Friday, November 18, 2011

Funnin' Rachel Maddow: Rachel, You Got Some 'Splainin' To Do ...

OK, Rachel, I'm convinced. The Incredibly creative 'Herman Cain Art Project' is REAL. Now you tell me, Rachel, because I can't quite wrap my mind around this one: Who is Herman Cain's Picasso? I cannot believe, meaning no disrespect, that Herman Cain, a pizza mogul and self-declared "businessman," has the creative chops to conjure up a "complicated, ... widely sourced [art project] pulling from movies and songs and video games and even TV shows that were turned into movies.” So who's behind it — that is the question. The cigarette guy? No way. We need some answers to your provocative Herman Cain theory, Rachel:

And one more thing: As a taxpayer, I'm ROYALLY PISSED that this lady's husband is now the first Republican candidate to request, and receive, Secret Service protection at our expense; watch her eyes when asked whether Herman Cain would make a good president. Personally, I think she's an Obama voter:

The Education of A Wingnut: Daily Caller "Reporter" Who Was At Chris's Book Party Roughed Up By Police

Remember the young lady from the Daily Caller who went to Chris's book party looking to record a caught-on-camera grope? This time she got more than she bargained for — no sheltered wingnut existence there — when caught up at the point of the OWS Wall Street demonstration on Thursday in New York City. She was shoved against a taxi and roughed up by the cops. Props to the wingnut for having some chutzpah derring-do.

It's ironic that the demonstrators she was there to discredit ultimately came to her aid and solicitously asked if she was "all right" as we see her, clearly way way out of her comfort zone, shaken and in tears. She seems incredulous that the authority figures wingnuts so look up to, like the police, shoved her down "when I wasn't doing anything. They shoved me up against the taxi." One astute demonstrator asked if it was recorded — "we need to put this on Facebook." Now there's a good sense of positive PR for the movement. Through it all we can hear the crowd shouting: "The whole world is watching, the whole world is watching!" Live and learn, kiddo, although I'm sure your politics won't change any. But you never know.

Word of advice to the demonstrators: Keep it clean and keep it peaceful. They know this; but should they spot troublemakers or anyone inciting violence, turn them in. Holding one's ground as we see in this video is perfectly appropriate. But keep in mind: The Daily Caller was there to capture violence by the demonstrators, and no one else. The fact that it was police violence visited on the DC's totally incredulous tearful reporter, was unfortunate for the Daily Caller — we don't want to see anyone get hurt — but not for the movement. Here's the raw video of the "fracas," which is worth a look even though it's meant to discredit the movement. Watch some of yesterday's brutality, courtesy of the NYPD and the people's chronicler for-a-day, the Daily Caller:

Best-Yet Newt Description: You Guessed It ...

Chris Matthews, who considers Newt Gingrich to be the earthly incarnation of Mephistopheles (no argument there, other than perhaps granting Newt an unwarranted exalted position), came up with a fittingly creative description for the Newt Demon ... watch:

Chris had Rightwingville spinning their wheels in faux indignation. The context: Newt the bomb thrower par excellence, once said Democrats should be jailed for bailing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Now we discover he was paid $1.6 million to lobby on Freddie's behalf. He claims it was payment for his services as a "historian," making him history's best-paid historian. I'll second that, Chris: "I THINK IT'S SO GREAT."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

MSNBC Watch: The Hilarity Just Keeps On Coming

Memo To Lawrence: Howard Fineman, by his own admission, isn't the smartest person in your three-person panel — Alex Wagner is. Howard is the best journalist, by far. And Lawrence ... well, despite your disgraceful POLITICO suck-up, you're still a better interviewer than David "My hands are tied, I tellya!" Gregory. So there's that.

Lawrence's lasting contribution to the MSNBC primetime hosts lineup: the uptempo transition, "joining me now is (guest X,Y,Z)" ... adopted by the Rev, I noticed, adding more pace to his presentation, with the wrap, "Thank you very much for joining me" ... Even Rachel, who's never had pacing problems is using the line. Maybe the suits are getting skeert of Cenk and his Merry Band of Young Turks joining Current as awesome tablesetters for Keith. Have you seen their promo at Current? I think they're sending MSNBC a no-yawns message. I know it's a no-brainer, but I was first to suggest Cenk would be a great fit for Keith and Current. It'll be a strong independent progressive lineup.

Memo To Chris: How's that synchronicity with your best buddy Michael Steele working for ya? Steele had you for lunch — AGAIN! — on the Perry-Romney BIG LIE claiming President Obama said Americans are "lazy." He didn't, of course. He said the U.S. government such as the folks at Commerce haven't been hungry enough over the last two decades in seeking investment opportunities for U.S. companies. Comparing Michael to some crazy uncle that you trot out at Thanksgiving, then telling him not to "interpret" you is kinda WEAK, Chris. And when you have a primo BULLSHIT ARTIST under contract, like Michael the crazy grammarian, you need to counter with someone (Michael Feldman totally whiffed) having a STRONG BULLSHIT radar — like Joan Walsh, por ejemplo, who could cut Steele down to size with her first, contemptuous, "that's RI-DI-CULOUS."

A word about Martin Bashir. So maybe the suits got him for the British accent, to add a touch of class to the lineup. And with that retro look, the buzz-cut, glasses and tweedy suits, Martin looks like the British ad exec they should have cast on 'Mad Men' instead of that other humorless guy. But Martin's proven to be a likable, thoughtful progressive, unlike Dylan Ratigan, who follows him. Today Martin got an attack of the giggles when he asked Dylan if he was carrying a "concealed weapon." Don't quite know what to make of it, but I know I like Martin.

Dorli Rainey, 84-Year-Old Menace To Society, Pepper Sprayed By Seattle's Finest

Can anyone be more emblematic of the spirit of the Occupy Wall Street movement than Dorli Rainey? The feisty 84-year old woman was pepper-sprayed by Seattle's non-age discriminatory police while at an OWS demonstration in solidarity with their brothers and sisters at Zuccotti Park in New York City. In the meleé that ensued as the police indiscriminately pepper sprayed the gathered demonstrators, Rainey was nearly trampled underfoot if not for the swift action of a big, strong Iraq War veteran who scooped the diminutive senior up and said,"You're safe now" as he led her to safety. Very cool.

(Photo: Joshua Trujillo/
Here is the incomparable, unbowed Dorli Rainey with Keith, in one of his finest interviews ... he just listens and lets her talk:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Universal Female Reaction To Man Wearing Loincloth

Our Secretary of State is a total delight ...


This graphic says it all; (for "DEMOCRAT MACHINE" at its best, look [sell]out for "supercommittee" final product);
Just follow the arrows:

Is Your Water On FIRE?

This 'Fracking Song' by David Holmes explains it all in song:

Then Rachel picks up the story:

If the Republicans have their way we'll all be drinking GOP tap water flambé while dying extra quickly of oil & gas industry cancers.

Reasons Not To Watch Daytime MSNBC

Moron Joe; Dylan Ratigan; sticking Chris Hayes on the equivalent of a graveyard shift timeslot; reactionary pundits like Karen Hunter (is she still defending Herman Cain?) and Boris The Blowhard Republican — where's the progressive, not to mention Democratic, perspective? It's CNN-Lite with Richard Lui, the ex-CNNer, who allows Boris The Blowhard to refer to a nonexistent "Democrat Party."

Do you have any idea how infuriating this partisan trash talking disrespect is, MSNBC suits?  Don't call yourself a professional newsman, Mr. Lui, if you don't know to correct any anti-Democratic pundit who says that. It's not as if we haven't incessantly covered this ground before. To the point where then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi had to correct then-President George W. Bush. And he graciously conceded the point, promising to say the party's name correctly. It seems Mr. Lui hasn't gotten the memo. He keeps allowing his obnoxious Republican pundits to deliberately trash the party's name. It's disrespectful.

