News Roundup for 11/30/09

Rick Warren as Jesus

The Gospel According to Rick; "Chuck them stones!"

-Headline of the day-
"Pastor Rick Warren Refuses To Condemn Ugandan Law Making Homosexual Acts Punishable By Death."

That's what Jesus would do, I guess. Or not. Who even knows?

Turns out that Uganda is considering an Anti-Homosexuality Bill in which the penalty for doing gay stuff is either life in prison or death -- in prison, I guess. This strikes many observers as kind of bloodthirsty and tyrannical, but not Pastor Rick. He says it's none of his business:

The fundamental dignity of every person, our right to be free, and the freedom to make moral choices are gifts endowed by God, our creator. However, it is not my personal calling as a pastor in America to comment or interfere in the political process of other nations.

I think the pod people got Rick. When he was on Sean Hannity's Why do Liberals Hate America? Show last December, he was all about "interfering in the political process of other nations."

When Hannity suggested that we ought to "take out" Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinajoodle, Rick was all for it. Best idea anyone ever had. Stick a bullet right between Ahmajinnywinkle's eyes. See, according to last year's version of Rick, fighting "evil" is "the legitimate role of government. The Bible says that God puts government on earth to punish evildoers."

You really wish he'd make up his mind about this sort of thing. That is, unless he thinks that gays are "evildoers" who we all ought to be killing.

Which kind of seems to be the case. (Think Progress)

-So how's the media doing?-
The big news lately has been that SARAH PALIN'S WRITTEN A BOOK! It's all over the news, because everyone wants to know all about it, right?

Well, not really. The Pew Research Center for the Public & the Press went and did something crazy; they asked people what stories they've been following and healthcare reform was the #1 issue (41%), followed by the swine flu (18%), mammogram news (11%), Afghanistan (11%), Obama's Asia trip (4%), and SARAH PALIN'S WRITTEN A BOOK! takes up the rear with 2%. In fact, 52% say there's "too much" coverage of SARAH PALIN'S WRITTEN A BOOK! Which is surprising, because it's such earth-shattering news. I mean, how else are you supposed to find out how Sarah feels about God and open-water drilling?

On a related note, media darling Dick Cheney is about the least popular guy in his little gang. According to Greg Sargent, "Significantly less than one percent of Republicans think Cheney best reflects their party's core values."

How significantly less? Try 0.125%. "The WaPo polling unit tells me that approximately 800 Republicans and Republican leaners were surveyed on this question," Sargent writes, "of that 800, WaPo’s polling gurus confirm, only a single person picked Cheney as the best reflection of the party’s values."

Keep that in mind the next time some foxbot conducts a breathless interview with the Big Dick -- not even Republicans give a damn what he says. (Pew, Plum Line)

-Speaking of polling-
A groundbreaking Vanity Fair/CBS News poll finds that "Half of Americans Would Rather Lay a Wreath on Tomb of the Unknown Solider Than Light Olympic Torch or Flip Coin at Super Bowl."

Because that's a decision we'll all be forced to make eventually. (Wonkette)

Right Out of Touch on Climate

Between illness and Thanksgiving, I managed to take nearly a week off. Back on track now.

Quite a lot happened during the Holiday week, very little of it good. Among the bad news that hasn't gotten a lot of press is news that the American public's belief in global warming is at its lowest point since ABC News/Washington Post polling began tracking the issue. Things aren't as bad as they sound, though:

[ABC News:]

The number of Americans who believe global warming is occurring has declined to its lowest since 1997, though at 72 percent, it's still a broad majority. The drop has steepened in the last year-and-a-half -- almost exclusively among conservatives and Republicans.

This ABC News/Washington Post poll also finds that support for government action to address the issue, while still a majority, likewise is down from its levels in summer 2008.

So, the vast majority of Americans still believe in global warming, it's just that Republican voters are continuing their trend of diving outside the mainstream. Imagine my surprise.

Looking at other numbers, we see that the public on a whole is pretty sane about the issue; 82% call it a serious problem, 76% favor government actions, 55% say the US should act even if China and India don't, and 53% support cap and trade. This belief that the government needs to act is shared by the intelligence community.


[The National Intelligence Council], which gathered input from all 16 intelligence agencies, issued a classified report saying the crop failures and rising sea levels could produce political instability and multiple relief crises.

“Climate change alone is unlikely to trigger state failure in any state out to 2030, but the impacts will worsen existing problems such as poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership and weak political institutions,” Thomas Fingar, the council chairman, said in testimony before the House select committees on global warming and intelligence.

In 2007, a panel of 11 retired admirals and generals together with the nonprofit CNA Corp. found that climate change would multiply threats in the most unstable regions of the world.

“Projected climate change will seriously exacerbate already marginal living standards in many Asian, African and Middle Eastern nations, causing widespread political instability and the likelihood of failed states,” they wrote.

The CIA is using the council's report as the basis for a new Center on Climate Change and National Security. "Decision makers need information and analysis on the effects climate change can have on security," agency director Leon Panetta said in a press release. "The CIA is well-positioned to deliver that intelligence."

Yet, the reaction from the right has been to jam their heads in the sand. Reality doesn't influence the right as much as ideology does. And lately, right wing ideology can be summed up in four words; "Democrats are always wrong." As I always say, reality has a liberal bias.

If you want an example of just what insane lengths Republicans can go to deny reality, you can head over to Think Progress and a post by Faiz Shakir:

In testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, retired Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn articulated a national security argument for passing clean energy legislation. “Continued over reliance on fossil fuels, or small, incremental steps, simply will not create the kind of future security and prosperity that the American people and our great Nation deserve,” McGinn warned.

In an interview with the New York Times Magazine, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), the ranking member of the Senate environment committee, argued that McGinn and other generals who are advocating for clean energy reform (like Wesley Clark, Stephen Cheney, Brent Scowcroft, etc) are simply doing so because they crave “the limelight”...

That's right, military experts are just media whores. "That's the most ludicrous thing," Inhofe rold the magazine. "They looked around and they found, I think, five generals to testify before the committee. Well, that's 5 generals out of 4,000 retired generals that say that. There are a lot of generals who don't like to be out of the limelight. They'd like to get back in."

Notes Shakir; "Apparently, everyone needs to take lessons from Inhofe about how to unassumingly fly below the radar."

What gets me about Inhofe's response is how typical it is. There's no rebuttal of the science -- in fact, there aren't any facts whatsoever. Inhofe had decided to ignore the testimony before he ever heard it and now he's rationalizing that prejudice. This isn't logic, this is a three-year-old child with his fingers in his ears shouting, "La-la-la! I can't hear you! La-la-la..."

Republicans keep saying we ought to have more of a debate on climate, but this isn't debate at all. You can't just cross your arms and say, "I don't believe it," when someone brings you evidence. In fact, that's an effort to avoid debate.

I've pointed on this blog before that many on the right are extremely protective of their ignorance. Sen. Inhofe demonstrates how this ignorance is protected. The polling numbers show that plenty on the right are willing to follow his lead.

Ignorance is, after all, bliss.


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News Roundup for 11/25/09

Giuliani and McCain
Giuliani, shown tickling John McCain on Celebrity Jeopardy

-Headline of the day-
"Rudy Giuliani, Serial Rumor Monger."

Rudy Giuliani's Senate campaign seems to be going about as well as his presidential campaign. A few days ago, source close to Rudy said he would definitely make it official within 48 hours -- Rudy was throwing his hat in the ring.

