Friday, December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens Remembered

I didn't always agree with Christopher Hitchens but always enjoyed his rapier wit, his refusal to suffer fools, gladly or otherwise, and his awesome command of the English language. Hitchens was the only guest I have ever seen smoking on Hardball, and Chris Matthews tolerated it without question or irritation, an exception I think he would not have made for anyone else. Here are some of Hitch's best zingers on Hardball:

Chuckles Toddy Delivers Capus Message To Progressives ...

As David Gregory smiles encouragingly. This happened on the Moron Joe set where MSNBC reactionaries can take a load off, ogle Mika, be themselves. At least Chuckles showed he has a pulse. Good classic form, though a bit on the tentative side: GRADE 7.5.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

58 Second Flat Post-GOP Debate Analysis: Newt Wins Battle Of The Midgets ...

Newt was smooth, humbly grandiose, witty — "I'm trying not to be zany, here" — a perfect gentleman, except of course, with the only woman on the stage, Michele Bachmann. Typical Newt, like the DEVIL, a master of disguise and deceit ...

The Republican establishment is T-R-R-E-M-B-B-L-ING-BLING ... 

Ron Paul, who is headed for a strong 1-2 finish in Iowa, as predicted in this blog, way before the Idiot Punditocracy caught on — they're idiots, after all — is the weirdest cult leader in American politics, running the most vicious ads against Newt, who said magnanimously, "It's hard to get mad at Ron Paul ..."

And DUMPTY ... don't compare yourself to Lincoln in those seven "Lincoln-Douglas debates" you dream about ("be careful what you wish for," says Chris DARKLY); you just don't fit the bill, historically, intellectually, temperamentally, and ... aesthetically. Lincoln ~ Douglas. Behold:

MSNBC Takes The LOWE’s Road

Caving to a Romney campaign complaint about an MSNBC report that Mitt Romney has been using a KKK slogan from the 1920s verbatim on the stump, to “keep America American” after a Romney campaign aide called to “alert them of the misreporting” Chris Matthews, who was not involved in the report, read this apology to the Romney campaign:
“We reported on a blog item that compared a phrase used by the Romney campaign to one used by the KKK way back in the 1920s. It was irresponsible and incendiary of us to do this and it showed an appalling lack of judgment. We apologize, we really do, to the Romney campaign.”
It was the first I’d heard of it and was taken aback by the vehemence of the statement, so I checked it out. My question for Chris, Al Sharpton, NBC News President Steve Capus, their research, production, and editorial staffs is this: have they bothered to check the facts? Can you, as Rachel would say, “do the Google”?

Two questions come to this blogger’s mind about this story: (1) Is it true? And (2) was it objectively reported in correct political historical context? The answer to the first question is, clearly, yes. As for its reporting by MSNBC, AMERICAblog responded, after laying out its sources:
“And here's what MSNBC said this morning:

"So you may not hear Mitt Romney say "Keep America American" anymore, because it was a rallying cry for the KKK group, and intimidation against blacks, gays and Jews, and the progressive AMERICAblog was the first to catch on to that."

So what part of that is wrong, and what part of that deserves an effusive apology such as Chris Matthews gave this evening on MSNBC? And it was one hell of an apology. ... Clearly, Mitt Romney went ballistic at MSNBC behind the scenes over this story, which is telling. But again, what part of the story is wrong? Is the Romney campaign seriously going to keep using an old KKK slogan? I somehow doubt it. But the Romney campaign appears to be digging in, claiming that this is in fact not an old KKK slogan. ...

It is appalling. But nobody "compared" anybody to the KKK. The story was, is, that Mitt Romney has repeatedly used a slogan that just happens to be a former Ku Klux Klan slogan. And it is. So is the Romney campaign claiming the slogan isn't a former Klan slogan?  Are they saying that Romney will continue to use it? No chance in hell of that. (And that's news.)

