat of imminent death," had "safeguards" in place "that make actual harm quite unlikely." The qualifier seemed to clear the Bush White House of illegality.
But in a footnote at the bottom of page 43 of that same memo, the authors dropped the formalities. "For purposes of our analysis," the footnote reads, "we will assume that the physiological sensation of drowning associated with the use of the waterboard may constitute a 'threat of imminent death' within the meaning of sections 2340-2340A."
For purposes of analysys??? Those on the right justify all of this because in their mind, it doesn't rise to the level of what, say, Saddam Hussein was up to. But what's truly scary, if you read the various winger commentaries floating around the blog world, they are entirely comfortable with the barbarism described in the memos, and some even seem to feel that our techniques should be more like Saddam's, not less. And their biggest beef is that Americans are too pansified to embrace the violent treatment of prisoners under Bush's "leadership."
Right wingers continue to identify with the crazies
Heidi Harris last night on Hardball became the latest winger to identify themselves -- willingly -- with right wing extremists (or ex-treh-mists, if you're from Boston...) And she makes the extraordinary claim that there are no lone wolf nuts out there. None at all! She just doesn't believe it.
'Skinny Bitch' Watch: Laura Ingraham fires back (again)
Having played the party of the snarky, asthmatic yearbook editor to Megan McCain's popular cheerleader, Laura Ingraham took her outrage to a new level yesterday, issuing an angry email outburst called "Useful idiot-watch," aimed at all those evil jerks who hated on her skinny bitchery. Hat tip to ThinkProgress:
The left’s indignation in this instance is manufactured and totally phony. If any off-the-cuff remark about a woman’s size was condemnable, then where was the outrage when President Obama made a passing reference to Jessica Simpson’s “weight battle” during his Super Bowl interview with Matt Lauer? And of course they look the other way when obvious personal attacks are levied against conservatives. Remember when Al Franken was the toast of all media for his book “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot”? Last month The View’s Joy Behar called him a “fat guy”; and when I was a guest on The View a few years back she ridiculed Ann Coulter and me as “peroxide” blondes on Fox. I laughed it off. If you can’t stand the heat…get out of the punditry business.
High school translation:
LAURA: (wheeze) "Like ... they called my boyfriend fat, so screw 'em! He's not fat because he eats too much, it's genetic! Miss Stupid Face is fat 'cause she's stupid...! Cheerleaders are stupid...! You're all stupid...!
Snap poll: who would most winger guys rather date: Boney Laura or curvy Megan?
I'm not a huge fan of the McCain clan (particularly after John McCain's conduct of the 2008 campaign,) but I have to say Megan McCain, for all her Valley girlisms and relationshiop TMI, she comes across as a far more reasonable, thoughtful and likeable Snidely Whiplash radio termagant (and resident "bodysnarker") Laura Ingraham. Advice to Laura (and her fellow winger anorexics): shut up and have a hamburger. Don't hate on Megan because she's cuter than you.
Meanwhile, in other radio news: Don Imus has announced he is battling prostate cancer. Again, not a fan, but godspeed to him.
Hat tip to Youzentoube. From last week on SFGATE, but still a classic:
I see you out there. I know you're lurking, seething, sending me angry letters, posting nasty comments in anonymous forums across the Interweb, not merely enraged that I and millions like me dare to support President Obama's massive overhaul of the enormously flawed American idea, but that I also dare to see him as exactly the finest and most intelligent and, yes, even integrity-filled progressive visionary we could possibly hope for at a time like this.
You are fuming in disbelief. How can I not see it? How can the vast majority of the country not see it? How is it that no one but you and a few manic fringe writers seem to notice that President Obama is either A) a thinly veiled socialist commie instigator hell-bent on destroying America from the inside out, or B) nothing more than a cleverly disguised corporate-loving Bush clone because, oh my God, haven't you seen his policy on H1Bs and faith-based initiatives and his nefarious plan to take over the banks and, um, something else you can't quite remember right now but you're sure is really, really damning?
You are slamming your fists on your keyboard. Why doesn't the world get it? That it's all just the same old cronies rearranging the same old powermad furniture, a giant shell game Decepticon robot evil nightmare?
Oh, you poor dear. What utter, crushing frustration you must feel. Especially since the other side, the conservative side -- maybe it was your side? -- had its grand shot at running the show. It ran every sour idea, pushed every extreme right-wing economic scenario, wasted trillions on a failed war, spit on gays and kowtowed to the fundamentalists and shoved the country so far to the right we fell off Ted Haggard's massage table.
And alas, "unmitigated disaster" doesn't even begin to cover what happened next.
Conservative direct mail guru Richard Viguerie spells out the bottom line for the GOP and its many, many problems:
"The 'Rushification' of the GOP is the natural and inevitable result of the fact that those who are supposed to provide leadership -- Republican elected officials and party officers -- are doing little to bring the party back," said Viguerie, Chairman of ConservativeHQ.com. "Nature abhors a vacuum, and there is no vacuum in nature as empty as the leadership of the Republican Party today."
Ouch. And the air head currently standing at the mouth of the vacuum is none other than our good friend Michael Steele, who is quickly turning out to be almost as golden for Democrats as El Rushbo himself. Steele has quickly gone from the Great Brown Hope of the GOP (oh, sorry, that was Bobby Jindal...) the Great Black Hope of the GOP, to a national punch line (even Morning Joe got at him on Wednesday.) And Politico reports that besides providing endless hilarious sound bites for the ankle biters online, such as myself, and on late night TV, Steele isn't even getting his organization together. So much for the logic in making him RNC chair just because he's not white ...
CNBC's Rick Santelli -- the wingers' new star -- decries mortgage help for 'losers' and leads a mini revolt on the floor of the Chicago mercantile exchange:
Throw open the debtors prisons, why don't ya! And orphanages! What's wrong with orphanages??? You know, I'd be interested to get Rick's views on bailing out the "losers" at the Wall Street banks, since they're the ones who tanked the economy last time I checked.
Keifer Sutherland responds to charges that the violent interrogations on the hit show '24' -- which most right wingers believe is a documentary -- are influencing real military people to do real torture. He tells the Guardian:
"What Jack Bauer does is all in the context of a television show," Sutherland begins, very slowly and deliberately, in the grainy register of a heavy smoker. He looks unexpectedly slight, and a little tired, but his engagement is direct and considered. "I always have to remind people of this. We're making a television programme. We're utilising certain devices for drama. And it's good drama. And I love this drama! As an actor I have had an absolute blast doing it. You sit in a room and put a gun to a guy's knee and say, 'Tell me!' Oh, you feel so amazing after that!
"But I know it's not real. The other actor certainly knows it's not real. And up until a year ago, everybody else knew it wasn't real."
Or did they...?
In 2007 it was reported that a delegation from West Point had visited the set of 24 to tell producers that their portrayal of torture was seriously affecting military training. Cadets love 24, a general explained, "and they say, 'If torture is wrong, what about 24?'" A former US army interrogator told them he'd seen soldiers in Iraq "watch the shows, and then walk into the interrogation booths and do the same things they've just seen". Their claims were corroborated by a book last year by Philippe Sands about interrogation techniques at Guantánamo Bay, in which military officials cited 24 as an inspiration for early "brainstorming meetings". Bauer, one officer admitted, "gave people a lot of ideas".
Sutherland is a Democrat and says he longs for the day when Bauer's interrogation techniques "go back to being a figment of someone's imagination, as opposed to mirroring things that are in fact happening across the world". Authenticity, however, has always been central to 24's appeal. Just a week before President Obama announced that he was going to close Guantánamo Bay, the latest series opened with the counter-terrorism unit disbanded, and Bauer facing indictment for torture. "The world is changing," Sutherland smiles, "and season seven deals with that. It deals with Jack Bauer in a world that's changing where he is obsolete."
But the charge is that life has been imitating art, mirroring what it saw on 24. When I put it to Sutherland, the smile quickly thins, and he begins to look annoyed.
"First off, I'm just going to tell you outright, the problem is not 24. To try and correlate from what's happening on a television show to what the military is doing in the real world, I think that's ridiculous." Does he mean he doesn't believe the reports of 24's influence? "Well I haven't read all those reports. But if that's actually happening, then the problem that you have in the US military is massive. If your ethics in the military, in your training, is going to be counterminded by a one-hour weekly television show we've got a really big problem." His growl grows heavy with contempt. "If you can't tell the difference between reality and what's happening on a made-up TV show, and you're correlating that back to how to do your job in the real world, that's a big, big problem."
Yes, a problem ... indeed... so let's get to the good stuff: is Jack Bauer a Republican? Oh wait, hold on ... let me make sure Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck aren't listening in on the George W. Bush listening devices embedded in my Mac screen ... okay ... we're good. Go on:
24's creator, Joel Surnow, who has described himself as a "rightwing nut job", has certainly given the impression of being not unhappy if 24 impacts on public opinion, saying: "America wants the war on terror fought by Jack Bauer. He's a patriot." The Fox executive who bought the show has said candidly, "There's definitely a political attitude on the show, which is that extreme measures are sometimes necessary for the greater good. Joel's politics suffuse the whole show." The essential message of 24 is not just that torture can be morally justifiable, but, more importantly, that it works. And in the absence of other more accurate sources of information in American popular culture, it's hardly surprising if the viewing public believes it.
Sutherland repeatedly invokes the phrase "in the context of a television programme", and stresses, "this is a drama", but there are moments when exactly who is confusing TV and reality is unclear. "Jack Bauer," he asserts, "is to me an apolitical character." Really? "Well, can you tell me if Jack Bauer is a Democrat or a Republican?" I would say he's clearly a Republican. "Absolutely not!" Sutherland flashes back triumphantly. "Not a chance." Why not? "Because I'm not a Republican, and I created the character." If Bauer is supposed to be pure make-believe, then surely Sutherland's personal politics are beside the point? I get the impression that the only really consistent thread in the logic of his defence of 24 might be an intellectual motto of "Whatever it takes".
Indeed... What is that saying about denial and a river in Egypt? The truth of the matter is that right wingers DO believe that '24' is a realistic depiction of the so-called "war on terror," or at least, a depiction of the way it should be. The love of torture, the really un-American embrace of it, has become a key component of the "conservative" ideology. Keifer can say whatever he wants, but the evidence is there, including the fact that the right's chattering classes fuel such beliefs among the dim Palinites who listen to them. Whatever it takes.
The right wing reader: the charms of the old slave south
This is what it's come to. The latest Human Events dispatch offers conservative readers the chance to relive the magic of the Confederacy, without the "politically correct" spin of the carpetbagger liberals up north. From my in-box this morning:
Dear Fellow Conservative:
The politically correct history that dominates our schools and universities today insists that Jefferson Davis was another Hitler, Robert E. Lee was another Rommel, and the Confederate States of America were our own version of the Third Reich - a blot on American history.
Now see? If only the south had won the war! We'd have Cuba as our 51st state, and all those darling Negros would be learning to read in Stonewall Jackson Academies for the Betterment of Chattel instead of prancing around chainless, like they're better than you because one of "their kind" is president! Damned freedom. It ruins everything...
The right's self-immolation derby continues: they're bringing back Schiavo!
Okay, so I'm driving home the other night and happen to stop on the Michael Savage show. I know, I know, I really can't offer a coherent excuse. So anyway, he has on a guy who's promising that the right will not lie down while Barack Obama turns this county into a secular socialist hell hole. And how are the wingers going to demonstrate their resolve? By bringing back the Terri Schiavo case. No, seriously, they're bringing back the Schiavo case. From the Family Research Council, a manifesto on how to fight an upcoming Obama nominee. It's called, completely without irony, "Change Watch..."
Change Watch Backgrounder: Thomas J. Perrelli
POSTION: ASSOCIATE ATTORNEY GENERAL
NOMINEE: Thomas J. Perrelli
Born: March 12, 1966
Occupation: Managing Partner of Jenner & Block's Washington, DC office.
Education: graduated from Harvard Law School, magna cum laude, in 1991
Clinton White House: In 1997, served as counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno. He subsequently rose to Deputy Assistant Attorney General, supervising the Federal Programs Branch of the Civil Division, which represents virtually every federal agency in complex civil litigation. Perrelli also supervised the Justice Department's Tobacco Litigation Team in its litigation against the major cigarette manufacturers.
End of Life issues
"An attorney who won an award for representing Terri Schiavo's husband Michael in his efforts to kill his disabled wife is now an advisor to the transition team of incoming president Barack Obama.
Thomas Perrelli, who raised over $500,000 for the pro-abortion presidential candidate and is the managing partner of a Washington law firm, Jenner & Block LLP, is helping advise Obama on putting together a Justice Department team.
However, Perrelli provided Michael Schiavo with legal advice during his response to the Congressional bill that President Bush signed allowing the Schindler family to take their lawsuit seeking to prevent Terri's euthanasia death from state to federal courts.
Perrelli led the Jenner & Block team that developed the legal briefs opposing appeals for Michael and he ultimately received the Albert E. Jenner, Jr. Pro Bono Award in October 2006 for representing Terri's former husband at no cost.
On Michael's legal team, Perrelli worked with infamous pro-euthanasia attorney George Felos as well as lawyers from the Florida chapter of the ACLU."
They also don't like the fact that he supports redistricting under the Voting Rights Act. So there you have it. The fight is on, and it's about black people, and Terri Schiavo. Good move, FRC... please, please, keep it up.
I mean ... he's black, right wing, and certifiably nuts! He's what you call "the package." The comedy circus that is the race for Republican National Committee chair rolls merrily along:
After Chip Saltsman, a candidate for chairman, sent party members a CD that included the song "Barack the Magic Negro," he received sharp criticism from former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) and other Republicans who worry that the party is losing touch with the moderate, suburban voters who are key to winning national elections. But nearly all of the candidates are facing intense scrutiny from party factions, as GOP officials view the next chairman as a vital figure in the post-Bush era.
The hopefuls are campaigning as though they were running for president, bombarding RNC members with calls and e-mails, appearing on national cable shows, enlisting allies to rally support and, in Saltsman's case, piloting his Piper Arrow plane around the country to meet with committee members.