"120 hours later (and counting)," the report tells us, "the world is still waiting to hear from Rudy. And as the minutes, hours and days pass, the scoop is feeling more and more like a red herring." Is he running? Isn't he? Seems like he kind of ought to say something either way. "Instead, he's been silent and invisible while the momentum generated by the story has morphed into confusion," we're told.

Everyone knows that Giuliani likes the attention and lately that attention's come in the form of being a frequent talking head on the teevee machine, which is probably a pretty good gig. You may not have noticed, but there's no requirement for pundits to ever be right about anything, so Rudy gets to say all sorts of crazy shit without any consequences. This isn't the way campaigns work and it isn't the way being an actual Senator works. You're supposed to be kind of good at it, where as a teevee pundit you can be wrong all the damned time -- I give you William Kristol as proof of that.

Anyway, is Rudy running? Is he not running? Who knows? And screwing around like this is a good way to turn "who knows?" into "who cares?" Hell, I'm losing interest already -- and I'm into this kind of stuff. (New York Observer)

-That's not the way I remember it-
Sean Hannity is mad that the president doesn't use the term "war on terror." Turns out that not using those words is the worst thing ever. I'd explain why that is, but for the life of me I can't figure out what difference it makes.

Anyway, he got former White House press secretary Dana Perino to go on his show and talk really fast. I think she does that so that she can shoot right by some unfortunate facts before you know what happened.

The shootings at Ft. Hood were brought up and Dana launched a little bit of BS. "They want to do all of their investigations," she said. "I don't know. All of the thinking that goes into it. But we did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush's term. I hope they're not looking at this politically. I do think we owe it to the American people to call it what it is."

You know, I seem to remember a terrorist attack that happened during Bush's term. A big flaming catastrophe, in fact. And then another one involving anthrax. So maybe she means that other than the two terr'ist attacks that happened during Bush's terms, there were no two terr'ist attacks that happened during Bush's terms. Which is a really unique way of looking at things. (Think Progress)

-Bonus HotD-
"Rightwing uproar over Best Buy's 'Happy Eid al-Adha' wish to Muslims."

Seems the big box retailer put out a Holiday wish to Muslims in a circular and now all the frootloops on the right think it means they hate America and love the terr'ists. See, because all Muslims are Islamic extremists in the same way that all Irish Catholics like to blow shit up.

This story got picked up by the rightwing loony bin at FreeRepublic.com, where the freepers decided that this would be a good time to go completely mental. They're all jamming Best Buy's customer forums to announce that they aren't going to buy anything from Best Buy and that -- and this is verbatim -- "you are celebrating a muslim holiday that commemorates human sacrifice to please Allah."

Wow. Imagine that. Of course, this whole Christianity thing is based on human sacrifice, but I guess we aren't supposed to think about that. Anyway, this way of describing the holiday's not exactly correct and can more accurately be described as "bullshit." It actually commemorates a story a lot of Christians will be familiar with and see as evidence of God's mercy. So there's that.

Still, there's nothing like a good old fashioned freak out to really get a wingnut's juices going. And actually being as close to totally wrong as is possible is just gravy.

Here's what I say; spend stupid amounts of money at Best Buy to get gifts for the wingnuts on your list. That ought to be fun to watch... (Minnesota Independent)


News Roundup for 11/20/09

UT state sen. Buttars
Utah state senator Chris Buttars, noted catcher

-Headline of the day-
"Utah lawmaker claims he doesn't 'mind' gays, but 'I don’t want 'em stuffing it down my throat all the time.'"

Apparently Utah's a lot different than I thought it was. State Sen. Chris Buttars, who's just a big bucket-o-fun, proves that -- if you're just crazy enough -- you can make a statement that's even funnier than that headline. Seems that Utah wants to make it illegal to discriminate in employment and housing based on sexual orientation. Obviously, this is the worst idea that anyone ever had. Here in Wisconsin, we passed the first such law in the nation and looked what happened -- every time someone says "Wisconsin," you think "big homo Disneyland."

So someone asked Buttars what he thought of the whole idea and I swear this is a verbatim quote; "I meet with the gays here and there. They were in my house two weeks ago. I don't mind gays. But I don't want 'em stuffing it down my throat all the time. Certainly not in my kid's face."

Punchline? Who needs a punchline? (Think Progress)

-They're everywhere-
Yesterday, you might have noticed that all the planes fell out of the sky because of a failure of the FAA's computer. This leaves some wondering, why did the computer choose to fail?

FAA Computer Behind Widespread Airline Delays 'Not a Muslim'
Click for full comic

Likely story...(Bad Reporter)

-Bonus HotD-
"Lou Dobbs Now Mulling Future In Politics."

It's tough job market and a some people who've been fired have set their sights kind of low. But no Walmart greeter job for Lou Dobbs and no sitting around on the couch in his underwear eating chips (regular old potato chips, because Doritos, Fritos, and Tostitos are taking over our country!). Nope, Lou's decided that maybe people love him enough to elect him to some sort of job.

Dobbs is telling anyone who'll listen that he's "considering career options including possible runs for the White House or U.S. Senate" and that, "Right now I feel exhilaration at the wide range of choices before me as to what I do next."

"I am ruling nothing out... I have come to no conclusions and no decisions," he said. "Do I seek to have some influence on public policy? Absolutely. Do I seek to represent and champion the middle class in this country and those who aspire to it? Absolutely. And I will."

"One is reminded of the fact that Dobbs is just one of a long line of ivory-tower-educated millionaire media elites who fancy themselves to be an authentic voice of the 'middle class,'" writes Huffington Post's Jason Linkins. "Fun fact: Dobbs's daughter is way into equestrian sports, America's most populist pastime!"

One thing's for sure, he's got the Hispanic vote all locked up. (Huffington Post)


News Roundup for 11/19/09

Obama's bow
President Obama, shown destroying America

-Headline of the day-
"Fox News Polls Obama’s Bow, Finds Majority Of Republicans Support It."

When FOX Nation asked if Obama was the most embarrassing president ever, they answered their own question with a resounding "Obviously!" See, the President bowed to the Emperor of Japan (instead of giving him the traditional wedgie) and this was the worst breach of diplomatic protocol since Chester Arthur took a dump on the Queen of Norway's coffee table.

Needless to say, Americans were outraged that Obama would do what's only considered polite in Japan and we all attempted suicide we heard about it. At least, that's what FOX assumed. And then they went and blew a perfectly good and well-manufactured mini-scandal by actually asking us what we thought about it.

"When the president of the United States is traveling overseas," they asked in a poll, "do you think it is appropriate for him to bow to a foreign leader if that is the country’s custom or is it never appropriate for the president to bow to another leader?"

67% of respondents said they were cool with it. Worse, 53% of Republicans said it was appropriate and didn't see any problem with it.

Clearly, the terr'ists have won. (Plum Line)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, bad people called "terr'ists" are coming to America to run our courts or something! What do grownups think of this?

Tough or Wuss?
Click for animation

I guess it depends on your definition of "think." (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"Hoffman un-un-unconcedes the NY-23 special election."

Oh for chrissake... (Think Progress)

-Station note-
Tomorrow's my birthday and I'm going to go eat fish at Captain Swampy's Top Hat (something like that anyway) and then drink beer. I'm probably going to skip the morning post and maybe the roundup. Maybe not the roundup, but maybe so. So don't get your hopes up. It all depends on how Big King Birthday Boy feels at the moment.