And can you imagine what the networks would have done if the Obama campaign were using an old KKK slogan, even inadvertently? Oh the never ending prime-time debate it would create. But, as always, when a Republican is on the receiving end of the criticism, it's no big deal, and in fact, you're a bad person for even mentioning it. ... It would have been nice if the traditional media had had such high standards during the Clinton impeachment, the Swift Boat Veterans, the Reverend Wright story.”
The author makes good points, worth reiterating: (1) What part of the story is wrong? (2) There was no comparison to the KKK; the story is Mitt Romney repeatedly using a KKK slogan. And (3) the double standard regarding Democrats (MSNBC, if you're familiar with the story, is the LOWE's of cable news organizations); had the President done the exact same thing, the right wing machine would have gotten into high gear to pound him while an excitable Chris Matthews lined up an entire week or two of segments. Hypocrites.

Whatever the intended meaning is irrelevant. It is not inadvertent, since Romney has used the phrase as something his speech writers plugged in (see LA Times report). It is what is, an inflammatory phrase by a major candidate contending for the Republican nomination for president. It's absurd to consider this in a vacuum, given the Republican Party's long and craven history of using racially charged code language, symbolism, and imagery to reach a certain segment of its base. And it's astonishing that MSNBC repeatedly excuses racism from the GOP candidates.

The only critique I have of Thomas Roberts is he would have been better served to have used other sources, e.g., the HuffPost, which was out early with it, report their take on it, perhaps interviewing the reporter, rather than going with a shorthand synopsis/headline. But there's no doubt but that it's news, it was accurately reported and thoroughly sourced.

The apology read by Chris, however, seemed to cast doubt on the quality of the facts citing “a blog item” that “compared” the Romney slogan to the KKK’s. Anyone who bothers to check will discover that AMERICAblog, which unearthed this disturbing but hardly surprising tidbit of information, got it exactly right. The “blog item” is not only impeccably sourced but to say it was “compared” — as in a phrase that is similar to another — to the KKK slogan is untrue insofar as the Romney slogan is a verbatim copy of the KKK slogan rather than a variation on it.

According to New York Times, the Romney campaign “did not specify what it believed to have been misreported.” They wouldn’t want to go there, as Michael Steele likes to say (props to him on forcing MSNBC to cave?), would they.

The conservative site Mediaite reported earlier: “An NBC insider tells Mediaite that NBC News President Steve Capus addressed this story this morning at an editorial meeting, and stressed the need for accuracy, fairness, and caution before proceeding. Capus is reportedly furious at the way the story was handled, and MSNBC is in the process of apologizing to the Romney campaign.”

They are crowing at MSNBC’s public genuflecting, including the Reverend Al-turned corporate stooge, who made the network’s spinelessness complete with this totally unnecessary and gratuitous statement: “For someone who has been the victim of unproven innuendo and half-truths, I agree the report was not proper if you could nail down all the facts. And this network did the right thing by apologizing.”

Really? So tell us, Rev, what are the “facts” this blog “attempt” (attempt at what?!) did not properly “nail down”? Have you forgotten the right wing and Republican racist smears against African Americans? How about Andrew Breitbart getting Shirley Sherrod fired from the Ag Dept. for an edited video hit job in which she was falsely portrayed making supposed anti-white racist statements? These are the lies your colleague Michael Steele dismisses as just “politics.”

Where was MSNBC? Where was MSNBC on Reverend Wright, or birtherism, or the Kenya and socialist smears, all directed against President Obama? Oh they came around, after the stories had festered for days, weeks, and months, after participating in insincere hand-wringing, along with all the other sharks and jackals in the Beltway Media. These stories were pure fabrication, and your despicable corporate media sat on its hands because they were good for ratings and the bottom line.

