Friday, April 08, 2011

Extremist Republicans Defanged By Democratic Women

Who would 'a thunk it? Once the Democratic women spoke out, front and center, it appears an agreement has been reached to head off a government shutdown. That is, if the crazies in the House Republican caucus agree to it. Let's face it, on the question of painful budget cuts, the House Republicans WON weeks ago when Mr. President cave-in basically told meek Harry to give them all they wanted sight unseen. Then he had the audacity of cope to come before us and boast about how "painful" these cuts are to Democrats. No shit, Mr. President. It's not as if you were prepared to draw any kind of line in the sand, is it?

That was left up to the Democratic women in the Senate. They marched out there and said, "ENOUGH" we're not going to take the right wing's radical social agenda to defund Title X health services for women — the "Health Services Act," passed in 1970, signed by President Nixon and endorsed by President Bush I — providing a wide range of health screening services for women — mammograms, uterine cancer tests, HIV/AIDS screenings, etc. and so much more — serving three million American women. This is what is at stake at this hour; "subsidized PAP smears." An investment in basic healthcare for women, and truthfully, one that saves hundreds of thousands of abortions by providing birth control, hence averting unwanted pregnancies for young women.

Guess what: Men use Planned Parenthood services, too. No, they're not cruising for chicks; they're getting prostate cancer screenings, also HIV/AIDS tests because that's what can happen — besides pregnancy — with unprotected sex. For those of you who live in the real world and not with your noses buried in the Holy Book, just imagine how extremely valuable the services provided by Planned Parenthood are. Even if you don't want to know about it, deep down you're still glad it's there.

The Republican MALE's obsession with abortion, the lie that these funds go toward abortion services by Planned Parenthood which would be, prima facie, a legitimate reason to cut its funding is what has driven these radical social engineers of the Right to reach into every woman's bedroom and private health space. In the real world a woman's Constitutional right to privacy in this country, on which legal abortion services are based, is a sham.

So the extremist Republicans would shut down the government to deny millions of women the essential health care provided by Planned Parenthood. Only three percent of what Planned Parenthood does are abortion services. And that is provided through private funding, mostly from the women who need it, not from goverment funds. The Hyde Amendment prohibits it, and if Planned Parenthood ever violated the letter of the Hyde law, these Republican extremists would be all over it, just as they drove ACORN to bankruptcy.

It took a show of force and resolve from the Democratic women to stop these bastards dead in their tracks. Liars like Mike Pence and one lying scumbag who claimed 90 percent of  what Planned Parenthood does are abortion services. These Republicans are despicable, grotesque LIARS. They will stop at nothing to ram their extremist social agenda down our throats. Being the cowards they are, maybe they thought women would be an easy target ... Uh-oh. Bad move. Because the Democratic women, who have mucho más cojones than the men — no offense Harry and Chuck — had had enough of these bastards.

There are a few more acts to this vile play left to act out for the Republicans. Like the bizarre appearance of the Republican wingnut women's caucus that, after a perplexed wife of the late Sonny Bono noted, it's the first time they all met (!), degenerated into chaos when a female reporter wanted to know, what about Planned Parenthood? That really rattled those wingnut women, and they were looking for the exits presto, trying to head for that tall grass. Here is the story and video.

"We really need to get a lot more fight in our game if we're going to defend the programs we care about," said Rep. Anthony Weiner, who is one of the few fighting men on the Democratic side. We shall see what this disgusting "deal" turns out to be. When it hinges on Harry Reid to stand firm and curb the President's enthusiasm to give these bastards everything they want, we're not where we need to be, as Democrats.

But our women are awesome, and they may save us yet.

If not, then it's party time for the Teabaggers! How will this Republican crap shoot end?

Thursday, April 07, 2011

How Easy Is It To Steal An Election? Princeton University Gives Us A Tour

Perhaps not everyone (among those even aware of this issue) is as uneasy with electronic voting machines — the infamous, unstrustworthy Diebold touch screen things — as I am. And so unfortunately, the question of how easily these machines can be hacked and manipulated to steal elections has been relegated to dark conspiracist corners by the MSM. Which is the death knell for a critical area that should get much more vigorous media scrutiny: the integrity of our elections.