I'd say I plan to have a drink for every year I've been alive, but I'm pretty sure that'd be enough to kill three people and I don't want those deaths on my conscience. (My Life)

A Roadblock to Reform Gets Torn Down

Senate healthcare bill rolloutThe Senate's version of healthcare reform is finally ready for prime time. Considering that this was supposed to be ready in August, I'll withhold my applause on that point -- there's showing up to school tardy and then there's showing up late in the afternoon. It was the Senate who was the footdragger here; Pelosi was willing to keep the House in session during the August recess, but when Harry Reid caved and shut off the lights in the Senate, there really was no point in doing it. We all know what happened after that; the town hall shriekers made a big stink and an embarrassing spectacle of themselves, completely dissipating any momentum either chamber had. Forget two steps forward, one step back; August's progress to regress ratio was one-to-one.

Still, here we are. We (assuming they can pass it) have got a bill. Like anything that's the product of months of horsetrading, wrangling, and compromise, it's an imperfect bill. Writing for The Atlantic's politics blog, Max Fisher does a good job of collecting legitimate criticisms of the bill and, by legitimate, I mean that the words "IT'S OUT OF CONTROL SOCIALISM, LIKE HITLER'S GERMANY!" don't appear anywhere in the post. I won't rehash it here, since there's no reason for me to rewrite an already good post, I'll just cite the criticisms and leave it to you to check them out.

Still, like the House bill before it, the Senate's version is not the bill. Both pieces of legislation will go to conference committee, be melted down into some sort of legislative alloy of both, and returned to each chamber for a final vote. Unless a provision is in both bills, there's no guarantee it'll make it out of committee. Believe it or not, all this stuff that's been happening for most of this year could reasonably be called the start of this whole process. It's just the hardest part.

One feature of the Senate bill that's going to cause problems for people looking for reasons to oppose it is the score by the Congressional Budget Office.

[Sam Stein, Huffington Post:]

A preliminary Congressional Budget Office analysis of the Senate health care legislation finds that the bill will cost $849 billion over the next decade while covering 94 percent of eligible Americans, a Democratic leadership aide told reporters Wednesday afternoon.

The aide would still not get into the bill's specifics -- including whether it would include a public option for insurance coverage and what tax mechanisms would be pay for it. The aide did, however, say that 31 million currently uninsured Americans would be covered under the legislation. The bill would also lower the deficit by $127 billion over the next decade -- "going further than any other bill" -- and by $650 billion during the decade after that, according to the aide.

Cutting the deficit by $777 billion over the next twenty years kind of blows a hole in that whole "deficit-buster" argument. Obstructionists who oppose the bill simply to oppose the bill just got a little roadblock put up in front of their argument. And many of these people are named Joe Lieberman, as the following FOX News transcript of his reaction to the House bill shows:

LIEBERMAN: A public option plan is unnecessary. It has been put forward, I’m convinced, by people who really want the government to take over all of health insurance. They’ve got a right to do that; I think that would be wrong.

But worse than that, we have a problem even greater than the health insurance problems, and that is a debt -- $12 trillion today, projected to be $21 trillion in 10 years.

WALLACE: So at this point, I take it, you’re a “no” vote in the Senate?

LIEBERMAN: If the public option plan is in there, as a matter of conscience, I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote because I believe debt can break America and send us into a recession that’s worse than the one we’re fighting our way out of today. I don’t want to do that to our children and grandchildren.

The Washington Post's Ezra Klein asked a question anyone who interviewed Lieberman should've asked, "What's the mechanism by which the public option increases the national deficit?"

Because that's not so obvious to people who know what they're talking about. Klein explained:

This has been Lieberman's standard argument for the past few weeks, but he has not, to my knowledge, explained how it works. Every analysis of the public option I've seen has concluded that it will reduce federal, and consumer, spending. Indeed, the stronger the public option is, the more it reduces the deficit. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that a public option paying Medicare's rates would save the government more than $100 billion in the first 10 years, and more after that.

Lieberman, of course, knows all of this. He just thinks you don't, because -- like his ideological twins across the aisle -- he works under the assumption that you're an idiot who'll believe anything he tells you to believe. Until the media starts asking questions other than "tell me why you oppose this bill," he's probably going to keep saying the same thing, despite the fact that it's been proved untrue at least twice now. Someone has to follow up, to probe, with, "now wait a second, the CBO score..." or he's going to keep pushing this lie any time he can get himself in front of a camera or a microphone.

Lieberman's not the only one doing this, he's just the first and best example that popped into my mind. We've got two bills, we've got CBO scores for both, but these people still get away with launching the same BS. I wish I could blame FOX News, but it's rampant. FOX should be the only place where this crap flies, not one of the many places. The media laughed at Mohammed "Baghdad Bob" Saeed al-Sahhaf as he told obvious lies while standing right in front of the contradictory truth, but if Joe Lieberman does practically the same thing, some anchor with blowdried brains will nod solemnly as if this was the wisest and most reasonable thing anyone ever said.


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Photo source: New York Times


News Roundup for 11/18/09

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX)

-Headline of the day-
"Rep. Louie Gohmert: Democrats want another terrorist attack so they can pass a new jobs bill."

Yeah, that makes sense. We all remember how after 9/11, George W. whipped up hysteria to pass a jobs bill. See, because nothing says "we need jobs!" like a devastating terrorist attack. Well, other than vampires, anyway.

Gohmert made his assertion where all crazy-assed lunatics make these assertions -- on FOX News. In an appearance on the Come Shriek Crazy Shit at Neal Cavuto show, Louie said he was introducing a bill to to keep Khalid Sheik Mohammed out of a New York City court (a bill, by the way, that would be so unconstitutional that it wouldn't stand for a day, even if it had a chance in hell of passing). He also said Democrats were dumb. Or insane. He hasn't made up his mind yet.

"You've got millions of New Yorkers that would be put at risk [by trying Khalid Sheik Mohammed in New York City]... Unless they're trying to create a new jobs bill by allowing terrorism back in New York, this is insane," Gooie Lohmert said. "And even that would be insane."

There's video, but I didn't play it, so I don't know whether Mertie Lougom crapped himself in a patriotic fit of pure terror at the thought of KSM actually standing there in court, but I assume he did. It's the in-thing for all the Republican kids these days. (Think Progress, with aforementioned video)

-Just being helpful-
Sarah Palin's new book, Is That Putin Outside o My Kitchen Window?: The Sarah Palin Chronicles, doesn't have an index. Because that's what they expect you to do and she's a maverick, so she's not gonna do that, nosireebob.

The problem here is that when famous people get the book, they go straight to the index to see how often they're mentioned. Editors refer to this as "Gingriching." Anyway, this is a big problem with the book, so Christopher Beam went ahead and wrote an index at Slate.

There are entries for halibut tacos, reindeer sausage, and caribou lasagna, just in case you didn't know she lived in Alaska. There's also a mention of Bono and a whole bunch of stuff about God. Another fun entry: "moose, 18, 20, 31, 113, 134, 270."

So, if you aren't Bono, God, or a moose, you probably don't want to read this thing. That is, unless you're really into Ronald Reagan. With mentions on pages "3, 12, 45, 46, 47, 59, 124, 158, 216, 297, 384, 386, 387, 391, 394, 400," he gets more page space than God. (Slate, via reddit)

-Bonus HotD-
"Obama won't read Palin's book."