Sorry... "flies" along... so besides Chip the Magic Dumbass, who are the contenders? A regional divide has emerged between North and South, with former Maryland lieutenant governor Michael S. Steele and Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis pitted against Saltsman of Tennessee and Katon Dawson, the South Carolina party chairman. While not criticizing the candidates or party members from the South, Steele and Anuzis have emphasized the importance of competing in states where the GOP has struggled in recent years.
"If we are a party that can speak to Utah, South Carolina and Kansas, but can't reach voters in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan, we will be a losing party," Anuzis has said. "We must adopt a strategy that carries our message to every state." The Michigan leader has also tried to cast himself as a different kind of Republican, noting that he is a member of the Teamsters union and a rider of a Harley-Davidson Road King.
The two black candidates are perhaps the most ideologically divided. Former Ohio secretary of state J. Kenneth Blackwell has long been embraced by conservative groups such as the anti-tax Club for Growth, while Steele has faced criticism for being, until recently, a leader of the Republican Leadership Council, which urges party members to be more tolerant of candidates who support abortion rights.
Steele emphasizes the need for the GOP to appeal to African Americans and other minority groups, while Blackwell dismissed the Saltsman controversy as "hypersensitivity" and has stressed his experience as an elected official over concerns about diversity.
Dawson has spent weeks highlighting his efforts to get blacks involved in South Carolina politics, following revelations that until this fall he had belonged to an all-white country club. I mean you really can't make this stuff up. Continuing:
And Kentucky's Mike Duncan, the current GOP chairman, is running for reelection despite sharp criticism from some party activists who wonder how he could be rewarded with another term after presiding over the November defeat. Gingrich has blasted what he believes are Duncan's overly aggressive efforts to link President-elect Barack Obama to the scandal surrounding Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), while DeLay, who is close to Blackwell, mocked Duncan's "horrible idea" of creating a think tank in party headquarters.
But Duncan has been emboldened by post-Election Day victories in congressional runoffs in Georgia and Louisiana, giving him a clear message: The party was defeated by an unusually strong Obama organization and appeal that cannot be replicated.
"Obama was a phenomenon," Duncan said in an interview. "We know how to win elections."
Several GOP officials said Duncan's strong relationships with GOP leaders, fundraising ability and competence running the party make him the favorite, despite the Election Day results.
I still like Alan Keyes, but if they pick Ken "Shady Elections" Blackwell, who is despised by black people in Clarence Thomas proportions, and who is best known for stealing Ohio by disenfranchising black voters in 2004, and who is a true religious nut, same difference.
Two dozen conservative luminaries will announce today their support for former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell for Republican Nation Committee chairman.
The group, which mixes leading economic conservatives, including Steve Forbes and Pat Toomey, and leading social conservatives, including James Dobson and Tony Perkins, had agreed to endorse and campaign together for a candidate based on a questionnaire assembled by veteran GOP activist Morton Blackwell (no relation).
"The conservative endorsers noted that there were other good candidates, but all agreed that Ken Blackwell is the best choice. They intend to contact grassroots conservatives across the country and ask them to urge the three RNC members from each state and U.S. territory to vote for Ken Blackwell for RNC chairman," they said in a press release going out shortly.
I can just see Steve Forbes, with that glassy-eyed look, telling fellow conservs that it's high time the party appeared in blackface, in order to appeal to the hip hoppers, and getting quite serious affirmation rather than gasps.
Morning doh! Scarborough gets home schooled on Israeli-Palestinian history
I love watching egomaniacal windbag Joe Scarborough get checked. Today's contestant: Zbigniew Brzezinski, Mika's dad, on the subject of Israel and the Palestinians, and who is to blame for the ongoing violence. The money quote:
You know, you have such a stunningly superficial knowledge of what went on that it's almost embarrassing to listen to you.
What is significant is that Brzezinski essentially issued a challenge to Obama and his team to re-engage seriously -- to go back to what was achieved at the Taba negotiations just before the Bush administration aborted the entire project.
The most important thing that Brzezinski said to Scarborough was (paraphrased from memory...but watch the video above):
Taba. It's spelled T. . .A. . .B. . .A. Go look it up. You might learn something.
Coultergeist declares war on Kwanzaa ... with an old, used gun in her hand
Should someone call Bill O'Reilly??? On second thought, never mind. Ann Coulter's latest upchuck is a salvo against the African-American holiday Kwanzaa, over which he/she claims to have finally triumphed this year. Having declared victory, because the holiday hasn't been mentioned as much as in past years, and wasn't "happied" by President Bush, Coultergeist launches into a valuable "history lesson" (he/she, after all, knows more about black history than you do, having lived all her life as an African-American man-girl...man...) Commence!
My Triumph Over Kwanzaa!
by Ann Coulter
... It is a fact that Kwanzaa was invented in 1966 by a black radical FBI stooge, Ron Karenga, aka Dr. Maulana Karenga. Karenga was a founder of United Slaves, a violent nationalist rival to the Black Panthers and a dupe of the FBI.
In what was probably ultimately a foolish gamble, during the madness of the '60s the FBI encouraged the most extreme black nationalist organizations in order to discredit and split the left. The more preposterous the organization, the better. Using that criterion, Karenga's United Slaves was perfect. In the annals of the American '60s, Karenga was the Father Gapon, stooge of the czarist police.
Despite modern perceptions that blend all the black activists of the '60s, the Black Panthers did not hate whites. They did not seek armed revolution. Those were the precepts of Karenga's United Slaves. United Slaves were proto-fascists, walking around in dashikis, gunning down Black Panthers and adopting invented "African" names. (That was a big help to the black community: How many boys named "Jamal" currently sit on death row?)
She then goes on to say some stuff about O.J. ... Oh, and there's also a song:
(Sing to "Jingle Bells")
Kwanzaa bells, dashikis sell
Whitey has to pay;
Burning, shooting, oh what fun
On this made-up holiday!
Clever girl...boy... whatever. Followed by more "history":
Kwanzaa itself is a nutty blend of schmaltzy '60s rhetoric, black racism and Marxism. Indeed, the seven "principles" of Kwanzaa praise collectivism in every possible arena of life -- economics, work, personality, even litter removal. ("Kuumba: Everyone should strive to improve the community and make it more beautiful.") It takes a village to raise a police snitch.
When Karenga was asked to distinguish Kawaida, the philosophy underlying Kwanzaa, from "classical Marxism," he essentially explained that under Kawaida, we also hate whites. While taking the "best of early Chinese and Cuban socialism" -- which one assumes would exclude the forced abortions, imprisonment of homosexuals and forced labor -- Kawaida practitioners believe one's racial identity "determines life conditions, life chances and self-understanding." There's an inclusive philosophy for you.
Coincidentally, the seven principles of Kwanzaa are the very same seven principles of the Symbionese Liberation Army, another charming invention of the Worst Generation. In 1974, Patricia Hearst, kidnap victim-cum-SLA revolutionary, posed next to the banner of her alleged captors, a seven-headed cobra. Each snake head stood for one of the SLA's revolutionary principles: Umoja, Kujichagulia, Ujima, Ujamaa, Nia, Kuumba and Imani -- the exact same seven "principles" of Kwanzaa.
Kwanzaa was the result of a '60s psychosis grafted onto the black community. Liberals have become so mesmerized by multicultural nonsense that they have forgotten the real history of Kwanzaa and Karenga's United Slaves -- the violence, the Marxism, the insanity. Most absurdly, for leftists anyway, is that they have forgotten the FBI's tacit encouragement of this murderous black nationalist cult founded by the father of Kwanzaa.
This is a holiday for white liberals -- the kind of holiday Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn probably celebrate. Meanwhile, most blacks celebrate Christmas.
Blah blah blah blah blah. You get the idea. Well, it is true that most African-Americans celebrate Christmas. And Coulter's racist sideswipes aside (I don't know, dear, how many Jamals are there on death row? And while we're counting, how many "Ann's" are there with huge Adam's apples swinging purses and stumbling around in size 12 heels in the Castro?) he/she isn't the first curiously gendered winger to take a swipe at the holiday or to go all cookoo over the fact that it exists at all. But typical of Coulter, he/she goes on to use his/her increasingly irrelevant column to take shots not only at Black Americans, intimating that Kwanzaa adherents are a bunch of violent Marxists, but also at the right's favorite nemeses from the failed presidential campaign: Bernadine Dohrn and William Ayers, and at Barack Obama, whom he/she dares to shun Kwanzaa as proof that the "Halfrican" president-in-waiting -- yes, he/she's still calling him that -- is more "American" than "African." Nice touch.
Why I'm bothering to comment on this fellow's latest attention-starved gambit may seem beyond you. I personally don't celebrate Kwanzaa and am on record as being a bit ambivalent about it. (That said, I also disagree with those who say Jesus is the reason for the season. I'm pretty confident that Santa Claus and Macy's share that honor...) But I think it's clear to most thinking people that whatever it's origins, Kwanzaa is not a black nationalist holiday designed to foment the overthrow of the white, Christian establishment. Rather, it's a holiday that attempts to reconnect black folk to the African continent, however tenuously, by encouraging African descendants to be proud of their origins, something many who grew up prior to the "I'm black and I'm proud" era of the late 1960s and 1970s struggled to be, and to work together to build better communities. Not a bad idea, I'd say.
In what was probably ultimately a foolish gamble, during the madness of the '60s the FBI encouraged the most extreme black nationalist organizations in order to discredit and split the left. The more preposterous the organization, the better. Using that criterion, Karenga's United Slaves was perfect. In the annals of the American '60s, Karenga was the Father Gapon, stooge of the czarist police.
In what was probably ultimately a foolish gamble, during the violent '60s, the FBI encouraged the most offensive black nationalist organizations in order both to discredit and split the left. The more preposterous the organization, the better. Karenga's United Slaves was perfect. Despite public perception blending the black activists of the '60s, the Black Panthers did not hate whites and did not seek armed revolution. That was the trope of Karenga's United Slaves. In the annals of the American '60s, Karenga was the Father Gapon, stooge of the czarist police.
Whether Karenga was a willing dupe, or just a dupe, remains unclear. Curiously, in a 1995 interview with Ethnic NewsWatch, Karenga matter-of-factly explained that the forces out to get O.J. Simpson for the "framed" murder of two whites included: "the FBI, the CIA, the State Department, Interpol, the Chicago Police Department" and so on. Karenga should know about FBI infiltration. (He further noted that the evidence against O.J. "was not strong enough to prohibit or eliminate unreasonable doubt" -- an interesting standard of proof.)
hether Karenga was a willing dupe, or just a dupe, remains unclear. Interestingly though, in an 1995 interview with Ethnic NewsWatch, Karenga matter-of-factly explained that the forces out to get O.J. Simpson for the "framed" murder of two whites included: "the FBI, the CIA, the State Department, Interpol, the Chicago Police Department" and so on. (He further noted that "the evidence was not strong enough to prohibit or eliminate unreasonable doubt" -- an interesting standard of proof.) Karenga should know about FBI infiltration.
In the category of the-gentleman-doth-protest-too-much, back in the '70s, Karenga was quick to criticize rumors that black radicals were government-supported. When Nigerian newspapers claimed that some American black radicals were CIA operatives, Karenga publicly denounced the idea, saying, "Africans must stop generalizing about the loyalties and motives of Afro-Americans, including the widespread suspicion of black Americans being CIA agents."
Also, in the category of the-gentleman-doth-protest-too-much, back in the '70s, Nigerian newspapers were claiming that many American black radicals were CIA operatives. Karenga leapt in to denounce the idea publicly, saying, "Africans must stop generalizing about the loyalties and motives of Afro-Americans, including the widespread suspicion of black Americans being CIA agents."
Now we know that the FBI fueled the bloody rivalry between the Panthers and United Slaves. In one barbarous outburst, Karenga's United Slaves shot to death Black Panthers Al "Bunchy" Carter and Deputy Minister John Huggins on the UCLA campus. Karenga himself served time, a useful stepping-stone for his current position as a black studies professor at California State University at Long Beach.
There is no question now that the FBI fueled the bloody rivalry between the Panthers and United Slaves, leading in one outburst to the shooting of Panther Al "Bunchy" Carter on the UCLA campus by Karenga's United Slaves. Karenga himself served time, a useful stepping-stone for his current position as a black studies professor at California State University at Long Beach.
You get my drift. It's the same bloody article, rearranged slightly, and repackaged as new (though Mr. Coulter was kind enough to update the "new" article with a poem.) In essence, the Coulterbeast has "regifted." Perhaps someone should tell her syndicator. Or maybe, that's just the way the right operates. Meanwhile, Coulter's obsession with the Dartmouth Review seems to have been unearthed, along with the old, used article. Coulter, after all, founded a "review" while attending Cornell that was obsessively patterned after the Dartmouth Review. And it seems that back in 2001, the Review returned the favor, publishing a Kwanaattack on January 15th of that year that was suspiciously similar to Annie Boy's January 2 screed. The plot thickens...
MSNBC this morning gave some airtime to a new ad campaign, which simply "thanks Sarah Palin," for all she's done. No, it's not from a group of late night comedians, stand up comics or liberal talk show hosts (or Democratic strategists.) It's from a group of faithful Palinites who, well, just think she's gotten a raw deal. Watch their first ad:
There's also a Thanksgiving version ... which might not have been so advisable, given that whole, unfortunate turkey massacre incident...
A political action committee called “Our Country Deserves Better” is raising money to air a series of TV advertisements voicing support for Gov. Palin. The group is headed by Howard Kaloogian, a California Republican and former state legislator.
All three versions of the ad — which are being streamed on the PAC’s website for now — feature group members complimenting Gov. Palin over her role in the 2008 campaign. Lloyd Marcus, a singer-songwriter and spokesman for the group, says to the camera, “Thank you, for the grace and dignity you showed even when some tried to smear and destroy you.”
Mark Williams, a conservative commentator, says, “We thank you for your passionate, hopeful and articulate advocacy of common sense, conservative values.”
