Saturday, June 02, 2012

Idiot Punditocracy "Wisdom" ...

Quotable: Sweet-And-Sour Melissa, Being A Disingenuous Conspiracist

"I don't believe in (conspiracies) conspiracy theories." ~ Melissa Harris-Perry, being self-censorious, repeating this three times (by my count — for whose ears?!) re: show topics of millionaire-billionaire Super PAC donors, and Republican voter suppression laws.

C'mon Melissa, of course you do. It's THE WORD that is verboten in your ivory tower academic's world, and to your MSNBC bosses. For example, fascism in America exists, right? I would submit that it comprises the extremist right wing fringe of the Republican Party, which makes it verboten to your bosses. And, being a newbie, you kinda want to please them. So, everybody uses catch-all euphemisms — "dog whistles," "extremists" — silly terms like that.

FINE. Paul Krugman spoke to this, as to why his media colleagues seem so often to pull their punches. They have a mortgage to pay, a family to support, a career to nurture, he noted. So maybe, on certain "sensitive" topics, they might not want to "go there" if it should raise upper management eyebrows. Krugman said such things don't concern him. Should today he lose his prestigious columnist gig at the Times, he would happily return to his academic pursuits, full-time. Perhaps, Melissa, in lieu of being self-censorious, you ought to follow Paul's example. Just saying.

A "conspiracy" can be a coordinated action as part of a larger political strategy, e.g., voter suppression laws in Republican-controlled states, battleground states. Call it what you will, but if you don't believe that's happening, you're (a) naïve, (b) a fool (not likely, for one with your "c.v." as Chris Hayes might say), or (c) living in some delusional Why-Can't-We-All-Get-Along fantasy land.

When you limit your vocabulary in order to accommodate your perception of the status quo, you're really caving to the "free speech" police, aren't you? Hmm ... in the broader conspiracy, that's precisely what the conspiracists count on. The toxicity of what they do is itself a protective shield. Doug Brinkley, one of my very favorite historians, said on your show of his latest book subject, Walter Cronkite, that he scolded liberals for not shouting to the four winds what we believe in, loud and clear.

The absence of outrage in this country over this sustained assault on our democracy is a tragedy. It's nice that you "worry" about it, Melissa.

UH-OH ... Johan Santana Throws 1st No-Hitter In NY METS History!

ANYONE SMELL A WIDER PARADIGM SHIFT HERE? Don't know about you, but the maxim that the METS of Seaver, Koosman, Ryan, Matlack, Gooden, Cone, Leiter, Glavine, and Santana would never have one of their pitchers throw a no-hitter was as secure as the Cubbies not winning a World Series in more than 100 years, and counting.

Well it happened for the METS. After 50 years. And now perhaps the Cubs can have their Series too, soon. But let's not consider the political implications.

Music Break: A Prescription For Bad Economic News

BY THE INIMITABLE GRACE SLICK and Jefferson Airplane. Remember folks:  
Feed your head with — A GOOD BOOK.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Quotable: Bubba Torpedos Obama

Bill Clinton: Mitt Romney "had a sterling business career." Which only goes to show Bubba is not now, and never was, a liberal. He gave us NAFTA, globalization, triangulation, and is intimately linked to private equity wealth creation. Nothing wrong with it, except liberals believe Wall Street reform in the wake of the 2007 financial meltdown and depression is fundamental. Clinton probably believes, with good reason, that President Obama would never match his campaign's rhetoric with actual Wall Street reform. We shoulda known given Chris Matthews' idolatry of the Clintons, right? (Though, ideologically, Hillary is the "good" Clinton. Perhaps.)

Re: POLITICO ... As We've Been Saying All Along

CALL THIS A BELTWAY MEDIA POWER PLAY from a player which cannot compete on breadth or quality of content but which owns the inside track to setting the Beltway narrative, Washington Establishment-Republican. In a presidential election year, especially this one, that is a crucial place to be, in command of the political, not moral, high ground.

Enter the major traditional press competitors for coverage of the GOP from a center-to-center left editorial position: The New York Times and WaPo. They can't really compete with the day-by-day political gossip-mongering and churning of the fabled "Beltway narrative" for which POLITICO has become notorious and which is its métier. POLITICO seldom breaks major news, like its two target-'competitors', but it is first in line at framing/spinning the narrative in concert with Washington Establishment-Republican thinking and messaging.

Therefore, we have seen for instance, the marginalization of progressive views as way outside the mainstream, so much so that MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, whose noonday show is a platform for the POLITICO "briefing" and setting of the daily narrative, generally calls on Rachel Maddow (who serves the same purpose on MTP) to 'interpret' any issues attendant to progressives which, naturally, fall outside the Beltway Media scope. As if we're exotic political specimens.