There is no such entity as the "Democrat Party" just as there is no such thing as the "Democrat machine." There is the Democratic Party, which is the longest continuously existing political party in world history. For that reason alone — set aside policy, philosophy, history — it deserves the minimum respect accorded a great institution by virtue of its longevity in the fabric of American history, from its earliest anti-Federalist (the Republicans of the day) foundational faction of Jefferson, Madison and Monroe, to acquiring its modern name under Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren. That Mr. Lui seems oblivious to this is his CNN mentality infecting MSNBC. That MSNBC insists on pursuing the CNN model is the surest path to perennial second- and third-bananadom.

This is just another example of the myth of MSNBC as a progressive channel, one which allows insults of Democrats, liberals, and progressives to be meted out by right wing pundit-interlopers, and a host of center-right types and fake Democrats on a daily basis. A recent example: Dylan Ratigan thundering to the guy doing "Democratic" commentary on his show, of President Obama: "He's YOUR president!" Someone must have said something to Ratigan because since his frank outburst Ratigan's gone overboard with his, "excuse me, President Obama." Too late, Dylan. You can't shove your anti-Obama, anti-Democratic bias back in the tube once you spout it out.

So much for the "liberal" and/or "progressive" channel.

So President Obama And His APEC Pals Get OCCUPIED, And The Next Day ...

There's a nationwide police crackdown that results in the eviction of Occupy protesters from New York to Oakland. Perhaps it was just an unhappy coincidence. But was the President embarrassed or annoyed by Hawaiian Singer Makana's bold security breach to play multiple versions of his Dylanesque ballad celebrating the Occupy movement and the 99 percenters? Here's the story and the decidedly subversive musical offering — for a summit of self-styled masters of humanity:

November 13, 2011

APEC World Leaders Dinner Gets Occupied
Within secure zone, musician sings on behalf of the many

Honolulu - A change in the programmed entertainment at last night's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) gala left a few world leaders slack-jawed, though most seemed not to notice that anything was amiss.

During the gala dinner, renowned Hawaiian guitarist Makana, who performed at the White House in 2009, opened his suit jacket to reveal a home-made “Occupy with Aloha” T-shirt. Then, instead of playing the expected instrumental background music, he spent almost 45 minutes repeatedly singing his protest ballad released earlier that day. The ballad, called “We Are the Many,” includes lines such as “The lobbyists at Washington do gnaw.... And until they are purged, we won't withdraw,” and ends with the refrain: “We'll occupy the streets, we'll occupy the courts, we'll occupy the offices of you, till you do the bidding of the many, not the few.”

Those who could hear Makana’s message included Presidents Barack Obama of the United States of America, Hu Jintao of China, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada, and over a dozen other heads of state.

“At first, I was worried about playing ‘We Are The Many,’” said Makana. “But I found it odd that I was afraid to sing a song I’d written, especially since I'd written it with these people in mind.”

The gala was the most secure event of the summit. It was held inside the Hale Koa hotel, a 72-acre facility owned and controlled by the US Defense Department; the site was fortified with an additional three miles of fencing constructed solely for the APEC summit.

Makana was surprised that no one objected to him playing the overtly critical song. “I just kept doing different versions,” he said. “I must’ve repeated ‘the bidding of the many, not the few’ at least 50 times, like a mantra. It was surreal and sobering.”