For your information, Reverend, someone with your civil rights background might appreciate this. Here are the sources for the AMERICAblog “attempt”: (1) The “Jewish Threat” — Anti-Semitic Politics of the U.S. Army by Joseph Bendersky; and Amilcar Shabazz's Advancing Democracy: African Americans and the Struggle for Access and Equity in Higher Education in Texas. These are the excerpts from the two books referencing the KKK's use of the slogan, “keep America American” now appropriated by the Romney campaign — from Advancing Democracy, followed by The "Jewish Threat":

And for Chris Matthews, the historian with appalling gaps in knowledge who evidently never bothered to check the veracity of the story — got a problem with a blog? Then check the Huffington Post’s Christina Wilkey (I'm sure Howard Fineman will put in a good word for her), why don't you, Chris. Wilkey wrote a good piece fleshing out the AMERICAblog report, adding this historical factoid, that the slogan was first used in the 1850s by the nativist Know-Nothing party — as MSNBC competes with FOX and CNN in a race to the reactionary corporate pit for "know-nothing" network props:
“It's the type of coincidence every politician dreads. On Tuesday, political commenters reported that one of Romney's go-to campaign catch-phrases, "Keep America American," was a central theme of Ku Klux Klan publications in the 1920s, and served as a rallying cry for the white supremacist group's campaign of violence and intimidation against black Americans, as well as Catholics, gay people and Jews. ... The progressive AMERICAblog first posted examples of the overlap, and a spokeswoman for Mitt Romney declined to comment on the matter when reached by HuffPost. ... The slogan was first used in the 1850s by members of the anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic movement called the "Know Nothing Party," many of whom were reacting to the dramatic influx of immigrants in the mid-19th century, especially those fleeing Ireland's Potato Famine.”
The HuffPost link includes the Romney video ad in which he uses the KKK slogan. Similar reports have appeared in the New York Times, WaPo, and others, none disputing the essential veracity of AMERICAblog's report. Curiously, while a spokeswoman for Mitt Romney “declined to comment on the matter when reached by HuffPost” they had no such compunctions getting on the horn to the MSNBC suits to compel Matthews to issue the ridiculous apology. They must have some powerful "friends" at the network.

The conservative site Mediatie downplays Romney’s use of the phrase contending there are “only two examples of Romney using the phrase given, and I couldn’t find any others” and “the ‘campaign ad’ they embed in the story doesn’t appear to be anything of the sort. It’s definitely not a Romney ad, and it doesn’t even look like a PAC ad, but rather, a homemade video by a supporter.”

That’s odd, because at the conclusion of the well-produced ad we hear, “I’m Mitt Romney, I’m running for president, and I approved this message.” The Los Angeles Times ran a story on Romney’s campaign, in which he used the controversial phrase only days ago, reporting on stepped-up efforts and spending by the candidate:
“Mitt Romney and his supporters moved to prop up his faltering campaign Friday, unleashing millions of dollars of ads across Iowa and trying to connect personally with the voters who will cast the nation's first ballots in January.

A Romney-sympathetic "super PAC" — an independent group that can raise unlimited sums — launched a $3.1-million, three-week ad buy across the state. The 30-second television commercial contrasts Romney's job-creation record with President Obama's.”


Romney aimed his fire at Obama, and acknowledged the importance of such interactions with voters.

"There are people in this room who are informed and who care about this election, who recognize that this is a defining time for America," he said. "We have on one side a president who wants to transform America into a European-style nation, and you have on other hand someone like myself that wants to turn around America and keep America American with the principals that made us the greatest nation on Earth. And I will do that with your help."”
So, this phrase, in context, comes as Romney steps up his campaign claiming President Obama wants to transform the U.S. into a “European-style nation” which is code for socialist and, of course, foreign. Or, as Chris our dear corporate lackey used to say, "the other." You know, the usual racist Republican garbage, so commonplace now it barely raises an eyebrow at MSNBC. Just ask Michael Steele; he'll spin all your troubles away, Chris. But wait, there's more — much more. The brilliant rational conservative Andrew Sullivan echoes Steve Benen in being “creeped out” by Romney's stump routine:
[A]s Seth Masket noted, “keep America American” sounds an awful lot like a line we might expect from Bill the Butcher. (It also, of course, reinforces the not-so-subtle attack on President Obama’s patriotism, which has long been a favorite ploy for Romney.)

Sullivan adds: And a classically McCarthyite one, from an alleged moderate. Apparently Romney's campaign shares the slogan with the KKK.
One of my favorite blogs, “Irregular Times,” has this fascinating post, unrelated to the AMERICAblog story, entitled “One Country One Flag One Language – The KKK Code In The 2012 Presidential Election.” I think it's important to reproduce it in full here, to give the nitwits at MSNBC something else to chew on. Here's more evidence of the connection between today's Republican Party and the symbology and slogans of the KKK, which southern white (and Iowa) racists — Republican base voters — are steeped in. According to a Southern Poverty Law Center report, Mississippi is second only to Iowa in the number of KKK groups per capita — surprise!:
“Mitt Romney declares that, “English needs to be the language that is spoken in America. We cannot be a bilingual nation like Canada.”

Rick Santorum votes for a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning, declaring that “the flag of the US is a unique symbol of national unity”. Thaddeus McCotter not only votes for legislation to ban flag burning, he one-ups Santorum by afterwards playing an electric guitar with an American flag pasted on to it.

“We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country and they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto,” says Newt Gingrich. Defending his legislation to ban flag burning, Gingrich lectures that “The values of absolute freedom are values destructive” to democracy.

Michele Bachmann harumphs that “We’re losing our country. People are not assimilating themselves to America. They’re not speaking English, and you must speak it if you want to succeed here in this country.”

The common thread uniting these comments is found on this coin.”

In case anyone's interested, I researched the provenance of this coin, because, unlike the MSNBC navel gazers, I do my homework. I found it in a site specializing in KKK memorabilia. Here is its description: “This is identified as the "So-Called Dollar" token, numbered KK-214.3 in the exonumia reference shown below. This coin has the initials of the Emperor William Joseph Simmons, elected in 1922 present on this token.  Note especially the placement of the open palm between the digits "22" of the 1922 date. It is a nickel alloy, measuring 35mm in diameter. It is exceptionally thin and rimless. The condition is about very good showing circulation wear. There is moderate to heavy tarnish present. It has a small hole from where it was drilled for a necklace. This coin dates to the Second Klan, with the date of the perfecting of the order of the First Klan (1866) and Founding of the Second Klan (1915) and 1922. Note the two dots dressing the "ONE FLAG" are present (1923 die version).”

The "Irregular Times" post continues:
“It’s a coin minted by the Ku Klux Klan. It’s an expression of White Nationalism, which has found its way into the politics of Republican presidential campaigns in the past, and will surely find its way into the Republican presidential campaigns of 2012.

They tell us that there’s one real America, a traditional America – and that America speaks English and honors the flag. One Country One Flag One Language – that’s the KKK motto that fits the Republican playbook to a T.

As seen on this coin, the KKK also loved to throw in love for the Bible into their racist campaigns, just as current Republican candidates, love to speak of Christianity a requirement for political office.

The KKK loved to promote itself through codes of the sort seen on this coin. AKIA stands for A Klansman I Am. OSFK stands for One School Flag Kountry.

The Republican presidential candidates are working with consultants who know how to throw around KKK codes with the best of them. Republican speeches will defend the flag, promote the English language, and rally around the Bible – and the message will be clearly received.
Newt Gingrich wrote the racist Republican code language manual, along with Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, and Frank Luntz. In due time, for anyone who's interested, I'll post a brief history of racist code language in the Republican Party. But don't anyone insult our intelligence by claiming ignorance that it is alive and well in today's Republican Party.

What's truly galling to me is the practiced, insincere disingenuousness of the (MS)NBC braintrust regarding the quotidian use of racially charged language by this Republican Party. Newt Gingrich does it often on an hourly basis out on the stump. He was a fixture on Meet The Press with David Gregory precisely for his facility to use "incendiary" language, to quote Chris's asinine projection, while David never really challenged the institutionalized racism of Michael Steele's pals. When he did, it was genuflecting apologetically. And one has to wonder why thinking people hold corporate media — (MS)NBC in particular for pretending to be what it isn't — in such contempt?

I'm with Steve: “Maybe it’s just me, but I find phrases like “keep America American” kind of creepy.” When I hear Newt Gingrich propose putting poor children, thousands with distended stomachs suffering from hunger in America, to work cleaning the bathrooms of the privileged few, I am reminded of that phrase at the entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp: "Work Makes Freedom."

As for the LOWE's reference, it was inspired by the last remaining truly independent progressive cable media outlet in America: CURRENT TV. Take it away Keith, and thanks for loaning me the title:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Donald Trump Fires Self, Becomes Museum Piece

Fake 'Progressive' Channel Watch: Dylan "STRETCH" Ratigan At it Again

Dylan Ratigan's sophistry: "This bill (with payroll tax cut extension, unemployment benefits) is being held hostage, in this case (gagging) by a faction of the Republicans (for including a rider to expedite approval of the controversial Keystone oil pipeline, which President Obama has already said he will veto) — Democrats do it too, by the way."

NO.THEY.DON’T. Prove it EMPIRICALLY, Dylan. And please, don’t give us Ben Nelson or Mary Landrieu. Progressives and liberals vehemently criticized them too. As we have the President when he cozied up to these JACKAL Republicans, giving up too much of our priorities. Show us, Dylan, where Democrats have filibustered needed, progressive legislation (PASSED BY DEMOCRATS) like the MASSIVE, historic obstructionism of these Republicans.

You can’t, pal. Do you really think we’re that stupid, Dylan? Good on Martin for pegging the nickname “Stretch” on you. Shows what a nice, decent guy he is, pulling his punches.

Quotable: Joe Bob Briggs

"Y'all name a boy Newt, y'all gonna end up with one mean boy."

(Possibly apocryphal ... but oh so true!) Memo To Chris: Better steele (SP.?) yourself ...

Fake 'Progressive' Channel Watch: Postcript

How annoying is Meghan McCain and that hideous generation Y brogue? Let me count the ways: 1 ... 2 ... 3 ... 4 ....

Monday, December 12, 2011

Fake 'Progressive' Channel Watch: Chris's Self-Serving Newt Notion, The Steele Trap, Charlatans' Buzzword

Sometimes A Great Notion: Tapping Moron Joe’s selective blind-leading-the-blind assertion, fake progressive channel avatar Chris Matthews floated the latest explanation for Newt’s lead in Republican polls to his ubiquity on FOX:

If Chris’s thesis that Newt’s popularity among Republican primary voters is a Rupert Murdoch-FOX exclusive, then explain this, Chris, unless it's your contention that the leading mainstream media Sunday politics show is exclusively shunned by Gingrich voters:
THE MOST POPULAR 'MTP' GUEST OF THE YEAR.... In the previous post, I mentioned what disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on "Meet the Press" yesterday. I neglected to ask a relevant question: why on earth was Newt Gingrich on "Meet the Press" yesterday?

Yesterday was Gingrich's fifth appearance on "MTP" just this year. In fact, Newt Gingrich, despite not having held any position in government for over a decade, was the single most frequent guest on "Meet the Press" in 2009 of any political figure in the United States. Literally.

From March to December, Gingrich appeared on "MTP," on average, every other month. No one else in American politics was on the show this often.

I'm reminded of something Eric Boehlert wrote recently:

"[A]s often happens when I read breaking, this-is-what-Newt-said dispatches, I couldn't help thinking, 'Who cares what Newt Gingrich thinks?' And I don't mean that in the partisan sense. I mean it in the journalistic sense: How do Gingrich's daily pronouncements about the fundamental dishonesty of Democrats (Newt's favorite phrase) translate into news? Why does the press, 10 years after Gingrich was forced out of office, still treat his every partisan utterance as a newsworthy occurrence? In other words, why does the press still treat him like he's speaker of the House? It's unprecedented."

