Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tea Party Remedial Education: This Is The REAL America

As seen on Rachel's BLOG. Had to repost here.

Clusterfuck At MSNBC: Keith Is Gone, COMCAST Is In


Keith Olbermann announced last night it would be Countdown's final edition as he signed off at MSNBC. A stunner. Keith was very well compensated for his work. Still, when you work for "The Man," your professional life and perceived independence is always in flux, especially when you're caught up in a mega-corporate merger. Keith pushed the envelope. That's what set him apart from the rest of the crowd. He built his loyal audience on his fierce liberalism and unapologetic independence. He established MSNBC as the anti-Fox and blew CNN away, as if people are going to watch Mr. tight little black T-shirt and his political schizophrenia circus night afer night. I mean, yeah I like Gergen, but what the fuck are all those wingnuts doing in the studio? Coops tweeted breathlessly —

Like sharks circling, smelling blood. In typical li'l black T-shirt fashion, Coops' scoop was less than meets the eye. Next. The Man silenced Keith with a so-called noncompetitive clause through 2013. What happens in 2012, when Keith's voice  is most needed? They're already building Lawrence O'Donnell up as Keith's natural replacement. I don't see it. The fact the suits are comfortable with Lawrence makes him suspect in the eyes of Keith's audience. It's not as if he's endeared himself to us with that broadside against the netroots. Like Chris Matthews, Lawrence O'Donnell is old school. Conventional. Not a natural fit with Keith's audience.

Rachel and Big Eddie are stars. Rachel owes her initial success at least, in part, to Keith's support. Her unique wonkish investigative journalism, unconventional blogging style new to the "TV machine," did not sprout in any corporate suit's head. Big Eddie is an authentic voice. He muscled his way in like a trade union organizer in corporate enemy territory, planted his flag, and built his audience without help, often at cross-purposes with The Man upstairs. And Cenk finally gets his show. He'll do good. He understands and honors what Keith meant to MSNBC. He'll live up to the promise. Memo to Big Eddie: Don't tone it down, man. Now it's up to you to rub the suits the wrong way. And keep fighting the good fight. You've still got your radio show. And your audience.

Rachel and Eddie will continue to hold their audience. But filling Keith's shoes is a tall order. The ratings are not interchangeable. Keith's strong ratings had a spillover effect up and down the lineup. Who knows what COMCAST will bring to MSNBC. Nothing substantive. Nothing good, I don't think. Their "business plan" will likely be entertainment-centered and don't rock the boat. They will try to homogenize the content, dial things back, be more like CNN. The suits always think they know what the audience wants. They know what they want. Big difference. Bastards.

Keith had what the Times described as a "stormy relationship" with the suits in corporate. As if. Could it have been anything else? Howard Kurz was gloating already, trying to take credit for the obvious. Rightwingville is in a celebratory mood. Roger Ailes is probably wondering whether he can hire Keith. Good on him. For all MSNBC employees, the COMCAST takeover beginning Monday ripples up and down the ranks. Suddenly, there's an alien entity calling the shots, there are subtle changes in the familiar company culture, and a sense of uncertainty in the pit of your stomach as your CEO and top talent are replaced. Will COMCAST clean house? Time will tell. Don't Mondays suck for the working stiff? Monday Blues will be bluesier than usual. Welcome to corporate America.

Good luck, Keith. I know you'll be back in some form or fashion. And better than ever. You used your show as a platform to help thousands of people in need of medical care. You shined a harsh light on the injustices and inequities of society. And for this, you will always be remembered with warmth and gratitude by your audience, especially the tens of thousands of people you helped so selflessly. That goes above and beyond. And that's why this sucks so much.

Keith, you made a difference. You have more friends than you can possibly know. That's not a bad way to go. See you soon, friend.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Joseph Goebbels Is VERY MUCH AVAILABLE For Analogies

Congressman Steve Cohen, Democrat of Tennessee, deserves the applause of anyone who believes our political conversation should speak the TRUTH. The kerfuffle generated in Right wing media and its client, CNN, by Mr. Cohen’s statement is, in parts comical and alarming. Reaction in sectors of the so-called “liberal media” (which is still very much corporatist) has been more restrained. This is what Rep. Cohen said on the floor of the House:

Mr. Cohen’s statement that Republicans use a propaganda technique called the “Big Lie” introduced by master Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels is factual. He should have stopped short of mentioning the Holocaust, and for this he has apologized. But he did not, nor should he, retract his essential statement:
“They say it's a government takeover of health care, a big lie just like Goebbels. You say it enough, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie, and eventually, people believe it. Like blood libel. That's the same kind of thing.”
Absolutely true. Goebbels used the Big Lie technique to propel the minority Nazi Party to power during the years of economic turmoil and depression of 1930s German Weimar Republic, and then as Hitler’s Propaganda Minister. This is what Joseph Goebbels said:
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
Mr. Cohen explains why he has not backed down from saying the Republicans employ the propaganda technique described and applied by Goebbels:

Use of the Big Lie propaganda technique by Republicans isn’t some arcane abstraction cooked up by university scholars. It was put into effect. Rep. Cohen cited the Pulitzer Prize winning PolitiFact’s naming “GOVERNMENT-RUN HEALTHCARE” the BIGGEST LIE of 2010. Considering it’s the most important law enacted by Congress since passage of Medicare in 1965, affecting one-sixth of the U.S. economy, it’s BIG. Really BIG.