During the presidential campaign, the Our Country Deserves Better PAC conducted “The Stop Obama Tour,” with a bus that traveled from the West to the East Coast to promote the Republican ticket.
The latest campaign includes a special Thanksgiving ad, which highlights Gov. Palin’s penchant for moose stew as an alternative to turkey.
Doh! Don't say "turkey..." puhleeeze...!
The above-mentioned "commentator" Mark Willians was also the guy angrily flacking for the ad (and for Palin's fight to stop the "anti-American policies of our in-coming president." More of this crowd's greatest hits ... er, misses ... here...) with the light-questioning, giggly Norah O'Donnell this morning. Commentator is such a vague term. In fact, he's an out of work talk show host. From a posting in the "news" section on an industry website called AllAccess this morning:
Look for former KFBK-A/SACRAMENTO, WWDB/PHILADELPHIA, and WROW-A and WGY-A/ALBANY talker MARK WILLIAMS on MSNBC this morning at 11a ET. WILLIAMS will be at the studios of NBC affiliate KCRA-TV/SACRAMENTO to appear on the cable network defending the "Thank You SARAH PALIN" ads he produced for his OUR COUNTRY DESERVES BETTER political action committee.
WILLIAMS is available for fill-in and full-time talk gigs and has a full ISDN studio at his home; call him at (XXX) XXX-XXXX or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hey, it's a recession. Everybody needs a gig. But since "Our Country Deserves Better" (an ironic name if I've ever heard one...) isn't actually HIS PAC, does the actual chairman, the Gingrichite Mr. Kaloogian, know that Williams -- listed as just a spokesman on the PAC's website -- is grabbing the credit for the ads on a radio site that just also happens to offer job and gig listings? Either way, this is a rather pathetic band of left behinders, also including Mark Steyn, apparently.
Oh, and in case you're wondering who the high-voiced black guy in the cowboy hat is, his name is LLoyd Marcus, and apparently, he sings, too! Even tried to write Florida's state song (poor dear.) From his PAC bio:
Lloyd Marcus is a passionate and patriotic American who has been a leader in the fight for common sense conservative values.
Lloyd Marcus has touched the hearts of Americans across this great land with his powerful songs “United We Stand” and “Sarah Smile” - a tribute to Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin. You can learn more about Lloyd at his personal website: www.LloydMarcus.net.
Have you noticed the concerted effort, on talk radio, in the Wall Street Journal, and on the political right, to blame the Big Three auto makers' woes, not on the management whose bloated salaries and bad decisions helped get their industry into the fix their in, but rather on "greedy," unionized workers, who over the years demanded too much pay, and too many health and retirement benefits, all via their evil union, the United Auto Workers? A sample:
Sen. Jim DeMint: “Some auto manufacturers are struggling because of a bad business structure with high unionized labor costs and burdensome federal regulations. Taxpayers did not create these problems and they should not be forced to pay for them.”
Sen. Jon Kyl: “For years they’ve been sick. They have a bad business model. They have contracts negotiated with the United Auto Workers that impose huge costs.The average hourly cost per worker in this country is about $28.48. For these auto makers, it’s $73. And for the Japanese auto companies working here in the United States, it’s $48.”
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger: “You know, if you pay the auto workers or the benefits and all of those things, are maybe too high. … We have, like, in America, you sell a car, and you have $2,000 of each car just goes to benefits. So I think that there’s a way of reducing all of that, make them more fiscally responsible.”
And this from right wing CNS News, whose Dan Gainor says a proposed bailout:
... has little to do with saving Detroit and a lot to do with helping out the Democratic Party’s political machine. The chief recipient of this deal isn’t the companies, it’s the union. A bailout of Detroit would secure that the Big Three continue to fail and pay exorbitant sums to thousands of union workers.
The Los Angeles Times says unions funded the Democratic victory to the tune of more than $80 million just this election. The San Francisco Chronicle puts the number a bit higher – $450 million. Either way, they want their payback. They already have two things in mind – eliminating secret ballots in union elections and saving their 139,000 brothers and sisters in the United Auto Workers.
So let me get this straight: it's a bad thing for the American blue collar worker to reach for the highest wages and best benefits he can get, but fine for the CEO of his company to make 400 times his salary? And by the way, these are the same types who advocate ever increasing tax cuts for CEOs, who deserves the break, apparently, while the working screw deserves a pay cut. That's one of the tenets of right wing economic theory: that CEOs should be able to amass huge, tax-free fortunes, and be trusted to "trickle down" the benefits to the slobs who work for them. I suppose Kyl and Gainor and friends would rather see American workers paid more like the workers in "more efficient" countries, like India? As Pat Buchanan put it recently, it used to be a badge of honor in this country that our workers were the best paid, hardest working people in the world. Meanwhile, as ThinkProgress points out:
Financial firms AIG, Merrill Lynch, and Bear Stearns did not have unionized workers but still suffered economic collapses. Frozen credit markets and a spiraling recession were major contributors to Detroit’s current state.
And the financial services firms pay a hell of a lot more than Detroit. The ethos of the Republican right -- that the wealthy should have unlimited earning potential, but average Americans are "greedy" if they want the same thing, and that tax cuts should be weighted always toward the wealthy, who shouldn't be punished, while workers should, at all costs, be prevented from unionizing, and thereby gaining wages and benefits that rightly belong to their betters. No wonder Republicans have lost everyone in this country who isn't dumb enough to cheer for his or her own demise.
In the wake of yesterday’s bruising result, the Republican party faces an excruciating and divisive choice between two very different futures.
The first choice is the choice on display at the excited rallies that cheered Sarah Palin all through the fall. This is a choice to fall back on the core base of the Republican party. The base is almost entirely white, almost entirely resident in the middle of the country, moderately affluent, middle-aged and older, more male than female, with some college education but not a college degree. Think of Joe the Plumber and you see the core of the Republican party. ...
... There’s another. It’s the path that begins by facing up to the arithmetic that says – Joe is no longer enough. God bless him, he’s the GOP base, and no Republican wants to lose him. But he needs reinforcements.
For Frummy, those reinforcements are not Latinos or Black folk ... they're long gone for the GOP. For Frum, the reinforcements are, in two words, smart people:
College-educated Americans have come to believe that their money is safe with Democrats – but that their values are under threat from Republicans. And there are more and more of these college-educated Americans all the time.
So the question for the GOP is: Will it pursue them? To do so will involve painful change, on issues ranging from the environment to abortion. And it will involve potentially even more painful changes of style and tone: toward a future that is less overtly religious, less negligent with policy, and less polarizing on social issues. That’s a future that leaves little room for Sarah Palin – but the only hope for a Republican recovery.
Yeah, good luck with that, Dave. The GOP has made a conscious decision to reject smart people, in favor of blunt-edged jingoism, social issues, and convincing less educated, low income white voters to cheerlead for wealth hoarding by rich people who wouldn't let those same lower income white voters mow their lawns. That's their thing, and they're most likely going to stick to it. ... That and saying "Ronald Reagan" a lot...
Meanwhile, National Review misses the point on the Prop 8 win in California (and the Amendment 2 win in Florida, if they were paying attention to it.) The actual lesson is, when record numbers of Black voters go to the polls, they take their conservative religous values with them. Most Americans could give a damn whether gay people get married.
... in that he shocked the hell out of me today. Beck, one of the better broadcasters on the right but one whose views I usually find completely objectionable, took his own callers to task this morning, telling one guy who tried to bring up Barack Obama's birth certificate for the umpteenth time to "get off my phone!!!" and lecturing another, who said he refused to accept Obama as president, on being a good American. The convo went something like this:
CALLER: I don't accept him as my president.
BECK: Then you're not a good American.
CALLER: I AM an American.
BECK: How do elections work in this country? When one guy wins, is he the Democratic president, the Republican president, or the American president?
CALLER: He's the guy who won for president.
BECK: But is he the Democratic president, the Republican president, or the American president?
CALLER: He's the president, but I don't accept ...
BECK: He's the American president. I want to hear you say the words.
CALLER: Well I don't accept ...
BECK: Then you're not a good American.
It went on like that for a couple of minutes, in which Beck stated that though he did not support Obama, he considered him to now be HIS president, and all Americans should pray for him, and help him to succeed, without compromising their own values. He also took to task Democrats, who after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of George W. Bush in 2000, refused to accept Bush as president, and he very fairly characterized the need for all Americans to accept the results of our elections, and give the new man a chance to govern. He excoriated people who want to protest, and burn down the house because their guy didn't win. He blasted the bloggers and Facebook fiends on the right's lunatic fringe who are already calling for Obama to be impeached (the Spectator has a bit of fun with them here.) And I applaud him. Beck isn't right about everything, but he gets kudos for standing up to the wingers on this one. (Read Beck's "No pity party" post, with a squinty eye on the Marxist crap, here.)
Charlie Gibson, who must be bracing himself for four years of pure crazy at FNC for the next four years, was similarly reasonable on Imus this morning. Yes, I listen so that you don't have to.
Contrast the praise for Palin with the back of the hand given to the lamentable Harriet Miers. Nominated to the Supreme Court by George W. Bush, she encountered fierce resistance from, of all people, conservatives. They questioned her ideological fervor and wondered about her legal acumen. "There is a gaping disproportion between the stakes associated with this vacancy and the stature of the person nominated to fill it," wrote a certain Kristol in the Weekly Standard. As luck would have it, he was right.
But why such keen objectivity regarding Miers and not Palin, for whom the phrase "gaping disproportion" would seem to have been coined? The answer is obvious. It is not "the stature of the person nominated" that matters, it is the person's ideology. Miers not only had questionable credentials but questionable ideological purity as well -- what the National Review called "the substance and the muddle of her views." Palin is a down-the-line rightie, so her inexperience, her lack of interest in foreign affairs, her numbing provincialism and her gifts for fabrication (Can we go over that "bridge to nowhere" routine again?) do not trouble her ideological handlers. Let her get into office. They will govern.
Aha. There's the rub.
Like George W. Bush: Sarah Palin is seen by the neoconservative coterie as the simple-Simon (or is that Simone...) faux populist rube whom they hope to set up as the popular vessel through which they will govern. She mollifies the "crazies" (the religious right, the rural right, and the more self-determined fiscal right,) and they get to keep foisting their Middle East think-tankery on a hapless public. The payoff to the fiscons is that they get to loot the Treasury and hoard the money through obscene tax cuts for the rich. Sadly, the religious right and the rural "real American" Limbaugh listeners get nothing but jingoistic cheerleading, empty promises (I'm sure the GOP is gonna get right on that federal banning of gay marriage and abortion thing... any minute now...) and frightening tales of shotgun confiscation and scary brown people lurking at the Mall of the Americas! to keep them in line...) As for Sarah, in the neocons' estimation, like George, they need only flatter her and promote her and suppress opposition to her within the Republican Party, and it's a go. In that sense, it is she, and not John McCain (the neocons' original candidate in 2000 and again this year) who truly is Bush II.
He really is better than the network he finds himself on ...
The Fox News anchor forced to live through yet another strange Joe the Plumber interview as the Average Superstar bungles more precious moments of his 15 minutes of fame with Palinite babbling. Here's a bit of Joe's eternal wisdom. Asked if he really meant it when he "went ahead and agreed with" a McCain supporter who suggested a vote for Barack Obama would mean the death of Israel...
PLUMBER: No, that is just my personal opinion that I've come up with by looking into different facts and what I think. That is what my message has been about. I haven't been telling people to go out and vote. Listen, you don't want my opinion on foreign policy. I know just enough about foreign policy to probably be dangerous.
SMITH: That is what I was wondering. I wonder if you think it is dangerous at all for people to say that a vote for Barack Obama is the same as a vote for Israel, if you think that is dangerous for people to start believing. What happens if the polls are right and he becomes President of the United States and people start thinking that this means the death of Israel. Are you worried about what people might do if they actually believe something like that?
PLUMBER: That goes back to what I just got done saying. Some people believe it wholeheartedly. This gentleman I spoke to is Middle America. Therefore...it is very important to him -- important to me, but especially important to this gentleman. He is Middle America and he was able to get on there and make his point, and I agreed with him. I have no idea where John McCain's position is on that. John McCain is his own person, just like I am.
JTP is all McCain's now -- he's campaigning for him, dontcha know! Which should work really well with swing voters ... did I mention that he doesn't want his Social Security checks when he retires? Maybe he could sit next to "Jomama" on the bus and keep her company, since apparently, John McCain has fallen for Joe, and out of love with her.
Brad Blakeman summarizes GOP values as well as anyone this century: he defends the RNC's spending the cost of a single family home in some states on a Saks and Neiman Marcus shopping spree for Sarah Palin (and her kids) while sneering at Barack Obama flying home to Hawaii to visit his ailing grandmother. Here you go:
Mr. Wurzelbacher told reporters Thursday morning that he worked for Newell Plumbing & Heating Co., a small local firm whose business addresses flow back to several residential homes, including one on Talmadge Road in Ottawa Hills.
According to Lucas County Building Inspection records, A. W. Newell Corp. does maintain a state plumbing license, and one with the City of Toledo, but would not be allowed to work in Lucas County outside of Toledo without a county license.
Mr. Wurzelbacher said he works under Al Newell’s license, but according to Ohio building regulations, he must maintain his own license to do plumbing work.
He is also not registered to operate as a plumber in Ohio, which means he’s not a plumber.
2. He's not about to buy a plumbing business, $250,000 or otherwise:
Mr. Wurzelbacher said he was hired by Mr. Newell six years ago and that the possibility of him eventually buying the company was discussed during his job interview.
3. He doesn't make anywhere near $250,000:
Mr. Wurzelbacher said he objects to Mr. Obama’s plans to raise income taxes on incomes above $250,000. He said he makes no where near that much money but he would not say how much he makes or if he ever expects to make $250,000. Court records from a divorce show Mr. Wurzelbacher made $40,000 in 2006.
4. He really, really doesn't want to pay taxes...
In January, 2007, the Ohio Department of Taxation placed a lien against him because $1,183 in personal property taxes had not been paid, but there has been no action in the case since it was filed.