Eric wrote that seven months ago. It's still true.

Keep in mind, "Meet the Press" didn't have the actual Speaker of the House on at all this year. It also featured zero appearances from all of the other living former House Speakers (Hastert, Wright, Foley) combined.

There's just no reasonable explanation for this. Gingrich was forced from office in disgrace — by his own caucus — 11 years ago. What's more, he's kind of a nut — we're talking about a former office holder who speculated, just last week, about hidden messages from God in snowstorms.

And yet, no other political figure was on "Meet the Press" more this year than crazy ol' Newt Gingrich. If someone can explain why, I'm all ears.
Good question. I'll give it a shot, Steven: Back in 2009, Newt Gingrich was actively planning a run for the presidency in 2011-12. What better platform to establish his "serious" political bona fides while at the same time remaining in the public eye than to become a high profile fixture on MTP? Was David Gregory a knowing enabler of Newt's political rebirth? If you wear a tinfoil hat, (sometimes a useful exercise) perhaps. Most likely, though, the Gregory MSM team's reasons were pedestrian: ratings, ratings, ratings — a perfect marriage with Newt's gift for making authoritative outrageous pronouncements in convenient sound bites, the compressed timespan of the MSM. Newt is a bomb thrower; a "human hand grenade" as conservative columnist Peggy Noonan described him. And "human hand grenades" are good for ratings. Otherwise, how to explain this:
"How do Gingrich's daily pronouncements about the fundamental dishonesty of Democrats (Newt's favorite phrase) translate into news? Why does the press, 10 years after Gingrich was forced out of office, still treat his every partisan utterance as a newsworthy occurrence? In other words, why does the press still treat him like he's speaker of the House? It's unprecedented."... And:

"Gingrich was forced from office in disgrace — by his own caucus — 11 years ago. What's more, he's kind of a nut — we're talking about a former office holder who speculated, just last week, about hidden messages from God in snowstorms.
And yet, no other political figure was on "Meet the Press" more this year than crazy ol' Newt Gingrich. If someone can explain why, I'm all ears."
We'll have to ask David Gregory for a fuller explanation. But Chris's "tribal" colleague isn't talking. In addition, Beltway Media narrative driver and (MS)NBC partner, POLITICO, posits it wasn't FOX (or NBC, not even mentioned ... surprise!) but C-SPAN that provided Newt's "conduit to reach a generation of conservative activists." I'll buy it, in part, despite the editorial redacting. It should be noted that C-SPAN's popularity among wingnuts is itself indicative of its "conservative," i.e., right wing bias.

Chris, Kelly O'Donnell ("And he's had this 'great forum'" ...), Moron Joe ("He's been on FOX 'News' for such a long time, and FOX 'News' drives Republican primary voters")... peeps, peeps; enough self-serving spin already. Interestingly, Gloria Borger of CNN made the most cogent point, recalling that Ronald Reagan used his TV platform as a GE spokesman to remain in the public eye. Say what you will about Gingrich, he is no fool. Reagan's media path to political office was Newt's model. He used his media exposure on C-SPAN, FOX, and (are you listening, Chris) NBC to vault to the top of the Republican pack. Time for an update, Steven, given Chris’s latest bout of … er, misdirection.

The Steele Trap: Readers of this blog are familiar with my seething irritation at Michael Steele's role as "MSNBC political analyst" — considering how often Steele pops up to blithely badmouth Democrats or President Obama. Isn't it the role of a network "analyst" providing they don't work for FOX to give true and unbiased information and analysis, in contrast to the garbage dispensed by  partisan "guest" pundits? Reasonable people would say YES. But for some inexplicable reason, MSNBC has decided it was a wonderful idea to hire partisan political hacks and ex-politicians as "analysts." That is the FOX model. But FOX as has been noted ad nauseum is NOT a news organization.