You and me both, pal... (CNN)

Red States Operate on the Blue States' Dime

Beggar's cupLet's get right to the point. The five poorest states in the nation are Mississippi, West Virginia, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Kentucky. The five wealthiest states are Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, and Maryland. Those are the numbers from the US Census and they tell us a lot about the partisan divide in America. Of the five pooorest states in the union, five are Red States that went for McCain in 2008. On the other hand, of the five wealthiest states, all five voted for Obama -- see for yourself. In other words, the anti-tax, screw-the-poor, federal-government-isn't-the-answer crowd comes mainly from the poorest states and are, therefore, among the most lightly taxed. They're the ones who seem mostly likely to benefit from federal government money. In terms of federal taxes spent in their states, Mississippi gets 202% of every dollar they pay, West Virginia get 176%, Arkansas gets 141%, South Carolina gets 135%, and Kentucky gets 151%. The only state in the five wealthiest that receives more than they pay out is Maryland, at 130%. People marching around in angry little circles with signs showing President Obama with a Hitler moustache haven't been paying their fair share. Kind of makes their concerns about the deficit a little hard to take, doesn't it?

If you want an example of socialism, there ya go. Republican voters are runaway socialists. Except the poverty of Redstatistan suggests that this socialism isn't exactly benefiting proletariat. In fact, they're getting worse.

[Crooks and Liars:]

Throughout their all-out campaign to stop health care reform, Republican leaders have relied on questionable forecasts from the Lewin Group, a subsidiary of insurer UnitedHealth Group. Now, another study funded by UnitedHealth has some unwelcome news for the GOP braintrust: the red states they represent are the unhealthiest in the nation. Following on the heels of the Commonwealth Fund's 2009 Scorecard of state health care system performance, the United Health Foundation's report is just the latest confirmation that health care is worst where Republicans poll best.

No wonder these people think government doesn't work -- their state governments are blowful. It's tempting to say that Republican voters get the governments they deserve, but the truth is that this is costing us all. We're reimbursing Mississippi for their tax dollars at a rate of better than 2:1 and not many -- certainly not you, not me, not the vast majority of people in Mississippi -- are getting much out of that investment.

But, of course, this is just another example of Republican voters being chumps. In Red States, money is pouring in, but it doesn't seem to be helping the general populace all that much. If the lower economic tier isn't any better off after this big federal money grab, the process of elimination dictates who the winners are here. Yet these people grab signs and throw tea tantrums in defense of the very people standing between them and their share of returning tax dollars. As I said -- chumps.

This used to be easier to explain; the religious right had turned populism into an almost entirely religious campaign. Republicans didn't talk about taxes on the campaign trail as much as they talked about abortion. Sure, taxes were part of it, but the real hook was always the three Gs -- God, gays, and guns. And these voters would elect these people over and over, never seeming to notice that these religiously-based problems never seemed to be solved. Every election year, abortion was just as rampant, gays were always on the verge of getting married or taking over schools, and the Democrats were just seconds away from snatching up everyone's guns. Meanwhile, everything that actually should've mattered to them got worse. Bridges crumbled, schools got worse, jobs kept leaving... True to the cliche, the rich got richer and the poor got poorer.

But now things have changed a bit. The religious right still figures into the Republican coalition, but it's become secondary to the teabaggers. It's easy to dismiss the teabaggers' cluelessness over just how badly they're getting screwed by saying they're irrational crackpots... Mostly because they are irrational crackpots. But that can't be it, can it?

To a certain degree, yeah, it can be. These people are partisan without actually understanding the issues. People who lump communism, socialism, and fascism together as if they're all just different names for the same thing don't really have the greatest command of the facts. People who watch Glenn Beck and say, "Y'know, that guy makes a lot of sense," aren't exactly masters of logic. If you need an explanation of why these people practically begged to be screwed by their elected officials, you can probably stop with this explanation; the right is their team and the left isn't, so go team!

But these people aren't exactly loyal to the Republican Party. The GOP isn't far enough right for them. After years and years and years of being told that Republican ideas work, maybe they've begun to believe it. Government doesn't work because it isn't far enough to the right -- in every situation where government fails, this is the reason. It's Bush reasoning all over again; if something isn't working, it can only be because you aren't doing enough of it. So, if you're sicker than everyone else, it's because corporations are regulated. If you're poorer than everyone else, it's because rich people are taxed to the point that they can't afford to pay decent wages.

Never mind that Redstatistan can look at Bluestatistan and see that all their ideas don't actually work. They won't look because they aren't interested (go team!). You have to actually try to be this ignorant, this level of being misinformed takes an actual effort, and Republican voters are more than happy to do that work.

Meanwhile, we wind up doing all the real work for them.


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News Roundup for 11/17/09

Barack Obama is the most embarrassing president ever

-Headline of the day-
"Our Most Embarrassing President?"

Hahaha! Barack Obama bowed to the Emperor of Japan... What a dope! Bet he took his shoes off, too. This was a terrible breach of protocol that has the whole world talking... OK, maybe not, but all America is talking... OK, so it's just FOX News. But FOX is real, man, and if they think this is the worst thing ever, then this is the worst thing ever. Everyone with a brain knows that when an American president meets a foreign monarch, he's supposed to beat him nearly to death and steal his wife. That's in the Constitution. Look it up.

Anyway, FOX News' "FOX Nation" website asks -- in a fair and balanced way -- whether our current president is history's biggest embarrassment. "He established a new precedent for how American presidents should pay obeisance to kings, emperors, monarchs, sovereigns and assorted other authentic man-made masters of the universe," FOX reports. "He stopped just this side of the full grovel to the emperor of Japan, risking a painful genuflection if his forehead had hit the floor with a nasty bump, which it almost did."

God, what an idiot. Is he the most embarrassing ever? Let's take a look back:

There was the time Obama made out with a Saudi prince...

And the time he tried to molest the German Chancellor...

Or the time he got hammered and thought he could dance...

Or the other time he got hammered and spanked an Olympic athlete in Beijing...

Or the other time he got hammered and picked a fight with a pretzel (a fight he lost, by the way)...

Or the time he became the first person to ever wipe out on a supposedly "foolproof" Segway scooter...

Wait, what? Obama's the black fella?

Never mind. (FOX Nation)

-A real tough interview-
Rush Limbaugh interviewed Sarah Palin. It's a big long boring interview, but if you really need to know what it was all about, allow me to present the Reader's Digest condensed version:

LIMBAUGH: Ubububub... Why are you so awesome?... Ububub...

That's it in a nutshell. Read the whole thing if you want, but I think you'll find my abridged version was amazingly accurate. (RushLimbaugh.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"Hoffman un-unconcedes the NY-23 special election."

There are still uncounted absentee ballots in New York's 23rd congressional district race and, at the behest of his mentor, Conservative Party candidate, teabagger king, and Glenn Beck protege Doug Hoffman decided to "unconcede" the race. See, y'gotta be in it to win it.

Anyhoo, it turns out that maybe Glenn Beck's not the best political adviser in the world and now Hoffman as un-unconceded -- or took back his taking back of his concession to Democrat Bill Owen.

That's what you like to see in a political candidate, decisiveness. (Think Progress)

An Insubstantial 'Truth'

Scene from 'Simpsons'Lionel Hutz: We've been getting a lot of calls about you, Marge. People love your hands-off approach!
Marge: Well, it's like we say: the right house for the right person.
Lionel Hutz: Yeah, about that... "the right house" is the one that's for sale; the "right person" is anybody.
Marge: Mr. Hutz! You're not suggesting that I bend the truth!
Lionel Hutz: Marge, there's "the truth" (frowns) and there's "the truth!" (smiles wide). Just take a look at some of our properties.
Marge: That house is tiny.
Lionel Hutz: We prefer to say "cozy".
Marge: That house is dilapidated.
Lionel Hutz: "Handyman's dream".
Marge: That house is on fire!
Lionel Hutz: "Motivated seller".