There has been sufficient evidence of widespread problems with the security and operation of these machines to convince some states, including Wisconsin, to enact laws after the 2004 presidential election (in which substantive claims of electronic voting fraud emerged) requiring a paper trail or record for every electronic vote cast. It certainly crossed my mind as I checked the AP county-by-county returns. One thing to keep in mind about electoral theft is, it can't easily be done when the winner's margin is above two percent, or higher. But when the margins are razor-thin, then the possibility of manipulating the machines becomes increasingly more likely. Whether or not this was the case in Wisconsin, remains to be seen.

Princeton University demonstrates in this video how very easy it is to hack these machines. This is a truly scary demo:

Voting The "Uncle Joe" Way In Waukesha County, Wisconsin

This is very suspicious: Over 7,000 Votes Magically "Found" For Prosser By Republican Waukesha County Clerk.

Given the Republican history of stealing elections, this is something we should have expected. After all the votes are in, suddenly Prosser gains 7,000 votes due to a "computer error" in the heavily Republican Waukesha County, magically swings the election back to David Prosser. I think we need to take a much closer look at Waukesha County for vote-rigging. Here's the story on Prosser's magical mystery victory. Kloppenberg has to ask for a recount, if she's on the wrong end of this final canvass, which seems likely. This is late-breaking news, but we'll just have to wait and see what happens now. According to some accounts, the law in Wisconsin requires that there has to be a voter-verified paper trail. The paper ballot in all computer voting is considered the official ballot. They'd better be able to account on paper for every single one of those 7,000+ votes. This thing isn't over.  It really stinks, though, doesn't it ... Or, as "Uncle" Joe Stalin used to say:

UPDATE — Wisconsion election law requires that "all direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems [the touchscreen voting machine] produce a complete, permanent paper record showing all votes cast by the elector. The voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) is considered the official ballot and is to be used in a recount of each vote cast by the elector." This is the law in Wisconsin that was passed only a few years ago to require a paper trail for every electronic vote cast. According to reports from Waukesha, they ran out of paper ballots and had to revert to electronic voting. Whatever the case may be, the Waukesha County Clerk must produce a paper record of each one of these magically "found" 7,000+ votes for them to be considered the official ballot to be used in a recount. Your move, Waukesha County Clerk. Here it is; Page 12 of the Wisconsin Election Day Manual (2008):

Tripoli Rose: Could Libya’s Star Propagandist Be Ailes's Pick To Replace Beck?

She used to be a romance author before her gig with Harlequin Books fizzled out … or so it seems. But now she’s gotten her big break as Khaddafi’s chief propagandist. Look out Megyn Kelly who, it should be noted, endearingly, is Hala Misrati’s role model:

"Say the things that you said in your recordings!" she barked at the journalist, Rana al-Aqbani, apparently referring to taped recordings of al-Aqbani's phone calls, as she tried to make her acknowledge that she sought Gadhafi's ouster. Al-Aqbani, a Tripoli-based journalist, has since disappeared.
Misrati also called the woman who told foreign media she was raped by Kaddhafi’s thugs before they dragged her away, a “liar” and a “whore.” Naturally, she piqued Roger Ailes’s interest.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The Symbol of Progressive America Today

Her name is Joanne Kloppenburg. A month ago I had no idea who she was. When she emerged as the woman on whom Wisconsinites and progressives throughout this great land were pinning their hopes to stop and reverse the Scott Walker assault on unions and working families, not only in Wisconsin but across the nation, I wondered whether she was up to the task. Was she a good enough candidate or just another sacrificial lamb the Democrats hoped to contest a seat they thought they knew (and had reason to believe at the time) they could not win? 

But then some kind of wonderful happened. She was on the ballot, and she was our candidate. No ifs, ands, or buts. Joanne was up against incumbent Justice David Prosser, a conservative with statewide name recognition, former Speaker of the State House, and solid Walker man. He dismissed his opponent and proudly associated himself with Walker's toxic policies. The race was on. What started out as a comfortable 55-25 percent lead for Prosser vanished as Kloppenburg gained an amazing, jaw-dropping 30 points, pulling even with Prosser by election day, then pulling ahead, I predict, to win the final recount.