Makana’s new song is inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has taken root in cities worldwide. Last Saturday, eight protesters were arrested when they refused to leave the Occupy Honolulu encampment at Thomas Square Park. Occupy Honolulu has joined other groups, including Moana Nui, to protest the APEC meeting, and while Makana performed, hundreds of people protested outside.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

AS I WAS SAYING: Homeland Security, FBI Coordinating Nationwide Crackdown On Occupy Movement

"They're gonna come back. This is a movement that can't be stopped," said Dan Siegel, former adviser to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. Siegel resigned in protest over Quan's authorized police crackdown. The hapless, once progressive Mayor Quan, now singing a different tune as part of the establishment, leaving the impression of a rudderless boat in choppy seas has, predictably, let the cat out of the bag:
Speaking on a BBC radio show, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan says she was recently on a conference call with 18 cities dealing with 99 Percent occupations and that they were discussing how to handle the situation:

QUAN: I was recently on a conference call of 18 cities across the country who had the same situation where what had started as a political movement and political encampment ended up being an encampment of the people who started them.
Wouldn't you like to be a fly on the wall of that conference call? Who was in attendance; who chaired; were Homeland Security, FBI, and other federal "agencies" represented? This thing is taking on a really weird 60s flashback quality to it. Before you know it, they'll have revived Cointelpro. I kid you not, folks. Stay alert for infiltrators. In the meantime, an Examiner correspondent — sorry, foolish Daily Kos poster; this dude has solid journalistic creds; talk about passing the "smell test" for trashing a blog (Examiner) while contributing to one (Daily Kos)!reports the following:
Over the past ten days, more than a dozen cities have moved to evict "Occupy" protesters from city parks and other public spaces. As was the case in last night's move in New York City, each of the police actions shares a number of characteristics. And according to one Justice official, each of those actions was coordinated with help from Homeland Security, the FBI and other federal police agencies.

The official, who spoke on background to me late Monday evening, said that while local police agencies had received tactical and planning advice from national agencies, the ultimate decision on how each jurisdiction handles the Occupy protests ultimately rests with local law enforcement.

According to this official, in several recent conference calls and briefings, local police agencies were advised to seek a legal reason to evict residents of tent cities, focusing on zoning laws and existing curfew rules. Agencies were also advised to demonstrate a massive show of police force, including large numbers in riot gear. In particular, the FBI reportedly advised on press relations, with one presentation suggesting that any moves to evict protesters be coordinated for a time when the press was the least likely to be present.
I believe this is credible information coming from a credible source. Why? Because I don't see what the downside is, from the Feds' POV if it's supposed to be misinformation. Who wins, who loses? The Feds are definite winners; it's quite possible this is a deliberate, or controlled leak. Does anyone really think Homeland Security would mind if we thought they were coordinating the crackdown on the Occupy movement? Or the FBI? The Obama administration, yes? You do — really? Then you're very foolish indeed, Daily Kos poster. President Obama has taken a half & half hands-off approach, saying it's up to the municipalities to decide how they will deal with the OWS encampments and protests. But should they need logistical or tactical support, or advice, please feel free to drop your helpful, friendly spooks, Secretary Napolitano and Director Mueller, a line. Or a tweet? Count on it.

It's not really all that sinister. In fact it's more like spook bureaucrat institutional-think: They probably see it as a great opportunity for interagency coordination right down to the state municipality level. Does anyone really think Homeland Security would pass up such an opportunity to test their nationwide security network, to conduct a nationwide eviction sweep with minimal First Amendment implications? Hell, it's a lot better than a dry run exercise. What they don't quite understand is that this movement is a lot bigger than they realize, and before they know it they'll be wading in even deeper still.

"Brain Freeze" For Herman Cain? NO WAY, José!

Let's get one thing straight: A "brain freeze" implies there's knowledge/know-how to be imparted behind the sudden, and painful to watch, "brain freeze" in which the brain ceases communicating with the language synapses and the open mouth takes on the character of a flap-jaw. The subject might as well be speaking in tongues. Weren't you half-expecting Herman's head to swivel all the way around and pea soup to shoot from his mouth? See, a true "brain freeze" presumes a logical, rational, articulate answer is tucked away somewhere in that gray matter before it temporarily "freezes." What we saw from Herman Cain was the sheer panic that comes from the realization, "I don't know WTF I'm supposed to say about this 'Becky-becky-LIBYA-stan' 'cause I have NO FUCKING IDEA what President Obama's policy was in the first place." And there's no Newt beside him for Herman to say, "You go first, Newt." O.M.G.!