Generally, the Idiot Punditocracy/POLITICOs will broadbrush progressives as the Democratic Party "base" and immediately postulate an elitist false equivalency between the two "political extremes," which is a complete and utter bastardization of the political spectrum — in outside-the-Beltway reality, it is extreme right wing (fascism by any other name) to center-center left. The false equivalence of equating the Tea Party (but not so much Grover Norquist, who in a rational era would be laughed off the national political stage) and progressives (including OWS, which gives the elites succor) is a deliberate distortion by POLITICO and its Beltway Media denizens, spreading the word on political cable channels for wider dissemination to the body politic.

Neither WaPo nor the New York Times play POLITICO's Beltway Media parlor game. Both are actually among the few remaining serious news gathering organizations in this country. Whatever imagined competition with POLITICO is asymmetrical, deriving from its singular, entrenched influence within the Beltway, which prompted such a surprisingly fierce pushback from WaPo and the Times to POLITICO's cheap shot hatchet job broadside.

Surprising because, in fact, POLITICO lacks the resources to match the Times or WaPo, or even the new kid on the block, Huffington Post, in doing serious journalism. But what it lacks in resources it more than makes up for in influence and connectedness. The two traditional media organizations' reaction to POLITICO's hit piece was a frank recognition of its D.C. media fiefdom and pull.

The POLITICO story itself, written by top POLITICO honchos Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen, implying "bias" against the GOP on the part of the Times and WaPo is ludicrous, bordering on the sophomoric — a piece that more resembles a high school paper production. It's laughable for POLITICO to hide behind the "GOP" interviewing a Party hack Haley Barbour to claim "blatant bias in vetting" with the canned phony outrage adjective "livid" in such silly phrases like, "No wonder Republicans are livid with the early coverage of the 2012 general election campaign. To them, reporters are scaring up stories to undermine the introduction of Mitt Romney to the general election audience — and once again downplaying ones that could hurt the president."

Sounds like something Mark 'The Mole' Halperin would try to sneak into a Hardball segment past the trusting Chris Matthews. Oh wait — he did! Went right over Chris's head, but we alerted him to Halperin whining that "the press" was being "unfair" to Romney and would be "sympathetic" to the Obama Team's attacks on Bain. Unlike his partner in crime, fiction writer John Heilemann, Halperin forgot to add a disclaimer that this wasn't his personal view — because of course, it was, oh and also the GOP's.

So these GOP conspirators have been cooking this "unfair press" whine meme for quite some time. What fascinates me, to coin a phrase used by the Chris Cillizzas and Chuck Todds of this world, among many, who are not affected by the horrors of which they speak — as "fascination" implies something positive to someone observing from a safe distance — is to contemplate whether the conspirators actually sit around a conference table brainstorming these things. (I can easily see 'The Mole' actively contributing ideas from his intimate knowledge of the enemy.) But, probably not. They're much too shrewd about maintaining the appearance of news neutrality — unless you're a Fox associate producer — to be caught in such a compromising position.

Josh Marshall of TPM called it "an astonishingly bad piece of reporting/analysis from POLITICO." I concur. Josh noted GQ, of all mags (Jonathan Capehart will be proud), nailed it:
Let’s get macro for a moment. This POLITICO story was written by Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen, two people at the very top of the organization’s masthead. It’s effectively an unsigned house editorial. And it levied a charge of journalistic malpractice at two of POLITICO’s biggest rivals. The house position of POLITICO, as evidenced by this piece, is that they are fair and their chief competition is not. It’s a thinly disguised, fundamentally craven argument for POLITICO’s superiority in the world of political coverage. Let’s call this article for what it was. It wasn’t journalism. It was business.
I disagree slightly. Dispensing with the niceties of the "business" POLITICO is neither "fair" nor, dare I say it, balanced. They are now, and have always been, in bed with the GOP. As far as "business" is concerned, they go where the money is. This was a naked power play to neutralize media which would turn a critical eye to the GOP early in this presidential campaign. POLITICO wants no challengers to running the media narrative table. Sure it's business. There's plenty of money to be had, and made, in this bagman's paradise presidential campaign. But first it's strategy. Romney strategy.

Thursday, May 31, 2012



Romney's Favorables UP 13% With Women?!

MEMO TO WOMEN: Are you really THIS STUPID?! Are all the rehashed male-created stereotypes about women TRUE?! Are you fans of MAD MEN?! Are you SO DISRESPECTFUL of your mothers and grandmothers that ALL THEIR STRUGGLES on your behalf went for NAUGHT?!