And when the Republican Party follows Goebbels to the letter —

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

Why not call a spade a spade? Ooh, is it too impolite, Rachel? In fact, it’s a perfect example of the BIG LIE as Goebbels defined it:

Apparently, there is an unwritten rule cooked up in a rarefied corporate boardroom somewhere that “responsible” media cannot use certain words and terms — e.g. Nazi, fascist, ruling class, corporate elites, socialist (when did “socialist” programs like Medicare and Social Security become bad words?) — although they happen to be true, accurate and relevant to the discussion. How does it advance our open conversation about politics and society when entire historical eras and definitional terms are unilaterally quarantined by a timorous, politically correct cable channel, the only one to stand in semi-opposition to Fox? Why does progressive media preemptively tie its hands and then behave defensively about it? When, I repeat, is calling a spade a spade, i.e. to tell the truth about something, even if it is not polite or pleasant, become a bad thing?


The adverse effect of progressive media’s self-imposed artificial censorship is to have ceded this territory to the other side. Much as we mock Glenn Beck for his absurd delusional conspiracies, he has in fact co-opted political history dating back to our constitutional beginnings and the rise of Communism, Fascism and Nazism. Beck has built a loyal Tea Party following and effective political movement upon a mountain of LIES — an alternate historical narrative of hate, paranoia and violence. Shoot “them” in the head, he says. That swastika just off his left shoulder looks oh, so appropriate:

There is no effective source on the Left to counter the LIES of the Right. Media Matters has done yeoman work, as has the Pulitzer Prize winning PolitiFact cited by Rep. Cohen. But it takes time, research and sourcing, to debunk all the cascading LIES of the Right. Chris, Ed, Keith and Rachel do their best within even stricter time constraints. By the time one set of Beck LIES is debunked he is already two or three shows into his next sets of LIES. Glenn Beck is like the fugitive criminal always one step ahead of the law. And he is only one of many in the controlling Right wing media propaganda machine from Fox to Limbaugh, spreading LIES and misinformation in close coordination with the Republican Party.

Having apparently gotten her marching orders from Jon Stewart, Anti-Goebbels Oracle of the Neutered Left, and looking every bit like a corporate talking head announcer, Rachel Maddow jumped aboard the Stewart Peace Train to summarily declare any references to Nazis “off limits.”

Wonderful. Let’s just scrub from historical consideration 12 years of the most terroristic fascist regime in human history, also the Weimar Republic that preceded it, because … because … Rachel? Noam Chomsky, one of America’s preeminent thinkers on the Left (or any side of the political spectrum, for that matter), whose prospective appearance on TRMS would likely have to be cleared at the highest levels of the corporation, has a different view:

“They’re not hearing anything else. And the memory that comes to my mind ... again I don’t want to press the analogy too hard — but I think it’s worth thinking about — is late Weimar Germany. There were people with real grievances. The Nazis gave them an answer …” ~ Noam Chomsky, 10/6/2009

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tea Party Remedial Education: Your Hypocrisy Dollars At Work!

As they all lined to cast their votes to repeal a healthcare reform law that is literally growing in popularity by the day with the American people, GOP lawmakers destroyers who had campaigned on a red-meat-to-the-base pledge of repealing healthcare, are making like those Teabaggers who blare REPEAL! on one side of their signs and HANDS OFF MY MEDICARE! on the other. Even the Okie-Arkansas press read by phobic Sharia law's comin' t'git me, God-fearin', (s'long as He's the Christian God), Teabaggin' constituents of Sen. Tom Coburn, smell a rat … Oh my.

Is HYPOCRISY an acquired fault, or is one born with it, depending on the brain's size and development? It seems the more conservative-to-wingnut one is, the more susceptible to the HYPOCRISY bug and the more prone to LYING, too! So much so, that after your 19th LIE in a row an epiphany of sorts occurs: Either you experience a complete NERVOUS BREAKDOWN or you move on to the next level: the total inability to distinguish FACT from FICTION and TRUTH from LIE.

Voilá! You have metamorphosed into a snivellin', creepy-crawlin', Teabaggin' bug of a wingnut member of Congress!~

Larry-O's Slow Burn And Sizzlin' Finale

I'm sure this wasn't Lawrence's intention, but Lib radio talker Stephanie Miller's reaction after watching this segment was that she'd make an exception for him, while a female caller raved that Larry-O was "hot." Lawrence's outbursts are epic, and quite a sight when directed at the bad guys. Congressman Franks, who reminds me of a character in a zombie movie, isn't only a birther but also one of those conspiracists who believes President Obama is a Muslim. Watch Lawrence slam Franks, after giving him ample opportunity to lay out his absolutely-no-restrictions-on-guns and ammo position:

And here is Rachel's tough act to follow-up, with some context and consensus-building in the wake of the Tucson shooting to reduce the number of bullets in the magazine clips back to 2003 levels, when they held 10 bullets instead of 31:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Matthews Mangles Healthcare Interview, Pulls A Gregory

One would expect at least that Chris Matthews would not take any bullshit and talking points from Republicans on the healthcare repeal issue, that he would be minimally prepared with facts and information at his fingertips that he could recite. That's just part of being a professional. No such luck.