It was the  culmination of all those massive protests by tens of thousands of Wisconsinites in sub-freezing weather against Walker's war on unions and the middle class. It capped a triumphant pushback by progressives, energized and awakened from their slumber for the first time time since 2008. There's no other way to say it: It was one of the great victories in the history of the progressive movement in America. There were other great victories for progressives, but this one has an especially sweet flavor, because of the lessons learned by young people just getting involved in politics, in civics and democracy. Teachers protesting with their students were buoyed, saying it's not the kind of thing they can learn in the classroom or from a textbook. Until the protest movement was galvanized into action, this kind of thing for those students was the stuff of Hollywood and movies. They got their first taste of the real thing with Barack Obama's election, but then fell back into the routine of their lives, thinking their work was done until 2012.

Think about it. How many young people were drawn to the negative, racist, and selfish slash and burn message of the Tea Party? Not many. And then Gov. Scott Walker hands them a cause on a silver platter. I like the odds of this cause beating out the Paul Ryan and Tea Party "cause" because it's not top-down and it's not astro-turf. It's grassroots, bottom-up, spontaneous and organic.

Democracy requires constant attention, cultivation, tending to, or the seedling that was planted will shrivel and die. It's a simple lesson in concept but rarely followed through in practice. Joanne Kloppenburg's titanic struggle against the symbol of a repressive state, carried with her the hopes of hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin citizens and reached beyond its borders. I have no sense, still, of Joanne  Kloppenburg as a person or a candidate for the State Supreme Court. But the people of Wisconsin — those who know her best — embraced her candidacy. And she came through for them. For all of us: Progressives, union households, ordinary middle class Americans. Her victory was truly the people's triumph.

Joanne Kloppenburg, improbable, but magnificent, dragonslayer.

Young people not yet jaded by politics learned a great lesson in civics. If you cede to the opposition the policies and ideas that you so passionately fought for, they will quickly become imperiled. But if you engage, fight for what you believe in, and VOTE — then anything and everything is possible. Yesterday, Joanne Kloppenburg, America's accidental progressive, showed the way. Yesterday was a great day for democracy.


 ... Or Rachel's Unsolicited Brush With Fascist Amerika.

She can't say it on air, we know, but the sentiment is there, and if you were to ask people who have lived through it, this is a pretty accurate description of what goes on in a police state. Intimidation of workers and media through domestic spying has always been a cornerstone of authoritarian state control. First comes the realization that sends a "chill" up your spine, followed by the big chill recognition that "this is how they roll." Here's Rachel, none too happy to be caught up in the fascisti web:

It brings to mind this great "chilling" scene in All The President's Men in which Robert Redford who plays Bob Woodward meets with the shadowy 'Deep Throat' in a dark underground parking lot, learns the dimensions of the conspiracy, and is told that his life is in danger. The best part of that scene (not shown here) for me is, after Deep Throat slinks into the shadows, Redford hears the screeching of tires, runs out into a bleak, empty D.C. street (it's early morning), surrounded by cold, imposing concrete buildings. He looks all around, fearfully, Then the shot zooms out to show a Google Earth-like picture of a tiny solitary person, and we hear this jarring, reverberating bell sound: BOOM. BOOM. BOOM.

It was a splendid depiction of the dread one feels, the sense of helplessness, when pitted against the power of an intrusive, criminal, police state. Redford appears as a small, ant-like creature that can be crushed at any moment.

Wisconsin Voters SLAM!!!!!!! Gov. Wanker!

You'd never know it getting your news from the MSM. A few days ago the PBS News Hour reached a new low when it attended the sham Teabagger demonstration in D.C. of 200 white bread imbeciles clamoring for a government shutdown, while ignoring the weeks of demonstrations in Wisconsin numbering 100,000+ strong by REAL AMERICANS (as a representative POPULAR movement) in Wisconsin.

The real battle for the hearts and minds of the American people is going on, right here right now in the HEARTLAND of America. The people are FIGHTING BACK against the overreach of the fascist — yes, FASCIST — Republicans and their radical agenda to kill democracy in this nation. First, the race for Walker's old job of Milwaukee County Executive was CRUSHED by the Democrat, slamming Walker's candidate with 60% of the vote. 