That's the "businessman's" dirty little secret: They can surround themselves with acolytes and yes-men/women (who double up as sexual harassment toys) to answer these things for them. The "businessman/CEO" gets to stand there, make sweeping statements, sing a tune or two, and NEVER be challenged by a suck-up media. EXCUSE ME?!

No one ever told Herman he would have to face the music at one point in this campaign. Even George W. Bush knew that, but he had lots of sharpies working for him. I don't quite see the cigarette guy cutting it. I mean, debates are one thing: Even an IDIOT like Mama Grizzly can get past them by seducing National Review's Rich Lowry, who said "Palin sprinkled magic boner dust thru the TV, into the living rooms of American males." Oh-Kay ... as Bill Buckley turns in his grave. (And don't be giving Herman ideas, Rich; he's in enough hot water with those thousands of women not yet sexually harassed by him.)

No. A true "brain freeze" would presuppose Herman had an answer to a very simple foreign policy question. Instead, this is what happens when he's caught like the proverbial deer in the headlights, as millions watch his agonizingly slow, painful embarrassment unfold. You know that stroking the tie move, crossing the legs, and taking a drink of water? Classic signs of performance panic. With a twist. Herman was making sure he was still dressed, his pants were on, and his zipper in the UP position. Because at that moment he was having one of those Freudian nightmares where you believe you're standing in front of all the world wearing nothing but your underwear. Twirl, twirl, twirl ... "Got all this stuff twirling around in my head ... DO I REMEMBER GETTING DRESSED?!"

Politics is a cruel, cutthroat business. When you start feeling sorry for the candidate — and I felt genuinely sorry for Herman — he's finished.

POLICE STATE WATCH: First-Ever National (Coordinated?) Sweep of Occupy Protests

Is this a moment which will go down in infamy in our nation's history? The last I checked the Constitution, the people have a right to peaceably assemble and petition their government for a redress of grievances. It's right there in the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights of our Constitution:
Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Yesterday, as the media raged about the PSU sexual abuse tragedy, it was a perfect diversion for mayors across the nation to deploy their anti-riot police units against the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators. There ensued a clean sweep of OWS encampments in what could well be described as a coordinated action by the mayors and their "elite" police teams. It would be no surprise if we subsequently learn that Homeland Security was involved in some way — at the very least in the loop — as the OWS protesters were rounded up and evicted from their encampments.

Was it a dry run for the suppression of anti-government demonstrations — of any kind? Sure had that "feel." They can run exercises against mock terrorist events and civil disturbances, but there's no substitute for doing it against thousands of real demonstrators, even when they are peaceful and pose no threat whatsoever to constituted authority. Next stop: The courts, injunctions, and a change in tactics to larger, more targeted demonstrations, including perhaps but not limited to, a march on Washington, and: Occupy the Mall? Occupy Congress, the Supreme Court, and/or the White House?

Here's an incomplete rundown of this unprecedented POLICE STATE sweep:
  • Chapel Hill, NC: Police Swat team sweeps vacant auto dealership, wearing riot gear and brandishing their assault weapons against peaceful, terrified kids branded as "anarchists." Un-fucking-believable.
  • Berkeley, CA: Historic birthplace of the 60s "Free Speech Movement" is the site today of a demonstration — is another police crackdown in the offing?

Elizabeth Warren IS AWESOME: Slams Dirty Rove Ad With Grace, Dignity

Here is Elizabeth Warren taking the high road in response to a filthy Karl Rove hit-ad. Warren introduces herself to voters, lets them know who she is and why she's on their side, having opposed Wall Street and the banks (Scott Brown's largest underwriters in the Senate) when it wasn't fashionable to do so.