5. He has ties to both Alaska and Arizona:
He said he was born in the Toledo area, lived until he was 13 in the Florida Panhandle area, went to Springfield High School, and then entered the U.S. Air Force. He was stationed at an Air Force base in Alaska from 1992 until 1995. He said he was honorably discharged.
Mr. Wurzelbacher also said he lived in Arizona from 1997 until 2000.
6. His Alaska ties could include Todd Palin... Wurzelbacher, who has described himself as a Sarah Palin fan, may also be tied to Wasila via Doug Wurzelbacher, a "31-year-old musher," as described by this Kos diarist, and who lived in Wasila while Palin was mayor. More on the Wasila connection from Progress Ohio:
Is Doug Wurzelbacher related to Joe Wurzelbacher AKA "Plumber Joe"?
According to the census, there are less than 175 Wurzelbachers in the country, and one of them lived in... WASILLA, ALASKA! and was involved in competitive snow racing.
Interestingly enough, according to this record, Robert Wurzelbacher is betting his presidential money on Bob Barr... 8. He may be purged from the voter rolls in Ohio by his party of choice. Per the Brennan Center for Justice:
... many thought Joe was not a registered voter. Turns out there was likely a misspelling in the Lucas County Board of Elections database. From the Blade: "Linda Howe, executive director of the Lucas County Board of Elections, said a Samuel Joseph Worzelbacher, whose address and age match Joe the Plumber's, registered in Lucas County on Sept. 10, 1992. He voted in his first primary on March 4, 2008, registering as a Republican. Ms. Howe said that the name may be misspelled in the database."
Politico's Ben Smith makes the connection that if Joe registered this year, he could be purged from the rolls under a 6th Circuit Court ruling on Tuesday.
That's because on Tuesday, following a lawsuit by the Ohio republican party, the court ordered Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to disclose to local election officials the names of 200,000 new registrants whose names didn't match with state motor vehicle or federal Social Security databases. This list could be used by local election officials and party operatives to prevent these voters from casting ballots that will count. As Secretary Brunner knows and the Brennan Center demonstrated in the brief, almost all mis-matches are the result of typos and administrative errors—like in Joe's case.
The Brennan Center is trying to help Joe -- and the other 200,000 people the GOP is trying to purge -- to get their right to vote restored.
Mr Wurzelbacher told ABC he was "not even close" to earning $250,000, but worried that Senator Obama would increase taxes for those making less.
In a video interview with the Toledo Blade newspaper after the debate, Mr Wurzelbacher described himself as a man of modest means.
"You see my house. I don't have a lot of bells and whistles in here, really. My truck's a couple of years old and I'm going to have it for the next 10 years, probably. So I don't see him (Obama) helping me out."
He said he wasn't swayed by Obama's health-care pitch, either, describing it as "just one more step toward socialism."
Mr Wurzelbacher said he was pleased with Senator McCain's performance. "McCain came across with some solid points, and I was real happy about that," he said.
He's also against Social Security, pro-Iraq invasion, wants to seal the borders and he's sick of people saying America isn't the greatest country in the world. In other words, he's a typical, right wing talk radio trained winger:
and last but not least:
10. He's the right wing's latest "common man" indulgence. They're absolutely smitten with his absolutely ordinariness. Move over Sarah, and like, also...
Republican Mickey Edwards, formerly a congressman from Oklahoma, distances himself from McCain, saying "today, thanks to a campaign apparently managed by Moe, Curly, and Larry, he comes across as erratic (Obama's word, but it fits), impulsive, befuddled, and ill-tempered, and apparently unable to utter any words other than 'surge' and 'earmarks.'" Edwards also plays the blame game very explicitly: "If Obama gets a big win, it will be McCain himself, and the Three Stooges calling the shots at his headquarters who will deserve whatever blame is attached for transforming a viable and energetic Obama campaign into a steamroller grinding the Republican Party into the ground."
Erick Erickson, "editor in chief" of RedState.com, is giving up on McCain: "With only a few weeks left until election day, let's be blunt: McCain-Palin '08 does not seem to be making headway against the polling." He suggests that McCain needs to choose between himself and senate/house Republicans, and suggests that his readers focus on downballot races: "The Republican numbers in the House and Senate can be salvaged, but in the next few weeks there must be a realistic assessment from the McCain campaign regarding winning his own race versus helping Congressional Republicans mitigate their losses."
The Weekly Standard lays out the "worst case scenario" for next year, and it's all stuff I like: more union protections, universal healthcare, making rich stock traders actually pay taxes, breaking the ideological stranglehold of right wing program directors on talk radio, withdrawing from Iraq... what's the problem, fellas?
A little truthiness: who caused the subprime crisis?
McClatchy does us all a service, by setting the record straight:
As the economy worsens and Election Day approaches, a conservative campaign that blames the global financial crisis on a government push to make housing more affordable to lower-class Americans has taken off on talk radio and e-mail.
Commentators say that's what triggered the stock market meltdown and the freeze on credit. They've specifically targeted the mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which the federal government seized on Sept. 6, contending that lending to poor and minority Americans caused Fannie's and Freddie's financial problems.
Federal housing data reveal that the charges aren't true, and that the private sector, not the government or government-backed companies, was behind the soaring subprime lending at the core of the crisis.
Subprime lending offered high-cost loans to the weakest borrowers during the housing boom that lasted from 2001 to 2007. Subprime lending was at its height from 2004 to 2006.
Federal Reserve Board data show that:
More than 84 percent of the subprime mortgages in 2006 were issued by private lending institutions.
Private firms made nearly 83 percent of the subprime loans to low- and moderate-income borrowers that year.
Only one of the top 25 subprime lenders in 2006 was directly subject to the housing law that's being lambasted by conservative critics.
The "turmoil in financial markets clearly was triggered by a dramatic weakening of underwriting standards for U.S. subprime mortgages, beginning in late 2004 and extending into 2007," the President's Working Group on Financial Markets reported Friday.
Furthermore, though they have become the whipping banks of the right:
Fannie, the Federal National Mortgage Association, and Freddie, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., don't lend money, to minorities or anyone else, however. They purchase loans from the private lenders who actually underwrite the loans.
This much is true. In an effort to promote affordable home ownership for minorities and rural whites, the Department of Housing and Urban Development set targets for Fannie and Freddie in 1992 to purchase low-income loans for sale into the secondary market that eventually reached this number: 52 percent of loans given to low-to moderate-income families.
To be sure, encouraging lower-income Americans to become homeowners gave unsophisticated borrowers and unscrupulous lenders and mortgage brokers more chances to turn dreams of homeownership in nightmares.
But these loans, and those to low- and moderate-income families represent a small portion of overall lending. And at the height of the housing boom in 2005 and 2006, Republicans and their party's standard bearer, President Bush, didn't criticize any sort of lending, frequently boasting that they were presiding over the highest-ever rates of U.S. homeownership.
Between 2004 and 2006, when subprime lending was exploding, Fannie and Freddie went from holding a high of 48 percent of the subprime loans that were sold into the secondary market to holding about 24 percent, according to data from Inside Mortgage Finance, a specialty publication. One reason is that Fannie and Freddie were subject to tougher standards than many of the unregulated players in the private sector who weakened lending standards, most of whom have gone bankrupt or are now in deep trouble.
During those same explosive three years, private investment banks — not Fannie and Freddie — dominated the mortgage loans that were packaged and sold into the secondary mortgage market. In 2005 and 2006, the private sector securitized almost two thirds of all U.S. mortgages, supplanting Fannie and Freddie, according to a number of specialty publications that track this data.
In 1999, the year many critics charge that the Clinton administration pressured Fannie and Freddie, the private sector sold into the secondary market just 18 percent of all mortgages.
Fueled by low interest rates and cheap credit, home prices between 2001 and 2007 galloped beyond anything ever seen, and that fueled demand for mortgage-backed securities, the technical term for mortgages that are sold to a company, usually an investment bank, which then pools and sells them into the secondary mortgage market.
About 70 percent of all U.S. mortgages are in this secondary mortgage market, according to the Federal Reserve.
But what about the infamous Community Reinvestment Act (the CRA)? Isn't THAT Carter-era abomination to blame for the subprime crisis? Why, no...
Congress created the CRA in 1977 to reverse years of redlining and other restrictive banking practices that locked the poor, and especially minorities, out of homeownership and the tax breaks and wealth creation it affords. The CRA requires federally regulated and insured financial institutions to show that they're lending and investing in their communities.
Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote recently that while the goal of the CRA was admirable, "it led to tremendous pressure on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — who in turn pressured banks and other lenders — to extend mortgages to people who were borrowing over their heads. That's called subprime lending. It lies at the root of our current calamity."
Fannie and Freddie, however, didn't pressure lenders to sell them more loans; they struggled to keep pace with their private sector competitors. In fact, their regulator, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, imposed new restrictions in 2006 that led to Fannie and Freddie losing even more market share in the booming subprime market.
What's more, only commercial banks and thrifts must follow CRA rules. The investment banks don't, nor did the now-bankrupt non-bank lenders such as New Century Financial Corp. and Ameriquest that underwrote most of the subprime loans.
These private non-bank lenders enjoyed a regulatory gap, allowing them to be regulated by 50 different state banking supervisors instead of the federal government. And mortgage brokers, who also weren't subject to federal regulation or the CRA, originated most of the subprime loans.
As much as I love the folks at McClatchy, I said the exact same thing a month ago, in this fantabulous video:
The top ten reasons Oprah should tell everybody to kiss her entire ass
White women in a huff over Oprah's booking decisions.
The cat fur is flying over the non-story about Oprah supposedly banning Caribou Barbie from her show (recalling a previous cat-fight over Oprah not backing Hillary Clinton during the primaries.) This enterprising blog even offered five reasons O should let Sarah Palin on. Some of the comments the post elicited ranged from the profane, to the downright ridiculous: #1. Those who say that Oprah owed her support to Hillary Clinton and now owes it to Sarah Palin because they are women are rank hypocrites for criticizing her for supporting a black candidate.
#2. Those who claim Oprah owes white women for her success are blatant racists, whose sense of entitlement even extends to Oprah's well-EARNED success. I suppose she should show her appreciation by giving up her seat on the bus when a white woman wants to sit down?
#3. Clearly Oprah owes nothing to people who are so quick to turn on her, including drawing for the race card, when she doesn't tow the line by putting (white) women first.
#4. Anyone who thinks Sarah Palin MUST be allowed to go on Oprah's show, but don't mind that she refuses to go on actual news shows like "Meet the Press", or face reporters at all, is an authoritarian fool so nurtured on Fox News propaganda that you feel Palin should be worshipped into office instead of voted in on the basis of facts. By your logic, the geezer must immediately be booked on "Montel."
#5. If you don't like the way Oprah runs her show, don't watch it, or better yet, create a (right wing) show of your own. Oh, that's right, you have no talent, and instead have been bamboozled into watching Oprah's show all this time, thinking you were purchasing her eternal loyalty to white women along with her favorite things...
#6. Each of you is entitled to your political views, and so is Oprah. You don't see her out there telling you how stupid you are for voting for four more years of Bush policies just because they're dressed up in the guise of a geriatric old man and his pretty Alaskan nurse, do you?
#7. I thought dittoheads didn't believe in the fairness doctrine...
#8. If you're so hopped up on entertainers giving equal time to pols, maybe Kelsey Grammar and Bruce Willis could be forced to do a movie with Barack? It could be called "Die Hard with a guy who sounds British but really isn't and a guy Sean Hannity says is Muslim, but also isn't..."
#9. OPRAH IS NOT A REPORTER, AND HER SHOW IS NOT THE PLACE FOR ELECTION COVERAGE!
#10. Republicans have already established that they hate celebrities. Going on Oprah would further establish Sarah Palin as a celebrity, thereby making you hate her. And you can't hate her, wingers ... because she is your queen.
--- Banned books + lots of earmarks + abuse of office to fire brother-in-law + Alaska secessionist party + mayor of 9,000 = vice presidential material! Only in America...
... but who is definitely about to be somebody's mother. From Reuters:
The 17-year-old unmarried daughter of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is pregnant, Palin said on Monday in an announcement intended to knock down rumors by liberal bloggers that Palin faked her own pregnancy to cover up for her child.
Bristol Palin, one of Alaska Gov. Palin's five children with her husband Todd, is about five months pregnant and is going to keep the child and marry the father, according to aides of Republican presidential candidate John McCain.
Bristol Palin made the decision on her own to keep the baby, the aides said.
The Palins, in a statement released by the McCain campaign, said Bristol "came to us with news that we as parents knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned" and that their daughter "has our unconditional love and support."
"We ask the media to respect our daughter and Levi's privacy as has always been the tradition of children of candidates," their statement said.
Senior McCain campaign officials said McCain knew of the daughter's pregnancy when he selected Palin last week as his vice presidential running mate, deciding that it did not disqualify the 44-year-old governor in any way.
The boy's name is Levi. You just can't make this stuff up.
So far, we've seen none of the outrage wingers like Bill O'Reilly heaped on Miley Cyrus for striking a sexy pose in Vanity Fair (Fox of course was always careful to include the photos in their OUTRAGED! coverage...) or the opprobrium heaped on Jamie Lynn Spears, who got pregnant one year younger than Bristol? Priceless commentary from Rush and crackpot "Doctor" Laura here. Best clip? The Radio Equalizer asks Dr. Laura for comment on Jamie Lynn:
Blasting the environment in which the Spears children were raised, Dr Laura replied, "I feel sorry for children who are robbed of their childhoods of innocence by parents who are negligent or voyeuristic. I feel sorry for the unborn baby, whose precious life is bound to be a toy in the hands of these young people.
"I feel sorry for the children of America who are bombarded by these images of inappropriate sexuality and out of control freedom - because they will come to believe they're entitled also. I feel sorry for America because we've lost our sense about judgment and the dangers of desires met but not earned," she added.
I wonder what the good "doc" has to say about Bristol... I'm guessing she'll praise her for her maturity in not aborting the child.
The Associated Press: the Fox News of wire services?