Hosting Rep. Bobby Schilling, Matthews failed to correct the Illinois Congressman THREE times on the BALD-FACED LIE that it'll be four years before anyone in an Illinois emergency room is covered: "For four years the uninsured aren't going to have it."


Matthews should have known that it WILL NOT take four years to extend coverage to:
  • Children with preexisting conditions.
  • Children up to age 26 to be automatically covered, as of the 1st of the year, on their parents' policies.
  • People with preexisting conditions and serious illnesses who could not obtain private insurance and are not eligible for Medicaid; they can be covered under the state's emergency temporary pool (until the exchanges are set up) for uninsurable individuals.  
These changes alone will ease the burden on Illinois emergency rooms of caring for thousands of previously uninsured and uninsurable people, TODAY. Got it, Chris? I ticked these off the top of my head. It's the kind of thing you are expected to know and be able to push back against when the Republicans try ramming their LIES/talking points down our throats.

In addition, Rep. Wasserman Schultz first corrected Matthews on using the pejorative "Obamacare," then tried to correct the Illinois record, that in effect 160,000 small businesses in the state are already profiting from tax breaks under the law allowing them to provide coverage for their employees. Matthews replied with a weird non sequitur about Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the Tucson massacre, that made no sense whatsoever.

The interview was an absolute disaster, well below Chris's usual level of competence.

But then Chris buys into the Republican's line, "we (he and Michele Bachmann) believe the President is going to become more of a moderate ... there's already some shifting going on ..."

Matthews: "I see it too." Oh really, Chris. Then perhaps you can tell us when the President was not a moderate. Was it when he cut those deals with Big Pharma and killed drug reimportation? Or when he killed the public option? Or caving to Traitor Joe Lieberman, sending Emanuel in to tell Reid to "take the deal"? Or his expansion of the Afghan war? Or appointing some of the architects of the financial collapse — Larry Summers and Tim Geithner — to his economic team? Or retaining Bob Gates? (I thought it was a good reappointment, for continuity's sake, but a conservative one, nonetheless.) Or in extending the tax cuts for the super rich?

I'd be fascinated to discover where, in this panoply of policy moves and appointments, we see the "liberal" or "progressive" President Obama. Please enlighten us, Chris. I'll give the President credit for initiating healthcare reform, against the objections of his conservative advisers. That was the ONLY spontaneously progressive impulse he exhibited during his entire presidency, to date. Give me a week or two, and I might think of another. To claim the President was ever anything but a "moderate" or, more accurately,  a Bill Clinton right-of-center Democrat is utterly ridiculous and completely inaccurate.

By far the most obnoxious recurring theme in Chris's arsenal of pet peeves is his stubborn animosity for the Left. David Corn must have the patience of a monk to shrug off the offending fictional term "FAR LEFT" every time Chris utters it. For the Nth time, Chris: THERE IS NOT SUCH THING. The "FAR LEFT" in the context of American politics hasn't existed in 30-40 years, dating back to the 60s and 70s. Not since the Symbionese Liberation Army and the Weather Underground.

There is no equivalent on the Left today to the militia movement,  the KKK, American Nazi Party, Tim McVeigh, Dr. Tiller's assassin, or Lyndon LaRouche. Not to speak of the growth, by leaps and bounds, of extremist Right wing groups as documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center and singled out by DHS as a dangerous threat until Republicans squelched the report.

There is no equivalent on the Left. 

So if you want to scratch around for that fleeting equivalence in the New Black Panthers (both of them), or the handful of folks in this socialist party or that, or the US Communist Party, be our guest — and check with the FBI. These fleabag "FAR LEFT" groups probably couldn't meet their membership drives if not for the participation of undercover FBI agents. The term itself — "FAR LEFT"— comes from one of  Chris's favorite sources, Bill O'Reilly, who is notorious for bandying it about. He is also a master false equivalence spinmeister.

I don't know if it's a marketing thing for Matthews, or what, but his numbers are not going to improve with his gratuitous insults smears of liberals and progressives. Nor with using Bill O'Reilly as a primary source. Word of advice to Chris: Try to shed your prejudices, stay away from O'Reilly, and take Politico and Krauthammer in small, skeptical doses. Best to keep your own counsel. Your good instincts will emerge if they're not submerged in all the beltway garbage piling up around you. And do not ever use Bill O'Reilly as a primary source!

Peace. But first ...