UNMARRIED WOMEN?! Hellooo, what am I missing here?

JESUS-F-CHRST — IF ROMNEY WINS IT'S ON YOU, LADIES! Yeah ... Go have some fun and shop 'till you drop ... It's a man's world, RIGHT?!

Should The FCC Compel Fox to Drop "News" From Its Name?

BILL PRESS SUGGESTED IT in his "Parting Shot" and he has a point. It's no secret that Fox is the UNPAID propaganda arm of the Republican Party but it crossed the line when "Fox & Friends" aired a 4-minute anti-Obama attack ad. What made this different is that this one allegedly wasn't cleared with upper management.
"The package that aired on 'Fox & Friends' was created by an associate producer and was not authorized at the senior executive level of the network," Bill Shine, executive vice president of programming at Fox News, said in a statement to Yahoo News. "This has been addressed with the show's producers."
"Addressed" how?! Here's your opportunity, Mr. Bill Shine, to fire associate producer Chris White for creating this allegedly rogue anti-Obama propaganda video. According to Media Matters, which debunked the lies in the video, an outside group would need to spend $96,000 on the open market to produce a similar attack ad.

Baltimore Sun TV critic David Zurawik said the video "resembled propaganda films from 1930′s Europe ... And the remarkable thing was the the witless crew on the couch that serves as hosts for this show had the audacity to present it as journalism and congratulate the producer who put it together." He added, "Even I am shocked by how blatantly Fox is throwing off any pretense of being a journalistic entity with videos like this."


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mitt Romney Is An Affront

HERE IS MARTIN BASHIR'S COMMENTARY on Mitt Romney "as one of the most cynical politicians of the modern era," followed by a fine, understated Lawrence exposé of Romney's despicable audacity, his sheer lack of humility and respect for the history of our civil rights struggle, that he would presume to use it as a cudgel to score cheap political points among the uninformed, the misinformed, and the bigots. They are the supporters he "welcomes" but whose hateful, ignorant utterances have yet to be denounced by this straw man with rot for character, evidenced by the ugly upper right lip curl which he cannot control, and the eyes that don't laugh.

Mitt Romney is an affront to those of us who care about our history. He should be an affront to anyone in this country with a decent heart and a working brain. That he is tied in the polls with President Obama is a testament to the dark side of this nation's character; the same darkness which tolerated slavery and racism for hundreds of years, and which stands poised to return disgraced Gov. Scott Walker to office in Wisconsin on the strength of billionaires' filthy money. I do not understand it. But it is the same dark human impulse, driven by fear, which enabled the rise of fascism in Europe and which is "exceptional" for all the wrong reasons:


Back To Class For Lady Alex: Careful Not to Lose Your Political Compass

MEMO TO ALEX WAGS: WHEN TEXAS SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON corrects you, it's time to reset your casual political assumptions. In your little MTP-like exchange with the Senator, none of her ridiculous cookie-cutter conservative bromides were challenged regarding the rightward lurch, i.e. extremism of her party, its base, the Tea Party (lavishly praised by the Senator), and its responsibility for our current political climate.

But by prefacing your remarks with the standard Beltway Media political fantasy of shifting the CENTER of political gravity to the RIGHT and calling it "MODERATE" you effectively censored yourself. That list of your "moderate friends of the show" includes at least two CONSERVATIVES — Hutchison herself and Richard Lugar. (Think of it this way, Alex: There's CRAZY/FASCIST/TEA PARTY "conservative," aka RIGHT WING, and there's dwindling run-of-the-mill COUNTRY CLUB "conservative," aka CONSERVATIVE — not, repeat, NOT "MODERATE."

Interestingly, Senator Hutchison herself REJECTED the "MODERATE" label, wouldn't even mention it, and referred to herself, properly, as a "CONSERVATIVE." What does that tell you, Alex, about the ideological RIGHT WING ascendancy of the Republican Party, when even former RNC Chairman Michael Steele sings the Tea Party praises?! Take heed, Lady Alex. Unless you rage against the machine of which you're a part, you'll run the risk of becoming just another Stepford Politico pundit cog. And then you'll be lost.