The Washington Monthly has the latest on the adventures of would-be McCain campaign staffer Ron Fournier, who happens to be the Washington Bureau chief for the Associated Press...
The latest piece from Ron Fournier, the AP's Washington bureau chief and the man responsible for directing the wire service's coverage of the presidential campaign, on Joe Biden joining the Democratic ticket, is drawing a fair amount of attention this morning. More importantly, McCain campaign staffers are pushing it fairly aggressively to other reporters, in large part because it mirrors the Republican line with minimal variation.
By choosing Biden, Fournier argues, Barack Obama is showing a "lack of confidence," and is siding with "the status quo."
There are two ways to consider Fournier's piece: substantively and in the broader context.
First, on the substance, Fournier's analysis seems a little lazy. By his logic, any potential running mate shows a "lack of confidence" -- picking Hillary would mean Obama lacked confidence in his ability to win over women voters; picking Bayh would mean Obama lacked confidence in his ability to win over independents and conservative Dems; picking Webb would mean Obama lacked confidence in his ability to win over voters concerned about national security; picking Kaine would mean Obama lacked confidence in his ability to win over voters in the South; etc. For that matter, "the status quo" in Washington has been conservative Republican rule. Biden may be an old pro and a DC insider, but he's anything but "the status quo."
Second, in context, Fournier's objectivity covering the presidential race continues to look shaky. We are, after all, talking about a journalist who, as recently as last year, considered working for the McCain campaign.
Fournier is also a buddy of Karl Rove, and exchanged emails with him recently, telling him to "keep up the fight..." he's also the guy who handed Mac a box of donuts during a media briefing earlier this year (with sprinkles.) Media Matters' Eric Boehlert has documented the AP's "Fournier problem," but so far, nothing has been done about it. Quite the contrary, Fournier has filled the Washington bureau with fellow travelers.
The Clintons made a lot of hay during the campaign about challenging the objectivity of news outlets, mostly to negative effect, for them. But in this case, Democrats have a real case to make that the most ubiquitous institution in news, the AP, has developed a strong right-wing/Republican bias in the bureau that matters most: Washington. How else do you explain a Fournier dispatch like this:
A dispatch Fournier filed in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina began: “The Iraqi insurgency is in its last throes. The economy is booming. Anybody who leaks a CIA agent's identity will be fired. Add another piece of White House rhetoric that doesn't match the public's view of reality: Help is on the way, Gulf Coast.”
Somebody call Howard Dean. Or the Obama campaign. There's something rotten at the AP and it's time someone in a position to do so stepped up and said something about it.
Join Moveon's email campaign here. Or here's the shorthand:
Can you email AP reporter Ron Fournier and CC his boss, Managing Editor Mike Oreskes? Tell them that the public's faith in the 160-year-old AP will be gone if Ron Fournier is allowed to continue his slanted articles against Democrats and for McCain.
Here are their emails:
Michael Oreskes, AP Managing Editor, mOreskes@ap.org Ron Fournier, AP reporter and Washington D.C. Bureau Chief, email@example.com
After you email them, please help us track our progress by reporting your email here: http://pol.moveon.org/call?cp_id=797&tg=508.532
Banned in 240 seconds: RedState becomes the Free Republic
I did an experiment today, to see how long it would take to get banned from RedState.com, the right wing site that styles itself a home for "independent conservative thinkers," not at all like the thought-policed, drone-winger sites like the Free Republic, or the loony bin flypaper sites like Little Green Footballs, and which gets frequent link love from "legit" online journalists at places like Politico and the Washington Post. So here's what I did. I signed up, using the same ID I use here, JReid. Then, I posted a comment to a thread entitled "You are the one McCain is waiting for" whose point is, I guess, that ordinary Republicans will carry McCain over the top, not his vp pick. (I think the post is supposed to be tongue in cheek, but hell, with this crowd? Who knows...) First a clip from the original post:
Much virtual ink has been spilled Internet-wide on the problem of Senator McCain's running mate selection. Policy views, succession, age, experience, home states, and every other conceivable preference are touted by one person or another as essential to the pick.
I say they're all right, and they're all wrong. You should be John McCain's running mate in 2008. It's perfect! You are in a swing state, you shore up the Bush states, and you make Obama work in his 'safe' states. You are a political novice, and you are experienced. You're young. You're mature. You are a mainstream Republican, a reformer, and a maverick. You even look like America.
You were even Time's People of the Year. You can't go wrong. ...
Okay, so now for my comment, which went up at 11:02 a.m. by their clock (which is odd, because I joined at 11:48 a.m. EST) Anyhoo, I wrote:
RedStaters discover God: and He is John McCain
JReid August 19th, 2008 at 11:02 a.m. (link)
What's with the sudden hero worship of McCain by RedStaters? Here I'm assuming it's tongue and cheek, but other threads? Not so much. Frankly, it's getting creepy, like the "Pray for George W. Bush" threads that used to dominate the Free Republic.
John McCain is a politician, and frankly, not a very good one. Certainly not an inspiring one. His entire campaign boils down to: "vote for me. The other guy's a traitor." Which means that no matter who wins in November, his campaign has ensured that half the country will hate the next president's guts ... again.
Besides, wasn't this the guy RS readers found unacceptable during the primaries? Now he's Godlike? Kind of hard to accuse Democrats of beatifying Obama when this site does the same to John McCain...
[Waiting to be banned for apostasy.]
Literally 4 minutes later, came this post:
well, if you insist. Moe Lane August 19th, 2008 at 11:06 a.m. (link) Although if I wasn't on my way to Pearl right now I'd keep you around long enough to ask whether you guys really think that anybody actually believes you when you try to pass yourselves off as Republicans.
So that's it. The amount of time it takes to be banned from RedState for criticizing John McCain is 4 minutes. And you can't be a Republican if you don't slavishly support John McCain.
I think that might even beat my previous record at Free Republic, where I was banned a grand total of THREE TIMES (using three different ID's) for criticizing George W. Bush, back before he became "unpopular..."
The point: the right is consistent, in using strict thought policing to keep their flock in line. The FReepers aren't outliers, they're mainstream. Recall that RedState was one of those sites where so-called conservatives denounced John McCain all through the primaries (along with tax raiser Mike Huckabee,) as unacceptable as the Republican nominee. McCain, lo those many months ago, was guilty of the sin of collusion with Ted Kennedy and Russ Feingold. He was soft on immigration. He was soft on the Bush tax cuts. He was soft on torture. Now, having reversed himself on all three, and returned to his pre-Bush, neoconservative zeal on Iraq, McCain is RedState's boy, and you'd better love him, if you want to post there.
Sadly, American conservatism has been reduced to a series of cults of personality -- Reagan, then Bush II, now John McCain, where the drones (talk radio listeners, group blog members, and worse, Republican voters of all economic classes,) are inducted, indoctrinated, and deployed in the service of the people paying the bills: major corporations, oil companies, and lately, the private military. To push the agenda, the right uses wealthy individual talking heads like Rush, Hannity and the former Bush flaks who run RedState, and they whip their throng into shape, demanding total loyalty and obeisance, and weeding out doubters. Perhaps most unseemly of all, the right has also indoctrinated religious zealots -- America's Taliban, if you will -- to tie these beliefs to existing zealotry on issues like abortion. Combined, its a potent mix of religious zeal, hero worship, and strident determination to enrich others, at the expense of the faithful. I find it remarkable that it continues to work on so many people, and that the right has managed to convince those poor slobs that it's the other guy who's turning their candidate of choice into a Messiah.
The disgraced former speaker of the House was on CSPAN this morning, and actually prompted me to pick up the phone and try to call in (I didn't get through.) Had I gotten through, I would have asked Newt Gingrich exactly who funds his "drill now!" group, called American Solutions for Winning the Future. Well... who do you think? (Hint: they're the same people that suddenly enjoy giving lots of money to John McCain...)
American Solutions for Winning the Future is a new, non-partisan organization built around three goals: to defend America and our allies abroad and defeat our enemies, to strengthen and revitalize America’s core values, and to move government into the 21st Century. The General Chairman is former Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Our mission is to become the leading grassroots movement to recruit, educate, and empower citizen activists and elected officials to develop solutions to transform all levels of government.
... The American people are tired of Red vs. Blue partisan bickering and want to create a Red, White, and Blue country. American Solutions is designed to rise above traditional gridlocked partisanship, to provide real, significant solutions to the most important issues facing our country. Yet, the current political governmental system has four major flaws which block it from developing the kind of solutions we need.
First, it is dominated by daily headlines, a focus on the negative, fights rather than discussions, and sound bites and commercials so short they can't communicate anything complex or positive.
Second, the old system simply does not have the ideas and techniques for being successful. Today's politicians are trapped in old ideas, old interest groups, and old bureaucracies that simply do not have the tools for solving America's problems.
Third, consultants dominate the current system, and they are essentially technicians with very limited knowledge of fundamental issues and historic lessons. So they tend to reduce the system to clever commercials and fancy fundraising gimmicks.
Fourth, the current system focuses on the Oval Office, yet there are 513,000 elected officials in America, from school board to city council to county commission to state legislature. Real solutions have to move through all these offices, not merely the White House.
Uh huh ... and they've even got their own rejiggered version of Newt's "Contract with America"...
However, it appears that American Solutions is less of a grassroots organization than it is a clearinghouse for the same old lobbyists, staffers and think tankers propping up the stale, bloated, conservative movement. From Matt Stoler over at OpenLeft on August 5th, following that so-called "spontaneous" protest of pro-drilling Americans in Washington D.C.:
I just came back from the Capitol, where Moveon volunteers and conservative movement group staffers were holding competing rallies around oil leasing (the full flickr set is here). Patrick Ruffini, one of the smartest consultants on the right, thinks this marks a turning point for the right. For the first time, he says, Moveon has mobilizes against "the House Republicans and the rightosphere".
The problem with this formulation is that the people that I spoke from Moveon came because they were volunteers, whereas the people from the pro-drilling groups were paid staffers from groups like the National Taxpayers Union and Dick Armey's FreedomWorks. I spent some time arguing with a nice young man from FreedomWorks about oil companies (though I'll spare you the video), and he was a law student who did economic policy for the group. These two groups are by and large funded by large companies, and they were formed by recognized conservative movement elites who came to power in the 1980s.
In fact, the entire drill drill drill campaign originated with Newt Gingrich, hardly the kind of leadership you'd expect from a real grassroots uprising. His group, American Solutions for Winning the Future, got a large grant from Peabody Coal at about the same time this campaign started, and is backed by the same crew of billionaires helping Freedom's Watch. Contrast this to Moveon, which was founded by Wes Boyd and Joan Blades, or Dailykos, led by Markos Moulitsas-Zuniga, or even Paul Weyrich and Richard Viguerie of the New Right in the 1970s. These leaders came from the grassroots, and elevated a previously unorganized constituency into a powerful new voice. The Drill Drill Drill campaign has simply helped an existing powerful voice - the oil lobby - keep winning, the way it did earlier this year when it killed the Energy Bill in the Senate (with the help of John McCain and Mary Landrieu).
Now, this is not to say that the Drill, Drill, Drill campaign isn't popular. It is. But it is not some movement breakthrough on the right; new political movements are not populated entirely with paid staffers, funded by the extraordinarily wealthy winners of a society, and led by old over the hill political leaders. What is actually going on here is that the 1970s conservative movement is still around and still dominant. Right-wing billionaires are still funding Newt Gingrich, who is still dictating our agenda just as he did in the late 1970s to the mid-1990s. Conservative 'populism' in DC is still the same old Brooks Brothers Riot we saw in 2000, ie. paid staffers masquerading as grassroots.
So who are Gingrich's sugar daddies? The Alaska Wilderness League follows the money and finds a long breadcrumb trail of billionaires, Bushies and oil men. Just for fun, try to spot the guys who will "rise about gridlocked partisanship..."
• Thomas A. Saunders III ($200,000)—Saunders is a Trustee of the Heritage Foundation, a think tank devoted to free enterprise, limited government and individual freedom. Exxon Mobil is one of the Foundation’s biggest donors.
• Dan W. Evins ($100,000)—Evins was originally an oil jobber for Shell before starting the Cracker Barrel chain of restaurants.
• Michael G. Berolzheimer ($70,000)—The Berolzheimer Family began California Cedar Products in the 1920’s. CCP now produces Duraflame logs which are made by mixing saw dust with petroleum byproducts.
• Dave K. Rensin ($50,000)—Rensin is a software engineer for Reality Mobile, LLC. Reality Vision, a product of Reality Mobil, is currently being marketed to numerous industries including oil and gas production and refinement, as well as companies specializing in pipeline maintenance.
• Morton Fleischer ($25,000)—Fleischer is the Co-founder and Chairman of Spirit Finance. Fleisher is also a board member for Flying J, Inc., a chain of highway rest stops and gas stations. Fleisher also founded Franchise Finance Corporation of America which provided $15 million in capital for the merger of Miltenberger Oil Company and Jump Oil in 1999.
• Donald M. Wilkinson ($25,000)—Wilkinson is the Chairman and CIO of Wilkinson O’Grady & Co., the 15th largest investment company in the United States. They invest in numerous companies including National Oilwell Varco, Imperial Oil, Suncor Energy, EOG Resources, Schlumberger, Transocean, BHP Billiton, Apache Corporation, and XTO Energy.
• Edmund N. Carpenter II ($10,400)—Carpenter is now a retired attorney and past president of the Delaware State Bar Association. In 1977, he represented Texaco in a case involving a crash with the Texaco Caribbean and the Paracas, a Peruvian vessel.
• Clark Wamberg, LLC ($10,000)—Clark Wamberg, LLC is a consulting firm comprised of many different small businesses. One of these businesses is Federal Policy Group. In the first half of 2007, Federal Policy Group was paid $120,000 by Hess petroleum to lobby the federal government. Other clients of Federal Policy Group include GE and Teco Energy.
• Jack Caveney ($10,000)—Caveney works for Panduit, a provider of network and electrical solutions to a variety of markets including the oil, gas, and petrochemical market. Panduit strives to find solutions to problems with offshore platforms, refineries, and floating production storage-offloading (FPSO).