Catholic Church Goes Tea Party: Blames "Government" And "Culture"

I wonder when that bastion of masculine depravity known as the U.S. Catholic Bishops are going to recast their opposition to child sexual abuse, such as it is, in the same light they're railing against same-sex marriage and abortion, blaming the state and federal governments and our “culture” for a woman's right over her reproductive decisions and a gay person's right to marriage. Is the Catholic Church's sexual abuse of boys the fault of governments and our “culture” too? Here's one pious hypocrite, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the bishops conference, on the unfolding PSU horror story:

“Every time that once again takes over the headlines we once again bow our heads in shame,” the archbishop said. “We know what you’re going through, and you can count on our prayers.” And then the kicker: Dolan said the Penn State scandal was proof that sex abuse was “widespread” and not associated with a particular faith. “One of the things we've learned is, tragically, it's people who have earned positions of trust,” he said. Prayer and passing the buck. Nice FAIL, Archbishop. Are governments and our “culture” to blame here too? Or could it possibly be the insular, secretive, patriarchal institutions living in another century, and resistant to any and all change, particularly that which would include the voices of half our population, in equal measure: women.

TEA PARTY REMEDIAL ED: History v. Pseudo-History

Learning to tell the difference, first, and then knowing the difference through independent research and verification, is the first step toward enlightenment on any given historical topic. A true grasp of history is essential to an informed electorate, for it directly impacts one's knowledge of politics and economics. Here Chris gives the Teabaggers an object lesson in history as a remedy for their ignorant notions of government:

And HOW NOT TO BE A HISTORIAN. Well, you can begin by not being a right wing polemicist who lies, as he must, on a daily basis. To be an honest and honorable historian is to come to grips with the truth, the facts, and objective historical realities — the textbook history that should not (before the right wing Texas Board of Education rewrote our children's schoolbooks) be questioned for historical accuracy. Bill-O the Clown claims there are only four errors. O'Really Bill-O? Then how do you account for at least 12 and as many as 17 identified errors at last count? What a pathetic blowhard — keeping America Teh STOOPID. Here Keith and John Dean deconstruct Bill-O the Clown for presuming to be a Lincoln historian:

Goldie Taylor Comes Forward, NAMES Abuser

Good on Goldie Taylor for having the courage to come forward and name her abuser.* If anything good comes of this PSU horror, then it's giving the silent victims of sexual abuse the strength to break their silence and fight back against the predators who hide behind their institutional authority. Even after years have gone by. There should be no statute of limitations for sex crimes, period. Particularly sex crimes against minors. And kudos to Lawrence for the rare gift of enabling guests on his show to reveal things about themselves outside their comfort zones that would help others in similar circumstances. It's never done in a disrespectful or exploitative manner. I guess that's why we like Lawrence. He's good at what he does. Outside politics, of course. And socialistic adverts sitting on a plush corporate boardroom maroon leather divan.

*Correction: I meant to say "abuser" not "accuser". Carlos mind-melt. It happens.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Funnin' Rachel Maddow: You MISSED One!

I guess you're "human, after all" ... to quote Rick Perry. Our beloved Rachel Maddow, the best of the best at MSNBC, responded to yet another backfiring assault on the importance of the federal government and the scope of its essential functions. To a person, in my view, everyone who argues for the elimination and privatization of large chunks of the federal government is either (a) an ideological zealot (Ron/Rand Paul) or (b) doesn't know WTF they're talking about (Rick Perry, Teabaggers). What's wrong with this spirited defense of our government from Rachel? Watch:

Yup, what's missing is Rachel's BELOVED (and mine) National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an agency of the Department of Commerce. For those who think the right wing's anti-government hysteria is a recent development, driven perhaps by our deficit and down economy, think again. Back during the "good old days" of the Clinton presidency, a time of unparalleled prosperity in our nation's history, wingnuts were targeting for demolition the selfsame departments Perry couldn't name in all, let alone understand their function of service and paramount importance to our leadership position in the world.