-The Simpsons, "Realty Bites"

Most of us know about the truth and "the truth." After all, we live in a world where "spin" is seen as acceptably dishonest. Truth is a slippery commodity in the United States and, when it shows up, it's generally pulled and twisted like taffy until it doesn't resemble truth at all. You yank it and mash it up until it looks like a wad of chewed bubblegum.

When the Washington Post reported that the US Chamber of Commerce seemed to be up to something shady, we got a glimpse of how "the truth" is manufactured:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and an assortment of national business groups opposed to President Obama's health-care reform effort are collecting money to finance an economic study that could be used to portray the legislation as a job killer and threat to the nation's economy, according to an e-mail solicitation from a top Chamber official.

The e-mail, written by the Chamber's senior health policy manager and obtained by The Washington Post, proposes spending $50,000 to hire a "respected economist" to study the impact of health-care legislation, which is expected to come to the Senate floor this week, would have on jobs and the economy.

Step two, according to the e-mail, appears to assume the outcome of the economic review: "The economist will then circulate a sign-on letter to hundreds of other economists saying that the bill will kill jobs and hurt the economy. We will then be able to use this open letter to produce advertisements, and as a powerful lobbying and grass-roots document."

That's right, the Chamber is going to do a big economic study on healthcare reform, the findings of which they magically already know. "The truth."

For their part, the Chamber is shocked to be accused of cooking studies to match their anti-reform agenda. At their blog, The ChamberPost (yeah, I misread that as "chamberpot," too), Chamber minion Brad Peck sets the record straight. "A study of job impacts resulting from mandates is NOT a new idea. Now that final bills are emerging from both chambers an updated review is warranted..." he writes. "It is highly likely that this bill will increase costs for business and cost jobs... If it shows the opposite, so be it."

Remember the last time the business lobby released a study showing that they were totally wrong? Me neither. But I guess there's a first time for everything. No word on who this "respected economist" might be, but anyone who jumps in on this project can stop calling themselves "respected" and an "economist" and start calling themselves an "advertising executive."

Having caught the Chamber of Commerce pushing hinky data (before the data was even collected), WaPo was ready for the business lobby's pushback. At the paper's 44 blog, which covers policy and politics under the Obama administration, writer Alec MacGillis fires the ammo the paper kept in reserve. Turns out that not only has the Chamber done things like this before, but that they'd bragged about pulling this sort of PR stunt before.

[E]arlier this year, [Chamber senior vice president Randy] Johnson was far more candid about the nature of the studies commissioned by business groups to buttress their side in legislative battles. At a breakfast meeting at Chamber headquarters, Johnson urged the business people to tout the findings of a report that had been released just the week before by the Alliance to Save Main Street Jobs, a business coalition.

"We spent a lot of money to come up with this study," he told the business leaders. "It's not what these economic studies say -- it's the cover they give to members who are going to be with us."

The report, written by Anne Layne-Farrar, an economist from LECG Consulting and titled An Empirical Assessment of the Employee Free Choice Act: The Economic Implication, found that an increase in 1.5 million union members in one year would lead to the loss of 600,000 jobs by the following year. "Jobs losses directly attributed to the passage of card check legislation would be equal to the entire population of Boston or seventy-five percent of San Francisco," the Chamber's press release on the report stated.

In the confines of the Chamber hall, though, Johnson was refreshingly open about the "empirical" nature of the card-check report. The unions had ordered up their own studies, Johnson noted, and this was the business community's counter.

There's the truth and then there's "the truth." In a week or two, handsome and/or pretty representatives of the US Chamber of Commerce will be able to go on talking head show and wave around a glossy ad flier -- I mean, a "study by a respected economist" -- saying that healthcare reform will lead to a new dark age for American consumers. It cost them a lot of money, but it's totally worth it. For the media's part, they'll be "unbiased," which is news-talk for "credulous," and leave any analysis of the study to a talking head from the other side of the debate. This will all turn into a shouting match, the anchor will say they're out of time, and when the smoke clears, the only thing you'll know about the issue is what you came in with -- you'll have learned absolutely nothing.

That's how "the truth" gets traction.


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News Roundup for 10/16/09

Teapartiers demand that teapartiers go back where they came from

-Headline of the day-
"Interloper tricks Tea Party audience into an anti-European immigrant chant of 'Columbus go home!'"

Because they aren't scattershot and unfocused enough as it is, teabaggers decided to have a big 50 city rally this weekend to protest illegal immigration. You probably didn't hear anything about it because no one cares. I think the media has finally figured out that these guys aren't exactly news. All you have to do is call for a rally protesting whatever-the-hell you're griping about and the teabaggers will show up, because they're against things.

A "concerned citizen from Minneapolis" named "Robert Erickson" seems to have figured it out too. And he used a rousing speech to demonstrate that, if you tell them to be against it, teabaggers will be against it -- no matter what the hell it is.

"Let's send these European immigrants back where they came from!" he urged a Minneapolis crowd. "I don't care if they are Polish, Irish, English, Italian, or Norwegian! European immigrants are responsible for the most violent and heinous crimes in the history of the world, including genocide and slavery! It's time to restore the sovereignty of people native to this land! I want more workplace raids, starting with the big banks downtown."

According to the report, "the crowd was in a frenzy and joined him in his chants of "Columbus go home!" and "Europeans out!'"

We're against things! Boo for white people like us! Teabags forever! w00t! (Think Progress)

-Maybe voodoo dolls or something-
In other teabagger news, people who are against things are dialing back the crazy, if not the stupid. The organizer of a Virginia tea party protest against -- oh, who knows... pick something -- has announced that he won't be burning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Dem Rep. Tom Perriello in effigy. Turns out the guy who owns the property the party will be held on vetoed the idea, mostly because it's a little insane.

"We will not be going forward with the plan," Nigel Coleman, chairman of the Danville Tea Party, told Greg Sargent. "We had to cancel it. The property owner won't allow us to do it. The media attention was something that he didn't want." Sargent describes Coleman as "crestfallen."

"Last week, Coleman defended the plan as reminiscent of the American Revolutionaries," Sargent writes, "a historical comparison that’s somewhat tenuous, given that the revolutionaries were rebelling against a monarch, while the Tea Partiers are protesting a plan created by a government that was elected by a sizable majority."

Boo for democracy! We're against things! Teabags forever! w00t! (Plum Line)

-And rounding out the teabagger trifecta-
CNN is reporting that the vast majority of Americans think Sarah Palin is too dumb to be president. According to the report, "Fewer than three in 10 Americans think Sarah Palin's qualified to be president, according to a new national poll -- the least of any of the five potential candidates included in the survey."

Big surprise; Republicans disagree with the mainstream, with most saying she isn't too dumb to be president. Still, even 44% of GOP voters said that, yeah, she's a little bit underqualified. The poll comes out the day before the release of Palin's book, Obama's a Commie, McCain Was Mean to Me, and Katie Couric's a Stinker: My American Journey, so there's that.