• Lewis Lehrman ($10,000)—Lehrman was one of the original investors in George W. Bush’s oil business, Arbusto Energy.
• Foam Fabricators, Inc. ($5,000)—Foam Fabricators, Inc., a state-of-the-art molding and fabricating plant, provides a variety of industries with economical and efficient shape molded and fabricated foam products, packaging and components. These products are made from expanded polystyrene manufactured primarily from petroleum.
• William T. Wolf ($4,000)—Wolf is employed by Allied Capital. In 2003, Allied Capital invested $18.4 million into Geotrace Technologies--a leading provider of subsurface imaging solutions and sophisticated reservoir analysis for the oil and gas industry worldwide.
• Kathleen Huff ($2,500)—Huff is employed by the Navteq Corporation. Navteq’s customers include Statoil, one of Scandinavia’s leading suppliers of fuel oil and gasoline.
Other Interesting Finds
• Sheldon Adelson ($4,597,632)—Adelson, of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, is the founder of Freedom’s Watch, a right-wing lobbying group which advocates to continue the war in Iraq and many other mainstream conservative ideas. [More on Sheldon and other bigwig donors from ThinkProgress.)
• Terry J. Kohler ($50,200)—Kohler, of Windway Capital, is a contributor to GOPAC, Gingrich’s PAC.
• Stanley Gaines ($25,000)—Gaines is on the Board of International Coal Group, Inc.
• Frederick C. Palmer ($25,000)—Palmer is the Vice President of Government Relations at Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private sector coal company. Palmer is responsible for advancing state and federal policies related to the production and use of coal.
• Howard H. Callaway ($10,000)—Callaway was the Chairman of GOPAC from 1987-1993.
• Mel Sembler ($10,000)—Sembler was the former Ambassador to Italy and a founding donor for Freedom’s Watch. He also helped to finance the 2000 Florida recount battle between Bush and Gore.
• Tucker Anderson ($10,000)—Anderson is on the GOPAC Board.
• Frederic V. Malek ($5,000)—Malek, of Thayer Capital Partners was co-owner of the Texas Rangers with President Bush.
• Melvyn J. Estrin ($5,000)—Estrin serves on the Board of Directors of the Washington Gas & Light Company. He is also the director of WGL Holdings, Inc., a public utility holding company serving the D.C. metropolitan region.
American Solutions, which is a 527 group, has taken in more than $13 million this year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. They also helpfully rank the donors in dollar order (Adelson is the biggest.) CRP also tracks the organization's spending, and finds that the single biggest expenditure has been travel. Gingrich's group is spending more money raising money and hiring consultants than they are on advertising.
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Instead of buying ads, the Gingrich oil salesmen are relying on all the free media they're getting, on CSPAN this morning, on the cable networks, but especially on right wing blogs and talk radio, which has picked up the "drill here, drill now" message full bore. In fact, tune in randomly to ANY right wing talk show (or to Fox News) at any time of the day or night, from Limbaugh to Hannity to the local wingnuts like Todd Schnitt down here in South Florida, and you'll find the hosts talking about little else besides the need to drill, ludicrous arguments that the oil companies really aren't making that much money, and the total canard, put forward with hilarious results last Saturday by Mike McConnell, that more drilling would actually LOWER oil companies' profits (he got his clock cleaned by a guy from Public Citizen.)
So far, American Solutions (with the help of Big Oil's newly minted talk radio shills,) has been able to get more than 1 milliondimwits Americans to sign their petition demanding that the oil companies be given drilling rights in the Rocky Mountains, off our coasts, and in the Alaskan wilderness (I can just see the Colorado rockies now, pock-marked with dirty, belching oil rigs. Great for tourism!)
And interestingly enough, NONE of the "Drill Now!" talk show hosts or civilians appears interested in demanding that the good capitalists at the big oil companies actually sell any oil they extract in the U.S., to Americans. In fact, the idea that oil companies would extract oil, and then sell it at lower prices here, when they could make more money selling to the highest international bidder (probably the same Indian or Chinese markets that are driving up demand today,) is not only crazy, it's downright anti-capitalist. Perhaps that's why John McCain opposed a measure that would have demanded that newly extracted oil be sold in the U.S. The American Solutions petition reads:
We, therefore, the undersigned citizens of the United States, petition the U.S. Congress to act immediately to lower gasoline prices (and diesel and other fuel prices)* by authorizing the exploration of proven energy reserves to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources from unstable countries.
Not a word about "drill here, SELL here..." because that's not what Newt's friends in Big Oil intend to do. Meanwhile, the idea that oil companies really don't make that much money when you look at their profit margins is equally daft, as Public Citizen's Tyson Slocum points out:
In most industries, when the main component (crude oil) of a product (gasoline) skyrockets in price, those higher costs eat into profit margins. But not the oil industry because ExxonMobil and the other major oil companies operate as a type of monopoly, with massive oil production, refining and retail marketing operations.
It isn't just Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah who gets rich when a barrel of oil hovers at $60/barrel; it's ExxonMobil and the other oil companies, since collectively the five largest oil companies produce 10 million barrels of oil a day - more than Saudi Arabia's 9 million barrels of oil a day. And much of the oil ExxonMobil et al is producing is coming from land owned by U.S. taxpayers (more than one-third of the oil and natural gas America produces every day comes from federal land). It only costs a company like ExxonMobil about $10 to produce a barrel of oil, but they're selling it to Americans for close to $60/barrel - a huge windfall profit.
The oil companies' windfall profits don't end there. Because the largest five oil companies also own half of America's oil refining capacity, they're more easily able to manipulate markets. The Federal Trade Commission confirmed this when it investigated the industry in 2001 and concluded that U.S. oil companies "withheld or delayed shipping additional supply in the face of a price spike" and that one oil company executive "made clear that he would rather sell less gasoline and earn a higher margin on each gallon sold than sell more gasoline and earn a lower margin. Another employee of this firm raised concerns about oversupplying the market and thereby reducing the high market prices."
The proof of these uncompetitive markets stemming from recent mergers is in the numbers. As late as 1999, U.S. oil companies made 22.8 cents for every gallon of gasoline they refined. By the summer of 2005, they made 99 cents on every gallon.
And while the Republicans are pulling off a pretty good marketing stunt that is moving the needle of public opinion in favor of Big Oil (for perspective, think of Marie Antoinette's press team in 1789 convincing the bourgeousie to revolt, not against the royals, but on the side of the royals against the peasants...) and Republicans are enjoying a lot of free publicity for their lights out stunt on Capitol Hill, House Republicans are diametrically opposed to forcing oil companies to sell any oil they "drill here" ... here:
(July 17) Today, Congressman Wexler voted for the Drill Act, which would bring 10.6 billion barrels of oil immediately to American consumers by requiring oil companies to being producing oil from acres of land already leased.The legislation would have allowed other companies to take over these leases if the oil company currently in possession failed to begin oil production.
The Drill Act would have also required the Administration to oversee the construction of a pipeline from these Alaskan reserves for the transport of oil and gas to the lower 48 states.The pipeline project would have created an estimated 10,000 new jobs.In addition, the legislation banned the export of this American-made energy, reserving resources for here at home. Unfortunately, House Republicans blocked the Drill Act, which required a two-thirds vote of support in order to pass."Oil companies are actively holding 10.6 billion barrels of oil hostage from the American people and this legislation would have required them to begin production immediately,” said Congressman Wexler. “While House Republicans claim they want to increase domestic supply of oil and gas to the market, by blocking this legislation they took a hard stand against the development of our domestic resources.
So the next time you hear Newt Gingrich talking about his "grassroots movement," think oil-soaked grass in the Antarctic after all the snow melts from global warming ... think big, fat profits for the Big Six oil companies. But whatever you do, don't think of lower gas prices, 'cuz if the GOP's clients in the oil industry have it there way, they ain't coming.
Justin Schaffer, the 19-year-old son of conservative, "family values" Colorado Republican Bob Schaffer, who's running for the U.S. Senate, is in a world of hurt over his Facebook page. It seems the University of Dayton Class of 2011 student's page got mirrored by a site called SchafferFamilyValues.com, which allowed the world to take a peek into Justin's psyche. Among the items found rattling around in there:
... a plethora ofimages that mock Barack Obama -- painting him as Muslim, elitist, homosexual and a terrorist. One even goes so far as to compare the presumptive Democratic candidate for president to the cereal-box character "Count Chocula."
The page also includes several pro-gun images. One "bumper sticker" shows an image of Jesus holding an M-16 in front of a Confederate flag, with the words "What Would Republican Jesus Do?" Another features a bevy of different kinds of guns with the words, "Celebrate Diversity" underneath.
Oh, and let's not forget the sticker showing an image of Egyptian pyramids with the caption "slavery gets shit done." ...and he's a member of several Facebook groups, including one called "pole dancers for Jesus."
"I do not agree with the sentiment or content of the offensive material, especially the 'bumper sticker' that references slave labor. It is clear that my actions were juvenile, disrespectful, and a mistake on my part.
"The offensive materials directly contradict the values that my parents taught me and are forbidden in my parents' home. My Facebook page is solely my responsibility, and I am saddened that my actions have reflected poorly on my sisters and parents."
His father spoke to 9NEWS on the phone after an event in Glenwood Springs Monday evening and said, "My wife and I have initiated a process of firm and severe discipline with our son."
Now, Schaffer faces "a process of firm and severe discipline with our son," which even as we speak is being "initiated" by his parents, which sounds really creepy and kind of explains a lot about Justin... and he may even be disciplined by his school, where UD officials said :
... the Code of Conduct standard calls for students to respect all members of the community and the community at large.
Sister Annette Schmeling, vice president of student development and dean of students, said she will have an initial conversation with Schaffer about the postings and "explore the ways his Facebook page is not showing respect."
"We are addressing it and we expect to begin the adjudication process before classes start on August 20," Schmeling said in a written statement.
Punishment could include everything from a reprimand to actual expulsion. Harsh.
But here's the thing. I appreciate Justin's honesty, because I believe he represents a very real core of what passes for the conservative movement today. Sure, he seems a bit juvenile in his presentation, but people twice his age are running an entire presidential campaign on tire gauge props, Paris Hilton ads and Internet meme gimmicks designed to lure the ignorant into believing that Barack Obama is a) an undercover Muslim, b) a friend of "extremists" (read terrorists) and c) an "uppity," spruced up, elitist who "thinks he's better than you..." language which should sound familiar to any Black person who worked or lived in a majority white environment before around 1990. If you don't know what I'm talking about, rent the movie "The Great Debaters" and jump to the scene where Forrest Whitaker's professor character accidentally hits a white farmer's hog with his swanky automobile, and the dust-covered, redneck farmer makes him pay about 10 times what the hog is worth, and forces him to lift the carcas into his truck, saying, "these city niggers think they're too good to get their hands dirty..."
Stripped of their high school semantics, Schaffer's "stickers" reveal very real, commonplace beliefs that are held by most Rush, Hannity and Savage listeners, and others on the right:
1. Distaste for affirmative action 2. An extreme love of guns 3. A warped vision of Jesus as a gun-toting right winger 4. Admiration for the Confederate flag (and presumably the Confederacy) 5. A belief that slavery is overplayed (by African-Americans and liberals) as an objective evil, when it was actually a pretty good deal for Africans. 6. A belief that liberals are sissies, and therefore are most likely gay
etc., etc., (throw in a belief that torture is a.o.k. because Jack Bauer does it, and that we had to go to war with Iraq because of 9/11 somehow, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, plus tax cuts for the rich and anything Big Oil wants and you've pretty much summed up modern conservatism.)
Justin just made it plain, so we don't have to speculate.
For that, we shouldn't punish him, we should let him go right on publishing his thoughts, even if he later claims not to believe them.
Every so often, the corporation-worshiping Bush-bots at RedState stumble on a grain of truth. Here's your morsel for the week. It's from their section titled, "Barack Obama is like Jesus but cooler"...
The post, "To battle with a metaphor," starts with this Tom Toles Cartoon...
... then goes into the typical RedState blather about how underqualified Barack Obama is supposed to be (this from the people who still think George W. Bush is a fine president...)
Then, comes the kernel of truth:
In the 2008 campaign John McCain is fighting a metaphor not arguing policy or even facts.
Unless he does something to strip away the patina of a transcendent post-racial leader who will usher in the Age of Aquarius from Barack Obama, John McCain will spend election day shouting "where is the outrage?"
The trouble for McCain, is that to strip away said "patina," he would need some really compelling facts. And Johnny Mac has trouble remembering most of his script, can't read the teleprompter, and has thrown out all of his "facts" in favor of the entire idea portfolio of George W. Bush.
This man claims to be a legendary basketball player... but is he a REAL American...?
So Republicans have finally chosen to fight Barack Obama on the basis of his policiesmiddle name. Good for them! So now, I think it is the patriotic duty of every REAL American to name and denounce the other subversives with curious, foreign-sounding names who continue to infiltrate our venerable American institutions, sowing the seeds of enemy infiltration and ... foreign sounding-ness... Here's a short list for Rush, Bill Cunningham and the folks in the Tennessee Republican Party to get started with (Up with America! Down with Hope!):
Kareen Abdul-Jabbar ... posing as a "basketball legend," but what's his REAL agenda...?
Mohammed Ali ... claims to be a legendary boxer ... but hello??? His name is "Mohammed..."
Rasheed Wallace ... He has infiltrated the Detroit Pistons ...what will he infiltrate next?
Hakeem Olajuwon ... suspiciously African NBA player. I'm thinking background check...
Mike Huckabee ... sure, he looks white, but what kind of name is "Huckabee"...?
Jordin Sparks ... sparks of WHAT??? Dirty bombs, maybe???
Shaquille O'Neal ... when have you EVER met a red-blooded American man named "Shaquille?"
Charles Krauthammer ... way too many syllables in that last name to be American...
Arnold Schwarzenegger ... Austrian ... need I say more?