CNN fell flat on its face when it hired former disgraced NY governor Eliot Spitzer. I'm not a fan of politicians from either party as "analysts" but at least Ed Rendell, former Democratic Pennsylvania governor and DNC chair, frequently prefaces his remarks by saying a priori he supports or opposes the issue in question. That's the ethically appropriate position to take. Michael Steele, on the other hand, has never taken an even-handed, objective, or truthful approach. Predictably, as I frequently warned the suits, he launches straight into GOP spin, talking points, misinformation, and lies.

I can't even begin to express what an affront this partisan hack is to core MSNBC viewers. Recently, on a POLITICO "ARENA" confab, Streele told us how he REALLY feels, dispensing strategic advice to his fellow Republicans — keep your powder dry — and declaring who the REAL enemy is:
"The base is looking for a fighter, but they don't want the fight to be taken to another member of the family. Their fight, which should be the candidate's fight is with Obama. So running ads tearing down a fellow Republican, I predict will not win you friends and it certainly won't move your numbers (at least not the way you want). Political professionals misjudge the rise and fall of those who have gone before — they fell by their own hand...Similarly, Newt will either claim that presidential nomination or he won't not because Mitt gave him a beat down in a TV ad, but because he forgot to be humble or to keep quiet.

Save the money for the real battle next fall against a president who has rightfully earned one term." [emphasis mine.]
It's amazing to me that MSNBC progressive hosts properly and repeatedly condemn the words of Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell declaring his main political mission is the defeat of President Obama in 2012, yet unquestioningly tolerate Steele as one of their own. Not surprisingly, Michael Steele concurs with Mitch McConnell; Mr. Obama is a president "who has rightfully earned one term" and the Republican "candidate's fight is with Obama." McConnell and Steele are entitled to their opinion; but WTF is Michael Steele doing as an "MSNBC political analyst"?! 

Steele's unambiguous political posture taints everything he may say on MSNBC. Unlike Ed Rendell, Steele has no problem lying, spinning, misrepresenting, and concealing his bias. He has effectively become a GOP mole within MSNBC. Partisans hired as "political analysts" except on FOX are essentially on the honor system. Politicians are generic liars. Steele's outrageous trashing of President Obama's important and serious Teddy Roosevelt speech was only the latest in a growing list of MSNBC partisan Steele rants. MSNBC should run a disclaimer prior to any Steele appearance, that (a) he is on record opposing President Obama's re-election, and (b) nothing he says can be independently verified in real time as truth or fact. Instead, they'll keep slapping core viewers in the face.

PS - I've given Martin Bashir a deserved bad rap re: Michael Steele, but Martin remains one of my favorite MSNBC progressives nonetheless.

To which "tribe" does the Beltway Media belong? The latest buzzword to distinguish this self-annointed political media elite from its subjects, literally and figuratively, is to refer to "us" as part  of one "tribe" or another. The idea is to circumscribe and pigeonhole people based on their political ideology, party affiliation, and little else. liberals and progressives are of one "tribe." Conservatives and Tea Partiers of another. More importantly, such tribal designations assign a relativism to each "tribe" in which ideology trumps all.

Naturally, the non-tribal Beltway Media populating their conception of the American political "center" (actually, the center-right) are the self-appointed spokespeople for so-called independents who  "decide" elections. Here, the hubristic Beltway Media has tasked to itself the epically important role of schooling low-information voters and independent political neophytes on exactly what to think. Those who can think for themselves are supposed to fall in line if they wish to keep getting those insider invitations to the Beltway socio-POLITICO scene.

Describing progressives, for instance, as belonging to a "tribe" is a way of marginalizing us. Rachel has them sussed. The Beltway Media love to pontificate about "extremes" in American politics, even though the American people — a majority of  so-called independents, even Republicans, among them — have repeatedly shown in poll after poll that they are far to the left of the Beltway Media and its arrogant right-leaning corporate political constructs. It's "fascinating"— to coin an overused Beltway term — indeed to observe how the rise of Newt Gingrich has so unsettled the Beltway Media out of all proportion, I think, with the real world political impact of his candidacy. Watch:

While liberals and progressives rejoice at the prospect, still uncertain — never underestimate the power of the GOP "establishment" — that Gingrich will gain the Republican nomination, he represents a real threat to the power of the "establishment" writ large which derives largely from corporate power. Oddly, Newt Gingrich, though an ally, is such a patently flawed vehicle that his prospective nomination has establishmentarians seeing red, visions of a conservative rout of Goldwater proportions. So why is this unsettling to someone such as Chris Matthews?

Hard to say. Maybe the highly suggestible Chris lives and works in a milieu in which a Newt win is not only frighteningly probable, but will effectively double down on the worst of the worst in American politics, as witnessed close up by Chris. It's a visceral reaction. Other establishmentarians know Newt as a hustler, a gangster beholden to no one. His meanness and petty vengefulness terrifies those who have crossed him. Newt has few friends in the Beltway establishment, save for wingnut media — FOX, Limbaugh, Breitbart — and maybe MTP's David Gregory. Imagine, from the establisment's POV,  what a zoo a changing of the guard in Beltway power relationships would be, were Gingrich to become president.

Relax, Chris. Newt Gingrich is unelectable. If nominated, he will be defeated in a landslide by President Obama. And there are only two tribes in politics: Those who stand for, and believe in, the truth, and those who do not. Everything else is bullshit.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

SNL Trumps Trump And Lampoons The Reverend Al ...

Darrell Hammond does the Donald to perfection, keying on Trump's clownish superciliousness, just as he did a pitch-perfect manic Chris Matthews highlighting the Philly accent (ever hilarious now — hint hint, Darrell? — with his pronunciation of "Gingrich") and trademark "HA!"
(Note: Turn autoplay "off" or refresh when video ends; these Hulu vids are annoying that way.)

Now that Herman Cain has departed the political scene, there's the Reverend Al to enrich Kenan Thompson's cast of characters. It's not really fair to the newbie TV host Rev to play up the wrong camera thing — I tried to help, writing in this blog, "Hey Rev, the camera's over here." — but it's a good impression overall. Kenan might want to include a couple of halting "UHs" every so often ...

And ROBYN ... she's SOOO 1980s! Sexy, cool and TOTALLY adorable:

Does It Take Their Restaurant Critic To Write A Great Sports Op-Ed For The Times?

Perhaps, appropriately so. But Frank Bruni is so much more than their restaurant critic that, on the strength of this inspirational piece, his editors ought to assign him the sports beat more often. What Bruni didn't mention in his op-ed was the proliferation, some would say infestation, of evangelicals in professional sports who wear Christ not only on their sleeve but on their jerseys. Every time they score they perform an on-field celebration praising Jesus for the feat. And when they win a championship they will remove their game jerseys to reveal handwritten signs to the glory of God on the front of their white Tees.

If such celebrations aren't outlawed, they should be. Is there such a thing as "taunting" a fan or an adversary who does not believe as they do? I have one question for Kaká: was his red card in the 2010 World Cup, ridiculous and unjust though it was, punishment from God? Because Kaká hasn't been the same player since and the ungodly (unless you're Catholic) imperialists of old — the Dutch knocked out Brazil and the Spanish, destroyers of ancient civilization — were given their day in the sun. Ours is not to question why. But maybe, just maybe, God was telling all of these athletes not to take His name in vain. It's only a game. In all fairness, though, many evangelical athletes do not flaunt their faith. Here's a list of top evangelicals in sports, whom we wouldn't have known as such, except for Tebow now that he's so Christ-demonstrative in the Big Leagues.

"Tebowing" — photos courtesy of
This Sunday when my quarterback-challenged Chicago Bears meet godly Tim Tebow and his Denver Broncos warriors for Christ at Mile High Stadium, the only team in need of a miracle are the Bears. Will they get one? NAAANHHH ... But if they do, I might consider converting, aka, personal salvation, as long as I'm not required to be a Republican.