Friday, April 09, 2010

President Smacks Palin, Then Builds Her Up

President Obama slapped down Sarah Palin at the same time he gave her a boost simply by mentioning her name. The President could easily have said, “I’m not going to dignify that kind of ignorant nonsense with a reply.” That would be the measured response to a ditz who doesn’t know what she’s talking about. But he was carefully deliberate in mentioning Palin’s name before saying she’s a ditz who doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

There’s presidential politics afoot here. President Obama is playing Sister Sarah the idiot like a violin, enhancing her presidential prospects, getting into her ambitious little head too. This after the President deliberatively diminished Mitt Romney’s presidential fortunes by praising Romneycare in Massachusetts, from which Romney has been desperately trying to run away and hide.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

The Ultimate Fox "News" Scam

Fox “News” has long touted its Nielsen ratings dominance over the competition to reinforce and perpetuate the wingnut delusion that they live in a right wing nation, instead of Rupert Murdoch’s house of cards. Except for one small detail: Fox ratings are a fraud. Murdoch is in bed with Nielsen. What’s more -– this is for you Fox viewers and Beck followers out there, because it’s fun to make your heads explode with truth you can’t handle -- Murdoch is in bed with Communist China.

It’s all revealed in the “lost” Glenn Beck episode. Yes, boys and girls, there is such a thing and it’s a shocker. This is real-life “Conspiracy Theory,” like the Mel Gibson film in which he plays a Glenn Beck type spouting a steady stream of conspiracies who accidentally stumbles upon a real one. In this episode, Beck gets a tip from his pizza man, and makes a startling discovery about his boss, Rupert Murdoch:
“If you are not already rolled up in the fetal position under a table, I don’t know what to tell you. This is serious stuff, and it is one of the reasons I have never feared more for the future of my country. When the biggest media conglomerate in the world is in bed with the world’s biggest communist nation, how much longer can we expect to remain free? And remember, China has us by the short hairs due to all of the U.S. debt they hold.”
But the episode never aired. That’s right, Beckistas, Murdoch squashed it. Does that give your tiny little brains pause? It should. Never mind. Beck did a quick pivot and continued his daily litany of fearmongering and hate speech, this time directed at safer targets, President Obama and the Democrats, inciting the Teabaggers with racist hate speech and incendiary rhetoric. As a result, the threats of violence have grown exponentially and all’s well in the world of mindless fascist followers.

It may be rancid butter, but Beck knows who butters his side of the bread. He doesn’t care about politics, he told Forbes Magazine, it’s all “entertainment.” Glenn Beck is Rupert Murdoch’s high-priced $32 million communist WHORE. A willing communist tool who sold himself to the highest bidder –- ain’t capitalism great?

So this makes the Teabaggers . . . communist stooges. Sounds about right.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Watercooler at MSNBC Must be Spiking Hot and Frosty

Well, the virtual watercooler, at least. It may be just as well that Dylan Ratigan is in New York and Andrea Mitchell in D.C., especially after Ratigan called her “favorite economist” a “con artist” and “The Godfather.” For valid reasons, I might add. Alan Greespan, principal architect of the Bush financial collapse, said by way of explanation that he was right 70% of the time. It’s that 30% we had to worry about.

If “Sully” Sullenberger posted such success rates his airbus might be sitting at the bottom of the Hudson River. Which is pretty much what happened to our economy. Chris Matthews got into the act, adding with a note of glee, “even Ayn Rand would be proud.” Certainly, Mr. Greenspan might be less affluent today but more admired had he stuck with the saxophone. Alas, he succumbed to Ms. Rand’s bewitching charms, her exotic voodoo economics, so here we are. I must say though, Andrea Mitchell is one classy lady. She elegantly sidestepped her husband’s clever evasions by pretending it didn’t happen. Although Dylan Ratigan might consider turning on his heel if he spots Andrea walking his way.

And what to make of David Schuster’s latest suspension? One of the nicest guys in MSNBC’s dysfunctional family is getting a raw deal from management Top Hats. David’s niceness masks a deceptively impetuous nature, one of his best attributes. First the dumb Top Hats take away his tweeting privileges for exposing the punk who entered Senator Landrieu’s office under false pretenses (see Rachel Maddow’s exposé). Simply put, a right wing blowhard shouts loud threats and the Top Hats cave. So to forbid David from tweeting is: (a) silly; (b) infantile; (c) stupid; or (d) all of the above. A: (d). Next, the Top Hats “rip [David] a new one” because he filmed a CNN pilot. Please. Can anyone say, overreaction? The guy’s contract expires this year. He’s exploring his options. It’s not as if the dumb Top Hats showed him any respect. But they’d be really really dumb to let him go. Cut David a break and get him back on air. And give him back his tweeting privileges. Idiots.