Chaka Khan ... just to be safe, better send her to Gitmo, too...
Ashford and Simpson ... okay, they're names sound fine. They just creep me out. Deport!
Najee ... all terrorists go by one name: "Osama" ... okay, he goes by three names ... Saddam ... okay he had a last name, but you get the friggin point! His last name was HUSSEIN! HUSSEIN, get it? Just like Barack HUSSEIN Obama!!! and King HUSSEIN of Jordan ... okay he's our ally, but so WHAT! And stop playing that damned elevator music!!
Listen to John McCain. The al-Qaida in Iraq who weren't there before we invaded Iraq but who will follow us home if we leave Iraq and move to Detroit, where they will take THE JOBS AMERICANS AREN'T WILLING TO DO, are trying to kill us...!!! We need a president in the White House who the TERRORISTS won't mistake for a family member, or for a guy from some other foreign, un-American place ... like Hawaii.
Life sucks, and you're gonna get blown up. Vote Republican!
Had John McCain's advance team taken a few minutes to Google Bill Cunningham, the Cincinnati right wing talk show host chosen to introduce him at a rally today, he would have discovered that Cunningham has a habit of referring to Barack Obama with an emphasis on his middle name ... and he's even been known to throw in a stray Mohammed into Obama's name, where it most decidedly doesn't belong.
In 2001, shortly after race-related riots over the police killing of an African-American teenager who was fleeing their pursuit, Federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Nathaniel Jones blasted Cunningham in a speech at a local YMCA, calling the show “trash, and filth and profanity.” (Jones is a former civil rights lawyer who worked for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Cunningham has been a frequent critic of the organization and civil rights activists in general, particularly Rev. Jesse Jackson, who Cunningham nicknames the "Rhyming Reverend.")
In December 2003, Cunningham drew more fire for making fun of Nathaniel Jones (no relation to the federal judge), an African-American resident of Cincinnati who died after violently resisting police outside a White Castle restaurant; video of the incident again inflamed the local African-American community. Jones, who weighed more than 350 lb. (159 kg), was found to have died of an enlarged heart, and various narcotics were found to be present in his body while violently resisting arrest at the time of his death, which may have contributed to his reaction to police efforts to subdue him. Cunningham made fun of Jones' obesity and apparent drug use in a skit on his show, which prompted various local civil rights groups to call for his resignation or firing.
They would have known that Cunningham's station, WLW, puts straight-up racists like this guy on the air, and that at the least, Cunningham would not be a man in keeping with the image John McCain claims he wants to portray on the campaign trail.
And had the advance team done this simple bit of homework, their candidate wouldn't now have to denounce Cunningham's remarks, and reassert how respectful his campaign will be toward his Democratic "friends" -- probably alienating Cunningham's cohort of right wing radio wackjob fellow travelers in the process, just when they had begun to get used to defending McCain against the evil New York Times.
Related: What's the difference between a Democrat and a Republican? According to Cunningham, it's R-E-S-P-E-C-T ... no, seriously...
Care to email Bill, and ask him what HIS middle name is? Here ya go: firstname.lastname@example.org Update: Here's the video of Cunningham's rant. The part AFTER he riffs on Barack's middle name is even worth, with the Cincinnati nitwit projecting Barack as the lunchtime pal of dictators and terrorists. Watch for yourself:
Update 2: Cunningham reacted to McCain's denunciation of his remarks by carping that the Senator "threw me under the bus" and whining that now he's going to endorse Hillary.
That Rush Limbaugh and his talk radio friends discover that they're not as influential as they think. Apparently, voters aren't listening to Rush, or Hannity, or Fox News, or Laura Ingram, or James Carville's wispy wife. They're going their own way. How ironic that the candidates all hate Mitt Romney, while Mitt Romney's supporters in the right wing chattering classes hate the two men holding Romney at bay: John McCain and Mike Huckabee. I suppose you could say that the problem for the "conservative movement" is that it's not very responsive to actual politics, which in a primary -- even a Republican one -- takes place not just in Rush's universe, but also in blue states, where they grow the Republicans a lot more moderate than El Rushbo would like.
And while we're at it, how odd that so-called "real conservatives" would cling to a man as patently phony a conservative as Romney -- a man who literally became a conservative overnight, after governing one of the most liberal states in the union (and whose father was a liberal, pro civil rights Republican in yet another blue state, Michigan.) For these clods to demand that their followers join this pompadoured phony in some mad quest to save the conservative movement is actually pretty funny, as is the spectacle of the Gang of 15 set literally pulling off a mutiny inside the GOP.
The pundits are wrong when they say that John McCain's victory in Florida proves he can win the Republican base, without the help of Independents. They're wrong, because Florida is not a bellweather of the conservative movement -- it's a state full of Republican "pieces" -- Cuban-Americans who are Republican because they believe JFK betrayed them on Castro; "redneck" Republicans who were former Dixiecrats, social conservatives who can't stop themselves from putting up successive gay marriage amendments in a state where gay marriage is already illegal, and cloth coat Republicans who run the state and wield power through corporate tax cuts and privatizations schemes a-la Jeb Bush. [Photo at left from the New Republican Party blog]
McCain won this state by consolidating the Hispanic vote -- and because this is one of the few states where his immigration stand is popular (Cubans don't have an immigration problem, thanks, ironically, to Bill Clinton). The endorsement from his immigration ally Mel Martinez, plus nods from the elected "Cuban mafia" (the Diaz Balart brothers and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen) helped him crush Mitt Romney and Rudy in Miami-Dade.
He won by capturing the majority of moderate Republicans, some of whom may have been influenced by our super-moderate governor, Charlie Crist, who at this stage is probably more popular with Democrats than he is with members of his own party.
What McCain did not win, is the vote of a majority of conservatives, particularly social conservatives. Those, he lost to the combination of Mitt Romney (who is becoming surprisingly acceptable to SoCons, though he is a Mormon, whom they don't consider Christian...) and Mike Huckabee. And he lost "very conservative" or "movement" conservative voters, also to Romney.
When McCain is tested on Super Tuesday, it won't be so much about his appeal to conservatives, as it will be a test of whether the GOP will continue its tradition of capitulating to the front runner, as happened when McCain lost South Carolina, and then the entire primary race to George W. Bush.
Is John McCain a conservative? Sort of. He's certainly more conservative than your average Democrat. But look at the company he keeps: people like Rudy and Arnold and even Charlie Crist -- hardly conservative icons. And look at who he rejects: up until last year, he had no use for people like the late Jerry Falwell. If you think of conservatism as the ideological mantra of low taxes, deregulation and crimped spending, McCain fits the bill. But if you judge conservatism by what it has become: an amalgam of religious zealotry, pro-life activism and war fever, with a fascination for torture and a paranoia about Arabs and Mexicans thrown in for good measure, then McCain only fits into the war fever part. In other words, McCain is not a conservative, he's a neoconservative, which I define as a non-ideological political actor who cares nothing about social issues or the economy, and only about war in the Middle East, and who is only a Republican for bookkeeping purposes.
So how did he get to be the Republican front runner at a time when neoconservatism has seemed to fall out of favor with the party of Reagan? Well, what if it hasn't?
McCain made his comeback by making a deal with the Devil -- becoming fellow neocon GWB's BFF for seven years and swallowing his contempt for him, in order to garner the most important support of all: the support of the Republican establishment -- which favors neoconservatism because you make more money with war than you do stopping abortions -- and which Vin Weber helpfully pointed out this week in a great column by E. J. Dionne, is not the same as the conservative movement (last paragraph in the clip below):
If John McCain secures the Republican presidential nomination, his victory would signal a revolution in American politics — a divorce, after a 28-year marriage, between the Republican and conservative establishments.
McCain would be the first Republican nominee since Gerald Ford in 1976 to win despite opposition from organized conservatism, and also the first whose base in Republican primaries rested on the party's center and its dwindling left. McCain is winning despite conservatives, not because of them.
Those who built the American right, from Barry Goldwater in 1964 through the Reagan and Gingrich revolutions, are intensely aware of the dangers a McCain victory portends. Some on the right feel it would be less damaging to their cause to lose the 2008 election with the Republican-conservative alliance intact than to win with John McCain.
For those outside the conservative movement, such anxiety seems strange. McCain's voting record in the House and Senate has typically won high ratings from conservative groups. His positions on key issues (support for the Iraq War, opposition to abortion, his long-standing criticism of government spending) are those of an orthodox, conservative loyalist.
If McCain is the nominee, Democrats will have plenty of ammunition to persuade middle-of-the-road voters that he is not a moderate. And in Wednesday's California debate, McCain repeated his oft-declared claim that he had been a "foot soldier" in Ronald Reagan's army.
But staunch conservatives see things differently. They know that in primary after primary, McCain's base has been formed by moderates, liberals, independents, supporters of abortion rights and critics of President Bush. Conservatives — who mistrust McCain because of his history on taxes, immigration, global warming and campaign finance reform — were not his coalition's driving force. And Republicans who describe themselves as "very conservative" have consistently rejected McCain. In this week's Florida primary, such voters backed Mitt Romney over McCain by more than 2-to-1.
Vin Weber, a former member of Congress, who backed McCain in 2000 but supports Romney this year, said the confusion outside Republican ranks is not surprising. "People usually think that the conservative leadership and the Republican leadership are one and the same, but they're not," Weber said. ...
You hear that sound? It's the sound of the Republican coalition cracking... neocons and their corporate backers no longer need the social conservatives, who many of them see as kooky pain in the necks. They no longer need loudmouth media conservatives like Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, who let's face it, are embarrassing. They are betting on being able to put another war president into the White House with the help of moderate Republicans who are hawks on the GWOT and Iraq, conservative Democrats (read Democrats who have a paranoid fear of Muslims and think water boarding isn't such a bad idea), and hawkish Independents who sill think America likes Joe Lieberman.
The neocons, having wrecked the Republican Party, are forming a new coalition, bankrolled by the defense industry (Eisenhower's "military industrial complex.") Having lost Rudy to the ages, they now see John McCain as the man who can help them hold onto the White House.
The question is, will movement conservatives, who agree with neocons on the war but hate McCain, stop him?
If federal funds were required [they] could die for all I care. Let the parents get second jobs, let their state foot the bill or let them seek help from private charities. […]
I would hire a team of PIs and find out exactly how much their parents made and where they spent every nickel. Then I’d do everything possible to destroy their lives with that info.
Rather than distancing themselves from the smear campaign, the White House today decided to embrace RedState and reward the blog with an official White House posting. In a post entitled “Democrats’ SCHIP Budget Gimmick,” Nicholas Thompson, a staffer in the White House’s Office of Strategic Intiatives, rallied the conservative troops around Bush’s hard-line stance, reminding them that “we are less than one week” from Congress’ veto override vote.
All in all, the Graeme Frost case is a perfect illustration of the modern right-wing political machine at work, and in particular its routine reliance on character assassination in place of honest debate. […] Leading conservative politicians, far from trying to distance themselves from these smears, rush to embrace them.
So is RedState embarrassed by their nasty little poster? Signs point to "no."
By the way, our fair poster, Mbecker, also sought to elucidate "the real question":
do we have anybody holding elective office who's man enough to beat these people to death with this info or not? And can we please get an IRS audit of this family. I really want to know how they paid $40k in tuition, over $15k in mortgage payments, payments on their commercial property, bought food and clothes on a combined income of $45k!
Hang 'em. Publically. Let 'em twist in the wind and be eaten by ravens. Then maybe the bunch of socialist patsies will think twice.
Aren't conservatives wonderful?
The argument is often made that conservatism is the politics of the heartless, while liberalism is the politics of the unrealistic. RedState is proving the former point, mightily.
I listened to as much as I could stand of Rush Limbaugh (talent on loan from the Devil) this afternoon, and I have to admit, it was pretty funny. Limbaugh launched into about a 15 minute tirade against Harry Reid, Tom Harkin (who speculated hilariously about El Rushbo's possible return to drug use yesterday) and other Congressional Democrats who have condemned his September 26 slur against American troops who oppose the president's Iraq policy. Rush said last week that any troops who speak out against the Iraq war as being fought under the direction of Mr. Bush are "phony soldiers." Since then, Democrats have been excoriating him, taking full advantage of the rank hypocrisy on display by a man who has never served his country, took draft deferrments during Vietnam, and who lambasted Moveon.org for coining the Blackfive blog phrase "Betray-us" in an ad criticizing the P.R. flacking of Gen. David Petraeus, Bush's man in Iraq.
So today, Rush desperately tried to turn the tables on the Dems, accusing them of trying to reverse their irrelevancy by attacking him, and even comparing Harry Reid to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and a soldier who stars in a new Internet ad denouncing Rush's comments on behalf of VoteVets.org to a suicide bomber ... says Rush:
"This is such a blatant use of a valiant combat veteran, lying to him about what I said and then strapping those lies to his belt, sending him out via the media and a TV ad to walk into as many people as he can walk into. This man will always be a hero to this country with everyone. Whoever pumped him full of these lies about what I said and embarrassed him with this ad has betrayed him, they aren't hurting me they are betraying this soldier," Limbaugh said.
lord have mercy...
Rush is desperate, I'd wager because at long last, he has waded into a controversy from which he cannot wriggle out, cannot stop the curtain from falling back, cannot retreat before being fully exposed for the rank hypocrite he is. Finally, it has been made plain for all to see that Rush -- who once had sole ownership of the airwaves our troops are fed, Armed Forces Radio -- really doesn't give a rat's ass about the troops. In fact, he has use for them, only in so far as they serve as willing props for his masters in the White House and the GOP. In short, Rush is a White House stooge and Party hack, and the soldiers he claims to be the champion of are nothing more than political cannon fodder. It's when they start thinking things through that they become the enemy, just like the Democrats, just like the "drive by media" and just like anyone who dares to criticize George W. Bush.
Rush, who is every bit a coward and chickenhawk, ought to just apologize, rather than doctoring the podcasts (seriously...) to try and cover up his statement, and rather than attacking others who are raising legitimate criticisms of him.
But he won't. He can't. He has too much to lose.