This is what Right wing HATE RADIO does not want you to hear. Somehow, listening to these words, the impact of the voices is much more sinister and frightening than reading them third-hand in some blog or another. It's hard to imagine how any rational person listening to these words could say this isn't violence-inciting language. Especially to unstable and mentally ill listeners. Incredibly, at the end of his show today, Thom Hartmann said he was not aware of any specific death threats made by Right wing radio hosts. Thom may not be aware of Glenn Beck fantasizing on the air about "killing" Michael Moore or "hiring" someone to do it:
GLENN BECK: “I’m thinking about killing Michael Moore and I’m wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out of him. Is this wrong?”

Is this specific enough for you, Thom? Just a few days ago Glenn Beck targeted Hartmann with a paranoid tirade about his "Liberal Agenda," etc. The Beck attack was probably driven by resentment at Thom beating the crap out of him in the New York City ratings, forcing cancellation of Beck's show where he lives. There's an example of the "free market" cleaning up the airwaves rather than polluting them. Philadelphia could be next for Beck.

A day after Beck's attack, Hartmann started receiving emailed death threats, some of which he read on the air. Knowing Thom's gentle, peaceful nature, which comes across on the radio, these threats must have rattled him a bit. So he's probably being extra careful about accusatory language against Beck or anyone else.

This is the atmosphere of intimidation progressive radio and TV hosts face from the wingnut Right in plying their trade. To listen to Beck, it's all a joke, not at all serious. Beck is a paranoid, violence-inciting SCUMBAG who has consistently refused to take responsibility for his incendiary and hateful rhetoric. And now he is arrogantly peddling a self-help book with a quack psychiatrist in tow. Because, you see, there is no part of the MSM that would hold Glenn Beck accountable and responsible for his violent words. It was up to Meredith Vieira. And she failed.

Faux "journalist" Vieira was ill-prepared for her interview segment with Beck. Vieira didn't mention the threat to Michael Moore, much less Beck's connection with Byron Williams, whose planned killing spree against the Tides Foundation and the ACLU was thwarted by the California Highway Patrol, or Beck's influence on cop-killer Richard Poplawski.

Hello ... is anybody home in the MSM? Does anybody have the guts to bring this paranoid punk to task for his words?

Olbermann To Non-Wingnut Colleagues: 'New Civility'? PFFT ... Time To Get Back To Business

Last night on Keith's program, Idiot Punditocracy self-inductee David Frum said there was something in "the air" and he sensed "a gear change" in the tone of our political rhetoric. Um, David (we'll be saying this a lot to him since David is a nice guy, hence our rebukes gentle and good-natured) that something in the air is the crackle of negative sound waves emanating from Limbaugh, Beck, Levin, Savage, Hannity, O'Reilly and all the other whackos, wingnuts and assorted proto-fascists cited by Keith in his incisive commentary (below). That "gear shift" is 4-RR for four wheel drive Republican-Reverse. It's the only gear they know.

David is from the "Bourgeois Bohemian" (BOBO) school of scented vanilla Pollyanna conservatives pioneered by that other David (Brooks, of the NYT), the self-styled sociologist of silliness who wrote a book about his musings. The two Davids are that rare inoffensive conservative you could go out for a beer with during one of their wild 'Bohemian' flings and share a laugh about your political disagreements. Appropriately enough, 'BOBO' in Portuguese and Spanish means silly or naïve. The "gear shift" Frum is picking up on are the changing perceptions of THE AMERICAN PEOPLE — as distinct from the Teabaggers' 'American people' — of President Obama (a majority now correctly view him as a "moderate"), and of the wingnut Republican plan for repeal of the Affordable Health Act against every expressed desire of THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, only 18 percent of whom in the latest ABC News/Wapo Poll support complete repeal of the law. Who was it that said, you can always get one-fifth of the people to support or believe anything?

Can anyone say, buyer's remorse? It's what a lot of THE AMERICAN PEOPLE are feeling at  this moment in time about their vote last November. Unfortunately, elections in this country, more than in other developed democracies, are decided by a minority of the eligible electorate, a subset of which call themselves "independents" because politics isn't  (as it should be) a major part of their lives. Suddenly they're waking up to the realization that they voted into office an extremist right wing Congress that plans to do things they fundamentally disagree with. These are smart middle class people who were taken in by the slick corporatist Republican propaganda, so many lies and distortions that they simply could not process in real time. Now that they're beginning to see the tangible results of the law's gradual implementation, they're saying "whoa, wait a minute! I don't want this repealed!"

Which poses a problem for the rabid Right, fellow travelling Teabaggers, and assorted wingnuts. The gear shift FORWARD WITH THE HEALTHCARE LAW was made by THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. Keith lifted the veil of the Right's attacks on the President, post-Tucson massacre, when most of the victims hadn't even been buried. Will their tone or tune change? ABSOLUTELY NOT. These wingnuts know ATTACK DOG and nothing else. Progressives and progressives alone (writ large) must continue to call them out, take names and numbers. Because let's face it, only the progressive media has exposed the Right's lies, propaganda, extremist ballistic language, and false equivalence. Don't expect David Gregory to do it. NBC is already switching gears to CNN. Who's next? The COMCAST deal does not bode well for independent progressive media. The corporatist Tom Brokaw-Charlie Rose MSM Axis of David Gregory, Brian Williams, Meredith Vieira (disgracefully, in her interview of Glenn Beck) has already fallen down on the job.