Teabags forev... Aw, screw it. (CNN)

No Courage Here

Khalid Sheik MohammedIn 2001, we all witnessed an American tragedy. The terrorist attack on 9/11 was unprecendented in its damage and loss of life. The plot was deceptively simple, hijack airliners and take them on kamikaze runs. We tend to see such massive loss of life as something that requires a complex mechanism -- a Bond villain with stolen military hardware or some sort of deathray -- and the idea that it was relatively simple just made it all worse. Who else could do this -- and when?

Most of the power that day's fear held over us was spent as political capital by the Bush administration. In terms of pointless waste of life, the Iraq war far surpasses September 11, 2001. After more than 4,000 Americans have been killed and Conservative estimates put the Iraqi body count at around 100,000. Eight years later, 9/11 has become part of the background in America. We live a constant "now" and 9/11 has finally become "then." At least, for most of us.

The news that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four alleged 9/11 co-conspirators will be tried in New York City has demonstrated that some can't -- or won't -- let 9/11 become history. It's always part of their "now." Moments after the decision was announced, many slapped 9/11 on their sleeves and freaked out.

[USA Today:]

"Unconscionable," declared Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. "Dangerous," said former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani. "An unnecessary risk," said Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. Democrat Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia called Friday's decision to move Mohammed from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, misguided, saying war criminals "do not belong in our courts."

I've got a lot of respect for Jim Webb, but sometimes he just comes out of left field. Some of this is just the typical right wing grandstanding designed to show that President Obama can't do anything right. If the White House had chosen a different route, it's hard to imagine he'd be getting a lot of praise from most of these people. But it's FOX News that demonstrates the underlying fear for the right -- that former President Bush might get pulled into the whole thing:

The Obama administration, in deciding to try alleged Sept. 11 conspirators in a New York courtroom, has said it is setting its sights on convictions, but some critics say a civilian trial -- instead of a military tribunal -- could end up targeting the Bush administration and its anti-terror policies.

One of those five defendants, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, has been at the center of the debate over those Bush-era polices, in particular the harsh interrogation techniques used on Mohammed and others in an effort to obtain information on Al Qaeda and any additional attacks.

"The government is going to try to put Khalid Sheik Mohammed on trial. Defense lawyers will try and put the government on trial," former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani told Fox News.

This is an unfounded fear for many reasons, not the least of which being that evidence obtained through torture would be inadmissible. "Ain't gonna happen," writes CBS legal analyst Andrew Cohen for he New York Times. "Depending on who is running the show (Mohammed wanted to represent himself at his military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay), it's likely that the government's post-capture treatment of Mohammed will be a factor in the trial. But it won't determine the outcome, especially if the government does not seek to introduce any of Mohammed's post-torture statements to jurors. The fact that the feds are bringing him to New York to stand trial indicates that they have plenty of other evidence that they can use to get their conviction."

Of course Giuliani -- a former federal prosecutor -- knows this. He's just doing what he always does; getting face-time on cable networks by humping 9/11 like a drunk prom date. We really dodged a bullet when he dropped out of the presidential campaign in 2008. The fact that we dodged that bullet by about 100 miles should tell the cable networks how much we give a damn what Rudy thinks, but there ya go.

Others find a different motive behind the criticism -- blind terror.

[Glenn Greenwald:]

It's only America's Right that is too scared of the Terrorists -- or which exploits the fears of their followers -- to insist that no regular trials can be held and that "the safety and security of the American people" mean that we cannot even have them in our country to give them trials. As usual, it's the weakest and most frightened among us who rely on the most flamboyant, theatrical displays of "strength" and "courage" to hide what they really are. Then again, this is the same political movement whose "leaders" -- people like John Cornyn and Pat Roberts -- cowardly insisted that we must ignore the Constitution in order to stay alive: the exact antithesis of the core value on which the nation was founded. Given that, it's hardly surprising that they exude a level of fear of Terrorists that is unmatched virtually anywhere in the world. It is, however, noteworthy that the position they advocate -- it's too scary to have normal trials in our country of Terrorists -- is as pure a surrender to the Terrorists as it gets.

If Bush thought he could've earned political points by going on tour and dancing on the graves of 9/11 victims worldwide, I have no doubt he would've done it. Rudy Giuliani learned that from Bush and so did the vast majority of the Republican party. When they get backed into a corner or think they see a chink in their political opponent's armor, they 9/11 the 9/11 with a 9/11. That date isn't an event for these people, it's not a remembrance, it's a prybar to jimmy open the fears of wingnut followers who -- let's face it -- are especially open to fear-based arguments.

Just because some of us are cowards, it doesn't mean we all have to live by the cowards' rule. We can do this right and use the Constitution as our guide or we can throw everything we've fought for and built out the window because a death cult succeeded once. If that's all it takes for you to abandon the rule of law and to stop believing in the American system of justice, then I can't help you. You're going to have to find some tiny shred of courage within yourself, put on your big kid pants, and deal with it.

Because it looks like we're going to do this the American way for a change.


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Is the Stupak Amendment a 'Poison Pill?'

According to a top White House advisor, President Obama is definitely not on board with the Stupak amendment to the House Healthcare Reform bill.


In an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, Obama adviser David Axelrod reiterated the president’s position on how abortion should be handled in the debate over health care reform.

“The president has said repeatedly, and he said in his speech to Congress, that he doesn’t believe that this bill should change the status quo as it relates to the issue of abortion,” Axelrod told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. “He’s going to work with the Senate and the House to try to ensure that at the end of the day the status quo is not changed.”

Asked specifically whether the Stupak amendment changed the status quo, Axelrod replied “I think it’s fair to say the bill Congress passed does change the status quo. But I believe there are discussions ongoing as to how to change it accordingly.”

One thing that's been rolling around in my head lately is that some anti-reform Blue Dogs might be using the Stupak amendment as a "poison pill" amendment -- cynically voting for the amendment, while still voting against the entire bill -- in the hopes of either killing it after it comes back for the final vote or even that the president will veto it. The Stupak amendment got 240 votes, while the bill as a whole got 220.

For his part, Axelrod wouldn't say whether inclusion of the measure would earn the final bill a veto:

King asked Axelrod whether the president would sign a final health care bill that contains the Stupak amendment. Likening it to Obama’s position on the public health insurance, Axelrod said Obama “believes both these issues and can and will be worked through before [the final bill] reaches his desk.”

Doesn't really want to paint himself in a corner. Is healthcare reform worth the price of selling out a woman's right to choose? Can't really say. But it isn't hard to imagine one of those "this is a flawed bill, but it's still an improvement" statements as it gets the president's signature.


News Roundup for 11/13/09

Michael Steele looking surprised
Hey, keep it in your pants, buddy!

-Headline of the day-
"RNC to opt out of abortion coverage."

This is a pretty complex issue, so let's see if I can encapsulate it for you; the Republican National Committee's employee health insurance plan used to cover elective abortion. This was the worst thing ever, because it only encouraged Republican women -- who are notoriously flighty and overly emotional -- to get abortions just for the fun of it. Of course, it also made the Republican Party a big bunch of hypocrites.

Politico got wind of this and published it on the interwebs for all the world to see and, boy howdy, were Republicans ever embarrassed. "Money from our loyal donors should not be used for this purpose," RNC chairman Michael Steele said in a statement. "I don't know why this policy existed in the past, but it will not exist under my administration. Consider this issue settled."

That's it, no more abortion coverage for lady employees of the Republican National Committee. It makes baby Jesus cry.

Of course, this sucks a little bit for said Republican ladies (or ladies covered by Republican men's plans). But what are you going to do? You can't really expect the Republican Party to do a 180 on the issue and get all rational all of a sudden. Besides, when has the GOP ever given a damn about workers anyway?