Rush skated on the whole drugs and foreign sex trips vibe, but if his die-hards ever start to doubt him on matters of patriotism of military might, well, they just might start asking some uncomfortable questions about their lovable, lisping windbag of an airwaves leader... ahem...
Meanwhile, the Dems send a letter of condemnation to Mark Mays, who runs Clear Channel, which incidentally, owns Jeff Christie's ... er ... Rush's show -- (hm ... no wonder he's on so many stations ... his bosses OWN the stations ... kind of changes the context of his primacy in radio... on his own merits, I wonder how prolific El Rushbo would be...)
No one really expects The Drudge Report, or any of its winger accolytes, to deliver the actual news. But this kind of blatant inaccuracy is bad, even for Matt and friends. Today, Drudge linked to his favorite "news" source, champion headline linker and right wing pundit Andrew Breitbart's self-titled link portal. The headline: US public sees news media as biased, inaccurate, uncaring: poll
More than half of Americans say US news organizations are politically biased, inaccurate, and don't care about the people they report on, a poll published Thursday showed.
And poll respondents who use the Internet as their main source of news -- roughly one quarter of all Americans -- were even harsher with their criticism, the poll conducted by the Pew Research Center said.
More than two-thirds of the Internet users said they felt that news organizations don't care about the people they report on; 59 percent said their reporting was inaccurate; and 64 percent they were politically biased.
More than half -- 53 percent -- of Internet users also faulted the news organizations for "failing to stand up for America".
Sounds like straight reporting, yeah? Well, maybe not.
Heading over to the actual Pew Poll, we find something slightly different.
It turns out that the public as a whole has an overwhelmingly positive view of the news media, with 78% viewing local TV news favorably, 75% feeling the same way about cable TV news, 71% for network news, 78% for daily newspapers and 60% for national newspapers.
As for perceptions of bias, the percentage of Americans saying that the news media as a whole is moral has dropped from 54% to 46% between 1985 and 2007, the percentage saying the media "protects democracy" has dropped from 54% to 44% in that time, with a minority of 36% saying they "hurt democracy" and 20% saying they don't know ... and 66% now saying the media is "highly professional", down from 72% in 1985 and versus just 22% who now say the media are "not professional." Where the Breitbart headline almost sounds coherent is in the areas of factuality and bias: 30% of respondents to the Pew poll said the media "gets the facts straight" versus 53% who say stories are often inaccuate. Back in '85, the numbers were 55% for factuality and 34% for frequent error. That is a problem for the media, which has been subject to various "gotchas" in recent years, from everything from blogswarms to in-house liars like Jayson Blair.
And on the subject of bias, just 31% of respondentss said the media are "careful to avoid bias," versus 55% who called the media politically biased. In 1985, however, those numbers weren't much different: then, 36% said the media were careful to avoid bias, versus 45% who detected bias. In other words, the percentage of doubters, down from 19% to 14%, has declined, and the percentage of those who are certain that the media is out to trick them, has climbed, though the impact on those who consider the media honest is almost within the margin of error.
And what accounts for the increased certainty of bias? According to the poll, two things: the Internet, and Fox News.
Respondents who get most of their news from the 'net scored the highest in the poll in terms of perceiving bias in the news. Both on the left and the right, people who see the media as hopelessly tilted to one political side or another, have in many cases turned to getting most of their news online, sussing out information for themselves rather than relying on the talking heads. These folks tend to be younger, not nursed on the three major networks' nightly news, and highly skeptical of the official story presented by the often lap-dog press (have I revealed too much...?)
According to the Pew analysts:
People who rely on the internet as their main news source express relatively unfavorable opinions of mainstream news sources and are among the most critical of press performance. As many as 38% of those who rely mostly on the internet for news say they have an unfavorable opinion of cable news networks such as CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC, compared with 25% of the public overall, and just 17% of television news viewers.
The internet news audience is particularly likely to criticize news organizations for their lack of empathy, their failure to "stand up for America," and political bias. Roughly two-thirds (68%) of those who get most of their news from the internet say that news organizations do not care about the people they report on, and 53% believe that news organizations are too critical of America. By comparison, smaller percentages of the general public fault the press for not caring about people they report on (53%), and being too critical of America (43%).
Indeed. But the even bigger drag on the poll in terms of perceptions of the media is Fox News. It has fed an almost hysterical revulsion for the "mainstream media," from the New York Times to CNN, and has led many Republicans to conclude that they -- and thus, America -- are under seminal attack by the left wing hordes of the press. Say the Pew researchers:
Across every major news source, Democrats offer more favorable assessments than do independents or Republicans. The partisan divide is smallest when it comes to local TV news, which 83% of Democrats rate favorably along with 76% of Republicans. The differences are greatest for major national newspapers, such as the New York Times and Washington Post. Fully 79% of Democrats rate these newspapers favorably compared with just 41% of Republicans, based on those able to rate them.
While Republicans have long been more skeptical than Democrats about major media sources, the magnitude of the difference is a relatively recent phenomenon. In Pew's first measure of media favorability in 1985, there were modest differences of opinion across party lines.
And as for the "Foxified viewers" as described in the poll:
those who cite the Fox News Channel as their primary source of news stand out among the TV news audience for their negative evaluations of news organizations' practices. Fully 63% of Americans who count Fox as their main news source say news stories are often inaccurate – a view held by fewer than half of those who cite CNN (46%) or network news (41%) as their main source.
Similarly, Fox viewers are far more likely to say the press is too critical of America (52% vs. 36% of CNN viewers and 29% of network news viewers). And the Fox News Channel audience gives starkly lower ratings to network news programs and national newspapers such as the New York Times and Washington Post.
And why do Fox viewers feel so put upon?
Politics plays a large part in these assessments – Republicans outnumber Democrats by two-to-one (43% to 21%) among the core Fox News Channel audience, while there are far more Democrats than Republicans among CNN's viewers (43% Democrat, 22% Republican) and network news viewers (41% Democrat, 24% Republican).
It's no wonder Roger Ailes can double as the network head and Rudy Giuliani's principal advisor. More from the poll:
Not surprisingly, the Fox News Channel audience is far more likely to say that news organizations have been unfair in their coverage of George W. Bush (49%) than those who cite CNN (19%) or network news (22%) as their main news source.
Further analysis of the data shows that being a Republican and a Fox viewer are related to negative opinions of the mainstream media. The overlapping impact of these two factors can most clearly be seen in the favorability ratings of network TV news, major national newspapers, and the daily newspapers that respondents are most familiar with. For all three, Republicans who count Fox as their main news source are considerably more critical than Republicans who rely on other sources. For example, fully 71% of Fox News Republicans hold an unfavorable opinion of major national newspapers, compared with 52% of Republicans who use other sources, and 33% of those who are not Republicans.
Of course, none of that makes it into Breitbart's news churner, let alone Drudge's.
Leave it to the right to even screw up a smear. Insight Magazine's fairy tale that Barack Obama attended a Muslim "madrassa" school when he was but 6 years old has traversed the planes of right wing hackery, sling-shotting from Glen Beck's wacky world of low-rated cable TV (and high-rated radio), to the ultimate dumping ground for factually-sketchy slander against Democrats: Fox "News" Channel.
Well. That would be all well and good if the story was actually true. Here's the scoop from ThinkProgress:
Last week, Fox News and other Rupert Murdoch outlets amplified a right-wing report alleging that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) attended an Islamic “madrassa” school as a 6-year-old child. One Fox News caller questioned whether Obama’s schooling means that “maybe he doesn’t consider terrorists the enemy.” Fox anchor Brian Kilmeade responded, “Well, we’ll see about that.”
So what is a news organization to do when they want to "see about that?" It's called simple reportage. And CNN went one better:
Commenting on this report today, Wolf Blitzer said that CNN had done “what any serious news organization is supposed to do in this kind of a situation”: actually investigate and learn the facts. CNN’s Senior International Correspondent John Vause filed a report from Indonesia.
He visited the Basuki school, which Obama attended from 1969 to 1971.
"This is a public school. We don't focus on religion," Hardi Priyono, deputy headmaster of the Basuki school, told Vause. "In our daily lives, we try to respect religion, but we don't give preferential treatment."
Vause reported he saw boys and girls dressed in neat school uniforms playing outside the school, while teachers were dressed in Western-style clothes.
"I came here to Barack Obama's elementary school in Jakarta looking for what some are calling an Islamic madrassa ... like the ones that teach hate and violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan," Vause said on the "Situation Room" Monday. "I've been to those madrassas in Pakistan ... this school is nothing like that."
Vause also interviewed one of Obama's Basuki classmates, Bandug Winadijanto, who claims that not a lot has changed at the school since the two men were pupils. Insight reported that Obama's political opponents believed the school promoted Wahhabism, a fundamentalist form of Islam, "and are seeking to prove it."
"It's not (an) Islamic school. It's general," Winadijanto said. "There is a lot of Christians, Buddhists, also Confucian. ... So that's a mixed school."
The Obama aide described Fox News' broadcasting of the Insight story "appallingly irresponsible."
The Insight article even went to lowbrow as to accuse, not their own hackery, but Hillary Clinton's camp of cooking up the Obamarassa story, something Clinton's camp has called total junk (consider the source.) I mean, why take the credit for such a scummy story when you can pass the blame onto someone else?
Oh, and one other thing: if Barack Obama HAD attended a madrassa school at 6 years old, he'd be one hell of a terrorist prodigy, since madrassas are kind of like college -- they're for adults. Funny thing, that.
When intelligent, thoughtful, good men like Mark Daily die in Iraq, wasting their lives and talent for an idealistic goal that is not shared by the greedy, cynical, war profiteers who sent them there, non-fighting, blowhard righties, who themselves would never, ever volunteer or serve, and who continue to hero worship a president and vice president who didn't bother to serve when it was their turn, applaud.
I don't think I will ever understand these people.
R.I.P. Second Lieutenant Daily. I applaud your service and your ideals, but am deeply saddened by the waste of your life and the loss to your loved ones.
Question: is any major event not fodder for the online left's complaints about the Administration of George W. Bush? They are, to be sure, by and large obsessive cultists in form and effect; but surely reason may kick in at points. One gets the impression of a class of people who wake up, drink their coffee, go to shave, cut themselves, and promptly curse the war in Iraq. The monomania simply does not end -- and the execution of Saddam Hussein is no different. I have already expressed my dislike for executions: but I also retain the bare capacity for rationality that allows me to understand the end of the dictator as a fundamental good.
The leftist "netroots"? Not so much.
Well I'm not sure if I qualify as a member of the left "netroots" -- but I will say that even as a staunch opponent of the death penalty, which I consider distasteful, draconian and uncivilized (not to mention a constant opponent of this awful, pathetically incompetent president,) I knew from the moment that U.S. troops pulled Saddam Hussein out of that spider hole that his execution was the only possible outcome (well, that or his being dragged by armed Shiite or Kurdish gunmen out of his American holding cell and murdered like a dog in the street... and even that would have probably ended with a hanging...)
For Shia and Kurdish Iraqis, who were so brutally victimized under a man who was for some, the only leader they have known, Saddam's death was perhaps a necessary catharsis. But I would caution Hugh and other Bush fans that catharsis for Iraqis was never, and still is not, the primary concern for Americans. Especially since catharsis for Iraqis has so far, not translated into good will for American troops, cooperation with the U.S. "mission" in Iraq, or an end to the violent civil war that is tearing that country apart while our guys are stuck in the middle.
What is of primary concern is American foreign policy, and whether those policies, undertaken by our elected leadership, are in the best interests of the United States. I would argue that Saddam's hanging advances U.S. interests not one whit, and it wasn't even a stated goal in the war (Bush, after all, on March 18, 2003 offered to allow him to leave Iraq alive with his sons and surrender the country, and its oil wealth, to us, which supposedly would have avoided war altogether...)
Iraqi catharsis isn't even likely to reduce the rampant and seemingly bottomless violence and sectarian bloodletting that is of primary concern to American troops and taxpayers, who are paying, in very different ways, for a policy that has already proven to be bereft of benefit for America. (December is now officially the deadliest month for U.S. troops this year.) Iraq posed no military threat to us, so toppling Saddam and taking over his country didn't protect us from attack (I won't even mention the nuclear piece, which has long since been rendered ridiculous.) He had no ties to terrorists, except possibly the Mujeheddin e-Kalq, an anti-Iranian terror group that members of Congress favor, so deposing Saddam and having him summarily executed doesn't protect us from terrorism.
The only possible benefit to the U.S. of Saddam's death will be the fact that members of the U.S. military will no longer have to guard him inside Iraq, something that posed a constant security threat to American troops, given the number of Iraqis who likely wanted to find and kill him. Of course, much the same thing could have been accomplished by exiling the man. And perhaps the hanging will strengthen the unelected fourth prime minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite who even Washington doubts can control the country. But since the U.S. has been sending signals that it may be shopping for replacement, strengthening Maliki -- and by extension, his backers, like Moqtada al-Sadr, whose father was executed by Saddam -- may be counterproductive for us... emphasis on for us... (recall that the U.S. had been cuddling up to a possible Maliki replacement, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, head of something called SCIRI -- the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq , until of course, we went and grabbed a couple of Iranian diplomats and accused them of planning terror attacks ... needless to say, we've since let them go...)
To sum it up, I don't believe that Saddam's death advances U.S. interests, and therefore I see no reason to except my general opposition to the death penalty in this case. At the same time, I understand that for Iraqis, if not for us, this was something that was probably inevitable, and in many ways, very much understandable, from their point of view. How that helps our cause in Iraq -- whatever in Gods name that cause is, at this point -- I sure as hell don't know.
So is Saddam's death a "fundamental good" as Hewitt (who also appears to oppose the death penalty) asserts? I don't think that you can credibly argue that it is. It's fundamentally cathartic for many Iraqis, Iranians and Kuwaitis, it puts the coda on a brutal and terrifying chapter of Iraqi history, and in that it probably won't abate, and could worsen, sectarian violence in Iraq, it is either a net irrelevancy, or a net negative, from a policy standpoint, to the American people.