The greatest single project ever undertaken by modern man was one cited by Rachel, the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, New Mexico, which built the first atomic weapon and began the nuclear era. Setting aside any moral reservations, the fact is, had it not been us, then it would be either the Nazis or the Soviets. And anyone who is familiar with the history of that "Pharaonic" project would understand that it was way outside the scope and competency of the private sector. The Department of Energy grew out of that project, and has become intimately linked to our national security. For any American to propose abolishing this department of the U.S. government is tantamount to madness. Who needs traitors when we've got destroyers of government running for president to serve destroyers of jobs in the public/private sectors?

Government, as President Obama said recently, by way of Lincoln, is here to do for us the things that "we cannot do for ourselves." After all, We, The People are the government. Second, this toxic idea that the federal government is an "alien" entity outside of the people and hostile to us is, similarly, a longstanding separatist strain in American history that dates back at least to the Civil War, and to the defeat and subjugation of the Confederate South by the Yankee North. The southern secessionists, represented by Governor Perry and his right wing "states rights" cohorts, have never gotten over it. The so-called "Tea Party" is the Republican wingnut manifestation of its Confederate wing. Debt and taxes are but pretexts for this rabid, irrational hatred of a "tyrannical" government.

The time was the late 90s. President Obama's Chief of Staff, Bill Daley, was then President Clinton's Secretary of Commerce. I contributed to a liberal political board populated by wingnuts who lost every argument, but hung on being endlessly circuitous and argumentative. For some reason they flocked to me. I think it was my exotic name. Sounded "foreign" or something. I tangoed with one of our favorite wingnuts — actually a decent dude, in his own way — who started a Gov. Perry rant about abolishing the Commerce Department. Well, I'd just about had enough, so I replied. This is what I said:
From the Commerce Department's "About Us" section:

"The Department of Commerce promotes job creation, economic growth, sustainable development and improved living standards for all Americans by working in partnership with business, universities, communities and workers to:

1. Build for the future and promote U.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace by strengthening and safeguarding the nation's economic infrastructure.

2. Keep America competitive with cutting-edge science and technology and an unrivaled information base.

3. Provide effective management and stewardship of the nation's resources and assets to ensure sustainable economic opportunities.

The Commerce Department touches the daily lives of Americans in many ways — it makes possible the weather reports heard every morning; it facilitates technology that Americans use in the workplace and home every day; it supports the development, gathering and transmitting of information essential to competitive business; it makes possible the diversity of companies and goods found in America's (and the world's) marketplaces; it supports environmental and economic health for the communities in which Americans live and it conducts the constitutionally mandated decennial census which is the basis of representative democracy.

The Commerce Dept. has taken a leading role in negotiating trade and international agreements on behalf of our private sector (as recently in China). It has also facilitated trade and business agreements between countries and individual states, to the economic benefit of the states."

You know, it never ceases to amaze me how right wingers love to shoot from the hip when making cheap political hay about doing away with this government department, or that — until it gets down to brass tacks and specifics, and calmer voices on both sides remind them that many of the functions performed by said department cannot, and should not, be eliminated willy-nilly.

The function of our trade representatives is to negotiate treaties and agreements. The function of the Commerce Department is to regulate and administer those agreements on behalf of our country. That's why we have an executive branch and a president. The function of Congress, as the legislative branch, is to approve those treaties and provide oversight over budget matters and administration. I'm sure you know all this (duh), so why are you imputing administrative executive functions on the Congress? In the interests of greater efficiency? Please.

As for the trade deficit, any economist will tell you that the Commerce Dept. has very little to do with it. The trade deficit is dependent on a variety of economic factors and indices that have developed over a couple of decades through both Republican and Democratic administrations. What Commerce can do is to provide assistance and data for U.S. companies to market their products, work to ensure access to international markets as required by our trade agreements, and safeguard U.S. companies and workers from unfair competition, dumping, or subsidized imports. Not only that, but who's going to issue export licenses and administer patents and trademarks? State, Defense, Interior?

You may argue with the effectiveness of the Commerce Department in certain high profile and politicized areas, like trade, but not with the necessity of its essential functions. I don't understand why you're in such a lather over it anyway; is it because Secretary Bill Daley is the brother of Chicago's Democratic kingpin, Mayor Richie Daley? 