I guess Republicans better get used to only having sex when they want to have kids. And no wanking it guys, that makes baby Jesus cry too. (Politico)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, want to learn a different language? Try Tea-Bag, it's super easy!

Learn to speak tea-bag
Click for animation

Remember, Hitler wanted fries too! (MarkFiore.com)

-FOX in a box-
Despite getting busted for it, Sean Hannity continues to use doctored footage on his show.

FOX News admits footage of Obama presidency on Monday's broadcast was '2012' movie trailer
Click for full comic

That crazy nut! He'll never learn... (Bad Reporter)

Lou Dobbs, Unemployed Xenophobe

He was the finest newsman the world has ever known and now CNN has let him go. The tragedy is nearly inexpressable, but WorldNetDaily founder Joseph Farah gives it a good try:

What makes Lou Dobbs so special is his independence and fearlessness. Dobbs clearly set his own agenda. He had no interest in the "conventional wisdom" of his industry. Dobbs thinks like a real American newsman – a throwback to an age when journalists actually believed they were watchdogs of government and asked tough questions in the interests of the people.

When virtually his entire profession and elites in all the other political and cultural institutions of our time were making excuses for allowing tens of millions of illegal aliens to occupy our country, Lou Dobbs was alone in his focus on the issue critical to America's safety and security.

When virtually his entire profession and elites in all the other political and cultural institutions of our time were making excuses for Barack Obama's unwillingness to prove his constitutional eligibility to serve in the White House by simply showing the American people his long-form birth certificate, Lou Dobbs was alone in asking why.

That's right, Lou Dobbs was the "one reason to tune in to CNN," birther Farah tells us. Joe's a big fan, even offering Lou a job at his big pile of crazy he calls a website. "Let me be the first to say I would be proud to work with Lou Dobbs," Farah writes. "He's got his pick of assignments here at WND."

I'm sure he probably has something else in mind. But if Lou Dobbs ever wants to cover the unveiling of the Ark of the Covenant, I'm sure he'll know where to go. Some things are beneath even Lou Dobbs.

I'm guessing about that, by the way. There's no evidence to support the idea.

"Over the past six months, it's become increasingly clear that strong winds of change have begun buffeting this country and affecting all of us," Dobbs said on his final show. "And some leaders in media, politics and business have been urging me to go beyond the role here at CNN and to engage in constructive problem solving." The evidence suggests that those "leaders in media, politics and business" were CNN president Joe Klein and the "urging" of Dobbs to go "beyond the role here at CNN" came in the form of a demand to clean out his desk.

"Months ago the president of CNN/U.S., Jonathan Klein, offered a choice to Lou Dobbs, the channel’s most outspoken anchor," New York Times reported Wednesday. "Mr. Dobbs could vent his opinions on radio and anchor an objective newscast on television, or he could leave CNN." Whether Lou quit or was canned is probably a matter of interest only to Lou, but it's clear that Lou Dobbs could only have remained at CNN if he stopped being crazy old Lou Dobbs. Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert probably put it best, when he said that Dobbs was leaving CNN to "spend more time misinforming his family."

Because, man, did Lou ever have a talent for catapulting the propaganda. There was no conspiracy theory so insane, so obviously absurd, that he wouldn't report it. In 2006, Dobbs told his audience, "There are some Mexican citizens and some Mexican- Americans who want to see California, New Mexico and other parts of the Southwestern United States given over to Mexico. These groups call it the reconquista, Spanish for reconquest. And they view the millions of Mexican illegal aliens in particular entering the United States as potentially an army of invaders to achieve that takeover."

While I don't doubt that there are Latinos who think this would be a good idea, I think there might be maybe four of five of them. As threats to national sovereignty go, this isn't one, and as movements go, it's not. Yet Dobbs went out of his way to associate the reconquista "movement" with the Mexican flag, ensuring that every time some nutjob Dobbs fan saw a Cinco de Mayo celebration, they'd think they were seeing a bunch of radicals bent on conquering a big chunk of the United States. From the transcript of that show:


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In San Diego today, another sea of Mexican flags echoing the nationalist theme in protests earlier this week.


ROMANS: Chants celebrating La Raza, the race, and signs proclaiming the true history of the Southwest. A Southwest they say still belongs to Mexico.

Long downplayed as a theory of the radical ethnic fringe, the la reconquista, the reconquest, the reclamation, the return, it's resonating with some on the streets. It's the idea that the Southwest United States is stolen land called Aztlan.

Rep. Dana Rohrbacher, a shameless xenophobe, helped whip up the hysteria, claiming that this was pretty much the equivalent of having al Qaeda running the bodega down the street. "And now we see that hundreds of thousands of these people, if not several million, are willing to wave the Mexican flag and not seek assimilation in the United States, but are instead declaring their allegiance to Mexico while here illegally. This can cause huge problems," he told Romans. "If only a fringe element of them want to commit acts of violence in the future to -- in order to push their claim of legitimacy in terms of their right to this area that we now occupy in the United States, it can cause great damage and loss of life in our country."

Oddly, going on four years later, the big illegal Mexican alien terrorist attack has yet to happen. But I suppose it's only a matter of time. In the meantime, they'll just have to satisfy themselves with spreading leprosy.

And that's just a sliver of what was wrong with Dobbs and his show. There's some speculation that Dobbs will follow fellow CNN-alumnus Glenn Beck over to FOX News, but it's hard to see why they'd want him -- Lou's rating's were tanking. My best guess -- and it is a guess -- is that he'll join some nonprofit organization in some way. Perhaps even one that doesn't have anything to do with the lurking Mexican Menace within our borders. Or maybe he'll just make do with his radio show.

In any case, CNN is better off without him. News is news, opinion is opinion, but Lou Dobbs was just a great big lie machine. A hatemonger, a fearmonger, a conspiracy theorist, and a fraud, he'd be a much better fit over at FOX.

But I have my doubts that even they would take him. Maybe WingNutDaily is really the best shot he has. After all, Joseph Farah obviously has a huge man-crush on him.


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News Roundup for 11/12/09

Lou Dobbs demands to know;
"You want fries with that?"

-Headline of the day-
"John King to Replace Lou Dobbs; Focus Will Be on Political News."

Did you hear that Lou Dobbs quit? Yeah, he did. Or he was fired. Either way, Lou's gone. Now who will warn us about illegal immigrants spreading leprosy, the coming NAFTA Superhighway, or Mexico's secret plan to reconquer the southwestern United States?

Well, not replacement John King, that's for sure. Most will know King as the guy who screws around with the big touchscreen maps on election nights. I guess he also has some weekend show called State of the Union that some people think is kind of important. I can't watch it, because Mary Matalin and James Carville are regular guests; they're married and I can't help but imagine... Well, you know. Spoils the whole thing for me.

Anyway, John's going to spend a few hours screwing around with a touchscreen or something. And Lou's going to cruise around wherever it is he lives and yell, "GO HOME!" out the window at any Mexicans he sees. How good will King's show be? Who cares? Turns out that the entire audience for Lou Dobbs' Immigrant Hate-Fiesta Tonight was some lazy guy who lost his remote and didn't want to get up to change the channel. According to the report, "In moving Mr. King to a weekday time slot, CNN will seek to improve its dismal evening ratings. According to Nielsen, CNN ranked third among cable news channels in the 7 p.m. hour in October, mirroring its other prime-time declines."

So he can't really screw it up any worse. (New York Times)

-Hell freezes over-
Tuesday on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart busted FOX's Sean Hannity and America's favorite rightwing lunatic Michele Bachmann for showing footage of the larger 9/12 rally in DC and claiming it was taken at Shelly's big "We hate healthy Americans!" rally last Thursday. "If I didn't know any better I'd think they just put two days together and acted like they didn't," Stewart said. And then he showed footage showing that, yeah, that's exactly what they did. But this is both Sean Hannity and FOX News, so no big deal, right? I mean, that's just what they do.

Apparently this was too embarrassing even for the shameless Hannity, which explains this:

Holy... WTF? Was that a retraction? I didn't notice any pigs flying by...

Well, not exactly. Sean claims that his show "screwed up" and that the whole thing was just an "inadvertant mistake." Whoopsie-daisy! Accidentally went months back in the video vault and pulled out the wrong footage. Sure, I'll buy that... Just as soon as I finish lobotomizing myself with this here mellonballer.

You were busted Sean, it was a lie. But will you admit it?

Yeah, FOX doesn't do that. (Media Matters)

-Also on Media Matters...-
...they answer the question, "So, what really happened to Lou Dobbs?" with "CNN President Jonathan Klein probably fired his crazy ass."

Then they do a little happy-dance. (Media Matters)

-Bonus HotD-
"Chuck Norris hears black helicopters whupping: Obama planning a 'one world order,' health-care bill means feds invade homes."

Chuck Norris continues to prove that karate is bad for your head with an appearance on FOX's Wingnut Story Time, with Neal Cavuto.

Ok, it works this way. Healthcare reform leads to Obama taking over the world. The end. There's also some shit about global warming and probably Jesus. Chuck Norris says he's "terrified." Most people call that feeling you've got in your head "a big pile of crazy," Chuck.

If he gets any more "terrified," he's going to wind up in a clocktower with a deer rifle. (Crooks And Liars, with video)

Two Party System, Four Party Reality

I've never been a big fan of mix-and-match polling. When you take results from one poll and compare them to the results of another, you really can't expect the comparison to work out perfectly. Each polling organization has different criteria for respondents and may or may not probe them -- i.e., ask them "which way they lean" or for "their best guess" when they get a "don't know," for example -- and this can throw the results one way or another. And each pollster has different ways of whittling down their respondents so that the group represents America as a whole. Who's a Republican, who's a Democrat, who's white, who's black, who's what gender, etc. are all demographic questions -- usually published toward the end of the data -- that show those polled reflect the larger populace.

That caveat aside, until someone lets me write a national poll (or until I win the lottery and can afford to do it myself), mixing and matching polling data is going to be about the best I can do. Yesterday, Gallup polling showed that, after flatlining for more than a year, Republicans bumped up on a generic congressional ballot to beat Democrats by 4 points:

Poll graphic
Click for larger image

If you look at that graphic, you see Democrats on a slow, steady slide, with Republicans barely moving at all. Republicans aren't looking better to people, Democrats are looking worse. "As was the case in last Tuesday's gubernatorial elections, independents are helping the Republicans' cause," Gallup reports. "In the latest poll, independent registered voters favor the Republican candidate by 52% to 30%. Both parties maintain similar loyalty from their bases, with 91% of Democratic registered voters preferring the Democratic candidate and 93% of Republican voters preferring the Republican."

Now comes the mixing and matching, courtesy of a Pew poll:

[V]oters who plan to support Republicans next year are more enthusiastic than those who plan to vote for a Democrat. Fully 58% of those who plan to vote for a Republican next year say they are very enthusiastic about voting, compared with 42% of those who plan to vote for a Democrat.

"The big enthusiasm gap, you’d think, lends weight to the argument that Dems need to pass a health care bill without delay," writes Greg Sargent. "After all, it seems pretty clear that passing a good health care bill would do a lot more to boost the Dem base’s enthusiasm than showcasing Michele Bachmann’s latest antics could ever accomplish."

Bingo. The Democrats' big problem right now is that they can't get their act together. Republicans are sitting on the sidelines, talking trash about Democrats, while Democrats battle Democrats on the field. Politically, the efforts of Blue Dog Democrats to drag healthcare reform to the right are suicidal -- because, if anyone's going to pay an electoral price here, it's going to be Democrats in swing districts. Their timidity is destroying them.

But the Pew poll isn't entirely bleak for dems. According to the poll, 52% want to see their representative reelected, while 34% want most incumbents reelected. In other words, it's all someone else's fault. Like term limits, everyone seems to think this is a good idea -- until it comes to their people, then it's a different story. It's the rest of Congress that sucks. Still, Pew notes that these percentages are "the most negative in two decades" for the month. So there's that.

If you want some real good news, you can look to the Republican Party itself. No longer the lockstep, hivemind, zombie clan, Republican voters have begun to develop opinions all on their lonesome. Unfortunately, they aren't very experienced at this opinion-making stuff and it shows; Obama is a Communist Hitler, healthcare reform constitutes some sort of human rights abuse, and a lot of Republicans really suck. There's where all your GOP enthusiasm is coming from: scattershot crazies at Tea Parties.

Already, the teabaggers are taking their election year advantage and throwing it in the toilet. Unwilling to learn the lessons from NY-23 (or taking a different lesson from it), they're moving on in their big RINO hunt to find "Republicans In Name Only" in other races.

[USA Today:]

Some South Carolina Republicans are not happy with their own Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Last night the Charleston County Republican Party’s Executive Committee voted to formally censure Graham for supporting a climate change bill, bailing out banks, and granting amnesty for illegal aliens.

"Charleston County Republican voters have grown increasingly frustrated with Senator Graham and his voting record, which are frankly out of step with the beliefs of Republican voters,” said Charleston County Republican Party Chairwoman Lin Bennett. “This vote should not surprise any of us. What this shows us is that Charleston County Republicans are demanding better from Senator Graham."

Graham has been working with Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., on bipartisan legislation that would require companies to cut pollution or buy credits from companies that decrease carbon emissions -- which contributes to global warming.

Graham may or may not be "out of step" with Republican voters, but the Republican opinion on climate and environment is out of step with everyone else. Perhaps now would be a good time to point out that 77% believe in global warming and want carbon emmissions cut. According to Paul Bedard at US News, the mood among strategists is "Shift the debate to creating alternative clean energy sources. And stop trying to foil President Obama simply for the sake of handing him a defeat." And here's the Republican base -- who the GOP has to rely on -- demanding that elected GOPers do the exact opposite.

If the Democratic Party is actually two parties right now (and it is), then so is the Republican Party -- for the first time in a very long time. Do they go where the enthusiasm is and turn off the Independents or do they go to the Independents and turn off the base? An advantage in a generic congressional ballot is largely theoretical. Once things become more concrete and people take stands, rather than remain purely conceptual, we'll see how things work out.

If Lindsey Graham, one of the most consistently conservative members of the Senate, is too liberal for the teabaggers, who are they going to be excited about in 2010? Likewise, who are all these Independents going to go to if the Republican slate is mostly Glenn Beck types? Something's got to give and -- one way or another -- some of that enthusiasm is going to evaporate. And, in districts where the teabaggers manage to put up a rightwing nutjob, Democratic enthusiasm will rise.

Still, Democrats need to get their own act together. If we can't get healthcare reform passed, Democrats will begin this thing by standing in a hole. And, when all those Blue Dogs lose their seats, they won't have anyone to blame but themselves.


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