As for your exogenous Beltway Media friend John Heilemann, tell him to lose the weird mannerism of adjusting his tie. I suspect it's got something to do with his pact(s) with the Devil. And his long-winded nickname is cute but unwarranted. Most of America already knew what a disastrous Veep choice Mama Grizzly was, without having read that piece-of-shit-which-shall-remain-nameless or watching the HBO movie.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fatal Attraction: Mitt's Mephisto Waltz With Donald Trump

ARE THERE ANY DEPTHS TO WHICH MITT ROMNEY WON'T SINK? The answer is NO, even if the temps might only be tolerable with the special *magic underwear* shield. For anyone who didn't follow Trump on CNN with Wolf Blitzer, George Will referred to him as a "bloviating ignoramus" while our favorite conservative, David Frum, tweeted this:

Nice turn of phrase from David (and good thing I'm not having pasta for dinner): "That was a big steaming plate of shit spaghetti Trump just deposited on CNN for his supposed friend Romney." Eww! Agree with David that Trump is still smarting over his utter humiliation by President Obama at the 2011 Washington Correspondents' Dinner. President Obama's roasting of Trump will endure; Trump's clownishness will not. And the Donald!

The hilarious Chris Matthews weighed in with this exchange with the Huff Post's Howard Fineman:
FINEMAN: "I don't think Mitt Romney could get rid of Donald Trump if he wanted to, because there'd be  risks in doing that, in that you don't know how Donald Trump will respond when cornered ... and of course Romney's not the kind of guy to take that risk ... If Romney were, by some stretch of the imagination, to say to Donald Trump — "I don't want anything to do with you anymore!" — imagine what Donald Trump would do next ... It could be very very interesting. And Romney doesn't know what that is ..."

MATTHEWS: "I know, there could be a DEAD RABBIT on the lawn ... that might be: "I will not be ignored!" — I think we saw that when Michael Douglas tried that once in Fatal Attraction." [Um ... it was Glen Close, Chris, but close enough. Their disheveled hair has similarities, and one could easily imagine Donald Trump as a raging, psychotic, clingy FEMME. No REAL man has hair like that.]
Will Mitt Romney's HOOK-UP with Donald Trump hurt him? YOU BETCHA. Being the Donald's BITCH — however high-priced the magic Mittens — is not the place to be ... politically.

All You Need To Know About Syria Strongman Bashar Assad

THE ONLY QUESTION IS: HOW MANY MORE MASSACRES OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN must occur before the international community takes military action, rather than pointless symbolic acts, to remove this monster from power? Comes a time when enough is enough.

Paul Ryan's *Magic Asterisks*: Krugman Nails GOP Fiscal Phonies

AMERICA'S SMARTEST ECONOMIST, PAUL KRUGMAN, COINS THE PERFECT term for the Ryan 'Budget': "[O]nce you strip out Mr. Ryan’s “magic asterisks” — claims that he will somehow increase revenues and cut spending in ways that he refuses to specify — what you’re left with are plans that would increase, not reduce, federal debt." (According to Lady Alex, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have genuine affection for each other; I don't know how she can tell, but to ascribe such emotions to the Romney-Ryan relationship, considering the savagery of the Ryan budget toward the poor, the aged sick, and children, is beyond really REALLY GROSS.)

Krugman continues, taking on the BOFFO of GOP governors, Chris Christie:
The same can be said of Mitt Romney, who claims that he will balance the budget but whose actual proposals consist mainly of huge tax cuts (for corporations and the wealthy, of course) plus a promise not to cut defense spending.

Both Mr. Ryan and Mr. Romney, then, are fake deficit hawks. And the evidence for their fakery isn’t just their bad arithmetic; it’s the fact that for all their alleged deep concern over budget gaps, that concern isn’t sufficient to induce them to give up anything — anything at all — that they and their financial backers want. They’re willing to snatch food from the mouths of babes (literally, via cuts in crucial nutritional aid programs), but that’s a positive from their point of view — the social safety net, says Mr. Ryan, should not become “a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency.” Maintaining low taxes on profits and capital gains, and indeed cutting those taxes further, are, however, sacrosanct.

Yet Mr. Christie has been adamant that New Jersey is on the way back, and that this makes room for, you guessed it, tax cuts that would disproportionately benefit the wealthy.

Last week reality hit: David Rosen, the state’s independent, nonpartisan budget analyst, told legislators that the state faces a $1.3 billion shortfall. How did the governor respond?

First, by attacking the messenger. According to Mr. Christie, Mr. Rosen — a veteran public servant whose office usually makes more accurate budget forecasts than the state’s governor — is “the Dr. Kevorkian of the numbers.” Civility!

By the way, even Mr. Christie’s own officials are predicting a major budget shortfall, just not quite as big. And the two big credit-rating agencies, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, have recently issued warnings about New Jersey’s budget situation, which S.& P. called “structurally unbalanced” because of the governor’s optimistic revenue assumptions.