As Chris Matthews said of the President's plea for more "civility" in our political discourse, "He's got his job and I've got mine." Well said, Chris. It's not about civility. It's about the facts and reporting the truth to THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.

Quotable - Bill Frist (R), Former Senate Majority Leader

"It is not the bill that I would have drafted. But it is the law of the land and it is the platform, the fundamental platform, upon which all future efforts to make that system better, for that patient, for that family, will be based. And that is a fact. [The bill] has many strong elements,  and those elements, whatever happens, need to be preserved, need to be cuddled, need to be snuggled, need to be promoted and need to be implemented. "

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Michael Moore On Gun Control

There is a ritualistic quality to our national conversation every time another tragic incident of gun violence occurs. Nothing seems to jar our psyches into action. The feeling is familiar: Horror followed by resignation. We've seen it all before, like a modern American tragedy that keeps looping back with  stories of heroism and heartbreak and overwhelming sadness. Only the victims change. The settings become a blur after a while. But not the people, not the dead. We could not forget Christina Green.

Our neighbors to the North, population 36 million, have 7 million guns, and only 200 gun deaths per year. Why? The FBI estimate there's probably one gun for every man, woman, and child in this country of 310 million people. It's hard to wrap our minds around 310 million firearms in the U.S. Why are we awash in firearms? Is it a source of pride, of American "exceptionalism"?

Yemen, an Al Qeda terrorist haven and teetering failed state, comes second. Does this mean that by our standards of American exceptionalism, Yemen must be exceptional too? The United States is among the leading nations (top 10) in the world in gun violence. Its gun suicide rate per 100,000 people is off the charts at 7.35, although this statistic from a 1998 study is a bit dated.

Arizona has the most permissive gun laws in the nation and is the 2nd deadliest gun death state. (Sure puts the lie to the gun lobby propaganda that lax gun laws somehow reduce the level of gun violence.) Consider the top five GUN DEATH states and what they have in common: #1, Mississippi, Gov. Haley Barbour (R), red state; #2, Arizona, Gov. Jan Brewer (R), red state; #3, Alaska, Sean Parnell (R), PALINSTATE; #4, Arkansas, Gov. Mike Beebe (D), red state; and #5, Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), red state. Four of the top five (the Dems, incredibly weren't shut out of this dubious "honor") GUN DEATH states are led by Republican governors, and all five are predominantly GOP-controlled.

In this compelling segment from Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine the filmmaker directly influences a change in Wal-Mart's policy of selling firearms ammunition. It can be done. Passing rational gun control laws is not beyond our power as citizens. Here is Rachel's interview with Michael:

And his BRILLIANT cartoon from the film, entitled A Brief History of the United States of America:

As Michael recites the Canadian model, which regulates but doesn't restrict responsible gun ownership, the message is clear: Rational gun control laws that keep weapons out of the hands of criminals and unstable, mentally ill individuals, do actually work. If not for the powerful Gun Lobby in this country we would have passed rational gun control laws in the United States a long time ago. In fact we did; but the Democratic Party's profiles in courage allowed the assault weapons ban to expire — because they did not want it to become a Republican campaign issue; also their reasoning for running away from healthcare. That worked out really well.

And still the polls consistently show the American people favor "STRICTER GUN CONTROL LAWS" by solid majorities:

THE OTHER American tragedy is that the people's will cannot be enforced in matters of LIFE AND DEATH, e.g., healthcare and gun control, because here the people DO NOT rule. Here, the multinational corporations and special interests rule. What is worse: that people have to die, or that we can't seem to be able to do anything to stop it? Will this circle of death ever be broken, or do we enjoy the tragedy and pointless self-examination too much?

President Obama vs. The Teabaggers: Guess Who Wins ...

This is but a small sampling of a much larger Washington Post Poll, which provides a fascinating glimpse into where the "AMERICAN PEOPLE" — that the Republican Party and Teabaggers have falsely claimed as their own — really stand. But the results of this juxtaposition between President Obama and the Tebaggers is simply too rich not to share with an advanced preview.

Get ready, all you lurking Teabaggers out there in DeludedAngryWhitePeopleVille ... Are you sitting down? Okay then, here goes. First the raw polling data in all its splendor, then some post-poll analysis from yours truly.

Regarding President Obama, the Poll question is, do you agree: "He understands the problems of people like you?" It's a simple but profound question, because it goes to the heart of how we view our President. Is he one of us? Or is he some distant "other," an alien person, illegitimate, un-American, someone to be feared as a "socialist," a "communist," a "Muslim," someone akin to Hitler who was scheming to take your precious guns away and the freedom to cling to them, and that lily white fantasy you call your country ("I want my country back!" you bellowed ... Back from whom?) away from people who don't look like you, speak like you, or worship the same God, or no god, that you do?

Well, guess what. After three years (because this "he's not one of us" drumbeat started back before President Obama was elected) of parading your hideous signs showing our President as Hitler, the Joker, a socialist, communist, Muslim, the open gun threats against "Barry" with sick slogans like, "We Came Unarmed (THIS TIME)," the bullying and shouting at town halls, the threats and vandalism against Democratic members of Congress who happened to vote for the President's healthcare and financial reform bills; after all of this

By a resounding margin of 58-40 percent, THE AMERICAN PEOPLE have rendered their verdict: PRESIDENT OBAMA IS ONE OF US.

In this Poll, the Tea Party didn't do so well. For some Teabaggers who are blinded by the hubris of their manufactured Patriot fantasies, this may come as a shock. Those who know their history understand that extremist insurgencies, like Hitler's Nazi Party, never garnered more than 44 percent of the popular vote (the election of 1933, after Hitler had become Chancellor; in all other elections, the Nazi Party polled in the 30s and less). In either case — delusional fantasy v. extremist reality — these figures will be rejected since they don't fit the Tea Party paradigm.

But the numbers don't lie. What they say is that the Tea Party has likely hit its high-water electoral mark in the 2010 midterm elections. Consider these trends: For the first time, a solid majority of Americans, 52-35 percent have an "unfavorable impression" of the Tea Party. In March of 2010, the only period in which the Tea Party had slightly higher favorability ratings, the favorable-unfavorable number was 41-39. That's a HUGE 6% favorable 13% unfavorable NEGATIVE point swing. During this time frame, the number of those with NO OPINION dropped by 7-12 points (including February '10 polling data), from 20-25 to 13 percent.

How's that saying go, familiarity breeds contempt? The more THE AMERICAN PEOPLE come to realize the Tea Party isn't about patriotism, three-point hats, fife-and-drum bands, and dressing up as the Founding Fathers, but dangerous extremism with a simplistic and idealized view of our history, the more they reject the Tea Party. Yes, George Washington did tell a lie or two in his day; he lied frequently to the Continental Congress, trying to get funding for his troops.

In this poll, the President's numbers never dipped below 50 percent. But this latest figure is the best since President Obama posted a 63-35 number barely seven months into his presidency. That was still President Obama's honeymoon period with THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, and the Teabaggers were lying low, cowering in fear of a young, popular African American President, knowing full well they could not attack him until he actually started to govern. And then they pounced, trying to undermine and undo, working through a cynically obstructionist House and Senate GOP, everything this President has achieved.

Well, it's not going to work. Because unlike the promise and hope of those early days, it's been two years of hard times, toil and hardship, and THE AMERICAN PEOPLE are still with this President. They have not abandoned him. They know his HEART and they TRUST him. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE are with this President, NAME, BIRTHRIGHT, AND SACRED HONOR.

President Obama is one of us.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Up To The Mountain - A Tribute To Martin Luther King


Ever since this dude evinced a sliver of independence from the monolithic squawks of the wingnut elites, David Frum has been a guest on progressive talk shows, if only because his earnest demeanor plays well as an example of that rare bird, the reasonable conservative. Well, after these Frum missives on his blog and Twitterverse, we must reassess David’s Anti-Wingnut credentials.

This bit of half-assed wisdom is worthy of the college cult classic series “REEFER MADNESS.” David must have missed out on the fun. Or maybe he envies conservative icon William F. Buckley, who sailed out beyond the U.S. 12-mile territorial limit on his yatch just so he could smoke a joint without violating U.S. laws.

David, here’s your script:
We are also learning that Loughner exhibited signs of severe mental illness, very likely schizophrenia. The connection between marijuana and schizophrenia is both controversial and complicated. The raw association is strong: Schizophrenics are twice as likely to smoke marijuana as non-schizophrenics. People who smoke marijuana are twice as likely to develop schizophrenia as those who do not smoke. But is correlation causation? Increasingly experts seem to be saying: “Yes.”
Now David, after citing that dubious FRENCH study, here’s the video for your voice-over:

Unfortunately David’s wild speculation doesn’t stop there. This classy tweet, which seems to show the Homer Simpson side of David Frum, has surfaced:

Um, David … May I suggest where you can direct your INTRUSIVE AND ILLEGAL surveillance (or should I say, stalking?) on this MARTIN LUTHER KING day: Barack Hussein Obama, William Jefferson Clinton, Sandra Day O’Connor, John Paul Stevens, James Earl Carter, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Francis Ford Coppola, Tommy Lee Jones, Billie Jean King, Billy Ray Cyrus, Billy Bob Thorton, Daniel Day Lewis, Mary Higgins Clark, Catherine Zeta Jones, Camilla Parker Bowles, Neil Patrick Harris, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, James Earl Jones, and last but not least, Tammy Faye Bakker.

Capische, David? Or shall I go on … This is only a very partial list.

DAVID FRUM, the first SELF-INDUCTED member of the Idiot Punditocracy. Congratulations, David. Looking forward to your appearance on Hardball!


Weepy John 'Martini' Boehner is facing a brewing catastrophe within his Republican ranks. He and his country club GOP colleagues are cowering in FEAR of their extremist Right wing — the Teabagger-Birther-Conspiracist-Gun-Nut-wingnuts-on-steroids wing of the remnants of a recognizable Republican Party — threatening to tip the Party into a slow death spiral to oblivion. As Boehner tearfully howls and wrings his hands at the ceremonial duties and obligations of Speaker of the House, i.e., attending memorial ceremonies at the President's invitation for a tragedy impacting a fellow House member or state dinners at the President's invitation for visiting heads of state, his pitiful helpless House Speaker lament is to wail mournfully, "NOOOOOOoooooooo...."

Speaker Boehner has been MIA this past week as the national conversation reaches a fever pitch regarding, not the limits, but the responsibilities attendant to free speech. The Tea Party and Wingnut media, finding themselves on the defensive, lash out at the Left's withering criticism of their violence-inciting rhetoric, filled with gun symbology and coded allusions to 2nd Amendment rights and "remedies." Boehner declined the President's invitation to attend the service for the victims of the tragic Tucson, Arizona shooting. The two Arizona senators, John McCain and John Kyl were forced by protocol to be in attendance. But their refusal to shake the President's hand spoke volumes of the true climate of incivility in Washington.

Indeed, even before the victims were buried, the extremist Right resumed its hysterical attacks on the President. Briefly, there was an etiquette breach in Rightwingville as those commentators slightly more elevated in tone — the Fox illuminatti of Chris Wallace, conservative columnists, Charles Krauthammer, darling of the Idiot Punditocracy, having coined the viral term for Obama, "a man of the Left,"(Obama is no such thing), reminding us why we call Chris Matthews, worst of the Krauthammer groupies/imitators, a man of the Idiot Punditocracy — actually praised the President's speech. For a fascinating collage of how much in lockstep even the conservative intelligentsia march — the political messaging equivalent of red killer ants on a rampage — this Sam Seder report puts their repetitive robotic messaging in high relief:

This note of high-minded unanimity on the Right toward President Obama lasted, oh, about a day. No sooner had the Fox pundits and ancillaries praised the President that the Leader of the GOP reminded them who's the BOSS. Rush Limbaugh contemptuously accused the wingnut elites of "slobbering" over the President. Even Charles Krauthammer couldn't save this one:

Here we go. Prompted by Limbaugh, his wingnut lieutenants in the paranoid blogosphere began their assault. They falsely accused the President of lying about Giffords opening her eyes for the first time, conducting a "pep rally" (see below), and most ludicrous of all, this idiot claimed the closed captioning applause lines in the Jumbotron images of the speech were White House prompts to induce the audience to unspontaneously applaud.
 Jeez, what a moron! Even for a wingnut ... These people exist in a perpetual echo chamber of daily manufactured conspiracies. It's kinda creepy.

So now that the President's appeal for an elevated tone to the political discussion is by the boards, John Boehner is pressing forward with the largely symbolic vote in the House to repeal the healthcare law, because to table it would be to incur the wrath of the Teabaggers and a swift exit in GOP primary elections. But to go on record voting for repeal would be to risk losing the general election.

Here's why.

The AP headline reads: “Poll: Opposition To Health Care Reform Eases.” The more accurate headline should be: “Opposition To Health Care Reform Eases as Majorities Favor Key Provisions.” These are the AP story highlights of its AP/Roper Poll on Healthcare reform:
  • Ahead of a vote on repeal in the GOP-led House this week, strong opposition to the law stands at 30 percent, close to the lowest level registered in AP-GfK surveys dating to September 2009.
  • The poll finds that 40 percent of those surveyed said they support the law, while 41 percent oppose it. Just after the November congressional elections, opposition stood at 47 percent and support was 38 percent.
  • As for repeal, only about one in four say they want to do away with the law completely. Among Republicans support for repeal has dropped sharply, from 61 percent after the elections to 49 percent now.
This poll comes in the wake of the following CNN/Vanity Fair Poll, which incorrectly reported that a majority of Americans oppose the law by padding that figure with 13 percent of respondents who oppose the law because it isn’t liberal enough. If asked the followup question, logic dictates a majority of these liberal respondents (including ME) would not favor repeal. Rather, they would like to see it improved which, significantly, is 43 percent in the current AP poll.

And so the internals of the AP/Roper Poll (shown below) are not good news for Teabaggers and the wingnut Right pushing repeal. For one thing, the trendlines in support of the law are ticking upward, while those in opposition tick downward. The decreasing numbers from the day after the November election to 1/5/2011 opposing the law are eye-opening: 47-41. This is a statistically significant 6-point decrease! The increase in total support for it ticked up two points from 38 to 40.

The internal numbers (below) are particularly interesting. During the same time frame, those who want the law to stay as-is remained relatively stable from 20 to 19. Those who want to change it so that it DOES MORE to change the healthcare system had a significant 5-point swing UPWARD: 38-43. Those who want it changed so that it does less, up slightly from 8 to 10. Still a very small number. And those who want to REPEAL the law had a significant 5-point swing DOWNWARD: 31-26. We're getting into real HARD CORE WINGNUT/TEABAGGER BASE TERRITORY here; hardly an expression of  the will of "the people."

So what does all this mean?