Next, and most remarkable, the State Supreme Court race in which the incumbent, David Prosser, who was closely associated with Gov. Walker was coasting to a ho-hum win — until Walker's assault on working people. Then the race went national and became effectively a proxy fight against Walker and a referendum against his union-busting draconian policies. The challenger, Joanne Kloppenburg, with little name recognition roared back from 30 points down in the polls to a dead heat finish in which there will be a recount, but I predict, when all precincts are in, she will have the lead in total votes. Here's why: With 99% of precincts reporting and a remarkable 1.5 million votes cast, Kloppenburg leads Prosser by 224 votes, BUT ... these are the outstanding districts, from the AP site:

Two counties in Milwaukee. HOLD IT RIGHT THERE, to quote Big Eddie. Milwaukee is (a) a Democratic big city stronghold, and (b) was carried by Kloppenburg (less the two districts yet to report) by 128,644 votes to 98,933, which breaks down to 57% for Kloppenburg, 43% for Prosser. With a recount possibly looming, whose candidate's shoes would you rather be on? I predict, with 100% of precincts reporting, Kloppenburg, an unknown and 30 points down a month ago, will have extended her lead over Prosser and will, in an honest recount, have won that state Supreme Court seat, and tipped the scales in favor of the people and against Walker's iron fist fascist rule. POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

Teabaggers, you're next. We're coming for you. We're going to DESTROY you at the polls and in the court of public opinion. People, just keep doing what you're doing: VOTE. VOTE. VOTE! The recall elections are next in Wisconsin, concurrent with a ballot referendum to defeat Ohio Gov. Kasich's anti-union bill. These are only the first steps. We're on the march, baby. We're coming for these extremist ratbastard Republicans!

Meanwhile, in the fantasy Tea Party/Idiot Punditocracy fairy dust kingdom of Washington, D.C., where  Paul Ryan is hailed by the three percentile [quote-quote] "journalists" as a "visionary," Rep. Anthony Weiner's takedown of the Idiot Punditocracy's adulation of Paul Ryan is sort of like filling the vacuum taken by the privileged faux Beltway Media. Disregard the next segment with Ron Paul, the libertarian's hero, and, of course, disregard Dylan Ratigan, the host. He worships the ground Stephen Colbert walks on, who in turn worships Ron Paul and vice versa. A confederacy of libertarian dunces. But Anthony is worth the price of admission:

The Teabagging imbeciles will get their wish, although they represent NOTHING but the most EXTREME wingnut element of the population — less than 20%. The Beltway Media, which rarely ventures outside its comfort Beltway zone, covered the astro-turf event in numbers, swelling the minuscule gathering attended by wingnut House members Bachmann and Pence, among others, cheering the Teabaggers on with their "close 'er down!" chants.

Republicans are already trying to preempt the message with propaganda. One wingnut called this a "diabolical plan" (doubtless a Frank Luntz 'special' buzzword) hatched by the Democrats after the November elections. Please. Gotta laugh — I WISH! As if the bumbling, endlessly bentover good government Democrats could EVER, IN OUR WILDEST IMAGINATIONS, come up with ANYTHING approximating the DIABOLICAL to hurl at Republicans. I only wish. If it were up to me, I'd say CRUSH AND DESTROY these bastards. That's what you do with people out to destroy the government, the economy, the middle class, and democracy itself. What would you call that? I call it TREASON. But Democrats insist on playing ball with traitors. And our President, I'm sorry to say, is his usual sellout.

The MSM totally neglects the voices of REAL AMERICANS in Wisconsin; rather it continues to give voice to a gathering of a few dozen fools, aka  TEABAGGERS, even interviewing these ignorant clowns in their ridiculous outfits while people out in the REAL WORLD are suffering through this economy and Republican plans to bring the axe down on more of them. They aren't abstractions; people actually DIE because of cuts to vital services such as Medicaid, Family Planning, food for the poor, aid to families with dependent children. It's ultimately about moral choices, what kind of society we are and want to be. And if the President seems upset, well that's too bad, isn't it. Because it's not that he's "loaded for bear" or moved by the suffering of ordinary Americans, except as his long term "North Star" abstractions. The long term 'North Star' cannot take care of people's immediate survival needs.

It's because Republicans aren't being reasonable in the face of President Obama's penchant for caving, that he may be forced to actually take sides. And act more like a Democrat.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Quotable: Big Eddie, On The Ryan Budget

"With all due respect, Mr. President, this is not a a haircut, this is a brutal scalping!"