New Jersey, then, is still in dire fiscal shape. So is our tough-talking governor willing to reconsider his pet tax cut? Fuhgeddaboudit. Instead, he wants to fill the hole with one-shot budget gimmicks, including reneging on a promise to reduce borrowing for transportation investment and diverting funds from clean-energy programs. So much for fiscal responsibility.
 The solution is very straightforward: We need one-party government in this country, at least for the next eight years. That means those who are eligible to vote, especially the millions of Americans who would otherwise vote Democratic but never in their lives bothered to exercise the sacred franchise of citizenship must turn out this November, in a great wave, to sweep the Republican Party from existence. They must hand the Democratic Party control of the White House and both houses, including a filibuster-proof Senate which can reform the filibuster back to simple majority democratic rule; which means a 50 + 1 requirement to pass laws.

We need to return the Supreme Court to the people through the appointments attrition that will give a Democrat in the White House the opportunity to return a majority swing SCOTUS vote to the people. Finally, we need a constitutional amendment to outlaw Citizens United and eliminate by constitutional fiat the untrammeled influence of corporations over our institutions by removing corporate money from politics. We need to restore the power of Justice and our oversight agencies, like the SEC and the EPA, to conduct criminal investigations and punish the criminals on Wall Street and the corporate world. We need to see a perp walk.

No, we do not advocate a one-party state. But the state of our democracy is so imperiled by the corporate oligarchy and its political arm, the Republican Party, that the only solution which would right this ship of state, short of Thomas Jefferson's violent revolution, is to hand the reins of total political governing power to the only party which, though imperfect, has tried to govern responsibly in the national interest. When the Republican Party deliberately undermines our economic recovery from Republican-created depression in the interests of crony capitalism and globalized corporate profits, there is only one word that best describes this: TREASON.

Whether we choose to call them Paul Krugman's "Manchurian Candidates" or accept self-described RINO (Republican in name only) Alan Simpson's (of Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction notoriety) repudiation of his party, it ultimately boils down to the same thing. If the republic is to survive, this Republican Party must be destroyed at the polls, by the people. Cut out the cancer. It's the only way it can reconstitute itself as a responsible governing political institution.

Elections are great safety valves to exercise the will of the people. Will it, as expressed in poll after poll, happen? Given the extent of ignorance and corporate PAC-induced cynicism in the electorate, probably, tragically, not. Yet predictions of generational minority extremist Republican rule over lemmings savaged by growing hunger, income inequality, and a shredded safety net, are not the likely alternative. Unless We, The People participate, sadly there will be violence.* History is quite clear on this score. Something's got to give.

*PS. — I'm not advocating violence; this is an opinion based on historical verities. In fact, every time the Republicans make absurd comparisons between the U.S. and Greece they are, in effect, predicting violence in the streets. If it happens they'll have a ready-made talking point: We've become Greece. Inevitably, it will be an excuse for further crackdowns on our constitutional rights, such as the right to vote. (Oh wait ... that crackdown is already happening!)

Monday, May 28, 2012

On This Memorial Day: Two Heartbreaking Iconic Images of Grief And Redemption

From Lily Burana, author of I Love a Man in Uniform: A Memoir of Love War and Other Battles (Weinstein Books). Her husband, a former soldier, is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Taken by the photographer Todd Heisler from his 2005 award-winning series for The Rocky Mountain News, “Jim Comes Home” — which documents the return and burial of Second Lt. Jim Cathey of the Marines, who lost his life in Iraq — the photo shows his pregnant widow, Katherine, lying on an air mattress in front of his coffin. She’s staring at her laptop, listening to songs that remind her of Jim. Her expression is vacant, her grief almost palpable. 

It is the one and only photo that makes me cry each time I see it. What brings the tears to my eyes is not just the bereaved young woman, but the Marine who stands behind her. In an earlier photo in the series, we see him building her a little nest of blankets on the air mattress. Sweet Lord, I cry just typing the words, the matter-of-fact tenderness is so overwhelming. So soldierly. But in this photo — the one that lives on and on online — he merely stands next to the coffin, watching over her. It is impossible to be unmoved by the juxtaposition of the eternal stone-faced warrior and the disheveled modern military wife-turned-widow, him rigid in his dress uniform, her on the floor in her blanket nest, wearing glasses and a baggy T-shirt, him nearly concealed by shadow while the pale blue light from the computer screen illuminates her like God’s own grace. 
This photo was taken at the funeral of Petty Officer 1st Class Jon Tumilson, killed in Afghanistan. The photo shows Tumilson’s loyal dog Hawkeye lying by the soldier’s casket where he refused to leave. On top of the casket sat a framed photo of Tumilson, posing with Hawkeye during happier times. The photo was taken by Tumilson’s cousin, Lisa Pembleton, who wrote that she “felt compelled to take one photo to share with family members that couldn’t make it or couldn’t see what I could from the aisle.”