Monday, April 30, 2012

To Ratigan, Beltway SCOUNDRELS et al, With The Audacity To Call Themselves "Journalists"

CAN ANY OF YOU RATBASTARDS say it without gagging?! Good on Norm Ornstein for breaking loose of his pseudo-academic C-SPAN/PBS analyses of politics in America to state the unvarnished TRUTH in a simple, declarative sentence: “Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem.”

Among the worst media offenders is Dylan Ratigan, the liar and sophist infecting MSNBC's programming, who has (mis)used his big microphone to perpetuate the LIE that both political parties are equally to blame, promote the rise of the Tea Party, and set off on so-called "30 million jobs" junkets while joining Republicans to sabotage every effort by Democrats in Congress to get any kind of jobs bill (or bills, period) passed.

His cheerleading for the Teabaggers' rise to power was, outside Fox, the most irresponsible misuse of political cable programming I have ever seen. Especially considering the hypocrisy, the failure to be objective, to the point he wouldn't identify Democrats (unless when frequently bashing them) by party designation, a common practice everywhere else on the network, and populating his program with neutered "progressives" seemingly under orders not to say negative things about a "certain political party" by name.

Ratigan's loathing of President Obama drives his unbalanced assault on the Democratic Party, the only party which has tried to govern responsibly, with HUNDREDS of bills passed by Nancy Pelosi's Congress killed by obstructionist Republicans. But let Norm Ornstein, who knows more about American politics than Ratigan will ever know in ten Deepak Chopra lifetimes, school the fool on the facts of our political system today: (Not that it would make one whit of difference to a propagandist who LIES with such facility.)

Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem.

By Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein, Published: April 27

Rep. Allen West, a Florida Republican, was recently captured on video asserting that there are “78 to 81” Democrats in Congress who are members of the Communist Party. Of course, it’s not unusual for some renegade lawmaker from either side of the aisle to say something outrageous. What made West’s comment — right out of the McCarthyite playbook of the 1950s — so striking was the almost complete lack of condemnation from Republican congressional leaders or other major party figures, including the remaining presidential candidates. 

 It’s not that the GOP leadership agrees with West; it is that such extreme remarks and views are now taken for granted.

We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition. 

When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.

“Both sides do it” or “There is plenty of blame to go around” are the traditional refuges for an American news media intent on proving its lack of bias, while political scientists prefer generality and neutrality when discussing partisan polarization. Many self-styled bipartisan groups, in their search for common ground, propose solutions that move both sides to the center, a strategy that is simply untenable when one side is so far out of reach. [...]

[T]he real move to the bedrock right starts with two names: Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist. [...] From the day he entered Congress in 1979, Gingrich had a strategy to create a Republican majority in the House: convincing voters that the institution was so corrupt that anyone would be better than the incumbents, especially those in the Democratic majority. It took him 16 years, but by bringing ethics charges against Democratic leaders; provoking them into overreactions that enraged Republicans and united them to vote against Democratic initiatives; exploiting scandals to create even more public disgust with politicians; and then recruiting GOP candidates around the country to run against Washington, Democrats and Congress, Gingrich accomplished his goal.[...]

Norquist, meanwhile, founded Americans for Tax Reform in 1985 and rolled out his Taxpayer Protection Pledge the following year. The pledge, which binds its signers to never support a tax increase (that includes closing tax loopholes), had been signed as of last year by 238 of the 242 House Republicans and 41 of the 47 GOP senators, according to ATR. The Norquist tax pledge has led to other pledges, on issues such as climate change, that create additional litmus tests that box in moderates and make cross-party coalitions nearly impossible. For Republicans concerned about a primary challenge from the right, the failure to sign such pledges is simply too risky.

Today, thanks to the GOP, compromise has gone out the window in Washington. In the first two years of the Obama administration, nearly every presidential initiative met with vehement, rancorous and unanimous Republican opposition in the House and the Senate, followed by efforts to delegitimize the results and repeal the policies. The filibuster, once relegated to a handful of major national issues in a given Congress, became a routine weapon of obstruction, applied even to widely supported bills or presidential nominations. And Republicans in the Senate have abused the confirmation process to block any and every nominee to posts such as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, solely to keep laws that were legitimately enacted from being implemented.

In the third and now fourth years of the Obama presidency, divided government has produced something closer to complete gridlock than we have ever seen in our time in Washington, with partisan divides even leading last year to America’s first credit downgrade.

On financial stabilization and economic recovery, on deficits and debt, on climate change and health-care reform, Republicans have been the force behind the widening ideological gaps and the strategic use of partisanship. In the presidential campaign and in Congress, GOP leaders have embraced fanciful policies on taxes and spending, kowtowing to their party’s most strident voices.

Republicans often dismiss nonpartisan analyses of the nature of problems and the impact of policies when those assessments don’t fit their ideology. In the face of the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression, the party’s leaders and their outside acolytes insisted on obeisance to a supply-side view of economic growth — thus fulfilling Norquist’s pledge — while ignoring contrary considerations.

Democrats are hardly blameless, and they have their own extreme wing and their own predilection for hardball politics. But these tendencies do not routinely veer outside the normal bounds of robust politics. If anything, under the presidencies of Clinton and Obama, the Democrats have become more of a status-quo party. They are centrist protectors of government, reluctantly willing to revamp programs and trim retirement and health benefits to maintain its central commitments in the face of fiscal pressures.

No doubt, Democrats were not exactly warm and fuzzy toward George W. Bush during his presidency. But recall that they worked hand in glove with the Republican president on the No Child Left Behind Act, provided crucial votes in the Senate for his tax cuts, joined with Republicans for all the steps taken after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and supplied the key votes for the Bush administration’s financial bailout at the height of the economic crisis in 2008. The difference is striking. [...]

We understand the values of mainstream journalists, including the effort to report both sides of a story. But a balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality. If the political dynamics of Washington are unlikely to change anytime soon, at least we should change the way that reality is portrayed to the public.

Our advice to the press: Don’t seek professional safety through the even-handed, unfiltered presentation of opposing views. Which politician is telling the truth? Who is taking hostages, at what risks and to what ends?

Also, stop lending legitimacy to Senate filibusters by treating a 60-vote hurdle as routine. The framers certainly didn’t intend it to be. Report individual senators’ abusive use of holds and identify every time the minority party uses a filibuster to kill a bill or nomination with majority support.

This excerpted Op-Ed is worth a complete read, particularly the more detailed history of how we came to this point. (While you're at it, Norm, next time you're on PBS with the clueless Judy Woodruff, please school her on the facts of political life.) And their advice to the media is well-taken. The best political shows on MSNBC are those least patronized by Republicans. Unlike Ratigan, Rachel Maddow is boycotted by Republicans because she compels them to answer to the FACTS and the TRUTH. Her EPIC grilling of Rand Paul was, and remains, unlike anything seen on the so-called "Progressive channel."

Ratigan's political proclivities, mindless rants, and idiotic "solutions" wouldn't be such a turn-off had he an ounce of integrity, such that rather than making sweeping accusations of "both parties" when in fact the Republicans are RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS MESS, he didn't "distort reality" by failing to point fingers at the REAL culprits, and name names. But he won't do it because Dylan's "greedy bastards" (criminals, wingnuts, fascists, etc. etc.) are overwhelmingly on the Republican/conservative side. But that would distort his reality. And drain his guest pool.

No comments: