Jeenyuss Programming

It’s official. MSNBC is sinking.

You may have heard about the network’s struggles with ratings and its attempt to fix things. One of those fixes appeared today for his two-hour slot beginning at noon central time: “MSNBC Live With Thomas Roberts.”

Now, before he was jockeying to have his own show, I saw Roberts guest-host on MSNBC in the morning and afternoon a few times and he could be quite good, in terms of asking guests tough questions. Then he moved to “Way Too Early” at 4:30am and began appearing regularly on “Morning Joe” and, before you knew it, what edginess he had was gone, and he was transformed into a harmless, almost fluffy, corporate-safe talking head.

Today, to end his brand-new show, Roberts had on, uh, Donald Trump. I knew, as I heard Trump introduced, that MSNBC, long the home of some decent progressive-leaning programming, was on its way into the crapper of corporate nothingness.

The real hook for having Trump on the show was—and I shit you not—to celebrate his “genius.” Yes. That’s right. MSNBC is part of something the 92nd Street Y in New York is doing called “Seven Days of Genius.” The network says:

As marquee media partner of the 92nd Street Y’s second annual 7 Days of Genius festival, msnbc [sic] will showcase on-air and online conversations with well-known personalities on the qualities that define “Genius,” and who and what has inspired them throughout their careers.

It turns out that there is a survey of Americans associated with this nonsense. And all you have to know to know how dumb an idea this survey is, or how dumb the surveyed are, is found in this headline and subheadline from Fast Company:

Americans Think Geniuses Are Men: Inside Our Contradictory Attitudes On Brilliance

More people think Donald Trump is a genius than Bill Clinton. And 15% of people think that they are a genius themselves.

Roberts, during his interview with Trump, actually took seriously the idea that this jeenyuss was seriously thinking about running for president. And then he actually asked him how he felt about being rated higher on the genius scale than both Hillary and Bill Clinton. And Trump said it was great, that he wanted to be higher on the list. He said he always wanted to be ranked up there with Albert Einstein.

Yes. He said it. He actually wants to be in the same conversation with Albert Bleeping Einstein. And worse than that, Thomas Roberts didn’t crack up laughing when he said it.

Goodbye, MSNBC. I think I’ll wait until the evening to tune in from now on.


“Jus Niggaz Bein Niggaz”

Last night, while watching a segment on “All In With Chris Hayes,” I heard a reference to Nat Turner.

Now, these days, you don’t often hear references to the slave Nat Turner, so a little history is in order before we get to the reason his name was invoked on MSNBC last night.

Nat Turner—the surname being the name of his owner—was born in 1800. He became a religious zealot, who believed, essentially, that God had put it upon him to lead an uprising against slave-owners, starting in Virginia. His rebellion, which began on August 21, 1831, lasted no more than 48 hours, and resulted in (the estimates are problematic) the brutal deaths of 55 to 65 white folks, including women, the brutality, presumably, meant to “strike terror and alarm,” as one newspaper reported at the time.

When the slave-loving establishment was finished with its form of justice, an estimated 100 to 200 blacks were dead, including some who were executed by the state for allegedly being part of Turner’s rebellion and some, including some who had nothing to do with the revolt, who were summarily killed by reactionary white mobs with guns, affectionately known as militias. As Wikipedia put it:

Blacks suspected of participating in the rebellion were beheaded by the militia. “Their severed heads were mounted on poles at crossroads as a grisly form of intimidation.”

Turner was eventually caught and tried for his ill-conceived rebellion. He was quickly strung up and killed, his dead body then flayed and ripped apart like an animal. As American put it:

His skin was made into a purse, his flesh turned to grease, his bones divvied up as souvenirs. His head was permanently separated from his body and made the rounds as a curio, reportedly spending much of the twentieth century at the College of Wooster, in Ohio.

Nice. Good Christian Justice.

I said all that to say this: since Nat Turner’s rebellion there has been a fear among many whites, sometimes open and sometimes not, that there is a sort of unruly animal spirit residing in black folks that is just waiting to rebel at even the slightest provocation, just waiting to get even with whites for the sin of slavery, for the disgrace of systematic and ongoing oppression.

Enter Fox’s Bill O’Reilly.

Billo was in typical form on Tuesday night, commenting on the George Zimmerman murder trial (which I have watched fairly religiously and about which I will likely have something to offer, if I can stomach writing about it).

Naturally, O’Reilly claims, journalists are responsible for distorting racial issues and for causing “racial division.” He cited a Rasmussen poll that purported to show that more than one-third of Americans—including almost one-third of blacks!—believe that blacks are the most racist group in America (one-half of the conservatives and one-half of Republicans surveyed believe most blacks are racist). He then, also following form, predicted:

If George Zimmerman is acquitted, there will be racial animus.

By “racial animus,” of course, Billo means Niggas Gone Wild. Blacks, being filled with the spirit of Nat Turner, ain’t gonna tolerate Zimmerman getting away with shooting to death an unarmed black teenager for the crime of being, among other things, a suspicious-looking black kid.

To be fair to the unfair Bill O’Reilly, he’s not the only one sounding the Nat Turner alarm. In Florida, the Broward County Sheriff’s Department “has coordinated a response plan in anticipation of the verdict.” The response includes the enlisting of “basketball star James Jones of the championship Miami Heat.” This is James Jones:

As you can see, Mr. Jones is well-qualified to urge certain pigmented “young people not to let their emotions get the best of them.”

This is the Sheriff of Broward County:

Scott J. Israel

As you can see, he is not necessarily well-qualified to urge certain pigmented “young people not to let their emotions get the best of them.”

The Blaze, founded by Glenn Beck, is no stranger to racial issues. It weighed in recently with an article with this header:


The article consisted of stupid tweets from stupid people promising to do something violent in retaliation for an acquittal. Here was just one example among many:

Trayvon Martin Fans Tweet Death Threats If George Zimmerman Is Found Not Guilty

You get the point.

Naturally, a Glenn Beck-inspired outlet is going to document and promote such trash because doing so, predictably, results in a robust expression of the white angst that fuels so much of the subtle racism that flows through parts of conservative White America. Here is a sample of the nearly 700 responses the article received:

  • some of those tweets sound a little similar to the reports of what martin was saying the night he was shot. didn’t work out so well for him, but hey…
  • Well one more reason to own a gun and have a CCW permit. My father always said this country was ripe for a civil war of blacks vs whites and he would not live to see it. My father dies in 2011 […]
  • The apes are throwing threats again what a surprise. All I can say is BRING IT BITCHES I have some lead pie filling for ya.
  • Wow, who knew Obama had so many “sons”?????
  • Negroes are all judging Trayvon based on the color of his skin, while ignoring the content of his character. It’s sad that 95% of negroes are racist.
  • Truth be told, the WORST racists in this country are blacks….taught to be that way by the constant divisive BS pounded into them by the democrats. I figured that out when I worked at Ford in the Detroit area for 32 years.
  • It is crazy, sick, destructive and evil and it emanates from the Oval Office “design team”. Maybe martial law enacted just prior to the 2016 election………
  • You have to recall that these are the descendants of the ex-slaves that missed the free boat ride to return to Africa and they are still angry.
  • Let them try. I’m not worried about these creatures. The gun I carry is bigger and carries many more rounds than Zimmerman’s little Kel-Tec PF9. Let them try. Let them die.
  • He will be found not guilty of course and many many folks will be waiting for you boys to misbehave.
  • Ok all you afro heroes, talk your sh+t, I’ve got lots of rounds, magazines, and replacement barrels. I wonder how quick you will run when your homies bodies are being stacked like wood,eh.
  • You boys are outnumbered, even if you add the bleeding heart lib whites to help you. The race war that you yearn for won’t end the way you want so by all means let’s get this party started.
  • Civil war anyone?
  • Even these animals can see that this pig star witness is a big time failure! Hehehehehehe!
  • why aren’t these douchbags all arrested for death threats?? Come on NSA you afraid to go after them because they’re black?? As for you black punks threatening to kill a whitey, I say bring it on MF. Bring your black ass on!!
  • A Cracke_r is a person who works for a living in the hot sun herding cattle. Black MOFO’s are lazy parasites..
  • Big word from behind a computer. I am a white guy and I will be ready for that day.

As I said, that kind of stuff went on for pages and pages. Tough talk from keyboard-courageous gun-toters. But there was one particularly insightful commenter on the Blaze story, who went by the name of “BANNEDFROMCNN,” who wrote:

Jus niggaz bein niggaz.

When you think about it, that’s not much different from what Bill O’Reilly, the most popular TV conservative in America, said on Tuesday night.

Congratulations, Billo.

Margaret Thatcher, R.I.P.

She was Britain’s first and only female prime minister and served longer in that capacity than anyone in the twentieth century. If that weren’t remarkable enough, the iconic Meryl Streep portrayed her in a major movie.

On Monday morning, as the news of her death broke, on MSNBC—what some, somewhat overstating the case, call the broadcast home of American liberalism—the Iron Lady’s death brought forth mostly effusive praise of her and her accomplishments. On Morning Joe again this morning, more praise.

I confess: when I was a conservative, she was one of my heroes. Okay, my heroine.

Thus, it is only fitting that the legacy of Margaret Thatcher, as historically important as it is, deserves more than hagiographic commentary, and Chris Hayes, new to MSNBC’s evening programming, did Thatcher’s legacy justice, at least from the point of view of a thoughtful liberal, in two segments:

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Finally, as only he can do, Lawrence O’Donnell put in perspective the important relative differences between British conservatism and American conservatism, differences overlooked by those who essentially put Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the same ideological boat:

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Woodward On Hannity–UPDATED

It was bad enough that Bob Woodward, once an esteemed reporter, told a falsehood about President Obama (which everyone but the right-wing now clearly sees was a falsehood). It was even worse that he then strongly implied that someone in the White House threatened him (which, now that we can see the email in question, we know was not true).

But Thursday night Woodward made it all completely intolerable by going on Sean Hannity’s show, once again. Hannity, a man who never misses an opportunity to slander President Obama, or pour gasoline on the fire of Obama-hate that rages throughout the wing-nut right, or feed the white-man angst so prevalent in our politics, was up to the task of sullying, just by being himself, the reputation of a once-proud reporter.

On Hannity’s show, Woodward continued his claim that he was a victim of an intimidation play, by a man, Gene Sperling, who by all accounts couldn’t intimidate Pee Wee Herman. But never mind. Woodward, now a fool, was very comfortable—smiling and laughing—in the presence of one of the most despicable personalities in the history of Milky Way broadcasting.

To give you an example of the kind of shtick Hannity gets paid to do every night, and to show why any journalist with Woodward’s reputation should avoid him at all costs, I give you this: Just before the first commercial break, Woodward sat and listened to Hannity tell viewers that Ann Coulter—humanity screeching across a chalkboard—was coming on the program to help him “expose the countless other examples of how the Obama White House has obstructed the freedom of the press for more than four long years.”

Then, Hannity told viewers that his feud with congressman Keith Ellison—the first Muslim elected to Congress—was still ongoing and that he was “going to investigate his radical background,” blah, blah, blah.

I waited with some anticipation, maybe hope, that when Hannity came back from the commercial break Woodward would tell him that his appearance on Hannity’s show was all a big mistake and that he did not know what he was thinking and that, yes, Sean Hannity was certifiably nuts.

Ah, but that didn’t happen. Woodward was all smiles when Hannity came back, especially after Hannity flattered him, telling the journalist, who had earlier noted his advancing age, that he didn’t look “a day over fifty.” How sweet. How perverse.

Woodward went on to equate Fox “News” and MSNBC (“a lot of people who support Obama who just believe he can do no wrong”), a notion that is as false as his claim that Gene Sperling threatened him. There is nothing, I repeat, nothing, comparable to what Fox does every hour, every day, every week. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

I get calls and emails from people telling me I’m insane to come on your show,” he told Hannity. Those weren’t just people, Bob. Those were your friends, who were trying to save you from yourself, from perhaps your advancing age. At one point, Woodward seemed to praise Hannity’s, uh, journalistic reflexes (“you dig into things”). Oh, my.

It’s one of those times where you had to see it to believe it: a man who has had a mostly sterling career in journalism laying his credibility, his integrity, on the altar of a man who makes a titmouse look like an intellectual giant.

It was sad is what it was.


UPDATE: On Friday’s Morning Joe, Woodward once again claimed that he did not say Sperling’s email contained a threat, that others interpreted it that way. He refused to admit that he in any way suggested or implied that he was threatened. He had nothing but good things to say about Gene Sperling.

Yet both CNN and Politico, after interviewing Woodward—before the actual email in question was released—reported Woodward’s comments as suggesting he was threatened. If you watch his appearance on CNN, you can see for yourself that he wanted everyone to draw the conclusion that an attempt was made by the White House to intimidate him, something he reiterated on Sean Hannity’s show.

Woodward also continued to defend the falsehood he has been promoting, that the deal in 2011, which produced the sequester, essentially took revenue increases off the table and that President Obama was “moving the goal posts” by insisting on those increases now. Yet on Morning Joe this morning, the only one who attempted to hold Woodward accountable for his false reporting was David Axelrod. Joe Scarborough and company were in defensive mode on behalf of Woodward. That is how tribal Washington works.

Now we know that Gene Sperling’s suggestion to Woodward, that he would regret his false reporting, was prophetic.

If You Don’t Learn Anything Else About Social Security “Reform” Learn This

A frequent contributor to this blog (HL Gaskins) sent in a fantastic and informative clip from MSNBC’s The Last Word that aired last November. I am posting it here because the five-minute essay by Ezra Klein needs to be seen by anyone who gives a damn about Social Security and what it means to so many working people. And after you watch it, pass it on to others.

My parents, both gone, are the kinds of folks Klein is referencing in his piece. When I hear knuckleheads on TV and radio, fretting over the national debt or pretending they want to “save” Social Security and Medicare, saying that we ought to raise the retirement age or the Medicare eligibility age or otherwise penalize working folks for the sins of Wall Street gamblers, I think of my parents. And then I get pissed.

Fortunately, Ezra Klein expresses my outrage in a much more civilized manor:

Corporate Crybaby-Callboy

Tom Donohue, head of the U.S. Chamber of Whiners Commerce and the biggest crybaby big-bidness lobbyist in the country, was on The Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd this morning.

Naturally, Donohue was asked about Republicans’ willingness to use the debt ceiling as a negotiating tool and how that might hurt the economy. Donahoe’s biggest worry, of course, is not the economic chaos that flirting with default would bring, but it is our entitlement programs, which, he says, are soon going to consume the entire budget.

I will only post a tiny part of the interview, but before I get to it, I want to show a big, fat graphic that MSNBC put up during the segment:

corporate profits

As that— “the largest after-tax profit quarter in the nation’s history” — fires up your synapses, as you contemplate how much whining these corporate bastards have done about Obama’s allegedly bad-for-bidness policies, follow this:

CHUCK TODD: Corporate profits are up. A lot of corporations have money. Why aren’t they spending that money on creating jobs?

TOM DONOHUE: Well, they have a very serious question—and I hope you’ll do a show on this—the real cliff that’s really scaring us now is the regulatory cliff. They don’t really know how all this Obama health care is gonna go…You look at Dodd-Frank—we’ve only done 25% of the rules—you look at what’s coming out of the EPA, you look at what’s coming out of the Labor Department—

CHUCK TODD: You really believe it’s regulation that is holding business back from spending?

TOM DONOHUE: I think if I’m running a big company, I’m waiting to see what happens on taxes, I’m waiting to see what happens on spending, and I’m waiting to see what happens on the regulatory circumstances. Do I decide two fundamental things: Am I gonna hire more people, am I gonna expand, and where am I gonna do it.

It’s the same old waiting game. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. The cash is piling up, opportunities are sitting there, but corporations fear regulations, fear having to play by a set of rules that they don’t get to write all by themselves (although they are getting to help write them). Such BS. What a bunch of patriots these bidness people are.

Left out of MSNBC’s graphic on corporate profits, and unfortunately left out of Chuck Todd’s questioning, was this sobering reality, as reported by CNN:

But the record profits come at the same time that workers’ wages have fallen to their lowest-ever share of GDP.

Here is a chart to help us see both corporate profits and workers’ wages as a percentage of the economy over time:


You see that red line? That’s the Donohue line. That’s corporate profits (CP/GDP). See that declining blue line? That’s workers’ wages (WASCUR/GDP), which are going down, down, down, as corporate profits go up, up, up, and their CEOs whine, whine, whine, and wait, wait, wait, and sit, sit, sit, on unimaginably tall piles of cash.

And Tom Donohue, an overpaid corporate callboy, has the nerve to go on television and declare that entitlement spending is going to ruin the country and that,

the real cliff that’s really scaring us now is the regulatory cliff.

If that doesn’t make you chunder chunks in chagrin, nothing will.


Just a few minutes ago, I saw Steve Siebold on MSNBC.

Siebold is billed by HuffPo as “one of the world’s foremost experts in the field of critical thinking and mental toughness training.” He has also authored a book subtitled, “How Delusional Thinking is Destroying America.”  He was asked about what we should do to prevent future Sandy Hooks, and the “expert” on critical and delusional thinking said that part of the answer was, you guessed it, arming teachers.

When he was pressed on the matter, when he was asked what to do if a teacher didn’t want to go to work with a gun in tow, Siebold said that he would not want his kid in that teacher’s class. Obviously this critical thinking expert believes that a teacher’s primary classroom credential should be marksmanship not pedagogical prowess.

Siebold also indicated that college kids ought to go to school armed to protect themselves, and he didn’t seem to be sure whether 18-year-old high school kids should do the same.

Steve Siebold, by that one appearance on MSNBC, has truly demonstrated How Delusional Thinking is Destroying America.

No “Breaking News” On Fox For This One

Tagg Romney was asked by a conservative talk show host what it was like during the debate “to hear the president of the United States call your dad a liar.” A chuckling little Romney said:

Jump out of your seat and you want to rush down to the stage and take a swing at him. But you know you can’t do that because, well, first because there’s a lot of Secret Service between you and him, but also because that’s the nature of the process.

Keith Boykin, an African-American broadcaster and former aid to Bill Clinton, was on a discussion panel on MSNBC this afternoon that included Steve Deace, a conservative radio host. Boykin responded to the Tagg Romney thing this way:

This is the most privileged, pampered group of people I’ve ever seen, complaining about everything along the way…and the idea that somehow they get away with it makes no sense to me, because you know, everyone at this table, everyone on this panel knows, if by chance Barack Obama had a son, and his son was an African-American and said he wanted to take a swing at the President of the United States, there would be an uproar from Steve and the conservative media and Fox “News.” This is a double standard at its highest level.

Who can doubt that?

For his part, the conservative Deace compared Tagg Romney’s macho response to one his eleven-year old girl might give if Deace were under attack from Boykin. “In the heat of the battle, I think you cut people a little bit of slack when family’s at stake,” Deace said.

The problem is that Little Mittens is 42 bleeping years old.

Again, who can doubt that if Obama’s black son, of any age, suggested he wanted to take a swing at a President Romney, that Sean Hannity would feature a “Breaking News” segment tonight complete with that nutty Fox “News” psychiatrist—you know, the one who suggested that Joe Biden’s debate performance was attributable to “dementia”—telling us about pent-up black rage in the Obama family?


Liberal media bias? My ass.

Donny Deutsch—a regular guest on MSNBC’s non-liberal morning show, a guest who adds exactly nothing of substance to any discussion—said this morning that Romney’s “47% blunder” can be turned into a winner, if Romney will only “draw the harsh line” and say,

“You know what…maybe I didnt’ say it eloquently. The sentiment is right; this is an entitle [sic] country; it’s a weak country, and things have gotta change.” You take up the rage factor. I think there’s something there, I really do.

Yeah, Donny. That’s what Romney needs is more rage. That’ll get him those few undecided votes left.

But it wasn’t Deutsch’s stupidity that appalled me this morning. It was Joe Scarborough’s reply to it:

I really do, too. And Ronald Reagan, if he were around right now…Margaret Thatcher, other conservatives, would use this—and be optimistic about it; he’s been pessimistic about it—but would use this to say, “Listen, we’re getting to a point where one out of two Americans don’t pay income taxes, don’t contribute to the federal government, don’t contribute to schools, don’t contribute…”

Not one person on the weak panel, including Mika Brzezinski, who spends most of the show in silence in the face of such outrageous claims made by right-wingers, bothered to remind Morning Joe that he was an ignorant fool, that almost all Americans, and certainly all working Americans, do contribute to the national well-being, and most of them contribute a higher percentage of their resources than Mitt Romney, and, dare I say it, Joe Bleeping Scarborough.

As I said, liberal media bias my ass.

For the gazillionth time, here are the facts:

It’s true that some Americans don’t pay federal income tax. But virtually all Americans pay some form of tax, whether it’s sales, payroll, state income, or property tax.

Over 60% of those who don’t pay income tax are working; they pay payroll tax, which goes to support Social Security and Medicare. Another 22% of those who don’t pay income tax are the elderly; most of them don’t work.

In fact, only about 8% of Americans pay neither federal income tax nor payroll tax, because they are unemployed, are students, or are disabled.

What is missing from all this talk about tax is the fact that although the rich pay higher taxes than the poor, middle-class people actually pay a higher percentage of their income in total taxes. True, federal income tax rates are progressive, with rates going to 35% for the top earners. But deductions and special treatment of capital gains reduce actual tax rates for the top earners. So what we end up with is upper-middle-class taxpayers paying the highest actual percentage of their income, over 31%, according to a 2010 study by the group Citizens for Tax Justice.*

And finally, from the same article:

Digging deeper into why 47% don’t pay federal income tax, what we find are many former taxpayers: Twenty-two percent are the elderly, living mostly on Social Security, a benefit they got by working and paying payroll taxes. Others are unemployed or are paid close to the minimum wage, so they don’t have enough income to file any taxes.

What about Romney’s claim that these people believe they have a right to government assistance? Our research shows that over 50% of older people looking for work (but who are too young to collect Social Security) do not receive unemployment insurance or any other government assistance. They are living close to the poverty line with no help other than family.

Far fewer poor Americans get government assistance for low incomes. For the last 30 years, less than 4% of the U.S. population has received a full year’s worth of payments, like food stamps, which are based on level of income.

Romney can choose whom he cares about, but he can’t be allowed to choose his own facts and distort reality in service of divisive politics. Focusing exclusively on federal income taxes hides the fact that most Americans pay plenty of other taxes.

Finally, Romney says that the 47% can’t be convinced to take “personal responsibility.” Tell that to the single mother working the night shift to put her kids through school, or the 78-year-old widow living on Social Security, or the handicapped Iraqi war veteran who relies on government health care for his service to his country. Along with millions of working Americans, they are paragons of personal responsibility, not Romney’s caricature of self-pitying victims seeking to live off government benefits.


* I add the following, from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

When all federal, state, and local taxes are taken into account, the bottom fifth of households pays about 16 percent of their incomes in taxes, on average.  The second-poorest fifth pays about 21 percent.[8]

Lazy Journalism

Nothing angers me more than lazy journalists, like the kind I heard on MSNBC’s Morning Joe this morning discussing the state of our national politics.

The easiest thing in the world is to say about what is happening what Mike Barnicle said this morning:

There’s no certainty in this country as to what’s gonna happen to my children. We are now living in a country, where—because of the way this campaign is being waged on both sides—where too many people no longer can afford to dream, and that’s a huge hole in the American fabric. A huge hole.

The huge hole, of course, is in Barnicle’s careless, almost comatose, analysis. If he built his journalistic career on such sloppy, inattentive thinking he has been one lucky guy.

The uncertainty in the country belongs squarely on the Republican Party, whose leaders from the beginning of Obama’s term decided that the best political course for them to follow was to create as much uncertainty and cultural angst as possible. There is simply no disputing that.

And the Romney presidential campaign is following that myopic political script written after the 2008 election by trying to capitalize on the almost complete Republican obstruction of the Democrat’s attempt to fix the massive economic problems left to them by years of governance according to Republican Party principles.

On that note, today’s Joplin Globe editorial played the same kind of game that Mike Barnicle was playing on television this morning. Oh, the piece, titled, “Stop pointing fingers,” started out just fine:

In 2001, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that the federal government would collect surplus funds in the amount of $5.6 trillion during the period 2002 through 2011.

Instead, we incurred a deficit of $6.1 trillion resulting in a gross loss in federal revenues during that period of time in the amount of $11.7 trillion. The question, of course, is why such a miscalculation occurred.

Well, that is certainly one question. But another one would be, who was responsible for the reversal from surpluses to deficits? Huh?

On the way to answering its question, the Globe cited some studies by the CBO, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Government, and the Pew Fiscal Analysis Initiative, all of which came up “with the same answers”:

 • The overall weakened economy was the primary cause. Growth for the entire period was predicted to be 3 percent. But from 2002 through 2007, growth was only 2.6 percent. Then during the period 2008 through 2011, growth was only an average of 0.2 percent. This overall lower-than-expected growth caused a 27 percent drop in federal revenue expectations during those years.

• The second highest cause was a 13 percent drop in federal revenues caused by enactment and continuation of all the Bush-era tax cuts, amounting to a 13 percent drop in federal revenues. Other smaller contributors were the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, increases in discretionary spending, defense spending increases not related to wars, the Obama stimulus, and the 2010 tax cuts.

Now, a fair-minded person, upon discovering that the Republican Party was in charge of both houses of Congress and the White House during most of the time the country’s economy was in decline and collapsing and when the path toward massive deficits was first being cleared of surplus brush, would naturally blame the Republicans for most of the mess. Right?

Except that the Joplin Globe editorialist, shielding Republicans from the blame they deserve, had a better idea:

It seems rather naive to be arguing about which party alone caused today’s American economic problems. Again, they both did so big time by cutting federal revenues as shown above, yet continuing to spend at historically high levels.

“Both sides” are apparently equally responsible, it turns out, despite the facts cited in the piece and despite what is plainly clear to anyone paying attention.

All of this, from Mike Barnicle’s dumb statements this morning to the Joplin Globe’s dumb editorial conclusion, serves the right-wing reactionary Republican Party very well, as it requires very little thought to simply assert that both parties are equally guilty, that both parties are equally to blame for the mess we’re in, and therefore the economic philosophy that brought us to our knees can be tried again.

Pat Buchanan Will Have To Find Another Enabler

MSNBC has given Pat Buchanan the left foot of fellowship, finally.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind Mr. Buchanan appearing on MSNBC as a guest, as a spokesman for the reactionaries in our society, where he can be properly confronted.  But he shouldn’t be paid by a reputable network, particularly one that is trying to attract rational, reality-based viewers.  My guess is he will end up on Fox “News,” where he will feel right at home with a commentator who feels comfortable enough on god-awful “Fox and Friends” to tell a black congresswoman to “step away from the crack pipe.”

Buchanan’s affection for a white-dominated culture is obviously shared by a lot of American whites. His belief that diversity is not a strength but a weakness is also popular among a narrower swath of folks with pale faces.  His conviction that homosexual acts are “unnatural and immoral” is standard stuff for evangelicals, fundamentalists, and conservative Catholics.

But most people, I believe, prefer to see sponsored the idea that our country is, in the words of none other than Ronald Reagan,

the one spot on earth where we have the brotherhood of man.

Fittingly, Buchanan’s commentary on the dismissal was defiant, calling some of his critics’ demands “un-American” and referring to them as “blacklisters” and “thought police.”  He also accused them of “demanding that my voice be silenced,” and seeking “systematically to silence and censor dissent.”

That’s kind of odd, since nobody I know of is demanding that he be silenced at all—he certainly remains free to write and speak all he wants, as well as sign a contract with Fox or even CNN.  The point is a news network is not obligated to pay him to promote views that are not only increasingly disdainful of an evolving America, but grossly offensive to a large number of Americans.

So, is anyone trying to “silence” him? No. But compensating him for espousing such views has become unseemly, much like it would be unseemly to compensate someone for, say, arguing that American women should remain barefoot and pregnant.  As outrageous as that sounds, it is no more outrageous than many of Buchanan’s views on our diverse culture.

Finally, I don’t know any employer in America that is duty-bound to keep paying a person no matter what he says or does.  MSNBC is a commercial enterprise.  And if a large number of its viewers no longer want the network to subsidize Buchanan’s reactionary message, it is making at the very least a business decision.

But I, for one, would like to see him back as an occasional guest, where the MSNBC host would not feel obligated to pretend that his views were in the mainstream, or politely ignore some of his most outrageous assertions.  That way his views could be aggressively challenged, without the blessing of a paycheck.

Is Romney Different From You And Me?

I don’t often highlight Chris Matthews’ work, but I mentioned earlier John Sununu’s recent fight with journalists and Matthews was one of those journalists.

Appearing Tuesday night on MSNBC, after the Romney victory, Sununu was battling everyone in sight, but I especially liked the following clip, which demonstrates how difficult it will be for Mitt to portray himself as just a normal, middle-class guy:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Does MSNBC Live In Fear?

The controversy over the Romney phrase, “Keep America American,” caused MSNBC, which essentially made the issue national after a liberal blog mentioned it, to apologize last week.  I want to reproduce a comment I received on this blog for a post I made on the issue:

To compare a legitimate GOP candidate for high office to the KKK is obnoxious race baiting in my view. I know of NOTHING in Mitt’s background that aligns him with ANYTHING the KKK might espouse. I would say the same for every GOP candidate for the GOP nomination as well.

Now, if one actually reads what I posted, one cannot conclude that I compared “a legitimate GOP candidate for high office to the KKK.” In fact, I went out of my way not to:

A campaign video with the phrase, which no one seriously believes Romney knew was tied to the KKK, appeared last year, and Mr. Romney was quoted in The Los Angeles Times recently as saying…

Which no one seriously believes Romney knew was tied to the KKK.”  I don’t know how I could have been clearer than that. What I did do, though, was rebuke Romney for his efforts to,

tap into the weird angst out there coming from folks who write for sites like The New American (Thomas Sowell, who regularly appears in the Joplin Globe, has his name on the site’s front page), which yesterday tried to connect Obama’s Osawatomie speech to—I’m not making this up—Ho Chi Minh, the former Vietnamese communist leader.

As for MSNBC’s very brief apology, it is not clear to me what the network is apologizing for. Thomas Roberts reportedly said this on air originally:

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. The Progressive American blog was the first to catch on to that.

Later in the day, Chris Matthews said the story was “irresponsible and incendiary” and “showed an appalling lack of judgment.”  But he didn’t explain how.

Now, if MSNBC has anything to apologize for, it is the use of a chyron that ran with the short story that read: “Romney’s KKK slogan?” If MSNBC had apologized for that Fox-like tactic, I would have been the first to congratulate the network. MSNBC shouldn’t stoop so low as Fox “News” does by placing provocative but misleading messages on the screen without explaining the context of those messages. That is a Fox speciality. But imitating Fox is not what MSNBC apologized for. 

Or, I would congratulate MSNBC if it had apologized for not digging deeper into the story and showing that Romney has tried to have it both ways by pretending to be a nice guy by not calling Obama names like “socialist,” but then saying things like this:

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…

Yes, I suppose MSNBC should have apologized for not pointing out, in the context of the “keep America American” phrase controversy (or, as the Romney campaign would have it, the “keep America America” phrase controversy), Mitt’s appeal to the baser instincts of xenophobic Americans by his use of such language, but, again, that’s not what the network apologized for. 

Essentially, MSNBC apologized for just bringing the matter up.

I want to quote Paul Waldman at The American Prospect , who points out a depressing fact about the so-called liberal media:

While it’s often said that MSNBC has moved to become the left’s version of Fox News, try for a moment to imagine Fox apologizing to a Democratic candidate for some incendiary rhetoric that found its way onto their air. Ha! Far worse things are said about Barack Obama every day on Fox—hell, every hour—and if you were to charge them with conservative bias, their response would essentially be to tell you where you can cram it. The point isn’t that MSNBC isn’t trying to appeal to a liberal audience, because they are. Nevertheless, they still obviously live in fear: fear of being criticized, fear of being called biased, fear of having their professionalism called into question. They may have a bunch of liberal on-air personalities, but they still plainly believe in the idea of objective journalism, even if that belief can manifest itself in things like craven apologies to Republican campaigns when they didn’t actually do anything wrong.


A Voice In The Wilderness


I wrote a piece this morning about the mainstream media’s “both sides are to blame” reflexes over the supercommittee failure. Lo and behold, up pops Gene Sperling from the Obama Administration taking on one of the Beltway’s most prominent journalists, MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell:

Andrea, you know, sometimes you gotta just call it. You can’t just sit there and say, as you said…”Why aren’t both sides moving?” Democrats did move. Democrats since the spring have been willing to take on some of the most difficult entitlement issues. They’ve been willing to put Medicare and Medicaid savings on the table. The President did over the summer. You know that—everyone knows that.

What didn’t happen this year was that Republicans never were willing to come to the table—for a political pledge that has nothing to do with what is needed for our country, to bring down our deficit, get debt sustainability in a way that meet our values.

And you simply need two to tango; you need two to compromise. And right now the single thing that is holding us up is the refusal of too many Republicans to come to that table and compromise, when Democrats have been sitting their waiting.

And you have to at time be willing to assign fault where it exists and not simply say, “It’s al equal.” It’s not all equal.

Take that, Beltway media. Get the story right.

“Both Sides” Are Not To Blame

The worst thing about the failure of the supercommittee to reach an agreement is not their failure to reach an agreement but the failure of the media to emphasize just why the effort failed: Republican intransigence on the tax issue, particularly their refusal to raise taxes even a teensy-weensy bit on America’s wealthy elite.

The kind of misleadingly even-handed reporting associated with this issue will simply lead to more gridlock and dysfunction. (Let’s forget about Fox “News,” which for the most part blames Democrats for the failure.)

Oh, I know you think you have heard the truth about Republicans’ intransigence reported in the mainstream press, but it is almost always accompanied by something like this: Democrats have refused to budge on entitlements. That sort of negates the first point, doesn’t it? It’s the media’s reflexive “both sides are guilty” reporting. It’s the failure of generic “Washington” or the failure of a bipartisan “Congress” to come to an agreement, not the failure of the GOP to break its pledge to Grover Norquist.

I heard on Morning Joe this morning a man disguised as a Democrat—former congressman Harold Ford, Jr.—say this, as the opening shot on the segment discussing the failure:

This is two times since August, since summer, that Congress was presented with a chance to do its job and it failed—both parties.

“Both parties.” That’s the media mantra.

Here, read this paragraph from a CNN story on the failure:

Democrats have blasted Republicans for not being more receptive to higher taxes on the wealthy, while Republicans insist Democrats are unwilling to make necessary spending cuts to popular domestic programs.

That’s pretty much the way the thing has been reported, even though President Obama and the Democrats did offer significant entitlement cuts in the ambitious “grand bargain” the President was negotiating with Speaker John Boehner this summer.  Republicans just wouldn’t budge on tax increases for the super-rich. But the mess gets reported as a they-said, they-said story. 

Television news, especially cable news, is particularly eager to report on the propaganda wars between spinners in the two parties. It’s the easiest and cheapest kind of journalism to do: get a couple reps from each party and let them do their thing on camera.

What makes this kind of journalism so worrisome is that reporting on the propaganda wars between the two sides rather than putting out the facts that led to the failure will lead to even more of the same kind of failure after next election. People who don’t pay all that much attention need to be informed, or they will continue to vote blindly.

On Saturday, as the supercommittee failure was eminent, Dana Milbank was on MSNBC saying things like this:

The public is gonna blame everybody.

To the extent that’s true, it’s because Beltway commentators like Dana Milbank don’t make it absolutely clear every time they move their lips in front of a television camera that it is not “everybody’s” fault.  Milbank said on Saturday something I have heard much too often on cable news:

Hopefully, somebody at some point will grow up around here.

Except that it’s been clear to those of us paying close attention just who the grownups have been in this process. But instead of placing the blame where it belongs, we are treated to things like this:

Here’s a message to Washington politicians: duck.

Your failure is now complete. You were faced with a generational challenge to save Americans from the type of collapse European countries are now facing and you blinked. Actually, you did worse…

Watching them all trot their tired lines out on the Sunday talk shows made me sick. Democrats were blabbing on about hiking taxes and Republicans were prattling on about slashing spending. Both were accusing the other side of intransigence while standing in a block of ideological cement.

That was an excerpt from an op-ed piece in Politico written by MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and read on Morning Joe this morning. And that sentiment pretty much represents the disgust many people feel.  But think about it for a minute: even if Democrats were “standing in a block of ideological cement” in protecting the working class and the poor from severe budget austerity, is that on a moral par with Republicans’ ideological devotion to keeping taxes low on the wealthiest Americans, who have been thriving for the past thirty years? Huh?

Do Democrats, even in the worst case scenario, deserve to be painted with the same moral brush as no-tax-increase ideologues in the Republican Party?

Yet Scarborough, a conservative Republican working inside that fortress of liberalism, MSNBC, wrote:

Our leaders are unworthy of our trust. They have no moral authority to lead. The President is weak and not up to the task of running the White House. Congress is even worse, with an approval rating mired in single digits. If the cavalry is coming, it better ride in from the west quick. We’re in a hell of a mess and thanks to Washington’s bumbling, I fear it is all going to get much worse.

Neither side, in Scarborough’s estimation, has the moral authority to lead. You see? That’s how it works these days in the “news” business. Both sides are to blame, both sides are equally guilty, both sides deserve our condemnation.

Scarborough is right about one thing. With that kind of sentiment permeating the airwaves, things will get much worse because too many ignorant people will keep voting for conservative Republicans.

Graphic Angst

A graph lover at heart, I culled some graphs from MSNBC to help explain (once again) the social angst around the country, including part of the angst at the heart of the Occupy Wall Street movement (other than the direct outrage over what the banksters have done), which surprisingly has now visited Pittsburg, Kansas, a mere 30 miles from Joplin:

Notice how the trend line for the top 1% begins to rise during the Reagan 1980s, but really takes off after the 1993 tax increases under Clinton. What does that say about the relationship of taxes with the so-called “job creators”?

Now let’s look at median incomes since the year 2000:

As you can see, median income declined during the recession in the early 2000s and then came back somewhat during the subsequent recovery, but then fell precipitously during the Great Recession.  And there is no sign that it will return to its pre-Great Recession level, not to mention the level before the recession of 2001.

But what about the upper income groups?  Let’s look at the top 10% of income earners since WWI: 

As you can see, the top 10% is doing pretty well. They account for 50% of all national income.  Again, notice that from post WWII through the late 1970s, the percentage of their income hovered around 35% of the total. Then during the age of Reagan they began to earn a larger share of the income, even under those so-called punitive tax rates passed in 1993, which Republicans repealed under Bush.

Let’s turn to the crème de la crème of income earners, the top .01%:

This group comprises about 15,000 people, according to Steve Rattner, who presented this graph on Morning Joe.  Rattner mentioned that the decline in 2008—from over 6% of total income to just over 5%—was due to the collapse in the stock market and has likely resumed its upward climb.  But think about it: 15,000 Americans earn between 5 and 6% of all income in a country of 309,000,000 folks.

Finally, what really explains the widespread angst across the land is found in another graph presented by Steve Rattner on Morning Joe:

Unemployment lasting a couple of months is one thing. Being out of a job for nearly a year is another.  And among young folks, the percentage of 16-to-24-year-olds who are working (45%) is at “the lowest level since the Labor Department began tracking the data in 1948,” the National Journal reported in July.

Put all of this together and you have Occupy Wall Street.  And you have members of one political party in Washington that, rather than address the angst in the country by working with the President to create jobs, are working among themselves to make sure Mr. Obama loses his.

Better, Worse, Or Same?

I realize that some folks need to justify their jobs sometimes, but what I saw on MSNBC this morning was taking it a little too far.

Bloomberg did a stupid poll, perhaps one of the stupidest polls in the history of polling, and, stupidly, MSNBC felt it newsworthy enough to broadcast. 

As a contest, I present two screenshots of the stupid poll: One is the real stupid poll and the other is a fake stupid poll.  To enter the contest, write your guesses on the back of a $50 bill, just under “In God We Trust,” and mail it to The Erstwhile Conservative.  Enter as many times as you wish.

Thanks and good luck!

Remarks And Asides

Still good news for President Obama in the latest of four CBS News/New York Times polls done since April of 2009 on the question of:

Most to Blame for the Condition of the Economy  

                    Now         3/2010                7/2009       4/2009

Bush                26%           28                             30             33

Wall Street     25               22                             29             21

Congress        11                10                             12             11

Obama              8                 7                                4               2

All                     7                 7                                6               7


In Minnesota, the Democratic Governor, Mark Dayton, and GOP legislators are locked in a battle over how to close the state’s $5 billion budget deficit—with progressive tax hikes or with even more big budget cuts—eerily calling to mind our larger national issue.

And as the case with our national deficit, much of it is due to a former Republican executive, in this case Tim Pawlenty.  Rather than seek another term as the state’s governor and help fix the problems he left, Pawlenty, no doubt in a spasm of selfless patriotism, is seeking to bring his governing wisdom and fiscal responsibility to Washington, where, God knows, we don’t have enough Republican experts on how to ruin the economy and undermine government.

The deadline to avoid a government shutdown in Minnesota is midnight.  Tick, tock.


President Obama continues to suffer indignity after indignity at the hands of either right-wingers—Glenn Beck  calling him a racist who hates white folks and Joe Wilson shouting “You lie!” at him during an address to Congress—or comedians—Jon Stewart addressing him as “dude” on The Daily Show—or journalists, like this morning when a big-time editor of Time magazine, Mark Halperin, called Obama a, uh, “dick” on Morning Joe.

MSNBC suspended Halperin, who is a regular on Joe Scarborough’s program and an analyst for the network.  And Halperin  apologized.

I was watching the event and I must say that I was personally offended by the fact that it was part of his wrongheaded “analysis” of yesterday’s press conference.  Halperin, who is paid handsomely to offer insightful critiques of such things, was dead wrong about Obama’s performance. 

The Time editor thought the President should not have been so rough on those mistreated Republicans and should have tried to understand John Boehner’s inability to get the votes to pass a budget deal that included tax increases and not have acted so, well, so dick-like by insisting that at least some (but not nearly enough) reality be part of the debate.

Halperin’s stunningly bad analysis was at least as offensive as the D word. 


And speaking of dicks and MSNBC, what’s up with former MSNBC star Keith Olbermann?  First he leaves MSNBC and begins another version of “Countdown” on Al Gore’s Current TV network, competing with Lawrence O’Donnell, who occupies Olbermann’s old spot on MSNBC with a show called The Last Word.

By the way, O’Donnell’s program is in many ways better than Olbermann’s original show.  O’Donnell is able to get opposition political guests on, which makes for entertaining television, and his “Rewrite” segment is often the best single segment on any cable news show.  And O’Donnell has worked in Congress, six years as an aid and senior advisor to Daniel Patrick Moynihan and a couple of years as the staff director of the Senate Finance Committee, maybe the most powerful committee in Congress.

In any case, Olbermann first tried to run his new show a little past the hour so as to cut into his former colleague Rachel Maddow’s show, but was duly criticized by his “fans,” and then apologized and pulled back to ending on the hour.  Then on Tuesday Olbermann tweeted (God, I hate that word and that method of communication) the latest ratings for O’Donnell, which dropped 12% in correlation with the debut of Olbermann’s new show (whose viewership is less than half of O’Donnell’s).

Jeeze, I used to like Olbermann, but this kind of behavior is so petty and so unnecessary.  With all the right-wing nuttery out there, one would think Olbermann would spend every single minute of his time taking care of that business rather than trying to embarrass fellow liberals.


Finally, Glenn Beck’s last show is tonight, in case you want to find out how the world ends.  After many episodes of leading us to believe that our demise is near, surely tonight we will have the demented denouement.

Prediction: There will be plenty of references to his “new” gig away from Fox, just in case Obama doesn’t destroy the country anytime soon.

Sabotaging The Economy: Cynicism Or Reality?

The opening segment of last night’s The Rachel Maddow Show was over sixteen minutes long.  It was one of those rare moments in cable television in which a lot was said that needed to be said and it was said by two very smart liberal commentators, St. Rachel and Chris Hayes, Washington editor of The Nation magazine.

The segment chronicled only some of the outrageous Republican hypocrisy evident since the Age of Obama.  We’re talking about policies that Republicans supported until they discovered that President Obama supported them too, including:

Pay-Go legislation, the bi-partisan deficit commission, cap and trade, the individual mandate for health insurance, trying terrorists in federal courts, raising the debt ceiling (done seven times under Bush with substantial Republican votes), a payroll tax holiday for businesses and workers, and the DREAM Act.

Toward the end of the segment, St. Rachel offered two competing explanations for such blatant and shameful duplicity: 

The nice interpretation of Republican hypocrisy:  Republicans are merely opposing things they use to support because President Obama supports them too.

The less nice interpretation of Republican hypocrisy: Republicans are opposing things they use to support because they believe those things will actually work and will improve the economy and thus improve Obama’s chances of reelection.  Therefore, they are sabotaging the economic recovery.

Chris Hayes pointed out that Republicans have,

starved the beast…they have cut taxes; now they’ve got everybody in the deficit-debt panic, and now the welfare state is in their sights…and they understand they’re gonna get one shot at it, and they also understand the only way to kill it is to get a Democratic president to do it.

Bush could not gut Social Security, couldn’t privatize Social Security…Barack Obama can. The only way to go after the big game they are hunting—which is Medicaid and Medicare—that’s the fundamental part of social insurance—is  to get a Democrat to do it.

Hayes also offered “an even more cynical interpretation” than Maddow’s suggestion that Republicans want to “take money out of the economy” at a time when the economy needs it:

HAYES: The one thing that refutes the deficit hysteria—which so benefits the Republicans in their mission to go after Medicare and Medicaid—is the fact that interest rates are at historic lows. So, you can say, “Oh, no one’s gonna lend us money,” and look out there and everyone’s lending us money at historically low rates.

What is the one thing that could screw that up?

MADDOW: Debt ceiling.

HAYES:  Exactly. A partial default, a delay in payments…all of a sudden if you had that you could point and say, “Look, the markets are panicked, the interest rates are up; we really have a debt and deficit problem.” The most cynical, the absolute most cynical interpretation of this is that they want some sort of crisis because that produces in the markets exactly the uncertainty they’ve been claiming was already there but has not manifested until now.

There you have it. A perfectly rational explanation of Republican behavior, particularly regarding the debate over the debt ceiling.

And the one thing that Republicans can do to prove wrong Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow—and top Democrats in the U.S. Senate, who have essentially suggested the same thing—is stop protecting the oil companies and the wealthiest Americans and agree to raise the debt ceiling before all economic hell breaks loose, if the Obama administration is forced to default on our debt payments.*

Here is the complete opening segment from last night’s show:

Vodpod videos no longer available.


*There is another possible out, a brief explanation of which can be found here and elsewhere. It involves invoking Section 4 of the 14th Amendment and it would be a very gutsy move by President Obama. In part it reads:

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law…shall not be questioned.

It’s just possible that Obama can ignore the fact that Congress refuses to authorize an increase in the debt ceiling and continue to pay the nation’s bills and its other obligations under the authority of this provision.  Let the fun begin!

Remarks And Asides

Senator Roy Blunt is now on record as favoring the death of Medicare. Perhaps voters won’t remember that vote by the time 2016 comes around.  I know I’ll do my part to help voters forget.


I watched MSNBC’s Ed Schultz humbly and unequivocally apologize last night for calling the insufferable Laura Ingraham a “right-wing slut” on his radio show the previous day.  He directly apologized to Ms. Ingraham, as well as MSNBC and others affected. Schultz took himself off the air, unpaid.

Can anyone imagine Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck—people Schultz is often compared to—making such an apology?


As a sure sign he wants to be a Republican presidential candidate someday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is pulling his state out of a 10-state regional greenhouse gas reduction program by the end of this year. He can now check that one off his “Get Right With GOP Jesus Checklist.” Let me see: Anti-choice? Check. Anti-gay marriage? Check. Anti-union? Check. Anti-gun laws? Uh-oh. More work to do on that one.


Speaking of GOP Jesus, there seems to be some confusion as to just who is occupying that role at the moment. Dick Cheney told the Houston Chronicle,

I worship the ground the [sic] Paul Ryan walks on.

I suppose it’s only right that Cheney has booted Jesus out of the leadership, since it’s Ryan who is now hanging on the cross of Republican politics.


There is hope for Southwest Missouri now that the race in NY-26 is over.  Like in this neck of the Ozark woods, the 26th district in New York is incorrigibly red and has put few Democrats in that seat over the last century—it was Jack Kemp’s seat for God’s sake.  But times are changing, and it’s just possible to put up a real Southwest Missouri Democrat in 2012—someone who will fight to protect our social safety net—and have at least a fighting chance against a candidate—Colonel Billy Long—who in every way supports the radical Republican agenda.


A judge in Wisconsin has struck down the anti-collective bargaining scheme passed shamelessly by Republicans in that state, who, the judge ruled, violated that state’s open meeting law.  Expecting, though, that Republicans will simply pass the law again, a spokesman for We Are Wisconsin, a pro-union group, said that Republicans,

have one last chance to abandon Walker’s rapidly-sinking ship or be held to account in the upcoming elections.

Well, they won’t abandon the ship.  It’s clear that around the country Republicans believe this is do-or-die for reactionary conservatism, and Democrats had better be up to the challenge.  A lot is at stake.


I heard Newt Gingrich address the flap over his gigantic Tiffany & Co. charge account by saying that he and his wife are “very frugal.”  Look, I believe him.  Who has extra money to spend on high-dollar jewelry with so many buffets out there waiting to be conquered?


Speaking of Georgia congressmen, a freshman Republican congressman from Georgia lectured one of his constituents on personal responsibility—”You want the government to take care of you“—and then proceeded to say that the reason he accepted his government-subsidized health care is “because it’s free.”

Look, the way Republicans are opening themselves up politically by saying and doing dumb stuff like this, one would think they have a guilt complex and want to lose in 2012, as a sort of penance for their wrong-doing. 

I, for one, pledge to help them all get right with God.

Roy Blunt And The Republicans’ “One Chance”

Roy Blunt, obviously following the Senate Republican playbook, appeared on MSNBC’s Jansing & Co. a short time ago and was, among other things, asked about the impending crisis related to the debt ceiling:

JANSING: …Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner…says to Republicans, “You’re gonna own  the responsibility for the first default in U.S. history, if a deal isn’t worked out.”  Are you willing to take that risk?

BLUNT: Well, I think the guy who is the one leader we have is the President of the United States, and he’s the one who needs to figure out what it takes to get the votes to extend the debt limit…l think at the end of the day that’s gonna be his responsibility, and the American people are gonna see it this—that—way.

This is the one chance we have to change current behavior.

Extending the debt limit without any policy changes or any structural changes only means we continue to do things that aren’t working and are gonna create, and are already creating, really bad results.  It’s up to the President. If he can get the votes for a clean debt limit extension, uh, he should do that.  If he can’t, he’s gonna have to talk to people like me, who say we’re only willing to do this if we change our behavior and have guarantees that that behavior is gonna be changed.

Here is the logic of Mr. Blunt and the Senate Republicans:

1. President Obama is free to get a “clean” extension of the debt limit.

2. It takes 60 votes in the Senate to get anything done and Democrats don’t have 60 votes.

3. The House is controlled by Republicans.

4. Therefore, President Obama cannot get a clean bill and has to deal with Republicans to get the debt limit increased.

A clearer case of blackmail could not be presented.

And despite Blunt’s attempt to put the blame on President Obama for any failure to get the limit raised, Blunt’s too-clever-by-half answer reveals the real truth: It is Republicans who can stop any agreement to raise the debt ceiling and therefore it is Republicans who will be held responsible, as Tim Geithner suggested, for the first default in the history of the United States.

Thanks for making that clear to us, Senator Blunt.

And thanks for making it clear how you and the Republican Party view this fight. You said,

This is the one chance we have to change current behavior.

And everyone knows that if a political party believes it has only “one chance,” that party will stop at nothing to get its way, including, apparently, sabotaging the economy.


The Donald Trump orgy continues on “liberal” NBC and MSNBC. 

Only in America can a man as ignorant as Donald Trump go on a major television network—whose news division shamelessly promotes the embarrassingly shameless self-promoter—and pretend he is running for President of the United States by talking nonsense about the world, including stupidly questioning the birthplace of the current president.

I watched Morning Joe in agony this morning as every libidinous panelist—including today’s host, Willie Geist, the so-called liberal Donald Deutsch, and the former Democratic—Democratic!—governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell, service Mr. Trump like fluffers on the set of a Ron Jeremy porn-flick.

At least Ron Jeremy is the real deal.  In terms of political brilliance, Donald Trump talks like John Holmes, but the truth is he carries a small stick.

Fortunately, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski—committed Trumpeteers—were absent today, or a Caligula-like love fest would truly have ensued.

In the mean time, even while NBC and MSNBC have given Trump plenty of room to spout birther conspiracies as a way of attracting attention to his NBC television show, his attractiveness to Tea Party Republicans, who fail to understand Trump’s candidacy deceit, is increasing.

The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows Trump trailing leader Mitt Romney by only 4 points, 21-17.  Among teapartiers, though, Trump leads Romney by 3 points, 20-17.

In the mean time, Celebrity Apprentice sits in 19th place in the top 25 broadcast TV ratings, between Biggest Loser and Mike and Molly.

NBC and MSNBC have more work to do.

An American Hero Blasts Republican Legislation

“You know what? People should have a say in how they live their work lives.”

Captain “Sully” Sullenberger


The man who landed a jet airliner on the Hudson River, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, was on MSNBC last night, harshly criticizing a piece of Republican legislation that would essentially gut aviation safety legislation that was put into effect last year through the efforts of the Families of Continental Flight 3407, referencing the plane that crashed and killed 50 people near the Buffalo Niagara airport about two years ago.

Sullenberger told the Buffalo News:

“I think it represents a giant step backward in terms of aviation safety,” said Sullenberger, who reached out to The Buffalo News to discuss the amendment put forth by Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa.

If Shuster’s amendment becomes law, “at some point in the future, we don’t know when, it’s likely people will die unnecessarily,” Sullenberger said.

Powerful words from a genuine American hero.

I would also like to mention something Sullenberger, a long-time union member, said in response to a question about Republican efforts to curtail collective bargaining rights. He mentioned that as a member of his union’s safety committee, he “made many important safety contributions that would not have happened had we not been organized.

And he also said this:

As an airline pilot, I was a proud union member for over 30 years. I saw that even at good companies it levels the playing field. No individual can stand up to the power of the organization, of management. It’s only collectively we have an effective voice. You know what? People should have a say in how they live their work lives.

Again, powerful words from a genuine American hero.

The Real Bill O’Reilly

Bill O’Reilly called MSNBC “anti-American.”  Last night, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell hit back and captured Bill O’Reilly and Fox exactly—and I mean, exactly—right, and it is a pleasure to watch:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Why Liberals Lose

So much for the Republican-created myth of the mainstream media’s love affair with Barack Obama.

I watched President Obama’s address to the nation last night, and while he tried to give everyone what they wanted, the analysis that followed was breathtakingly negative.

Naturally, the We-Hate-Obama Network did its usual nut-cracking of the President, with conservatives criticizing him for a slow response and for “politicizing” what manifestly is a political issue.  Everyone expected that.

But before Obama had made it back to the living quarters in the White House, Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews, and Howard Fineman of MSNBC—which is falsely understood to be our nation’s “liberal” network—began ripping him, and ripping him good.

Olbermann blabbered:

It was a great speech if you were on another planet for the last 57 days. Nothing specific at all was said… I don’t think he aimed low, I don’t think he aimed at all. It’s startling to have heard this, isn’t it?

And here’s the way the “liberal” Huffington Post—which has sometimes virulently and oftentimes sarcastically attacked Democrats and Obama for the crime of pragmatism—reported on the speech:

“We will fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long it takes,” declared Obama, whose own presidency has been stumbling because of the gushing oil.

Obama offered no immediate remedies for a frustrated nation.

Stumbling? Obama offered no immediate remedies for a frustrated nation?  Are you kidding? Doesn’t the writer really mean frustrated liberals?  And did the writer even listen to the speech?  Or has the Obama-is-not-sufficiently-pissed-off meme made such inroads that sober analysis is no longer possible, even from supposedly friendly journalists?

As far as there are “immediate remedies“—”immediate” defined as, “as soon as possible”—Obama offered this one:

…we have directed BP to mobilize additional equipment and technology. In the coming days and weeks, these efforts should capture up to 90% of the oil leaking out of the well.

The President spoke as an adult last night.  That’s who he is.  He was sufficiently stern, but characteristically realistic about what is going on, something his critics on both ideological sides are not:

Already, this oil spill is the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced. And unlike an earthquake or a hurricane, it is not a single event that does its damage in a matter of minutes or days. The millions of gallons of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico are more like an epidemic, one that we will be fighting for months and even years.

But make no mistake: we will fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long it takes. We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused. And we will do whatever’s necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover from this tragedy.

He then went on in detail about the federal commitment to clean up the mess, including the authorization of more than 17,000 National Guard members—most of which the Republican Governors of the states involved haven’t got around to activating.

He assured the people around the Gulf that he would see to it that they were fully compensated by BP for their losses and said he would “inform” the chairman of BP,

that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company’s recklessness. And this fund will not be controlled by BP. In order to ensure that all legitimate claims are paid out in a fair and timely manner, the account must and will be administered by an independent, third party.

And BP complied today by agreeing to set aside $20 billion.

Besides the short-term compensation and cleanup issues, he spoke of the,

long-term plan to restore the unique beauty and bounty of this region…

and he pledged to find out why the disaster happened and discussed,

steps we’re taking to ensure that a disaster like this does not happen again.

Finally, he talked about the need to “move our country towards energy independence,” and, like an adult, mentioned that “there are costs associated with this transition.”  How refreshing to hear that these days.

“[T]he one approach I will not accept is inaction,” he said, and continued:

The one answer I will not settle for is the idea that this challenge is too big and too difficult to meet. You see, the same thing was said about our ability to produce enough planes and tanks in World War II. The same thing was said about our ability to harness the science and technology to land a man safely on the surface of the moon. And yet, time and again, we have refused to settle for the paltry limits of conventional wisdom. Instead, what has defined us as a nation since our founding is our capacity to shape our destiny – our determination to fight for the America we want for our children. Even if we’re unsure exactly what that looks like. Even if we don’t yet know precisely how to get there. We know we’ll get there.

I thought the President’ speech addressed the American people like we had brains.  Like we could understand that try as he might, the problem with the busted well was taxing even the best minds in the country.  He gave us reason to believe that he would be there to make sure that BP made all the folks around the Gulf whole, that the environment would be restored, that he would find out what happened and why, and that he would direct the country toward a future free of the tyranny of crude oil.

Almost from the beginning of this crisis, liberals have been racing to criticize Obama for not being the liberal they want him to be.  He’s too friendly with Big Oil, they say, too unwilling to attack BP and essentially destroy it, not realizing that the company has to survive, if only to pay off all of the claims against it.

Unlike establishment conservatives—who will rally around their own in a time of crisis—liberals are too willing to give Obama-doubters the benefit of the doubt.  They are too willing to shoot the troops on their own side, before all the facts are in.

It’s one thing to criticize your own team, after the game is over.  It’s quite another to take shots at teammates while they are still on the field.

I’m starting to see why conservatives—no matter how many times they fail—always can count on liberals to make a way for them to come back.

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