Now, to the meat of the batting order. Ed Schultz has been pinch-hitting a lot of late because of the Top Hats’ disruptive meddling. He’s great. Solid, passionate and genuine. Which has Contessa suddenly flirting with him on-camera. What’s up with that? Ed seems puzzled but plays along. He doesn’t quite know what to make of Ms Brewer -- who does? Keith anchors the team, as always hitting for average and power. (I wonder if the rumor that his comments are pre-screened by Top Hat censors is true; that would certainly explain why Keith on a recent show declared he had nothing to comment about. Back in the days that military censors in Brasil slashed newspaper articles, the defiant press would print recipes or columns of black ink where the censored articles had been laid out. Censorship of any kind has no place in journalism. I hope it’s only a rumor.) Rachel Maddow is still hitting for power and swinging for the fences with regularity. Yet she hit a single on that Pentagon video story (home run for Dylan). I hope her power numbers aren’t declining.

Which brings us back to Chris Matthews. Chris is like the wild closer who fires heat but has control problems. Hardball. Lots of “dusters” as he’ll admit to himself, not to speak of a brushback, something way outside, and CRACK –- extra base hits, as I recall, from Alan Grayson and Howard Dean. They rocked Chris. Manager Joan Walsh had had enough: “Don’t get me going, Chris” she warned before yanking him. Usually Joan lets Chris work himself out of the inning. And mostly, he’ll get back on his game. But seriously, Chris revealed he used to be a Goldwater Republican before “falling in love” with Gene McCarthy. That explains A LOT, Chris!

Fox and the Politics of Racist Hatred for the Poor

This is for the Fox “News” brainwashed, who act on the conviction that the information they get from that hate-spewing, violence-inciting propaganda network offers even a kernel of what can be considered the truth. Sometimes, justice delayed is justice denied. California Attorney General Jerry Brown cleared ACORN of any wrongdoing, but not early enough to prevent the organization’s dissolution.

So despicable was the Hannity-Fox “News” caricature of an ACORN employee, a complete fabrication, that he was summarily fired. Where can he get his life and reputation back? Let’s ask Hannity whether he can fork out a little of the “charity” money he’s pocketing and spending on lavish hotel suites and private jets (boy, these wingnuts really love their high-life perks while most Americans struggle with their finances) to make this ACORN employee he trashed, whole.

Then again, justice might yet be had. The right wing punk who succeeded in closing down ACORN with his scurrilous smear, and has copped to a lesser plea for impersonating a phone company worker and entering Senator Mary Landrieu’s offices on false pretenses, has worn out his welcome and burned his bridges except among the fringe of the fringe. This punk and his accomplices are condemned to be toxic waste for life. And that may be enough. After their brief Pyrrhic victory, no one’s catching this garbage on the way down.

Please watch, from beginning to end:

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Union Busting Strip Mining Magnate Don Blankenship Made $19.7 Million in “Blood Money”

“Blood money if you ask me,” declared United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard, who grew up in a mining environment, went to the company school, shopped in the company store, and remembers mine whistles blaring out of time, and the rush of blood thorugh his veins as he wondered if it was his father’s shift, or his friend’s father whose turn it was to be down in that hole.

Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey, prides himself on placing profits ahead of safety in his union-busting mining operation which has accumulated more than 3,000 safety violations. To Blankenship, these are the costs of doing business. Of $2.2 million in fines assessed, he is contesting more than $1.4 million, and has delinquent fines totaling $246,320.

He shrugged off the fines, saying “we don't pay much attention to the violation count.” Of course not, as long as you can run a criminally unsafe, union-busting operation that, rather than invest in safety upgrades and maintain the highest workplace OSHA standards, buys judgeships, raises money for Republican obstructionism and deregulation, and underwrites the Teabaggers.

Here is this predator capitalist in his own words. Hateful, outrageous, despicable, bigoted, and ignorant speech is protected by the Constitution. Criminal negligence bordering on murder (as a matter of law and not opinion) are not:

The time has come for the Justice Department to stand up for long-suffering mine workers throughout America, but particularly in West Virginia, and bring this bastard to his knees. And it’s high time the Senate took action on stricter safety legislation for coal workers. The House bill has languished in the Senate too long, first on GWB’s veto threat and then under the heel of Republican union-busting obstruction, just waiting for another tragedy to happen, as long as it’s not on their watch.

Well, it’s happened. The Republicans who passed on it have blood on their hands. Are you satisfied, Republican deregulators? Democrats control the Senate; there are no more excuses not to pass this bill NOW.
Update: Labor Secretary Hilda has appointed a special team of investigators to “evaluate all aspects of the accident, including possible causes and the operator's compliance with federal health and safety standards. The team will issue a formal report on its findings and conclusions.”
It’s a start. It won’t bring back the lives of those miners needlessly lost to Blankenship’s craven criminal neglect, but it may pave the way to justice in this matter and safe, humane working conditions for all mine workers in America.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Ah, Those College Pranksters . . .