It really irks me, a lot, how those who constantly criticize and bitch and moan about our government never seem to realize or acknowledge the positive impact it has on their everyday lives. Every time you turn on the radio or TV and tune in to the weather, it comes to you courtesy of the National Weather Service which is (you guessed it!) a division of the Commerce Department. I noticed the Weather Channel just posted huge profit and growth numbers; why? Because their raw data comes from the government, and it's free! Hooray!!

I don't think anyone today will seriously argue with the importance of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (of which the NWS is a part, along with the National Environmental Satellite Data, and Information Service which coordinates environmental and weather data collected from satellites), given the strategic impact of global warming and severe weather changes on our economic welfare. The concept of an earth science agency (NOAA) within Commerce was developed in 1965 by a Democrat, LBJ, and finalized in 1970 by a Republican, Nixon. We can thank them for their foresight on this question.

And then there is the Census Bureau, another (you guessed it!) agency of the Commerce Department. I vaguely recall your extensive use of Census Bureau data to make wrongheaded arguments about poverty during the Reagan administration. Do I hear a thank you, a few disgruntled words of recognition to our government? After all, it has so beneficently provided you with mountains of FREE data that could ostensibly become an instrument of its own destruction if the anti-government whiners have their way? I don't think so.

OK. So now you want to demolish the Commerce Department. According to your INFINITE wisdom, it's "useless." Let's go down the list: Do we do away with patents and trademarks? NO WAY! say the naysayers — who's going to protect MY intellectual property!? Well, what about export licenses? What, are YOU nuts!? Humm, surely the Census Bureau, the right wing has no use for it (Psst ... the idea is to balkanize and keep voter turnout low), right? OF COURSE NOT, wail the anti-government zealots indignantly, we just don't want the DEMOCRATS to run it! Well then, let's demolish the NOAA! Gee, my constituents might not like it if they're struck WITHOUT WARNING by a hurricane (like in the old days) ... my state is poor and we REALLY NEED the National Weather Service to give us adequate warning.

So I guess what you're saying is we smash the Commerce Dept. and carve up all these agencies, consolidating them within State, Defense, Interior, you name it, that we may achieve REAL economies of scale and TRUE efficiency! Brilliant!! It's an old cliche but a truism: The anti-government foamers just love to rail against "big government" until it comes down to slashing some agency that they like because it has a positive impact on their lives and economic well-being.

What's next on your right wing hit list: the Department of Education?
What can I say? I've mellowed quite a bit since the days of the Flying Monkey Right — yowza, they're baaack! — but even then, I had the gift of political smarts that isn't learned from experience (Chris) or D.C. connections (POLITICO, Idiot Punditocracy), but comes primarily from having core principles and beliefs, which they all lack to varying degrees. Keep trying, Lawrence; at least you can laugh your mistakes off, not take yourself too seriously, which is a prerequisite for political growth. Right now, your audience is still way ahead of you. But for some largely inexplicable reason ... we like you!

As for Chris, we like him too. For largely inexplicable reasons. I'm afraid there's less hope for Chris, as he is so in the grip of the John Harrises of this world. But then Chris writes a book on JFK ... and a glimmer emerges. (Still waiting on the Jon Stewart seal of approval, however.) Two things, Chris: Lee Harvey Oswald wasn't "a man of the left" (Jesus, drop the Charles Krauthammer affectation, already), rather he was a megalomaniacal lunatic; second, regarding the "ask not" line, Kahlil Gibran wrote it first (see my post), it's in print, circa 1926, and if JFK's Choate professor said it, where did he get it from, hmm? How about a prominent, successful author and Massachusetts resident? If you only write "truths" that are palatable to you, Chris, then you're no better than your polemicist pal, Bill-O the Clown, whose Lincoln book was banned from Ford's Theater for its many "inaccuracies" and for Bill-O'Really not knowing the difference between "furl" (a nautical term) and "furrows" one's brow.