Frankly, I'm frustrated with our shrinking violet President. When is he going to fight back against these radical, extremist Republicans? When is he going to stand up for people and stop caving to every outrageous demand by a party of extremists who control only one-third of the government? It's like Waiting for Godot.

Tea Party Remedial Education: SUCKERS!

That's what Paul Krugman said of the radical GOP budget plan crafted by the extremist/objectivist (Ayn Rand cultist) Paul Ryan, who has taken over the House Budget Committee:
"[F]or all those older Americans who voted GOP last year because those nasty Democrats were going to cut Medicare, I have just one word," wrote New York Times columnist, and Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman: "suckers!"  

Here's the bait-and-switch Ryan pulled on all of you IMBECILES frothing at the mouth because it was a black man who initiated the middle-of-the-road healthcare plan (proposed by Bob Dole and enacted by Mitt Romney in Massachusetts) to ensure you keep your Medicare benefits, with modest reforms designed to keep this GREAT program strong for retirees well into the future. Instead of the so-called "Obamacare" you were brainwashed into fearing due to nonexistent "death panels" and the lies you would lose your Medicare ... well, now YOU'RE GOING TO LOSE IT FOR REAL, THANKS TO PAUL RYAN AND THE EXTREMIST REPUBLICANS YOU ELECTED.

But there's a catch. Ryan knows it and the older Teabaggers already on Medicare know it too, which is why they're such contemptuous, treasonous, selfish parasites:
Seniors, and others on Medicare, would be in a slightly different predicament. Currently seniors 65 and over are guaranteed a defined benefit program: taxpayers finance the system, and the government agrees to pay for seniors' health care services (though seniors have to pitch in too). Ryan's plan would leave that system intact for anybody currently on Medicare, or expecting to be on Medicare within 10 years. For everyone else the program would be radically overhauled.   
This isn't only just class warfare; it's generational class warfare. A totally new DOUBLE-DOWN concept. And it's being gleefully waged by the radical extremist Paul Ryan — no shit; this guy is way out there in the ideological extreme of right wing economics. Ryan's plan is what progressive Senator Bernie Sanders calls, "Robin Hood in reverse"— stealing from the poor and struggling middle class to give to the rich, beginning with a HUGE 10% cut from 35% to 25% in the top tax bracket,  financed by the rest of us.

The master plan is to demolish the New Deal, whose pillars are Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, financial institutions regulation, and workers rights laws, including collective bargaining — in favor of a third world-style oligarchical dystopia with feudal lords and serfs, in which most of us, the serfs, fund and facilitate with our subsistence wage tax dollars, the playgrounds of the rich. Ironically, for the rabid, anti-Obama Teabaggers,  Ryan's plan, proposed with Alice Rivlin, former OMB Director under Clinton, "basically turns Medicare into ['Obamacare']":
It’s the same idea — regulated exchanges offering certified insurance products populated by subsidized buyers. If Ryan-Rivlin will unleash ferocious innovation that holds costs down, then so too should the Affordable Care Act. So at the end of our conversation, I asked Rivlin, who supported PPACA, if I was missing something. She laughed. “I keep talking to Paul and trying to convince him of that,” she said. “But even if he agreed with me, he couldn’t say so.”
Medicare is the biggest driver of the deficit. In essence, had all the Teabaggers carrying anti-Obama signs provided by the corporations and their little hand-written signs, "HANDS OFF MY MEDICARE," signed off on the Obama plan we'd all be in a much better place today. As if — as if Democrats, who proposed and passed Medicare for the health benefit of millions of seniors since 1965, while beating back successive attempts by Republicans to kill it, as if the Democrats would do anything to harm the program. But noooo. The pasty white, racist, ignorant Teabaggers dove straight into the GOP shark-infested waters at the mere sight or mention of our African American President. And they're still doing it, giving Donald Trump the solitary reason for his ridiculous candidacy.

So here we are. The only ones standing between your Medicare being totally demolished and turned into a for-profit privatized plan to benefit the corporations and Wall Street, are the Democrats and President Obama. You can't count on the President. Not only have you pissed him off — who wouldn't be with all the verbal garbage and threats hurled at him — but despite your delusions, he is nowhere near a "socialist"; he's more like a moderate-to-conservative Republican. He might save some of your Medicare; not much. Your best bet now lies with Nancy Pelosi and the minority liberal Democrats in the House, and with Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate Majority Leader, who has a habit of being outflanked by Mitch McConnell.

Good luck with "Hands Off My Medicare" now that it's in the hands of Paul Ryan, elected by your ignorance and stupidity — along with the apathy and stupidity of Democratic voters, whose non-participation in the political process as a clear majority has contributed mightily to the nightmare we are living in at present. If you're not independently wealthy enough to substantially supplement the meager "voucher" Ryan wants to give you, you're TOAST; FINISHED. You might even DIE from your illnesses, if you can't afford your meds, doctor visits (they're free for preventive care under the despised 'Obamacare') or hospitalization. You're as good as DEAD much earlier than had you simply voted Democratic.

The Republicans call it "thinning out the herd."

Memo to Chris Matthews: There is a REASON some of your pundits of choice in the Beltway Media are known, collectively, as the Idiot Punditocracy. On Hardball you basically took the extremist Paul Ryan's position, in this exchange with Jeanne Cummings, Assistant Managing Editor of POLITICO:

MATTHEWS: Jeanne, just in strict analytical terms, watching these folks, I wonder if anybody who wants to get elected again in Congress is willing to put their hand up and say: “I want to cut the benefits going to people on Social Security. I want to cut the health benefits. You‘re not going to get dialysis for more than three months, X-many months. You‘re not going to get the artificial limb reworked after seven years. You‘re not going to get the following”?

CUMMINGS: in Washington, Chris, for the reasons that you make clear. It‘s politically very, very difficult. You have down in Florida Representative Allen West, who has actually talked—he‘s a Republican, a freshman—and he‘s talked more than many of them about some of the changes that would have to come to those programs. And the Democrats are immediately targeting him.  And that—those are the very issues they‘re using against him. 

Well, gollygeewhiz, let me think: Why in the world would Democrats be "immediately targeting" Allen West? Could it possibly be, Ms Jeanne, that West is the BIGGEST WHACKJOB in the House of Representatives? And to hold him up as a SERIOUS proponent of "entitlement reform"— just another euphemism for slashing and ultimately destroying Social Security and Medicare — is nothing short of incomprehensible for the "serious" journalist Ms Jeanne pretends to be. (When it comes to media outlets such as POLITICO and the Daily Caller, West's insane proposal to censor news agencies seems almost ... not so crazy.)

Shame on you, Jeanne, and the POLITICOs you rode in on. Want to know why we don't listen to what these idiots have to say, Chris? This is why. What are the odds we'll get sustained lovefest coverage of Paul Ryan from the Idiot Punditocracy? My odds: 1/9.

There is a very simple solution — favored in polling by solid majorities of the American people — to the Paul Ryan nightmare budget; one that Chris never mentioned: Raise revenues. make the rich pay their fair share. Roll back the tax rates for the top two or three percent to what they were during the Clinton presidency, and we'll be well on our way to solving our budget and deficit problems.

Here are the results of that CBS/Vanity Fair poll from January 2011 in graphical format (left) and by income level (right). Notice that Rep. Ryan caters exclusively to the "American people" constituting fewer than three percent of the population, which includes, of course, Chris and Jeanne:

Summing Up Moron Joe

Heard on Moron Joe signing off this morning:

Ken Burns, the shrewd and discerning filmmaker: "I learned that Willie Geist ('Weasel The Wingnut') is a shapeshifter."
Moron Joe: "(inaudible)"
Mika: "I've said enough already ..."

Monday, April 04, 2011

Mika Loses It On Moron Joe — Perfectly Understandable

Put yourself in Mika Brzezinski’s shoes, having to sit through the wingnuttery of her co-host Moron Joe and his loyal sidekick Weasel The Wingnut, day after day, hour by hour, minute by minute. And we're not even talking the second-string clowns, Pat Buchanan and Mike Barnicle.

Imagine Mika having to nod agreeably to their reactionary, sexist quips and the drumbeat of GOP propaganda talking points for which the show is a platform, trying to get a word in edgewise, and then oh, so agreeably. Imagine the multiple concessions Mika has to make to Moron Joe's moronic arguments because it would be mean to cut him down to size. For all this, Mika, the token liberal, gets little respect from her frat boy colleagues and takes it all in with classy stoicism. (Wingnuts are like immature frat boys; can you see Moron Joe and Tucker Carlson as two peas in a pod?)

Imagine being surrounded by wingnuts in your workplace, with little respite — A jolt of Joe in the morning and rabbit food for lunch. Sheer torture. At some point she’ll lose it, right?

Well, it happened this morning and it’s a gem. Notice that Mika’s wingnut co-hosts aren’t laughing. Only Carl Bernstein, one of the guests, did. He’s a good guy and definitely not a wingnut. Lawrence cracked a sideways grin; maybe he didn’t want to show up Moron Joe now that he has his own show on MSNBC. Mark Halperin is a distinguished member of the Idiot Punditocracy — kudos to him, his book is going Hollywood — and acts like one. I'm sure she'd be thrilled, but I’m with Mika. I was laughing out loud right along with her — I do have a strange sense of humor, though.

Here's some of the hilarious banter:

Moron Joe: “What’s wrong with you? You think that’s funny?”

Weasel The Wingnut: “I thought it was in bad taste.“

Moron Joe: “I thought it was mean-spirited and hateful. (Mika laughs uproariously, as Moron Joe adds) I thought it was hateful; I thought it was horrible.”

Weasel The (huffy) Wingnut: “What’s so funny; ‘America’ (a variation on ‘the American people’ theme the GOP spouts in its propaganda) wants to know.”

After Mika (sort of) explains through bouts of laughter it was “funny television” the wingnuts launch into a self-delusional spiel from Moron Joe about having “the most educated, upscale, smartest audience in the world — they watch Masterpiece Theater,” interjects Halperin. (Right. I had to laugh here. And if Moron Joe’s GOP cuts to PBS go through, we won’t be watching Masterpiece Theater, either.)

Weasel The Wingnut: “They know the show so well, we’re family, they know the characters.”

Mika: “Yeah. Pat Buchanan.” Ha! America's 'culture' warrior —I thought that was funny television, too! I was laughing too hard at this point to notice Mika mention Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, as a show-saving afterthought.

Was Pastor Terry Jones Responsible For The Deaths of UN Workers?

Of course he was. Anyone who argues that his free speech rights would be abridged if he had voluntarily decided not to stage a burning of the Koran does not understand that free speech isn't an abstract zero sum game in which the real world consequences aren't knowable and predictable. Instead, the media-seeking fundamentalist extremist went ahead with his mock trial and burning, and 20 people including nine UN workers (two of them beheaded) were mudered by a mob of religious fanatics in Afghanistan protesting the Koran burning. (Here is an interesting discussion of Pastor Jones's moral responsibility for the killings.)

To use the 'yelling fire in a theater' analogy, free speech can have deadly consequences. A person does not have an absolute right to pack more people into a theater, for example, than the fire codes permit. If the event is cancelled for safety reasons was their right to free speech violated? And metaphorically, if Pastor Jones "falsely" (because the Koran by generally accepted religious standards is not what he represents it to be through its burning) yells 'fire' in a crowded theater with his mock Koran trial and burning — that theater is the 'theater of operations' in Afghanistan where the killings occurred, and the theater patrons are U.S. and allied troops, UN and foreign aid workers, and every single person whose life is now greatly endangered by Pastor Jones's inflammatory speech.

In such cases, free speech can be circumscribed by safety considerations (fire codes) or voluntarily, when the commander of U.S. troops in the region, General David Petraeus explicitly said last September that “[i]mages of the burning of a Koran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan—and around the world—to inflame public opinion and incite violence.” This wasn't empty rhetoric on the General's part; his prediction came true. General Petraeus did not have the power to compel responsible conduct from Pastor Jones. He was just asking. Most reasonable people, understanding the danger to human lives, would agree to show restraint. It happens every day. It is neither cowardly, as some have claimed, nor an abridgement of free speech.

But if wasn't only the Koran burning. The horrible images and story of the U.S. Army "kill team" published by Der Spiegel probably did as much to endanger the safety of Americans and UN workers, et al in Afghanistan as the Koran book burning. As did the killing of Afghan children. Petraeus can do something about these, as he should. He doesn't need a Pastor Jones headache to make his mission infinitely more difficult and challenging.