Well done, to a certain fraternity for its (magical) ability to point a frat house parking sign to a towaway zone. Whatever their motivation, kickbacks or critical thinking, the lads are well on their way to successful careers in the finer arts of politics. Now, if they can just lure the Karl Rove book tour with a faux Rovian-style mailer promising premium parking to any RNC staffer who can produce their “I {heart} Rove” sticker . . .

And Glenn, after you stop sobbing and comparing yourself to Rosa Parks, kindly fork up -

$6,600 in towing expenses + $25 in cab fees X 53 = $1,325 + $6,600, for a grand total of: $7,925.

It's the least you can do for your adoring fans. Then throw in 53 autographed copies of your worthless book, so they don't have to buy it and kick back pofits to the publisher and royalties to you.

How about that reimbursement, Glenn . . . Is it in the mail yet?

Monday, April 05, 2010

Quotable: Robert Gibbs on Michael Steele Playing the Race Card

Robert Gibbs, President Obama’s Press Secretary, respondend to this whine by RNC Chairman Michael Steele:

Gibby’s retort:
“Michael Steele’s problem is not the race card, it’s the credit card.”

Notes From the Fringe

Anatomy of a wingnut lie: what Teabaggers and Fox viewers take as news, i.e., garbage in, garbage out. “Guess what passed behind our backs?” trolls missing link militia member Tina Stone on her Facebook page (where else?), whipped into a lather over an internet smear that President Obama plans to resettle Hamas refugees in the U.S. It’s A LIE, twice-over. ‘Nuff said.

If not the Devil, blame the Hippies. In what amounts to an ironic twist on conservatives’ oft-stated but seldom followed “family values” and doctrine of personal responsibility (a euphemism for slashing entitlement programs) Ross Douhat blames the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal on the “permissiveness” of the 70s. Has he considered the fact that the repressive sexual culture of the 50s constrained victims from coming forward, and when they did, the reported abuse was ignored or hushed up? Or that, reaching adulthood in the 60s and 70s the victims finally gathered up the considerable courage to come forward? When circumstances turn inconvenient for conservatives, they are the first to cast off their not so deeply held value of personal responsibility.

More dysfunctional Palin family coverup. Thank some hardnosed digging by Alaskan blogs for this. The rumors of Willow Palin’s vandalism rampage in Wassila ring true, considering the reluctance of sources suddenly to come forward and tell the story they were eager to relate earlier. The Palins’ MO of strong-arming and intimidating witnesses to their potential criminal behavior is all over this one. Oh Sarah, we’ve got John Gotti Jr. on the line; he has a reality show “business”proposition for you. Something about the “Family.”

Wingnut Rx for healthcare reform: first medical test, political affiliation, while insurers tout ways to deny coverage for children with pre-existing conditions. Republican doctor straddles ethics, post sign --“IF YOU VOTED FOR OBAMA SEEK UROLOGICAL CARE ELSEWHERE” -- admits he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, as insurance companies unleash an army of lawyers looking for loopholes to EVADE THE LAW and keep children with pre-existing conditions off the rolls. Still adjusting to the new reality, insurance companies backed down after lots of bad publicity and a letter from HHR Secretary Kathleen Sibelius threatened to impale them. But there still are rats lurking in the gutters of high profit margins, ready to use every care-denying loophole they can find. This is an environment ripe for whistleblowers and persons of conscience who would take down the predators.

Republican obstruction games devastate real people’s lives. Following mental Jim Bunning, senator from KY, who wrongly predicted Justice Ginsburg would be dead from cancer by now, Tom Coburn of AL takes his turn at bat blocking an extension of unemployment benefits. Because he doesn’t have anything better to do, like passing laws that help people. John Kyl continues the GOP game of chicken by speaking out of both sides of his mouth, pledging to block the President’s new SCOTUS nominee before it is even made. In the meantime, the unemployed are denied benefits and flood victims devastated by the record Northeast rainfall go without federal flood insurance. Here’s a new game: on a scale of 1 to 10, how repugnant can Republicans get? DING, DING, DING!

Creative ways a married couple find themselves in ‘Lost.’ Not having watched more than two or three episodes, I’m a dedicated agnostic on the subject. Am I missing something? Hmm . . . This article includes some useful links and ideas for ‘Lost’ fans to make a soft landing when the series ends May 23.

False Equivalence, and the Republicans' Craven Dance with Violent Right Wing Extremism

The most craven and irresponsible LIE by Republicans in their constellation of LIES about Democratic policy initiatives and President Obama’s words and birth right, is their systematic rejection of any responsibility for inciting and stoking extremist violence on the right with incendiary rhetoric, from Sarah Palin to Michelle Bachmann and John Boehner, to the right wing propaganda machine on Fox to Limbaugh Inc.’s hate radio monopoly.

When a wingnut propagandist equates the violence and threats of further violence from right wing militias -- threatening law enforcement in service of the end times, or demanding that governors leave office or be removed –- there is no equivalent threat from the left. When kidnapping, assault, attempted murder, and murder are committed against abortion doctors and clinic workers, as well as arson and bombings, there is no equivalent incidence of violence from the left.

This false equivalence fallacy occurs “when someone falsely equates an act by one party as being equally egregious to that of another without taking into account the underlying differences which may make the comparison patently invalid.” To amplify on the example of anti-abortion terrorism, at least eight people have been murdered in the U.S, in anti-abortion terrorism. Since 1977 in the United States and Canada, there have been 17 attempted murders, 383 death threats, 153 incidents of assault or battery, and 3 kidnappings committed against abortion providers. There are no equivalent incidents of murder and violence on the left.

Right wingers constantly resort to false equivalence on media outlets. They do so with impunity, because their counterparts on the left have largely been unwilling to refute the lies in the limited time allotted. The fact is, the last time a leftist group engaged in armed, terroristic violence against the government, of the type and threat level posed by right wing militias, was in the 70s, when the group calling itself the Symbionese Liberation Army came to prominence by abducting Patty Hearst and pulling bank jobs. That was more than 30 years ago.

The wingnuts cannot point to a single instance of organized domestic terror from the left since those days. There is nothing domestically that compares in scope to the threat of anti-government militias and anti-abortion terrorists whose violence, grounded in Christian fundamentalism, often overlaps. Instead, right wing propagandists reach for the lone nutcase example on the left to build up by sheer repetition –- Goebbels’ BIG LIE (repeated often enough) technique –- the false equivalence of a lone madman on the left, such as the Unabomber. From 1978 to 1995, Theodore Kaczynski carried out a series of deadly mail bombings, causing serious injuries to most of his victims and three fatalities.

As heinous as the Unabomber’s crimes were, it is a fallacy to equate them with the same threat level posed by heavily armed anti-government militias. The Unabomer’s despicable attacks were carried out by a single disturbed individual. There is a pattern of this kind of violence that runs through American history. But a far more dangerous and deadly pattern has re-emerged today, since the resurgence of right wing extremist militias in the 90s after Waco and Ruby Ridge, culminating with the Oklahoma City bombing. In scope and severity, this threat to people, government, and institutions from extremist organized groups on the right is far more significant than the "lone wolf" scenario. This is not to diminish or minimize in any way the horrific crimes committed by the Unabomber, Theodore Kaczynski.

But the nature of the threat from the entire panoply of extremist right groups -- armed militias, nativists, white supremacists, anti-abortion religious fundamentalists -- is different, especially in how individual and collective responsibility is assigned. Right wing propagandists focus on the “lone wolf” madman precisely because it rids them of responsibility for any further, more serious acts of violence that might accrue from their hate speech. It is undeniable that Rush Limbaugh and Fox denizens scream “FIRE!” in a crowded theater on a daily basis. Republicans do it consistently. They LIE consistently. They cannot shirk their responsibility for inciting right wing extremist violence.

Once Republican members of Congress incite the Teabaggers with incendiary rhetoric while Party leadership refuses to rein in its most extreme members -- Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, and the drumbeat from hate media Fox and Limbaugh Inc. -- it is disingenuous at best for the GOP and self-appointed Tebagger leaders (it’s not a movement, it’s a rabble) to claim that the violence, vandalism, and hateful rhetoric is just an isolated expression of a few “lone wolves” on the fringes. That won’t wash.

In our recent history, domestic terrorism on the right involving armed and dangerous extremist groups reached its zenith with the tragic Oklahoma City bombing committed by Tim McVeigh and his known accomplice Terry Nichols. The Oklahoma City bombing ranks as the worst case of domestic terrorism in American history. It took the lives of 169 people. It is this kind of threat from the extremist right, that the Department of Homeland Security warned of in a 2009 report. Instead of heeding the report’s findings with sober analysis, the right reacted with hysterical attempts to discredit it while Republicans called for Director Janet Napolitano’s head. They claimed it was biased toward the left, which is absurd, since it had been commissioned by the Bush administration. Facts are facts.

How soon they forget how far they have gone to keep the truth about right wing violent extremism from coming out, and how far they will go to cover up their significant share of responsibility for acts of serious violence that may erupt from extremist groups on the right. What the right wing propaganda machine is doing now, with its constant chorus of false equivalence, is to lay the groundwork aiming to shirk and evade responsibility should more serious right wing extremist violence come to pass in these turbulent times. It has been said before, and it should be repeated: Words have consequences. Grievances against government should be addressed at the ballot box.