First of all, bad news for the Tea Party and the wingnut extremists who control the Republican Party. As it becomes increasingly better understood, repeal of this healthcare reform law will BECOME LESS POPULAR. We already see it now. People whose children are covered TODAY, where only one month ago they weren't, are saying, "Hey, wait a minute; this law is HELPING us. I don't want it repealed!"

This lightbulb moment will go off in people's minds, apolitical "independents" who don't follow politics closely, thousands of times. At the same time, as we lift the scab off the extremism of the Right and the Tea Party, those who voted for Republican extremists will no longer look upon them beningnly. The Republican propaganda machine keeps repeating they are only following the wishes of the "American people," but increasingly, the "American people" are catching up with the reality that an extremist slice of the electorate that does not go beyond 20 percent does not speak for them.

Wednesday's symbolic vote in the House to repeal the healthcare law could in effect become the Republican Party's Waterloo, to flip Tea Party Jim DeMint's phrase concerning its passage. (Not to underestimate the GOP, but they're overreaching here.) It will be the Republican Party's turn to get shellacked at the polls in 2012. Beginning right here, right now with Wednesday's vote. There's nothing like taking away some really REALLY important health care benefits to concentrate the American voters' mind.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Once And Future King: Jets Quarterback Mark Sanchez Has Arrived

The Division Championships — Jets v. Steelers/Bears v. Packers — portend a GREAT Football 2010 season finale for whoever's left standing after this next SUPER CHAMPIONSHIP weekend coming up, heading to the Super Bowl. The teams are ALL competitive and balanced, they're relatively healthy, and the matchups are intriguing. There are no dominant teams in this final four heading for a a pre-Super Bowl showdown. The last time ARCH RIVALS Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers met in a Playoff was in December 1941, only a couple of weeks after Pearl Harbor. The Bears won the game. Let's hope that THAT history repeats itself.

I'm just relieved the Jets knocked off Bill Belichick and the
New England Patriots (sorry, Rachel — NOT! Maybe it's something about the name; they sound like a Tea Party chapter). Don't know about you, but to me Belichick is a double indemnity coach: The most overrated and most OBNOXIOUS. That filthy gray hood gives him the look of an extra (a prime suspect) on "The Departed" which is what he is today, thanks to the Jets' bombastic head coach, Rex Ryan. Rex looks right out of Central Casting himself!

Dream Super Bowl matchup: Bears v. Jets. Oh pleeease, stadium gods, make it happen!

The Jets' gifted kid quarterback, the "Mexican" Mark Sanchez, is an awesome talent who looks like he'd be right at home in the barrio, lounging on his front steps drinking a cervezita. Those wide bug eyes give him the misleading look (to opponents) of unhinged panic, as if he's just one step ahead of La Migra and they're relentlessly closing in after being tipped off by a Teabagger. But the truth is, red-blooded Latinos routinely look extra agitated. Sanchez comes from a Drama King culture and the bug-eyed look is just the kid's way of psyching himself up before making a fantastic play.

The Once And Future King: Jets Quarterback Mark Sanchez Is Keeping This Game Ball.

From the first time I saw him last year, as a rookie, even with all the interceptions and sacks, I knew this kid was going places. Sanchez never got down on himself. He has that very Latino way of responding to adversity: A big gringo knocks you down, you get right back up and try again. Till you get it right. No matter how often or how long it takes. You believe in yourself and that voice in your head says, "I can do this."

It was great to see him on the winning side of the clash against the villain Belichick and the Mayflower quarterback with the whitebread name. Don't get me wrong. I like Tom Brady. He's an artist in the pocket, with the elegant poise of Achilles and vision of the game, picking defenses apart. (BUT ... I always liked Hector, Prince of the Trojans, over Achilles; Hector wasn't annointed with near-invincibility by the Gods — he had to rely on raw courage and sheer skill to stay alive. And he had the dignity to go to his death with head held high, like a Prince. Achilles did not.)

For once, though, it was nice to see Rex Ryan's "D" rise to the occasion and beat back Belichick's bag of dirty tricks and his Trojan Horse onside kick right up the middle, trying to catch the Jets napping in premature celebration with seconds to go. This time the Jets took the "gift", fell on it, and said "Thank you very much, Bill!"

And it was nice to see the kid with the square, determined jaw, the unshaven face of the Mexican laborer, just barely tall enough to be a quarterback in the Big Show, defeat the elegant and aristocratic Mr. Brady, with the finely chiseled features, good bone structure, and ice water in his veins.

For once, it was nice to see the young Mexican kid, the once and future king, stand in there and lead his team to victory, with actions that spoke these words loud and clear: "I BELONG HERE."


This is dedicated to those few, those worthy Tea Partiers (not the Teabaggers), good but misguided folks, who are independently minded enough to break their corporate chains and Glenn Beck spell of insanity and paranoia.

Setting the scene: Joe Cocker walks into a dispirited Tea Party meeting at the local watering hole and before long animates the Tea PARTIERS to dance and break their chains. With a little help from that other Clarence (not Dupnik but) Clemons, saxophonist for THE BOSS, Bruce Springstein: